Dogs Spending the Summer on the Porch

Summer on the PorchSummer is a great time for the dogs and other animals of the neighborhood to explore their area. This summer, I have seen all the dogs of my growing neighborhood roaming past my house [with their human friends].

One of them, Daisy, loves to watch the new houses being built. She is utterly fascinated by all the trucks and builders making noise. She wants to do a good job of protecting her territory. And then there is Drew’s little terrier, Jack. Jack loves to go for a walk with Daisy so that they can explore their area together. Jack also loves to investigate the deer in the neighborhood. Except the deer don’t appreciate this and will stomp their feet to try to intimidate Jack. Both Jack and the deer don’t realize that the other can see right through their acts of bravado.  Meanwhile, Samson and Dante down the street love to smother strange, new humans [who are innocently strolling the neighborhood] with their exorbitant love that their human “friend” has to do all that she can to hold them back.

The animals, especially the large dog, in this dog jigsaw puzzle look like they are waiting for you and your loved ones so that they, too, can shower you with all of their love. As you assemble this puzzle entitled “Summer on the Porch” it would be a great time to discuss the antics of your neighborhood dogs, your own dogs, or maybe previously owned dogs of yours.

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The Dove of Hope

Dove of HopeAs you look at this picture, the first thought that you might be thinking is “What does a dove have to do with hope?” That’s easy to answer. There are two Bible verses in which a dove is seen as a symbol of hope.

The first one is from the book of Genesis, chapter 8. Verse 11 says, “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there was a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak! Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.” Noah, his wife, sons, their wives and all the animals two by two had been living in the Ark for almost a year (after it rained for 40 days and nights) waiting for the waters to recede from the earth after flooding it. Because the dove was able to bring an olive branch to Noah, that meant that enough waters had receded for things to grow once again. Now, the humans and the animals could leave the ark and begin their new lives on the earth.  You can see this scene symbolized in this jigsaw puzzle with the dove holding an olive branch in its beak.

Some of the other scenes in this puzzle entitled “Dove of Hope” are from the Bible as well. It shows the Star shining down on the baby Jesus to show the Magi from the east where to find “Hope”. And then another scene shows the place where Jesus ate his Last Supper with his disciples before his Crucifixion. The upper section depicts Jesus as the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and Jesus as the Light of the World.

Since the rest of the puzzle includes scenes from the life of Christ, I’ll mention the second verse about a dove and hope which is from Matthew 3:16. This verse says, “After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him.” Since Jesus says in John 14:16 that this Spirit of God is also the Comforter or Advocate, we can make the connection that this Dove, which stands for the Holy Spirit of God, brings hope as well as comfort.

As you and your loved ones assemble this Christian jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to discuss what gives you hope.

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Check out these Pandas in their Garden!

Fuji FloraSometimes the titles of paintings really do not tell us very much, but other times the titles can tell a lot. In this instance, this jigsaw puzzle entitled “Fuji Flora – Japanese Panda Floral Garden Mountain Scene” tells us three things. First, it is a scene from Mt. Fuji in Japan. Secondly, it is type of Japanese Garden (there are three types) and thirdly it is about Pandas, which are from China.

Mt Fuji is one of the three most sacred mountains in all of Japan. It’s also the highest peak in Japan and is a World Heritage Site. The choice of Mt Fuji for this painting shows that this landscape is very special to the artist and the intended audience. At the foot of the mountain, there is a floral garden. Japanese Gardens are different from western gardens. According to Wikipedia, while western gardens are created for visual appeal, Japanese gardens are created out of spiritual and philosophical ideals. Essential elements in these gardens are: water, rocks, sand, bridges, fences, gates, water basins, trees, fish and then flowers. I remember visiting a Japanese Tea Garden when I was touring San Antonio, Texas one summer. It was so very peaceful, serene and green.

Normally, I would not expect Pandas to be in this scene since they are native to China. But back in the 1970s, China gifted the United States and Japan with some Pandas. I remember trying to see them once when I was at the National Zoo in Washington DC but they were napping so we couldn’t see them. But now, thanks to two webcams, anyone with an internet connection can see them. Currently, the Chinese government will allow international zoos to have their national treasures “on loan” for a fee.

Assembling this Sunsout jigsaw puzzle with your loved ones can give you an interesting opportunity into Japan’s geography, culture and sense of style. This would be a great time to discuss where to find the nearest Japanese Garden and plan your visit.

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The Little Church in the Wildwood

Little White Church Sandra BergeronEven though this pretty scene is of a white church, I can’t help but think of another church, one that has been popularized by William Pitts since 1857. It is the “Little Brown Church in the Wildwood” which is located in Nashua, Iowa. Here are some of the lyrics –

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood,
No lovelier place in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the dale

Oh come, come, come, come
Come to the church in the wildwood
Oh come to the church in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the dale

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To listen to the clear ringing bell
Its tones so sweetly are calling
Oh come to the church in the dale

As you and your loved ones assemble this Christian jigsaw puzzle entitled “Little White Church“, it would be a great time to think of some older, popular songs that you like or some beautiful churches that you’ve visited.

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Exploring the Great Northwest along the Yukon River

Along the Yukon

Along the Yukon

The title of this jigsaw puzzle, “Along the Yukon” is rather interesting. The phrase “The Yukon” could refer to the Yukon River or to The Yukon Territory. The picture doesn’t help me identify the possible subject. Indeed, without the title this could be a general picture of the northwestern part of North America during the mid-20th century.

As the third largest river in North America, the Yukon River starts in northern British Colombia, goes through Yukon then cuts horizontally through the middle of Alaska until it empties in the ocean. According to the website Yukoninfo, in Canada “during the Klondike Gold Rush the Yukon River was one of the principal means of transportation. Paddle-wheel riverboats continued to ply the river until the 1950s, when the Klondike Highway was completed.” It is also a major avenue of transportation through the center of Alaska. In Alaska, it connects some small indigenous towns which have less than 1,000 people in them. Thus, the picture could refer to the towns along the river that benefit from its resources.

But the title could refer to the major communities of Whitehorse and Dawson City in the Yukon Territory in Canada. Along the way, the Yukon River goes through Whitehorse which is the largest city in Northern Canada and only city in Yukon. In fact, 65% of all Yukonites live in Whitehorse. Whitehorse became the territorial capital in the 1950s with a population of almost 3,000 people. Before that the capital had been another community along the Yukon River named Dawson City [which is not currently an official city], but with the construction of the Klondike Highway the population shifted to Whitehorse. Both municipalities in the Yukon Territory could fit this picture due to their buildings’ architecture and to having paved streets. The towns along the Yukon River in Alaska, such as Fort Yukon and Pitkas Point, have always have been very small with buildings and streets that do not resemble this picture.  They also were not connected with the Klondike Goldrush like Whitehorse and Dawson City were.

The Klondike Goldrush existed for a few short years in the 1890s in this area but according to Wikipedia, gold mining is still in the top 2 for industry in Dawson City. This would make sense since the goldrush started here upon the discovery of an excellent form of gold. To this day, the architecture of this town still must resemble that of the 1890s. This is because the other main industry of this town is tourism. Tourists love to visit the area where the goldrush started and brought tens of thousands of prospectors around 120 years ago.

Did you know? American author, Jack London, lived in Dawson City during this time, too. He wrote Call of the Wild and White Fang while he was there. Based on all of this information, I suspect that the theme of the picture refers to life in Dawson City during its heyday in the mid 1950s.

As you and your loved ones assemble this car jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to research more about Alaska, Yukon Territory, the Yukon River, the Klondike Highway, the Klondike Gold Rush and Jack London to help get a real feel for the background of this picture. If you have loved ones who love great adventure this would be a great springboard for discussions about exploring the great Canadian and Alaskan north.



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Everything is Bigger in Texas!

TexasThose of us who grew up in the 1980s are probably humming the theme song to the TV show Dallas right now…. For me, the best part about that show was the theme song. I especially loved how the camera viewed the ranch high up in the air giving viewers an awareness of just how big that ranch really was. Well, if I thought that ranch was large, the state is even larger.

Texas is so large, that it would be very difficult to describe it in a blog so I’ll give a few examples to try to create a picture of how large life is in Texas. It is the second largest US State in size and in population. Alaska is the largest in size while California is largest in population. Three cities [Houston, San Antonia, Dallas] each have over a million residents. And in comparison to other cities in the USA, Houston is the fourth largest, San Antonio is the seventh and Dallas is the ninth. Texas is surrounded by four American states and four Mexican states. To drive from the western tip to the east would take 14.5 hours and Brownsville north would take 15.5 hours. According to Wikipedia, there are 10 climatic regions, 14 soil regions and 11 distinct ecological regions. There is a desert region, as well as hill country, plains, grassland, forests, prairie and coastland. Culturally speaking, the state is influenced by Southern culture, Western or frontier culture and  Southwestern or Mexican culture. There are an abundance of natural resources which has contributed to Texas’ booming economy. It also has a rather unique history in that 6 nations have ruled over Texas – Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America and the United States of America.

As you and your loved ones assemble this map jigsaw puzzle entitled “Welcome to Texas“, it would be a great time to do more research about one of many topics relating to Texas. You can find this puzzle on our website.

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Ships Ahoy from Ireland!

This colorful picture looks like a simple, bucolic seaside town, but dig deeper, and you’ll see that this pretty scene holds a lot of significance in the history of Ireland and even the United States.

This is St. Colman’s in Cobh, Ireland in County Cork. This church is the second tallest church in Ireland. Its construction was completed about 100 years ago. The town where it is located was once called Queenstown from 1849 to 1920. It was so named in honor of a visit to the town by Queen Victoria.

This area has natural protection of its harbor which means that cruise ships, naval ships and other large ships can dock easily. According to Wikipedia, it was the point of departure for 2.5 million [out of a total of 6 million from 1848 – 1950] Irish who immigrated to the United States. It was here that the Titanic was docked before it left for its fateful journey across the north Atlantic in 1912. It was the major port of departure for convicts from the British Isles to the penal colony in Australia. And it was a naval base for the Allies during World War I.

Thus, if you are one of the 36 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry as your primary ethnicity, you will be especially interested in this jigsaw puzzle entitled “Bon Voyage Travel Photos – Ireland“. You can find it and other 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles on our website.

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Do You Know What Produces the Color Blue in Mediterranean Architecture?

Santorini GreeceThroughout the Mediterranean, especially along the coast, one can see the beautiful, refreshing colors of bright white and azure blue.

These buildings [as well as clothing] were dyed this beautiful color of blue going back to ancient times. But how did ancient Mediterranean people produce this color of blue? It didn’t come from a plant, pigments, resin, solvent or additives but from the secretion of a snail called the Murex Trunculus. According to Wikipedia, the dye originally appears as purple but it fades into blue the more that it is in the sun. Because so many snails are needed to make this dye, it was highly prized. The beautiful white is the result of “whitewashing”, which is a wash or paint made from calcium hydroxide (“lime”) and calcium carbonate (“chalk”).

This vacation season would be a great time to begin making plans (whether actual or for someday in the future) to see new and exotic places like Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean. Assembling a Ceaco jigsaw puzzle like this one entitled “Bon Voyage: Greece” would be a great time to discuss and dream.

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Jigsaw Puzzle Pictures Can Take You Down Some Surprising Roads

Farm to Market Road by Janene GrendeI have always been the type of person who craves to know the “story” behind a piece of artwork. I remember as a child, when my parents took me to art galleries, being so frustrated when I saw such uncreative titles to famous paintings such as “bowl of fruit”. Those titles told me nothing about the subject. Artists Frederick Remington and Charles M. Russel were the only exceptions to this. Their paintings had creative titles such as “Meat’s not Meat ’til it’s in the Pan (Russell)” and “What an Unbranded Cow Has Cost (Remington)”. Those titles TOLD me something. But, I do realize that sometimes, there is no story behind the picture because the painting is really just about a  “bowl of fruit”. Thus, when I went to write this blog about this jigsaw puzzle entitled “Farm to Market Road” and saw the cardinals and flowers, my first thought was “this is just another bowl of fruit” picture. But then I saw this little sign that said “Farm to Market Road” and decided to investigate.

What I found has been rather interesting (thanks to Wikipedia). Turns out, in Texas (as well as in Missouri, Iowa and Louisiana) “Farm to Market Roads” are what they call their secondary state roads, specifically those paved roads that connect agricultural areas to market towns. In my home state, we use the uncreative designation of “Quadrant Road” but I think Texas’ naming system is more creative and definitely has a greater sense of history. In the 1930s, the first Farm to Market road was created in Rusk County. By the 1940s, the concept had really taken off because it helped to connect isolated areas in western and central Texas. Currently, Farm to Market Roads (and Ranch to Market Roads) account for over half of the roads in Texas. Although, as urban areas have grown out into the countryside over the years, some of these Farm to Market roads are now considered purely Urban Roads but the old names remain.

While you and your loved ones assemble this bird jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to discuss other interesting titles for pictures or unexpected paths that roads can take us in life.

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What European country has the largest city by population, the best coffee and “delightful” desserts?

Bon Voyage TurkeyIf you said Turkey, you’d be correct! Another interesting tidbit of information about its largest city is that it is located on two continents – Europe and Asia. According to Wikipedia, two-thirds of the population of Istanbul live in Europe. The second largest city in Europe is in another country that is located in two continents – Moscow, Russia.

Turkish cuisine has some well-known favorites known around the world. The chief of which is their coffee. It is made from very finely ground coffee which is boiled with sugar and cardamom [I could go for a cup right now…yum]. A dessert commonly served with coffee is Turkish Delight. If you are a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, you’ll recall that it was Edmund Pevensie’s favorite dessert and the means by which the White Witch led him astray. Turkish Delight is a dessert made out of sugar, gelatin, water, juice and nuts. Another popular dessert is Baklava. It is made from layers of filo dough, honey and nuts. A perfect beverage to accompany it is lemonade because of how the tartness contrasts with the sweet honey taste. Turks also love to drink strong Turkish tea which is a great accompaniment with kurabiyes, a sweet cookie. Thanks to a childhood friend, I grew up eating kurabiyes. Hmm… I think I’ll go find that recipe from her Turkish mother and make some strong tea […or coffee]. Or lemonade and some baklava…or maybe go wild and eat all these desserts! As I look at the scene in this jigsaw puzzle entitled “Bon Voyage Travel Photos: Turkey“, I can imagine myself walking throughout this market place, searching for some tasty desserts and beverages.

For you and your loved ones, researching, preparing and eating some Turkish cuisine while assembling this puzzle would be a fun experience. You can find it and other Ceaco jigsaw puzzles at our website.

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