Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Have an Etsy-pirational New Year!



Check out my new Etsy treasury...Happy New Year 2014! It's filled with inspirational prints, jewelry, and reminders to be joyful, courageous, amazing, and a little bit different.

The print above is from emilymcdowelldraws, and it's a quote from JANE EYRE, one of my all-time favorite romances. I recommend looking at the rest of her adorable shop...she has many cute items!

Happy New Year's Eve! Here's hoping all of you have the celebration of your dreams...loud and noisy, or quiet and curled up with the weenie dog on the sofa. :^)

Penny

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review for GEEK WITH THE CAT TATTOO by Theresa Weir



Review for GEEK WITH THE CAT TATTOO by Theresa Weir


I did three things this week that made me super excited for the new year. (Bear with me a second. I'll get to the book review in a moment.)


1. I watched The Secret Life of Water Mitty. It's the story of a schlumpy, hopeless, quiet man who has to live his life in daydreams because his reality is such a disappointment. And then something happens...he finds courage. He finds the courage to take risks, to open up himself to new experiences, to open up his heart to the greatest risk we all face...loving another person. I ADORED this film. And it is the perfect movie to watch to get pumped for 2014. Ready for adventure and risk and love.

Excellent.

2. I got an idea. A kernel of an idea. And it grew and blossomed and became a bigger idea. And it involves risk and trying new things and adventure--in a professional sense--and I have a really good feeling about it. It involves another collaboration with brilliant artist Sara Pulver, a weenie dog named Lucy, and Santa Claus.

Wait for it.

3. I read a book. Not just any book. A book that is willing to take risks. Geek with the Cat Tattoo. It has a cat with a POV--and he is a real smart-ass. He has a very strong personality, and he doesn't always do the right thing. This book has a nerdy young man, who is brilliant at creating musical instruments, and sucks at interacting with people. It has an adorable young woman who creates beautiful music, but she is still living in the shadow of her successful father, and she is afraid to fall in love. This little book has all of my favorite things...laugh-out-loud humor, gorgeously-written prose, characters who are real and flawed and lovely in their own way, and old-fashioned romantic moments I forgot still existed. The kind that happened in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The kind that evidently still happen in romance novels, but rarely do.

A man who is afraid to speak to the woman he loves, so he pours all of his heart and soul into one perfect instrument.

The woman who is frustrated and afraid, and pours all of her fears and love into one perfect song.

This book is actually a series of incredibly romantic moments strung together with beautiful writing and sassy cats and funny bits and music.

It isn't your typical romance novel. It is different and special and funny and sweet. And romantic.

That's how I want to start 2014. Finishing a book in the waiting room of a beauty salon while my daughter gets her hair dyed blue, and smiling a huge, gigantic smile because evidently some romance novels do still remember what romance is supposed to be.

If you haven't got the idea yet, I really liked this book.

PENELOPE'S HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION: GEEK WITH THE CAT TATTOO by Theresa Weir.

Grade: A+++++++

(And if you haven't read the first one, Girl with the Cat Tattoo, I highly recommend that adorable story as well).

It's a great way to start the new year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR,
Penelope




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry, Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas Eve, Happy Christmas!

Have a merry day!
Penny

Friday, December 20, 2013

Beard of the Day: The South Pole Edition


Prince Harry on left. With ginger beard.



What do you do when you go to the South Pole? 
You grow a big, bushy ginger beard. Just ask Prince Harry...



Everyone grows a beard in the South Pole. Including Alexander Skarsgard.



Geez. They look cold! GROW A BIGGER BEARD!


STAY WARM, PRINCE HARRY!

Ginger beards for the win!


Happy Weekend,
Penny

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday M/M Recs from Nico Jaye


Nico Jaye has some awesome M/M holiday recs for us. 
Thanks, Nico!


Wow, when I wasn't looking, Christmas just snuck up on me and went boo! Oh, wrong holiday? Um, maybe tinsel! Either way, it's suddenly Christmas, and I haven't had my fill of holiday stories. *makes grabby hands at the gingerbread books* To remedy that, I picked one up the other day that I just adored, and in the spirit of the holiday season, I figured I'd share with y'all some m/m holiday recs that might be a little under the radar. =)

Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet – Ahhhh! Holy Holly, I just picked up this story, and I absolutely adored it. For some reason, I saw the stitching on the little heart on the cover and was under the impression that this was a baseball story. Boy was I sooooo not even in the ballpark (heh heh!) with that one! This fantasy holiday novella is set in the North Pole and stars worker bee elves, hottie Rein Dears, and a Prince of Frost. I imagine this is what Penny's world would look like if it had hot man on man action. *winks* Mending Noel is adorable as office worker elf Tim muddles through the holiday season under the critical eye of his boss Noel. Of course, not everything is as it appears, and the romance that blossoms between these two boys – I mean elves – is wonderful. This is also a sweet romance with only some kissing and petting; nothing else is onscreen. Highly recommended!



Sixty Five Hours and Sixty Five Hours: The Twelve Days of Christmas by N.R. Walker – Sixty Five Hours is one of my favorite m/m stories, period. It's so much fun and totally hot. Unlike Mending Noel, there's plenty of sexytimes in this one, so have your fan ready because it's gonna get steamy! Sixty Five Hours is about two ad execs and follows another enemies-to-lovers type of storyline. It's wonderful, and, awesomely, it's FREE. So give it a whirl, and, after you finish falling in love with Luc and Cam, go read the freebie holiday story Sixty Five Hours: The Twelve Days of Christmas, too.




The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott – A feel good and heartwarming story about a young man who was thrown away from home—that is, he didn't run away from home, but rather was thrown out for being gay.  Ben's on duty when he finds Zach sleeping on a church bench one cold winter night, and instead of bringing him into the police station, he brings him home to his mama. Young throwaway Zach is a super sympathetic character, and his romance with Ben is gentle and develops organically. The Christmas Throwaway is just a feel good story and perfect for cozying up during the holidays.




Secret Santa Surprise by Tam Ames – This story is as crazy and wacky as its cover. Yes, that's a *ahem* used in the mistletoe. Secret Santa Surprise was one of the first m/m stories I ever read, and I ended up liking it a lot. It's just fun and zany, featuring a doesn't-realize-he's-gay manager of a *ahem* "special" toy company, bikers-as-reindeer, and an adorable little baby who brings her uncle and the aforementioned manager together. It's silly, fun, short, and free. Nothing happens onscreen between the characters, but be forewarned that it's definitely suggestive with lots of sex from the other characters. It's hard to describe, but for a freebie, I really liked it and revisit it around the holidays every year.

On deck right now on my Kindle are Amy Lane's Christmas with Danny Fit, Eli Easton's Blame It on the Mistletoe, and Madison Parker's Sock it to Me, Santa! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and that you have plenty of fun stories lined up to keep you cozy and warm. Happy reading!



From Penelope...

Nico--Thank you so much for these reviews. The stories sound adorable.

ALSO, READERS TAKE NOTE: Nico Jaye has a super fluffy holiday story called A Man-to-Man Christmas. And it's a free download! Yipppeeeee! Get it HERE!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Winners and The Klaus Brothers At Your Service



Happy Monday! 

We have winners from the give-away last week. I used a random integer generator to pick the winners.


1. Indie Print Basket goes to Joan Varner. Congrats!

2. The digital package goes to Juju! Yippeeeee!

3. The "Lumberjack" package goes to KJ. Yay!

4. And the Motley Crew package goes to Amy Rickman. WTG! (AMY-I NEED YOUR EMAIL!)

Also, I had a give-away on my Facebook page for a print copy of SWEET MAGIK with some holiday lip balm, and Kari Lemor won. If you haven't "friended" me at FB, here's my link. I don't have a page, just a regular account. And I often post books I recommend and rants about books I'm reading.

Just a reminder...SWEET INSPIRATION and SWEET MAGIK are still on sale--for only 99 cents--through the holidays. And I finally got my print version for SWEET MAGIK, and it looks fabulous. It's reduced to $9.56 at Amazon for the paperback.



Since lots of folks have been asking me about The Klaus Brothers Series, when the next book is coming out, if Gregor is getting his own book, etc...I thought I would add this update!


THE KLAUS BROTHERS SERIES

Order of series...

1. SWEET INSPIRATION
2. SWEET MAGIK
3. SWEET ADVENTURE
4. SWEET CINDERELLA
5. SWEET DESTINY



1. SWEET INSPIRATION -- Nicholas' story -- AVAILABLE NOW!


Nicholas...THE BAKER, MASTER PASTRY CHEF


2. SWEET MAGIK -- Oskar's story -- AVAILABLE NOW!


Oskar...SNOWBOARD PUNK, DIRECTOR OF ELFIN RESOURCES


3. SWEET ADVENTURE -- Sven's story -- COMING XMAS 2014


Sven...MASTER WOODWORKER/TOY DESIGNER


4. SWEET CINDERELLA -- Gregor's story (NEW ADDITION) -- XMAS 2014/15


Gregor...DIRECTOR OF FINANCE


5. SWEET DESTINY -- Wolfgang's story -- XMAS 2015/16


Wolfgang...DIRECTOR OF CHARITABLE DONATIONS


I'm really looking forward to writing Sven and Gregor's stories this year. They'll include a nosy tabloid reporter, an epic battle in the North Pole with a yeti, a softer side of Gregor, and a big Cinderella moment. And of course lots of sexy times with the hottie Klaus boys!


Hope everyone has a great week!

All my best,
Penelope

Friday, December 13, 2013

Keep Calm and Eat Your Christmas Cookies: A Post by Stephanie Kay



[BIG thank you to Steph for this adorable calorie-free post!]--Penny Sr.



COOKIES!

A post by Stephanie Kay



The holidays are here and it’s time to eat as many Christmas cookies as you can without getting a stomach ache!

I am a firm believer that Christmas calories don’t count…
which is why I avoid my scale until around February.

I make a lot of cookies each year.  And I always bake while wearing my favorite apron.

My sister used to work for a gift company and designed this with me in mind.  
She called me her tic-tac factor because I love all things tacky and Christmassy!  
She gave me the sample apron…love it. 

I make so many cookies that I end up with carpal tunnel by mid-December.  
My family likes to call it Christmas Tunnel. 
Luckily I have a Kindle now, so when my hands are all cramped in January, I can still read!
Holding a book when your hands look like a claw can be painful.

I’ve toned it down over the last few years. 
This year I’m only making 25 batches…I said batches, not dozen. 
There are spreadsheets involved…I might get a little crazy!

One of my favorite recipes--most likely due to the fact that the frosting is as thick as the cookie--is frosted sugar cookies.


Frosted Sugar Cookie Recipe

Cookie ingredients:
3/4 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs of milk
1 tsp of vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 15x10 jelly roll pan with parchment paper (for easy clean up).
Combine sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and egg.  Beat at medium speed until combined.  Add in flour and baking powder.  Combine until well mixed.
Spread into jelly roll pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. 

Frosting – you can use canned frosting, but I make my own and it’s super easy.
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 tsp of vanilla
3 tbs of milk (may need a little more to get the right consistency, frosting should be easily spreadable)
Food coloring (I use gel food coloring.  A little goes a long way)

Mmm, frosting…don’t forget to lick the beaters clean!

Combine all ingredients and spread over the cooled cookies. Sprinkle red and green sugar on top to look festive!

You can cut them in whatever way you want.  Sometimes I even use a cookie cutter.  Then you can eat all the leftover pieces.
I usually cut into 24 squares and then cut each square diagonally so I end up with 48 triangles.
Store them in the fridge and enjoy your sugar coma!

Looks yummy, right?

And if you have kids in the house, let them help.  I started baking with my mom when I was a little kid and I loved it.  Make it a Christmas tradition.  They will love you for it later.  Maybe their waistlines won’t love it…but you get the idea!

Clearly I loved cookies from early on!

Happy holidays and happy baking! 


Huge thanks to Steph for the sugar coma! 
I'm sure everyone has a spreadsheet to organize their holiday baking.

Happy Holidays from Penny Sr, Penny Jr, Steph and Nico!

Don't forget to enter the give-away. Today is the last day!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Penny's Favorite Things: A Holiday Shopping List


It's tough finding gifts that are fun, unique, functional and won't break the bank. Between October and December we have two adoption days to celebrate, plus two birthdays and Christmas. Ack!

Let's just say that I am always looking for cute gifts. Here are some that are affordable, a few that are super special and a bit more expensive. And of course, lots of Etsy finds since I'm an Esty Shopping Ho! The best thing about Etsy...you never need to leave your house, and the Etsy folks are fabulous.

Time to go shopping with Penelope.....HERE WE GO!!!!!


Penny's Favorite Things

1. Great stocking stuffers...soaps and lip balms from BE GREATFUL

My favorite soaps are the glycerin ones, like SUNKISSED...($5)



...and SEA GLASS...



...and Lemon Drop lip balm...($3)


The gifts are great for men and women!



2. A weenie dog change purse ($12.50) from Persnicketypelican...




3. Inspirational prints ($20) from Dazeychic...




4. Gorgeous candle holders ($40) from Wapa...





5. Need something for your pet? How about an adorable custom dog tag ($8.50) by CaliforniaMutts...




6. Funky felted bag ($158) from MeggieKnits...



7. Need something sweet for a kid? How about this chunky Teddy Bear ($25) from 3Crows...



8. Have a teen who likes skateboarding (uh huh)? How about this fun artwork ($55) from NativeVermont...




9. Looking for something for the hubster? Check out this amazing messenger bag ($388) from peace4youBAGS...



10. Finally, something for yourself after all that shopping?

How about a gorgeous necklace with multi-colored gems! Yee haw!

Birthstone necklace ($54) from TatianaG...





Almost all of the Etsy sellers will customize an order for you. Don't be shy about emailing them from the site.


Best of luck with holiday shopping!

Penny

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Hair: A Post by Penny Reid


❅ A Special Holiday Post by PENNY REID

HOLIDAY HAIR



The Holidays are a very special time of year. If you’re anything like me (and, if you are, God help us all) you been waiting with bated breath for HOLIDAY HAIR!

Nothing says: Merry Christmas; Oh look, It’s Festivus; Happy Hanukkah; or have an adequate nondenominational wintertime gift giving season more than special hair do’s, don’ts, and darn it—why didn’t I think of that.

Since this is Penny Sr.’s blog, please bear with a few gratuitous, sexy man beards sprinkled within the merriment. [THANK YOU, PENNY JUNIOR!--Penny Sr.]


Top Holiday Hair


#1 Balls in the Hair. 
Or, as I would call out: Madame, did you know you have balls in your hair?



#2 Baby beards. 
This is epically cute. I’m not typically a fan of (other peoples’) babies, but if they all used this pacifier I might smile at them openly instead of whispering about their inability to control bowel movements behind their back.



#3 This guy. 
I don’t know why he looks so happy, but I want some of what he drank, ate, snorted, injected, or inhaled.



#4 Tree Hair.
 This is what I’m getting all my friends—a trip to the salon and green hair paint.



#5 I am one with the Holly. 
May she’s hunting, maybe she’s trying to become one with nature, maybe she’s your loony Aunt Ruth. I don’t care, her holiday hair is epic.




#6 I want this in my stocking. (I.e. gratuitous Bearded Merry Man Meat)



#7 Speaking of beards—how about giving the gift of a friendly suggestion?



#8 Candy Hair/Candy in your hair. 
If I did this I would have people (my kids, my husband, my husband’s creepy Uncle Herman and his new wife who I think is a stripper or a porn star) constantly trying to lick my hair. So… where do I sign up!!!?!




#9 Stache Cutters. 
If you can’t grow holiday facial hair, then eat it in cookie form.



#10 Snowed in: 
“Honey, you have something on your beard. No, not there—there. No, no—there’s still more. It’s, just on the left. Never mind! Go put your head in the oven!!”



Honorable Mention: Reindeer Hair Bun. 
Thank GOD Santa uses reindeer instead of a donkey (like Joseph and Mary). Then we’d be putting asses in our hair. Lord knows I need no more asses during Christmas.



What ever you’re celebrating (and part of me hopes it’s Festivus) I hope you have a relaxing, stress free, grievance airing with lots of good food, friends, and funny books. ;-)
Love, Penny (Jr.)



Thank you, Penny Reid, for this beard-heavy post. I approve! And I'm now off for my hair appointment to make my head look like a giant Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays and Festivus to the Rest of Us,
Penny Watson