Puzzles, reading books, miscellaneous items, and more

I have not been doing very much lately, mostly reading books and taking it easy. I’ve read about 16 books in the past 2 weeks. Some of the novels I’ve been reading are parts of a series and I’ve been using the Nook that two of my friends in Texas gave me for my birthday in 2011. They know I read alot, and that I have limited space when I travel, so they thought a Nook would be handy. At first I wasn’t sure how I would like it, but I really do. It’s giving me the ability to get ebooks to fill in the gaps in a series when I can’t get to a library, or if I can only find the book I’m looking for on the county library website. It’s also saving me several trips to the library, I’m finding that even if the local library has a book I want to read, that if they have the ebook it’s more convenient.

I also get used paperback books at the library and thrift stores. One of the ladies at the local library likes the same authors as I do and we frequently exchange books. Currently, I have about 40 paperback books to read, that is if I don’t keep trying to add the books missing from a series. I had 2 books in a series of 3, so I went online and got the missing book as an ebook. Then I found other books that are related to the series and that has several of the same characters. Well, that got me hooked and I wanted to read more about the various characters, most of them had a book written where they were a main character. That led me to read 9 more books by that author. Every now and then I start reading a book and after several chapters I think that I’ve read it before. By the time I realize I read it, and I’m involved in the story, I realize also that I don’t remember what happens so I finish the book. I probably read it several years ago, so it’s like reading the book for the first time.

SunsOut puzzles have the most unique and unusual and puzzles and puzzle pictures I have even come across. Many of their puzzles are special shapes like the parrots, hourglass, hummingbirds, etc. that I have been working on. They also have the traditional rectangle shaped puzzles as well. Check out SunsOut puzzles to see their wide selection of puzzles. I think you will discover like I have that their designs are amazing. They have many truly exceptional and creative artists creating their puzzle designs. I saw some beautiful puzzles in their New Designs – 2014 gallery, and I also saw great puzzles in the various categories listed on the left side of the page. I was looking at some of the puzzles to see which ones I want to work on after I finish the one I have started, and the 2 waiting to be done next, Irish Charm (shamrock), and A Delicate Balance (penguins and wolves). I saw a fire truck puzzle in the new puzzle section. This looks really challenging, I think it’s more than I would even attempt. I tend to like puzzles with more variety of colors. I bet some of my firefighter friends would love it.

Classic Fire Trucks/ A History of Fire trucks

The puzzles below may be some of the next ones I want to get to work on… there are so many to choose from it’s hard to decide. Being from Texas, the state of Texas one interests me. A few times when I was camping, I saw otters swimming in the waterways. It’s fun to watch them swim and play. There are several puzzles with hot air balloons. Having experienced attending the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta twice, which was a dream of mine that came true, I love hot air balloons. I saw a puzzle of hot air balloons flying around Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. When I was at Arches National Park in 2011, I didn’t see any hot air balloons flying by, it would have been really cool if it happened. However, Arches is an amazing place to explore. I really like the special shape balloon puzzle, it reminds me of when I was at the Balloon Fiesta.

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I have to tell you, that I really enjoy putting together the special shape puzzles. It’s more challenging because the shape of the puzzle and puzzle pieces are really unusual which also makes it more interesting than looking for regular shaped pieces. The traditional rectangle shaped puzzles are also fun, it’s nice to switch between the special and traditional shaped  The Puzzle Guide tab on the SunsOut website shows many of the puzzles, a few of which I have already done. Also, check out their other tabs to see their other puzzles. Other than receiving  a surprise package with 3 puzzles from the owner of this company a few months ago when she found out that I posted a story about locating these amazing puzzles at a local puzzle store, I do not receive anything from this company. I just like to share things, websites, places, and experiences that I enjoy, so that perhaps you can enjoy them too. People that read my website let me know that they enjoy working on puzzles too. If we are spending many hours working on puzzles, they should be ones we really love, it makes it more fun. I love seeing the picture come together as the puzzle gets completed. Then I keep it together for several weeks, before I take it apart and pass it on. I really like to look at it after it’s completed. There are pictures of puzzles in many of my previous posts. All of the puzzles shown below in this post are SunsOut puzzles.

You can buy SunsOut and other brands of great puzzles at Prestigious Puzzles in Deerfield Beach, Florida, they also do mail orders. In January 2014, I wrote a story about this puzzle store and wonderful, unusual puzzles they carry.

I finally finished the parrot puzzle that was started several months ago. It wasn’t worked on as often as previous puzzles so it took longer to complete. Several of the puzzles, like this parrot puzzle have hidden items to search for after the puzzle is completed. This parrot puzzle has hidden a parrot and several butterflies to look for. I started a new puzzle the other day, this one too should be very challenging. These puzzles are about 38 inches. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them in order to see them in more detail. The colors are more vivid than these photos show.


hourglass outline





puz bot puz top

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It’s not often that a puzzle can be worked as two separate puzzles. However, this hourglass designed puzzle allowed me to work on it that way. It’s about 38 inches long, but by working it as 2 puzzles, I was able to use my smaller foamboards which made it easier to work on. I could even do it sitting on my bed at night. The bottom half with the butterflies and flowers I did in about 2 days. The top half with  the small birds and colored leaves is taking more time and is more difficult, but still fun. The top half I mostly had to put together by the shape of the pieces, rather than by object because the leaves were multicolored and they have random patterns, and the birds were very small. Also, as with other special shaped puzzles, I found that sometimes what I thought would be one piece to fit into a space, was really two smaller pieces. This is definitely keeping my mind occupied, and giving me something to do besides reading. It’s also easier on my eyes to work on the puzzle.

Update, July 27th: Last night I finished the hourglass shaped puzzle, so in the paragraph above I posted it for you to see. It’s really spectacular. Then, since I wasn’t really tired yet, I decided to begin another puzzle, and because I was excited to get the one with the peacocks, I thought I would work on that one next. It’s about 1,000 pieces and the size is 27 x 35 inches. The pieces of this puzzle are large shaped, and the shape of the pieces are pretty much regular shapes. I put a quarter next to some puzzle pieces so you can see their size. As I started sorting the puzzle pieces, I realized this is going to be a fun puzzle to assemble. The colors are so vivid and bright. I assemble a section of puzzle, then fit it into the frame. Working on smaller sections makes it easier to work on large size puzzles.

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SAMSUNG SAMSUNG SAMSUNG1IMG_3963Lori Schory, who designs the puzzles I enjoy doing, and I continue to stay in touch. You can read about how I connected with Lori in this story I wrote in January 2014. Periodically, she sends me a picture of the artwork she recently completed that will be made into puzzles. I don’t post them on my website because she sends them for me only as a preview. She did one a few months ago of peacocks in an oriental scene, it’s shown lower left in the photos below. I fell in love with the picture, and about a week or so ago she let me know it’s now officially a puzzle. She sent it to me with 3 other puzzles that she created, I received them two days ago. I can’t wait to do them… they are beautiful. I think the one with the penguins and wolves will be really challenging since there is a lot of black and white, but it’s going to be amazing to put together and see how beautiful it is as it’s worked on. It’s fun watching the puzzle evolve from hundreds of pieces into a beautiful scene.

2 4 th 4 puz

The plastic covering is still on the boxes, which makes the picture of the puzzle not very clear, the light seems to reflect off of the wrapper. I will try to get better pictures soon. By the way, Lori cut the plastic wrapper near her name on the box, and she personally signed each puzzle box for me with her name. Very cool, and extremely thoughtful. I never expected her to offer to send me some of her puzzles, and I wouldn’t have even thought about signing them. I wrote and told her how much I appreciate her kindness. As I work on the puzzles I have that she designed, I send her pictures of the progress I’m making on each puzzle. I think she enjoys seeing her work in various stages. I also let her know when I find them very challenging either because of the intricate design, limited colors of pieces, and like in the parrots… flowers that don’t really have a pattern to them so I have to assemble those sections by shape of pieces. Same with the leaves where there are so many the same.

hb2Usually, I leave a puzzle together for quite a while to admire the design. Sometimes it takes weeks to complete a puzzle, but it only takes a couple of minutes to break it apart. I still have the Hummingbird Reflections puzzle on a foamboard. Now, since these 4 new puzzles are about 35 inches at their longest measurement, I am going to have to take it apart to use that larger foamboard. I have lots of foamboard, which is what I use to spread out the puzzle pieces and do the puzzles on. Due to limited space, I only have 2 foamboards that are 40 inches across for large puzzles. Tough choice which puzzle to work on next.

The Sun’s Out puzzle brand has many special shaped puzzles. Having a border that is not square seems to make the puzzle more challenging and interesting to complete. Now that I have done several special shaped puzzles, I’m getting better at finding the edge pieces. I try to begin with the outside edge of any puzzle. Usually, I sit on my bed at night and separate the pieces while watching TV. It’s a lot different than finding the edges in a traditional puzzle with straight edges. In the story linked above with how I connected with Lori, I wrote about some tips I found helpful when doing puzzles.

The town of DeSoto, Kansas, had asked for assistance helping to fund a swingset for a park that they were creating on a piece of land that was in need of cleaning up and creating a park for children to use. I provided matching funds for the swingset. I received a thank you note and also these pictures of children using the playground equipment on July 4th.

swings kids 2 swings






My friend Betty in Texas sent me an email telling me of some adventures she has been doing lately. She said I’ve inspired her to take trips and try new things. A new experience for her was ziplining at Palo Duro Canyon, which is near Amarillo, Texas. I’ve camped at Palo Duro Canyon a few times, it’s absolutely beautiful there. Here is the story I wrote when I was there in 2011. I haven’t ever had a zipline experience. I’m proud of her for trying something new and exciting.

betty zipline view betty ziplining

I found an interesting website to explore, www.carlwarner.com. Take time to explore this site. Carl Warner makes pictures, tv ads, etc. using various foods. Look closely at the pictures. The About tab you can click on a photo and it will tell you the story about how it was made. The tv ads are really interesting, a river might be pineapple juice, or carrot juice. Trees in some of the pictures are broccoli, mountains might be loaves of bread. The ocean might be salmon filets or whole salmons… it’s very unique. There are also stories on his website for some of the foodscapes explaining how he created them.


IMG_3018Last week I received an email from a lady in Seattle, Washington. She is creating a book and publishing it for the Muckleshoot Tribe near Auburn, Washington. During the summer of 2011, I traveled to Washington State as part of my journey. Several of my Native American friends who are vendors do the pow wows in the Pacific Northwest during the summer months and I planned my trip to join them for several of the pow wows and the canoe journey. Evidently, one of the tribal members was searching the Internet for pictures and he found my website and the pictures I took at their pow wow and they asked my permission to use some of my pictures in their book. I felt so honored and gave them permission to use whatever pictures they wanted to include. There are going to be about 5,000 copies of the book printed, and I was told it will also be available online. If I get a link I will post it in a story. This is the primary photo they want to include. You can read the stories about my time at the northwestern pow wows and the canoe journey in my July and August 2011, and August 2012 posts.

Madray Springs Fire Chief Ashley Dent is still in first place to win the MSA thermal imager.The contest closes on August 22nd, so please remember to vote, preferably daily if you can. Here is the link to the story about him and the contest.

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