Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Internet Shopping Safety Tips

Santa's Big Night Item#929

Hi Puzzlers,

Whether you are gearing up to shop on-line for  Black Friday or Cyber Monday it is important to remember what to look for and what to avoid to make your on-line shopping experience safe. Below is our annual list of internet shopping safety tips.
We added an asterisk to our newest tips so you can identify them quickly.

Trust your instincts - If you have a funny feeling about the site check it out before placing the order. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Several sites like or BizRate have customer evaluations which can help you determine a company's legitimacy.

Protect your PC - Make sure your personal computer has recent updates installed for Spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spy software, and a secure firewall.

Trusted Websites - Shoppers should know whom they are dealing with. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number.  Anyone can set up an online store under any name. Check for security seals, such as the tiny padlock icon and the http (URL) has an “s” in it. The https:// stands for secure.

*Personal Information – Do not give any personal information ever!  On-line stores do not need your social security number or birthdate. So never give it to them and be suspicious if you are asked for it directly or indirectly in a pop-up (phising). Real companies would not ask for this type of information.  Always remember to give the least amount of information about yourself as possible.

Keep your Web browser updated - “Internet Explorer 9” provides another layer of protection with Web sites that use Extended Validation (EV) Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates. The address bar turns green and has both https and the closed padlock. An EV SSL certificate not only helps ensure that communication with a Web site is secure, but it also includes information about the legitimacy of the Web site, which has been confirmed by the Certification Authority (CA) issuing the SSL Certificate.”

Don’t shop using Wi-Fi - When using Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, hotel, airport, or restaurant, you are making yourself vulnerable to identity theft. Your iPhone, Blackberry, Smartphone and laptop can easily be hacked on a free or paid public Wi-Fi spot. 

Pay by credit or charge card - By using a credit or charge card you are protected by the
Fair Credit Billing Act. This law gives you the right to dispute charges and temporarily withhold payment while the credit card company investigates your claims. Never use your debit card, as you have no rights protecting you from fraud or theft. Try to use just one credit card for all your purchases; this will make it easier to spot fraudulent charges.

Insure the safe delivery of your item - If you’re concerned about the safety of your package if there’s no one home to receive it, request it be sent with a signature required. Or, it may be safer to have the package delivered to your office.

Refund Policies and Delivery Dates -Make sure you know if you can return the item for a full refund and who pays the shipping for the return. Is the refund for a store credit or cash refund? Know when you should expect delivery of your item.

Print & Save - Keep documentation of your order. If confirmation was sent by email, keep the email and save any and all correspondence with the retailer.

Be Comfortable - Wear comfortable slippers, get a comfortable chair and pour a nice cup of tea, you could be at your computer for hours!
*Check Statements – Go online to monitor your account(s) and check it for fraudulent charges. Do not wait for the statement!  Check your account(s) every few days to make sure all is well.  If you see something wrong, address the issue immediately by PHONE! This will serve as a formal complaint/claim and the credit card company can begin looking into the fraudulent charge(s).  Finally do not pay the bill until the charges are accurate.

*Relieve Stress – If all this shopping has got you stressed, quickly make your way to your favorite puzzling spot and start puzzling.  As you know, puzzling is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cleaning the Car Jigsaw Puzzle

Cleaning the Car Item #952

Hi Puzzlers,
Do you have a nighttime-family-routine?  Many families across the country do and my family is no exception.  Honestly, I like the routine.   Our nightly routine begins with dinner at 7:00 PM.  We sit in the same spot every night, just like I did in my family when I was young.  After dinner everyone helps with the clean up, than it is off to the living room for some puzzling and family television.  One of our favorite television channels is the History Channel; its programs are entertaining and educational. 
This week we found ourselves engrossed with two shows, Pawn Stars and American Restoration; coincidently, both shows were featuring segments on pedal cars.  Instantly, I remembered my younger brother in his red, Austin J40, and the pains of jealousy I felt. Being five years older than him made me too old and too big to have one of my own.  But I didn’t care, I still wanted one.  Luckily I grew out of this faze and moved on to wanting a jet pack!  Just for the record, I didn’t get one of those either. Oh, Poor Me!!! Seeing those old metal pedal cars brought back all the emotions from my childhood.  Talk about emotional attachment, I guess that’s why so many people collect them.
Pedal cars started rolling of the production lines in the 1890’s right after Henry Ford manufactured the first Model T.  Each car was made from molded steel to form a pint size replica of a real car.  These little buggers, like the real ones, were extremely expensive and only the very wealthy could afford them.  Pedal cars popularity peaked in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.  Pedal cars of this time came in a variety of models, colors and features. Many were even molded into different vehicles including trains, planes, tractors and trucks.  During World War II no pedal cars were produced because all available metals were being used to help the war effort.
The post war era of the 1950’s saw resurgence in pedal cars popularity.  As prosperity spread through the country more and more families could afford real cars and the little replicas for the kids.  Pedal cars built towards the end of the1950’s were different from the earlier models, the newer version were now chain-driven.
The demise of the pedal cars began in the late 1960’s with the introduction of new safety standards and the increasing popularity of plastic.  By 1970 the pedal car had been replaced by plastic cars that were fashioned after cartoons.
I actually bought my nephew one of these plastic versions, it certainly did not compare to my brother’s beautifully metal car.  Some things can’t be replaced, like the feelings so many people got from those little cars.  And Santa, I’m still waiting on my jet-pack.
Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Playing Cards the Jigsaw Puzzle Way

Playing Cards Item # 931

Hi Puzzlers,
Last night our country elected to keep our 44th President in office.  The final election brings with it an end to all the political campaigning.  Hurray!  But, I have to admit some of the campaigning was entertaining.  It really reminded me of the card game poker.  Like a poker player, each politician must know when to take a hit, to hold, to bluff or when to fold.  Politics and politicians, like cards and the games played with them, have been around for centuries.
No one knows exactly when or where playing cards originated but many speculate they came from China. This speculation is based in the fact that China was the first to develop paper and because of ancient documentation dating back to the 12th century which describes paper money cards. This deck was comprised of four suits of coins and numbered 1-9. It is believed that the cards not only served as instruments to play the game but as the bet/wager itself.
Cards of this type, dating back to the 8th century, have reportedly been found in Persia and everywhere in the Arabian Peninsula. Scholars believe the cards traveled to Europe with merchants and gypsies during the mid 14th century. The decks consisted of 52-cards, four suits (Swords, Cups, Sticks and Coins) and were numbered 1-10. The royal cards included a King, Deputy King and an Under Deputy. All cards including the royals were decorated with geometric patterns.
European cards were made by craftsmen and ornately designed by hand by trained artists.  
Cards of this time were a luxury only the wealthy could afford. But, by the end on the 14th century advancements in printing techniques made cards more affordable to the general public. The Europeans were the first to put human faces on the royal cards and in doing so the cards characters began to take on more familiar titles such as kings and queens.
During the 15th century a deck of cards could have as many as 56 cards or as little as 48.  Players from around the country debated for decades about the best number of cards for optimum play.  Finally at the end of the century the 52 card deck was deemed the best number to play with.
The French were the first to begin producing cards with suits that included Diamonds, Hearts, Clubs and Spades.  A typical card deck had three royal cards with a King, Queen and Knave along with the lower numbers from 1-10.  The back of the cards were left plain.  Unfortunately, this made the cards easy to mark and cheat with.  To prevent cheating and to extend the life of the cards many manufactures started to print repeating patterns on the back of the cards.
The reversible royal cards made their debut in Agen, France in 1745. These reversible cards replaced the full length images of Kings, Queens and Knaves with a double headed waist version that did not need to be turned upright. 
In the 1800’s American printers began gearing up to print playing cards on the first mechanized printing press and a new dilemma made itself apparent.  The abbreviated “K” for King would be easily confused with the “Kn” for Knave.  To remedy this The Knave, who played the “Jack of Trumps” in an old English card game called “All Fours”, was renamed “Jack”.
By the 1860’s card playing was making its way to the four corners of the globe.  New games were emerging every day and a number of popular games required an extra trump card.  In 1865 Samuel Hart names this trump card the “Joker”.  The Joker is the all powerful royal that fixes any and all problems.
Let’s hope that the politician have a Joker up their sleeve that can fix any and all problems too!

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

People’s Choice Awards

Hi Puzzlers,
The Three Stooges Puzzle Item #876

We have some exciting news to share with you!  The Three Stooges movie has been nominated for Favorite Comedic Movie for the 2013 People’s Choice Awards! We just think it’s great that an old-time favorite has made its way into today’s pop culture; this certainly assures that the “Godfathers of Comedy”  legacy will continue on.   It also appears that the “People Choice Awards” is on track to leave its legacy for future generations as well.
The People’s Choice Awards made its debut in 1975.  It was created and produced by Bob Stivers and aired on CBS.  The show’s goal is to honor and recognize the work and people of popular culture.  It is also one of the very first televised annual awards shows to have its winners chosen by votes from the general public. 
Winners that first year included Barbra Streisand as the year's Favorite Film Actress, John Wayne as its Favorite Film Actor and The Sting as 1974's Favorite Picture.  Presenters included Jim Nabors, Sammy Davis Jr. and Alan Alda.
Votes in the shows early years were tallied in the various categories based on the results of the Gallop poll.   In 2005 the voting went online and all results were based on the online votes.  Presently, in an effort to reach a broader base and reflect a true people’s choice, voting now encompasses a variety of methods including; land line calls, cell phone calls, online voting, reviewing data from Internet videos, national ratings averages, box office grosses and album sales.  In the event that the poll is so close, and no clear winner can be determined, a tie is announced in that category and both will be recognized as the Favorite.
Multiple versions on the People’s Choice Awards have been created to appeal to younger audiences such as the Teen Choice Awards and Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.  It is important to note that these shows are independent and unrelated to each other and the only thing they share is similar names.
In 2012 the People’s Choice Awards franchise expands to India. This is the first time in the shows four-decade history it will air outside of America.  The India version will continue to cover fan favorites such as movies, music and television but it has added sports as a special category.
SO click here to cast your vote for your Favorite Comedic Movie for the 2013 People’s Choice Awards! N’yuk, N’yuk, N’yuk!

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

White House Jigsaw Puzzle

White House Jigsaw Puzzle Item #940

Hi Puzzlers,
Today’s puzzling tip is focused on helping you look brilliant to your kids.  I know, you are brilliant, but sometimes our little bundles of joy forget that and they need to be reminded. 
At this time of year many parents and guardians are helping the local schools plan and or fundraiser for  upcoming class trips.  Most trips are to historic sites and the number one destination for schools across the country is the White House, which also happens to be one of our newest puzzles.
So how can a puzzle help you look brilliant you may be wondering?  Well here is the plan.  I’m going to tell you a few interesting facts about the White House that you can pass along to the kids, perhaps while you assemble the puzzle in anticipation of the trip.  Viola!  The true genius that you are is finally revealed (again). 
Start by pointing to the large center image and say, WOW how creative, they used the back of the White House as the focal point in this puzzle.  Then move on to some basic White House trivia.
You could say  President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, were the first to live here or that this is the second White House, the first was destroyed by the British in 1814.  (I had to look this and everything else up too so don’t feel bad!)
Next, as you continue to assemble the puzzle, you’ll want to casually mention the following factoids:

Ø The White House has 6 levels, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators. 

Ø The White House has been known throughout history as the “Executive Mansion,” “President’s Palace,” and the “President’s House.” President Roosevelt officially gave the White House its name in 1901.

Ø There are two full sized replicas of the White House; One in France and the other one in Ireland, both serve as tourist attractions!

Ø The grandson of President Thomas Jefferson was the first child born in the White House. The second was a black child born to one of Jefferson’s two slaves.  Slaves and all children born to them were considered the property of the owner.

Ø Presidents and their families are charged for every meal and other incidentals, such as dry cleaning and toiletries. They also pay for Chef Services. 

Ø The Oval Office has never had a computer!  President Obama claimed in 2009 that he is going to bring the Oval Office “online” during his term, but I guess security had other plans.

Ø Each President, as is custom, is encouraged to redecorate the Oval Office to reflect his, and soon maybe her, personal taste.  Due to the poor economy President Obama elected to only do a mini-makeover.

Now be still and listen, you just might over hear the youngin’s in the kitchen say, OMG! How do they know all that stuff! They are like computers!

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Hour Jigsaw Puzzle

Happy Hour Jigsaw Puzzle Item #937
Hi Puzzlers,
October has certainly kept up the old tradition of keeping everyone busy.  East coast farmers are hurrying to get the last of their crops in.  Mothers are preparing their homes for the long winter nights with a good fall cleaning.  Fathers are finishing last minute lawn care issues, tuning up snow blowers and filling buckets with sand and salt.  Children of all ages are back in school.  Fall sports schedules are in full swing; which means, parents are shuttling kids from game to game and field to field on top of all their other obligations and work schedules.  Just looking at the list gives me anxiety!  But then I gaze across my desk to our newest puzzle by Lori Schory and get taken away, as if magically transported into her colorful scene of a tropical “Happy Hour.”  Ah! Take a minute, kick back, relax and join me as we look back at the history of Happy Hour!
The beloved “Happy Hour” is said to have emerged from the United States Navy during the 1920’s.   The slang term represented a time when on-ship performances were scheduled and the sailors, after consuming a few alcoholic drinks, became a little “happy”. 

Back on shore, Prohibition had put an end to any public consumption of alcohol.  To circumvent the 18th Amendment, people would serve drinks at home or would meet for illegal cocktails at speakeasies before going out to dinner.  The pre-dinner cocktail ritual continued in lounges even after prohibition ended.  The term “Happy Hour” would become extremely popular after the Saturday Evening Post featured an article on military life in 1959.
Within a few years “Happy Hour” would move from a prelude to dinner to an after-work ritual.  Complimentary hors d'oeuvres got integrated into the Happy Hour mix during the 1980’s as a way to reduce drunk driving.  In 1984 the military, in keeping with the anti-drunk driving laws, terminated happy hour at all US military base clubs.

Happy Hour is a ritual that extends to all corners of the globe and differs from country to country. In the Netherlands the price of alcoholic drinks are regulated; no half price deals here.  In Italy, customers are offered free finger-foods but pay full price for drinks.  In India, customers received reduced prices on appetizers and drinks.  But here in the USA we get the best of both, free finger-food and discounted drinks.
As the World’s Most Interesting Man says, “Stay thirsty my friends”.  Drive responsibly and enjoy Happy Hour!

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Laundromats & Campgrounds

Hi Puzzlers,

Evening Rendezvous Puzzle item #

Yesterday I had to do laundry at the Laundromat! My beloved 10 year old washer refused to spin my clothes and left them soaking in a ton of water. It seems to me that many of today’s products are being built intentionally not to last. The first washing machine I ever bought was a used 20 year old machine and it worked great for several years. I replaced it because it looked dated, not because it broke down. For all I know it’s still working! Thankfully White Mountain Puzzles continually strives to improve the quality of our puzzles. Ok enough of the rant and rave where was I? Oh yes, the Laundromat. Glen Ellis Campground has a wonderful state-of-the-art Laundromat where you preload a card with a dollar amount and then swipe it through the washers and dryers to activate them, eliminating the need for change. It’s very cool! Doing laundry at the campground brought back a plethora of camping memories.

During the 80’s I camped every weekend with my friends in the summer. Rain or shine it didn’t matter. The ten of us were like a well oiled machine, packing and preparing for our trips within an hour. We had a special spot we would go to that we nick-named the Ponderosa. We got to it by wading waist deep through the river while toting our gear in a canoe or by holding it above our heads. Within a half hour all the tents were assembled, the fire had been lit, extra wood was neatly piled nearby and the kitchen area was up and running. Next, as was custom, we all dove off the riverbank into the freezing water below. Once we started to turn blue we would come out and warm ourselves by the fire and have a beverage. It was so relaxing to just sit there and talk. No cell phones, iPods or any electronics to disturb us, just the sound of the river gushing by and the radio playing softly in the background. During the day we would take hikes and explore the surrounding wilderness, never venturing back into civilization until we had to. These weekend trips relaxed our minds, invigorated our souls and connected us to nature. I believe many people have these same feelings and that is why camping is so popular.

Records indicate the first “organized” American camp was the Gunnery Camp located in Washington, Connecticut. It was founded by Frederick W. Gunn and his wife Abigail. The Gunns who operated a home school for boys decided in 1861 to take the entire school on a two-week trip. I n order to reach the camp site the boys had to hike in and then set up camp. The students spent their time fishing, boating and trapping. This tradition continued for twelve years.

In 1874 the first girl’s camp was founded in Philadelphia by the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). It was a summer boarding and vacation house geared towards "tired young women wearing out their lives in an almost endless drudgery for wages that admit no thought of rest or recreation."

By the 1920’s most American’s lives had changed considerably. Homes had electricity and indoor plumbing, and our connection to the great outdoors had diminished with the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the automobile coupled with the establishment of national parks and America’s desire to get away from its industrial life sparked a new interest in recreational camping.

Today campgrounds and RV resorts can be found throughout the United States, and in other countries throughout the world. To me, camping will always help mankind find its way back to nature and the great outdoors. It gives people memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time Square Jigsaw Puzzle

Hi Puzzlers,

Time Square Jigsaw Pauzzle Item #922

Today my thoughts turn toward big cities. You know the ones that all you have to do is say the name and people from around the country and across the globe know where you are talking about. If the city of Tokyo gets mentioned, everyone knows it is in Japan. How about Milan? You guessed it, Italy. If something happens in Boston and it makes the news and we all know that city is in Massachusetts. How about Chicago? Bingo! It is Illinois. But alas, not all cities have this distinction. Take for example the lovely city of Concord. Some folks who live in New England may have correctly guessed I was referring to New Hampshire’s capital city, but for those of you living in other parts of the country the name Concord would have held little significance. New York City on the other hand is quickly recognizable, but what makes it unusual is, it’s a double header. Not only does its name make it instantly recognizable but it has an inner layer that also serves to make it a distinction within itself and that is Time Square.
Time Square is located in central Manhattan at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. It is a vast intermingling of commerce, art and life; shared by locals and tourist, performers and spectators. Time Square is home to the American news and the modern American culture. Behind each building and down every street is vast rich history showcasing America at its best and at its worst.
In the beginning the Square was called Longacre Square. It was originally built and developed with a few brownstones for a new “uptown” neighborhood. Once the area was developed people flocked to it in droves, bringing with them pickpockets, streetwalkers and brothels. It wouldn’t be long before the Square was known as a red-light district.
Oscar Hammerstein I, motivated by a desire to rekindle an interest in Opera, moved into the Square in1895 and developed a large entertainment complex called the Olympia. The complex featured three theaters and consumed a full block on 42nd Street. Other theaters, along with the vaudeville circuit quickly followed and the area became known as the Great White Way, based on the famous lights of Broadway.
In 1904, Albert Ochs, owner of The New York Times, decides to move the newspaper headquarters to a newly built sky scraper in Longacre Square. To celebrate the move and the cities approval to rename the Square; Ochs decides to host a New Year's Eve celebration. Albert wants the celebration to be the grandest of any ever seen and spares no expense. The celebration began with an all- day festival followed by a gigantic fireworks display set off at midnight to a cheering crowd of 200,000 people. Reports state that noise from the rattles, cheering and noisemaker could be heard as far as thirty miles away!
In 1907 the city restricts the fireworks display which forces Albert into designing another grand finale for his annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Ochs decides to have an illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood ball lowered from the tower flagpole at midnight to usher in the New Year. Since its inception in 1907 the ball drop ceremony has become a televised, worldwide-celebration that attracts millions of people from around the globe. Now that’s what I call a double header!

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Best Sellers Jigsaw Puzzle

Hi Puzzlers,
Best Sellers Jigsaw Puzzle Item #930

Don’t you just love all of our new puzzles? It seems like each day a new one gets shipped to our warehouse. I like variety and White Mountain Puzzles definitely strives to give its puzzlers a wide range of puzzling choices. My need for variety, like many of you, stretches across the board and into the realm of a good book. So just imagine how delighted I was when Charles Girard designed a new puzzle titled Best Sellers. I was drawn to it like a moth to flames. This new puzzle incorporates my love of puzzles and books. Check out all the titles on the puzzle, I have read most of these bestsellers. Look out White Birch Books and BAM! I’m coming down to buy one of the new bestsellers. But now I’m plagued with the question, “What makes a bestseller, a bestseller?”

In 1895, a monthly magazine called The Bookman published the first American bestseller list. This list was based on book sales. Next, in 1912 the list was published by Publishers Weekly. Publisher Weekly has since become our country’s oldest continuously published Bestseller List. The New York Times began its list in 1942 and since then, most major publications, including USAToday, publish their own variation of a Bestseller List. But, The New York Times continues to claim the top spot for the most popular list.

 The Bookman’s first list contained only works of fiction. Publishers Weekly expanded its list to include works of fiction and non-fiction. The New York Times published its list with the top 15 fiction books and the top 15 non-fiction books.

The Times model of 30 bestsellers continued for more than 40 years. By 1984, the self-help books era was in full swing and extremely popular. Its presence in the publishing industry necessitated a need for a third section. The new section would include the top 15 Advice/How-To books. In 2000, the wildly popular Harry Potter series began to consistently dominate the fiction lists top spots. Publishers worried that these top spots could be held for years by this successful series. The Times acknowledged the publisher’s concern by adding Children’s Books as a fourth section to the list. This addition brings the total for the weekly bestseller list to include 60 books. New sections are continually being added to the list, further solidifying our cultures need for variety.

Today we still use best in sales to rate bestsellers, but how the information is gathered is different from publisher to publisher and the accuracy of the numbers can be subject to errors and exaggerations. Then the issue is further compounded when books go into new editions with a different publisher. One must also take into consideration that some of the bestselling books of all times have made the list due to mandatory purchasing and extensive gift-giving. The historic top three bestsellers fall into this latter point: The Bible, 6.7 billion copies: Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Tse-Tung, 900 million copies: The Qur’an, 800 million copies.

Bestsellers capture the imagination and touch the hearts of the reader. Just like a good jigsaw puzzle they can be “Nostalgic”....“Fresh and fascinating”... and “Impossible to put down”.

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Impressionist Jigsaw Puzzle

Impressionist Jigsaw Puzzle Item #901

Hi Puzzlers,

Every time I see our Impressionist jigsaw puzzles I have to stop and pick it up to look at it. I’m captivated by the images of everyday life and the beautiful scenery. Swoosh! It is like a time machine is transporting me back to 18th century France and giving me a snapshot of the lives of its citizens. That for me is what great art is all about. The Impressionist topic has made me realize, other than how this puzzle made me feel, I know nothing about this wonderful branch of art. This realization leads me to wonder, what exactly is, Impressionist art?

The Impressionist art movement began in France in 1860 and developed itself through 1890. Its style can best describe as art that captures a peek or glimpse of an ordinary scene. It uses bright, bold colors to capture the image, not finely painted details. Special emphasis is placed on lighting and its subtle changes. Small, thin, broken brush strokes are used and very little is blended. Each scene is depicted from an unconventional angle, much like the works of today’s top photographers. Impressionist art is like a snapshot, it captures the moment.

Many of Frances future Impressionists grew up during Napoleon III rule, this time is also known as the Second Empire (1852-1872). Napoleon preferred academic art and used his might as ruler to govern the Academy of Fine Art and its views on new art forms. This ultimately forced a split between official art and independent art.

The differences were felt on many levels: Politically most Impressionist disagreed with Napoleon’s forced takeover of the Art Academy. Many of the new artists came from the working class and could not relate to the aristocracy. Artistically, future Impressionist wished to express the simplicities in life and in nature, not history or mythology.

Frustrated by the continued rejection of their artwork Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley decide to exhibit their artwork independently and organized the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs in 1874. The exhibit showcased the work of thirty progressive artists.

Art critic Louis Leroy despised the show and wrote a disparaging review. With a play on words he calls Claude Monet’s Sunrise- Impression, Sunrise and titles the article The Exhibition of the Impressionists. In his article Leroy writes: “Impression—I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it ... and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.” The public, as well as most of the artist, embraced the new name, thus giving birth to the greatest art movement in recorded history.

Artwork, old photos and even great puzzles can leave beautiful impressions for all to enjoy. The next time you come across an Impressionist painting try to look for the small, thin, broken brush strokes the artist unconventional angle of the scene. There will always be critics including the Great Napoleon that will have trouble finding beauty in this kind of art. But like all art “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” and I for one will always see the beauty in the Impressionist art.

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Boston, MA Jigsaw Puzzle

Hi Puzzlers,
Boston, MA Jigsaw Puzzle Item #07
 Last night I dreamt of a Boston Cream Pie. This pie has always been an Achilles heel of mine. It takes all my will power and my family’s tough love to prevent me from eating a whole pie. For this reason it is almost banned completely from my house. Only a slice per person is allowed in and anything leftover must be thrown immediately; no saving it for later! This delicious pie is said to have originated from the Parker House Hotel, now called the Omni Parker House Hotel , located in lovely downtown Boston, Massachusetts.

Claims by the hotel state it has been serving Boston Cream Pies since it opened in 1855 and its French chef Monsieur Sanzian, is credited with its creation. Originally the pie was called the Parker House Chocolate pie but after the New York Herald referenced it as a Boston Cream Pie, the name was forever changed. The popularity of this pie spread quickly to other parts of the country and it found its way into the “The White House Cook Book” by Fanny L. Gillette in 1887. Today the Boston Cream Pie is also the official dessert of Massachusetts.

Boston is also home to many other wonderful culinary creations; take for instance Boston Baked Beans. This scrumptious dish was said to have been created sometime between the1600s and 1700s. During this time New England had an abundance of beans and molasses. The Native Americans were eating beans long before the settlers arrived and during colonial times molasses was imported and used as a main ingredient in the distilling of rum. Rum manufacturing was one of the largest industries for early colonist. Somehow (maybe under the influence of rum) the beans got mixed with the molasses and the Boston Baked Bean was born. This they say is how Boston got its “Beantown” nickname.

Boston is one of the oldest cities in America and its port played a vital role in the American Revolution. But this intriguing city is also home to many American firsts, below is a quick list.

In 1634 the Boston Common is established, this is our countries first public park.

In 1716 the first American lighthouse was built in the Boston Harbor.

In 1806 the African Meeting House opens. It is the country’s first church to be built by free slaves.

In 1896 Revere Beach was declared a public beach, making it our nation’s first public beach.

In 1897 America's first subway is built in Boston.

So the next time you are traveling through New England, make sure to visit the wonderful city of Boston. Find a nice quaint café, put in an order and let your fork slice its way through the thick custard filling, topped with a wonderful chocolate frosting and enjoy your big slice of Boston Cream Pie!

Happy Puzzling!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grandma's Kitchen Jigsaw Puzzle

Hi Puzzlers,

Grandma's Kitchen Item #528
This week we are continuing with our nostalgia theme and looking at our Grandma’s Kitchen jigsaw puzzle. I think the photographer that took this picture must have broken into my family’s antique keepsakes collection and used them to design this picture.

Do you see the genuine feather dusters by the phone? They look just like my great grandmothers. She would wander around her house with one tucked into the string of her apron and could pull it out with the grace and elegance of a ninja warrior ready to attack any dust or cobweb that dare enter.

Next, did you notice the tin washtub and scrub-board under the phone? My Mémère would use this to clean my Pépère’s (Grandfather) dirty work clothes because she didn’t want to get the washing machine too dirty! She would sit on a stool next to the tub and scrub the garden dirt off in a rhythmic rocking motion, strangely it looked almost relaxing. When she finished she would hang the clothes on a square rotating clothes line and I would hand her the wooden clothes pins. Then as a reward for helping, she’d let me pick out a stick of rhubarb from the garden to snack on. Of course I would always pick the biggest one and when we got in the house she would give me a little cup of sugar for the dipping. I just couldn’t get enough of that sugary-tart stuff. Yummy!

Once the clothes were dry, which usually only took a few hours in the summer, we would remove them from the line and take them in to be ironed. (This must be were my family got its insatiable need to iron everything!) The ironing board was made of wood and extremely sturdy; nothing like the tin and metal ones of today. The board opened easily and quickly with no tugging, pulling or screaming required! This may sound dramatic but if you have ever used the ironing boards found in most hotels you know what I’m talking about. As my Mémère plugged in the iron she would tell me stories of how “back in her day” they used cast iron versions, and explained how much easier it was to iron with electric ones.

People around the globe have been ironing since antiquity using various methods, but it the Chinese who were first to use hot metal to iron. Typically a pan would be filled with hot stones or coals and pressed against the flattened material.

In Europe prior to metal irons, people used warmed stones, wood and glass to smooth cloth. Ironing in Korea and Japan during the 12th Century was done with pairs of ironing sticks which would be used for beating clothes smooth. The Japanese typically used only one stick and a stand called a kinuta to beat the clothes. Western travelers and missionaries described the sound made by the beating ironing sticks as musical, each having their own distinct sound and percussion.

A New York inventor named Henry W. Seeley is credited with inventing the first electric iron in 1882. This handy gadget weighed 15 pounds and took a half hour to heat up. It could do the work of three irons and didn’t carry ash and soot! By 1930 the electric iron had become a Grandma favorite found in almost every kitchen, second only to the radio.

Happy Puzzling!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Olde General Store

Hi Puzzlers,

The Olde General Store Item #229

Do you have an Old General Store in your town? We have one here in Jackson called Flossie’s and another one a few towns over in North Conway called Zeb's. I can spend hours in these quaint stores just browsing. Both these stores capture your imagination and take you back in time to an era when there was only one place to shop for all your needs! Our General Store puzzle does this as well.

Our wonderful puzzle beautifully depicts the scene of a youngster perched on a crate enjoying a sweet treat as she waits for her Mother to select fabric. Her brother, full of Christmas dreams, gazes wishfully at the sled displayed overhead. But the pièce de résistance for me is the potbelly stove!

Potbelly stoves were a commonly used to heat churches, town halls, general stores, schoolhouses, railroad stations, saloons and just about any business in the 1800s. Towns’ people would gather around the stove to warm themselves and talk about the weather, debate politics, and to gossip. Just imagine what stories these rotund stoves could tell! Many historical paintings and advertisers also feature the potbellied stove. It is as American as you can get.

The potbelly stoves of the 1800s were made from solid cast iron and capable of burning both wood and coal. Stoves of this era were available in three sizes. The small stoves would burn six to eight hours, making them great for smaller rooms and offices. Medium stoves could provide warmth for as long as 8 to 12hours and could easily heat the average general store. The large stoves burned for 14 hours and would be typically found in a dance hall. The portly ring around the middle of a potbelly stove gave it a distinctive look and it also prevented people from knocking into the stove and burning themselves.

Some potbelly stoves featured cook-tops. With a cook-top one could make soups and stews, scramble eggs and warm coffee. This model was a popular choice for the one-room schoolhouse because teachers of this time were often responsible for making lunch for all of the students.

And the final thing I’d like to tell you about the potbelly stove is how it got its name. Originally the stoves were called Cannon Stoves but because the shape of the stove resembled the stomach of middle aged man, the stoves quickly became known as potbelly stoves. So the next time you wander into one of those old General Stores buy a hot cup of coffee and take a little time to browse and take your imagination back to a simpler time and place.

Happy Puzzling!