Beyond Words

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

Springing for Easter Traditions March 26, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:40 pm

Easter Sunday is two weeks away and everywhere you look it’s all things Easter so I thought I’d share with you some fun tidbits on a few of the more popular things we think of when we think of Easter. From the Easter Bunny to Jelly Beans and more, have fun learning and sharing the stories behind each of them.



Let’s hop right to it with the beloved Easter rabbit, AKA the Easter Bunny. Much like Santa Claus and Christmas, rabbits have nothing to do with the real meaning of Easter, Jesus’ resurrection, but like other Easter favorites they do represent “new life,” which is what Easter is really all about.


Easter always occurs in spring and spring is when the weather gets warmer, flowers start to bloom, and animals come out of hiding after a long winter of hibernation. Lots of other animals like rabbits are born in the spring, which again brings up “new life.”



Susie Davis

So, what about Easter eggs? Well, lots of animals like birds and lizards are born from eggs and many of them are born in the spring reminding us of new life once again. And if you think about it, Jelly Beans (one of my favorite candies) are oval-shaped just like eggs so it’s no coincidence they are an Easter basket tradition. Peeps are also a favorite Easter treat and are shaped like baby birds I, however, am not a Peeps fan although they are kinda cute.



As I just mentioned, Jelly Beans are one of my favorite candies and another Easter custom is also a favorite of mine: the Easter Lily. In fact, it’s in my top three favorite flowers right up there with daisies and tulips. Every year I buy myself one and even a grocery store variety is sufficient in that any lily smells divine and fills a room with its own heaven-sent scent. I can smell their fragrance just looking at the picture above. But why do we only enjoy them at Easter?


Traditionally, the trumpet-shaped white blooms symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope, and life…the very spiritual essences of Easter. They’re mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and are referenced several times in the Song of Solomon as well as in the Sermon on the Mount. Their religious tie-in goes even further.


Often called “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were said to be found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in His final hours. Today churches commemorate this belief by filling altars and aisles with Easter Lilies. They embody joy and life and serve as beautiful reminders that Easter is truly a time of rejoicing and celebrating.



Easter Lilies can fill a room with their sweet aroma as can some of the traditional foods we eat at Easter. Like ham. But how exactly did it get to be the meat of choice at our Easter tables? It all goes back many, many years ago when hogs were slaughtered in the fall but due to lack of electric refrigeration; any meat that wasn’t eaten fresh in the cold months was cured so it would keep longer and be edible in the spring. It just so happened that, because curing takes a while, the first hams were ready right around Easter. Thankfully today we have the finest of refrigeration so hams of all sorts can be found year ‘round. Still, whether honey-baked or smoked, chances are ham will be on many an Easter table.



Lastly, one of my favorite Easter legends. I’m not sure how I never knew the story until fairly recently, especially since I grew up in the Rocky Mountains where there are many pine trees, but it was news to me when I came upon it. And I loved it.



Apparently this time of year pine trees start their new growth. The tallest branch shoots forth and upward and forms the shape of a cross. If you look up and look around at certain pine trees you might see shoots developing making a familiar shape. The yellow shoots first form vertically followed by side buds, which eventually form branches and new growths that resemble a cross. They start slow and small, but as the days get closer to Easter, the tallest shoots branch off and form the familiar Christian symbol leading some believers to say “even trees know it’s Easter!”


The crosses are more prominent and more readily seen on Loblolly Pines in the southern U.S. and on Ponderosa Pines in the west but can also be found on a variety of other pines as well. The fact that this happens around the Easter season is likely pure coincidence, but who doesn’t love a little lore?



So there you have it, all things Easter wrapped up nicely in a virtual basket of info. I hope you learned something, liked it, and have an Easter season filled with hope, love, and lots of Jelly Beans!




Is It Your Lucky Day? March 17, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:00 am

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! We are all a wee bit Irish today and I’m guessing you are wearing green as you read this as we all honor the land of leprechauns, fabulous golf, U2, step dancing, Guinness, shamrocks, green beer, Irish coffee, and St. Patrick. But who was the saint named Patrick and why do we celebrate him in such a big way?



Forever tied to Ireland, Patrick wasn’t born on the Emerald Isle but in Britain. When he was 16 young Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him to Ireland and sold him as a salve. He spent many years there herding sheep and turning to God in prayer. He escaped when he was 22 and made his way back to England where he spent 12 years in a monastery. Legend has it that he had a dream in which the people of Ireland were calling him back. The dream is said to have been the voice of God encouraging him to spread Christianity across Ireland and convert the pagans. Patrick returned to Ireland and began preaching the gospel, building churches, and converting many. Born of wealth, Patrick lived in poverty and suffered greatly until he died on March 17, 461. He is said to be buried in Down Cathedral in the County of Down in Ireland and ironically, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the day he died, not on his birthday.




My favorite part of the St. Patrick story is that he used the shamrock as a way to teach the Holy Trinity. The simple green plant grows abundantly in Ireland so he cleverly used it to explain the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His idea was so convincing that even pagan rulers converted to Christianity and to this day the sprout is often called the Catholic rose.



The shamrock has three leaves and is considered a clover plant but what is the difference between it and the four-leaf clover? The latter is the result of a mutation in the clover plant that causes it to sprout four leaves instead of the normal three. These four-leaf wonders are very rare and is why they are considered a universal symbol of good luck.



Patrick loved incorporating other traditional rituals in his lessons for both simplicity and proof. Because fire was sacred to the Irish, Patrick superimposed a sun onto a Christian cross. Today this cross, called a Celtic cross, is one of Christianity’s most popular.



Another cross, St. Patrick’s Cross of Ireland, also makes up part of the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. When you look at the flag, you can see it is actually made up of three different crosses:  St. George’s red Cross of England, St. Andrew’s white Cross of Scotland, and St. Patrick’s red one. And to be clear, the UK is considered all of Great Britain – England, Scotland, and Wales – with the addition of Northern Ireland. Ireland is considered its own republic.


Funny thing is, as much as a celebration and party St. Patrick’s Day is today, from 1903-1970 it was considered a religious holiday according to Irish law, which required pubs remain closed for the day. Squeal! The law was reclassified as a national holiday in 1970, paving the way for the opening of drinking establishment doors and green beer. In the Diocese of Ireland however, it is still considered a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning Catholics are obligated to attend mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament.



Stateside, it all started as a political holiday when American Irish immigrants organized themselves and commemorated St. Patrick with annual parades and festivities to demonstrate their political and social might. Ironically, there are more Irish in the U.S. than in Ireland! There are an estimated 34 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry but the population of Ireland is only 4.2 million.


Also, in the U.S. this year, due to the fact that St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday and a Friday during Lent, many Catholic dioceses have granted dispensation from the obligation to abstain from eating meet. I for one will abstain anyway, but good to know just in case!




St. Patrick today, along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures and his prayers can be found among all walks of life. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and the Fifth Avenue Neo-Gothic icon ranks right up there with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. And, in case you’re wondering, St. Patrick isn’t only revered by Catholics. He is honored with a feast day in the Episcopal Church and is also venerated by the Orthodox Church.



Parades and festivals will happen in many places today, but perhaps the ones in New York, Boston, and Chicago rank highest. Surprisingly, St. Patrick’s Day is also a big event in Dallas. As with everything in Texas, it is done in a very big way in Big D! In Chicago, the Chicago River is colored green and green beer and whiskey flow abundantly throughout the city. And it’s WHISKEY, not WHISKY. Irish spell the scotch with an added “e,” while their Scottish neighbors omit the extra vowel. American-made whiskeys also add the “e.”



Lastly, the color green. It’ll be everywhere you look today and be ready to get pinched if you’re not wearing it. It’s definitely tied to St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, but it’s also tied to jealousy. “Green with envy” is a common saying but my lads, it’s nothing to celebrate. Today and every day, let’s take a cue from St. Patrick and be giving not envious. It’s a trait that will make all eyes smile, not just those Irish ones.


Envy can cause major problems and even wars. It can make us physically ill and it wreaks havoc in relationships and yet most of us struggle with envy at one time or another and I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m sure you are too. The strain it puts on us brings out the worst in us. Living in a state of “green with envy” leads to saying mean things to others, thinking malicious things about others, and maybe even acting out negatively toward others. In a word, it’s bad and ultimately makes us feel blue.



So, how can we, in today’s “bigger and better” world, avoid that pukey shade of green with envy? One way is, when you feel envy rearing its ugly head, sit back and honestly ask yourself, “What am I jealous of?” “Who am I jealous of?” “How do I compare myself to others?” “Why do I do compare?” Also, keep in mind that those people in the gated mansions have problems and struggles just like the rest of us…they just deal with them surrounded by luxury.


At the same time, think of ways you can be like those you are jealous of. That friend who has the perfect body? She likely works out and eats right. Get off the couch, put down the ice cream, and just do it. Those material things you think you need so bad? Maybe they were earned by hard work and saving money. Still, there are some ways you just won’t have what they have, be it wealth or health, but keep in mind there are people out there praying for what you do have and what you maybe aren’t appreciating.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day and the luck of the Irish to you!



The Red Carpet That Wasn’t March 13, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:17 pm

Welcome to a recap of the Red Carpet that wasn’t. Yep. The 95th Academy Awards red carpet was actually champagne. More on that in a bit.


Truth be told I didn’t watch the Oscars, don’t know who most of the nominees were, and haven’t heard of or seen most of the movies nominated. I did see “Top Gun,” “Elvis,” “Father Stu,” and “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” the latter of which wins all of my awards as I adored it, but that’s about it unless the BTS concert movie counts, which I also “attended.”


I use to love going to the movies, but when those who pretend for a living and get paid millions for doing so decided they were smarter than me and half the country, I said buh-bye to all things Hollywood. Hollyweird. But, a girl loves a pretty dress so I’m here to peruse what I’ve seen online so this suburbia girl is putting her pretend fashion guru hat on and giving her take on best and worst dressed.  Let’s go.




My award for “Best Dressed” is shared by two: Angela Bassett in Moschino and Cara Delevingne in Elie Saab. Both ladies festooned their dresses with jewelry by Bulgari and both brought old Hollywood glam to the red…er beige carpet. I loved the bold colors, elegant draping, and the fact that model Delevingne showed Hollywood how it’s done. Sidenote: what Bassett isn’t winning any awards for was her caught-on-camera reaction to hearing Jamie Lee Curtis beat her and others for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. No one knows what she was thinking, but the clips I’ve seen are not a good look for her.



Next up for me: Cate Blanchett in Louis Vuitton. It probably didn’t hurt that instead of watching the Oscar’s, I watched Cate’s film from several years ago that I just discovered, “Where’d You Go Bernadette” and absolutely loved it! What a great movie! I also loved that for the Oscars, Cate remained her original self and chose something we could all almost see ourselves wearing in a more average Joe manner.




Emily Blunt was the picture of perfection and subtle yet stunning style in white Valentino. I absolutely adored this whole look and those earrings! They don’t show up like much in photos but as she walked, they were uh-mazing Chopard statements that added the perfect amount of glam to her otherwise polished look.





Also lovely in white were Michelle Williams, who always looks chic; Sofia Carson, who I don’t know but know she picked a winner here; and Best Actress award winner Michelle Yeoh. Let’s start with Williams. Again, she always seems to win the red carpet and last night’s choice of Chanel Couture was yet another triumph. It could almost be a wedding gown or the inspiration for one! Then there were Carson’s Cinderella-like gown by Giambattista Valli Haute Couture and that Chopard piece of art around her neck. Perfection. Last but certainly not least was Michelle Yeoh. How classy is she? Her Dior Couture feathery gown was ethereal and I love that this woman who is certainly not past her prime still chose a sheer neckline rather than going totally strapless. Class. I guess couture wins this round!




Next up the opposite of white: black. I have several winners here but no one did it better than Chloe East in her stunning Monique Lhuillier and equally stunning Fred Leighton necklace. If I could wear any of the gowns mentioned in this blog to the Oscars or to any gala, it would be Chloe’s.



I also liked Vanessa Hudgen’s minimalist vintage Chanel column gown but would have liked it just a tad longer. I guess when you are offered vintage Chanel you go with the length they bring you. Oui oui!



Deepika Padukone was equally glam and stunning in an Audrey Hepburn-esque Louis Vuitton masterpiece complete with opera gloves. And will you look at that necklace?! One giant diamond was this girl’s best friend last night. Check. Mate.



Zuri Hall also donned opera gloves and her old-school meets edgy Tarik Ediz stunner checked all the boxes. I thought her hair and makeup were picture perfect too.



I’m including Julia Louis-Dreyfus here not because I loved her Lanvin gown (I do like it though) but because it fits the black theme and because she smiled for photos! What a rarity and what a shame that more of these glamazons never look happy in their enormously expensive gowns. Thank you Julia, and thank you for bringing your son as your date.




Adding some color the camel carpet (let’s see how many ways I can describe the “champagne” carpet just for fun!) were Kerry Condon, Ruth E. Carter, and Drew Afualo who brightened things up with shades of yellow. Condon’s single strap pleated mellow yellow gown with a flowing train was both whimsical and lovely. I thought Carter’s bright yellow gown with bright pink train lining and matching shoes was festive and fun and can see why she won Best Costume Designer. Influencer (ugh how I hate to write that but I did like her gown) Afualo matched Carter somewhat in shades of yellow and I not only loved her dress but loved the bow detail. In my quick search of who designed these three lovely ladies’ lovely gowns I came up empty so my apologies to whoever designed them.



Hollywood icon Sharon Stone wasn’t on the actual telecast khaki carpet, but she did turn heads at the post-awards Vanity Fair party in this stunning yellow caped dress with floral embroidery. I loved it so much I had to include it here. Some just know how to rule a carpet.





Also adding a color punch were nominated Makeup Artist Linda Eisenhamerova and Producer Victoria Alonso whose hot pink what looks like a satin gown I would wear and whose cobalt blue beauty with a sheer cape was perfect for the occasion and perfect for her. I also swooned over Eisenhamerova’s gold pumps and matching clutch. Nicely done ladies.




Subtle trains on otherwise subtle dresses also caught my eye, including Jessica Chastain’s silver sequins Gucci with black-embellished plunging neckline and black velvet lined train and Hong Chau’s oh-so-pretty-in-pink sleeveless Prada column with a fun feathery black train. I also surprisingly loved Chastain’s matchy-matchy necklace and thought her hair and makeup were flawless.




Speaking of glitter, and if you know me you know I love the stuff, I feel obliged to include Sigourney Weaver here in her gold Givenchy. I thought it was fun yet age-appropriate (can I still say that these days?).




Okay…now for the men. They were, for the most part, either very classic (which I love) or very “push the envelope” (which I don’t) so I’m going with just three: Samuel L. Jackson in Georgio Armani, Austin Butler in Saint Laurent, and Michael B. Jordan in Louis Vuitton.



Couples didn’t seem to be as big a thing this year but I always love what Willow Bay choses and she and spouse Bob Igor were once again smart and stylish. And talk about real smart and real stylish; Penn and NYU graduate Willow is yes, a former model, but also a former television journalist, editor, and author who in 2017 became dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Igor definitely out-kicked his coverage on this one.


I will say I didn’t looove Jamie Lee Curtis’ dress…something about the corseted tubing in the middle. Thinking I would have loved it way more without that embellishment but I did love how it played off her aging gracefully hair.


And now for the “What Were You Thinking?” awards. I can’t really pick a “worst dressed” but these are all in contention.



No words here. Too long. Too low cut. Too much. Sorry Zuhair Murad; on someone else maybe. On petite Eva Longoria. Not so much.



Yawn. For a beautiful woman whose husband is president and CEO of one of the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerates, Salma Hayek’s taste and choice of fashion forever baffles me. Including orangey-red, sequined, tasseled Gucci. Of all the choices she must have had she went with this. Hmmm…



I get it. The concept was maybe good but the execution was not. Again, just too much. I’m no designer but I’m thinking maybe get rid of the black fabric draping below Elizabeth Banks’ waist and just go with a white lower half, black bodice, and black train. Just a thought. Thought her hair and makeup were good though. Very Sharon Stone-ish.



No idea who Florence Pugh is but I’ve seen this pic everywhere today. Again, I get it; you’re young and wanting to do something different for the Oscars. Black biker shorts with seemingly endless Valentino white draping maybe pushed it too far though. It seems to have worked publicity-wise but that’s not always a good thing.




I’m all for sparkly, but this Louis Vuitton Kate Hudson said yes to was a no even for me. She said yes to this dress??? I don’t even know where to start. The sleeves? The fabric? The fit? The all of the above?




Pretty Kimberly Williams was not so pretty in this ‘80s prom-like pink voluminous gown. Giving some grace here as the dress that the pink cape covered was okay…except for the feathers that lined the hem…so maybe there’s hope. She’s such a pretty girl.



Very disappointed in Halle Berry in this Tamara Ralph choice as she’s often one of my faves. Maybe I’d like it more without the obnoxiously high slit. Maybe I’d like it more if she went tasteful not trendy. Less is more but I would have liked to have seen more elegance and less “look at me, look at me.” Not a fan of her hair either.



Don’t know who Jessie Buckley is but no. Just no.



And now for the question everyone seemed to be asking, “what happened to the red carpet?” Your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you; the carpet all of the above strolled down was not red, it was champagne. Yep, for the first time since 1961 the famous red carpet was anything but and it was also covered this year. The sienna-colored tent and neutral carpet were said to be chosen to convey “watching the sunset on a white-sand beach at the golden hour with a glass of champagne in hand, evoking calm and peacefulness” according to one of the event’s creative consultants.


You can’t make this stuff up. Only in Hollywood. Now back to reality.












I’ll Be Back March 5, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:14 pm

We all know, or should know, proper etiquette regarding napkins at a table. In brief, they are either folder under the knife and spoon to the left of a plate or creatively folded on top of the plate. Once seated, you are to immediately take the napkin and place it on your lap and it should stay on your lap for the entire meal. When done eating or if you need to get up during the meal, you’re to neatly fold it and place it either on the empty plate or next to it. So that’s etiquette, but have you heard the biblical folded napkin story?



According to Hebrew tradition during the time of Christ’s life and death, a folded napkin had everything to do with a master and a servant. Every Jewish servant boy knew that when he set a table for the master, he made sure it was exactly the way the master wanted it. Nothing new here, right? Yes, the table was properly set and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, for the master to finish the meal. The servant would not dare touch the table until the master was done. Here’s where the napkin comes into play.


If the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers and mouth, and then wad up the napkin and throw it on the table. This was the servant’s sign to clear the table as a wadded up napkin signified “I’m done.” If, however, the master got up from the table and laid a folded up napkin beside his plate, it mean “I’m coming back” and the servant was not to touch the setting.


I’m coming back.


Hmmmm…any guess how this is biblically related now?



Think about it. The Gospel tells us that the clothes Jesus was wearing at death were thrown aside but a cloth was neatly placed over His head. When Simon Peter entered the tomb, he noticed the wrapping lying about but that the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and laying neatly on the side.


I’m coming back.


Powerful, right? The power and meaning of a meal in Jesus’ life is equally significant.




Okay, so it probably wasn’t a meal that included a yummy cinnamon roll, but it did entail feeding a hungry soul. All along.



What immediately comes to mind is likely the Last Supper, but it started way prior. The Passover meal was historically important as Israelites shared a meal to remember both the bitterness of their slavery and the sweetness of their liberation. From the very beginning, it could be said that Jesus’ own life and ministry was food and/or meal-centered. At birth He proved food for a hungry world and is the Bread of Life. His ministry often involved meals or food, including His first miracle in which He turned water in wine at Cana and many of His preaching and teaching involved bread and fish. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims as part of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who hunger for justice for they will be filled.” What’s glorious about Jesus’ meals is that everyone was invited.



Perhaps it should come as no surprise that traits that enable us to live a moral life are listed as “Fruits of the Holy Spirit” (Gal 5:19-22). I’m not talking apples and oranges, I’m talking Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.  These seeds are planted in us to help us maintain good habits and virtues and are the opposite of what are called the “Bitter Fruits.” Yeah, they make us bitter and even worse, as they consist of traits such as immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, and carousing.


As we sit down for meals this Lent and as we anticipate Easter, let’s imagine for a minute a table full of those we’ve wronged, not forgiven, judged, or even deceived. Not very appetizing, is it? Yet, that’s the type of table Jesus, the Master of all masters set so even if we don’t actually do it, set that table in your mind and envision it. Then, let’s all be grateful for the food on our plates and for even the napkins on our lap. No masters or servants needed to know and believe “I’m coming back.”