A Puzzle Project Update

I've had more fun with my Wild and Wonderful West Virginia puzzle
than I ever imagined. 
Between May and August, 
we traveled much of the state
delivering puzzles to state parks and forests.
We just loved seeing these places, 
most of them for the first time!
I will be revisiting them 
for my TravelWV video series...
(more about that in my next blog;)
While traveling near Blackwater Falls SP
we caught the majesty 
of these awesome creatures...
These are HUGE!
 We also promoted puzzles to independent gift shops
like Wild Ginger & Spice in Davis.
Wild Ginger & Spice
Crammed full of cool stuff, this little shop
creates some of their items in the back room!
Adorable people.
This old bank building's vault
"protects" the West Virginia merchandise.
The Vault
We've laughed, smiled, and marveled 
at things in West Virginia...
Watch out for landing airplanes
 while driving down this road!
Watch out!
I treasure my mom's old yardstick.
She taught me to sew with that thing.
 This collection caught my eye at C.J. Maggie's in Elkins.
And look at these artisan creations
Canaan Valley State Park...
Look at the leaves on the carpet!
Sometimes it's the small things in life
that make it special.
Of course, there have been bumps along the way, 
like we ran out of puzzles.
We hadn't made it throughout the state, 
plus we were getting orders we couldn't fill.
Instead of just reordering the same puzzle,
I decided it was important to make a 2.0 edition.
About 20 changes were made to my original painting,
a fold-up map and new box were designed,
and then I called Steve, my puzzle guy.
In no time, he sent me this box proof: 
And here's the fold-up map
 from Chapman's Printing in Huntington:
But the puzzle production was delayed
because Target cut the line
with a huge order. 
Finally last week, I got the call from Steve
that our puzzles are almost ready!
Rick and I will fly to Kansas City, MO,
pick up our U-Haul truck,
and drive them home.

Stayed tuned for a video production update!

Thanks for following along,

Davis, West Virginia

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia puzzles 
are now in almost 40 gift shops in our great state... 
like this one...
 at Coopers Rock State Forest near Morgantown.
btw... the views at this state forest are unforgettable... 
more about this place to come;)
When I started in January, I knew we had hidden treasures,
like Audra State Park with creek side camp sites...
where I met this little lady with her teardrop camper...
But I really HAD NO IDEA how fabulous WV is...   
Two video series will start in a few weeks.
In the meantime I’ll share photos and stories 
of wild and wonderful West Virginia. 
😊Here’s one…
Davis is an itty-bitty, precious town
with cool shops and little restaurants
 surrounded by state parks and ski resorts.
This house is in Davis… we drove on by.
 Then I told Rick to go back...
he's soooo patient.😊
Artist Delia Wach and her hubby, Martin 
live upstairs and run a gift shop downstairs. 
I recognized her art!
 Years ago at a school where I taught,
Delia had given a presentation
about the books that she and her husband wrote,
 and she illustrated. 
Also her daughter is a nationally recognized artist of birds, 
and she sells her prints… stunning!!
She shared her journaling with me. 
I HAD TO buy supplies from her
 for bullet journaling (which I had never heard about). 
  All of that and much more I discovered in that little house… 
Oh and she showed us her husband’s garden. ❤️

Thanks for following along,

One Month of Puzzle Adventures

May 9, Rick and I headed to Missouri
to pick up puzzles. 
We stayed in St. Louis
for two days...

We visited 
the Missouri Botanical Garden
during peak iris season...

and the St. Louis City Museum
which is indescribably fantastic...

We ate THE MOST fabulous Italian food
at Mama's on The Hill (the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis).

On Wednesday 
we rented a 16' Budget truck in Kansas City, MO and
picked up the puzzles.

Two days later, I started delivering to local gift shops...
Red Caboose

and later in Charleston...
Taylor Books

Behind the scenes,
I've been creating marketing materials,
working on my website design, and
getting the word out about my Puzzle Project.

Last week, my puzzles were ordered 
for 13 state parks and forests...
but they have to be delivered...
in JUNE!

Soooo... this week
Rick and I headed 
to the Fayetteville area and vicinity.
Puzzles were added to 
8 new shops,
including two state parks!

We had a blast peddling puzzles
and enjoying spots in West Virginia,
like the Cathedral Cafe
in Fayetteville,
a very cool breakfast/lunch spot
created in an old church.

The rest of June will be
quick trips to 
get the state park orders filled
and sell to gift shops nearby.
After that,
we will go more slowly...
revisiting favorite spots,
going to new places,
taking the tours...
fishing (Rick)...
painting (me)...
Sometimes I'll take a girlfriend or two...
I'll be sharing those adventures with you
because I believe... 
once you learn what West Virginia has to offer...
you will grab your husband, wife, kids or friend
and Travel WV. 

Thanks for following along,

Video Creation Has Begun in Charleston


Videographer Bobby Lee Messer and I

explored J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, and

Taylor Books…

I can not even tell you how much fun it was…

Getting to know Nancy, co-owner of the salt-works

and learning all about the thriving business she has created

was amazing…

then meeting Molly who was preparing for a bridal shower there, saw me,

and exclaimed, “I saw you on TV! I want a puzzle!”

(Here it is if you missed it;)

We starting chatting and I discovered…

she’s hosting a wedding on her 200 acre family farm in Mason County

today… yes, today, Saturday, May 29…

And then she offered me poppy starter plants from her yard in Culloden!

At Taylor Books (which I LOVE)

I met a FB friend in person for the first time,

(I had asked her to meet me;)

I interviewed Dan the new owner,

then had lunch with new friend, Marilyn and her hubby

at Pies and Pints two doors down,

though I would have been happy eating at Taylor books

with fresh soup made daily!!

Our videos series… and there will be TWO!…


will be available in the coming weeks.

Puzzles are now in several Charleston locations:

Thanks for following along,


More Puzzle News

In January, as work continued on my WV map painting,

I was sure I’d found the company

to manufacture the puzzles, so

I ordered a puzzle from them

and it came in this box…

with this very cool paper packaging tape.

I loved that tape (and their puzzle) so much…

I was sure this was the company for me…

until I read “Made in China” on the back of the puzzle box.

“I’ll bet that packaging tape was made in China, too,” I fumed.

Some things are not negotiable:

my puzzles and tape had to be made in the U.S.

Well I found a puzzle manufacturer,

[I wrote about that here.]

and a U.S. company that makes custom paper packaging tape!

I painted more rhododendrons, designed my tape,

and ordered a sample piece.

It came today!

Thanks for following along,


WV Maple Days

Greg’s family has owned this farm for over 100 years.

It’s about 3 minutes from the original Wayne Graded

which became Wayne Elementary School,

where I spent my first 4 years as an elementary teacher.

On this land are 148 maple trees (one sugar bush),

all connected with blue tubes

collecting sap and bringing it into the sugar shack.

Yes, that’s right. No cute little metal buckets.

Greg and his dad collect sap

from 3 sugar bushes,

though, many of those trees were destroyed

in the recent ice storm.

Greg is a super smart guy

and it’s a good thing

because modern maple syrup making is complicated!

The sap comes into the building here,

and is collected in this 600 gallon tank.

Then it goes through a reverse osmosis filtering system

which removes yucky stuff, as well as,

most of the water!

It goes through

two more small tanks,

and lastly here

where the remaining water is boiled off

and the syrup is ready to be bottled.

I came home with maple syrup,

maple cream and maple granola…

I also bought maple cotton candy,

but I don’t know what happened to it;)

WV Maple Days is held on family farms around the state

only on one weekend in February and one in March,

so add this FB page, Tom’s Creek Family Farm,

and go next year!

On the way home,

I stopped at

TwelvePole Trading Post.

Empty for years, this old building has a new life

thanks to Lacy Davidson Ferguson and others.

Locally made products, baked goods, coffee,

garden supplies, and more can be purchased here

on Saturdays from 10-3.

Lacy has more exciting plans for this place…

Here’s a link to their FB page.

It was a great day:

I learned so much about making making maple syrup, and

the trading post is warm and inviting with couches and coffee!

I met smart, beautiful, creative people

making West Virginia better.

Thanks for following along,


The Making of a Puzzle

I finished my West Virginia map painting yesterday,

and this week, I’ll be sending a digital image of it

to a puzzle manufacturer in Kansas City, MO.

So far, this project

has taken me two months…

and with a gigantic smile on my face,

I’ll share what that has looked like.

The Making of a Puzzle

I started by drawing little sketches of places in WV

that I thought were cool or important,

like Babcock State Park.

I researched for photos and more special places

and found so many…

like Wonderment Puppet Theater in Martinsburg.

I reached out to FB friends for ideas, and

got a bunch, like Arthurdale near Morgantown.

When I wasn’t googling WV places,

my search focus was…

“Puzzle Manufacturers in the U.S.”

Very few puzzle makers fill large custom orders, so

finding the company that makes Springbok puzzles

was a game changer:

Now I knew I could really make a puzzle.

(This article with a video tells a little about them.)

With the size of the puzzle confirmed: 24″ x 30″,

I drew an outline of the state

for a painting 36″ x 45″,

which has the same aspect ratio 4:5,

and placed the sketches in the right spots (or close).

I found more places to fill in the gaps,

made the pencil sketches darker with marker,

and now it was time to get all of that on the canvas.

I had drawn everything on translucent tracing paper

so I could do the next few steps:

I attached the whole thing to the BACK of my canvas.

Then I placed that canvas over a homemade light box

kind of like this one:

The light shone through the tracing paper and canvas,

showing a faint image of all my drawings.

I worked on the floor,

moving my canvas around on the light box

(this was a very tricky balancing act),

as I redrew everything onto my painting surface.

Now I could start using paint!

With my laptop for online photo references of each place,

I painted for weeks.

A lot of the time I was concerned that

these random miniature paintings

would not become a cohesive unit,

but I persisted.

“You go, girl!,” I told myself.

Encouraging self-talk

and the support of family, friends, and FB friends

have been vital to this process.

Once the paintings and labels were complete,

I started on the title corner.

I used a playful font I “borrowed” from a greeting card,

and started adding the state symbols that

we’ve all heard about since elementary school,

like rhododendrons.

But there was a problem:

my 20 yo son, Hunter, kept insisting that

 I redo the West Virginia part of the title,

so I did.

The upper right corner was next,

and with lots of input from my FB collaborators,

the corner was completed.

The last part was the LEGEND corner with more state symbols,

like the black bear.

Side note:

Have you ever seen or wanted to see

a black bear when you’re in the woods?

Me neither.

IMO…the state animal should be a squirrel or a dog.

But, of course, I LOVE our state bird the cardinal,

and I was super lucky to find this curious fellow:

And now he’s looking at the map:

I’m expecting the puzzles to be ready in May.

I’ll sell them from this website, my front porch,

 local gift shops like Wildflower Gift Gallery, Red Caboose,

and other places all over the state (I’ll share those adventures here;)

Btw: the minimum order was 2000,

so there will be plenty of puzzles for EVERYONE!

In the meantime,

I’ll be designing some puzzle-related stuff,

like the puzzle box, and

learning tools (remember once a teacher always a teacher),

and I’ll be gardening.

Thanks for following along,


The Making of a Puzzle…UPDATE!!


My Political Activism… Step #1 Beans

Dragon tongue and red swan green beans

are part of my political activism.

Here’s how:

Everyone knows that people in political office

are sometimes influenced by money & power

to do the wrong thing.

When I started studying how pervasive

and destructive this practice is

I decided to take action.

The first step for me was to get and stay healthy

as I had just been diagnosed with MS.

I follow functional medicine,

which uses diet and lifestyle to return the body to proper functioning.

I added more vegetables to my diet

and choose organically grown ones when possible.

That has lead to increasing my gardening skills

and growing more types of food and more varieties.

(Which also reduces my stress level

from knowing all the sh*t that is going on in our country.)

These were picked or dug this morning:

Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers,

butternut squash, dragon tongue and red swan beans.

Stay tuned for more political activism from moi.

Thanks for following along,



Thank you’s & Results of My Summer Art Auction

I am beyond grateful to everyone who

supported my Summer Art Show 2020…

my neighbor, Connie, for helping me set up (twice),

the friends and art lovers who came,

Kim and Vicki for the gorgeous photos,

my hubby, Rick,

and the Herald Dispatch.

Kim created this amazing video:


And a Huge THANK YOU to all the people

who supported my Summer Art Auction 2020.

Everyone who purchased art

chose one of three places to give the $$, and

here are the results:

Huntington Food Bank: $800

Little Victories Animal Shelter: $500

Hilary Turner’s (she supports climate crisis initiatives) Campaign Fund: $2000.

I’ll be delivering that money today.

Thanks for following along,