Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Pieces of a Puzzle

They say New York City never sleeps, and you can have anything delivered, something new is always opening, and when you turn the corner you will find a block full of flavors, colors and a hundred and one things to do.

I believe this to be true, and you could while away the days hopping from museum, to restaurant, to shop, to theatre, to bar, to a late night diner and do it all over again the next day, and it would probably take you years, if not a lifetime, to do it all in the Big Apple. However despite all of the happenings briming outside of my door (well to be honest my neighborhood isn't that exciting, but take the train a few stops and you get my drift) nothing beats spending time at home, on a quiet night, with someone you love, enjoying a classic jigsaw puzzle.

Yes I went from 27 to 87 in two minutes flat. No shame!

I have recently fallen back in love with the joy of puzzles, and I am bringing Jürgen down with me! Apparently he didn't spend many days growing up putting them together, which was a travesty in my opinion. My family spent many days, particulary during vacations, bent over a table finding pieces to connect to one another. We were particular fans of the murder mystery puzzles where you didn't have a picture to guide you and once the picture was complete you would use clues from the image to solve a crime. It makes for some very good times I assue you.

Brittany was also a frequent puzzle companion of mine, with our proudest achievement being a whopping 5,000 piece puzzle which took the shape of a large fish. We put in together at my family's cabin during the summer of 2000 (I think!) and it took many visits to the lake to complete, but once we did we covered that baby in some kind of shalack and hung it on the wall with pride. There are few finer joys than putting in the final puzzle piece.

So you can imagine my excitement when one of my anniversary gifts (we are one year old!) from Jürg was a good old fashioned jigsaw puzzle. Traditionally year one is "Paper" so it was a perfect fit.

I would recommend puzzles to anyone, but particularly for people who may be on a tighter budget than others, they are a perfect way to add a little entertainment to your life without spending a lot of money. I'm telling you pour yourself a glass of wine (apparently I always need to be drinking), put some music on the iPod and go to town. Depending of the size and difficulty level of the puzzel it can provide days, even weeks worth of entertainment. For us, we had a puzzle with 1,000 pieces and I would venture to say it took about a week to finish. This may be the first puzzle we completed together, but it will certainly not be the last.

I recently received a new iPhone, so in an effort to better document my life through photos, here are a few images from our puzzle adventure.

Our puzzle was titled "Greetings From America!" which was a series of stamps representing America's 50 states. Apparently Barnes and Noble's selection of jigsaws was rather grim, but I think it made for a great first time puzzle challenge, and it allowed me to figure out just how many US States I have visited (total 26 for me, 31 for Jürgen).

I love the process of starting with a pile of disconnected pieces on a table top and slowly finding their place in the big picture.

*Tip* Start by separating out all of the straight edged pieces and build the border first, then organize the pieces by color. Or in this case by the number 37

Since we had a photo to guide us we were able to get a rough layout of the picture once the border was put together.  It's helpful to create structure amid chaos.

                            The anticipation mounts when you only have a few remaining pieces

And finally, you place the final piece to complete the picture, breathe a sigh of relief and give yourself a pat on the back.

Unless, you are in our situation where magically the final piece of the puzzle has gone missing! The injustice!

Looks like California is incomplete! I hear Los Angeles has lost a bit of it's soul, perhaps our puzzle piece went out west to find it?

I just did a little browsing on this site and the great majority of the puzzles fell in the $10-$25 category.  I do declare that is a bargain if there ever was one! I am so grateful to Jürgen for giving me this gift and in turn many fun filled evenings, and I am also thankful to have been reminded that even when you live in one of the most exciting cities around that is often the simple, quiet times in life that are the most memorable.

What ways do you entertain yourself when you are on a budget?


  1. It warms the cockles of my old heart to see you "puzzling" again! Yes- lots of special memories there! And the awesome fish puzzle still adorns our basement family room wall- what a challenge that one was!! Perhaps you should shellac this one for posterity...and might I suggest the possibility that your missing piece might have been hijacked by one of the feline family???? Love to you both!! Momma/Ellen

  2. Ah, the memories of our times at the lake sure came to mind while reading this post! We Humes and Robertsons sure shared some special times and made wonderful memories while enjoying the beauty surrounding us there! You and Brittany were extraordinary at puzzle-making and I'm happy to hear that Jurgen is now in on the fun.
    My favorite "entertainment on a budget"?-a good library book. I read voraciously, but haven't bought a book in ages!

  3. Thanks for visiting dRc - I am enjoying your blog as well. (: As for our budget entertainment, my husband and I rarely eat out and love to cook, so on the occasional coordinated evening, we make and have a nice meal together, and watch a movie at home. This is especially nice in the summer when our garden is going and we get to go outside and use our produce and herbs to help us decide what to make. Other times its nice to have friends over for a simple home made pizza and stay up late talking and laughing. I guess these aren't very original, but still some of the best parts of life.