Monday, February 20, 2012

Bob's Bday - Puzzle Perfect

By now you probably know the drill. Every February I try to outdo the previous year's celebration of Bob's birthday by creating a theme and decorating the house. Since we now live together, this has also involved kicking him out of the house for a few hours and instructing him when it is safe to come back!

For a trip down memory lane, check out the indoor camping trip, the Lost: Season 3 marathon weekend, an Around the World trip and last year's James Bond theme.
This year presented a bit of a challenge. I was going to be out of town on his Thursday birthday and would not be coming home until late Friday night. Also, we had our engagement photo shoot scheduled for Saturday. Hmm. . . I got to thinking and then saw a promotion come across my inbox I couldn't pass up. The new hotel PUBLIC Chicago recently opened and I had the pleasure of attending a recent work function there. Instantly in love with the design of the place, I was on the look out for when our next staycation could be scheduled! I quickly snatched up a room for Saturday night, and the Valentine's Day package which included breakfast for two, 2 drinks at the famous Pump Room bar and a bottle of Prosecco in the room. Gotta take advantage of the proximity of Bob's birthday to V-Day!
But how to present the hotel stay without losing out on my usual process of decorating the house? I kept it a secret until Thursday the 16th - his actual birthday. I decided to get up early that morning (he leaves for work way earlier than I wake up) and decorate then so he would come home to the surprise even while I was traveling for work.

I picked up a 24-piece puzzle from Michael's, which was the smallest number of pieces they had and printed out pictures from PUBLIC's website. You can see that my printer ink was pretty poor at the time, so it just goes to show that while I put effort into these things, it is not so much that I'm willing to go buy new printer ink! Along with a couple phrases to clarify the plan, I modpdged a collage onto the completed puzzle.
So let me start with how this was going to work in my head: I would use an Xacto knife to cut around the puzzle pieces resulting in a perfectly formed puzzle piece with a new image on the top.

Here's how it actually went down. The paper ripped apart too easily and left me with a mess. I don't know if the paper was too thin or if I didn't let the modpodge dry enough. Probably a combination.
Take Two: I outlined each puzzle piece on the collage and cut them out individually. Again, I'm no perfectionist so this wasn't the cleanest of cuts. Some of the pieces had a little trouble sticking together after I glued on the images, but you can still get the gist. And if I thought my printer ink was suspect with the first round of photos I printed, the quality only went down further. . . .
I jumbled up the pieces and seperated them into trios. Using ziploc bags and numbering them created 8 little clue sets.
The clues were placed throughout the house, aligned with "hotel" type activities/items. Chocolates on the pillow, travel sized toiletries on the bathroom sink, coffee machine with mugs and individual serving packets.
And the most ghetto Do Not Disturb sign you will ever see.
Bob said it took him a little while to get the puzzle together thanks to our cats - they will disrupt any project we happen to be working on by laying on it or stealing pieces of it. 
And to sum it up, our staycation was a great one: drinks at the Pump Room bar, dinner at Gibson's and a lazy Sunday morning breakfast. I definitely recommend making a staycation at least an annual activity. If nothing else, it is a great way to experience a different side of the city you call home!


  1. Dang, that's impressive! But I think that Leslie's Valentines treasure hunt to Ben (on Parks n Rec) has got you beat ;)

  2. I kept her scavenger hunt in mind, but knew I couldn't do it at that level! Loved how Ron acted in that episode.