Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zzzzzzzzzz

I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm awake"
-Ernest Hemingway

In keeping with Mary Kennedy’s Dream Club series this blog is on how we get to those dreams… Sleep!


I’m one of those people who can sleep anywhere, any time any place. I think I learned it in college with so much do and so little time. I slept in class, curled up on a library chair, on the floor, campus bench, empty classroom, the cafeteria.

This carried over to adulthood. I’ve pulled my car over to sleep and zonked out draped over the steering wheel, I always fall asleep on the couch...my TV is just an expensive nightlight.

I can sleep with my head on the keyboard resulting in little squares indented in my face. I can sleep in church, the movies, the symphony and at $60 a ticked that is expensive sleeping.

Some of the worse places I’ve slept are in a tent in the rain with the water leaking through the sides and running in the bottom, a plane to London with two screaming babies behind me, overnight in an airport…there’s a treat not to be missed...the dorm freshman year where no one slept ever, on the sidewalk waiting for New Kids on the Block tickets.

Some of the best places where I’ve slept is in a hotel room after that flight to London, in my own bed after a week of
camping in the woods, under the stars in the Grand Canyon, on a sailboat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

What about snoring? I won’t ask if you do but can you fall asleep if the other person snores? Personally I’ve contemplated using a pillow and I don’t mean me to sleep on but the other guy to sleep under...that’s just between us.

What about you? Do you need a special blanket to fall asleep? Do you have a special pillow? Are you one of those people who takes your pillow with you?

Tell us about you and sleep and I’ll give two of these adorable sleep masks from the answers. Just the thing when you want to sleep on that airplane flight. (Please check back to see if you won.)

Mary Kennedy’s Sweet Dreams giveaway is still on. Email cozychicks@gmail.com with your name and email adders. 


Happy Sleeping
Hugs, Duffy

Geared for the Grave
First book in Cycle Path mysteries
Dec 2


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Movie Time

by Maggie Sefton



Since I was immersed in revision tasks on upcoming Kelly Flynn and
Molly Malone books until mid-August, I've deliberately indulged myself this past week with my favorite form of relaxation:  Movies.  As a storyteller by choice and by trade, nothing is more relaxing for me than to disappear into another storyteller's world.  Some---but not all---of the movies I've seen recently:

A MOST WANTED MAN---I mentioned this movie before when talking about talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's many and varied roles.  This movie is an excellent thriller and totally realistic given  the world we live in now and the threat of terrorism.  Definitely a must see.  Hoffman's performance is masterful.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES---An excellent continuation of the background story that we saw introduced last year (or year before) in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.   This storyline has the apes living in their own city-state in the midst of the beautiful wooded island across San Francisco Bay.  Well done and dramatic.   Beginning of a whole new world.

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT----A delightful and charming Woody Allen film set in 1928 in the south of France.  Actors are always excellent, plus the costumes are authenic as is all the great period music, and filled with witty dialogue a la Allen.  Totally entertaining bit of froth you'll enjoy.  Plus any movie with Colin Firth is a winner.

A HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY----I adore British light comedies, especially those either set in India or having Indian characters and lots and lots of delicious Indian food.  Throw in Helen Mirren, Dame Maggie Smith, and/or Dame Judy Dench, and I'm sold.  A solid winner.  And you'll have to go find a good Indian restaurant afterwards because you'll be hungry.

LUCY----A fascinating movie featuring versatile actress Scarlett Johansen as a young woman who finds herself caught up in international intrigue and drug smuggling of some New Age, Mega Avant Garde designer drug that increases brain function.  Since scientists tell us we only use approximately 10% of our brain's capacity (dolphins use 20%), the story shows the super powers that accrue to the heroine Johansen as her brain develops 20%, 30%, 50%, and on up.  Action-adventure for sure, but you'll enjoy it.  

What movie have you seen recently?


Monday, August 18, 2014

Believe It!

by Kate Collins



Once a week I lead a creativity group at my local women’s shelter. I call it creativity because I want it to be a fun exercise in tapping into their creative minds. I’ve noticed that most people don’t often go into their creative side because they’re so focused on getting through the business and busyness of life.

The group I work with is ever changing, as the goal is to get them whole and on their feet again. They are all abused and often coming off of an addiction stemming from abuse, hurt in physical/emotional ways that I will never fully understand, and for them this is an hour long vacation where they get to imagine and pretend in various fun situations.

Lately I’ve been focusing on how to get them to imagine themselves in better circumstances. To do that effectively, I’ve been studying, reading, and listening to webinars on the power of the mind, the subconscious mind, the spirit, and quantum physics.  Fascinating subjects to me.

Since I’ve changed over to those topics, the women have really blossomed. I’ve seen sixty-somethings down to nineteen-year-olds come to life as they absorbed the truth of their circumstances: we are what we believe we are.

They learn:
If we believe we can do something, we can. We become what we believe.
If we believe we can’t do something, we can’t. Basically, we create our reality. That’s putting it simply, of course, but when I show them examples, they get it.

At my last class, a young woman named Cheyenne came up afterward to tell me she was moving out the next day into her own place. She gave me a big hug and said she was sorry to go only because she would miss my classes. Then she gave me a gift. You can see the photos of this tiny card that is one of the most meaningful presents I’ve ever received.

This is a young woman who has been tortured, raped, mentally and physically scarred, and yet she has the most cheerful spirit and loving heart of anyone I’ve ever met. I know she’ll make something of her life. She has that kind of determination.

I wanted to share this with you to encourage you to donate your time helping others, human or animal, if you don’t already. It’s so rewarding. We don’t understand the impact we have on others’ lives until we see precious gifts like this.

Have a happy week!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ready ... set ... ACTION!

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Some people have the (laughable) notion that all authors are mega-rich and that our publishers give us wonderful perks.  Say, for instance, a vidographer.  Yes, someone to chronicle our lives and make us look good.

Well, we all work for the same company, but they haven't blessed us with anything like that. (Although, sometimes they take us out for a very nice dinner.)

The Cozy Chicks are a bunch of extremely talented women, and our resident videographer is Ellery Adams. We need to buy her a director's chair because she's been making videos for us for some time now and just finished one she calls MEET THE COZY CHICKS. (Can you believe it, there are STILL some people out there who haven't heard of us.)  This is our video calling card.

So, here's our video.  It's also been added to our Killer Video Book Trailers page.  Just click this link to see them.



 We'd love to know what you think -- the comments are open!
============================================

P.S.  We're busting at the seems with pride because Ellery and Leann's new books (Murder in the Mystery Suite and The Cat, The Vagbond and the Victim) hit the New York Times Bestsellers list at #11 and #25.  Whoo-Hoo!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Daydream Believer--and a giveaway!

by Mary Kennedy
 
Most writers spend quite a bit of time daydreaming. (not that we have a corner on daydreaming, I bet you do it, too.)  We can gaze at clouds...
or trees...                                        
                                                      
 
or the ocean...                                      
 
for hours and never be bored. (I took the shot above from the place I escape to in Ft. Lauderdale. It was sheer serendipity that I found this oceanfront condo on a quiet stretch of beach.  I was headed down to Key West to research a BoxCar Mystery set in the Keys and just needed a place to stay for one night in Ft. Lauderdale.) I've been to Ft. Lauderdale at least 50 times--you can never have too much of paradise.
 
Daydreaming (in spite of what you may have been told in grade school) can be a good thing. It's a time for the brain to recharge, to play with ideas and images, making new combinations and coming up with creative solutions.
                                                        
Daydreaming is essential for writers...
 
                                    
 
we need to toss around ideas, think about our plots and characters and as one of writer pals puts it, "just our minds roll downstream."
 
So the next time someone accuses you of wasting time by "daydreaming," let them know that you're engaged in a highly creative activity. (Any anyway, who are they to judge you? Maybe they spend hours a day on Candy Crush!)
                                                            
Just a reminder that the Sweet Dreams Kit giveaway is still on. We already have two happy winners, Jen Beard and Linda Chudej. They'll be receiving a signed copy of Nightmares Can Be Murder, a Navajo dreamcatcher, a box of tea, a tin of cookies, etc. If you've already entered, that's all good, please don't enter again, it will overwhelm the system. But if you haven't entered, just shoot an e-mail with you name and e-mail addy and DREAMS in the subject line to cozychicks@gmail.com You could be our next happy winner. 
 
And remember to keep dreamin'...
 
by Mary Kennedy
 
 


Friday, August 15, 2014

The August 2014 Report


* * * * * * * * * *
Welcome to Dru's Cozy Report: August 2014. This month we have two recently released new series + bonus from fellow Cozy Chicks Ellery Adams for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * *

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran
Series: Read Em and Eat #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Read ’Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, a regular at the Emily Dickinson table. Augusta’s cousin and best friend Delia is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.

No one is more distraught than Augusta, and Sassy wants to help any way she can. But Augusta doesn’t have time for sympathy. She wants Delia’s killer found—and she’s not taking no for an answer. Now Sassy is on the case, and she’d better act fast before there’s any more trouble in paradise.
I love the idea of a bookstore cafĂ© that becomes the backdrop in this debut novel in this lighthearted whodunit. The tone was comfortable and the pacing was perfect in this engaging mystery where the suspect list was plenty. The author did a great job in pulling it all together in a manner befitting a drama that kept me turning the pages until the end. I adore the cast of characters that includes feisty Sassy, Bridgy, her BFF and the ever-present Ophie. This is very enjoyable and I can’t wait for the next book in this delightfully appealing series.

Visit Terrie at www.terriefarleymoran.com


Death of a Crabby Cook by Penny Pike
Series: Food Festival #1
Publisher: Obsidian
When restaurant reviewer Darcy Burnett gets served a pink slip from the San Francisco Chronicle, she needs to come up with an alternative recipe for success quickly. Her feisty aunt Abby owns a tricked-out school bus, which she’s converted into a hip and happening food truck, and Darcy comes aboard as a part-timer while she develops a cookbook project based on recipes from food fests in the Bay Area.

But she soon finds someone’s been trafficking in character assassination—literally—when a local chef turns up dead and her aunt is framed for the murder. The restaurant chef was an outspoken enemy of food trucks, and now Darcy wonders if one of the other vendors did him in. With her aunt’s business—and freedom—on the line, it’s up to Darcy to steer the murder investigation in the right direction and put the brakes on an out-of-control killer.
This was very enjoyable and I love the pacing and flow of this light whodunit. This mystery was hard to put down and I especially like the humor that was contained within the pages. Darcy is a wonderful character and I adore the relationship she has with her Aunt Abby and her cousin Dillon whose appearance is not what it seems. Jake and the other food truck vendors round out this delicious cast of characters and I can’t wait to read the next book in this delightfully entertaining series. Bonus recipes are included.

Visit Penny Pike, pseudonym for Penny Warner at www.pennywarner.com


Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams
Series: Book Retreat #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up.
This is a tantalizing mystery that teased me with a perfect setting of a resort that was wrapped about books and more books beyond one's wildest dream. A murder puts a damper on things and that's when this book kicks it into high gear with a light whodunit that carried me from one chapter to the next as I had to know what happens next. The author did a beautiful job in creating a wonderful escapism that was both engaging and entertaining with a very comfortable tone and lovable characters that I can't wait to learn more about. Jane is determined and a strong heroine who takes her new role with honor and I love her interactions with her family and friends. This is a great read and I look forward to the next book in this delightfully charming series.

Visit Ellery at www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is this the weirdest anniversary gift ever?



 
Many many moons  ago, I married this cute little Italian guy (seen here with marriage certificate).




 We were way too young, the first of our friends to marry --  and still finishing our education -- so it shouldn't have worked. But, despite all the odds we are still together, still making jokes and having the kind of fiery ‘discussions’ you might expect from a girl with Irish genes and the only son in an Italian family.  There’s been lots of good stuff, especially our daughters Virginia and Victoria, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, inlaws and outlaws.  (Most of you know that Victoria and I write the book collector mysteries as Victoria Abbott!)

So, it’s our anniversary this week.  As we’ve had garden projects lately and didn’t want to give ourselves any more rocks, gravel or mulch, I decided it was the garden gnome anniversary.  We have never had a garden gnome.  We have never even wanted one, but then I spotted this silly little charmer while getting a birthday gift for a friend.   


Two months later, there he was, lonely, unclaimed and half-price.  I thought my hubby would be amused at this gift.  But, then maybe he wouldn’t be. 

He SAYS he is. 
The gnome is home with us now, but it’s been raining buckets, so we hesitate to leave him outside.  The Hubster just said “I think he might be an indoor gnome.” 



The question is: where’s the best place for him?   On the sofa with the princess dachshunds?




Hiding on the table with plants?



Or liberated outside, say with the morning glories?
Offer a comment or a suggestion about the best place for the gnome or tell us about the most ridiculous thing you ever bought for a birthday or anniversary.  Don’t be shy!  You could win a Pug in a Mug (garden gnome not included!) to mark the coming release of The Wolfe Widow, our third book collector mystery.   



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nancy Drew…my hero

Do you believe it. This year, Nancy Drew turns 84. Since the publication of “The Secret of the Old Clock” in 1930, more than 200 million Nancy Drew mysteries have been sold and I got to tell you I bought my share. I think there are now 64 books in the series.

The books were 2.99 in my day and any money for birthdays went to buy Nancy. I was babysitting in the sixth grade and six hours of babysitting at fifty-cents an hour meant a new Nancy Drew book! Nancy is the first book I bought with my very own money. Was it yours?

 Nancy has gone from a 16-year-old girl with a roadster to an 18-year-old with a Mustang. But no matter how often the details changed, Nancy remained more or less the same. She was a model citizen with a perfect balance of toughness and femininity, and she was independence and poised. 


When I read Nancy…discovered Nancy…devoured Nancy it was not exactly Mad Men era but close. Men were in charge. It was a man/boy’s world. There were no girl sports teams at school, no girl altar boy/girls. The only thing women did other than stay home and raise the kids...not that there is one thing wrong with that...is be a secretary, teacher or a nurse. Period.


With Nancy Drew  she was in charge. She solved the crimes, took over, drove the car and made her own decisions. She was confident and adventuresome and not afraid and no one put Nancy in the corner...so to speak. She was her own person.

Nancy was/is my hero! I still keep the first three books I bought of Nancy on my desk today.


Nancy Drew was smart and caring. I really loved that she was smarter than the guys. I wanted to be Nancy! Reading Nancy Drew was great for mystery and the ego. Personally it planted a seed that took root in enjoying mysteries and life.
I owe a lot to Nancy Drew. I think a great deal of who I am today is because I read Nancy Drew books. If she could live like that I truly believed I could too.

So, are you a Nancy girl? Did she inspire you? Is there another read that made you the person you are today?

I’ll pick two winners from the answers and send you a Dianne Castell romance book. Be sure to check back to see if you won! Anyone wanting Pearls and Poison goodies just send me your mailing address to duffybrown@duffybrown.com

Happy reading and thanks for chatting.
Hugs, Duffy




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bright Lights Gone

by Maggie Sefton



I'm writing this post Monday night right after hearing the news about the death of comedian Robin Williams.  I had actually planned to write the post about actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who died earlier this year.  How terrible to now be writing about TWO wonderful performers who entertained us for years.

Robin Williams' death was a suicide, following his latest bout of deep depression.  And Philip Seymour Hoffman's death was deemed an accidental overdose of heroin.  However, the actor had supposedly stopped using heavy drugs, so I can't help wondering how accidental that choice was to use that dangerous narcotic again.


I can't believe we won't get to watch Robin Williams literally create a hiliarious
routine out of thin air right on camera before our eyes.   Totally extemporaneous.  He was a comedic genius.  His range was unbelievable.   He  could make us laugh until we cried as a comedian, then he
could portray an intriguing character in a movie like THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY.  Wow. . .that was years ago.

One movie that most people would call a comedy---GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM---actually gave Williams the chance to show different layers to the character of a soldier who wanted to leave Vietnam and winds up becoming a fixture on the GI's radio station and falls in love with a lovely Vietnamese girl, who has a very protective family. :)   A versatile talent, to say the least.

So was actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I won't even try to  list all the wonderful movies where he created memorable characters.  This past weekend, I saw one that will probably (or should) earn him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor for his understated-yet-riveting performance in the new movie A MOST WANTED MAN.  Go see it.  You won't regret it.  All of the actors are excellent, and the storyline is as topical as it can be.  Also a spy thriller.

I'm sad tonight.   Two bright, unbelievably talented lights are gone.    

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Family Reunion

by Kate Collins

This is a photo of my family from this weekend at our first (and I hope annual) family reunion.

My maternal side of the family has always been close, and even now that we live scattered all over the country, we stay connected via Facebook. So when we were able to pull off a reunion and get 27+ members together in one place, what a bonanza!

It was an opportunity to view old photos and talk of dearly departed members, share stories with the younger generations, eat, hike, laugh, play games, and eat some more, all in the beautiful surroundings of Brown County, Indiana, in the southern part of the state.

I was thrilled that my son and daughter got to spend time with aunts and uncles who were such important figures in my life, and I was delighted to catch up with cousins I haven't seen in a decade.  I give my cousin Jessica a HUGE amount of credit for pulling it off and I know each one of us is extremely grateful for all her efforts.

Have you ever had a big family reunion? I hope so. It's worth the effort.

Have a happy week.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dear Readers

by Leann


Let me say up front what this is about--a thank you with a giveaway! I have never done one on my own before. It's always been in combination with other writers. But I want to thank all of you who have been such loyal and enthusiastic readers of my Cats in Trouble series.

The first book, The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse, was a challenge.
How do I get those cats on the page as often as possible? They are the co-stars, after all. The "cat-cam" in the books was designed so Jillian never had to be more than a small screen away from them. Some folks who reviewed on Amazon didn't like that. And one particular person commented that it was just a "bad book." S/he eventually went in and edited that part after a bit of outrage from others, but s/he also said I needed to "get my act together." And here I thought I did have my act together! Who knew?

No matter how many wonderful reviews a writer receives, it's those mean-spirited ones that really stay with us. Thank goodness, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. I have no control over other people's opinions, after all. The thing is, I judged that reviewer by my standard--that I would never, ever say anything like that to a writer. It takes a long time to write a book, and rewrite it often more than once, and edit it and edit it again. Plus, I don't like to be nasty. Kindness matters. But it doesn't matter to everyone.

That's why it's so important to say thanks to all of you who stop by here and read my weekly blog and leave your often brilliant comments. And along with that, the comments are always kind and polite and caring. I also want to thank you for buying my book during the first week. Release week can make or break a book or a series. You've all helped me keep my job!

Since my inspiration was always Agatha Christie, I thought it fitting that my prize would be this darling Poirot necklace to one random blog reader in the US or Canada.
And if I know you read this blog all the time, your chances of winning are doubled--and yes I know you folks! If you have already bought my book, bless you. I would be happy to send you a signed bookplate. Leave your email in the comment section to be entered to win the necklace. If you'd like a bookplate, let me know that, too.

Thanks again, friends! You've made this another great release week!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

WE'RE STILL DREAMIN'

by Mary Kennedy                       
                                                         
 
It's week two and we're still dreaming, here at the Cozy Chicks. Today I'd like to answer a very common question on dreams. As always, my "interpretations" are purely unscientific and are intended for fun. After all, who doesn't like to analyze dreams? (Okay, a few readers have told me they never dream, but I'll save that for another blog.)
 
What does it mean if I dream about a beautiful house? I have the same dream over and over.        
                                                      
Answer: The "House Dream" is actually a very common dream. The dreamer is delighted at the beauty and pristine quality of the house (whoever owns the dream house surely doesn't have 8 cats, as I do). The dreamer wanders through the rooms and they seem to stretch on forever. The "dream house" seems to be in the particular style that the dreamer favors in real life. It can be a lovely frame house in a rural setting
                                                     
       
 or a Mediterranean villa.
                                                         
 
The house is said to represent all the aspirations, the untapped potential of the dreamer. So it's a "happy dream," and delivers a sense of peace and serenity. Most people long to return to their "house" in subsequent dreams and some manage to do so.
 
If you've already entered the "Sweet Dreams Kit giveaway," you are already registered for the event and you are also signed up for the Cozy Chicks newsletter. Please don't register again, we already have you on board.
The Sweet Dreams Kit contains an autographed copy for my new Penguin release, NIGHTMARES CAN BE MURDER, (the first in the Dream Club Mysteries),
                                                         
 
along with a Navajo dreamcatcher
                                                        
     
a tin of tea, a box of cookies and a e-version of my little booklet "Dream Interpretation, A Psychologist's Guide." Everything you need for sweet dreams!                                                     
 
All you have to do is send your name and e-mail address to cozychicks@gmail.com with the word DREAMS in the subject line. If you've already done this, please don't register again. Hope everyone has sweet dreams this week-end!
 
Mary Kennedy



Friday, August 8, 2014

Cards for Any Occasion

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

How come I buy loads and loads of greeting cards so that I'm ready for ANY occasion, and yet I never have the card I need for an occasion that pops up?

Yesterday I went to a birthday celebration.  I did have several birthday cards in stock, but not one of them seemed appropriate.


A family member has an anniversary this weekend.  Is there an anniversary card in the bunch?  That would be a big NO.


It seems that my stash is mostly blank cards.  Yeah, you can use them for any occasion, right?  Well, not really.  Somehow a sailboat on the water does not convey birthday greetings, unless your pal sails.  Or how about a big bunch of sunflowers as a sympathy card?

So, off to the store I will go ... to buy yet more cards.

Do you have a stash of cards for every occasion?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

We're rockin'!

First of all, congrats to fellow chicks Ellery Adams and Leann Sweeney on their book releases this week. Happy sales to these terrific authors and happy reading to all you fans. 



I have to confess that (aside from authors) my new best friends are rocks.  And, no, I don’t mean diamonds, but I’m taking about pea stone and flagstones.
 
When we bought our renovated forty-two year old ranch house  in the middle of March 2012 with mounds of snow covering the ground, no one realized how badly neglected the grass and garden were.  It was worse than starting from scratch in some ways. When the snow melted we discovered that the patio was so overgrown with brush that you couldn’t even see it.  The remains of two perennial beds and a rock garden would have broken the hearts of the people who created them.  The back of the property was a dark and bug-infested jungle. We found garbage, broken glass and building debris at every clean-up attempt.  

Since then (this is our third summer) we’ve been working to rebuild and recreate.  I estimate another four or five years, we’ll get where we’re going. But never mind that, we like a challenge.   
The right side yard access to the back yard gate was nothing but dirt.  Even bad grass and most weeds refused to grow there, in part because it was so shady but also because black walnut trees apparently leech something into the soil that most plants don’t like.  There was a large tree stump squatting forlornly in the middle of the space and a spindly maple tree next to it. The earth was packed hard and it was dry enough to crack. A few crews of renovators had left a lot of dangerous junk buried in that dry soil.  In short, a disaster.
   

We had plenty to do without fretting over a lost cause. So, for the last two years, I just pretended there was no side access to the back yard.  Of course, this approach couldn’t work forever. One day, I came across an inspiring photo of a garden path in pea gravel, with potted plants, in an old magazine at the hairdresser.  It got me thinking.  I wasn’t even sure how to get pea gravel or what was involved with it.  Now I k now.  People bring it to you in trucks and dump it on your lawn (that may be another blog post). At any rate, it arrives with a certain drama.

Now we're really rockin'!
Soon after the small mountain of pea gravel and a big hill of pine mulch arrived, my hubby (who had never been involved with any kind of gardening project) and I started to build this little path.  It still needs work, for sure, but we are very happy with it. 

It is what you call cheap and cheerful. The pea gravel cost $70 for a truckload. I managed to do a good deal for the flagstones stepping stones that make it possible to stroll along it without snapping your ankles. By the way, lifting those suckers into and out of the car was better than lifting weights.

We scooped up hostas from other parts of the yard where they were making trouble and build up a bed on the left side. The hostas immediately took to it.

Next we'll add these pine nuggets to dress up the hosta beds and keep them cool and weed-free.



 We received a gift of enough periwinkle to line the other side of the path from our  friend who claimed she had way too much.  Look out, it takes over, she said.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It’s just getting started but I hope that next year, I can show you some vigorous growth on the periwinkle side.  If it takes over, it can wander onto the municipal path next to the bed.  No worries here.

Impatiens is pretty much the only annual that will survive in our formerly gloomy spot, and I was lucky to find some sad specimens in the end of season sales and pot it up.  Who knew there was a North American shortage?
At any rate, what was once a lost cause has the potential to be a charming spot next year and we think it even looks pretty good now. 






So, what about you my friends? Have you had a cheap and cheerful garden success to share?  Or any other kind?