Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles - 12/31/14 - Happy New Year

2015 Maze

Ring in the New Year with this 2015 Maze!  Download the maze from Google Docs by clicking the picture above and enjoy!

Ringing in the New Year

Click on the bells above and learn a little trivia about "ringing in the New Year."

Have a great one!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 12/17/14 - Christmas Carols

Mixed Up Carols - The Puzzle Den

This week's free puzzle will challenge your knowledge of Christmas carols and popular songs!  Anyone who loves singing for the season should give this one a try!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 11/26/14 - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Missing Words 1

For your puzzle enjoyment, this week we have Missing Words!  There are 12 Thanksgiving related words to get sorted out.

Thanksgiving Missing Words 2

And if you love Missing Words as much as I do, you'll love a second set with another 12 words to boggle your brain!

Click on either picture to download both from Google Drive.

Have a happy turkey day!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some on Saturday


1)  We spent last weekend with our friends in Florida to celebrate Natalie's 16th birthday!  We had a great time hanging out with them and meeting their friends and extended family members!  Natalie's cake was gorgeous!  Her mom made it for her.  The picture doesn't do it justice.


2)  While in FL we also snagged a geocache.  It was a quick find at the end of the road our hotel was on.


3)  Gin and I worked a couple cat puzzles this week.


4)  And we did some more geocaching with Papa.  We managed to find 5 new caches!  That puts us at 11 total!  We're going to work toward finding 100...it might take a while.


Here's another cache we found today, hidden under a rotten log.  I found that one!


5)  And finally, we are getting ready for a week long trip to Va Beach.  First we are going to stay at Great Wolf Lodge for a couple days.  One final family trip before JP heads to Korea.  Then we will feast at Grandma's for Thanksgiving.  And finally, we will attend my sister's wedding.  The flowers you see above are for her hair.  They are tatted flowers in rainbow colors.  She has dreads and this huge amount of puffy hair, so she can probably pin all of those in there somewhere!  Hope she likes them!

So we are off for a while.  Hope you all have a delicious Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 11/19/14 - Turkeys

Turkey Word Compass

Today's free puzzle is All About Turkeys!  Just in time for some delicious Thanksgiving fun!

Bon Appetit!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Five on Friday



1)  Last Saturday, we decided to go biking at a park.  Turns out biking was not allowed on their paths, but geocaching was!  We got in three finds!  We weren't prepared for geocaching, but you don't really need anything, just your phone and app.  Having something to trade for boxes with goodies is nice, but not required.  It's also handy to have your own pen.  But two of the caches we found had pencils or crayons in them, so we were able to leave our mark!


Jack has decided that he despises geocaching.  But if we hadn't left the trail for a find, we wouldn't have found these amazing rocks to climb on!  Jack likes climbing on rocks, if not searching the undergrowth and reaching into dirty crevices. 


2)  We played some more Settlers of Catan this week.  We actually played the Seafarers version with random placement of the tiles and it was awesome!  JP smashed us all!  He has this way of sneaking a win in on people.  You're just playing along having fun, thinking that you're about half way through the game, when it's his turn and he says, "I win!"  Like what?!!  He does that all the time!


We also played some Lost Cities.  This is a quick 2 player game.  You can even decide how many rounds you'd like to play to make it longer or shorter.  If you're looking for something different in the way of  2 player games, I recommend this one.


3)  Did some "fall" cleaning this week and found this magnetic mahjong board my mom had given me.  I set up a matching version of the game on the fridge to see if I could snag anyone into playing.  Ginny has made a couple of matches so far!


4)  We decided to make blankets for the shelter kitties for Christmas!  The fleece was on sale yesterday for such an amazingly good deal!  We think we bought enough to make 40+ blankets!  It's a very easy project to do.  Here's some more information about shelters and blankets.  We found that 3 inches for the ties is just a little short, but 5 inches is too long.  Four inches is just right!  We hope the kitties will like their blankets!

magic numbers
5)  Here's an interesting article about Martin Gardiner on BBC with puzzles!  You can find answers to the puzzles here.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles - 11/12/14 - Thanksgiving

Turkey Color-By-Number Addition

Today's free puzzle is for Thanksgiving!  Turkey day is just a couple weeks away here in the U.S.  You can download either an easy addition version or a multiplication version.  Just click on the picture to download from Google Drive.

Turkey Color-By-Number Multiplication

Enjoy!

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Shell Game from Thinkfun

Shell Game

Todays Puzzle in the Spotlight is the Shell Game from Thinkfun!  It is the classic shell swapping game but modified for a single player.


In the box you will find an instructions and solution booklet, the challenge booklet, 6 shells, 6 hermit crabs, and 3 stones.  The hermit crabs are a really cute touch and they snuggle into their shell homes quite nicely!


This is a pretty straightforward puzzle.  First you choose a challenge in the challenge booklet.  Then you set up your hermit crabs, stones and shells in the order dictated at the top of the page.  You can see in the above photo that a red crab is first matching the red A at the top and etc.


The gray circles indicate that a stone is needed in that space.  The stones serve the purpose of providing sensory feedback for the "empty" shells.  As you move the shells around, you can feel something moving inside them.  If the stones weren't there, you'd be able to cheat!  So definitely use the stones!


Now that the board is set up, your goal is to move the crabs from their original starting positions to the end spots.  The bottom of the challenge board shows the needed end positions.  If you look closely, you can also see brown lines connecting the shells.  These are your "swap" lines.  You can only swap two shells if they are connected by one of these lines.  That's where a bit of the challenge comes into play.  The other bit is trying to remember where all your colored hermit crabs are once you start swapping them here and there!


A couple swaps later, and when I peek under my shells, I see that I have successfully moved them into the correct spots!  But that was a beginner challenge...too easy!  There are 60 challenges included from beginner to expert.


Here is an example of an advanced challenge.  The very last challenge in the book uses all 6 hermit crabs and only 5 swap lines!  My husband took a look at that, thought about it for a few minutes, then solved the challenge with some logic.  He's one of those kinds of people who wants to solve the hardest challenge first.  If they get that one, then they figure there's no reason to solve any of the others.  I think he misses an important aspect of solving puzzles like this...which is having fun!

This game is completely adorable!  It's a bit easier than some logic puzzles, but that makes it great for kids.  It's recommended for 8 and up, but it's totally workable by younger kids too.  Watch out for the really little ones as the hermit crabs and stones are swallowable!

If your little solvers don't catch onto the idea of the challenges, then play the regular game of shell swap with them.  Use only one hermit crab and two stones, swap those shells around for them, and see if they can figure out where the crab is.  Also check if they've been paying attention and ask them what color crab you used before you reveal it!

One more thought...there are many ways to solve these challenges.  The solutions manual lists one possible solution for each challenge.  There is no restriction on the number of swaps allowed per challenge.  One way you could make the game more difficult is by challenging yourself to complete each level in as few swaps as possible.

This is definitely a game to keep in mind for your Christmas lists!

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Recap of the Last Couple Weeks and Halloween!


1)  This is what our front porch looked like on Halloween!  We hung black tarp around the inside and had some spooky decorations around the outside.


Ginny handed out the candy.  You can almost see her here.  It was more spooky as it got darker out!  Some kids didn't even want to come up to our house, but it really wasn't too scary.


Jack hid on the other side with stern instructions to only scare the older kids.  He usually didn't have to do anything but stand there to make people jump though!


My kids were really too old to trick-or-treat this year, so they had a lot of fun coming up with decorating ideas and handing out the treats!  We live on an Army base, so we had a TON of kids stop by.  Ginny and I made up 120 treat bags and we ran out in just over one hour!  Army kids like their treats!


2)  On Halloween morning, JP graduated from his Army school (it's called FA24 course for techy geek kind of guys).  He graduated number one in his class, so he gets a special coin!  They say this class is about the same as a master's degree course work shoved into 9 months.  He did very well!


Here's a picture with the kids.  You don't catch Jack in pants but once a year, so it was pretty special!


3)  I let Jack and Ginny do some meal planning over the last couple weeks.  Jack decided that we should eat out at Red Lobster last Saturday...and we did!  Those cheesy garlic biscuits are the BEST!


4)  These are some strays that live in the bushes by JC Penneys.  They were so cute!  The kids wanted to catch them all (there were at least 3) and bring them home. 


5)  And finally, we found a dead mole cricket in our driveway.  I don't think I've ever seen one of these before.  It took me a while to figure out what it was.  Looks kind of like a crab with frog legs!  These guys are apparently diggers.  They have specially shaped front legs that help them shovel dirt around.  I think this guy might be a short-wing variety.  If you zoom in on the picture, you can see what looks like little stubby wings.  He's a pretty cool looking dude!  You can read more about them on wikipedia.

Hope your week was fabulous!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back 2 Back from SmartGames

Back 2 Back

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Back 2 Back, a new(ish) puzzle game from SmartGames.

This game comes with a a storage box which doubles as the playing board, 11 colorful game pieces, and an instructions/challenge booklet.


Everything fits in the storage box quite nicely, so you never have to worry about losing pieces or instructions!


Rules for play are quite simple:
1)  Set the white playing board vertically into the clear bottom.  (This looks kind of like Connect Four!)
2)  Pick a challenge and place the pieces as shown.
3)  Find pieces to fill the empty spaces on the board.  You can place them from the front or the back of the board.  You must use all the pieces and all holes must be filled in...from both sides!


Here you can see the game board in place.  You can use the clear plastic bottom to store pieces while you work.


Challenge #2 is almost reading to start.  I just need to finish placing the purple and blue pieces.


Let's take a closer look at the back side of this game board.  You can see that the pieces have some sections that protrude through the game board, and other sections that don't.  You need to cover the half sections with half sections from other playing pieces.


The medium blue "L" shape has two half sections that can fit around this orange piece.


Turn the game board back around, and you can see the protruding sections of the medium blue piece!


Continue placing pieces, both from the front and the back, until the entire grid is filled!  You can check your solutions in the back of the challenge booklet.


There are 60 challenges to play, from starter to wizard.  The game pieces are sturdy and the game board is slightly flexible, which makes popping the pieces in and out a little easier.  My thumbs did get a bit sore after a while!

I have really enjoyed this grid-filling game.  I love that we must attack this from both the back and the front!  This adds a unique twist to this style of puzzle. 

This puzzle is recommended for ages 7 and up.  I'd think that most younger kids could complete the starter and junior levels without too much difficulty.  And, as always, this would be a great game for parents to work on with their kids.

My only complaint:  The name of the game doesn't appear on any of its components!  It isn't even on the cover of the instruction book, so once you throw away the box, you just have to remember "Back 2 Back" is the name.  And I can't imagine anyone keeping the box when this has such a lovely way to store itself.  Anyway, if you search the game book, you can find the name in the copyright information.  Not a problem for game play, just irksome when you're trying to remember the name!

Overall, I give this game 5 out of 5 stars!

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