Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Magic Gardens

The Magic Gardens of Philadelphia provide a glimpse into the fabulously over the top imagination of Isaiah Zagar, a prolific artist whose work can be seen in hundreds of morals across the city. Back in the 1960’s, he and his wife moved to (formerly) derelict South Street, pioneering the renaissance of the now Bohemian neighborhood. He bought a building and fenced off the vacant lot next door.  


Over the next 14 years, he constructed a magical labyrinth of walkways, stairs, niches, and tunnels, decorated with broken wine bottles, bicycle wheels, pieces of pottery, glass and mirrors, and a variety of recycled art objects.


In 2002, as real estate values improved, the owner of the vacant lot wanted to sell the land, putting this creative masterpiece in jeopardy of demolition, but the community rose to the occasion. They helped Zagar purchase and preserve the garden via a non-profit organization.

As a visitor to PMG, you are literally walking through art, and as you gaze up at the side of a building that is three stories high with every inch of it covered in pieces of mosaic, you wonder “How on earth did he do that?” Everything is mosaicked – even the bathrooms! There is also an interior art gallery and a delightful patio area. 

After your visit to this hidden treasure, South Street is a great quirky neighborhood to explore, and you’ll find plenty of interesting places to eat and shop. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are located at 1020 South Street (between 10th and 11th) and are open every day. Admission is only $7. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter flower pretzel bites

We’re going to a friend’s house for Easter dinner, and in addition to the usual bottle of wine, she asked for a small dessert. My daughter is bringing a carrot cake, and I spotted this recipe on Pinterest and I thought I’d give it a whirl. (It’s originally from to give credit where credit is due. There are lots of other cool ideas on that site, too!)

You’ll need:
·         Pretzel snaps
·         A bag of Wilton Bright White Candy Melts (I found them at Michael’s)
·         Easter M & M’s

Put about eight pretzels on a plate and top with a candy melt and zap in the microwave for about 50 seconds. (You could do more at one time if you like, but this is probably a good number to handle while the chocolate is still soft. I also found that with my little microwave, it was more like a minute and ten seconds to sufficiently soften the candy melts).

When they come out of the microwave, another useful tip is to put all your center M&M’s in while the chocolate is still melted. (The centers of the candy melts don’t soften up as much as the edges). After that, I also found it helpful to place M&M’s at opposite sides of the pretzel and then fill in the rest. This helped keep the center one in the right spot. Pop them in the freezer for five minutes to set.


Even though mine didn’t turn out as perfect as the two sisters’ candies, they’re still delicious and a lot of fun to make! 

Happy Easter.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Winner of the sampler giveaway!

Wow! What an overwhelming response to the giveaway for the vintage sampler, both here and on my Facebook page.

I’m so glad everyone loved it as much as I do. A big thank you to all who entered, for your interest in my books, and especially for the kind words from those who have enjoyed them. Because there were so many lovely responses, I thought I’d give away a couple of runner-up prizes, too!

Now, drum roll, please …

The Grand Prize winner of the sampler and book is Shirley Landes!

Also winning a copy of LIE OF THE NEEDLE are Karen Purbaugh Barnett and Missy Benoit! Please contact me at with your mailing address and your gifts will be on their way.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Giveaway to celebrate the release of LIE OF THE NEEDLE!

FABULOUS giveaway to celebrate the release of LIE OF THE NEEDLE!

A beautiful hand-stitched vintage needlework sampler dated May, 1936 that I found it at a little antique store in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It says, “Let me live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” It’s cross-stitched on linen, and I believe it’s in its original wooden frame. (There’s the striped brown paper still on the back!).

Leave a comment here, or wherever you see this post to be entered to win the sampler, plus a copy of LIE OF THE NEEDLE, #3 in the Deadly Notions mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime.

I’ll draw the winner on Saturday morning, 1/10/15. Good luck!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Mary Jacobs Library Foundation YA Book Fest & Book Fair

Book signing:
I’ll be participating in The Mary Jacobs Library Foundation YA Book Fest & Book Fair at Barnes and Noble in Princeton/Market Fair, 3535 US Highway 1, Suite 400, New Jersey, on December 13, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Hope to see you if you’re in the area. 10-20% of all purchases made will benefit the library.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And we have a winner in the Yard Sale Game! (or two, or three)

Congratulations to Linda Rima, who was the first to hit the nail on the head with her guess of $10. These wine glasses were originally $20 for the set of eight, so when they were marked down, I scooped them up for the bargain price of ten dollars! Linda, please email me at with your mailing address and the copy of A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR and the vintage glass canister will be on their way to you.

Malka E and Jenny Hanahan also guessed the exact price, so I think they deserve a copy of the book and some swag, too, don't you?! Please email me with your address and I'll mail promptly.

Thanks so much to all who entered. This was fun!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Yard Sale Victory!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for yard sales, which is why it has been so much fun to write this Deadly Notions mystery series. My heroine, Daisy Buchanan, goes to all the places I love to go – auctions, estate sales and flea markets – in search of merchandise for her quirky vintage sewing notions store.

This morning, I think I made one of the best finds of my junking career. I’d seen these Milano balloon wine goblets at a yard sale yesterday for a decent price (but more than the five bucks I had in my wallet at the time!) I went home and checked prices on the internet and was staggered to find that just two of them would cost about $50-60, and there were eight on that trestle table.

I hurried to the bank, took out some cash and rushed back to the yard sale, but he was closed for the day with a sign saying he’d re-open at 8 a.m. on Sunday. I swear I dreamed about those wine glasses all night, and hightailed it back there this morning. To my relief, they were still there, and now were HALF PRICE! I couldn’t pull the money out of my wallet fast enough, and cackled with delight all the way home.

I have someone special in mind to give these wine glasses to, but if you guess the price I paid for them (or whoever comes closest), there’s a giveaway of a copy of A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR, plus a sweet little hand-painted glass container I picked up on my last visit to Nannygoat Antiques.

Leave your best guess in the comments! I'll announce the winner on Monday night.