leftover halloween party treats

I’ll admit it–this is a self-indulgent post.  I went to a family Halloween party tonight, and I’m tired.  I slaved over a hot stove all day trying (and failing) to replicate three different cute themed treats I saw on Pinterest.  (Will I never learn?  I’m not crafty.  I hate cooking.  I have terrible fine motor skills.  And yet, every time I see those pictures, my first thought is…I could do that!  No.  No, Kathleen.  Actually, you can’t.)

Plus, my brain is wrung dry from playing the intellectually draining game of “What Horror Villain Do I Have Scotch Taped On My Back?”  (Carrie White…did you know she had a last name?) 

And  I may also have eaten a little too much of the amazing desert my daughter called the “gooey pumpkin delish.” 

Purrsia baby by mirror cropped

Now it’s late, I’m in the “crash” phase of the sugar high, and all I want to do is sit down, relax, and pet Purrsia.  That’s what I want to do almost all the time, because, though she doesn’t realize it, Purrsia is my therapy cat.  If a hundred doctors had me hooked up to a thousand bio-thingies, they’d see that all my vital signs point instantly to Healthy and Happy the minute she jumps on my lap.

Purrsia baby sleeps on her back

So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite pictures of her–and see if you’ll tell me about the therapy pets in your lives.  Do you have a dog or a cat or even a bird who can always make a bad day better?  Do you smile whenever you think about them?  Do you bore people silly with stories of their adorable exploits?

Purrsia sleeps in blue cooler

I’d love to hear all the great stories you’ve got! Partly, it’ll make me feel a little less whacky-obsessed with my own kitty.  You know what they say…insanity loves company. But also, people who love animals can’t get enough cute animal stories/pictures/videos.  I’m quite sure this was why the Internet had to be born.

why I can't IM properly

So go ahead…let the proud animal-lover in you run free! I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll tell all.   

Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


costumes, family, fashion, Halloween, Holidays, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

Baby boy outdoors in pumpkin costume with real pumpkins

I can’t believe it’s October already!  Another Halloween on its way…and that means another year I don’t dress up in a cool costume.  :-( Well, I do have a cute pair of pumpkin earrings I bust out when the month starts, but that’s about it.

 I’m not sure why I don’t do more.  As a kid I loved playing dress-up in my grandmother’s dreamy clothes. And when Girlchild was little I adored finding or making awesome costumes for her.  Tinkerbell, Little Red Riding Hood, even a store-bought Bo Peep when she was super young. Then a sassy flapper, Juliet, princesses and poodle skirts when she got a little older.  The Juliet costume (my masterpiece, as long as you didn’t see the bunched snarls inside the seams) has survived only in a home video, but here are a few of the others:

renie tinkerbell costume

renie bo peep costume

Renie flapper halloween cropped

Isn’t she adorable?  And, as you can see, she was born theatrical.  Too bad I didn’t inherit that from her. I could really go for a green-sprigged dress like the one Scarlett O’Hara wears to the barbecue. :)

How about you?  Are you the costume-party type?  What was the best costume you ever wore, or the best one you ever gave your kids?

Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Exercise, family, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

You know the old saying about people who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?  I’m apparently one of them. Actually, I think it’s safe to say I can’t even walk and…well, I can’t even walk.

Last week, when I was power-strolling around the neighborhood, I tripped on a diabolical oak twig shaped like a Lincoln Log and went crashing down onto the asphalt.  The tumble occurred early in my circuit, which infuriated me, so though my arm hurt like the devil I decided to finish up–another forty minutes or so.  The next day, I got an x-ray and discovered I’d broken my right elbow.

Now I suppose this can happen to anyone, but it’s the second time it’s happened to me.  A few years back, also in mid-September, I tripped on a piece of oak debris and broke my foot.  That time I was on a knee scooter for three months.

Frankenstein's foot

If I go far enough back, I can even come up with a third oak-related walking disaster.  When I was in fourth grade, playing around the old trees at recess, I heard Sister Alice ring the bell. Sister Alice wasn’t a woman to be trifled with, so no one ignored the bell, not even for a minute.  I jumped up and hurried toward the school…and tripped over a big, fat oak root.  

kathleen first grade academy

I broke my left elbow that time, in three pieces.  I hadn’t developed my stoic “play through the pain” attitude back then, to say the least. :oops: One of the nuns escorted me, screaming, into the building.  In a classroom way down the hall, my older sister calmly raised her hand.  ”I’m sorry,” she said politely to her teacher.  ”But I have to be excused.  That kid screaming out there?  That’s my little sister.”  The teacher was dubious, but my sister was right.  Apparently my scream is unique. 

So frankly, three times is enough.  I’m out.  I think oak trees are conspiring to take me down.

Bats flying in the night

I also think I shouldn’t be trusted walking anymore, or driving around on errands, or vacuuming and stuff.  Also, I should immediately be released from any mandate to exercise.  Additionally, people should probably wait on me hand and foot, swaddle me in cotton, and let me read books and binge-watch Gilmore Girls until I feel better, or forever, whichever comes first.


Preschool girl  falling down

How about you?  Have you ever broken a bone?  If so, how did you do it?  Something silly like rock climbing or hang-gliding or alligator-wrestling? Or something really dangerous, like strolling around suburbia?

The Billionaire's Secret coverI’m going to be honest with you, friends.  I’ve just started edits for my September Tule novella, THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET, which is part of the Amalfi Nights Billionaires series.  And the truth is I’m having so much fun splashing around in these glorious waters with this dreamy billionaire that I can’t even think of a deep topic for this blog. :)

baby whispersSo instead I’m going to settle for telling you five silly, slightly embarrassing disorders I have.  No, I’m not digging up the deep dirt, but I’m sharing stuff I don’t often blab. 

And if you’ll play along and tell me one embarrassing disorder you can’t quite cure, you’ll be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.  (I usually give away $10 gcs, but I’ve been spending time with this billionaire, so…  8-) )

1960s Ruby Falls

1)  I CAN’T BREATHE: I have what I’ve always assumed was mild claustrophobia.  But one day, when my sister and I were visiting Chattanooga, we decided to tour Ruby Falls.  My sister expressed concern about my, um, condition.  But I was cocky. No problem! After the looooong elevator ride down to the cave, in which yard after yard of impenetrable granite slid past the glass wall, though, I felt my lungs collapsing.  I simply couldn’t step out.  My sister dashed off, eager to see the marvels, but I stood alone with the elevator operator, trying to breathe.  Finally I gasped, “I can’t. I’m having a heart attack.”  She closed the doors, and kudos to her that she didn’t openly snort or roll her eyes. When we got back to the surface, I choked out, “I think I’m fine now,” which was my way of admitting the heart attack thing had been an exaggeration.  

Little Bakers

2)  I LIVE IN FOMO: This is a great acronym my good buddy and fellow Jaunty Nancy taught me.  Fear Of Missing Out.  The problem with that is I sometimes sign up for things I already know in my heart I am not going to be able to do.  I always dream I can make it work.  Because I am the master of my destiny, right?  And because…well, FOMO.  Then reality smacks me in the face, and I have to admit I’m not the master of much of anything.

I suspect I’ve had FOMO a long time.  Probably it’s genetically encoded.  When my best friend and I roomed together in college, she got really sick of coming home from class on Friday to find me curled up on the bed whining, “How am I going to get out of this date tonight?”  I’d say yes to a guy, thinking, well, I’ll probably feel bad if I don’t have a date this weekend, right?  And then, as the day came closer, I’d agonize, knowing I didn’t want to go.  She thought I should just endure the concert, dinner, party, whatever, instead of trying to think of a way to wriggle out.  Eventually, she typed a Robert Frost quote and taped it to the wall next to the phone.  It read:  The best way out is always through.

It didn’t work, just for the record.  And to those very nice guys, I’m really sorry.  FOMO is a disease, not a character flaw.  Nancy said so. ;-)


3) CUE CLOSEUP: I have a melodramatic side.  For instance, when I was a little kid, my mother was killing grasshoppers that were eating her plants.  I wanted to impress her with how sensitive and poetically eco-conscious I was, so I kept saying, “Isn’t it sad when you see human nature die?”  She ignored me for a while, but finally she turned around and said, “Kathleen, don’t be moronic.  Grasshoppers aren’t human.”  I like to think of that as my first science lesson.

graphic mom lectures teen istock purchase

4) TOMORROW?  WHAT’S TOMORROW?: I am also just a touch weak in the long-term planning department.  Case in point:  in junior high school, my friend Mary Lou and I decided to climb out my second-story bedroom window in the wee hours and go see some cute boys.  We were so slick!  No one ever knew!  Until we got back to my house and…oops…we hadn’t figured out a way to climb back up. :(  My cousins lived next door, and one of them was old enough to be coming home very late.  He spotted us there in the alley, trying to devise some kind of pulley or slingshot or rocket launcher out of the seagrape tree.  He helped us up, but he must have told my dad.  The next day my sister came in and said, “Daddy wants me to tell you something.  He says he doesn’t care what you do as long as it’s not dumb.  But that was dumb.”  In our house, stupidity was the worst sin, and I nearly died of shame.  If only my mother had been the one to catch us.  She would have lectured me for an hour, and I would have merrily ignored her.

Two beautiful women in vintage dress

5) OH, MY POOR, VIRGINAL EARS!: I might possibly have just a touch of a prissy streak sometimes, which I blame on my mother, who couldn’t tolerate anything she termed “vulgar” or “tacky.”  Also, I think I read too many Edith Wharton novels.  Anyhow, my family will never let me live down the time I scolded Boychild for saying some kind of food was gross.  ”What SHOULD I say?” he complained.  ”Well,” I said, scrambling, “you could just say, ‘I haven’t cultivated a taste for that yet.’”  You’d be surprised how often the kids find a chance to work that into a conversation, in high-pitched, mincing tones.  Even now, 20 years later, everyone cracks up, every time.

So…what about you? What little quirky traits do you have that embarrass the heck out of you? Don’t forget, you could win that $25 gift certificate! And then you could buy THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET. :)




Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


family, Jaunty Post, Nancy Robards Thompson

The Romance Writers of America’s annual conference is right around the corner. I leave Monday for a week in New York with most of the Jaunty Quills and my other writer friends.  I’m really looking forward to it. However, I’m still working on deadlines and packing. I’m a bit anxious about a workshop I’m presenting with my buddy and sister JQ, Kathy Garbera (it’s all together, but I always get pre-presentation jitters). And, of course, I’m wanting to spend time with my hubby, who will be on his own for the week.

Trying to get it all done and not short anyone or anything always leaves me feeling woefully inadequate, like I’ve left someone or something hanging.  So, in the midst of the craziness, I thought it might be a good time for us to talk about the things we do right.

I admit, I had to stop and think hard to come up with this inventory of “good.” So, please put your thinking caps on, because I want to hear your “Right List,” too.

Here’s my list :

I gave up tanning – I grew up in Florida. The beach is forty-five minutes away. I used to bake myself in the sun. We’re talking baby oil on a tanning blanket. But I’ve since seen the light and I stopped doing that about 22 years ago. My legs may be mushroom white, but they’re healthy.

I’ve learned to let go of things that used to drive me crazy – I wish I could say I’ve arrived at a state of Zen, but I’m a work in progress. Along this path, I’ve learned to breathe deeply and the phrase “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys” has become my mantra.

I’ve learned that I always benefit by planning ahead.  

I make it a priority to get a minimum of 7 – preferably 8 or 9 – hours sleep every night. Of course, there are those times when I don’t get in all my ZZZZs, but I try not to let it happen often because when I’m sleep deprived, the whole world feels like it’s falling apart.

I’ve stopped waiting for special occasions to wear my favorite perfume, use the good china, and buy flowers. Little touches make a big difference.

I know the things that make me feel better when life feels out of control: a hot bath or shower; plenty of sleep (that one’s worth repeating); I clean house when I’m stressed because messiness makes me more stressed and I find cleaning up very gratifying ; I take a hiatus from social media.

I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. Because that just stinks. We all walk different paths. Accepting that has made the biggest difference in my life.

Last, but not least, I’m a good mom. Even though College Girl is away at school, she will always be my baby. 

How about you? Please share so we can celebrate the things you do right.





How to Marry A DoctorNancy’s latest book HOW TO MARRY A DOCTOR is abailable in mass-market paperback and e-book.

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