Challenge Yourself: Keeping your Brain Active

We already know that puzzling has multiple benefits—it’s relaxing, fun, and a good way to keep your brain in tip top shape. In fact, puzzles (and the variations of puzzles from Sudoku to Scrabble) are second on Wiki’s list of things to do to exercise that big mass of nerves inside your cranium.

The more you challenge your brain, the more new nerve pathways you form. The benefit of this has some amazingly positive benefits: namely, it can help you avert cognitive decline.

So here’s some things (easy things!) you can start doing in your daily life to make things a little more interesting, and make your brain work just a little bit harder.

1. Get strategizing! Play strategy games like chess or bridge, Poker or Scrabble.

2. Do new things to perk up your brain. Brush your teeth with your eyes closed or use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth (or build a puzzle)! Take a new route to work and stop living life on autopilot.

3. Read more. Books, magazines, blogs (this one counts!) or the newspaper. Set little goals: ten pages of your novel a day before bed, an article with your lunch break meal, whatever—just fit in some reading time!

4. Start memorizing more. Stop relying on your cell phone and try to learn a new friend’s phone number. Or your grocery list. Or how about the US presidents in order?

5. Listen to classical music because it increases brain activity more positively and helps with spatial intelligence.

How about trying something new with your puzzles? Creative Crafthouse has a huge selection of brain teasers that will push you in entirely new ways! For instance, check out this brain puzzle:

Brainwave. Ages 10+. Difficulty: 4 out of 6.

From the info page: This fellow really has a lot on his mind. Can you help him organize his thoughts? You must insert the 10 pegs into his mind such that no color is repeated on any of the rows, columns, or diagonals of the triangle on BOTH sides at the same time. Each peg has a different color combination on its ends.

Shh… It’s a Secret!

If you haven’t heard of Postsecret, you’ve been missing out. It’s a blog updated weekly that started when a man named Frank Warren asked people to start sending him their anonymous secrets. Now, every single Sunday, the blog updates with 20 random insights into someone else’s mind—their thoughts, fears, loves, hatreds, and sometimes even their funny quirks.

There was a good this week for all you puzzle people: 

Looks like someone likes the glory of the finishing touch, and will do what they have to get it!

So, do any of you have any puzzle secrets or tips to share with the community? We promise we won’t judge!

Challenge Yourself: Puzzles that Push You

Do you feel the need to challenge yourself with your puzzling experience? For those experienced puzzlers, it might be time to try something new—something a little different, something that adds an exciting new component to the hobby you already know and love.

There are many ways that jigsaw puzzle designers have come up with to completely alter the puzzling experience. Sometimes they throw in some extra unneeded pieces, sometimes they give you a different image on the box. Whatever it is, it’ll push your brain even more—and we bet the added challenge will give you even more pleasure once. Well, after you get over the feeling that it’s just impossible, at least 🙂

These challenging puzzles will be spread out throughout posts over the next week as we write about the benefits of pushing yourself. We’ll try to start with the simpler challenges first, just to give you a taste.

American Native Flowers by Scramble Squares. 9 pieces.

9 pieces seems like a breeze, doesn’t it? Nope! In this puzzle, you must align all the squares so that the pictures match up perfectly in every direction—and there are 95,126,814,720 combinations that are possible for you to try with this 3 x 3 puzzle with four different rotations in each square. You’ll be rotating and replacing the images in the square over and over again as it nearly works, but not quite. Good luck!

3D Magna Puzzle – Planets by Ceaco. 16 magnetic pieces.

The illusion of depth and movement is an added challenge in this 16 piece puzzle. It’ll be tough just to decide where to begin! The bonus to this puzzle is that it comes with a magnetic tray, making it very portable. You can work to piece it together from anywhere!

Library by Ceaco. 42 pieces.

Instead of the shaped puzzle pieces you recognize, this image is made up of 42 sticks which you line up and rearrange inside of a wooden tray. An added challenge? It can make up to two images because it’s double-sided. Better choose the right side to lay your stick!

Spiral of Archimedes by Ceaco. 67 uniquely shaped pieces.

This puzzle was randomly designed, so it doesn’t have to make a lot of sense! Try to piece together these 67 pieces, all of which are uniquely shaped, in order to make a puzzle that has no straight edges and no overlapping images—yikes!

African Oasis by TDC Games. 234 pieces.

I hope your eyesight is good because this puzzle is part of the World’s Smallest Puzzle series. With 234 pieces and a finished size of 4″ x 6″ you’ll want to make sure you never misplace the tweezers that come with this miniscule but challenging puzzle!

Sea Otter Family by Cobble Hill. 400 pieces.

This puzzle’s unique quality isn’t intended to challenge you—instead it’s intended to help make the puzzling experience inclusive! There are small, medium, and large shaped pieces in this Family Puzzle series so that everyone feels like they can help, from the littlest ones to the biggest ones. However, the uniqueness of this may challenge you anyways!

Monarch in Flight by Paper House Productions. 500 pieces.

Completing the edges is a whole new experience with shaped puzzles! Additionally, there are some pieces hidden in here with surprise shapes—butterflies and flower shapes included.

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

It’s the day after Easter and you know what that means: chocolate is on sale! Peeps are on sale! Everything delicious is on sale, and it’s time to buy it all up! We thought we’d inspire you to be a little naughty and indulge in all the sugary goodness by showcasing some chocolatey puzzles. Mmm!

Chocolate Overload by Ravensburger. 300 pieces.

Talk about chocolate overload! From Chocolate Unwrapped:

1. The first recorded “Death by Chocolate” case occurred in the 17th Century in Chiapas, Mexico.  Upper class Spaniards were so addicted to chocolate that they refused to adhere to a church dictated chocolate ban that forbade them from eating or drinking any food during the church services.  As a result, the people of the town refused not only listen to the ban but chose to attend worship services in convents instead.  The Bishop who passed the law was later found dead due to poison being mixed into his daily cup of chocolate.

Chocolate Sensation by Springbok. 400 pieces.

While the Swiss consume the most chocolate, Americans make the most chocolate. Each American eats about 22 pounds of candy or chocolate a year. That makes 2.8 billion pounds annually! As of 2006, consumers spent $7,000,000 every year on chocolate alone.

Death by Chocolate by Ravensburger. 1000 pieces.

92% of Americans prefer milk chocolate, but dark chocolate’s popularity is growing rapidly, possibly because dark chocolate is considered a more healthy treat. Dark chocolate has more flavonoids than any other food. It has been found to improve blood pressure, prevent blood clots, slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (making it less likely to stick to artery walls) and reduce inflammation. It’s thought that eating a few squares every day can reduce the risk of a heart attack by up to 10%.

Melts in the Mouth by Master Pieces. 500 pieces.

See’s Candies boasts that milk chocolate, and specifically milk chocolate bordeaux are the most popular of their candies. See’s Milk BordeauxTM is a blend of creamy brown sugar covered in milk chocolate and decorated with chocolate rice. But America’s favorite chocolate brand is Snickers. The unit sales are 407,409,600 which brings in about $424,112,200. Wow!

Chocolates by Eurographics. 1000 pieces.

Which filling of chocolate do you like best? Well, whatever it is, you owe a big thanks to Swiss Confectioner Jules Sechaud. In 1913 he invented a process to allow chocolates to have those unique fillings.

Chocoholic by Master Pieces. 500 pieces.

Gene Wilder stated that about 1/3 of the objects in the Chocolate Room in the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were edible! However, most of the chocolate bars in the film were actually made of wood, except for that famous chocolate river, which was a real mixture of chocolate, water, and cream. Unfortunately, it spoiled fairly quickly and left an awful smell.

 

Happy Easter!: Facts and Trivia

Happy Easter from Puzzle Warehouse! We hope whether you got up early to go to church or are spending the afternoon scavenging for eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny (or both!) that you are having a lovely day with family or friends.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after the Crucifixion and is celebrated  on the Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of spring. That’s why the date can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.

Now That’s Art! by SunsOut. 100 pieces. Finished size: 10″ x 16″.

Eggs have special significance during the Easter holidays because eggs celebrate new life. While they don’t seem alive, life lives within them, just waiting to hatch. Before egg dyeing and chocolate eggs and hardboiled eggs were popular, people gave each other eggs carved from other materials, like wood or precious stones.

Easter on the Lawn by SunsOut. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.5″ x 35″.

Rabbits and hares was associated with springtime even before the time of Jesus. The Anglo Saxon goddess of Spring named Eostre (which some believe was the inspiration for the name Easter) had a hare as her companion to symbolize fertility and rebirth.

The tradition of believing that a bunny hides eggs for little children to find came to America in the 1700’s from German immigrants. Like the Christmas stocking and coal, the parents told their children that if they were good and made a little “nest” out of their caps and bonnets, the Easter Bunny would leave them colored eggs.

Bunnie Wannabe by SunsOut. 500 pieces. Finished size: 18″ x 24″.

Easter is a pretty important holiday to Americans. It’s the second-biggest candy holiday after Halloween (even beating out Valentines’ Day!) and it’s the fourth-largest card-exchanging holiday. Nearly 120 million cards are sent every year. Wouldn’t this hound in bunny ears make a perfect card as well as puzzle?

True Love by SunsOut. 500 pieces. Finished size: 15.5″ x 18″.

The first Cadbury Easter Eggs were made in 1875! At first chocolate wasn’t all that popular around Easter until molds were made. In the beginning, chocolate Easter eggs were made of dark chocolate with sugared almonds inside. By 1893, there was 19 different lines on the Cadbury Brothers Easter list in the UK. Now we know that it’s not just chocolate eggs that are so popular. People love molds of chocolate bunnies, and there’s certainly some good selection—Gourmet Food has even made a Top 10 List. Did you know that 76% of Americans say they bite off the ears first, with only 5% going for the feet first and 4% biting into the tail?

Cravings by White Mountain. 300 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 26.625″.

Jelly beans became an Easter tradition in 1930 and now 16 million jelly beans are made every year exclusively for the Easter holiday, as well as approximately 90 million Easter bunnies. But those that don’t like the traditional chocolate or the fruity jelly beans are a pretty dominating market as well: 700 million Peeps are made every year for Easter. Did you know that for a long time people hid Easter goodies in children’s shoes? Baskets became popular when people realized the shoes were too small to stuff in all that yumminess!

 

Whether you just like jigsaw puzzling as a winter hobby or you compete in puzzle competitions, we want to keep you up to date on the very best jigsaw puzzle brands, themes, how-to's and events.

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