Sheep Field With More Than Just Sheep!

by Elmer Prather, guest blogger from Canton, GA

This is the 33rd Cobble Hill puzzle that I have had the pleasure of putting together. It is titled Sheep Field by Greg & Company. It is a 1000 piece puzzle and was an easy one to assemble.

When I first saw this puzzle, I fell in love with it. It is such an idealistic setting. It has a Collie dog, nine sheep, six free range chickens, three of which are white leghorns and three Wyandettes. It has a robin sitting on the rear view mirror of an old pickup truck. The setting is a Spring day in a pasture of green grass with daisies in full bloom.

The writing on the door of the truck reads, King Cole Farms, home of Rastus, Registered Quarter horses Littleton, Colorado. I checked the web and found a picture of a similar King Cole Farm truck. King Rastus was evidently the first of many quarter horses bought and sold on the farm.  Their business was breeding and raising registered quarter horses. This type of horse is used to herd and manage cattle. They are also used in quarter horse competitions at state fairs and rodeos. They are called quarter horses because of the speeds that they are able to run in a quarter of a mile.

I was attracted to this particular puzzle because I was raised on a farm and when I was around 12 years old my mother gave me the responsibility of feeding and tending the chickens. Our chickens were free range. Free range meaning they were not caged. We had a variety of chickens, some were White Leghorns, some Game, some Rhode Island Reds and some were Domineckers. I fed them each day and when a hen started molting I would “set her”, meaning that I would put about 12 eggs under her that were marked with a number two lead pencil so I could tell the eggs that I had “set” from the new eggs that other hens had laid in her nest. Twenty one days after I set the hens, the baby chicks would hatch.

As I grew older, I purchased a truck similar to the one in the puzzle but older. We used this truck to work the farm. We had cows, horses, chickens, goats and hogs on our little farm. I learned a lot about how to take care of animals tending all of the ones we had.

All of this work taught me responsibility and I am so glad I had this experience. This puzzle took me back to my earlier years on the farm. It is a beautiful puzzle.

Sheep Field 1000 piece by Greg Giordano

Available at your local retailer or favourite online store.
On the USA and Canada Cobble Hill website, search item code: 80259

Deer Field, Reminder Of A Dear Summer

by Elmer Prather, guest blogger from Canton, GA

This is the 30th Cobble Hill puzzle I have had the pleasure of putting together. It is a 500 piece puzzle titled Deer Field by Greg Giordano. The reason I chose this puzzle was because of the beautiful farm scene shown with an old farm truck parked in the field. The old truck reminded me of one I once owned. I grew up in the country and was raised on a smaller version of the farm depicted in the puzzle. We had cows, a horse, chickens, goats and hogs.

I really enjoyed putting this puzzle together. As I put it together I kept thinking of the 1936 Chevrolet truck I found while driving around on a summer afternoon when I was 17 years old. It was parked behind an old barn on a farm about 25 miles from my home. I stopped and asked the owner if the truck was for sale and he is said that it was. He decided the truck was worth $50.00. It was in pretty bad shape but I had fallen in love with it so I purchased it. I had saved money from working at a local grocery store before and after school. My older brother helped me get the truck home and get it cranked. In those days just about anyone could work on their car or truck. We got it cranked and discovered that it had a main bearing knocking in the engine. The tires were dry rotted and needed to be replaced. We found a replacement motor in the local junk yard. My brother negotiated a price for the motor and purchased it. The truck then belonged to both of us. We changed out the motor and the new one ran great. We bought 4 new white wall tires from the local Western Auto store and my brother and I changed out the tires. Things were looking up.

We really enjoyed that truck. We drove it to school, to work, to the river to fish and camp and around our farm. My brother even dated in it. The truck was black, faded and had a dent over the cab that we straightened. It had a great patina so we decided not to have it painted. When we drove the truck around town it always drew a crowd because it was so old and so unique.

As time went by I married and did some trading with my brother and he then owned the truck. He kept it for years and eventually sold it.

As a side note, trucks like this are called “pick up trucks” because when the Ford Motor Company started making trucks many of them were delivered to the local train station via trains. The Ford Motor Company packaged the trucks in wooden crates for shipment. When trucks arrived at the train station the dealership that ordered the trucks would have employees “pick them up” and assemble them at the train station. Hence they came to be called “pickup trucks”. Once assembled they would drive them to the dealership. The trucks were easy to assemble. The wood used to ship the trucks in was used for the bed of the truck. Things were so much simpler back in those days.

I would not take anything for all of the great times I had with that truck. It is a pleasure to have owned it. It was like part of the family.

Deer Field Puzzle box by Cobble Hill Puzzles
Deer Field 500 piece puzzle by artist Greg Giordano

Deer Field is available at your local retailer or favourite online store.
On the USA and Canada Cobble Hill website, search item code: 85078

Prescription for Puzzles: The Health Benefits to Jigsaw Puzzles

by Corey Whelen, staff writer

Centering is a common calming and focusing technique used to handle stressful situations, usually panic or anxiety attacks. The idea is to force yourself to live in the moment by taking deep breaths and focusing on your immediate environment: what you can see, what you can hear, what you can feel. By focusing on the concrete details of your surroundings, you eliminate a lot of other stressors. You stop thinking about your bills, your emails, your responsibilities, and you just focus on being alive and conscious. You distract your mind, in a sense, and free yourself from a lot of external anxieties.

And breathe neon lights on plants

This technique can be a lifesaver for people with mental illnesses, and I believe it relates in part to why puzzles have remained consistently popular over the last century, and their incredible resurgence these last few months. Puzzles are engaging; they relax and reward you with the immediate gratification of seeing the picture come together. Much like centering, puzzling helps your problems melt away. Our brains actually produce alpha brain waves when we work on puzzles, as opposed to the beta waves we usually produce while awake- this is similar to how our brain behaves when we’re dreaming, and being in this state helps improve our mood, increases our confidence, and it can even lower our blood pressure! Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Susan Vandermorris says it best: “If you’re physically doing a paper or cardboard puzzle, you are, by definition, disconnected and engaged in a task that’s immersive, away from the interruptions and stresses of day-to-day life. And that, of course, is good for your brain health.”

Women centering herself on beach in front of the ocean
Alpha waves, beta waves, ocean waves...

Relaxation, stress relief, and, of course, entertainment are obvious positives to puzzling, but some of the biggest benefits to your mental health can be less obvious. Did you know that puzzles can help your critical thinking? Or your memory? Solving puzzles is a fantastic way to build up your short-term memory, since you’re constantly recalling pieces you’ve seen and visualizing pieces you’re trying to match. This can have a dramatic effect on your thought processes and recall speed. Solving puzzles also increases your brain’s production of dopamine, an incredibly important neurotransmitter that is usually attributed with regulating our happiness. Increasing our dopamine production helps us remain optimistic, concentrate longer, and self-motivate, side effects that can have countless positive repercussions in our lives.

The University of Michigan actually ran a study that proved twenty-five minutes a day solving riddles and puzzles can increase your IQ by up to 4 points. Puzzles are considered a complete brain exercise since it requires both the right and left parts of your brain to work together. Forming a picture and matching colours appeals to the left, creative side of the brain, while matching patterns and fitting pieces together is more of a logical right brain activity. Activities that force both sides of your brain to work together increase cognitive function and activate the occipital lobe. All of this brain activity helps prevent cognitive decline, which makes puzzles a fantastic activity for aging minds. Keeping your brain active is critical to delaying symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Puzzles help reduce the amount of brain cell damage these conditions can cause while helping create new nerve connections while strengthening existing ones.

Not only are puzzles great for older brains, they’re also amazing for growing minds! They can help children develop mental skills like organization and concentration, as well as emotional skills like patience, self-control, and confidence. Along with the physical coordination required, these skills are useful not only for children, but they can also make a world of difference in occupational and physical therapy, for people recovering from trauma to the hands, fingers, or even the brain. Puzzles innately impart your brain with essential skills, whether you’re learning them for them for the first time or relearning them for the hundredth.

Without downplaying the unexpected stressors of these last few months, it’s easy to see why more and more people are turning to puzzles as a leisure pursuit. Puzzles historically rise in popularity in times of economic hardship, dating back to the Great Depression, when the affordability of recently invented cardboard puzzles led to a surge in puzzle manufacturing. Puzzles helped people stretch their money at a time when spare cash was hard to come by. Weekly puzzles were sold at the local newsstand. Puzzles could be done together or shared amongst friends like a good book. People talk over puzzles, people bond over puzzles, and people make friends over puzzles.

Given the state of the news, it’s easy to understand why puzzles are more popular than ever. There’s a lot of bad news happening that we have very little control over; people are looking for a way to disconnect and start to put the pieces back together. With the way the world is right now, we have to prioritize ourselves and our mental care; a prescription for puzzles might be the kindest thing we can do for our mind right now!

Please visit our Find A Store page for a retailer near you.

Greetings from Canada

by Elmer Prather, guest blogger from Canton, GA

I have to have a connection with a puzzle before I spend the time and energy to put it together. This is my 27th Cobble Hill Puzzle. It is a 1000 piece puzzle titled “Greetings from Canada”. The connection I have with this puzzle is my love for Canada. I have visited 9 of the 10 Provinces. Each has its own characteristics and beauty.

Elmer Prather assembled puzzle of Greetings from Canada

For those who are not that familiar with Canada I thought that I would share the following information. Canada has the second largest land mass of any country in the world. Canada has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and it goes from coast to coast. The provinces are as follows, British Columbia is the country's most western province. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean. Alberta is one of Canada's three Prairie Provinces. It is famous as a ski and hiking destination Saskatchewan is the middle prairie province, landlocked between the other two, Alberta and Manitoba. Manitoba is the most easterly prairie province and longitudinal center of Canada. Ontario is Canada's most populous province, by a long shot, comprising 40 percent of the country's total population. Quebec is the second most populous Canadian province and known primarily for its French-speaking population, culture, and heritage. New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces bordering the state of Maine in the U.S. Although the second smallest province, Nova Scotia is the second most densely populated in the country. The last of the three Maritime provinces, Prince Edward Island is actually made up of several islands (232 to be exact, including the main island), the largest having the same name. The most easterly province in Canada, Newfoundland, and Labrador sits on the Atlantic and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland Labrador (hence the name).

Map of Canada Floor Puzzle from Cobble Hill Puzzles
"Map of Canada" (Floor Puzzle for kids) showing the provinces Mr. Prather describes

I have made a collage of some of the pictures that I have taken while touring Canada. This collage has a picture of the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, a picture of Helmcken Falls in British Columbia, a musician playing bagpipes in Nova Scotia, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebeck, Anne of Green Gables site on Prince Edward Island, a Canadian sunset over Clearwater lake in Manatoba, Niagra Falls in Ontario and the reversing falls in New Brunswick.

Collage made by Elmer Prather of the places he visited in Canada!
This is a unique puzzle because of the way it is laid out. The names of the provinces are large and there are many smaller pictures of what that particular provinces is famous for inserted into in the names of the provinces. It was a fun puzzle to put together and brought back many great memories of my trips through Canada.
Greetings from Canada 1000 piece by Cobble Hill Puzzles
Greetings from Canada 1000 piece by Cobble Hill Creations

Available at your local retailer or favourite online store.
On the USA and Canada Cobble Hill website, search item code: 80260

Picturesque Puzzle of the National Parks of the United States

by Elmer Prather, guest blogger from Canton, GA

This is the 29th Cobble Hill puzzle I have had the pleasure of putting together. It is titled National Parks of the United States. It is a 2000-piece puzzle and is the largest puzzle I have put together.  When I spend this much time putting a puzzle together, I have to have a connection with the puzzle. The connection I have with this puzzle is how beautiful it is and the memories of the parks I have visited over the years.

National Parks of the United States 2000 piece puzzle assembled by Elmer Prather
Mr. Prather's 1st 2000 piece puzzle - National Parks of The United States
There are 62 National Parks in America and I have toured 22 of them. The first National Park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872. The Indiana Dunes National Park is the newest, it was established in 2019.

Below are some of the memories I have of several of the parks I have been blessed to have toured:

1.     Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah. The park is adjacent to the Colorado River, 4 miles north of Moab, Utah. The area was designated as a National Park on November 12, 1971.  My favorite memory of this park is hiking through the park and seeing all of the gigantic arches formed eons ago.

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridge line of the Great Smoky Mountains. The border between Tennessee and North Carolina runs northeast to southwest through the center line of the park. Great Smoky Mountains is 4-hour drive from my home. It is the most visited National Park because it is within a day’s drive for almost half of the population of the United States. The park was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. My favorite memories of this park is riding a bike around the 11 mile one way loop road in Cades Cove and hiking many of the well-established hiking trails within the park including the Appalachian Trail.

3. Dry Tortugas National Park is located about 68 miles west of Key West, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. My favorite memory of Dry Tortugas is when I snorkeled around Fort Jefferson.  Fort Jefferson is located on the island. It is a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. The fort is the largest masonry structure in America. It is made up of 16 million bricks. Juan Ponce de Leon, the explorer, visited Dry Tortugas on June 21, 1513 and named it Dry Tortugas after the large number of turtles he found there. It is called Dry owing to the absence of surface fresh water on the island. 

4. Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah. The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a natural monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and was designated as a National Park by Congress in 1928.  My favorite memory of this park is the great views I had of the canyon from the saddle of the mule that I rode down into the canyon.

5. Mesa Verde National Park was established by Congress and President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. My favorite memory of this park is walking through the centuries old structures and touching the foundations that are still intact after all these years. The park protects some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the United States.

6.  Yellowstone National Park is located mostly in Wyoming, with small sections in Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.  My favorite memory of Yellowstone is watching, from my room at the Yellowstone Inn, as the Old Faithful geyser erupted over and over. It erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 ½ to 5 minutes. Its high ranges from 90 to 184 feet.

Each park that I have toured has its own personality. They are all so different but they each offer visitors the ability to view special places in their pristine natural state. We owe a lot to President Theodore Roosevelt. During his presidency, he protected approximately 230 million acres of public land. Today, the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt is found across the country. There are six National Park sites dedicated, in part or whole, to him.

And from Cobble Hill, we want to say congratulations to Mr. Prather on his first 2000 piece puzzle! What a great accomplishment. We're so pleased to share his stories, which are always full of history and wonderful sentiments. We hope you enjoyed this blog.  While National Park Week may look different this year, we hope you'll enjoy a digital experience below with our online jigsaw of this National Parks Puzzle. Wishing you our best, stay safe!
National Parks of the US 2000 piece puzzle box Cobble Hill Puzzles
A challenging 2000 piece puzzle celebrating National Parks of the United States
Available at your favourite local retailer or online store.
On the Cobble Hill USA and Canada website, search item code: 89012

Enjoy the digital experience of visiting a park (~500 pieces, unless you change it)

Top 10 2020 Cobble Hill Puzzles

With our website shut down and warehouse staff at less than 30% capacity (due to you know what), it may seem kind of crazy to post about our top 10 puzzles for 2020, so far. But, we want you to know that many of our retailers are still open! A lot of them are doing curb side pick ups, some are doing local deliveries and others have an online store.  Managing a website takes quite a bit of time and attention, so we're really proud of how some of our independent stores have quickly stepped up to create an online presence to serve the public.  It's been an unprecedented, but impressive few weeks!

Before we list the top 10, we also just want to mention that many of our online retailers are flooded with orders. The surge in demand has been disproportionately high to supply, not only of puzzles, but of staff.  If Amazon's shipping has been crippled, can you imagine how the rest of us are struggling? So we ask that you please be patient with them as they work diligently and safely to meet your needs. We can't thank you enough for supporting them! You can search our website for your local retailer, North American online retailer, and International distributors. Stay safe! And remember, you're not stuck inside, you're safe inside!

These are the top 10 best selling puzzles by consumers so far... from number 10 to number one!

10. Cabin Porch, 1000 piece by Greg Giordano.
Cabin Porch box. A Cobble Hill puzzle by Greg Giordano.

9. Hitting the Road, 1000 piece by Mary Lake-Thompson. NEW 2020 image!
Hitting the Road box. A Cobble Hill puzzle by Mary Lake-Thompson
8. Easter Cookies, Family Pieces 350 by Cobble Hill Creations (that's us)!

7. Amsterdam Canal, 1000 piece by Image World
6. Art Nouveau Tiles, 1000 piece by Barbara Behr. NEW 2020 puzzle!
5. Let's Go Fishing, 500 piece by Greg Giordano. NEW 2020 puzzle!

4. Vintage Tins, 1000 piece by Cobble Hill Creations. NEW 2020 puzzle!
3. Doughnuts, 1000 piece by Cobble Hill Creations. 
2. Common Quilt Blocks, 1000 piece by Cobble Hill Creations. Wow! Thanks everyone!
1. Portrait of a Quilt, 500 piece by Helen Klebesadel
There you go! We also have a best sellers list based on retailer orders. Can you guess which puzzle on this list also made the retailer Top 10 list?  We'll post the answer at the bottom of this blog. 

We also wanted to say thanks for making several of our Cobble Hill Creations Truly Original Photo puzzles our best sellers.  Our design team puts a lot of work into creating them, so it's great to get the feedback that it's worthwhile to do - we appreciate it! 

Mary Lake-Thompson (Hitting the Road #9) is a new artist for us this year, so we were really pleased to see one of her images make the list, thank you! You can visit her Shop by Artist page if you would like to see her other puzzles. 

And the one puzzle that made both the retailer and consumer Top 10 list is... 

Let's Go Fishing 500 piece by Greg Giordano
So great to see a 500 piece puzzle make the best seller list, amongst the usual sea of 1000s!

Let's Go Fishing is available at your local retailer or favourite online store.
On the USA and Canada Cobble Hill website, search item code: 85086

Visit our Covid-19 page for updates on our shipping status.

Hitting the Road

by Elmer Prather, guest blogger from Canton, GA

This is the 32nd Cobble Hill puzzle I have had the pleasure of putting together. It is a 1000 piece puzzle titled Hitting The Road by Mary Lake-Thompson. Out of the 32 puzzles I have put together, I like the 1000 piece puzzles the best. The size and feel of the puzzle pieces fit well in my hand and the 1000 piece puzzles look good when completed. The Die Cutters responsible for cutting these Cobble Hill puzzles are great at what they do. The puzzles consist of so many shapes and sizes they are always a challenge. The 1000 piece puzzles also have a picture of the puzzle in the box. I would have a more challenging time putting these together without the picture.

Close up of the fun(ky) random cut pieces. 
The campers in the puzzle are decorated in such a way that you can tell what season of the year it is. It has the equivalent of nine small puzzles within the larger puzzle. Each of the smaller puzzles display a different camper. The timeline for this gathering of campers is in the early 1950s based on the automobiles and campers displayed.

All nine scenes in Hitting the Road 1000 piece puzzle by Mary Lake-Thompson.
The reason I chose this puzzle is that the different, colorful campers really caught my eye and my interest because I have owned several. My first camper was a Volkswagen Vanagon camper. My second was a Dutchman fifth wheel camper that I towed with my pick up truck. The next camper was a Winnebago Adventurer 32 foot gas motor home and my last camper was a 36 foot Itasca Meridian diesel motor home.

These campers took me all across America and parts of Canada and brought me back home again. I have either camped or driven through parts of 39 of the 48 of our contiguous states and 5 of the 10 Providences in Canada while on camping trips.  Having access to all of these campers has been a blessing. It has given me the opportunity to see some places that I never knew existed and to visit some exciting, historical and interesting places I had always wanted to see.

Traveling in a camper is a unique experience. When you stop at a campground for the night you usually meet fellow campers from different parts of the country. I have made many new friends in this way.  As I traveled in my campers down through the years I noticed that most campers have a dog or cat accompanying their owners. In the puzzle there are no people seen but there are 8 dogs and 4 cats accompanying their owners.
One of the scenes with a cat and a dog in it! We're all looking forward to Summertime!
As I camped over the years I realized that camping is a journey, not a destination. I have really enjoyed the journeys that I have taken, I would not take anything for the memories.

Hitting the Road 1000 piece by Mary Lake-Thompson
Available at your local retailer or favourite online store.
On the USA and Canada Cobble Hill website, search item code: 80276