Cobble Hill Puzzles – how to make quality puzzles

Published on Apr 9, 2013

The Jigsaw “Puzzle Maker”, Allegra Vernon, shares her secrets of how to make a quality jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles are not magically transformed from image to pieces simply by sending a pretty image to the cutting press. From discovering quality workmanship, to cleaning the images, using random cut engineering, and the attention to details it takes a lot of work to turn images into crisp, vibrant jigsaw puzzles and that includes making the box look good!

Made in North America, Cobble Hill Puzzle Company produces quality jigsaws that are sold through independent retailers worldwide and also with online jigsaw puzzle retailers.

The jigsaw puzzle was originally created in 1760 by John Spillsbury, a London mapmaker. To cut an image that was painted on wood, he used a tool known as a jigsaw or jig saw; thus the name!

Cobble Hill’s most popular piece count is our 1000 piece puzzle. However, we produce piece counts from 60 piece kids puzzles to adult puzzles with 2000 pieces. In the video, Allegra speaks about unique offerings which include, “Easy Handling Puzzles” (275 large pieces) and “Family Puzzles” (400 small, medium, and large sized pieces) as well as how quality puzzles are made.

Shop with us online for your next jigsaw puzzle: Cobble Hill Puzzles or visit The Book Vault Inc. in beautiful Stratford, Ontario.

Copyright Outset Media 2013

The Book Vault Inc. in Stratford, Ontario is pleased to carry the full selection of Cobble Hill Puzzles in stock at all times.

Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival draws praise

Cupcakes and Saucers is a 1000 piece puzzle from Cobble Hills, and it is available at the Book Vault.

Cupcakes and Saucers is a 1000 piece puzzle from Cobble Hills, and it is available at the Book Vault.

Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival draws praise

Credit: Mike Beitz, The Beacon Herald

Monday, September 23, 2013 5:23:53 EDT PM

Organizers are still crunching the numbers on the Savour Stratford Perth County culinary festival, but they came away feeling fairly full of positive feedback.

“We’re pretty excited about the success of the weekend,” said Stratford Tourism Alliance executive director Eugene Zakreski Monday, after the dust had settled on the sixth annual event.

He based that on a flood of complimentary tweets and glowing reviews from many of participants, presenters and guests who took part in the two-and-a-half days of sipping, sampling and savouring.

“Everyone appeared to be very pleased with the theme of the event, the organization of the event, and the overall quality of the things we were offering,” he said.

The Taste of Ontario artisan alley, where visitors could sample a selection of new VQA wines, craft beers, cask beers and artisanal cheeses, the Sunday tasting, which paired local chefs and area food producers, and the culinary presentations were among the highlights, said Zakreski.

Entertaining cooking demos by superstar Canadian chefs and Food TV personalities Vikram Vij and Roger Mooking were particularly well attended, he said.

Both of them reinforced this year’s theme of “globally inspired, locally grown,” and Savour Stratford’s overall goal of promoting and highlighting local food, and the farmers, producers and chefs behind it.

“Regardless of what your international tastes may be or your culture may be, there’s such an abundance of local produce and local creativity with the restaurant chefs themselves to be able to adapt or use that as being just another creative source,” Zakreski said.

He said he was happy with the turnout on the weekend, despite a rainy start to the event, and cool and somewhat blustery conditions throughout.

While the final numbers will take a few days to calculate, Zakreski said attendance appeared to be roughly on par with last year’s Savour Stratford, which drew an estimated 27,000 food lovers.


Stratford chefs nearly swept the podium at the Savour Stratford Perth County tasting Sunday.

The event, considered the highlight of the weekend culinary festival, paired 30 local chefs with area food producers to create some tasty tidbits.

Here are the winners:

People’s choice

Fresh peach salsa with roasted jalapeno chevre, created by Molly Blooms Irish Pub chef Chris Huggins paired with Brendon Lyoness of Caveman Crops

Best meat dish

A taste of wild boar — braised boar cheek on walnut cranberry sourdough bread with pickled shallots, created by Mercer Hall chefs Tim Larsen and Sean Collins paired with Fred and Ingrid de Martines of Perth Pork Products

Best vegetarian dish

Ontario grains arancini — barley, wild rice, quinoa and sunflowers seeds stuffed with hot pepper brick cheese, created by Canadian Grub to Go chef Robert Rose paired with Oak Grove Cheese

Best dessert

Harvest moon cookie, a fall twist on the Bengali desert rasgulla, created by Your Local Market Co-op chefs Tyson Everitt and Katelyn Vere paired with Local Dairy Products

Most creative dish

Blueberry cured salmon with pickled blueberries on bannock toast, created by Aboriginal Culinary Concepts chef Richard Francis paired with Sheldon Berries

Best alcohol beverage

Cafe con piquete, Revolution blend cold-extracted ice coffee with espresso-infused Harry’s Hurricane spiced rum, garnished with a fair-trade dark chocolate-covered Revolution coffee bean and rimmed with caramel and espresso sugar, created by Revel Caffe’s Anne Campion paired with coffee roasters Las Chicas Del Cafe

Best beverage

Digestif fire tonic, created by Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar tea sommelier Karen Hartwick paired with local forager Peter Blush of Puck’s Plenty

The Savour Stratford tasting winners were selected by celebrity judges Francisco Alejandri of Agave y Aguacate; Naomi Duguid, award-winning author of Burma: Rivers of Flavour; Alison Fryer, The Cookbook Store; Mara Salles, Brazilian chef/owner of Tordesilhas; Claire Tansey, food director of Chatelaine; and Vikram Vij, chef/owner Vij’s Restaurant and Vij’s Rangoli.

Stratford Beacon Herald article

WiFi coming to City Buses

Winter Interlude is a 1000 piece puzzle from Cobble Hills, and it is available at the Book Vault.

Winter Interlude is a 1000 piece puzzle from Cobble Hills, and it is available at the Book Vault.

WiFi Coming to City Buses

Credit: Mike Bietz, The Beacon Herald

Monday, September 23, 2013 9:14:13 EDT PM

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

But the WiFi signal on the bus, when it’s turned on in Stratford later this year, will travel in waves.

And that means the people on the bus will soon be able to send and receive emails and surf the Internet while they’re waiting for their stop.

The city has recently partnered with Kitchener-based Pravala Networks to provide that free WiFi access on all city buses. There is no cost to the city for the service or the technology, which is being provided by Pravala for free.

The first bus is expected to be connected before the end of the year, with the rest to follow shortly after.

“This is just another piece in a long-term puzzle for Stratford,” said Mayor Dan Mathieson, referring to the city’s ongoing transformation into a connected community.

Pravala, which has strong ties to the University of Waterloo, will be installing a wireless access point on each of the buses, linking riders to the Internet through Rhyzome Networks’ citywide WiFi network.

Cellular networks will also be used to complement the WiFi signal, so that the rider has strongest possible connection available.

“That is one of the technological specialties that our company provides — the ability to provide a seamless switch when the users are going from WiFi to 3G and back again,” said Pravala chief technology officer Robert Robinson in a recent interview. “From a user perspective, there will be no switch.”

Passengers on the bus can connect their smartphones, tablets or laptops to what will essentially be a rolling wireless hotspot, allowing them to send and receive emails, browse the Web, watch YouTube videos, or post a Facebook update.

“We wanted to provide an advantage for the riders, and some intelligence for the city as well,” said Robinson.

A wireless device will be connected to the vehicle’s onboard computer to transfer information in real-time on things like speed, tire pressure, engine temperature and RPM, as well as fuel efficiency.

With onboard GPS, transit officials can monitor exactly where the buses are at all times, enhance their route management, and provide accurate wait-time information to people standing at the bus stops.

The plan is to post that location information on a website, so that anyone with Internet access — at home or throughout the city — can pull up a digital map and see where the buses are along the route.

Eventually, a mobile app may also be developed to make that tracking easier for the user, and the company hopes to install a monitor in the downtown bus depot at city hall showing the location of the buses.

Rhyzome’s WiFi network makes the whole project possible, said Pravala president Richard Wagner.

“Stratford is in a very unique situation in that it has this infrastructure in place,” he said. “So let’s try to really optimize it and deliver tangible benefits to the customer using smartphone and communication technology. That’s our goal.”

Stratford Beacon Herald

Hootenanny benefits Local Community Food Centre

Hot Peppers is a 500 piece puzzle from Springbok. It is available at The Book Vault.

Hot Peppers is a 500 piece puzzle from Springbok. It is available at The Book Vault.

Last Share the Health event in Ontario this summer

By Mike Beitz, The Beacon Herald

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 4:51:10 EDT PM

Good food, good drink and good music will be served up for a good cause in Stratford Sunday at Monforte Dairy’s annual Hootenanny.

The event, hosted by cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen as a way of thanking her customers, will also raise money for the Local Community Food Centre’s Share the Health fund to purchase food from local, sustainable family farms for community meals, cooking programs and other events.

The Hootenanny is the last of five Share the Health events held across Ontario this summer to raise money for programs that promote the health of low-income or food-insecure community members, with the help of local chefs, farmers and artisans.

It will run from 4-9 p.m. Sunday at Monforte Dairy at 49 Griffith Rd.

Admission is $10 at the gate (free for Monforte Dairy subscribers and children under 10), and tickets are also available at the Local Community Food Centre (612 Erie St.) or online at

Everyone is welcome.

Food and beverage tickets are $5 each for things like pork tacos by the Local Community Food Centre, Ethiopian chicken and vegetable stews by the Perth-Huron Multicultural Association, roasted goat by Monforte on Wellington, noodles by the Wicked Pickle food trailer, as well as Creemore Beer and Chateau des Charmes wine.

There will also be chips and salsa from Neal Brothers Foods, fresh vegetables from Loco Fields, and hot, cold and sparkling apple cider and Kiju organic juices.

Musical performers for the event include Brad McGoey and his Band, and Graham & Dan.

Article on The Beacon Herald’s website

Parking rate hike on hold

Cruisin' Classics is a 1000 piece puzzle from White Mountain Puzzles, and is available at the Book Vault.

Cruisin’ Classics is a 1000 piece puzzle from White Mountain Puzzles, and is available at the Book Vault.

Credit: Donal O’Connor, The Beacon Herald

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:21:52 EDT AM

Motorists parking in downtown Stratford can hold on to their loonies for at least a while longer as city council ponders whether and by how much to raise the cost of metered parking.

At Coun. Kerry McManus’ suggestion, council on Monday night deferred a decision on a recommended rate increase to $1 an hour until a visioning session takes place Oct. 2.

An obviously divided council also deferred a subcommittee recommendation to increase parking enforcement by converting a part-time enforcement officer’s job to a full time position.

Councillors Paul Nickel and Karen Smythe, said they could not support the recommended rate increase. Smythe suggested holding off until there’s something firmer regarding Market Square and the Cooper site and said she couldn’t support a 150% increase.

Nickel cited looming competition from east end retail developments – Walmart and Target – and suggested parking should be viewed as a service rather than a revenue generator.

“To raise the parking rate to $1 an hour now seems ludicrous,” he said.

Coun. Tom Clifford indicated he favoured some sort of parking rate increase and an end to free parking that’s now provided at the Cooper lot but he said a rate increase has to be justified.

“I don’t think we have a plan,” he said.

And while Clifford suggested a parking garage would help downtown parking and Coun. Brad Beatty said the City Centre Committee (CCC) favours that idea, Nickel rejected it out of hand.

“A parking garage shouldn’t even be mentioned,” he said.

Debate on the almost-always contentious parking issue followed a parking review prepared by city staff. The report includes reference to the possible loss of 70 parking spaces in Market Square and cites the possible need for additional spaces, possibly in a parking garage.

It notes parking rates in other municipalities range from 75 cents to $4.50 an hour. Stratford’s current meter rate is 40 cents an hour. A rate of 65 cents an hour would balance parking costs and revenues.

Coun. Bonnie Henderson, who had backed the $1 per hour rate in subcommittee, said she supported the increase but would also support an increase to 75 cents.

If that was vague, so was the CCC’s position on the proposed increase as relayed by Coun. Beatty. The CCC was not opposed to the $1 increase, he said, but they don’t want to say they are 100% in support of it.

The merchants would like to see better enforcement of the three-hour limit, he indicated.

The only one of three subcommittee recommendations council found itself easily agreeing to was that staff look into fees and permits for the upper and lower lots at the Cooper site and report back.

City treasurer Andre Morin said the parking fund currently stands at about $980,000.

Link to original article on the Beacon Herald’s website

Email Donal O’Connor

Scotiabank Giller Prize 2013 Announces its Longlist


Famous Writers is a 1000 piece puzzle from Eurographics. It is available at the Book Vault.

16 Sep 2013

September 16, 2013 (Vancouver, BC) – The Scotiabank Giller Prize today announced its longlist for this year’s award from the University of British Columbia’s famed Museum of Anthropology. The event was co-hosted by UBC’s Creative Writing Program and the Vancouver Writers Fest (VWF).

Twenty thirteen marks the 20th anniversary of the Giller Prize and the 50th anniversary of UBC’s distinguished Creative Writing Program.

Author and 2013 Giller juror Esi Edugyan was at the event to present the 13 titles that were chosen from a field of 147 books, submitted by 61 publishers from every region of the country.

Edugyan’s fellow jurors this year are Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and American author Jonathan Lethem.

The longlist for the 20th anniversary of the Scotiabank Giller Prize is:

- Dennis Bock for his novel Going Home Again, published by HarperCollins Canada

- Joseph Boyden for his novel The Orenda, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada

- Lynn Coady for her short story collection Hellgoing, published by House of Anansi Press

- Craig Davidson for his novel Cataract City, published by Doubleday Canada

- Elisabeth De Mariaffi for her short story collection How To Get Along With Women, published by Invisible Publishing

- David Gilmour for his novel Extraordinary, published by Patrick Crean Editions

- Wayne Grady for his novel Emancipation Day, published by Doubleday Canada

- Louis Hamelin for his novel October 1970, translated by Wayne Grady and published by House of Anansi Press

- Wayne Johnston for his novel The Son of a Certain Woman, published by Knopf Canada

- Claire Messud for her novel The Woman Upstairs, published by Knopf Canada

- Lisa Moore for her novel Caught, published by House of Anansi Press

- Dan Vyleta for his novel The Crooked Maid, published by HarperCollins Canada

- Michael Winter for his novel Minister Without Portfolio, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada.

Of the longlist, the jury writes:

“These are essential stories. Each of these novels and story collections offer a glimpse of who we are, who we might be. Whether set in postwar Vienna, or 1970s Montreal, contemporary Afghanistan or Newfoundland, each of these books took us out of ourselves to places that were at times uncomfortable, at times exhilarating. Some of the short stories in these collections exhibit a scope and breadth one would normally associate with a novel; some of the novels on this list have the distilled intensity one expects from short fiction. But all of these books surprised us with their formal rigour, the ferocity of their vision, and their willingness to tell unknown stories in remarkably familiar ways. These thirteen books remind us, once again, of that particular beauty only the written word can realize. This is writing at its finest.”

The Giller Prize will present its shortlist at a special event in Toronto on October 8th. The winner will be announced at a gala ceremony to honour the finalists on Tuesday, November 5th during a live broadcast on CBC Television at 9:00 p.m. (9:30 NT), hosted by Jian Ghomeshi from CBC Radio One’s Q.

On Monday, November 4, 2013, we are delighted to present a very special event, taking place at Koerner Hall. Between the Pages: An Evening with the Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalists will take you inside the minds and creative lives of the five writers on the 2013 shortlist. CBC Radio`s Carol Off will gather the finalists for an insightful and lively discussion of their work, characters and themes. Special guests will present readings from the shortlisted books and beautiful music will round out an unforgettable evening of Canadian arts and culture.

About the Prize:

The Scotiabank Giller Prize strives to highlight the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. The prize awards $50,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $5,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.

Source: Scotiabank Giller Prize Website

Stratford considers 150% hike in hourly parking rate


Parking rates in Stratford may be on the rise. (SCOTT WISHART, The Beacon Herald files)

Credit: Mike Beitz – Staff Reporter

The days of dirt-cheap downtown parking, and free parking at the Cooper site, may be numbered.

After a wide-ranging discussion of a comprehensive city parking report Wednesday, Stratford’s protection to persons and property subcommittee eventually approved a motion to hike rates in the downtown core to $1 per hour from the current $0.40.

“That’s still really cheap,” said Coun. Bonnie Henderson as she pushed for the higher rate. “Each year we put up garbage tags, and you hate to do that, but it costs money to run the city.”

The $1-per-hour rate is “reasonable,” she added, and may help the city recoup some of the costs associated with providing and maintaining its parking resources.

Coun. George Brown agreed, taking it one step further to recommend converting the Cooper lot to paid parking.

There are currently 262 free spaces at that lot just outside of the core.

“I think the days of free parking are over, when we’re going into debt,” he said. “It’s either the citizens of the city pay … or it’s user pay, and we’ve got to make that decision. People that are parking their vehicles have got to pay for the cost of parking.”

Brown suggested that downtown merchants could be encouraged to use the upper portion of the Cooper lot, nearest the building, for a modest fee of around $5 a week. Passes could be issued and a gate installed.

That would free up more spaces in the core for shoppers, he noted.

At the lower portion of the Cooper lot, a pay-and-display system could be established, with reasonable rates of $0.50 an hour, added Brown.

He acknowledged that any changes to parking at the Cooper lot will likely have to wait until a master development plan for the site is completed, and that may not happen until next year.

“But it’s time that we start moving,” he said.

The subcommittee approved a recommendation to refer the issue of paid parking at the Cooper lot for to staff to investigate, and prepare a report.

That, and the recommendation to hike parking rates in the core to $1 per hour, must still be approved by city council.

Source: Mike Beitz at the Stratford Beacon Herald

Man Booker Prize 2013 Shortlist Announced


The Tower of Babel by Breughel the Elder is a 1000 piece puzzle from D-Toys, and is available at the Book Vault.

10 September 2013

- We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)

- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Granta)

- Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)

- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)

- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (Penguin)

When Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year’s Man Booker Prize judges, announced the longlist he called it the most diverse in recent memory. He was right, and the same is still true of the shortlist he and his peers have just selected. The 151 novels they started with represented a tour d’horizon of contemporary fiction, a grand vista that encompassed everything from the epic to the miniaturist. The longlist distilled the numbers but kept the flavour and now the shortlist has intensified it further.

The six books on the list could not be more diverse. There are examples from novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe – each with its own highly distinctive taste. They range in size from the 832 pages of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries to the 104-page The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. The times represented stretch from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo) by way of 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Jumpha Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace) and modern Tokyo (Ruth Ozeki). The oldest author on the list, Jim Crace, is 67, the youngest (indeed the youngest ever shortlistee), Eleanor Catton, is 28. Colm Tóibín has written more than 15 books, The Luminaries is only Catton’s second.

What does such a list say about the taste of the judges? Messrs Macfarlane, Douglas-Fairhurst, Haynes, Kearney and Kelly have now read each of the books at least twice. Any book that bears re-reading has merit. A book that then stands out above its peers is special indeed. The judges’ arguments will have been impassioned – no one invests the time and energy to read 151 books without the enterprise mattering to them. The shortlist is a consensus: it is one that shows that the judges have wide-ranging tastes; that they are unswayed by reputations (many big names didn’t make the longlist let alone the shortlist); that they have no predilection for one particular genre; or books by one gender (there are four women and two men on the list); that they like new voices as well as familiar ones; that historical fiction has no more precedence than modern; that form is less important than quality.

And what does the list say about the writers? It is clear that the perennial complaint that fiction is too safe and unadventurous is a ridiculous one; it shows that the novel remains a multi-faceted thing; that writing and inspiration knows no geographical borders; that diaspora tales are a powerful strand in imaginative thinking; and that human voices, in all their diversity, drive fiction.

The shortlist, in other words, is fiendishly difficult to categorise. And that is exactly what you would hope from a list selecting from the best that contemporary fiction has to offer. Quality comes in different forms and in 2013 there is plenty of it about.

Man Booker Prize Press Release

Alice Munro Writers and Readers Festival September 28-29, 2013


Meet Your Neighbour: The Wee Book and Photo Shop


This unique new Downtown business named The Wee Book and Photo Shop is nestled at 15 York Street.

Co-owners Maureen Cook and Suzanne Fitzpatrick have turned their passions into this new and exciting business. Suzanne, an award winning photographer with over 25 years of experience in portrait photography and Maureen’s passion for vintage clothing, hats and books. They combined their talents and created The Wee Book and Photo Shop. You can peruse a selection of terrific books, then hop on into the costume area where you can try on some vintage outfits and get a portrait done against a hand painted backdrop for as low as $35. They also have a large format printer and can print up to 44″ wide onsite. Suzanne can perform photo restoration, bring in your precious memories and have them brought back to life. Also, other photographers who wish to have their artwork printed are welcome to come in. They can print on canvas and other fine art papers. The Wee Book and Photo Shop also carries a selection of vintage watches, unique jewellery and “Wee Book” jewellery.

The Wee Book and Photo Shop on Facebook