Puzzle: Taste of Tuscany, Bella Piazza

: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 48.26cm x 35.56cm
Producer: The Canadian Group, Sure-Lox, Taste of Tuscany series
A piazza is a city square in Italy, Malta, along the Dalmatian coast and in surrounding regions. The term is roughly equivalent to the Spanish plaza. In Ethiopia, it is used to refer to a part of a city. [Wiki]

Plaza is a Spanish word related to “field” which describes an open urban public space, such as a city square.[1] All through Spanish America, the plaza mayor of each center of administration held three closely related institutions: the cathedral, the cabildo or administrative center, which might be incorporated in a wing of a governor’s palace, and the audiencia or law court. The plaza might be large enough to serve as a military parade ground. At times of crisis or fiesta, it was the space where a large crowd might gather. Like the Italian piazza, the plaza remains a center of community life that is only equaled by the market-place. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Rustic home

: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 40.64cm x 40.64cm
Producer:  Hasbro, MB Puzzle
1. of, pertaining to, or living in the country, as distinguished from towns or cities; rural.
2. simple, artless, or unsophisticated.
3. uncouth, rude, or boorish.
4. made of roughly dressed limbs or roots of trees, as garden seats.
5. (of stonework) having the surfaces rough or irregular and the joints sunken or beveled. [Dictionary.com]

Puzzle: Lighthouse Scene by Wendy Schaefer-Miles and Kevin D. Miles

: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 99.06 cm wide
: Panorific, Sure-Lox
Wendy Schaefer-Miles and Kevin D. Miles
Box: photo
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for pilots at sea or on inland waterways.

Lighthouses are used to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals and reefs, and safe entries to harbors, and can also assist in aerial navigation. Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and replacement by modern electronic navigational aids. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Summer Fruits by W. Hammer

: 1000 pieces
Producer: Jumbo
Artist: W. Hammer (1821-1889)
Painting: photo
Notes: In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.

The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state, such as apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, juniper berries and bananas. Seed-associated structures that do not fit these informal criteria are usually called by other names, such as vegetables, pods, nut, ears and cones.

Fruits are the means by which many plants disseminate seeds. Most plants bearing edible fruits, in particular, coevolved with animals in a symbiotic relationship as a means for seed dispersal and nutrition, respectively; in fact, many animals (including humans to some extent) have become dependent on fruits as a source of food. Fruits account for a substantial fraction of world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the apple and the pomegranate) have acquired extensive cultural and symbolic meanings. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Marigold

: 500 pieces
Producer: Mega
Notes: Calendula officinalis (pot marigold) is a plant in the genus Calendula, in the family Asteraceae. It is probably native to southern Europe  though its long history of cultivation makes its precise origin unknown, and may possibly be of garden origin. It is also widely naturalised further north in Europe (north to southern England) and elsewhere in warm temperate regions of the world.

Plant pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have anti-viral, anti-genotoxic and anti-inflammatory properties. Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically to treat acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding and soothing irritated tissue. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Japanese House

: 2000 pieces
Notes: Japanese architecture has a long history much like any other aspect of Japanese culture. Originally heavily influenced by Chinese architecture from the Tang Dynasty, it has also developed many unique differences and aspects indigenous to Japan as a result of dynamic changes throughout its long history. [Wiki]

A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Nepal and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist, and were often located in or near temples. This term may refer to other religious structures in some countries. [Wiki]

I brought this puzzle from Russia in 2007. The picture on the box differs from that on the puzzle – the clouds present in the puzzle are shown on the box as blue-purple gradient of the clear sky, and the water reflection differs accordingly.

I do not have a record of the producer of the puzzle as I do not have the box anymore. A clarification is welcome – if you have any clue as to the details regarding this puzzle, I would much appreciate that information.

Puzzle: Venice

: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 86.36cm x 30.48cm
: The Canadian Group, Sure-Lox, Panorific series
Notes: Venice (Italian: Venezia) is a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry, and is the capital of the region Veneto, with a population of about 270,660 (census estimate 30 April 2009).

The name is derived from the ancient people of Veneti that inhabited the region as of 10th century B.C. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”. Luigi Barzini, writing in The New York Times, described it as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man”.

The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Manicured Gardens, San Diego

: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 39cm x 60cm
: Impressions, Sure-lox
San Diego, named after Saint Didacus (Spanish: Diego de Alcalá), is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California, after Los Angeles, with a population of 1,307,402 (2010 Census) within its administrative limits on a land area of 963.7 km2. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. The urban area of San Diego extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 2,880,000, making it the third-largest urban area in California. San Diego is the 33rd richest city in the world. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Normandy Harbour

: 500 pieces, 1 missing
Producer: Puzzle World
Notes: Normandy (French: Normandie, Norman: Nourmaundie, from Old French Normanz, plural of Normand, originally from the word for “northman” in several Scandinavian languages) is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is situated along the English Channel coast of Northern France between Brittany (to the west) and Picardy (to the east) and comprises territory in northern France and the Channel Islands. The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France.

Parts of Normandy consist of rolling countryside typified by pasture for dairy cattle and apple orchards. A wide range of dairy products are produced and exported. Norman cheeses include Camembert, Livarot, Pont l’Évêque, Brillat-Savarin, Neufchâtel, Petit Suisse and Boursin. Normandy butter and Normandy cream are lavishly used in gastronomic specialties.

Normandy is a major cider-producing region (very little wine is produced). Perry is also produced, but in less significant quantities. Apple brandy, of which the most famous variety is calvados, is also popular. The mealtime trou normand, or “Norman hole”, is a pause between meal courses in which diners partake of a glassful of calvados in order to improve the appetite and make room for the next course, and this is still observed in many homes and restaurants. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

: 500 pieces
: MB Puzzle, Little Big Ben series
Notes: Bellingrath Gardens and Home is a 26 ha botanical garden and mansion located on the Fowl River in Theodore, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama. The gardens include a bridal garden, a conservatory, a great lawn, a nature walk, an Oriental garden, a rose garden, a chapel, the Mermaid Pool, Mirror Lake, an observation tower, and a river pavilion where river cruises are provided on the Southern Belle and the “Kingfisher”.

The garden pathways are composed of flagstone that had been obtained from the old city sidewalks in Mobile, where they had been in place since arriving as ballast in sailing vessels collecting loads of cotton for the mills at Manchester, England.

The gardens feature live oaks, camellias, azaleas, roses, and chrysanthemums year round. Plants featured in winter are tulips, snapdragons, pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, daffodils, poppies, primroses, and many varieties of narcissus. Plants featured in spring include the more than 250,000 azaleas, hydrangeas, Easter lilies, impatiens, salvia, fuchsia, and Pelargonium geraniums. Plants featured in summer are the more than 2000 roses, allamandas, hibiscus, copper plants, begonias, ornamental peppers, bougainvillea, caladiums, coleus, vinca, and marigolds. Plants featured in fall are over 8,000 bedded, potted and cascading chrysanthemums, hibiscus, and copper plants. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Passage to San Marco by Bob Pejman

: 300 pieces
Dimensions: 67cm x 48cm
: Hasbro, EZ Grasp
Painting: photo
Artist: Bob Pejman“In his works, Pejman creates idyllic, tranquil worlds. “There are no people in my paintings, so you can imagine yourself in the scenes”, explains the artist. “The scenes are already romantic, but my idea is to make them even more so”. In doing so, he pushes the colors to make them more intense and exaggerates the sunlight. “I don’t simplify the shapes. You get into the cracks and feel the structures and the stones”, he says, considering them to be marks of cultivated wisdom rather than declination. There is romance in history, and Pejman reminds the viewer of classic beauty and emotions that transcend time, all inherent to such places as the Mediterranean.” [Bob Pejman bio]
“I was inspired to paint this oil painting of Venice in July of 2000, when I was visiting Italy.

On a sunny afternoon on my way to the San Marco Square, I passed through a narrow passage way by the Grand Canal. There was a trattoria on the corner and a gandola tied to a post in the narrow canal. This quiet and romantic spot captivated me to the extent that I stopped for a short while to do a rough sketch of this site, as I knew that I would paint a large scale oil painting of this location upon my return to the States.” [Bob Pejman site]

Puzzle: Forest Fisherman by James C. Christensen

: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 40.64cm x 50.8cm
Producer: Ceaco
Painting: photo
Artist: James C. ChristensenInspired by the world’s myths, fables and tales of imagination, James C. Christensen wants his work to add up to more than a beautiful – if sometimes “curious” looking work of art. Having taught art professionally for over 20 years, he likes to think of the world as his classroom. His hope is that through whatever he creates-be it a porcelain, fine art print or book-he can convey a message, inspiration or a simple laugh. He believes that teaching people to use their imagination helps us find solutions to sooth the stresses of everyday life-or get a little lift to help us keep going. In short: all things are possible when you share Christensen’s philosophy that “Believing is Seeing.”

Christensen was born in 1942 and raised in Culver City, California. He studied painting at Brigham Young University and, for a while, the University of California at Los Angeles before finishing his formal education at BYU. Since then, he has had one-man shows in the West and the Northeast and his work is prized in collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. [Greenwich Workshop site]

Puzzle: The Great Garibaldi by James C. Christensen

: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 40.64cm x 50.8cm
: Ceaco
James C. Christensen
Notes: “Paintings grow out of many things, and this one is from my love of things not being what they seem. The inside scoop is that the Great Garibaldi is the fish (the gold perch is called a “garibaldi”), not the impressive-looking mountebank or the little sycophant. – JCC” [Gallery One site]

Puzzle: The long road ahead

: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 86.36cm x 30.48cm
: Sure-Lox, Panorific series
Notes: When you’ve fallen
on the highway
and you’re lying
in the rain,
and they ask you
how you’re doing
of course you’ll say
you can’t complain –
If you’re squeezed
for information,
that’s when you’ve got to
play it dumb:
You just say
you’re out there waiting
for the miracle,
for the miracle to come…

[Leonard Cohen]

Puzzle: Field of Dreams

: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 86.36cm x 30.48cm
: Sure-Lox, Panorific series
Notes: A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants (grassland). It may be naturally occurring or artificially cleared. It may be cut for hay or grazed by livestock such as cattle, sheep or goats.

A transitional meadow occurs when a field, pasture, farmland, or other cleared land is no longer farmed or heavily grazed  and starts to overgrow. Once meadow conditions are achieved, however, the condition is only temporary because the early colonizers will be shaded out when woody plants become well-established.

In North America prior to European colonization, Algonquian, Iroquois and other Native American people regularly cleared areas of forest to create transitional meadows where deer could find nutrition and be hunted. Many places named “Deerfield” are located at sites where Native Americans once practised this form of land management. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Floral Vista

: 750 pieces
Dimensions: 86.36cm x 30.48cm
: Sure-Lox, Panorific series
Notes: The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus’s native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip’s centre of diversity is in the Pamir, Hindu Kush, and Tien Shan mountains. A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, as potted plants, or to display as fresh-cut flowers. Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana. [Wiki]

Puzzle: Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London, England

: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 51.12cm x 66.52cm
: Big Ben, MB Puzzles
Notes: Covent Garden is a district in London, England, located on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane. It is mainly associated with the former fruit and vegetable market located in the central square which is now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as “Covent Garden”. The district is divided by the main thoroughfare of Long Acre; north of which is mainly given over to independent shops centred on Neal’s Yard and Seven Dials, while the south contains the central square with its street performers, and most of the elegant buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the London Transport Museum. [Wiki]

Puzzle: River of Life Triptych by Steven Michael Gardner

: 1500 pieces (3 puzzles of 500 pieces each)
Dimensions: 91cm x 91cm
: MasterPieces
Painting: photo
Steven Michael Gardner is a native of San Diego, California, and I really loves all animals, the beauty of nature and the wonder of life itself. His love of the animal kingdom and passion for preserving our environment has given him the inspiration and basis for the subjects of his artwork. He has been drawing and painting as a full time artist since the age of 20. Many of his original designs have been widely published in magazines and books, and for many years he has created designs for zoos across the country. These are still available as signed and numbered prints, posters, jigsaw puzzles, notecards, and apparel wear. [Gardner Gallery site]

Notes: Find 13 eagles, 14 wolves, 10 bears [Puzzle box]. This puzzle consists of 3 separate puzzles that, when put together, create one large picture encompassing the land, the river, and the sky.

Puzzle: Sip into something more comfortable

: 500+ pieces, 2 missing
Dimensions: 45.72cm x 59.69cm
Producer: Springbok, by Hallmark, PZL3607
Notes: Throw a summer party anytime of year! Drink recipes on back of box… Plus your very own set of festive drink umbrellas inside! [Puzzle box]

Recipe for a Wonderful Summer

When the summer is a scorcher and the sidewalks start to sizzle,
Then it’s time to hit the hammocks and get out those sticks that swizzle.
Find some curvy, swervy glasses, so far-out they’re outer-spacial,
Then just pop them in the freezer till they’re looking really glacial.
Now you’re getting to the good part, and that’s mixing up those flavors,
Those tangy, fruity liquids that each taste bud’s bound to savor.
Start with ordinary orange juice, then pour in a touch of mango,
And before the day is over, you may learn to do the tango.
If you’re feeling really reckless, you can put in some papaya
And add a shot of rum – or two – or three – oh me, oh my-ya!
Now mix your drinks in reds and pinks, in pearly shades and bluish.
As swallow follows swallow, they will make you feel brand-newish!
Don’t forget to add some garnish – cherries, berries, lemon sections.
Build the grandest of concoctions to the point of pure perfection.
You can even add a posy or a very small umbrella
To make each grateful guest feel like a festive gal or fella.
Remember now to not forget when temperatures are soaring,
The way to beat the heat is just by mixing up and pouring
Some spirits so exotic they’ll both cool you down and warm you,
And two or even three of them could never ever harm you.
No need to let the climate turn your days into a bummer
When you know the perfect recipe for one terrific summer!

[Dean Walley, puzzle box]

Recipes for summer sipping – anytime!

Drinks on puzzle from left to right.

Tequila Sunrise
2 oz. Tequila
4 oz. Orange Juice
3/4 Grenadine
Stir tequila and orange juice with ice and strain into highball glass. Add more ice cubes. Pour in grenadine slowly and allow to settle. Stir before drinking to complete your sunrise.

Blue Hawaii
1 oz. White Rum
1/2 oz. Blue Curaçao
1/2 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 oz. Cream
Shake ingredients well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. A delightful after-dinner cocktail for a warm summer’s night.

1 1/2 oz. Tequila
1/2 oz. Cointreau, Triple Sec, or Curaçao
1/2 oz. Lemon or Lime Juice
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled salt-rimmed cocktail glass. To prepare glass, rub rim with lemon; then dip into salt and shake off excess. Although traditionally the glass for a margarita is salt-rimmed, it may also be sugar-rimmed. A slice of lime or lemon peel may be added if desired.

Piña Colada
3 oz. Rum
3 tablespoons Coconut Milk
3 tablespoons Crushed Pineapple
Place in blender with two cups of crushed ice and blend at high speed for a short time. Strain into Collins glass and serve with straw.

Yellow Bird
3 oz. Orange Juice
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz. Rum
1 1/2 oz. Banana Liqueur
1 tablespoon Kahlua
Put all the ingredients in a blender with a little ice and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large goblet. Decorate with slices of orange, lime, lemon and pineapple and a Maraschino cherry.

Singapore Sling
1 0z. Gin
1 oz. Cherry Brandy
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Sugar
Soda to top
Shake ingredients well with ice. Pour contents into a highball glass and top with soda. Decorate with a slice of lemon and a Maraschino cherry.

[All recipes are printed on the puzzle box]

Puzzle: San Pietro by Rod Chase

: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 48.26cm x 35.56cm
Producer:  The Canadian Group, Sure-Lox
Artist: Rod Chase, Photorealist
Painting: The Glory of San Pietro
Notes: This view is from across the Tiber River looking toward St. Peter’s. I spent the evening photographing this scene during the twilight hours on our last night in Rome. The composition is based on one specific photo while dozens of additional photos were used to provide details for the architectural features. I especially enjoyed painting the reflections on the water, an exercise in abstract line and shape. The colors were muted to faded blues and Terra Cotta tones, which provide a more monochromatic color scheme representing the incredible history and beauty in Rome, and Italy in general. [Rod Chase]