Ravensburger North American Skyline Puzzle Review


I purchased the Ravensburger North American Skyline puzzle to put together, with my husband, over the Fourth of July weekend.  I selected the puzzle because the picture was beautiful and it had 3000 pieces.  Most of the puzzles I could purchase locally only went up to 1000 pieces and those would have been done in a few hours.  I was looking forward to this puzzle adventure, because we hadn’t put a puzzle together in at least a decade.

My husband gave up on the puzzle before the border was mostly completed stating that he was having trouble telling a difference between the colors on the pieces.  Yes, I was having a little trouble too, but I pressed on.  The border wasn’t completed until most of the puzzle was done, because those last few border pieces liked hiding.

The next challenge I experienced was telling the top part of the puzzle from the bottom part of the puzzle.  They both looked a lot like, almost identical.  The only difference was the bottom pieces usually had lines on them to indicate water.  I ended up separating the top pieces from the bottom pieces.  And, yes those few border pieces were still hiding.

What was suppose to be a three day adventure ended up being a three months adventure.   Ok, I travel some, about 3 weeks, during those three months and some days I only worked on it a few minutes and other days I didn’t work on it at all.


This puzzle ended up being extremely challenging.   If you moved a puzzle piece two inches away, it usually changed colors.  A lot of pieces were different shades of blue, but it didn’t matter.  Even the light blues appeared dark blue during the process.  The pieces fit together very well.  Still I think I will avoid Ravensburger puzzles in the future.

Silhouette Curio – Cutting the Design

In my last post, Silhouette Studio – The First Design, I discuss creating a test design with the Silhouette Studio Software.  Below is the design I created.  It has some text and images.

My First Studio Design

My First Studio Design

The Curio came with a cutting mat, embossing mat, and three other mats that I later learned was platform mats.  I removed the film from the cutting mat and place it onto Curio’s tray according to the image on the Silhouette Studio design screen.  I carefully placed the card stock on top, since the cutting mat has a sticky surface.

I gently slid the tray into the machine.  The instructions says “push into machine until tray sticks out back”  and it says “push into machine until notch passes front of machine.”  If you have trouble seeing the notch, push the tray into the machine until the top left hand corner of the material in directly under the cutting/embossing blades.

I looked at the cutting blade and it cut was set to zero.  I figured out that the by placing the cap that came with the blade on to it and turning, I was able to adjust the cut size.  I set it on 3.  It seemed right, but the instruction manual did not specify.   I placed the cutting blade into the Curio in the first slot and turned on the Curio.  Now for cutting.

I went back to the software and noticed that the paper size didn’t match the Design Page setting.  I adjusted the design page setting to match my paper size.  Then I had to move a few of my designs so they would be inside the cutting area.  Next I clicked Cut Settings cut settings icon icon.  My design now has thick lines around it, see below.  I assumed this is where the design would be cut.

before cut

I looked over the cut setting.  The Standard mode was fine.  I left the cut style on Cut.  Tool 1 was selected, this was fine because that is where I put the cutting blade.  Under Material Type, I clicked Cardstock was even though it was already selected.  As soon as I clicked Cardstock the Editing menu opened and displayed the recommended blade setting.   Sometime during the process of setting up the cut setting and cutting the design, this message appeared on the screen.

new designs

I have some new designs in my library!  I clicked on the library and approximately 50 designs were added to the library.  I am assuming since the it appears anyone can download the Silhouette Studio software, this is how the company distributes content to individuals that have purchased the device.


After I looked at the library, I finally went back to the cut setting and pressed Send to Silhouette.  The machine is a little loud, but it is working.  Wait, there is no cut on the paper.  What did I do wrong?  I looked over the cut setting again and made sure the blade was set on 3.  I scrolled down in the cut setting and there are more options.

Cut Setting Top

Cut Setting Bottom














The platform setting showed that I needed 6 platforms on the tray. I added 6 platforms on the tray and sent the design to be cut once again.  The paper cut this time.  Yay!   What I learned on my first design.  The text is too delicate for my first cut.  To remove it perfectly from the cutting board, will take time.  The balloon came out great, and the border needs work because it came out is many pieces.

Next embossing….

Silhouette Studio – The First Design

In the last two posts, I talked about setting up the Silhouette Curio and installing the Silhouette Studio software.  Click here to read those posts.  This post covers the my first design.

This is my first design attempt.  Nothing fancy.

My First Studio Design

My First Studio Design

To start a new design in Silhouette Studio double-click on the icon and click Design.   The design window opens with a clean working area.

I clicked the Text text icon icon to begin to place text in the design area.  On the right-side of the screen, a Text Style menu appeared.  The menu let me define my text attributes before or after I put the text in the design area.  Scrolling through the fonts, I noticed that it allows me to use any font that is saved on my computer.  Yay!  No, limits there.

I noticed the little circle fit to path to the bottom right of my text.  Looking through the manual, I discovered this allows you to fit the text to a path.  I drew a couple of wavy lines on the screen using the curve curve tool.  I doubled clicked on the first line of text, to select it, and dragged the text to the first wavy line and than I repeated the process with the second line of text.  Easy enough, my text was now wavy.

Selecting the text that was fit to path, I was no longer able to rotate it or change it size by dragging a corner.  I was able to adjust the rotation Rotate by selecting it’s line.  There was also a slide bar that allowed me to change the text position on the line.

If I am doing a birthday theme design, some balloons are needed.  I knew the oval oval would not work for me because balloons are bigger on the top than the bottom.  I selected the curve curve tool to draw my balloon.  I put multiple points around the balloon to get the general shape I wanted.  The bottom point, where the balloon ties, is still too round.  I clicked the Edit Points Edit Points

Just for fun I drew a few more balloons.  Balloons usually have a shiny spot on them that is reflecting the light.  I use the rectangle rectangle tool to draw this area on a couple of balloons.  It didn’t look quite right, so I selected the rounded rectangle rounded rectangle tool to draw the shiny spot on the other balloons.

If I move the balloons around the canvas, I wanted the balloon and shiny area to move together.  I dragged my curser over both objects and selected the grouping grouping icon to keep them together.  To separate items after they are group, select the Ungroup icon next to the Group icon.

A border for my birthday theme design would be nice.  I drew a couple of rectangles rectangle and I drew numerous ovals oval.  First I drew one oval, then I used the copy/paste feature so all the ovals would be the same size.  I tried rotating a oval from the design area, but I found for a precise rotation the Rotate option for the Object menu worked better.   I used the Align option under the Object menu to align, center, and space the ovals on around the rectangles.

I didn’t like how some of the lines in the design.  The Erase and Knife cut and erase was a nice feature for removing unwanted lines.  I was able to adjust the settings in the right menu as each tool was being used.

A feature that the Silhouette Studio software is missing, is the ability for me to zoom in and out using the scroll button on my mouse.  Zoom in and Zoom out is available from the top icon bar.

The manual that came with the Curio did not cover all of these functions.  But, the manual that is available from the Help Menu in the software does provide detail information about all tools, menus, and functions.  I like to play around with any software before reading manuals.  However, this manual is beneficial for using the software and Curio.

The next blog will cover my experience with cutting and embossing.  For now, I will save my work.  This isn’t the first time I have saved my work.  One of my saying is “Save Often! Save Regularly!”  You can’t press save too often.

Silhouette Curio

When I have the time, I usually make all my Christmas card.  My first card I made was in 1996 using CorelDraw V3.  Recently, the cards have been getting more and more elaborate.  No matter what I do to the card, the background and inside writing is usually done with CorelDraw.

The idea for the card came early this year.  The background is already done.  The problem is to complete the idea will require a lot of cutting and embossing.  And, I never done embossing!

I decided to purchase a machine to do the cutting for me.  I looked a many models and decided on the Silhouette Cameo.  What I liked about it was, the software it came with, Silhouette Studio, I could use it with SVG files (for an added cost), and I could used it with .CDR files (for even more cost.)  It had decent reviews, so I waited and considered this purchase.

Then I saw the newer model, the Silhouette Curio.  It has more functions, like cutting thicker media.  I may need that.  It embossed.  The only things the reviews didn’t like was the smaller cutting mat and the instruction manual was difficult to read.  The cutting size wasn’t a big deal since it would be my first machine, something to learn on.  The reviews were correct about the manual.  It is difficult to read.

You can find my experience with the Silhouette Studio software here.   In this posting, I will continue with the review the device.

The Curio comes with: USB cable; power cable; two blades, cutting and embossing; print and emboss squares; Software CD; base with cutting mat and embossing mat; material fasteners; replacement snaps; and instruction book.

Setup of the machine was easy, basically just unbox it, install the software, and plug it in.  However, the USB Cable and Power Cable plugged into the right-side of the machine.  If your PC is located on the left-side of the machine or located on the floor, the USB cable may not be long enough to reach it.  You may want to consider getting a USB Extension cable.

Loading the mat into the machine took some figuring out.  The instruction manual was not clear, but it was helpful in recommending to remove out film from cutting and embossing mat.  To load the cutting/embossing boards on the mat properly, refer to the Cut Settings in the Silhouette Studio software.  You will need to turn off the Curio every time you load and unload the board from the machine.

Cut Settings

Cut Settings

The cutting blade needs to be adjusted according to the cut settings.  This is done by using the cap to turn the blade setting.  The blades loaded into the device as expected.  I turn the knob to insert the blade, then I turned it again to secure them in place.

Each cut and each emboss, I am learning more about the device.

Silhouette Studio – Opening the Box

The Silhouette Studio software comes with the Silhouette cutting machines (Cameo and Curio).  Since I purchased the machine, the software installation was a simple process.  Place the CD in drive and follow the prompts.  After the installation was complete, the Silhouette Studio software launched.

Silhouette Studio Start Screen

Silhouette Studio Start Screen

I wasn’t expecting this screen.  To be honest, I am not sure what I was expecting.  I knew if I clicked Design it would let me design a graphic for cutting.  Also, if I clicked Open it would prompt me to open a previous saved design.  I assumed that if I clicked Library, I would see some graphics.  That was the second surprise.  There wasn’t any graphics in the Library.   I thought that was odd, maybe it was something that you could download.  I clicked on the Store.


The Silhouette Design Store wanted me to sign in, or create an account.  So, I signed in with the account I created when I registered the Curio.


It appears that the store wants to charge you for everything.  After looking over the store, I remembered the cards that came with the Curio title “1 month free.”  I followed the instruction on the card and it provided a month subscription and $25 credit.  I am not sure yet of the benefits of a subscription, but I will figure that out as I explore more.

After looking over the store, the problem still remained.  The Library was empty.  Being the Techie I am, I decided maybe the software needed to be update.  Off to http://www.silhouetteamerica.com I went.  You don’t need to remember that URL or save it as a favorite.  If you are into the Silhouette Studio software, it has the link listed under Help.


It took me a while to find where the Software Update was located on the site.

  1. Sign into your account; it is the same one you created when you registered the machine.
  2. Click Support, it is listed next to the Sign in.
  3. Click Silhouette Studio then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.  There you will find the update and download.
  4. Select one to download.  You do not have to run both the update and the download, because they are the same file.
  5. After the software downloads, run it.

After I went through all these steps below, I realized you can check for software updates from the Silhouette Studio software.  Look under Help > Check for Updates.

I went through the process of updating the software to see if any graphics would appear in the library, it was still empty.  I occurred to me “Maybe the $25 created was so you could select your own graphics.”

Back to the Silhouette Design Store to get some graphics with my credit.  The store had some very impressive designs. I selected a few for testing but adding them to the shopping cart.  When I went to check-out, it told me that these designs were for personal use only.  What I liked about the entire store, since I have credit it did not ask for my credit card.

My adventure with Silhouette Studio will continue…

Logitech Harmony 1100 Remote

Logitech Harmony 1100 Remote

Logitech Harmony 1100 Remote

Several years ago, my husband gave me the Logitech Harmony 1100 Remote as a birthday present.  You are probably wondering why a wife would get such a gift.  Why didn’t he just purchase jewelry?  Well, you see we both are techies, and for years, both Christmas and Birthdays, I have been getting computers, hardware, software, and all kind of techie gifts.  Techie gadgets are some of the best gifts around.

During my move, I got rid of some TVs, and related devices, and got some new ones.  The time had come to reprogram my Logitech remote.  The computer that previously had the Logitech software on it died, shortly after the move, so it was necessary to reinstalled the software.

My Windows 8.1 PC was selected to have the Logitech install the software.  I went to Logitech.com and located the software for my remote.  It took some time to find because it wasn’t listed under the current models.

The software downloaded and installed without any issues.  The major issue was getting the Brand, Model Number, and Input off of three TVs, two Blu-ray’s, and two cable boxes (DVR Device).  This process was simple with the Samsung Smart TV.  If you access Support > Get Help from the menu, it provide the information.  The same was true for the Samsung Blu-ray’s.  For the other devices, I had to get my glasses and smart phone out to read the model numbers.  Its a good thing my smartphone camera has a good zoom.

The next step was programming the remote.  First define the devices.  That was easy because I took the time out to get the information before I started.  It basically prompted for the Brand and Model.  I made sure when I was setting up the cable boxes, to select the option “Never to turn off the device.”  This is important because I want it to record the shows I have programmed.  Then I renamed all the devices, because having three devices listed as TV gets very confusing.

Setting up the Activities was next.  An activity is something like “Watch TV”, “Play DVD”, etc.  This was the most time consuming part, because you have to think through the entire process.  I also selected to set up each activity manually because having so many devices, the remote software often selected the wrong device under automatic setup.  These are the typical steps for setting up most activities.

  1. What type of Activity?  “Watch TV”, “Play DVD”, “Play a Game”
  2. What device will you watch video on?
  3. What device will you use to control volume?
  4. What input should the device be set on?  AVI, Component ?, HDMI ?…
  5. Review this settings, are they correct?

I renamed each activity, after they were setup.  It has the same problem as the default device name.

After all the activities were setup, I rearranged all the activities.  They will appear on the remote in the order that they appear in the setup.

The next step was sending the programming to the remote.  I already had the remote plugged into the USB port on the computer, so pressing the send to remote button was all I had to do.  This process took several minutes to complete.

Finally, the testing mode.  It was unplugged from the USB and tested it on the devices.  It worked on all the TVs, Blu-ray’s, and the cable box stayed on.  However, it didn’t work on the XBox. But, I the program did warn me “You will not be able to control this device.”  Oh, well.  I will work on the XBox later.

Logitech recommends that you dedicate at least 30 minutes to setting up the remote.  My experience is that is takes about 10 minutes to install the program and another 10 minutes to set up each activity.  So, if you are going to be programming six activity, you should probably give yourself at least an hour and a half to setup the remote.

The only issue I have with the remote is that any movement causes the screen to come on.  I usually end up laying the remote face down when I am watching TV.

Pizza Stuff

This recipe was created after I gave up all flour and I still wanted pizza.

Pizza Stuff

Pizza Stuff


  • 1 lbs. Ground Meat
  • 1 lbs. Italian Sausage
  • 4 Slices of Cooked Crispy Bacon crumbled
  • 50+/- Slices of Pepperoni
  • 20+/- Slices of Canadian Bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 small onion chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped (optional)
  • 8 oz. of shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 12 oz. of shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder

Needed Items:

  • Skillet
  • Baking Dish – I usually used a deep pie dishes but any baking dishes will work.
  • Spoon to stir mixture

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

Place Ground Meat in skillet and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.  A 1/4 teaspoon of each is usually sufficient.  Add Italian Sausage, Onions and Bell pepper. Cook until the meat mixture is brown.

After meat is brown add approximately 20 slices of Pepperoni and 20 slices for Canadian Bacon to ground meat mixture.  This is strictly according to your taste.  I usually add both to the bottom of the skillet and stir.  Let the mixture simmer while you prepare a baking dish.

  • Layer the bottom of baking dish with Pepperoni
  • Cover the Pepperoni with half of the meat mixture
  • Cover the meat mixture with half of the Cheddar Cheese
  • Add another layer of Pepperoni
  • Cover the Pepperoni with the remaining meat mixture
  • Sprinkle crumbled Bacon over meat mixture
  • Add another layer of Pepperoni
  • Cover entire dish with the Mozzarella Cheese

Bake in Oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until all cheese is melted and turning golden brown.  I usually cook for 20 minutes and  then check every 5 minutes until done.

Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and slice and serve.

This dish maybe low carb, but it does have a lot of fat.

Afton Villa Gardens

Afton Villa Gardens, St. Francisville, is in my top three list of beautiful gardens in Louisiana.  The gardens are built on the ruins of the plantation which was destroyed by fire in 1963.

Afton Villa Gardens

Afton Villa Gardens

Afton Villa Garden Statue

Afton Villa Garden Statue

During the Audubon Pilgrimage, which is held towards the end of March every year, the field of daffodils are in full bloom.

Field of Daffodils

Field of Daffodils

Tulips were in full bloom all around the garden.



Junk Mail Beware

I use Microsoft Outlook for some of my email.  However, I have it set up to send almost everything (with a few exceptions) automatically to Junk Mail.  At last count, I have 680 items sitting in Junk Mail and that with Outlook deleting junk mail over 30 days old.

Daily I get at least one of these from Outlook:


Around 90% of the time, I click the button to tell Outlook whether or not it is Junk Mail.  If I have every done business with the person or company sending it, it is Not Junk.  Because of my settings, it will stay in the Junk Mail folder.  If it is not someone I remember, I flag it as junk.  If it is a really offensive or dangerous, I block the email sender or report it to Outlook as phishing.  This is my little way of getting even with all the Spammer out there.

It was not until today, I never read the response screen from Outlook.


I agree that spam is one of the great evils of this world. If you sent me some unsolicited, I will either block you or worst report you for phishing.

Natchitoches – The City of Lights

Today, my travels took me to Natchitoches, Louisiana.  It is called the City of Lights because at Christmas time they light up the city with thousands of lights.  Last year, 2014, they celebrated their 300 birthday.

They have a wonderful park located on the Cane River in their downtown historical district.  I walked by the shops, but many was closed today because of the Labor Day holiday.

Many Bed and Breakfast establishments are located in Natchitoches, but I choose to stay somewhere else.  One day, I will stay at a Bed and Breakfast.  But, it will be longer than just overnight and in either a Plantation or Castle.

Rogue House - Natchitoches

Rogue House – Natchitoches

Cane River

Cane River

Water Fall

Water Fall

Lunch was at Maglieaux on the Cane.  You can check out the review here: Maglieaux’s Review