Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wedding Feast: Day 6

After my 11 day diversion with Trionfo degli Asburgo, I am back to the Wedding Feast at Cana. I really like hoping from puzzle to puzzle! Today I was craving some Double Retrospect! I think I will go back to doing a section of that next. But who knows what will take my fancy by the time I get done with the Feast.

I only really managed about 50 pieces of green. Pics tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mounting an 8000pc puzzle to the ceiling

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Mounted on the puzzle retractable puzzle table
Trionfo degli Asburgo - 8000pc from Educa is mounted to the underside of our retractable puzzle table (Shown here stowed on the ceiling)

So when it came time to mount this beast there were several hurdles including how to flip it all over, and how to attach it to the table. The best way to explain it is with pictures so here goes.

Flipping the puzzle - Progress #0
Step 1: Break the puzzle back into sections that will fit on our puzzle boards. It just so happens that that size is the same as the die used to cut this puzzle (1000pc). The puzzle breaks neatly into 1000 piece sections. Incidentally, the piece pattern repeats for each section which aids in assembly significantly!
Flipping the puzzle - Progress #1
Next sandwich each section between two puzzle boards (cardboard). While pinching these together tight, flip them over. If you were ultra worried, you could use masking tape each time to insure the boards don't separate. It's not a terrible idea! These glossy puzzles are slippery!
Flipping the puzzle - Progress #4
Here it shows the reassemble of the puzzle upside down. Note, it should be obvious, but after you flip a section over, you have to swap places with its neighbor in the same column. 
Flipping the puzzle - Progress #5
Assembling upside down. Notice that the section in the second row right side up is actually the lower section but slide into place where it will go upside down (what was on the bottom has to go to the top)
A sea of peices
A sea of pieces!
Tight Roll
I then applied clear contact paper (using help from my neighbor) and rolled the puzzle around a pool noodle (you know, its a 5 dollar pool toy to float on). This made removing the puzzle from the table easy to do without messing it up.
Taping Off
We then flipped the table upside down and rolled the puzzle out onto to the table right side up. I centered the puzzle and placed tape around the border. The tape is to give a guide to make sure we lay the puzzle back down centered and to provide a clean edge for the glue.
Big Roll
Now we rolled the puzzle back so that half the area was exposed. Notice the much larger diameter roll. Dont try and make a tight roll, the pieces can't flex with that contact paper on the back like the can the other way!
Laying down plain old puzzle glue to hold the contact paper backed puzzle to the table
We used plain old puzzle glue. This particular glue is from Mega Puzzles. We have been using spray adhesive (3M #44) as suggested by Scott Slater but we have found that the glue never really sets up and have had several puzzles peel away from their foam backing. Since this puzzle is going to hang upside down on the ceiling, I really did not want that to happen. I did a test glue of a piece of contact paper to the wood using the puzzle glue and it worked fantastic! We are going to switch to plain old glue from now on (NOTE: We dont apply glue to the front of the puzzle, we use contact paper on the back to keep the pieces together, the glue is to hold the contact paper to its mounting only). We prefer this method because if you ever did want to disassemble the puzzle, you can remove it from the contact paper and this puzzle glue will break away from whatever you have glued it to. Since we plan on moving someday, this is a real consideration. Regardless, this glue appears to be the trick versus spray. I used a squeegee to spread the glue around.
Trionfo degli Asburgo - Mounted
Finished product! It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be!

Burning the Midnight Oil

I worked hard last night to finish up the Trionfo degli Asburgo 8000pc from Educa. It is super hard, but what the heck, you only live once. It took until 3am to finish assembly and another half an hour just to get all the sections together!

I am really glad this one is done, it is not my favorite puzzle! I don't recommend this puzzle because of the poor image quality (its blurry AND the color fidelity leaves a lot to be desired). I guess it worked out that it showed up 75% completed! I don't know that I could have done all 8000 pieces! This puzzle was hard because of the poor image.

Burning the Midnight Oil
Only 350-400 more pieces to go!

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Assembled
Assembly complete

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Final Assembly
Final Assembly

Complete! I had to rebuild the puzzle table in order to fit this beast. I will now adorn the underside of the table so when it is retracted, you can view the puzzle!

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #9
Detail #1

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #8
Detail #2

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #7
Detail #3

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #6
Detail #4

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #5
Detail #5

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #4
Detail #6

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #3
Detail #7

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #2
Detail #8

Trionfo degli Asburgo - Detail #1
Detail #9

Monday, July 29, 2013

Neptune's Paella

I often get asked to share my Paella recipe, so here it is for the world. This is according to my friends who have had the real thing in Spain, better than anything they have ever had! I developed this recipe over the last 10 years. Enjoy!

Neptune's Paella. I feast fit for the god himself!

Neptune's Paella

By Thomas W. Watson

Serves 12-15

This is about a 250-350 dollar meal and takes 3-4 hours to prepare. I recommend making sure you have enough people to eat it, but if you don’t, it makes a mighty left over meal. I recommend having a helper to prep everything.


  • 2 lb of Prawns (with shells)
  • 2 lb of scallops (small or large, if large, dice them)
  • 4 lb of king crab
  • 2.5 pounds of fresh mussels cleaned and debearded
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 large skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 large boneless pork chops
  • 32 oz of chicken stock (two boxes)
  • 1 lb of Hard Spanish Chorizo  (super important, must be true spanish chirzo and hard. Its alread y cooked)
  • 2 Habanero peppers
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1 each red, yellow orange pepper
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • Roughly 8 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • Roughly 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 small jar of capers
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Spicy Smoked Paprika
  • 1 package of saffron (2 grams)
  • Bomba Rice (I use the small bag of Cebolla from
  • 42cm Paella pan
  • Garlic Press
  • Large bowls to hold the ingredients


  • If this is a new Paella pan, oil it with olive oil and cook for 1.5 hours at 450 to season the pan.
  • Shell the prawns and add all the shells to the chicken broth. Use scissors to remove all the crab meat, add the shells to the chicken broth. Reduce the chicken broth in half. Strain out shells, set aside.
  • Dice the habaneros and jalapeños together
  • Dice all the vegetables in medium to large dice.
  • Dice all the meat in medium to large dice.
  • Make sure to use the entire green onion (white and green part, dice normally)
  • Put the entire two heads of garlic through the garlic press
  • Prep the rosemary and thyme

You will need a grill, do this outside, get the grill hot as hell, lots of coals. Make sure its well burning. You need about 45-60 minute of burn time and you will not want to add coals once its started. Make sure you paella pan fits securely on your grill/fire before starting as its hard to do after.

You will want to have everything together and ready as you DO NOT want to burn the rice in the next step and it WILL go fast. Have a big paella spoon on hand as you will need this to stir everything (its like 4 feet long, make sure  you have one)

Preparing the rice:

Take your seasoned Paella pan and add some olive oil and butter (enough to sauté the rice, dont skimp, its not healthy, get over it) to it bring it to temperature (Don't burn it! Be ready to add the rice quickly when its on a grill, within a minute), add the bag of rice. Sauté on the stovetop until the rice shows the first signs of browning (do not burn, error on the side of undercooked).


  • Add the strained broth from earlier. Also add in the saffron Be careful, you are adding water to hot fat... let this cook for about 15-20 minutes. Stir it. Add water if need be so that the rice is covered. It will cook off very fast on a hot grill. The end goal is to get a slightly crispy crust on the rice but you have to give it a chance to cook first... this is probably the single most important thing you can do is get this rice cooking correct.
  • now we will cook everything else, You should have some liquid left in the pan, the temp should be still hot but not out of control at this point. The idea is to not overcook the meats. Its easy to do. 
  • Add cream onions and caper and stir
  • Add pork, 3 minutes later add chicken (stir)
  • add vegetables (2 minutes
  • a seafood in (not muscles)
  • Add the mussels on top 

Its done when the juice is gone and the rice starts to carmalize on the bottom of the pan.


On the grill, big spoon needed!
What it should look like while cooking

John Powell - Summer Porch

John Powell: Summer Porch - 1500pc, Big Ben
Purchased from Humane Society St Thomas USVI for $2.00 on 4/6/2013

Started: 7/27/2013

Color Palette

M finished her first 1000 piece puzzle all by herself! Color Palette is complete after 11 days! We gave animation another shot this weekend using this puzzle.

I have been making steady progress on The Triumpth of the Spanish Habsburgs. I will finish it this week and finally get back to Wedding Feast!

We had a small incident with the puzzle table. I was trying to re-do the pulley system and ended up breaking one of the pulley's off the table! The table fell about 3 feet and the Triumpth took a spill. It ended up being a few hour delay of game... All is well though, we got it all fixed up.  I really hate it when you are building something and you say to yourself, you know, I should do this because this might happen someday and then you don't do it and that thing happens. Damn I hate that :-)

In other news, M and I spent the whole day at the beach yesterday. We started off with a 4ish mile hike down to "Mermaids Chair". It is a small strip of land (about 15ft) that connects the main island of St. Thomas to the tiny island of "Little St. Thomas". On one side of the strip of land is the Atlantic Ocean and the other is the Caribbean Sea! After a quick snorkel and some rock collecting, we headed to Neltjeburg. This awesome little beach is at the end of the worst road in America. It is partially paved in parts, but will tweak your car so hard in others you swear you will never get out of there! The reward is a great spot to waste away an afternoon or two!
Mermaids Chair, St. Thomas USVI

Neltjeburg Beach, St. Thomas USVI

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Effervescently Yours - An Animation

Tonight I finally got back to the table and knocked out a good section of Trionfo degli Asburgo. I started thinking about our plan for this puzzle and decided to shoot a test animation of assemble of Effervescently Yours. It recently peeled off of its spray glue backed foam.... (why some of these puzzles do this and some don't is beyond me...) so it was just laying around. So, here is our first assembly animation. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our Tribute to Britto

As you know, we love Britto. So yesterday, we took a break from puzzling to start the first of a 4 part project to paint our car in an Tribute to Britto. We don't have a lot of supplies, so we used water based enamel and the used automative clear coat to protect it. Lets see how well it works! It was a big project but we are pretty happy with it if only for a while!

Our Jeep about to get a face lift!

The blank slate
Time to start painting!

Filling in the background

Adding stripes

This project went long into the night, those puzzle table lamps came in handy!

This is what it looked like before outlining

Bling Bling hood and wheels!

Our Jeep is so much happier!

The finished product!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Luca Giordano's: Glory of the Spanish Habsburgs

Luca Giordano's Trionfo degli Asburgo (Glory of the
Spanish Habsburgs) adorns the main staircase of the
El Escorial Monastery in Madrid
I recently purchased Educa's 8000pc puzzle of Luca Giordano's Trionfo degli Asburgo (Glory of the Spanish Habsburgs). When trying to find out more about this puzzle, there is a distinct lack of information. But after a bit of help from Google Translate, I stumbled across the real name and then some photos of the actual installation at the El Escorial monastery in Madrid, Spain.

As I started looking at the puzzle, I realized that it came partially assmebled so I pulled all of the sections out and sure enough, it was about 80% complete. I decided to finish the puzzle and then use it for a new top secret project.

I have to say, I hate this puzzle. What? Tom hates a puzzle? Yup! Here is why? The colors are awful and the image is out of focus! They are muted compared to the image pictured here, yellowed overall. I have learned to my dismay that every large format Educa puzzle has a gloss finish making it a real pain in the ass to assemble and finally, the cut of the educa puzzles is so lose, it makes working with even 4-10 piece sections extremely difficult. I give this puzzle an overall F for WTF Educa, you dropped the ball on this one. (Well it is something like 10 years old). I checked our 2012 8000pc While She was Sleeping and that too has gloss pieces but as of yet, I cannot speak for their fit.

I hope Educa spends some time and money and steps up their game! They are lagging far behind Ravensubrger as far as quality is concerned.

I am going to continue pressing on, but I don't like this puzzle in the least.



My dad shared this video with me and I have to say, I have no idea how it works. What do you guys think? It's awfully tricky!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Floating Puzzle and Puzzle Table Extension

We decided to get a kit of Neverwet and see if we could do a puzzle in the pool. Well, results were mixed. We were able to float our puzzle in the pool, but I did a piss poor job of sealing the sides of pieces so they eventually soaked up water. The Neverwet IS cool stuff though. Super Hydrophobic surfaces are really neat to play with! I think there are some amazing potential applications!

I also spent about 5 hours rebuilding the puzzle table to extend it a foot to accomdate 9000 piece puzzles at once.

The first ever floating puzzle?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Mother of all New Puzzle Days


They all showed up at once today plus the one from Italy included a bonus naughty puzzle for free loose in the box! We are so busy today, I don't have time to write them all up, but here they all are!

Skylines of the World - 18000pc, Ravensburger
Purchased from Craigslist Seattle for $40 on 7/1/2013
Sacred and Profane Love - 13200pc, Clementoni
Purchased from Craigslist Toronto for $60 on 7/?/2013
The Garden of Earthly Delights - 10000pc, Educa
Purchased from ebay Germany for $300 on 6/20/2013
Trionfo degli Asburgo - 8000pc Educa
Purchased from ebay for $129 on 7/2013
Japanesse Garden - 6000pc, Milton Bradley
Purchased from ebay for $80 on 6/1/2013

This should keep us busy for a while....

Wedding Feast: Day 5 - Yellow and Blue

Last night I wen after yellow and blue. I was tired after a super long day of work, so I didn't get a lot done. I am falling behind for sure on getting this done in 20 days, but I I hope to rip off the sky in one day which will be about 2000 pieces.

Today I am going to try and modify the puzzle table to fit this beast all at once so I can start placing pieces. I also need to mount our slice of life and oh yeah, we are having a BBQ party and I have to work.....

Anyhow, here are the progress pics from yesterday.

Wedding Feast Day 5: Bits and Pieces
Bits and Pieces coming together after tackling yellow and blue
Wedding Feast Day 5:
Blue guy in throne

Wedding Feast Day 5: Servant pouring wine
Servant pouring the wine from the water vessel into a decanter
Wedding Feast Day 5: Music
No feast is complete with music
Wedding Feast Day 5: The Band
The Band
The musicians table
Wedding Feast Day 5: Jesus