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By Melissa Hutsell
Pictured above: The Happy Place Pack featuring Hot Dog and Cuddle Puddle puzzles. Photos by Photo by Cotille Davis.
The pandemic has made it necessary to source homebound entertainment. But it’s also highlighted the need to support small, sustainable-minded businesses too.
Enter The Happy Place Pack, created by the female-founded, cheeky puzzle company, Piece Out Puzzles, and organic wine company, Sans Wine Co. The pack comes with the equivalent of three bottles of additive-free wine, and two sexy 500-piece puzzles.
The six-packs come with one white, two reds, and three cans of craft rosé, each sourced from vineyards in Northern California.
The wines are certified vegan. According to the non-profit organization, Vegan Action, that means they aren’t, “filtered, defoamed, or clarified with animal products.”
Although it’s made from grapes and yeast, wine isn’t always vegan or vegetarian. Many companies use animal products—like bone char, gelatin, fish bladder, or egg whites—to filter wine and make it clear, a process called fining. However clay or limestone can also be used to achieve this.
Sans wine also features organically grown grapes, harvested in 2018. They include no added chemicals, like sulfites. Sulfites, or sulfur dioxide (SO2), are preservatives which are often associated with headaches and stomach issues, reports Healthline.
They come in cans, but aren’t meant to be consumed like beer. In fact, one can of Sans Wine equals half a bottle of vino, so pace yourself! Though they taste great right out of the can, I poured mine into a glass to let it breath, which enhanced the flavor.
Sparkling Rosé, Poor Ranch Vineyard, Mendocino County—This blend is subtly carbonated, boldly citrusy and slightly sweet.
Rose, Poor Ranch Vineyard—Both roses have a bit of a bite, are acidic and citrusy. This one was fruity with a sweet aroma.
Zinfandel, Poor Ranch Vineyard—As the only red in the pack, this wine was earthy and spicy, and slightly smoky with sweet undertones.
Sauvignon Blanc, Finley Road Vineyard, Lake County—Also an exceptionally balanced blend, the dry white is crisp with notes of citrus, fruit and honey.
The Happy Place Pack’s 500-piece jigsaw puzzles are made by puzzle guru, Cotille Davis.
Davis created the collection after a search for, “nudey man puzzle,” turned up short. “After that fruitless search, I began designing my own jigsaws, slid into the DMs of a puzzle manufacturer, and started making my own for shits and giggles,” she describes on her website.
Her designs bring much needed sexiness to the jigsaw world. They’re feminine, fun, and sharply colored. The pieces are made from sturdy cardboard, have matte finishes, and are easy to differentiate and snap together.
A Welcome Challenge
There are four different designs: No Probllama, Bouquets for Days, Cuddle Puddle, and Hot Dog. My pack included the kitten and llama sets, plus posters of each. In addition to the wine, we paired puzzles with candles and tunes to enhance relaxation. (Need some good audio for your experience? Check out the Emerald’s list of podcasts here)
No Probllama — “[…] Zen out with these chill-ass llamas, [aka] Machu Picchu Puppies. Don’t you just wanna boop ’em?! This is the perfect jigsaw puzzle for a weekend getaway in the mountains, or to give to your friend who’s obsessed with knitting chunky sweaters.”—C. Davis
Don’t let the cuteness fool you as this design offers a welcome challenge! The puzzle is definitely weekend worthy, and will take a few days for novice puzzlers to complete. Altogether, it took about three days to finish with the help of my partner.
Cuddle Puddle — “Are you ready to work a jigsaw puzzle to completion? Pounce on this masterpiece which features a buff shirtless man, six playful kittens, and a brightly-colored geometric background. Get ready to enjoy a chill afternoon of furry pussies and washboard abs.”—C. Davis
Washboard Ab? Kitten? Yes, please! This is definitely the most scrumptious Piece Out puzzle! It’s also slightly simpler than No Probllama. I particularly enjoyed completing each kitten. The the hardest part was building the model’s abs (pun shamefully intended). Though I certainly enjoyed the feminine designs, my man he had fun with these puzzles too.
More Puzzles and Pairings!
It’s been awhile since we’ve hunkered down with a puzzle. So, we were definitely a bit rusty. However these 500-piece sets sparked our interests again. While the pandemic-induced quarantine might end soon, we’ve committed to more puzzle pairing nights. We also look forward to sharing them with family and friends.
The only downfall I could see: experts won’t find these 500-piece sets as challenging.
The Emerald considers packaging and sustainable marketing measures in all product reviews. Here, we found Sans Wine Co. and Piece Out products came with a moderate amount of packaging. Cans were packed in a reusable box with matted designs. Puzzles came wrapped in plastic, with a handful of reusable crinkle paper, and a personalized thank you note from the founder.
At $120 per pack, we found it reasonably priced for thoughtfully paired, high-quality craft goods.
Overall, the Happy Place Pack offered upbeat entertainment, and introduced us to impressive craft businesses. It earns 4.7 out of 5 stars!