Yay! Christmas Week has arrived! Christmas Day is fastly approaching *woo hoo* and there’s lots to look forward to here on Book Chick City. So sit back with a glass of mulled wine and a delicious mince pie and enjoy!

For most people, gingerbread cookies are a kind and gentle Christmas tradition. The scent of cloves and cinnamon and molasses infuse the house with happy memories of past holidays. Children cluster around the table decorating gingerbread cookies with mini-M & M’s and colored sugars. My family, however, has taken the gingerbread thing to a whole new level. As in, a highly competitive Olympic-style sport… the Annual Gingerbread House Competition.

Yes, we still have the sweet melodies of Celine Dion’s Christmas album playing in the background. And, the delicious fragrance of gingerbread fills the house. But, unfortunately, the competitive spirit that has molded my husband and me into highly driven adults does not take a vacation just because it’s Christmas time. When I suggested to my husband several years ago that we should start a new family tradition and decorate a gingerbread house, he got a wicked gleam in his eye, and the battle was on.

Team One: The Boys. My husband and my son have bowls of candy lined up on the table in military precision. My husband’s anal retentive tendencies are never more apparent than with the gingerbread house construction. He has Necco wafers perfectly overlapped as roof tiles, thin slices of licorice as window panes, and an entire freaking fence around the property made of pretzel sticks. My son (who actually does not have a competitive bone in his body), goes along for the ride, working as my husband’s assistant, often with icing smeared on his face.

Team Two: The Girls. My daughter and I, both highly competitive by nature, are also free spirits. We like to adhere to the “free-style” form of design. That means a wide array of colors, textures, and candies more or less thrown haphazardly onto the structure. My daughter’s goal is to cover every square inch of house with candy, and pray that the roof doesn’t cave in from the overload. (Which it did, last year. The Boys Team won by default. My daughter didn’t care since she got to eat the rubble.). By the time our competition is over, we all have stomach aches from eating too much crap, and the kids have lost interest and are already playing on the Wii. The two imposing gingerbread houses take a place of honor on the center kitchen island, where visiting friends and neighbors can gawk at the masterpieces and exclaim “Thank God we don’t have a gingerbread house competition.”

I’ve seen photos of real culinary gingerbread competitions, where the chefs have stained glass windows made of melted candies, and the entire house is lit with actual electricity. They are nothing short of astounding, and definitely bring a certain magic to the holiday. That’s why I decided to incorporate an entire gingerbread city in my debut novel Sweet Inspiration. When Lucy, the heroine, walks into the Pfefferkuchen (gingerbread) room in the North Pole, she is delighted to find an entire city fashioned from gingerbread, and it’s….”alive” with magic. Lucy is captivated by the sight. Gingerbread is pretty much the quintessential holiday treat, and I hope that this scene in my story has captured a bit of the spirit of Christmas.

Thanks Penny!

Contest TIme! [NOW CLOSED]

Penny is kindly giving away an ebook copy of her debut novel Sweet Inspiration. You can read my review HERE.

To enter all you have to do is complete the form below.

This contest is open WORLDWIDE! Ends 31st Dec.
Good Luck!

What if the legend of Santa Claus is in fact, true? What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance… Nicholas Klaus is a master pastry chef, a strict disciplinarian, and the eldest son of the legendary Santa Claus. One look at café owner Lucy Brewster sends him into an unexpected tailspin of lusty desires. When Lucy is injured, Nicholas makes a decision that catapults both of their lives into turmoil ….

Lucy Brewster, the free-spirited proprietor of Sweet Inspiration, has a flair for concocting sugary confections but no time for adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole…rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams. Does she have what it takes to become the next Mrs. Klaus?


Carolyn created Book Chick City in July 2009 due to her love of books. A Brit chick obsessed with zombies, kick-arse chicks and sexy heroes. She's also seriously addicted to chocolate, shopping, and coffee. Her favourite genres are Urban Fantasy, Romance and Zombie Lit... Brrraaaaiiinnnnsss!


heatherzilla December 22, 2009 at 7:21 am

I can picture the gingerbread house competition. Too funny!

Santa, fitness obsessed, with 5 sexy sons! I never would have imagined it, but it does sound like a fun read.


thetruebookaddict December 22, 2009 at 7:58 am

What a great guest post…I really enjoyed hearing about the making of the gingerbread houses and, darn it, now I'm hungry…LOL! We've never tackled that quintessential holiday task, we stick with our cut-out sugar cookies, but I guess there's always a chance we might get bitten by the "bug", so to speak!


Becky December 22, 2009 at 9:13 am

We had an apple crumble contest last year. I won! My brother's was a complete disaster. It was hilarious. My brother in law was the judge and so he had to at least try it. Family time is what christmas is all about. Great post and I think this book sounds sweet but perhaps not innocent.


Penelope December 22, 2009 at 11:14 am

Hi to everyone! I think we have watched too many reality cooking competitions. We even host an "Iron Chef" competition on Christmas Day, where my brothers-in-law attempt to out-cook each other (and we get to eat their delicious food!).


Serena December 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Wouldn't it be great to see some of those gingerbread houses they've created?


Leontine December 22, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I don't think we have that kind of thing here in the Netherlans, gingerbread houses, though I would love to make one with kids :)


Cleverly Inked December 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I would win a gingerbread house maker hands down in my family. LOL


Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write December 22, 2009 at 3:32 pm

The gingerbread contest sounds like fun…and so does the book! Thanks for post that made me smile!

Merry Christmas!


RKCharron December 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Hi :)
Thank you for sharing here today Penny.
Merry Christmas!


PeaceLove&Pat December 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Thanks for sharing Penny :)
Gingerbread competition has a cool ring, maybe I should suggest that for future Christmas. LOL

And you book! Santa with 5 sexy sons… hmmm… sounds like a hot read.

Merry Christmas.


Victoria Simcox December 22, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I really enjoyed reading your article. The event sounds like fun but a lot of work as well, though I bet you all have a lot of laughs. Good description of your very competitive husband, working with your laid back son, lol. Great job. Merry Christmas. Victoria Simcox ")www.themagicwarble.com


Melange December 22, 2009 at 11:14 pm

I loved this post!! I would love to see pictures. My sister worked for one of those culinary experts that made awesome gingerbread houses. He was on the Today show I believe last year.

The book looks mighty interesting as well.


KatieO December 24, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Hi Penny!
My family does the same thing – in fact, we're about to start it now, and i'm procrastinating. Competition adds a whole new dimension to the experience, just as your story adds a whole new dimension to the Santa Claus tale!

Good luck with the book and the annual competition! And Merry Christmas! – – KatieO


Penelope December 24, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello. I hope all of you are happily preparing for Santa's arrival. :) My daughter is shaking all of the gifts under the tree…hopefully none of them are made of glass! Merry Christmas!

BCC- I voted for you for best blog. Good luck!


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