New Releases: 2013 Master Pieces Jigsaw Puzzles

At the beginning of every year, each puzzle manufacturer releases anywhere from a handful to hundreds of new jigsaw puzzle designs and we’ve been busy busy working away adding them to our collection on our website and in our retail stores. You can see all of our new releases in one place right here, but I wanted to share some particularly fun ones with you today from Master Pieces.

Master Pieces does most of their puzzles in series, so if you like one puzzle from them, chances are there are a few others that are very similar from the same artist or with the same type of artwork. That makes it super fun because it’s something to look forward to when you finish one that was really fun.

Candy Brands & Colorize!  –  1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzles
(click slide to be taken to puzzle listing)


Presidents Day: Facts and Puzzles

Monday is Presidents Day, a day originally created to celebrate the birth of American’s first President George Washington, who won the presidency by a unanimous electoral vote. As you know, puzzles are a great way to learn, relearn, and revisit some things you used to know but have maybe since forgotten. Our presidential puzzles feature paintings and artistry of the great men who have led our country and our beautiful capitol, Washington D.C.

We know that when you puzzle, your brain produces dopamine, a chemical that is responsible for learning and memory. While your work on puzzles, this increase of dopamine helps to sharpen our memory. Connecting an artistic puzzle with some facts for you to learn about our country can only be fun and beneficial!

Presidents of the USA (Floor) by Melissa and Doug. 100 pieces. Want to challenge your brain even more while you puzzle? Try to memorize the presidents in order! Learn about some presidential mnemonic tricks here.

 

Dowdle – Washington DC by Dowdle Folk Art. 500 pieces. Did you know that there was a dividing controversy about where the national capital should be located? Before DC was selected by Washington himself, Congress met in Philadelphia, New York City, Annapolis, and Princeton.

Gettysburg Address by Buffalo Games. 1000 pieces. Did you know that Lincoln wasn’t actually an abolitionist? To learn more about the more controversial side of Lincoln, go here.

Callin’ the Red by SunsOut. 1000 pieces. The Donkey that represents the Democratic party was appropriated by Jackson when his opponents referred to him as a “jack*ss” for his populist views.

 

Grand Ol’ Gang by SunsOut. 500 pieces. The same artist who first cartooned the donkey for Dems drew an elephant and labeled it “The Republican vote.” The association stuck and Republicans have had an elephant mascot ever since.

George Washington by Ravensburger. 300 pieces. Presidents Day was shifted from Washington’s real birthday, February 22, to the third Monday in February because of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved several holidays to Mondays to increase 3-day weekends for federal employees.

 

Washington DC 4D Cityscape by 4D Cityscape Inc. 1100+ pieces.

February: Black History Month Jigsaw Puzzles

Activist Martin Luther King Jr., abolitionist Union spy Harriet Tubman, the first black MLB player Jackie Robinson, and abolitionist social reformer Frederick Douglass all appear in the 500pc puzzle.

Today, we wanted to share with you a few of our more specific Black History Jigsaw Puzzles. We’ve talked a lot in the past about how puzzles are a great learning tool and as always, really good for brain development in general. It’s also awesome how they can play a role in the cultural development and teaching, remembering or just enjoying some of the most historical moments and figures of our time. What makes puzzles even better? Most will last a lifetime, being put together and taken back apart over and over for new friends and new family to enjoy again and again.

What is Black History Month? It all began in the early 1900’s when when Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland created an associations in order to raised awareness of the role that black people played in the shaping of America and the world—a role that had often been ignored or downplayed. Woodson also hoped that there would be a sense of pride instilled in the black community while he taught about their cultural background and heritage. In 1920, he helped a fraternity Omega Psi Phi create “Negro History Week” that took place during the month of February as a way to celebrate the birth of two men who helped carve out the future of Black Americans – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.

The Civil War lasted 4 years from 1861 to 1865. Marking 150 years later is this commemorative puzzle.

The intent of this month – and other history months like Women’s History Month and LGBT History Month – of course, is to raise awareness, spread educations and, perhaps above all, take a moment to recognize the incredible journey and challenges that minorities have overcome in this country (and others!). To learn more about black history, go here.

And here’s a great list of Black History Little Known Facts. Did you know that “Due to his acclaimed “Banana Boat” song, most people assume Harry Belafonte was born in the Caribbean; in fact, the internationally renowned entertainment icon and human rights activist was born in Harlem, New York.”

Coming up next week: Black Artist Jigsaw Puzzles… a look at some of the best works of art – and most popular puzzle images around – from well-known Black artists.

And of course, how could we not mention two of the most influential black people in music and popular culture? Happy puzzling everyone!

Bob Marley is credited with spreading Rastafarian and Jamaican music to a worldwide audience.

Michael Jackson has earned a place in musical history that not many have achieved, with several chart-topping songs and major influence in today’s pop music as well.

Puzzles for Fitzgerald Aficionados

If you are anything like me, you can’t wait for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby coming out this May, even though historically they have failed. The Great Gatsby has a double charm—it’s an American classic, but it’s also adored by the average reader. It’s going to be a challenge to turn the introspective book into a successful movie, but let’s keep our fingers crossed and our hopes up. Here are some puzzles that I think Fitzgerald might like to do during breaks from writing if he were alive today. Here’s hoping he’ll also like the new take on his novel.

Martini Rossi Vermouth Bianco by Euro Graphics. $15.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 19.25” x 26.5”.

Afternoon Stroll by Clementoni. $15.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size: 26.5″ x 18.75″.

Beautiful Peacock Garden – House Beautiful by New York Puzzle Co. $16.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”.

Beary Patch Park by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”.

Spirits of the World by Piatnik. $16.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.5” x 17.4”

Classics – Sammy’s Playground by Master Pieces. $10.99. 500 pieces. Finished size: 14″ x 19″.

 

And a product that our girl golfer, Jordan Baker, from Gatsby might have liked: some ladies’ golf bridge cards:

Ladies Golf Bridge Set. $16.99. Features two decks of bridge size playing cards and come in sturdy, beautifully made boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to De-Stress and Be Happy

January’s nearly over, and for many of us, we may have quickly realized that while a new year feels fresh and new and time for some change, sometimes that just feels impossible. The burdens and stresses of 2012 didn’t just evaporate into thin air, but there is a chance that we can do something to change it in the new year.

Did you know that doing jigsaw puzzles helps encourage the happy hormone dopamine, which regulates mood and affects concentration? Not just puzzles, but simply focusing more on your hobbies and interests, can be rewarding and soothing in itself. The task of starting and completing a project, like jigsaw puzzles or other crafts and activities, can help keep your brain focused and motivated.

Here are 7 great tips to help you manage stress levels and have a happy new year:

  1. We all know that exercising regularly helps us combat stress. But sometimes it seems like finding the time or energy to exercise is a stress in itself. Start slow. Make baby steps. Ten minutes every other day—and then work up. Do exercises you like, instead of forcing yourself to do something you hate. Even just stretching is good for the brain.
  2. In the same vein, start making some conscious decisions to eat healthier. Water instead of soda. Pour less cereal than you can eat. Go for the fruit first when you want to snack.I find that the more healthy things I opt for, the more I start craving healthy things.
  3. Make time for your hobbies. Doing something that you want to do—and not attaching guilt to it—can be a nice way to relax. Sometimes I prolong bedtime by 20 minutes just to fit in some reading.
  4. Smile! We do naturally when we’re happy, but we can also start to trick our brains into tranquility the same way.
  5. Assess your issues. What’s making you feel stressed? What would you assign it on a scale from 1-10? Sometimes taking a step back and analyzing our issues makes us realize that we’re going to end up okay, that we’ve survived worse, and that we can accomplish what we need in order to relax.
  6. Write about it—releasing pent up feelings will help you let go of some of that tension, it’s private, and if you find there’s something you actually need to say to someone else that’s concerning your stress levels, you can do it in a more composed, thoughtful way now.
  7. Go for a walk, or stare outside at something beautiful and let your mind wander.

Check out this article from Reader’s Digest for even more tips to reduce stress.

Now, of course, here are some of our lovely puzzles that can put you in a tranquil state of mind.

Puzzle of a lighthouse on a rock cliff by the sea.

Dawn’s Early Light by Buffalo Games. 500 pieces.

An image of Hatley Park is on this puzzle and it features a red tree, a bridge, and a river.

Hatley Park by Springbok. 1000 pieces.

An image of a quaint lakeside town with mountains in the background.

Lakeside Afternoon by Buffalo Games. 500 pieces.

A giant field of poppy flowers.

Poppies – Sierra Club by Pomegranate. 1000 pieces.

This is a puzzle featuring an image of a bear being surrounded and embraced by hundreds of butterflies.

Robert Bissell – The Embrace by Pomegranate. 1000 pieces.

A lone fisherman rides in his boat against a blood orange sky.

The Fishermen by Clementoni. 1000 pieces.

A forest stream in fall is illuminated by the yellow and red leaves.

Forest Stream by Euro Graphics. 1000 pieces.

Hot air balloons illuminate the sky of a quaint town.

Balloon Glow by SunsOut. 6000 pieces.

Trees cover the path in this autumn fairytale.

Forever Autumn by Educa. 2000 pieces.