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Tradition + New Twist = Nearly Dead Tradition
WHO: Me & the In-Laws   |   WHAT: Personal, Random   |   WHEN: December 31, 2010   |   WHERE: Casa de Nicolosi
I'm a big fan of traditions.  Well, except when they're no fun and/or don't make any sense. Otherwise, count me in.  In fact, Kylie and I have talked a couple times about what traditions we'd like to have or start for our family, especially around the holidays.  She started with the idea of getting a new crystal ornament for the tree every Christmas.  Sure, why not.  Sounds good.  My turn.  I suggested we buy me a new $500+ Apple product every year at Christmas. 

[insert sound of crickets here]

Okay, okay... maybe I didn't really suggest that.  In fact, I'm sure I didn't... I was just thinking it.  We're still ironing out what our traditions will be going forward, but one thing Kylie's family does every time they get together around the holidays is gather around a table and put a puzzle together. I've grown to enjoy this piece of familial bonding, so this year I thought it might be fun to take it to the next level.  Well, as much as you can take puzzle-putting-together to the next level.  This year I thought I'd surprise everyone and add a little personalization to this holiday ritual by getting one of my images made into a puzzle.  Great idea... but a little short on the execution.  Not many people think about this (including me prior to this Christmas), but there's a bit of an art to picking the right image(s) to get made into a puzzle.  Anyone joker can just pick an image they like, and that's exactly what this joker did.  I was a bit short-sided in thinking ahead to what it would be like to actually put the puzzle of the image I selected together.  The key is to pick an image you like and one that has adequate visual details and contrast throughout to make it challenging but still enjoyable to put together.  Instead, the image I picked of the Portland Lighthouse from our trip to New England this fall had a LOT of monochromatic sky and a LOT of choppy water and a LOT of similarly colored rock.  And because of that, it was a total beat down to put this debacle together.  My puzzling gaffe nearly killed this family tradition.


See what I mean?  There seemed to be a bagillion pieces that looked the same.


Even Mia could barely watch for very long.



Sloooowly, it started taking shape.  Unfortunately, and this may be a first, we weren't able to finish it before Kylie's parents and grandma had to leave to head back to Indiana.  Even worse, that left just Kylie & I to work on it here and there over the last couple days.  I secretly plotted to accidentally spill one of the 16 (seriously, 16) glasses of Pomegranate 7-Up I've had the past week all over the puzzle and declare it unputtogetherable, but that woulda just been selfish.  How could I deprive Kylie of the countless hours of back & neck ache joy she's experienced workin' on this friggin' beautiful torture treasure.


Finally, 5 days, several Advil and a pair of semi-permanently crossed-eyes later, we finished it this evening.  Just in time to tear it apart tomorrow so Kylie can have the dining room table back for a get-together she's hosting this weekend.


All-in-all, I'm not gonna lie, it wasn't as fun putting this thing together.  At the end of the day (or 5), though, it's kinda cool to see an image I took as a 1008 piece puzzle.  Would I get another puzzle made?  Absolutely.  Will I be smarter in my image selection?  Dear Lord, I hope so.

BTW, if anyone watching at home wants to try this, the place I used to get the puzzle made was www.portraitpuzzles.com.  Uploading the image and ordering was a breeze, the quality of the puzzle was great, I got it in a couple days, and I like the option to have it shipped in a tin box... perfect for a gift or keep sake.


Finally, speaking of gift, if anyone wants this puzzle now that we're done with it, maybe I'll do a freebie giveaway.  Let's see (if it's not obvious yet, it will be shortly that I'm making this up on the fly), how 'bout the first person to guess (Price Is Right style) how many pieces of the puzzle have nothing but sky/clouds on them (meaning no water, lighthouse buildings, or rocks anywhere on the pieces... just sky) wins this thing, and I'll ship it to you free of charge.  My [devious] "gift" to you.  Just leave a comment below with your guess, and I'll announce the (un)lucky winner New Year's Day.  Oh yeah, only one guess per person.


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