Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Final Section - Progress Update

As most of you know, I started working on Section 4 in my family room while still finishing up Section 3 on the puzzle table in the basement.  Back in April I finally finished Section 3, but until today I had not had time to sit down there and flip the section over and put contact paper on the back.

Luckily, Cole took a long nap today, and Derek was willing to play in the basement while I worked to get the entire section flipped over and the contact paper added.  It took a while, and included one small puzzle mishap which cost me the re-work of about 40 pieces, but overall it didn't take too long.

After the kids went to bed, I immediately decided to take all my working boards with various subsections of the final quarter down to the basement and start laying it out on the puzzle board.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that once it was all laid out together, I had accomplished more than I thought.  :)

I would say at this point I am pretty close to the 50% mark for the section, which also means that I'm at around the 82.5% mark for completion of the entire puzzle.  WOOO HOOO!!!!  I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it!

Here are a couple of pictures...

Thanks for sticking with me - we're almost there!  :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Career Opportunity -- As a Puzzle Reviewer?

In mid-2013, I was given an opportunity by Artifact Puzzles to receive a free puzzle in exchange for reviewing it and saying something about my experience on the blog.  I was very skeptical at first having never experienced a company who wanted to send me something for free and not have some sort of ulterior motive for getting me to purchase the puzzle later.  What I didn't realize at the time was that this is becoming a more and more popular marketing trend with the rapid growth of social media.  This new strategy benefits both the manufacturer of the product and the blogger who gets free samples of items they would be likely to purchase on their own anyway.  So, once I learned that this was not some sort of a scam, I was elated to try my first "product review" and my first wooden puzzle.  You can click here to read about my review of The Messenger.

It was such a fun experience, and I loved the puzzle they sent.  Superb quality, and so much fun. Their customer service was excellent as well when I thought I had a missing piece after finishing the puzzle.  They immediately replaced the single piece at no cost, even after having sent me the initial puzzle for free too, and they were very nice about it.  Check out where the "missing" piece was finally found here!  :)

I didn't really give another thought to doing more of these types of reviews just figuring that it was a "right place at the right time" type of thing until about a week ago.  It was then that I was contacted by two more puzzling companies offering to send me one of their puzzles in exchange for a review on my blog.  I am shocked and honored to be popular enough in Google searches to be found and approached to do these reviews.  Stay tuned for more information on both of these puzzle reviews coming soon.

Wow!  Who knew being a puzzle momma could be so beneficial!  :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Deal of the Century - Round Two

In preparation for writing this blog entry, I went back and looked at two older posts, Life After "Life" and A New York State of Mind where I mentioned a bunch of puzzles that I wanted to get and do after I finished the Life puzzle.  At the time I wrote the first one, back in May, 2013, I had none of the puzzles I mentioned wanting to get.  Now, just over two years later, I have all of them except two!  Wow...I didn't even realize I gotten that far in completing my wish list.

The puzzle that was highest on my wish list two years ago was the 18,000 piece Skylines of the World puzzle by Ravensburger. NOTE:  This was well before the 32,000 New York City Window was even announced for production

I had been looking for this puzzle for a year or two, and because it was out of print, I was having a very difficult time finding it for a reasonable price. Ebay prices were in the high $200 to $300 range, which I just could not justify.

Several people in the big puzzle Flickr group had completed the puzzle and stated that it was a lot of fun to do.  I saw several people's progress pictures of it, and I was drooling.  I didn't know how long it was going to take me to find a good price on this beauty, but I kept looking and looking and looking.  Then....

One of my puzzling friends from the big puzzle flickr group contacted me and said that he had two copies of the puzzle.  He had done his first copy only to find that one piece was missing.  So, he purchased a second one just to try and find the missing piece to complete his original.  As it turned out, the pieces were of a slightly different cut so it didn't match up!  What a bummer for him!  He decided that he was going to sell the "replacement" copy, and wanted to give me first crack at it!  He's such a nice guy.  He made me a deal I simply could not refuse. I got the puzzle which was essentially "new" as it had only one bag open (the bag that had the piece he needed for the other puzzle), and all others were still factory sealed.  The box wasn't in great condition, but other than that it was new.  At first I didn't think we were going to be able to work it out since he lives in the UK, and I knew the cost of shipping from there to me in Atlanta was going to be outrageous.  But, somehow by selling / buying it through Ebay, we were able to take advantage of some deeply discounted shipping rate.  So, he sold me the puzzle for $1 (well 1 GBP), and then all I had to pay for was shipping.  All in all, this big, gorgeous beast of a puzzle that I have been coveting for several years cost me a whopping $36!  LOL

I am so elated to have been given such an amazing deal, and I cannot thank Joey enough!  He is my puzzling hero right now!  :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Deal of the Century - Round One

Since starting this blog, I have written a couple of posts regarding my stance on Ravensburger's 32,000 Double Retrospect which took the title of "World's Largest Puzzle"* away from Life: The Great Challenge in September, 2010.  As I stated in those posts, I really did not like the artwork on this new record holder AT ALL initially.  Then, as I started to see pictures of other people putting the puzzle together, including this great blog, it started to grow on me just a little bit.

At some point over the last few years, I decided that I would consider making this puzzle to sell or donate, but ONLY if I could get a really great deal on it somewhere.  It has been retailing for anywhere between $170 to $270, and because I wasn't in love with the image I knew that price was too steep for me.  I really didn't figure I would get it anytime soon, if ever, as there are just so many other large puzzles out there that I love so much more.  I knew I'd rather spend my puzzling money on those for sure.

Then, right before Mother's Day this year, the first "Deal of the Century" (more on the second one in a minute) opportunity presented itself.  I often do nationwide searches on puzzles that I'm interested in on Craigslist.  It's a great way to find used puzzles for a good price, but only if you can get the seller to be willing to ship to whereever you're located.  I have found this to work most of the time, but not always.  Some people are too nervous about using PayPal or they're just not interested in the hassle involved in boxing the puzzle up and then taking it somewhere to be shipped.  Anyway, in this case, I did my search, and I found someone selling a brand new, still factory sealed copy of Double Retrospect!  When I looked at the description and then the price, my eyes got big as saucers, but my head wait a minute!  This has to be some kind of Craigslist ad typo.  No one could seriously be selling this brand new puzzle for $25!!!  It had to be a mistake - $125 or $250, surely...

I immediately responded to the ad and flat out asked if the price was a typo or glitch of some sort. When I got a quick response back that it was indeed correct, I was elated.  Apparently her sister had given it to her as a sort of "gag" gift.  That was a mighty expensive gag, but who am I to complain?!  LOL  Anyway, I couldn't believe my luck...and better yet, she was willing to ship it to me in Atlanta, even though she was in California!  I just needed to pay for the puzzle and cost of shipping of course.  Unfortunately, due to the weight of this puzzle, a whopping 42 pounds, the cost of shipping from one side of the country to the other was pretty extravagant.  In the end, it was going to cost over $100 just for the shipping.  I still didn't love the puzzle THAT much!  So, I was beginning to think that this probably wasn't going to work since at that price it wasn't the great deal I was looking to get, but then another amazing thing happened....

The seller let me know she was going to be in the San Diego area for Mother's Day weekend!  Well, it just so happens that Randy's cousin Matt recently relocated from New York to San Diego. Hmmm...the cogs were turning at this point, and I thought, "Could this really work?"  So, I went back and forth with the seller and Randy's cousin to see if we could work out a way for him to meet up with her and get the puzzle and then store it for me until he made his next trip out this way, which I knew was going to be at the end of the year for the holidays.  So lo and behold, this is how I came to be the proud owner (though not yet possessor) of a brand new, factory sealed copy of Double Retrospect for only $25!!  YAY ME!  And a big shout out of thanks to the seller, and her sister!

*Editor's Note:  Double Retrospect has since been replaced as the World's Largest Puzzle by Educa's 33,600 piece Wild Life.