Review of John Sloane’s Puzzle, Ripe and Ready

We usually don’t have a lot of dedicated time during the Christmas holidays. There is an hour here and a half hour there to have bits of fun between family visits, church, and addressing other needs. Consequently, we looked for a somewhat easier puzzle to work on during the recent Christmas holiday, Ripe and Ready by John Sloane.

This is a 500 piece puzzle. The pieces are relatively large, so they’d be easy for most people to work with. The puzzle box states that the puzzle is suitable for anyone ages 13 and up. I think someone even a little younger could probably work on the puzzle with help. Unlike one or two other puzzles we’ve purchased from Bits and Pieces, this puzzle has pieces with a substantial feel and we didn’t have any trouble with the art coming apart from the puzzle base as we had with one other puzzle we worked on from the company.

The puzzle itself is beautifully rendered. The use of color tends to make the puzzle easier to work on because some colors are definitely found only in one section of the puzzle. However, the completed puzzle is nice to look at and I would imagine that some people will make it into a wall hanging using a product such as Mod Podge. The puzzle pieces work well for making the puzzle into a wall hanging. They interlock well, making it possible to transfer the puzzle (with care) to a base for gluing.

Most puzzles have some sort of trick that provides a challenge. In this case, the puzzle makes a number of the pieces look like edge pieces, even though they’re supposed to go into the middle of the puzzle. Normally, we try to get all of the edge pieces together, create a border using them, and then work on the inner parts of the puzzle. That strategy didn’t work in this case because we truly couldn’t tell which pieces were supposed to go at the edge. I won’t ruin the puzzle by telling you what strategy did work .

Overall, this is an easy puzzle that works well for times when you don’t want too much of a challenge. It would be a good puzzle for beginners or for a rainy afternoon. We spent a total of eight hours putting the puzzle together. If we had sat down and worked on it continuously, I imagine we would have put it together much faster.


Fun is Where You Find It! (Part 2)

One of my more popular previous posts is Fun is Where You Find It! In this post, I suggested that family crafting can provide a source of cheap entertainment. Finding crafting activities that the entire family can enjoy is productive from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is promoting communication between family members. Of course, not every activity has to be craft related. Every year Rebecca and I put together a number of jigsaw puzzles. They’re inexpensive, require a few hours to complete as a minimum, and also promote communication. We discuss all sorts of things while putting our puzzles together.

One of the complaints about jigsaw puzzles is that they’re boring. In order to make the jigsaw puzzle interesting, it has to have a twist. Some have jigsaws with a theme or find a way to make their family pictures into puzzles. A simple Google search for ‘Turn Picture into puzzle‘ reveals a whole host of options, but for us, we liked our twist to come with a theme. The glow in the dark puzzle offered such a twist, but it was probably more complex than the average family would want to do and the subject matter was along the lines of a Gothic image that many people would dislike (it was of several women walking through a medieval forest at night to a party of some sort). Families will also want to avoid the double-sided and 3D puzzles because they can prove difficult to complete. Some of the jigsaw puzzles we’ve done are quite exotic. We put one together that glows in the dark and some are works of art that we’ve displayed for weeks on the dining room table before begrudgingly packing it away. A few have been oddly shaped or had other special features. In a few cases, we’ve even discussed using Mod Podge to preserve our treasure for all time, but have never quite made it to that point. Should we ever decide to do so, we could easily frame our treasure for everyone to see. Given the number of puzzles we do though, it’s unlikely that any particular puzzle will prove so spectacular that we’ll actually go this extra step.

However, a puzzle we just completed could prove interesting to quite a few people, Murder at Bedford Manor. You put the puzzle together, read an associated booklet that contains the basic story, and then look at the completed puzzle for clues as to who committed the murder.

The puzzle took about 22 hours for two people to complete and solving the murder required another 3 hours, for a total of 25 hours of fun for the low cost of $26.00. Where else can you entertain two people for 25 hours at a little over $1.00 an hour? We actually worked on a 1,000 piece version of the puzzle, but the 500 piece version will probably work better with a family that has younger children with shorter attention spans. The point is that you need not spend vast sums to have funa good time can be had for just a few dollars, which is perfect for the self-sufficient family on a budget. What is your favorite jigsaw puzzle? Let me know at