Beyond Words

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

Making an Entrance June 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:41 pm

door hello

I was so happy to recently see a photo of a door in a favorite blog I follow. I love doors and windows myself and often photograph them. Great bloggers think alike!


The front door of your house is a visitor’s first impression of you and your home so it’s important to take the time and effort to make the entry to your house a pleasant and inviting one. It’s also worth the money, as doors can be so very expensive!


A clearly defined entry point is paramount. No one likes to have to wander around and wonder where the front door is. A guest should be able to quickly identify a main entrance upon pulling up to your house. The phrase “curb appeal” is suggested in more than just a real estate way. You literally want the front of your home to be appealing. Landscaping should be maintained and your front porch should be considered an extension of your home. Clean it just as you would a kitchen or bathroom.




Spring and summer are the times of year that you can really spruce up your front entry with flowers, seating, and décor. Just be sure to not project the feeling that you are “spilling” out of your house by junking up your front porch. A couple of rockers, a small table, and some plants are suffice.




Lighting is also important. I’m obsessed with lantern-style lights but as long as your choice is functioning and tasteful, you should be good to go. Two other guaranteed front door facelifts include unique house numbers and a decorative doormat. I love changing my out with the seasons!


Now for the physical door itself. I adore painted doors. I’m not a big fan of double front doors but and I tend to lean toward a traditional look. Go with what you like, just be sure the door you choose matches the style of your home.


Here are some of my favorites:


PicMonkey Collage

It’s also fun to decorate your door for holidays and change things out for different seasons:

PicMonkey Collage seasons

An appealing entrance is both welcoming and attractive:

PicMonkey Collage three

I’m still working on a new summer wreath, but here’s my home front so far this summer:

PicMonkey Collage mine

I wish you luck and I wish you fun but most of all…

door quote


Sunday Scripture: Hope Floats June 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:42 pm





Last Sunday I wrote about hope and the fact that it’s often easy to lose your faith and abandon all hope. I had no idea that a true test of hope and faith in God was going to face me head on in the coming days, and in many ways I failed.


My daughter Kristen left to study in Spain last Wednesday. Me, being the perpetual planner that I am, have been organizing the details of her doing so since…forever. I worked with an expert travel planner at AAA to ensure her flight was booked correctly and was the best one out there. She and I bought her travel items and Googled till we were blue in the face. I’d finished my novena to St. Ann and had friends and family praying.  She had a non-stop flight from Dallas to Madrid.  Everything was set.  Easy peasy, right?


Wrong.  The morning of her flight thunderstorms decided to deluge Dallas. Her flight out of Austin was delayed more than two hours and making her connection was in serious jeopardy.  Just when I was about to totally lose it, she called and said they were taking off and Dallas-bound.  Still, barring a miracle, how would she ever land, taxi, depart her flight and somehow make it to her internationally-bound gate…in 45 minutes…at an airport bigger than the island of Manhattan?!


All I could do was hope.  And pray.  And swear.  And cry.


In the meantime I knew Plan B had to be arranged.  I had British Airways on my cell phone and American Airlines on the landline trying to figure out what their plans were should she miss her connection. It’s not like there was another flight leaving for Madrid in 40 minutes. This was going to be a big deal.  (For the record, I never spoke to an AA operator after being on hold for more than 30 minutes, but during this same 30 minutes, I was helped numerous times by BA representatives.  #nothappywithAmericanairlines!)


I was also on the phone with my dear friend Kathy in Dallas for both support and to ask if she could pick Kristen up should she miss her connecting flight. Did I mention I was balling every time I spoke with Kathy? She, however, was a rock. She assured me all would work out and all would be fine. I can never thank her enough.


Long story short, Kristen arrived Dallas (after taxing for what to me seemed like forever as the flight waited for a gate to open up!), hopped on the Tram, and made it to her departing gate. She called me from inside the plane and told me in Spanish, I’m on the plane! She was so calm and collected the entire time. I cannot say how impressed I am with her.  My girl is all growed up.


Now back to me. Did I mention I was a mess???? Let me also add that Smitty was in Chicago so I was solo…doing this all on my own…save for Kathy. At one point I was literally on my knees begging God to perform a miracle and to please let her make her connection. I lit my St. Jude candle and implored upon St. Ann and dear sweet Mary. I was scared and I was angry. I have faced some tremendous challenges and disappointments  in the past few months and weeks and I felt like, “Why God? Why now and why me, again?” Even more importantly, why Kristen? All I asked for was for her to be safe and secure. Was that too much to ask?


No, not of God. She made her connection in a most miraculous fashion and was safely on her way to Spain.  And, thanks to a snazzy website Kathy told me about, I could literally “follow” her flight path all the way to Madrid. I was in and out of sleep all night doing so but each time I awoke, there was my St. Jude candle, glowing supportively. Never give up it seemed to be saying. God is here.


Yes He was and yes He is.  I am still thanking Him.


“Do not worry about anything and have no anxiety. Instead, tell God your needs and thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest.” Phil. 4:6-7


Friday Funny June 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:36 pm



To Market, To Market June 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:28 pm



Home of the original Whole Foods, Austin is chalk-full of health food stores. In my own little area of town, we are getting a brand new Sprouts in the coming months…right across from Randall’s!


Before I continue, I need to come clean in that I dread going to the grocery store and do not get excited about a Sprouts, Whole Foods, or even a Trader Joes. And, even among people I know who do anticipate a new store’s opening, their main complaint about these types of stores is that they are so much more expensive than your average HEB. It’s no secret that eating healthy and deliciously on a budget can be hard to do. “Readers Digest” recently ran a list of what to “splurge on” and what to “save on” and I found it interesting and educational. I hope you do too!


Splurge On
Honey. Cheap honey may be cute in its bear-shaped container but it’s also probably full of corn syrup.


Coffee. “Consumer Reports” says Gloria Jean’s and Newman’s Own coffees may be more expensive, but are hands down better tasting then other supermarket brands.


Pasta. You don’t have to spend a whole lot more for chefs’ picks like Barilla or DeCecco and by doing so you will avoid the often mushy mess you end up with when buying cheaper brands.


Extra-virgin olive oil. Always check for a regional seal of certification on the bottle and keep in mind that 50 percent of the olive oil sold in the U.S. may be full of cheap filler oils.


Vanilla extract. True vanilla, with its 200 flavor notes, is your best bet. My favorite isn’t from any store, but from Mexico!


Chocolate. Opt for real dark chocolate and avoid the tempting dollar bars that often combine 20-plus ingredients to make their bar-shaped amalgam of brown chemicals.


Save On
Ground beef. Avoid those “time saving” ready-made frozen burgers, as E. coli is more prevalent in them then in ground beef. Besides, is it really that difficult to form your own patties?!


Cheese. Are you melting or mixing your cheese? Then go cheap! They melt better and you’ll save money.


Everyday oil. When cooking with oil you can usually substitute vegetable or regular olive oil for the much-more expensive extra-virgin olive oil, which isn’t recommended for high heat cooking anyway.


Wine. In a blind taste test, both consumers and wine experts liked more inexpensive wines as much as, if not more so, their pricey counterparts. The Bogle line is one of my favorites.


Baking mixes. A “Consumer Reports” study showed that Duncan Hines brownies from a box are just as good as ones made from pricier gourmet mixes.


Bottled water. Don’t be fooled by the foreign or natural sounding name. Nearly half of all bottled water in the U.S. comes straight from purified municipal tap water, not some natural spring in Oregon or France. You can feel safe buying a store-brand label or better yet, avoid on all that plastic waste and use a simple in-home filter.


Frozen produce. It’s cheaper than out-of-season fresh produce and is often higher in nutrients and better tasting. Frozen broccoli is said to have 35 percent more beta-carotene by weight then fresh broccoli. Here’s a short list of what’s in season when:
Spring:  apricots, artichokes, asparagus, strawberries, sweet peas and watercress.


Summer:  berries, cherries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, melons, okra, peaches, peas, plums, rhubarb, summer squash, tomatillos, and tomatoes.


Fall:  apples, cranberries, dates, figs, mushrooms, pears, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, winter squash.


Winter:  Brussels sprouts, fennel, grapefruit, kale, limes, radicchio, tangerines, turnips.



Once you get home with all your groceries, where’s the best place to put them to ensure maximum life?


Cheese, covered butter, and all dairy products should go on your refrigerator’s top shelf.


Cooked meats and leftovers should go on a middle shelf.


The bottom shelf, which is the coldest, is ideal for eggs, raw meats and poultry, and seafood.


The door of your refrigerator is its warmest part so use it for less temperature-sensitive items like condiments and salad dressings.


Drawers are best for produce, but not all produce, and it does matter what you put in the same drawer, as some emit a gas that may accelerate the ripening of other produce next to them. In general:




Apples, berries, broccoli, carrots, celery, cherries, grapes, leafy greens, and zucchini.


Don’t Refrigerate
Avocados, bananas, garlic, kiwi, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions…although…I do refrigerate my onions because it prevents them from making you cry when you cut them!


How long does food stay fresh? Dr. Oz’s “The Good Life” warns readers that terms like “use by” often aren’t regulated and even the “sniff test” isn’t reliable because many illness-causing germs don’t always have a scent. Here’s a guide to go by:


In the fridge
1-2 days – raw ground meat


3 days – opened salsa or pesto


3-4 days – roasted chicken, Chinese takeout, cooked veggies, prepared chicken or tuna salad


3-5 days – raw steaks, chops, or roasts; opened deli meat


1 week – cooked rice


3-4 weeks – opened hard cheese, eggs (if they float in cold water, they are old)


5-7 days past “sell by date” – milk


1-3 months – butter


In the Freezer
1-2 months – hotdogs, lunch meats, bacon, sausage, fully-cooked ham
6 months – butter, hard cheeses, nuts
1 year – steaks, chops, roasts


In the Pantry
2-4 days – fresh bread


1 year past expiration date – dry and unopened dry pasta, crackers, and cereals.


1.5-2 years – solid chocolate


20 years – canned soups and veggies


Wow! That’s a lot of info coming from someone who hates to go grocery shopping! Let me know if you have any other tips or tidbits. Happy listing, shopping, bagging, unloading, and putting away! See why I detest grocery shopping!  Can’t I just have this guy shop and cook for me?



Sunday Scripture: When All Hope Is Gone June 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:00 pm



Do you ever feel like you’ve done all you can and you’ve prayed in earnest and yet your hope is gone?  Trust me, I’ve been there.  I found this prayer by Helen Smith today that made feel just a tad hopeful though:


Dear God:

As I begin this day let me turn my thoughts to you

And ask your help in guiding me in everything I do

Give me patience I need for my peace of mind

And with life’s cares I hope Dear God, some happiness to find

Let me live for today not worrying what’s ahead

For I trust that you will see I get my daily bread

Give me courage to face life’s trials and not from my troubles run

Let me keep this thought in mind:  “thy will not mine be done”

And if some wish I do not get though I have prayed to Thee

Help me to believe and understand You know what’s best for me

I’ve failed many times I know, but when tonight I rest

I hope that I can kneel and say “Dear God I’ve tried my best.”




I know it’s hard to “keep calm” and to “keep the faith,” but when all else fails and I’m feeling neglected or alone, I try to remember that God loves me and that’s all that really matters.  Whatever today, tomorrow and life holds for me, I will let Him have control.




Think About It Thursday June 19, 2014

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Tuesday Tip: Sweet Dreams! June 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:16 pm




I love my bed. I actually look forward to climbing into it every night. Not only is it comfy and cozy, next to it are books I’m reading, my TV remote for late-night viewing, and Boomer. Sometimes it even includes my daughter or my husband too!




Still, as hard as I try and as much as I buy, falling into bed at home never lives up to doing so in a high end hotel.  What gives?  Well, I’ve researched and dug, and here are some tips for duplicating that five star bed of your dreams. I hope the result will be sweet dreams for everyone, wherever you are!




The first thing you probably notice about a dreamy bed are its many layers. Much more than just sheets and a comforter, the perfect bed consists of sheets, a duvet, a coverlet, mattress cover, matress pad, and an abundance of fluffy pillows. Notice I didn’t say anything about the physical bed or actual mattress.


That’s because most experts (Who is a bed expert anyway?!  Sign me up!) agree that putting your money into great bedding rather than into an overpriced mattress is the way to go. It’s amazing what good quality sheets and the right topper can do for a the quality of your sleep and comfort.


Your first step is to invest in sheets. To get that crispness we all love, look for 100 percent natural fiber sheets like cotton and a thread count of 200-350, any higher thread counts really don’t make a huge difference.  As for pillows, buy new ones regularly and don’t be afraid to spend some money on them too.  Consider how important they are to a good night’s rest and how much time you spend on them, and opting for higher-end ones won’t seem so outrageous after all. I prefer goose down pillows, which are fluffier than duck down, but if you have allergies or favor foam, there are so many options from which to choose.  January is the best time to invest in new bedding, as annual White Sales offer deep discounts on most items.


Okay, now for the mattress. I sleep on a Tempurpedic, but I do feel they are slightly overrated. What I most love about it, is the feather mattress topper I bought that lays on top of it!   A word of caution though: always put a feather mattress cover under both the mattress cover and the fitted sheet so as not to feel feathers poking out of just the sheet! I learned this the hard way.


What goes on over the top sheet is entirely up to you. I love my down duvet and comforter but my mom still prefers bedspreads. I also love quilts.  Blanket-wise, I’m not as crazy about them as my mom, but even in the heat of a Texas summer, I like the weight of both of them on me and use them year round.


Elems of Style1


I recently watched a popular YouTube commencement address during which the speaker instructed graduates to make their beds every morning. I confess, I don’t. I do sometimes, but not always. I know, I know. Shame on me! But, when I do make it, I follow the standard rule of placing the top-sheet “upside down” so when folded over the duvet, the folded flap is right side up. I like having a contrast of pattern and/or coordinating colors among my bedding. If my sheets are solid, the comforter has pattern. Any shams and throw pillows will have a mix of both.


The comfort of your bed doesn’t stop at the mattress and bedding though. Your goal should be to make your entire bedroom a sanctuary of peace and comfort. Don’t have anything next to your bed that doesn’t delight or relax you and try to make even the most utilitarian items pretty. I love the idea of live plants in a bedroom and I much prefer table lamps as a bedroom’s lighting of choice.



Finally, how should you take care of all that bedding you’ve invested in? I’ve always been one to wash my sheets in hot water and use fabric softener so they smell yummy, but my friend Ann recently told me she learned just the opposite. Apparently hot water is not the way to go, nor is fabric softener, if crisp sheets are what you want. You decide.


I leave you with everyone’s “how to” question: how do I fold a fitted sheet? Here is an easy guide I found in Woman’s Day magazine. Good luck and good night!