Beyond Words

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

Tuesday’s Tip June 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:48 pm



Leader of the Packing


I’ve been hearing and reading about many of you planning and taking fun and fabulous trips this summer.  I hope it’s not too late, but I thought I’d give some packing tips for today’s “Tuesday’s Tip” blog.  Although I am notorious for over-packing, almost always check a bag, and boast a piece of luggage called “Big Momma,” I know what works and what doesn’t, even though I don’t always practice what I preach!  Enjoy and enjoy your travels!




  • When packing your suitcase, I recommend rolling your clothes, rather than folding them.  This prevents creases and also allows for extra space as rolled clothing takes up less space than folded items.  Some people actually pile many items of clothes on top of each other and make one big roll.


  • Those plastic shower caps that you’ve previously gotten at hotels make great shoe covers, as do plastic grocery bags.  Covering your shoes up also protects adjacent clothing from the soiled soles of those shoes.


  • Place a plastic bag on top of everything once you’re done packing.  This will both protect inside items from possible moisture and can serve as a laundry bag later.


  • In my carry-on bag (and yes, I always have a carry-on!) I like to put small toiletries, underwear, and a small nightgown just in case of lay-overs or if your checked bags get lost.  These are in addition to my standard carry-on fare of phone charger, jewelry, a wrap or scarf, headphones, snacks, and reading materials.


  • I try to stick to a simple color scheme of black, white, gray, and khaki and throw in pops of color with scarves and jewelry.  Throwing in one brown outfit, which would require brown shoes in a case full of black items, just doesn’t make sense.


  • Stick to the “3 tops for every bottoms” rule.  Bottoms (skirts, pants, etc.) tend to take up more room than tops.  I also love leggings when packing as they are way more light weight than pants, come in all lengths, and can easily go from casual to dressy with the simple change of a top, added accessories, and appropriate shoes.


  • As for shoes, the general consensus is three pair:  flats, dress, and sneakers.  If necessary, take a pair of boots as well.  I never, ever conform to this rule though and instead tend to fill the entire bottom of my suitcase with shoes!


  • For years I have used a jelly roll for my necklaces, but a new tip I’ve heard about is threading necklaces through straws so they don’t get tangled.   Have you tried this?  Did it work well?


  • I love my hanging toiletries carrier that rolls up small.  When I get to my destination, I simply unroll it and hang it up in the bathroom.  I load it with trial sizes of everything from deodorant to lotions to anti-cling clothes spray.


  • I have a favorite small item that I don’t even know the name for, but it folds out flat then snaps together to make a tray.  I use it to place my jewelry in at the end of the day, as well as room keys, money, etc.  If for some reason I don’t have it with me, I like to use one of the glasses in the hotel room for this.


Do you have any tried and true packing tips that you would like to share?  Please do!  One can never have too many ideas on how to pack better and smarter!




Growing Up Gifted & Talented? June 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:30 pm

I saw the movie “The Internship” yesterday.  Yes, it’s your classic Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy, but it also has a message:  today’s whiz kids have issues.  Without giving too much away, the movie is essentially about Vaughn and Owen’s characters, longtime successful salesmen who lose their jobs.  They end up with an internship at Google, along with many others, all of whom are 20-something “geniuses.”  These “generation next” kids know all about search engines, software, and Snapfish, but they know nothing about life.  They have pent up personal issues they don’t know how to properly deal with, they have no social skills whatsoever, and they don’t know how to have fun.  Enter Vaughn and Wilson who show them not only how to make a living, but how to make a life.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a terrifically funny film but it ceases the opportunity to emphasize that brains do not mean wise and that money does not mean happiness.



“When you stop doing things for fun, you might as well be dead,” Ernest Hemingway


So what, as a society, should do we do about this “problem?”  It seems like instead of addressing the issue, we’re perpetuating it.






I remember when my daughter was in elementary school, many of her friends had private coaches for soccer because they were for sure going to get those college scholarships and Kumon tutoring was as common as dance class and T-ball.  Surprisingly, many of those kids today are not on soccer scholarships or graduating first in their class.  Kristen, on the other hand, was an above average student who graduated from an above average public high school but is today thriving in a major, competitive university.  Turns out, she’s doing what she loves and loves what she’s doing.  She’s happy and knows how to have fun…and she’s doing great in school.  Isn’t that what we, as parents, should want for our kids?


Apparently not.   Eaves drop on a mom conversation about their school-aged kids and you’re likely to hear nothing but AP courses and advanced learning opportunities.  It’s a competitive world out there, but as Billy Nye says, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”  You will never be the smartest or most talented ever and neither will your child.  This coming from Bill Nye the Science Guy.  It’s not all about science though.  It’s also about people skills, communication skills, and listening skills.  These are not the kinds of things you learn by texting or Tweeting though, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that those entering today’s work force are lacking these basic human interaction abilities.  As perhaps even Bill Nye would say, it’s not rocket science.




School for most kids today is a “war of attrition, like some grisly TV game show where the weak and the kind and the quixotic and the dreamers and the gentle get dumped at the end of each year,” according to “Vanity Fair’s” A.A. Gill.  In his December 2012 essay entitled “the Parent Trap,” Gill goes on to say we have essentially “managed to take the 15 years of children’s lives that should be the most carefree, inquisitive, and memorable and fill them with a motley collection of stress and a neurotic fear of failure.”  A world of nannies, counselors, voice coaches, orthodontists at age 5, camps for everything, exam strategists, nutritionists, and speech therapists has fostered the belief in our kids that their main goal in school should not be actual learning, but getting into that university that will lead to a life worth living.  Sadly, many of those lives are not filled with joy.  As Gill writes, “nothing good ever came from peaking too early” or “scrapping happiness and settling for success.”


This does not surprise me, as a preschool teacher, who during the last year was asked to implement a new curriculum for three-year-olds that includes not only colors and shapes and numbers, but letters and their sounds, sight words, and rotating learning centers.   It probably comes as no surprise to Vicki Abeles either, whose groundbreaking documentary, “Race to Nowhere:  The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture,” asserts that schools are destroying our kids’ love of learning and ability to think creatively.  This, Abeles says, is resulting in a generation of kids who are depressed, disengaged, and burned-out.   Sadly, it’s those creative kids that even people like Bill Gates depends on.  ““I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it,” said the founder of Microsoft, he himself a college drop-out.


It’s also lead to a generation of deluded narcissists according to the “American Freshmen Survey,” that reported college students are more likely to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.  This happens when every kid gets a trophy, receives inflated grades to keep a school’s ranking up, and is never held accountable for their mistakes or missteps.


Psychologist Jean Twenge authored the study and goes on to say social media like Facebook is also partly to blame.  On Facebook, people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends,” can delete any unflattering comments about themselves, can “block” anyone who disagrees with their views, and can choose to only post flattering photos of themselves.   Twitter is the same, on which people live under the assumption they are worth “following,” much like the celebrities they follow.   On computer games, these same youngsters can pretend they are Formula 1 drivers, Olympians, or rock stars.  They live in an unreal world full of inflated realities and mindless reality shows.  Dr. Keith Ablow calls all of these the “psychological drugs of the 21st Century.”  Scary, right?


Dr. Ablow, in his article, goes on to report that today’s “young people are higher on drugs than ever, drunker than ever, smoking more, tattooed more, pierced more, and having more and more sex earlier and earlier and raising babies before they can do it well all because it makes them feel special.”  In short, they’re doing “anything to distract themselves from the fact that they feel empty inside and unworthy.”  Ouch.


What would all those voice coaches and math tutors think about their “gifted and talented” kids from years back?   More importantly, what must their parents be thinking?   In our haste to make our kids successful, maybe we’re subconsciously pushing our personal dreams on them, but as Dan Zadra says, “The best example you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life.”


Striving for progress rather than perfection, and focusing more on the doing rather than on the getting it done are good starts, but wanting what you’re doing is just as essential.  It’s been said that motivation is not enough because if you have an idiot and you motivate him, all you have is a motivated idiot.


In “The Internship,” it’s mentioned that on the list of “worst things ever” is waking up with regret.  I’m guessing the movie meant waking up tomorrow, but for many of today’s kids and parents, the waking up is quite possibly happening a little too late.






















Friday Funny June 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:10 pm

Happy last day of school for all my Austin and Cedar Park peeps!



Think About It Thursday June 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:17 pm



Over the weekend a friend of mine told me how much he was enjoying the book “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly. I asked him if he was going to also read Mr. O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln” and he said probably. It got me thinking about the famous similarities between the two U.S. presidents so I thought I’d share them today to give you, and anyone who’s not heard them, something to think about.


Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.


Lincoln was elected president in 1860.
Kennedy was elected president in 1960.


Both Lincoln and Kennedy were particularly concerned with civil rights.


Both Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Kennedy lost children while living in the White House.


Both presidents were shot on a Friday.


Both presidents were shot in the head.


Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

Both Lincoln and Kennedy were succeeded in office by a man with the last name Johnson.


Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.


John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1939.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.


Both assassins were known by their three names and both of their names consisted of 15 letters.


Lincoln was shot in a theatre and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.

Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theatre.


Both Oswald and Booth were assassinated before their trials.



Coincidence? Creepy? Astounding? Amazing? What do you think?



Also, have any of you read “Killing Lincoln” or “Killing Kennedy?” Would love your thoughts.


Thanks for reading my blog!


Wednesday’s Words of Wit & Wisdom June 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:22 pm

Sometimes you just need to kick your shoes off and enjoy life…



Weddings and Graduations: What to Wear? June 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:00 pm


Bride clip



This is the time of year for graduations and weddings.  It’s also the time of year when you may be asking yourself, “what should  I wear to that event?”  “In Style” magazine recently had a great little feature on different wedding dress codes and I thought I’d share them with you.


What to wear when the dress code is “Casual”

Think “less formal” and avoid anything flashy.  Above-the-knee dresses and skirts are the way to go, just don’t go ultra-short.  As for shoes, heels are not suggested so pull out your favorite ballet flats or sandals with fun embellishments and details.  Hair and make-up should look natural and effortless.  While thinking “less formal,” however, don’t go too casual.  Denim is definitely out as is any type of weekend wear.  Even though the dress code is casual, the event is still an important one so dress for it!


What to wear when the dress code is “Semiformal”

Think fun but sophisticated.  Any conservative but fun cocktail dress in your favorite color will work.  Add a interesting statement necklace and some amazing shoes and you are good to go.  Little black dresses are no longer frowned upon, especially if you add a pop of color with a belt, scarf, or fun pumps.  Speaking of shoes, heels are the way to go, whether strappy or more conservative.  Flats would be flat out wrong!  Sequins and super fancy are not necessary though.  You never want to compete with the bridesmaids or mother-of-the bride!   For hair and make-up, add some glam touches like an updo with a fun clip or a bold lip color.


What to wear when the dress code is “Formal”

Now’s the time to wear that extra-special elegant dress, either long or short, but long is best for a more formal look.  If you do go short, make sure it’s knee-length and boasts some type of luxe details like ruffles or bling.  This is also the time to glam up with sparkly jewelry, sky-high shoes, and anything metallic.  A word of caution though:  avoid high slits, plunging necklines, or low-cut backs.  They may be okay for next week’s black tie event, but they are too sexy for a wedding.   A good way to evaluate what you’re thinking of is  if you’d wear it during the day, it’s too casual.  Hair and make-up should be chic and professionally done if possible.  Your goal is to feel sophisticated, not flashy.


Other wedding and graduation tips:

Always RSVP as soon as possible.  This is not an option!

Stick to the registry.  You may have something special in mind for a gift, but if you must, add it as a “bonus” gift, not the main one.

Arrive on time!

Avoid wearing white…even to the Rehearsal Dinner.  A nice cocktail dress works best for the dinner.

For any type of brunch, a casual top with nice shorts or cropped pants work well, depending on the venue.


Cheers and congrats to all the brides and graduates!


The Beauty of Bergdorf’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:45 am




Remember the opening sequences of the popular ‘70s TV show “That Girl” and the more recent “Sex and the City 2” movie?  In case you don’t, here’s a hint:  they both prominently featured the iconic New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman.  To call “Bergdorf’s” a department store though, is somewhat blasphemous.


Today my daughter and I saw the new feature film/documentary called “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s.”  It a enjoyable and historical look at what many consider the store of all stores.  The movie consists of interviews with many well-known designers, including Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Tory Burch, and Oscar de la Renta to name but a few, all of whom credit Bergdorf’s with putting them on the fashion map.   Come to find out in the movie that, when and if Bergdorf’s agrees to stock your line, you are pretty much set as a designer, whether you produce cosmetics like Bobbi Brown, design shoes like Christian Louboutin, or create jewelry like Lorraine Schwartz, you hope and pray Bergdorf’s buyers give you the green light.


Bergdorf catalog


I find all of this fascinating not only because I love fashion, but because I’ve personally experienced some of that Bergdorf magic.  I remember buying my first  Tod’s bag at Bergdorf’s while visiting NYC with Smitty and Kristen, and just this past February during my annual college girls trip, the girls and I had a wonderful hour or two in the store’s famed shoe salon.  One of the salesmen featured in the movie was the very one who attended to our every need.  I was amazed to find out that he, like the very nice man who sold me my bag years ago, can make upwards of $500,000 a year!   When you watch Elizabeth Taylor’s mink ear muffs story in the film, as well as Yoko Ono’s fur coat splurge, you’ll understand how and why.


Bergdorf bldg



Founded in 1899 by French immigrant Herman Bergdorf, the luxury goods store is today owned by the Neiman Marcus group but stands on its own nonetheless.   Edwin Goodman, a young 23-year-old merchant worked as an apprentice for Bergdorf and within two years purchased a major interest in it, which was renamed Bergdorf Goodman in 1901.  In 1906 the store moved to 32nd Street, but after Bergdorf’s subsequent retirement, Goodman, then a popular women’s tailor, decided to move his business uptown.  He constructed a five-story building at what is now Rockefeller Center and moved to the store’s present day location at 5th and 58th in 1928, building the famous Beaux-Arts style store on the site of the former Vanderbilt mansion.  Today the retail store and accompanying spa and popular Goodman’s Café take up a whole city block in Manhattan right on 5th Avenue and adjacent to Central Park and The Plaza Hotel.  The fact that one family owned the coveted property is astonishing, but, even though what’s sold at Bergdorf’s is very selective, the family was reportedly more down-to-earth than you’d think and for years quietly and privately lived in a 16-room apartment on the top floor overlooking Central Park and Fifth Avenue.


Bergdorf window2



In addition to its famed merchandise, level of service, and famous purple bags, Bergdorf’s is perhaps best known most for its innovative window displays.   “Bury My Ashes…” devotes quite a bit of time to these famous windows, which are seen by 1.5 million pairs of eyes a day and are considered New York tourist attractions all their own.  The Christmas windows are by far the most celebrated, taking months to create and produce and nearly two weeks just to assemble in each of the five street-side windows.   So important are these displays, that an entire staff at Bergdorf’s is dedicated to their production alone.


Most of the retailer’s staff follows the leads of Fashion Director Dawn Mello and the famously silver-bobbed “Jacqueline of all Trades” Linda Fargo.  Celebrities such as Cher and Susan Lucci sing their praises in the film, as does uber-stylist Rachel Zoe.  It’s Mello’s and Fargo’s fashion sense and fashion eyes that have made household names out of the likes of Michael Kors and others, and introduced Jackie Kennedy to then Bergdorf baby Halston.  His pink pillbox hat that Mrs. Kennedy wore on that fateful November day in Dallas will go down in history as perhaps the most famous hat ever.


Bergdorf cartoon


It comes as no surprise that Bergdorf’s has been featured prominently in many films and television shows, including “How to Marry a Millionaire” starring Lauren Bacall, “That Touch of Mink” starring Doris Day and Cary Grant, the 1996 Natalie Wood film “Penelope,” 1970’s “Airport,” 1981’s “Arthur,” the legendary “North by Northwest, as well as TV’s “Boston Legal,” “The City,” “Sex and the City,” and “The Apprentice,” on which a winning team was given a shopping spree to Bergdorf’s.  Oh what Carrie Bradshaw would have done to win that!   And before I forget, the “That Girl” opening sequence I mentioned earlier?  It consisted of Marlo Thomas looking at a mannequin of herself in a Bergdorf store window.  We, like her character Ann Marie, may not be able to buy everything we want at Bergdorf’s, but we can certainly picture ourselves doing so.  Just look into one of their dream-like windows and smile!


Sunday Scripture June 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:19 pm



Father, I ask you to bless my friends and relatives.  Show them a new revelation of your love and power.

Holy Spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit.  Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy.

Where there is self doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace.  in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.