Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Travel Time June 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:47 pm

As I sit at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego for a quick “girls trip” with my daughter, I think of a quote that pretty much sums it up for me right now:  “Nobody puts ‘web pages I want to visit’ on their Bucket List.”



Tuesday’s Tips: Decoding Dress Codes June 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:25 pm



Decoding Dress Codes


“A girl should be two things:  classy and fabulous.” CocoChanel.


Who would know better than Coco Chanel?  So, with wedding and summer travel seasons upon us, here are some Coco-style style tips regarding dress codes:


Black Tie – There is no wiggle room here.  Women should wear formal full-length or cocktail dresses and men should wear a tux.  Black or other dark colors are preferred.


Black Tie Optional/Semi-Formal – Elegant long or knee-length dresses should be a lady’s option.  If you choose to wear a short dress, be sure to pick one in rich colors and “dress it up” with special jewelry.  Men should wear either a tux or dark dress suit.


Cocktail – This is your chance to be playful yet tasteful.  Use color or sparkles to add a little “je ne sais quoi,” but be sure to keep it classy.  Dark suits for men.


Beach Formal/Business Casual – Women should wear a light and airy dress and even the right pair of sandals will work.  For men, a linen suit is perfect.


When all else fails, keep in mind “better overdressed than underdressed.”


Finally, as I always tell my daughter, casual doesn’t mean sloppy and formal doesn’t mean slutty.


Recipes For Life June 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:05 pm



 Recipes for Life

Just in the last week, two of my dearest friends and I, on two separate occasions, discussed recipes, recipe books, and recipe cards.  Leslie and I have, for years, talked about publishing a recipe book filled with interesting recipes and inspirational quotes.  Deb, who recently lost her sister to ovarian cancer, would like to work on a very special one in her honor, with proceeds going to charity.  Her idea is brilliant but one I promised I wouldn’t share with anyone.  Sorry!  It all got me thinking, though, about our culture’s current state of recipe affairs.


Many moons ago, recipes really didn’t exist.  Grandma had her mom’s “recipe” for chicken soup, but it was all in her head.  Not until sometime in the 19th century did women begin actually writing down recipes.  Still, several of my mom’s recipes that I cherish today are written either in my sisters’ handwriting or in my own.  Even my mom’s recipes that she’s passed on from her grandma, great aunts, and mom exist only in her head.  Any recipes I do have in my mom’s distinct handwriting are true treasures to me.  I recently saw on Pinterest the idea of framing a family recipe and I love the idea!  It’s only right, as recipe cards of years gone by are really special pieces of history.  They are often splattered with sauce, frayed and torn, but are worth their weight in gold. 


Sadly, today many of us get recipes on-line or on TV.  They are not written in perfect script but rather typed in our favorite fonts.  Recipe boxes have also gone the way of recipe cards, as the 8 ½ x 11 sheets of paper we print recipes onto today don’t fit in yesterday’s little metal boxes.  Magazines also serve as popular sources for recipes today, which is both fitting and ironic at the same time, since they somewhat started the recipe card trend back in the 1930s.  All of these – the internet, television, and magazines – have in a way replaced friends and family as our sources for pumpkin pie and the perfect punch.  Today we are much more likely to rely on anonymous Google buddies for savory salmon and gluten-free recipes.  I’m as guilty as anyone, having clipped many a magazine recipe and printed many a Pinterest idea.


How to save and store this plethora of downloaded recipes is yet another dilemma facing today’s chefs.  As I mentioned before, they stopped fitting in traditional recipe boxes years ago.  Leslie has developed her own spiral notebook system, which I may try.  For now, I’m resigned to my old-fashioned sticky photo album method.  What about you?  Do you scan them, file them, or keep them all on your trusty laptop?  What works best for you? 


Finally, does anyone out there still buy good old-fashioned cookbooks anymore?  I enjoy doing so, but admit that it’s most often when I’m traveling somewhere.  I tend to buy a city or town’s local flavor cookbook and then use it almost more as kitchen décor rather than a meal how-to.  Charity cookbooks are big now, as are theme cookbooks.  You can find everything from breast cancer awareness books to tailgate cooking books.  They all have fun or pretty covers, but does anyone really use and refer to them? 


In a way, the demise of family recipe cards is a tad depressing.  They once served as kitchen-like diaries, now replaced by blogs like this one.  I am a very nostalgic person and I plan to always keep my favorite recipes both for my own convenience and in hopes that my daughter Kristen will someday want my handwritten and collected recipes.  I look forward to the day when she renames my “Mom’s Natillas” recipe with “Ama’s Natillas.” 



Recipe for a Happy Day

Into each day put equal parts of faith, hope and love.  Add heaping cups of patience, courage, hard work, kindness, rest, prayer, and one well-directed solution.  Add a quarter cup curiosity, a teaspoon of tolerance, a dash of fun, a pinch of play and a cupful of good humor.  Season to taste with the spice of life and cook on low setting.  Don’t boil!  Serve individually and generously.


Sunday’s Scripture June 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:55 pm

“Don’t be wishing for what you don’t have, for real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.  Every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven.”  Luke 12:15 and 12:21.


Hello and Goodbye June 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:13 pm



Two sides of motherhood and how friends help you through them

 Sometimes to be a good mom, you have to get away from it all.

Once a year, I go on an annual “girls’ trip” with four former college buddies.  Every February the five of us gather in a different city and enjoy a few days of laughter, love, and letting go. We take turns picking the destination and the four whose turn it isn’t; fly in from four different states to where they’re told to show up.  Sometimes we haven’t seen each other since our last trip.  Next year I get to choose the destination but feel a bit under pressure being that’s it’s our “10th anniversary” trip.  Truth be told, we could go anywhere and have the time of our lives, but I want next year to be extraordinary. 

Each trip has been memorable but, for some reason even we can’t figure out, 2009 was particularly special.  For some magical reason, that year’s outing was no different, yet at the same time, very different.  You see, before we arrived in Sea Island,Georgia, we had reached some monumental motherhood milestones during the previous year.

Barbara became a mom again, giving birth to sweet Huntley, a little bundle ofTennessee joy who joined a big sister and brother in the family.  Huntley is our group’s first baby in many years and we couldn’t get enough of Barb’s stories and photos.  Even though we were away from our husbands and kids and the responsibilities that go with them, much of what we talked about was our families.

During our time together, we shared a year’s worth of our kids’ heartbreaks and achievements.  Many hours were spent asking about Huntley.  “What’s it like having a baby in the house again?”  “How do you juggle a high school senior, a high school sophomore, and a one-year-old?”  “How are the other two with him?”  

The answer to the last question came unexpectedly while driving to a restaurant.  Barb’s daughter called her in tears.  She was worried because Huntley was upset and out of sorts.  To make matters worse, Huntley’s dad was at work and her brother was of no help.  The compassionate and seasoned mom that she is, Barbara handled it all calmly and carefully.  While she did, the rest of us turned down the 80s music we were rocking out to, listened quietly and anxiously, and were subconsciously reminded that in the end, we are all moms through and through, near or far.

Shelley, on the other hand, was experiencing a totally different side of the motherhood spectrum.  Her son was in the middle of his freshman year of college.  She was the first in our group to send a child off to college, and although it’s our goals and dreams to do so, it comes with an emotional price.

Even though he’s grown up to become the young man she hoped for and is only an hour’s drive away from their home, Shelley missed her little boy.  Born with a baby face identical to his dad’s, he was now officially in college…the very college the five of us attended and the one where our event-filled story started.  In a way, it was difficult for us accept, or maybe just to admit, this.  Blake can’t be in college because we feel we were just there! 

Now, four short years later, we as a group boast a total of 7 college-aged sons and daughters.  I’m the first empty nester but, this fall, Shelley will join me as her daughter heads off to school.  Yes, days go slow and years go fast.

Still, to me at least, we all look the same and feel the same.  Ann is forever our rock.  Christie continues to be our voice of reason and style.  Barb, she’s our “idea” person.  And Shelley is the life of our party.  Me?  I really don’t know what I am except grateful.

All of this really bubbled to the surface during those few but frenetically-prized days we spent together at The Cloister.  We laughed.  We cried.  We worried.  We re-lived treasured past memories and envisioned promising futures.  We went shopping for ourselves yet we were constantly searching for that perfect something to take home to the kids.  They are always on our minds and forever in our hearts.  We don’t stop being moms just because our kids grow up and we don’t stop being friends just because we live in different states.

Whole families benefit from happy moms and being a mom is hard work.  It’s even harder without fellow moms you connect with and respect.  You could say motherhood is our group’s new sorority.  The five of us literally look forward to next year’s trip the minute we’re boarding our planes after the conclusion of one.  Yes, it’s sometimes difficult to get away for just a few days, but it’s worth every effort just to reconnect and recharge.  While mom is gone, kids cope, dads learn, and we all grow.   As Barbara says, “happy wife, happy life.”

Ann, Barbara, Christie and Shelley make me happy.  We laugh till we cry and say things that still make us laugh years later.  They also make me confident, thankful and just plain better; all qualities you need to be a good mom.   As the saying goes:  good friends are like stars.  You don’t always see them, but you always know they’re there.  The same could be said about moms.



Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom June 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:26 pm

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you,”  John E. Southard


“Tuesday’s Tips” June 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:18 pm



(Photo courtesy “Wisteria,” my favorite décor catalog) 

Thought I’d share some very basic design tips for your home today…


“Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” 

William Morris


“Your living room should seat at least as many as your dining room so no guest is ever left standing.” 

Designer Elaine Griffin


Have one “surprise” element in every room.


Think “big,” even bigger than you think, especially when it comes to artwork, pillows, vases & anything on your mantel.

GREAT advice from Marni Jameson!


And my personal favorite