Mac & Cheese Challenge

Last summer, Ravensburger, Inc. contacted me out of the blue asking if I’d be interested in working with them to create a new puzzle for their challenge series they’d be starting releasing 2018.  Would I?!  Absolutely!

The image they were interested in was a mac & cheese photo I randomly took one day in my kitchen nearly 10 years ago.  They thought it would make for a perfect jigsaw puzzle for their new challenge series since it offers difficulty for puzzle assembly, yet it’s such a familiar (and delicious!) subject.  I was pretty good at puzzles when I was growing up, so I could easily see why this picture appealed to them.

Because the original picture was so old, I offered to do a reshoot to get an image quality more in-line with today’s technology.  Good thing we always have a box of mac & cheese on-hand in our pantry in case we need a dinner in a pinch!  One afternoon, I whipped up that mac & cheese and started shooting, being careful to replicate the approximate angles & composition of the original image.

Mac & Cheese Reshoot

The reshoot was successful and Ravensburger went off to prep their catalog, produce the puzzle, etc.  Needless to say, as autumn and half of winter flew by, it slipped my mind that the puzzle would be coming out when the calendar turned to 2018.  That’s when a big box arrived in late January and – ta da!!  My puzzle was here!!

Mac & Cheese Arrived!

The feeling of opening that box and seeing my picture of something as simple as a pot of mac & cheese turned into a puzzle was so exciting – and a little surreal.  Certainly a moment I’ll never forget!

About a week or two later, I had some free time and decided to dig in and see how challenging it was.  It’s no joke… this sucker is tricky!  I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s certainly something that will take some time – probably exactly the difficulty level Ravensburger was shooting for.  Since I’m chipping away at it here and there, I haven’t gotten too far in terms of progress:

Mac & Cheese... in Progress

I’ll keep plugging away at this puzzle because I’m definitely the kind of person who – once I start something – I finish it!  (I’m also finding the puzzle is challenging my will power because constantly looking at that picture makes me hungry for mac & cheese!!)

If you’re interested in taking this “mac & cheese challenge” you can purchase the puzzle from Ravensburger directly or other retailers around the web.  If you choose to accept the challenge, good luck!!

– JC

Playing the Plaza

I just need to say this straight out at the start – I love the town we live in!  When we landed in Colorado nearly 3 years ago, I had no idea we’d end up in a place we’re really proud to call home.

We live in a little town called Longmont about a 45 minute drive northwest of Denver and less than an hour’s drive from Rocky Mountain National Park.  We picked this town mainly because of proximity to job markets and RMNP.  Little did we know that the first day we walked through downtown we’d fall in love with it instantly and made it our goal to call this town home.  My husband hadn’t been through the town in 15 years and it grew up – a lot – since then and they’re still doing so many cool and smart things in the town and the community that we just feel so fortunate to be part it.  (Oh – and beer… so much good beer in this town!!)

Last weekend, we popped downtown for a spot of lunch (including yummy beers, of course) and I brought the new camera with me for test shots because I knew there were some lively colorful things downtown that I’d been wanting to get shots of – perfect test subjects for the new sensor and exposure meter I’m getting used to.

This summer, the public art installation around downtown is called “Play the Plaza“.  They’ve taken different childhood games and set them up so they’re larger than life in the alleys and parklets throughout downtown.  Seems like every corner you turn, there’s something to play with or something insanely colorful and fun waiting for you.  Yay interactive art for all ages!!  (Isn’t there a kids’ game with the label of “fun for ages 9 to 99”?  Which game it is eludes me at the moment, but that label certainly applies to “Play the Plaza”.)

Play the Plaza
Play the Plaza

I started with “Candy Lane” – the take-off on “Candy Land”.  I spent most of my time here probably because it was the biggest and most colorful installation.  The setup has spinners every few spaces and people move themselves down the painted sidewalk as the pieces through the different lands to the end of the game about 50-100 feet down the way, curling around the old church that houses the St. Vrain Historical Society.

As we wandered down “Candy Lane”, we noticed they temporarily converted the permanent tables and chairs installed in the parklet to games too – complete with bags attached to each table that hold the game pieces to use on the game boards.

One of the last shots I took near the end of “Candy Lane” was a classic – Tic-Tac-Toe.  The eternal child in me loved spinning the pieces around like a spaz while the adult in me loved the simple industrial elegance of how it was constructed.


Definitely not a bad way to spend some time for a Saturday afternoon.  If you’re located near Longmont, I highly recommend stopping by and checking it all out before it’s gone!

At the risk of being a little cliche, Longmont is our Home Sweet Home…

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home

– JC