Beyond Words

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

Deep In the Heart of Texas March 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:45 pm

Texas cloud


I experienced a big dose of Texas this week and I definitely “felt the love.”  It was “Texas Day” (and basically “Texas Week”) in my preschool , which included everything from branding activities to a sing-along to a “chow down.”  What is it about the Lone Star State that is so adored and cherished by its natives?  Um, in a word, everything!


For those of you in parts elsewhere, Texans take their Texan-ness seriously!  I’ve known this for years, but it really struck me as we celebrated all things Texas with my little three-year-olds.  These youngins were taught everything from why the Texas flag looks like it does, what the state flower and tree are, and they all dressed like little Texans for Texas Day activities.  May I remind you that they are 3…well okay, some are 4???!!!!  It all coincides every year with Texas Independence Day, which is observed annually on March 2.  How do I know this?  Because Texans post it on their Facebook pages!  I’m serious!


As I taught my class that Texas is a state in the country called the U.S.A. and that its flag is also red, white and blue, I asked my co-worker Janet whether she remembers learning so much so young about Iowa, the state where she grew up.  Nope.  Growing up in New Mexico, I do remember having the state flower and flag on my bedroom wall at one point, but I don’t remember being particularly proud to be a New Mexican.  I had more pride in my hometown Santa Fe than I did of the state as a whole.   I was first and foremost Santa Fean, then a New Mexican.


Texas quote


I truly believe Texans stand tall and stand alone in their boundless level of state pride.  I’ve always found it interesting that, if a Texan is overseas and someone asks “where are you from,” a Texan will almost always say “Texas!”  On the other hand, someone from, say Delaware or Idaho will most likely say “the U.S.”    Sure, New Yorkers are proud, as are Coloradans and many from the south.  But, how often do you see someone sporting New York-shaped earrings, a Colorado-shaped necklace, or an Oregon-shaped tattoo?  In Texas it’s also not uncommon to see bumper stickers boasting “and on the 8th day God created Texas” or “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could.”


I know it’s all a little crazy, but I will somewhat enviously admit that those born and raised in Texas automatically have a sense of self-pride and self-worth that they take with them everywhere.  You can be the biggest loser or goober in many aspects, but the fact that you are a Texan gives you something to be very, very proud of.   My daughter has it and will never lose it, even living in Norman, Oklahoma!  It’s a birthright like no other birthright, short of perhaps royalty.   As they say, “American by birth, Texan by the grace of God.”


Texas officially became a republic On March 2, 1836 when the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted.  With the document, settlers became independent from Mexico, creating the Republic of Texas.  Today, March 2 is an official state holiday and to this day, Texas is the only U.S. state to have previously been its own independent sovereign nation, something native Texans love to boast about.   April 21 is also cause for annual celebrations in Texas, as San Jacinto Day is commemorated with popular reenactments of the Battle of San Jacinto, the final battle of the Texas Revolution and where Texas officially won its independence from Mexico.  The San Jacinto Monument, located near Houston, is the world’s tallest monumental column at 570 feet tall; even taller than the Washington Monument’s 555 feet.


Texas was eventually annexed by the United States and ultimately became a state on December 29, 1845, but December 29 is not an official state holiday, although the date significantly impacted our entire nation.   By inheriting Texas’ border dispute with Mexico, the U.S. battled the Mexican-American War and captured additional territory that extending our nation’s borders all the way to the Pacific Ocean.


Texas quote2


There’s no arguing that Texans love their Texas, and from the looks of recent headlines, apparently the rest of the country is in love with the Lone Star State too.  For the third year a row, Forbes magazine has declared Austin the fastest growing city in America, while Site Selection magazine just recently reported that Texas leads the country in business relocations and expansions.  The 2011 Census also proves this, with Texas having 3 of the 10 largest cities in the nation.  Houston comes in at #4, San Antonio is 7, and Dallas (only Dallas, the ranking doesn’t even include Ft. Worth) ranks #9.  Amazingly, Austin is ranked 13, higher than San Francisco; while El Paso’s 19th ranking puts it above celebrated cities like Boston, Seattle, and Denver.


Texas sign


Texas is a great place to live.  The cost of living is somewhat low, the food (bar-b-cue, steaks, Tex-Mex, etc.) is great, the music is fabulous, there is no state income tax, high school football is a religion, and the people are friendly.  Signs on Texas highways even encourage drivers to “Drive Friendly.”  As someone who has lived in Austin for 27 years though, I’d love the gates at the edges of the city to close.  With all its growth, Austin has lost much of the charm that made it famous, even somewhat infamous.  It’s still a nice place to live, but it’s now very crowded and commercialized.


I do love Texas (although I’ll never even like those Texas Longhorns!) and I am proud of my little native Texan daughter.  She may not have been Sooner born, but she was Sooner bred with a whole lot of Texas mixed in!   Yeehaw!


Surprising and Fun Facts About Texas:

Beaumont is closer (770 miles) to Chicago then it is to El Paso (742 miles).

El Paso is closer to California than it is to Dallas.

King Ranch in South Texas is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

D/FW Airport encompasses more area than the island of Manhattan.

The dome on the state capitol building in Austin is 302.64 feet high, making it approximately 14 feet taller than the national capitol in Washington, D.C.

The first word spoken from the moon was “Houston.”

The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman, Rice University’s first full-time coach.

Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America.





Friday Funny March 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:42 pm



Tuesday’s Tip March 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:11 pm



Volvo Trumps Rivals in Safety Test


Are you in the market for an extremely safe car that’s not as expensive as you might think?  Then look no further than the 2013 Volvo S60, which was recently the only European luxury car to win a top rating in a study by The Insurance Institute Highway Safety.  Structurally the Volvo performed best in incidents replicating the vehicle colliding with another vehicle or a large object.  While the Volvo S60, the Swedish company’s mid-size sedan, earned the Institute’s “Top Safety Pick” award, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350, Audi A4, and Lexus ES 350 all earned the lowest rating available.  Shocking yes.  Starling, maybe even more so.


I will qualify all this gushing over an auto industry study by admitting I am a big fan of Volvos.  Our family has owned seven of them and Kristen’s little S40 has literally saved her life on two occasions.  What may surprise many of you is the price of a Volvo, which is often times much less than several of the above-mentioned cars that scored considerably lower in the safety test.  Pre-owned is a smart route to consider, one that we’ve taken several times, as Volvo’s hold up so well over the years and their warranties are very competitive.


Shopping for a smart, new, safe and good-looking car?  Think about the 2013 Volvo S60.  Questions?  Ask The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


A Diet Your Heart and Stomach Will Love March 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:46 am

olive oil


I always knew I loved those fun-loving and crazy Spaniards and Italians and now, thanks to a new study, it’s apparent our hearts love them too!  The findings, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that nearly 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and even deaths of high-risk people could be prevented if they eat like those who commonly live along the Mediterranean Sea. Sounds good to me…literally!


The Spanish study reports that a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with optional red wine, can reduce the risk of heart disease…even more so than a traditional low-fat diet.  The results were so overwhelming that even those conducting it and other experts were themselves amazed.  This heart-healthy option reportedly may lower the level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol that can clog up your arteries.  So, oil and nuts, is that really the secret?


Nope, there’s more to it than just that.  The Mediterranean Diet, as it’s being dubbed, incorporates standard healthy items but they are prepared in the traditional style found in cities and towns all over Spain, Italy, Greece and other neighboring locales.   The plan consists of lots of fruits and vegetables and pasta and rice…whole grain pasta and rice.


In short, the Mediterranean Diet includes:

Eating primarily “plant-based” foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts

Eating red meat no more than a few times a month

Eating fish and poultry at least twice a month

Replacing butter with olive and/or canola oil

Flavoring food with natural herbs and spices rather than salt

Drinking red wine in moderation if desired

Avoiding processed foods

Getting plenty of exercise


The diet also encourages the eating and enjoyment of eating meals with family and friends in a leisurely, relaxed manner.   What a concept America!


It’s also important to note that, although exercise is encouraged, the Mediterranean Diet isn’t intended to be a weight loss answer.  But, anytime you remove process foods and the likes from your diet, you very well could see the pounds come off.


As with any nutritional diet, everything is done in moderation.  Nuts are high in calories so no more than a handful a day is suggested, and avoid candied, honey-roasted, or heavily salted varieties.  In addition, bread may be a staple on Mediterranean tables, but it is served with olive oil and herbs, not butter or margarines.  In addition, if you’re going to add nuts to a now “no nut” diet, you need to take something out of your diet to make up for the extra calories you’ll be adding to your salads, snacks, and yogurts with the nuts.   When you do eat red meat, choose the leanest cut you can.  A New York Strip is probably healthier than a Rib-eye and meats from pasture-raised natural fed cows will be leaner than those from corn-fed cows.  Keep in mind that the only animals that are naturally “fatty” are whales, seals, and salmon.  I love me some salmon but I don’t think whale or seal is on anyone’s “to eat” list, much less mine!


All of this supports much of what the American Heart Association has long trumped and the study’s results have been reported on WebMD, the Mayo Clinic’s website, and various national news organizations.   Still, there are skeptics.  Dr. Dean Ornish says that after he carefully read the report he concluded that “a significant reduction in stroke in those consuming a Mediterranean diet high in omega-3 fatty acids when compared to those who were not making significant changes in their diet,”  occurred, leaving the low-fat vs. Mediterranean argument up for grabs.  Simply change your current eating habits to more healthy ones and, one would assume, your chances of having a heart attack or stroke lessen.


I figure it’s worth a shot though, and since I’m definitely a “systematic make a list and cross it off” kinda gal, following the Spanish, Italian and Greek “do’s and don’ts” makes sense to me.  When in Rome, or even Texas, do like the Romans, right?  Cin cin!


Friday Funny March 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:11 pm

Sharing this from my friend Mary’s FB page.  It’s just too funny to pass up and I hope it makes your Friday funny!