Beyond Words

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

Loud and Clear February 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:11 am


“Don’t worry about anything and have no anxiety.  Instead, tell God your needs and thank Him for His answers.”  Phil. 4:6-7



I have been doing a Holy Spirit bible study at church for the past few weeks and today He spoke to me loud and clear.


You see, for several months I’ve been contemplating volunteering more during the mass.  I see many of my friends serve as Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, and Hospitality Ministers and have been feeling the urge to do the same.  In many ways I don’t feel “qualified” to hand out Holy Communion but I do love to read and have no problem speaking in front of a crowd so maybe, I’ve thought, I should sign up to be a Lector and declare the Word of God during the mass.


Still, Hospitality Minister was screaming my name for some reason.  Kristen served as one during the Life Teen mass when she was in high school and I’ve always thought “I can do that!”  One of the wise and wonderful women in my long-time “friends” bible study works on stewardship in our church and I talked to her and the other ladies in the group when we met last week.  All suggested I should pray about it and listen for God’s discernment.


So, I have.  Even today as I entered church I thought to myself “I’m going to email the Liturgy Director at church and tell her to assign me wherever there is the greatest need.”  That’s it, I thought, it’s settled.  Let someone else settle it for me.


Until, that is, the Holy Spirit spoke at the end of mass.  Actually, it was Scott who heads up the Hospitality Ministry but through him I heard the Holy Spirit loud and clear.  Scott went on to say there is a current need for Hospitality Ministers and that’s all I needed to hear.  Bingo.  I’m all signed up!  As my bible study friend told me in a text when I told her, “That was the Holy Spirit at His best today.”  I couldn’t agree more.


Doing so also fulfills one of the suggestions on the “40 Things to Give Up for Lent” program I’m doing:  “Giving up Your Comfort Zones.”  I like the comfort of going to whatever mass I want on Sunday and sitting in our same spot.  Now, that won’t be the case but I’m ready to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.


Today was the second week in a row that mass served as a “gotcha” moment for my bible study.  The ladies and I had planned for months that for February we would study the Book of Job.  Then, when we realized our monthly get together fell on Ash Wednesday we contemplated doing a reading or lesson on Lent instead.  Until, Job was one of the readings in mass the preceding Sunday and many of us were experiencing “Job moments” in our lives and were in need of some comfort and support.  We hear you God and we thank you!


In a life full of distractions, decisions, and disappointments, it’s often hard to know where to go, where to turn, or even what to do.  It’s definitely challenging to hear the answers through all the noise, but if you slow down, shut down, and calm down, the answers are usually right there.  You just need to know where to look and who to turn to.


Friday Funny February 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:44 pm

Vegans, etc.

So funny.  So true.

Happy Friday!


Hail To The Chef

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:53 am

“It is difficult to know what counts most in the world but I am beginning to see that the things that really matter take place not in the boardrooms but in the kitchens of the world.”  Gary Allen Sledge

   kitchen chalk board

Pottery Barn



I recently returned from a girls trip to Washington, D.C. with girls who are all foodies and/or excellent cooks.   Me, I’m a “foodie” in that I love food but I am in no way, shape, or form an excellent cook.  While on our trip we ate at many fabulous restaurants and talked about many a delectable dish.  It’s just amazing how amazing amazingly prepared food is!


I also recently joined a group that doesn’t just get together for potlucks, we get together and cook!  Everyone signs up to bring something according that month’s theme and we all prepare the dishes together.  So.  Much.  Fun.  The woman who organized the whole thing is, of course, a fabulous cook and her kitchen showed it.  Although her home is beautiful it is also modest but her kitchen is anything but and has all the ingredients of someone who loves to cook.  So impressed.


We can’t all travel and eat out all the time, but we can become better cooks and it all naturally starts in your kitchen.  That kitchen, however, must be stocked and set up in a way that will allow anyone to cook not only better but more efficiently.   Creating a gourmet kitchen can be expensive, but there are ways to cut costs and still end up with a room that works.




True Palate or Just Good Taste?

Although many believe their food knowledge makes them a culinary connoisseur, it’s important to note that there’s a distinct difference between “palate” and “taste.”  I would venture to guess that most non-professionals have good taste as opposed to a true palate.


In a nutshell, someone with good taste can distinguish subtle differences between versions of dishes and may be able to name the ingredients in that dish, but a person with a true palate can taste a dish and recreate it and/or improve it just by that:  tasting it. Make no mistake, it’s a talent acquired and refined and is something quite special.





Your Dream Kitchen

Before you attempt any kitchen redo, think about how you use the kitchen and what you cook most.  Do you bake a lot?  What appliances do you tend to use every day?  How many people do you normally cook for and how many people regularly cook at one time?  All of this will help with layout and function, both of which are paramount and permanent.  From there, you can move on to a kitchen’s Holy Grail:  large appliances.



Red oven:  does it get any better?

Whether your goal is to have better taste or to acquire a unique palate, first and foremost you need top-notch appliances.  Commercial or industrial-grade are preferred and gourmet cooks prefer gas ranges.   Induction cooktops are also popular, as they heat up faster and deliver a more direct heat, but they are not for everyone.  As for ovens, two is better than one, but one will work.  If you are fortunate to have two, try to make one of them convection, which means the oven has a fan that circulates hot air so food cooks more evenly and efficiently.  Again, not for everyone and I wouldn’t suggest one being your sole oven choice.  Warming drawers are also popular, as they keep food warm while protecting the moisture in it.


The other two big appliances in a kitchen, refrigerators and dishwashers, can get just as expensive and equally complicated.  When it comes to refrigerators, Sub-Zero is at the top, but just because it’s the most expensive and will tell your guests “I spent a lot of money on my refrigerator,” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only good ‘fridge.  In fact, “Consumer Reports” ranks Thermador and Jenn-Air higher than Sub-Zero .  The attractiveness of Sub-Zero, other than owning the Mercedes of refrigerators, is that they have two compressors:  one for refrigeration and one for freezing.  This helps the appliance last longer (up to twice as long as other models) and also improves food quality and freshness but also contributes to them being particularly noisy.   But, unless you want to spend upwards of $7,000 dollars on an appliance, you might want to consider way more affordable French-door bottom-freezers refrigerators that also received top scores with “Consumer Reports.”  The style is the fastest-growing configuration in refrigerators and allows you to have more affordable function and style.   Also popular and trendy are built-in integrated appliances that virtually disappear into kitchen cabinetry. These painted or natural wood panels match a kitchen’s décor and according to realtors, often help with resale, as do Sub-Zeros.


As for dishwashers, even “Consumer Reports” says you don’t need to spend a fortune on one.  First, decide which features best fit your lifestyle and home.  Do you have a large family that will use the appliance daily?  How big is the space opening for your dishwasher…sizes vary?!   Today many dishwashers boast the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Energy Star” rating, meaning they use minimal water and electricity, and still others have electronic sensors that measure dish soil levels and adjust water and cycles accordingly.  Wow!  Other features you want to look for are greater loading options and a quiet operation.  For many, quietness is a key deciding factor.  Keep in mind that dishwashers with base-pan mounted motors are the quietest and that the more expensive a dishwasher is, the quieter it will probably be.  European models tend to be less noisy and almost always have a stainless steel interior, which is a sign of a higher-end appliance.  Finally, one-piece designs are quieter than two-piece ones.




Absolutely adore the “mantel” above this cook area.


Countertops and Cabinetry

Counter surfaces and cabinetry are the next biggest expenses in a kitchen and choosing them can be stressful and exhausting.  In general, easy-to-clean and sturdy surfaces like quartz and granite are the most durable, but other popular surfaces include marble, stainless steel, butcher block, and the ever-affordable laminate.


Today’s top countertop choice remains granite, which offers a high-end look while providing a durable surface.  Very similar to granite is engineered quartz , which is also stain, acid, scratch, heat and impact resistant but doesn’t need to be sealed like natural stone countertops.  Laminate is the most budget-friendly surface and thanks to patterns that resemble stone, wood, and even quartz, laminate is proving not only inexpensive but trendy.  I love the look of butcher-block wood counter tops, which once sealed properly, are both decorative and functional.  My favorite look is mixing wood with a solid surface countertop.



Marble countertop HGTV Joel-Snayd-Rethink-Design-

Joel-Snayd and HGTV

The hottest countertop trend right now is probably marble.  This history-filled stone gives a kitchen a high-end feel but it is very porous.  Stainless steel counters are also popping up everywhere, but they are not a favorite of mine.  Too industrial.  Too cold.  Still, the grayish metal coordinates well with any color scheme, stains wipe right off, and is considered the most hygienic  countertop available.    In the end, choose the countertop you can afford and the one that best suits your style.



 kitchen cabinets like furniture

Cabinets made to look like furniture.  Yes.

Now it’s time to pick cabinets.  These can make or break a kitchen.  Without going into too much detail, here’s a snapshot of which woods may work best for you.  Light woods will generally make a small kitchen look bigger and include oak (strong and resists wear and tear), maple (uniform in color), pine (inexpensive with a bold grain…also is good if you want to paint or stain them), and ash (also good to stain.)  Medium woods can tend to add warmth to a room and include beech and cherry, which is reddish-brown and expensive.  Dark woods make a statement, including high-priced mahogany or walnut, which is the most sought after wood for high-end paneling and cabinetry.   Me?  I kinda prefer white cabinets (but I do love the non-white ones in my current home) and I’m obsessed with bead board.  I also really, really like when the wood of a kitchen island is a different color than the cabinets and I love “legs” on lower cabinets that create the look of a piece of furniture.  Cabinetry hardware is a total personal preference and I definitely prefer it.  To me it’s a cabinet accessory, much like jewelry.




Lighting is also important in a cook area and is something I am a fanatic about.  I’m all about light fixtures and they are usually one of the first things I notice in a home.  As with most things, I prefer traditional-style lighting, especially lanterns, and am not a big fan of track lighting.  Under-cabinet, recessed or can, and pendants help focus light in work areas, and if done correctly, add form and function to a kitchen.



 kitchen cookware

Now it’s time to stock that gourmet kitchen you just built.  I will focus on cooking and storage items and leave the dishes for your personal tastes.  Most experts say splurge on small appliances and cookware, as they are the building blocks of any kitchen.  I love my Keurig and I love my cast iron.  Dutch ovens are also popular and are perfect for a variety of cooking methods and dishes.  A professional chef’s knife is also a must.  This is something you’ll want to spend money on after doing some research.  I love my Messermeister and use it religiously for slicing, chopping, and mincing.  Other recommended knives are a straight-bladed paring knife for peeling and cutting, a utility knife for slicing items like cheeses and sandwiches, and a serrated knife for tough-to-slice foods like tomatoes.  Whatever you do and whatever you buy, never put your knives in the dishwasher!  Finally, if I could recommend one type of storage item, it would be all things square not round, and glass not plastic.  Square containers take up less space and fill every corner of a cabinet.


Kitchens are all about innovation and should be all about fun too.  Here are some very innovative and very fun ideas for your next kitchen:


Spices underneath cooktop, pull-out pantry, and appliance shelf inside pantry

kitchen spice drawer  kitchen idea kitchen appliance counter in pantry


Flatware drawer and cutting board above trash bin

kitchen flatware drawer kitchen cutting board over trash bin


“Dead space” shelf for cookbooks and coffee station

kitchen cookbooks kitchen coffee station


Appliance garage and mini fridge for kids or often used items

kitchen appliance garage kitchen mini fridge


Some of my favorite kitchens:

kitchen11 kitchen7 kitchen1


That island!  Blue walls and oven!  Those formal chairs!   Subway tile!

Classy and Fab2 kitchen5


Exposed brick or dramatic beams.

kitchen4 kitchen3


Bon appetit!

kitchen kitchen6









Here Comes the Bride February 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:24 pm

Valentine sign


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  Today is all about love, right?  Right!


What girl doesn’t love a reason to celebrate love?  As luck would have it, I get to celebrate it two days in a row, as February 15 is my anniversary.  Yay me!


In honor of Valentine’s Day and of all brides, today I’m writing about…or mostly posting photos of…all things weddings.


Truth be told I could have easily simply included photos from my wedding day and been happy.  To this day, 29 years later, I am in love with my dress and would pick it all over again.  I also still love that my bouquet was long-stem Calla Lilies with a splash of red through a sole Anthurium, which complimented my wedding party’s red taffeta dresses.  In hindsight I might have worn some stunning red shoes.  It was Valentine’s weekend after all!  But, it’s not about me today; it’s about weddings!




I love weddings and have an entire Pinterest page to prove it.  I also DVR “Say Yes to the Dress” and am so excited for my nephew Michael’s wedding to his gal Vicki this May.  Can’t wait!


I originally planned on just including a few favorite wedding photos for today’s blog, photographs I’ve come across, caught my eye, and grabbed my heart, but I couldn’t stop there.  I just could not.  Did I mention I’m obsessed with weddings?!




So, here then are some of my favorite wedding photos, gowns, cakes, and a whole slew of fun tips and ideas.  (I’ve intentionally left out wedding party and mother-of-the-bride dresses because they could easily comprise a whole other blog!)  I know, I  know.  These ideas would cost a mint and more, but a girl can dream, right?   If you want more, check out my Pinterest board under Carla Smith.  I’m the one with a pearl necklace as my profile pic.







Some seriously awesome wedding day photos…

photo4  photo7  photo3

Wedding - fire by Josh Newton  Wedding-deer

photo8 XBride groom  photo   Wedding - tornado bride cross


Gorgeous veil photo and church doors photos:

photo of veil photo1   photo at church doors


Parents and newlyweds, kissing dad, and three generations:

photo2   Xbride kiss  XGenerations


photo dog Bridal hands mom      bride fireworks   Sooner wedding



Gorgeous Gowns…

Love these:

wow gown3 dress1dress11    dress10    dress8


Simple elegance:

dress7 dress dress6


A little bling and a whole lot of back:

dress2  dress5  dress4


This one has a detachable overskirt!

dress with detachable overskirt


A sweet way to cover up those shoulders:

dress topper


A stunning vintage Dior:

dress vintage dior


LOVE the back on this one and the pink embellishments on the second one:

dress lela rose dress with pink


If a ball gown is your dream:

dress lazaro   /Volumes/SESSION DISK/SM_D3/Output/D3_HighRez/.SM_D3_Shot 4_RSM1060B-097.tif  dress3


If I won the lottery, Carolina Herrera would by my dream designer.  Here are a few of hers I’m dying over:  (Love the gold and gold, didn’t see “Twilight” but Bella’s dress was a masterpiece, and not loving the feather but look at the detail in that dress!)

dress gold c herreradress twilight c herrera dress c herrera



Let’s not forget him… 


him3   him



I give you this ring…

ring with hubby birthstone     Add your hubby’s birthstone to your bands

ring with three bands  3 bands. A promise between God, you, and your husband. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 …

Tiffany setting  ring1  ring di   Three classics


  rings bible Tie rings to bible instead of pillow


Sweet photo ideas with rings:

Ring  love  L. Ridling Photography





Bouquets and Flowers…


Long-stem Calla Lilies and how perfect are those pearls?

bouquet long stem 124271270937853672_hfoo0oOY_b  bouquet pearls



Simple daisies and baby’s breath…or a stunning traditional bouquet:

bouquet1     bouquet    bouquet traditional



I’m a big fan of all greenery bouquets and I’m liking this berry and evergreen-accented “perfect for winter” bouquet:

bouquet2  bouquet green bouquet winter



Stunning table arrangement.  Look at the Calla Lilies inside the vase!




Cakes and Toppers…


First one is so elegant, second one so fun, and I love me some petit fours:

cake8 cake7  cake petit fours


I’m liking the idea of a monogrammed cake:

cake monogram  cake6



Uh-mazing Wedgewood and satin-inspired cakes.  Wow!

cake5    cake3  cake1


Can’t go wrong with quilting, pearls, and something for everyone:

cake   cake pearls   cake two


Fun toppers:

cake topper   cake2


Just for fun:





The classic and a cute “instead of til death to us part” idea:

vows    instead of til death



Guest book alternatives…

Guests’ fingerprints, Sharpies and wine bottles, river rocks to sign:

tip3 sharpies rocks



Every Cinderella needs the right shoes…

If it’s glitter, I’m all in:

gold  X20055160810721512_tljUmRwP_b Bling shoes



Carrie’s “something blue” Manolo’s…the best ever, a pop of color is always fun and these bows are adorable, and some Loub’s for the girl who has everything:

carrie  Yellow shoes    Louboutin



Simple and yet so pretty and some Kate Spade pearls for a beach wedding:

Proenza Schuller KSpade



And she needs the right jewelry…

Pearls and diamonds, that’s all:

necklace necklace



And finally, here are some great tips and ideas…


Take a photo of your young daughter in your wedding dress, plan ahead and take a “thank you” photo on your wedding day, fill “get-away” car with balloons that festively escape when the doors are opened, provide crayons and cards at the kids’ table and have them make cards for the bride and groom:

tip7 tip6    tip2  tip4


Provide hand-outs of who’s who in the wedding party and attach garter to football…no man ever drops a football!

    tip5   tip1


Wear a necklace with your new initials at reception and take “first kiss” photo with attendees in the background rather than priest or officiator:

fun1   photo first kiss


Have notecards with “5 things you should know about the bride and groom” to get conversations started, adorable coasters to have at tables, and take a wedding party photo using chalkboards that say how each one knows the bride:

tip get people talking  fun4   tip


Other ideas I love:

Have bridesmaids wear silver or gray dresses with “pop of color” shoes that match bouquets.

After the wedding, deliver wedding flowers to a nursing home.

Provide “dancing shoes” flip-flops at reception for guests.

Have maid-of-honor wear a brighter or bolder version of bridesmaids’ dresses.

On RSVPs, include a space for a song request.  Guests will love it when their song is played.

Put the petals of your bridal bouquet in a clear Christmas ornament ball.



Just for the fun of it…

Poms or sprinkles to walk out to:

poms  fun sprinkles great photos


A photo after my own heart and clever little matches:

XBride football fun


Photos of bride and groom at ages that correspond with reception table numbers and how cute is this ring bearer sign?

fun5       fun3


Two fun RSVP ideas:

fun2 fun rsvp



Gift ideas…

Every girl’s dream…pearls, Tiffany, and Cartier’s Love Bracelet:

gift3 gift2


Monogram menswear shirts for bridal party hair and make-up session:



From groom to bride after ceremony:




Adorable flower girls…

flower girls flower girl



And finally, some of my favorite brides ever…

Di and Maria from “Sound of Music”:

fave di  Maria


Kate, Carrie in her “label-less” dress, and Caroline Bisset with JFK, Jr:

kate faves carrie fave


The fact that Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Albert of Monaco’s bride Charlene both wore simple gowns speaks volumes about true class and style.  So in love with both of them and with Victoria’s crown of pearls and cameos:

fave swedish princess   fave crown  fave monaco



Give me some love…

X156148312049834581_80hZpZFw_b X526226_278285788938077_500159879_n  LOVE couch I love you



Super Sunday February 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:14 pm



It’s “Super Bowl Sunday” but you are clueless when it comes to football.  What to do, what to do?  I’m here to help!


Any of you who know me know I love football, particularly college football.  Today however is professional  football’s big day:  Super Bowl Sunday.  It’s the biggest sporting event of the year with more than 110 million people expected to watch the New England Patriots battle the Seattle Seahawks for the Vince Lombardi trophy.


I’m aware that many of you could care less about football but will nonetheless be watching the game at various watch parties and get togethers.  Here then is a “cheat sheet” for my friends who don’t know a first down from a first love.




Teams:  New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.  The Seahawks won last year’s Super Bowl, making them the first defending champs to return to the big game since 2000…when the Patriots did so.  The Patriots are battling not only Seahawk QB Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch, but also the rumor that won’t go away that they intentionally deflated balls in the AFC championship game, which they won and which put them in the Super Bowl.


Brady and Gisele

Known as “Deflategate,” Patriots QB Tom Brady (he of the model-like face and supermodel wife…see above photo) is hoping to silence the critics and the noises in his head and take home a coveted fourth Super Bowl ring.  Amazingly, Wilson hopes to do the same and become the youngest QB in history to win back-to-back Super Bowls since….Tom Brady!  This is going to be good.


When and Where:  Kick-off is at 5:30 p.m. CST but pre-game shenanigans will be on TV all day.  No worries about that dreaded second dumping of snow headed to much of the northeast, as the game will be played inside at room temperature in The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.


Why the letters after “Super Bowl?”  We’re talking XLIX, Roman Numerals for Super Bowl 49.  Not sure why, but it’s a tradition.  Just go with it.


Half-time:  Katy Perry is set to take the stage at half-time so be ready for some sugary pop, dancing girls, and an appearance by Lenny Kravtiz.  People will be talking about the show tomorrow at work so this is where you can feel a part of it all.


Ads:  Yep, they’re back and yet another thing people will be talking about.  The Super Bowl is probably the only televised show during which viewers actually watch the ads.  The spots are sure to be clever, thought-provoking, and maybe even a little controversial and they cost mega-bucks to run:  $4.5 million for 30 seconds to be exact.  That’s a lot of Doritos!


Pro football:  Basically “professional” football  run by the NFL, the National Football League.  These players make big bucks!




The game:  Here’s the real nitty-gritty.  Basically each team wants to make touchdowns, ie:  get the ball in the end zone.  Touchdowns earn six points and with the customary “extra point” kick after, an even seven is the result.


You’ll hear lots of “first down,” “fourth down,” etc., talk, which can be summarized in lay-men’s terms as this:  each team gets three chances to go 10 yards (three “downs”), if they don’t, they have “fourth down.”  They can try to get the 10 or less yards on fourth down but if they don’t the opposing team gets the ball where it is on the field.  Most teams will “punt” on fourth down unless they only need a few yards or the game is on the line.


Punts vs. Kicks:  the only time a team “kicks” the ball is after a score or to begin each half.  This is when the team lines up dance team style in a long line.  Any other time a player’s foot hits the ball, it’s a punt.


There are also field goals, which is when a player’s team kicks the ball through the uprights (those big yellow posts in the end zone).  They do this when they were unable to score a touchdown and they are in “field goal range.”  A field goal is worth three points.


That’s all on “offense,” when the team has possession of the ball.  On “defense,” the team is essentially “defending” their end zone and trying to stop the other team from getting in it through those first downs and scoring.  They say defenses win championships so “stops,” “loss of yardage,” “incomplete pass,” and “sack” are what you want to hear when your team is playing defense.


So….basically you want your team to make touchdowns or field goals, get first downs, and never have to punt the ball!


This is always a festive but somewhat sad day for me, as I know it’s the last football game of the year until next fall.  I don’t have a “dog in the hunt” today so I’m basically just hoping for a good, competitive game.  If I had to choose, I’d say “Go Hawks” as I count down the days til next year.  Until then, here’s one more photo of Tom Brady to get us through the baseball and golf season.