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How To Put a Puzzle Together (A Step by Step Guide)

1. Visit a friend who is in the middle of putting a puzzle together. Notice how much you enjoy helping him with it.

2. Receive a puzzle from said friend as an ostensible gift. (WARNING: If friend is giving you a puzzle that he has not yet put together himself first, ask yourself why.)

3. Have the epiphany after you get home that this puzzle isn’t exactly what you would refer to as “pattern diverse”.

4. Question how much your friend actually likes you and why you always seem to be the object of his “generosity” (e.g., opaque holiday wrapping paper, 800 baud modem, ten-year-old calendar, in-the-shower CD player, “gently used” toothbrushes, dowsing rods, all things sold at Sharper Image, etc).

5. With a looming sense of dread, open the box and dump out one thousand pieces onto a table that now sits in the middle of your living room.

6. Begin flipping over all the pieces so that the color side is up. If you’re unsure which side is the picture side, I cannot help you. This very advanced instruction set assumes you already have a working knowledge of which side of the puzzle piece contains the image. If not, you may wish to consult the primer to this piece entitled “The Dimwit’s Guide to Determining Rough Gray Sides of Puzzle Pieces From the Smooth Colored Sides and That Walking and Chewing Gum Thing”.  Anyway, be sure to pull out any side pieces you come across as you monotonously flip all the pieces to color side up.

7. Spend an inordinate amount of time agonizing over whether or not these are side pieces:

Hint: Only one of these is an actual side piece.

8. Vascillate between using the puzzle to find pieces or using the pieces to find where it fits in the puzzle. Study the puzzle. Be the puzzle.


9. Call for pizza as you will have no time to shower or cook your own meals once your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder kicks in and you will not rest until this frickin’ thing is done.

10. Realize that you have a problem and that you probably shouldn’t be doing puzzles because you find it impossible to step away even though your back hurts from leaning over the table for two solid days only stopping long enough to pee.

11. Bark at your significant other when he snaps in a piece that you’ve been looking for for the last half hour. And have a cow when you finally find the pieces that have been dogging you forever.

12. Throttle your significant other when he signals a touchdown and says “Ta Da!” after each and every piece he successfully fits in because Hello — one thousand pieces.

13. After the 500th “Ta Da!”, curse Dr. Bartholomew Jigsaw (or whoever invented it) and the day he was born. Vow to never participate in such a soul-sucking endeavor again.

14. Crawl into bed with a dizzying weariness and dream of monster crayons chasing you down dark alleys with paint guns blasting you down into a technicolor puddle of death.

15. Get up the next morning, stare at your completed masterpiece and fret over how long you should keep it together before ripping it apart, destroying what you worked so tirelessly and ceaselessly on for so many hours and for what, to tear it apart?

16. Get depressed.

17. Get out of town for awhile. Take the train to Berkeley for a change of pace and celebrate your friend’s birthday. Walk around and shop on Shattuck Avenue, realizing for the first time in a while how important spending time with friends is. It’s really what makes life worth living. Vow that you will make more time for your friends because they are so near and dear to your heart.

18. Come home with this:

frilly pink panties

I don’t know if you heard me screaming about it the other day, but the Kindle Blog Report gave Nanny Goats in Panties a big fat YES recommendation for the Kindle. Yay!

You too can subscribe to NGIP on your Kindle.

And a THANK YOU to Marg at Marg’s Animals for bestowing NGIP with the Beautiful Blogger award.
Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. Bukaus says:

    Mod Podge, and put it on your wall, after days of effort, it doesn’t matter if it matches your decor. 😀

    1. Well, THAT’S true. And who cares what everyone else thinks anyway. It’s MY art.

  2. Tina Carlson says:

    Great blog, thanks for making me laugh this morning!  BTW, if I had a nanny goat it would definitely be wearing panties.  Maybe even a tutu.  ;  )

    1. Thank you, Tina! I don’t know how you came to read one of the older posts, but I’m glad you did. And if you ever do find yourself in the presence of a nanny goat in panties, please do take a photo and send it to me! 

  3. This was so funny… I actually laugh out loud and woke up poor Nano, he is not happy.
    I love doing puzzles and go through the same experience as you JUST described. I don't let anyone touch the pieces!! Or you'll lose a finger. Hubby bought me a Capn. Jack Sparrow (mmm Johnny Depp!) puzzle last year, I've tried to leave it out on the table all the time, but hubby gets just a tiny bit irritated.
    Make sure to let us know how long it takes you to finish the kitties. 🙂

  4. sandboxgems says:

    OMG–I laughed my butt off at this. I think I would have shellacked the darn thing and hung it on the wall after all that! My eyes would have been going cross eyed. I guess you are one for punishment after buying that cat puzzle.

  5. BK says:

    The cycle continues. 🙂

  6. natalie says:

    i love puzzles! we should totally do a puzzle trade kind of thing. i love them, do them, then they sit on my shelf in a box for a long time before i eventually give them away. it is rare that i do them again! i have several that were purchased in the last couple of years that are just waiting for someone to love them!

    oh…and in turkey we did glue them together and hang them on the wall. winters were cold there and our walls were bare. the boys had 2 wild animal puzzles, and the girls had a HUGE ladybug puzzle on theirs. it didn't seem retro…mostly just cheap, but it worked!

  7. Jude says:

    I cracked up reading this post, you are very entertaining the way you write and I'm sure your friend loves you to death.

  8. Jenny says:

    Here is a video I uploaded at school for you:

  9. Jenny says:

    I love this post.
    I can relate to it in everyway.

  10. gayle says:

    Until I started reading this I had forgotten about the puzzle that we started before Christmas!!

  11. annsrants says:

    Congrats on the kindle thumbs up!

    Also, I recently bought a puzzle for my Mom, at her request. It was so impossible to put together she gave it back to me.

    It was a drawing of a book case with hundreds of tiny books. Not color coordinated.

    I now realize it was a passive aggressive puzzle.

  12. windsorgrace says:

    Dude. This is why I don't do puzzles. I want to keep and savor something I have spent so much time on. You can't really do that with puzzles. And, it's always more fun when you are helping someone else.

  13. Sharlene says:

    Hilarious! I felt my own emotions rise and fall as I read this. That cat puzzle does look tempting…

  14. carma says:

    congrats on the big fat Yes recommendation; this is the second time I've come across the word soul-sucking today – as I sit here and my soul is being sucked out — well done on the puzzle!!

  15. Brad W. says:

    > “Dimwit's Guide to Determining Rough Gray Sides”

    I have one of those double-sided puzzles: advice cheerfully accepted for this kind of puzzle. I'm thinking of storing it in the large circular file cabinet in my backyard…

    One other comment. When working on a puzzle with a significant other, be sure not to store one piece in your pocket. If you ignore that advice, heed this next bit well: DO NOT LET THEM SEE YOU TAKING IT OUT OF YOUR POCKET! The satisfaction of putting in the last piece is not worth the retribution that will be forthcoming.

  16. sandy says:

    Groan, never liked putting puzzles together. Would not be a gift I would appreciate or enjoy or use.

  17. mommytime says:

    My grandmother and I used to do puzzles. Once it was a 1000 piece ROUND one that was a jeweled horse (think Faberge) against a background of black velvet. Basically, all the pieces that weren't plain black were exactly the same color, gold-red-green-purple-blue-sparkly jewels. It took a really long time. Back then, I loved it. Now, I think my head would explode before I was finished.

  18. Cheri says:

    My name is Cheri and I put jigsaw puzzles together.

    I'm just about literally pissing in my pants over this post. It's almost as if you were in my dining room 2 months ago when I put together a 1,000 piece Wizard of Oz puzzle that 1) had teeny-tiny images from the book embedded in to the title and characters from the movie 2) colors did not match the box so it was impossible at times to use the box as the guide 3) had those exact same border pieces you speak of here and 4) caused me to need a neck/shoulder massage when I was finished.

    Nobody helps me with my puzzles. Not one single person. They just find it completely funny and entertaining to take just one piece off the table and hide it so that I go completely insane when I'm finished and don't get the glorious (almost orgasmic) feeling of putting in that VERY. LAST. PIECE. And running your hand over the whole puzzle, feeling the beauty of how every piece flows with the next. Ahhhh!!

    The worst puzzle I ever put together was 1,000 pieces of a picture of red roses. Just red roses. Not in a vase. Not on a table. Just a close up picture of red roses. I don't think I got dressed/showered/ate for an entire week.

  19. vixensden says:

    Having had puzzle addiction over and over again during the years, I never laughed so hard at a post in my life. Now I just need to stop myself from going into the closet and pull out those three puzzles I bought but never started. I have enough back problems as it is.

  20. Erin says:

    A cat puzzle?

  21. Sparkle says:

    For some curious reason, my human never does jigsaw puzzles, and I really wish she did – I hear the pieces make great cat toys!

    Uh-oh, maybe I just figured out why my human never does jigsaw puzzles. Not even the cool-looking cat one you featured.

    P.S. Paws up on the Kindle Blog Report recommendation!

  22. may466krm says:

    Hilarious!!! I found you through Meleah's FB. I will now never ever do a puzzle as long as I live. Very frustrating. But yes. My OCD does take over when I see someone else doing one, and I end up helping. But it's not really fun. So I never do any of my own, by myself.

    Great blog, and I love the name.

    1. Thanks to Meleah for bringing you over here! And I never realized it, but a
      weird feeling does kick in when I see someone else doing a puzzle. I want to
      help, but I don't really want to. It's like a Pavlovian thing. Oh my God,
      maybe I don't even like doing puzzles. What am I doing even buying them –

  23. I am CRACKING UP! Seriously LAUGHING OUT LOUD. I think my favorite was NUMBER 6. OMG. Too funny. And, I am very impressed with your Puzzle Skillz!

    1. I just HAD TO tweet and facebook this blog post.

      1. I saw!!! Thank you! Thank you!

  24. Cashier says:

    Haha nice. Pizza and puzzles are always a good combo. 🙂

  25. connieweiss says:

    I bought a puzzle for my kids that was rated for 3 years and up. I can't put the damn thing together and I'm 39.

  26. Marilyn says:

    HYSTERICAL guide, Margaret
    It's also good to have a pocket to HIDE some pieces if “helpful” friends get too obnoxious &
    one of those rolling puzzle “bases” so you can take it somewhere else to work for those times when helpful friends get WAY too obnoxious–

  27. Marg says:

    I haven't done a puzzle in many moons and I sure don't want to start one because I won't do anything else until it is finished. Plus the kitties would have one really good time sending the pieces in 100 directions. So don't think I can do one as much as I love to do them. But what a great tutorial on doing puzzles.

  28. pam101360 says:

    ha ha ha!….so funny, but true and Congrats on the award!


  29. Bryan Logie says:

    I actually prefer doing the puzzle with the color side down. It's more challenging and it also pretty much nips the the “oh! you are doing a puzzle! let me help!” syndrome right in the bud. Heh,heh… 😛

    1. Cheri says:

      I started doing a puzzle like this once. I was 1/4 of the way in and my family threatened to leave me. I think I might have even started foaming at the mouth. Even I was frightened.

  30. buggys says:

    My sister gets sucked into these puzzle vortexes frequently. She lives the puzzle for days!

  31. patriciarockwell says:

    I have never liked jigsaw puzzles. You have just reminded me why. Thanks!

  32. I remember when my sister gave our daughter a bead making kit for her birthday (SO many pieces to step on). All we wondered was, “Why is she pissed at us?”
    At least we got even: When her son's birthday rolled around, we sent along a kiddy drum set!

  33. Surfie says:

    Oh, I love puzzles! And you got all the instructions exactly right. (Is the white piece the side piece?) I had an awesome puzzle once that was just a whole bunch of candy piled together. It was so fun to work on when I wasn't pulling my hair out in frustration.

  34. Twistygirl says:

    bwahahaha, I loved this. You don't pick the easiest puzzles do you.

  35. moooooog35 says:

    Our puzzle steps also include 'Realize you're missing ONE PIECE and that the dog has probably already eaten it. Forego the last piece instead of scrounging through the yard and all the dog poo (again) looking for the elusive corner.'

  36. SueAnn says:

    Argh!!! That crayon puzzle would have driven me bonkers and then you go out and get cats??? Are you insane woman?? LOL!! Good luck!
    And congrats on the Kindle shout out!

  37. Meesa says:

    I love puzzles. My kids make doing them impossible. Plus, I never want to tear them apart after. I like to use that glue sh*t. But then have no where to put them

  38. marlaahansen says:

    I am puzzled by this post, Margaret.

    WTG on the kindle YES!!!

    1. Ha! OK, MarlaA, you win for the best pun today. 🙂

  39. bobbinlalaland says:

    Wow, I'm super impressed that you finished that!

    I had a hard time helping my niece with hers the other day and it was for ages 3 and up. But in my defense, it was a hologram puzzle, so if you moved the piece a little, it changed.

  40. We do puzzles communily at the cabin during the summer. It takes at least a month to complete it, if a little one hasn't eaten a piece. I have to give you props for doing that puzzle. You have patience to be sure.

  41. Sometimes I look at puzzles and remember how people used to coat them with that clear glue coating and hang them up as artwork and think “Oh, how charming and retro that would be, it would be perfect with this picture of a cat playing with multiple balls hanging in my office!” But I have a short attention span and forget to buy them which is just as well because I have a short attention span.

    I do puzzles with my little boys. Kids these days have it easy. They have some puzzles where the base has pictures on it, so you can match up each piece where it belongs. And sometimes they still get it wrong! But it's cool because they think I'm a total genius because I can do the 24 piece ones in like less than 10 minutes, easy.

    Next week you should do one of those 3-D Big Ben puzzles so we can all get drunk to celebrate!

  42. Mad Woman says:

    And that is precisely why the many puzzles we own have never even been out of the box, let alone the shrink wrap. Sad really.

  43. High Five on the Kindle recommendation!

    As for the puzzle– Addicting aren't they?!?! Who knew they'd be more addicting then blogging. I take my hat off to you for actually ripping it apart.

    Have fun with the new puzzle. I hope you get to put the very last piece in place 🙂


  44. AnythingFitsANakedMan says:

    OMG! That was hilarious!! I suffer from the same “puzzle obsession” myself!! I think we both need serious help! Cheers!

  45. wendiwinn says:

    hahahaah! man. i used to do puzzles back in the day. i'd stay up all night. ocd is a pain. i heard that.

  46. Anali says:

    Hi Margaret! I was right behind you on SITS today. Better late than never right?

    And good luck with the new puzzle and most likely more puzzles to come. It looks like you got a full blown puzzle addiction going! : )

  47. Jayne says:

    I love puzzles! Except those monochromatic ones. Those are just wrong.

  48. scott_free says:

    LOLicious post, Margaret!
    Our family does puzzles together when we go on vacation. It's some sort of evil rite that we do. And everyone puts in puzzle pieces in a different way, some tapping them ten times to make extra-extra-extra sure they're in place, some slapping them in backhanded…yeah.
    But it's fun to do as a family…for the first ten minutes, anyway.
    Great post, Nanny!


    You have explained why I no longer do puzzles.

    But that cat puzzles looks inviting..

    Sharper Image. Yeah, my MIL insisted on something from them for Christmas one year. She opened the box, put it aside, and never ever touched it again. Um….

  50. anne says:

    YOU are BEYOND adorable.
    and unfortunately this does NOT make me want to put together a puzzle (pregnant and putting together a puzzle=insanity) however i DO want to color now.

    lol 🙂

    Make today great!

    **and dont forget to enter in my necklace giveaway!**

  51. Kristy says:

    Wowsa! Puzzles are bad for YOU!

  52. Nezzy says:

    Oh baby that cat puzzle is gonna be a booger next to the crayon puzzle.

    We used to dump such a puzzle on a table in our classroom during the dull winter months. Students and teachers alike would sit and fret awhile.

    Congratulations on the Kindle deal and your well deserved beautiful blogger award.

    Have a fun day and may all your puzzle pieces fit snugly!

  53. Paul says:

    Best puzzle advice that I ever read.

  54. Pricilla says:

    A CAT puzzle?!
    A CAT puzzle?

    I am deeply insulted. I may never return.
    This is not kittycats in panties.

    1. You know, I looked up what it would cost to put my banner picture into a puzzle. SEVENTY DOLLARS!!!!!!! WTF?

      1. If you have the 1976 edition of the Childcraft Encyclopedia, I'm not sure the volume number, but the one called “Make and Do” they have instructions on how to make your own jigsaw puzzle, using a saw and everything. That would totally be the best blog post ever if you did that.

  55. I like the puzzles my 4 year old does.

    Those I can do.

    Fast. 🙂

    1000 piece ones scare me to death. I am SO impressed! 🙂

  56. Then pack it up and send it to another puzzle addict you know…ME!

  57. A Free Man says:

    I haven't done a puzzle in ages! Totally going to the second hand shop at lunch time. I'll blame you at midnight tonight when I just can't go to bed until I finish it.

    1. Fastest comment ever! 🙂