Beyond Words

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

A Wedding Fit For A Duchess May 20, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:45 pm

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I’m sitting here on a rainy day feeling totally rested after a long night. No, I wasn’t out dancing the night away; I was up all night in anticipation of…wait for it…The Royal Wedding! Yes, I’m that crazy. Some longtime girlfriends and I had a sleepover Friday night complete with crowns, Union Jacks, tea and scones, and Elderflower. We knew full well we’d have to get up bright and early to watch American Meghan Markle become an official member of Britain’s royal family as she married Prince Harry so we dutifully set our alarms for 4 a.m. because we wanted to watch it all live. Me? I didn’t sleep a wink, choosing instead to catch up with and visit the night away with one of the fellow crazy ladies.

 

But enough about me, let’s get on with the wedding!

 

Dress

The Dress

First things first: the dress. In a word: perfection. I loved it. I loved its simplicity, its elegance, and its tailoring. It’s almost as though each of the subsequent royal brides have tapered their gowns more and more. It all started (in my mind at least) with young Diana Spencer’s ginormous “all about the ‘80s” voluminous gown. As much as I hate to say it, I didn’t personally love it, but I do love all it stood for and that Di chose then somewhat unknown designers to create it. It was fairy tale and it was a gown only a princess could wear. Then came Kate Middleton and her lovely lace Alexander McQueen gown. So pretty. So feminine. So romantic. Fast forward to yesterday and we have Markle’s very leek boatneck gown by Claire Waight Keller for the House of Givenchy. The gown was stunning in its simplicity. It was constructed from double-bonded silk with a matte finish that added just a bit of flash to its otherwise low-key silhouette.

 

 

Entrance good

Some reviews have come in saying it was too plain and even me, a “Say Yes to the Dress” devoted watcher, thought for just a hot minute, “maybe it could use a rhinestone belt or a strand of pearls.” But then I thought “NO!” It was flawless as is. I also thought back to the time when a young Carla was shopping for wedding dresses with her mom. I tried on dress after dress that incorporated lace, sequins, pearls, every kind of adornment and volume you could find. Nothing clicked though so I asked the attendant if she had any dresses that were sparkle and shine free. She looked at me funny and said there was one but she didn’t think I would like it. I tried it on, fell in love, and would choose it again today. Much like Meghan’s, it was simple and adornment free.

 

What mine didn’t have was Meghan’s gorgeous and oh-so-long veil along with a royal tiara….Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara to be exact. Even though I was hoping she’d wear the Spencer tiara I loved it all and say “Bravo Meghan!”

 

Meghan-Markle-hair

Commentary has also poured in about Meghan’s hair. She had a piece up top that kept falling and the back could have maybe used a few more bobby pins, but it all made her just a little bit real. Lastly, I’ve heard she could have used a bit more lip color. I loved her natural freckled face and full lips. She’s a natural stunner so why cover it all up?

 

 

 

Smile

The Groom

Who doesn’t love Prince Harry? Even before Prince William lost his hair, Harry was always considered the “hot” one by my daughter. I didn’t see it right away, but I certainly did as the years passed. He is most definitely his mother’s son and he looked so happy and in love at the wedding. I loved watching him and Wills arrive together in their military best and seeing him gaze adoringly at his lovely bride. When he told Meghan “You look amazing” as she joined him at the altar, hearts broke near and far. He is smitten and love looks good on him and so does a wedding band, which he is choosing to wear; another break from tradition.

 

 

Stairs1

The Ceremony

Nearly 2 billion people are said to have watched the event and how glorious was the weather and the bride and groom’s choice of tons of natural flowers adorning the chapel? Meghan continued to break tradition in that she entered the church alone, attended only by two young boys carrying her veil train. It was magical and brave at the same time. About halfway up the aisle, Harry’s dad Prince Charles joined her and presented her to his son. I’m not a Prince Charles fan, but it was moving.

 

Aisle

The wedding was also  a bit untraditional in that it took place at Windsor Castle. Even though Windsor is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, most royal weddings and affairs take place at either Saint Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, both in London. I kinda like that they chose the small and quaint streets of Windsor to greet the crowds in the historic open aired Ascot Landau carriage. Say what you will, but no one does it like the Brits. No one.

 

No review can be done without mentioning Bishop Michael Bruce Curry’s sermon about love that mentioned, among other things, slavery and Martin Luther King, Jr. I was skeptical about it while watching it as shot after shot of uncomfortable Brits in the audience either squirmed or laughed, but in watching it again later, it was actually a great little message. Maybe a bit too long and long on posturing, but the intent was good. Still, the reaction of Harry’s cousin Zara Phillips is sure to go down in meme history. Then there was the gospel choir singing “Stand By Me.” Beautifully done but non-traditional for sure.

 

 

With mom

Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland, is also trending, partly because she was the only family member invited to the wedding and partly because of her nose ring. To be sure, it was a simple diamond stud on her right nostril, but something probably never seen on an MOTB at a royal wedding. I thought she looked gorgeous albeit lonely as she sat in the wedding of her only child alone, but beautiful.

 

Mom watches

I really, really liked her pistachio green Oscar de la Renta coat and dress and couldn’t help but think about all that was going on in her head as she rode in a royal carriage with her daughter and watched as she married a real life prince.  A multitude of memories surely filled her proud and grateful heart and warms mine.

 

The part I enjoyed most about the ceremony was just watching Meghan and Harry. The two are clearly in love and are soul mates. I read something that said “find a girl or guy who looks at you the way Meghan and Harry do.” Amen.

 

Exit

And speaking of amen, how cool was it that “This Little Light of Mine” and its celebratory “amens” was played outside as the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex exited the chapel?

 

Lastly, the ties to Di cannot go unnoticed. Much has been written that two of the diamond’s in Meghan’s ring were formerly Diana’s, but did you know her bouquet contained Forget-Me-Knots, which were Princess Di’s favorite? In addition, rumors have swirled that the empty chair next to William in the chapel was “for” his and Harry’s momma, Di’s sister Lady Jane Fellowes did one of the readings, the Welsh hymm “Guide Me O Thy Great Redeemer” was also sung at Diana’s funeral, and the aquamarine ring Meghan wore later in the evening was a gift from Harry and was his mom’s. I die.

 

 

The Guests and The Fashion

Another somewhat break in tradition, the ceremony wasn’t an official state affair and was attended “only” by an intimate (on royal scale) 600 guests, including 30 royals and heads and no true heads of state per se. Instead, guests included many of Meghan’s “Suits” costars and other commoners. Common or not, the fashion was not. Here is my recap:

Amal

Amal Clooney

Hands down the best dressed guest. Her marigold yellow Stella McCartney sheath with cap sleeves and a to die for small train was the best of the best, as was the matching netted hat and neutral pumps. My friends and I swooned and never wavered that she won the day.

 

Dame Major good

Dame Norma Major

The wife of former British Prime Minister John Major, Dame Norma lived up to her title in a pale yellow suit that was tailored to perfection and age appropriate. She looked elegant and relaxed and proved you don’t have to go overboard to look good.

 

Karen Spencer

Karen Spencer

Call me crazy but I liked Countess Spencer’s custom Pamella Rowland violet caplet dress and matching fascinator. The wife of Diana’s brother Charles, the countess was every bit royal and stunning and his tie matched her dress!

 

Lady Kitty Spencer

Lady Kitty Spencer

Diana’s niece through her brother and close cousin of Harry, the Dolce and Gabbana model did them proud in a green and floral dress and fascinator with matching shoes and bag. She is stunning!

 

Fergie

Sarah Ferguson

Not only was I so happy to see Fergie on the invite list (she’ll forever be a favorite of mine), I thought she looked great. She’s always had some of the best legs in London, and she didn’t disappoint in a navy dress and matching jacket with white piping by Emma Louise Design. She flawlessly accessorized her look with a matching pillbox hat with embellished navy netting.

 

Sarah Rafferty

Sarah Rafferty

I had never heard of Rafferty, but apparently she is an actress and friend of the bride and she looked amazing in a navy dress with on-trend bell and embellished sleeves and matching fascinator.

 

Jessica-Mulroney

Jessica Mulroney

I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Mulroney either but I certainly am now. Her royal blue custom tea-length fit and flare with cap sleeves by Di Carlo Couture was stand-out chic and I love that she kept her shoes neutral. She is one of Meghan’s BFFs and her twin boys carried her veil train.

 

Kate

Kate Middleton

What doesn’t the Duchess of Cambridge wear that I don’t love? She stunned in a prim and proper primrose yellow wool silk tailored Alexander McQueen (who also designed her wedding dress) coat and dress along with a perfect Philip Treacy hat and her signature pumps, this time courtesy Jimmy Choo. How cute was Princess Charlotte too?

 

Sophie

Sophie, Countess of Wessex

I’ve always liked Sophie, wife of Harry’s uncle Prince Edward. She’s very low key, doesn’t get a lot of press, but she killed it in a periwinkle blue ankle-dusting skirt and matching beaded top by Suzannah with a coordinated Jane Taylor feathery fascinator.

 

Queen

The Queen

Never too shy to wear a little color, Queen Elizabeth looked fabulous in a lime-colored silk tweed coat and floral dress by Stewart Parvin. I loved it the instant I saw it and loved the pop of purple in her Angela Kelly hat. Fun fact: the Queen often chooses bright and stand out colors because she wants people (who often stand 10 deep) to be able to see her in a crowd.

 

And now, the biggest disappointment of the day: Pippa Middleton. Ugh.

 

Pippa and can

Remember how Kate’s sister stole the show at her wedding to Prince William? Well, she’s trending again, but not in a good way. In a true “what was she thinking” moment, Pippa was one of the first televised to arrive and upon seeing her mint green and floral dress, one of my girlfriends immediately dubbed it an “Old Navy dress.” Don’t get me wrong, I love Old Navy, but for a royal wedding?  NO way!

 

We weren’t alone in our disappointment, as the internet has exploded and is comparing her dress to a can of Arizona green tea. Never a good thing to be compared to a can of anything but what great publicity for the tea!

 

Honorable mentions: I thought Serena Williams looked good but hated her necklace; Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice stepped up their game and also looked good, especially Eugenie and her Jackie O vibe; I liked Oprah’s pale pink Stella McCartney dress and her shoe choice but thought her hat was too big but hats off to her for making a last minute fashion change because she thought her first choice was too white; and Victoria Beckham stayed true to her frozen B face and unmemorable dress.

 

After

Meghan Markle’s wedding dress will undoubtedly remain memorable for years to come, as will the stunning high neck halter top white dress by Stella McCartney she wore as she and Harry departed a post-wedding reception. And how handsome does he look in a “simple” tux?!

 

Carriage

It’s no secret that Meghan Markle is breaking British royalty barriers, being not only American but also older than Harry, divorced, and biracial. If the wedding proved anything though, it’s that true love is a powerful thing and is what really matters. As the choir sang, “I won’t be afraid, just as long as you stand by me.” Here’s hoping love stands the test of time for Harry and Meghan and that he stands by her and she by him.

 

 

 

 

 

Royally American May 15, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:57 am

 

 

 

Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with British royalty…particularly Princess Diana. My daughter of course knows this and said she loves me more than I love Princess Di on her Mother’s Day social media post. My friend Shirley knows this; she sent me a Meghan and Harry tea cup for my birthday. Considering this, you can imagine how excited I am about this Saturday’s Royal Wedding. So excited, that some girlfriends and I are having a sleepover Friday night and waking up bright and early to watch the festivities live in our jammies with jam and scones.

 

Quick backstory. One of the ladies and I have a sad royal connection. I was at her house the night Diana died in that tragic car crash in Paris. I will never, ever forget where I was and as fate would have it, she’s hosting the slumber party. We’ve all known each other for more years than I care to say and have all written for a living at one time or another, so one of them shared a funny video of British talk show hosts making fun of American English.

 

It’s All Rubbish…or Garbage?

Jokes were on us as they made fun of Americans complicating English, claiming we have changed it to help us “understand it better.” They also teased us for needing a bit more explanation than Brits do. We’ve made a simple “bin” a “waste paper basket,” “horse riding” “horseback riding,” “squash” “racquet ball,” and “glasses” “eye glasses.” Funny blokes, right?

 

There’s an old saying that America and Britain are two great countries divided by a common language and if you ask a Brit’s opinion, they’ll likely say “You don’t speak English, you speak American.” Off with their heads!

 

 

But, with American Meghan Marckle marrying Prince Harry this Saturday, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at the two countries and their versions of the same language. First though, can we just talk about a British accent?

 

I die. I die to hear someone speak with a British accent. They could tell me to F off and I’d probably say “thank you.” It is so proper. So pure. So aristocratic and Downton Abbeyish. I love how they say “nay-buh” not neigh-brrrr and “gare-raj” not “guh-raj.” On the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Lisa Vanderpump can say the exact same thing in her British accent that American Lisa Rinna says but it will feel oh-so different.

 

UK or GB?

Let’s first get something else out of the way: the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. In short, England is a country, this we know. Great Britain consists of the countries England, Scotland, and Wales and is merely a geographical term regarding the land mass those three encompass.

 

The United Kingdom is what we Americans might call the “big dog” and its full name is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It consists of all of Great Britain plus Northern Ireland and it is a sovereign state represented by one central government. The four are considered separate in the minds of locals and sporting events, but all powers come from the UK. It’s kinda like the 50 states being separate states but “ruled” by a nation of laws. They all have their own flags, and did you know Britain’s “Union Jack” combines aspects of all three? It consists of the red cross of England’s Saint George, the white saltire diagonal cross of Scotland’s Saint Andrew, and the red saltire of Ireland’s beloved Saint Patrick.

 

To be sure and as is the case in the U.S., there are many different English accents in the U.K. Comparing an Irish accent to a Scottish accent is like comparing a Boston accent with a Bama one and even parts of London speak differently. When in doubt, revisit “My Fair Lady.”

 

As for the people, anyone from the UK can call themselves British, although Scots prefer Scottish and those from Wales prefer Welsh. It gets a little more complicated in Northern Ireland where Protestants often consider themselves British but most Catholics consider themselves Irish.

 

As for the law of the land and where the Royal Family comes into play, the UK is a monarchy and its Monarch and Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II. Since the monarchy is constitutional, the Queen is limited to non-partisan functions but she does appoint the Prime Minister, is Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, and is the Head of the Church of England. (The Church of England is the state church of England. A schism with the Papacy occurred in 1534 when Henry VIII was denied an annulment and he declared himself the supreme head of the Church of England.)

 

English Speakers

Okay, back to English. How did our two countries get in this “he said, she said” battle between the language we both speak? Well, let’s give credit where credit is due and tip our bowlers to the Brits as they were speaking English long before “new” England and the rest of the U.S. was even around.

 

Let’s start first with vocabulary. We both use the same word for many things, but in England “toilet” is “loo,” you “queue up” not stand in line, an elevator is a “lift,” you live in a “flat” not an apartment, you go on “holiday” not a vacation, and you “flick” channels not change them on a TV. Heard of fish and chips? Well, those chips aren’t really the “chips” Americans think of but rather French fries. Funny thing is that Brits traditionally call all vacuums “Hoovers,” which is an American company. I guess you could say we’re both a little crazy…or looney.

 

Then there’s that little thing where a Brit says they’re going to university or hospital, not THE university or THE hospital. They also spell things differently, but for that, we have someone named Webster to thank.

 

Spellcheck It

Noah Webster was an American lexicographer who took it upon himself to reform English spelling in the late 1700s, just in time for America to claim its independence from England. Webster wanted all words to be spelled how they sound so he changed words like “colour” to “color” and “realise” to “realize.” (My spellcheck immediately corrected the former, but if I was in England, that wouldn’t be the case.) Some in Britain call this “Spelling Imperialism,” but in true American fashion, we still use advertise and merchandise and although it might still polarize some, it is a compromise.

 

Brits tend to use “shall” a wee bit more than we Americans in that they would ask, “Shall we eat,” rather than “Should we eat?” They also refrain from using “do not,” saying “You needn’t get so angry” rather than “You don’t have to get so angry.” Something else the Brits do that I love is how they turn statements into questions without using the preverbial tag. In the States we’d ask, “You don’t really care, do you?” In Britain, the statement becomes a question merely by asking it as one through voice inflection and by leaving off the “do you?”

 

Whatever the case, we English speaking country cousins still have a mutual respect for each another and we are allies through thick and thin. Or so I think. Americans admire British rock and royalty and they appreciate our confidence and capitalism. Best of all perhaps, is that we both say “cheers” when toasting.

 

So cheers to Meghan and Harry. May our American duchess-to-be-bring a whole lot of stars and stripes to the UK and mix it with just a wee bit of Union Jack. She may not be Di or Kate, but one thing’s for sure; Meghan Marckle is going to bloody sparkle! Here here!

 

Heavenly Pearls April 21, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:55 pm

 

Today heaven officially gets a new angel. And she’ll be wearing pearls.

 

Former First Lady Barbara Bush will be buried in Houston today and then taken by motorcade for her final resting place at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station. Following her death on Tuesday at the age of 92, tributes endlessly streamed. Mrs. Bush, the only women to see both her husband and son sworn in as President of the United States, was special in many ways. Known for her quick wit, being tough as nails, and undying loyalty, she was a class act that held her own and held her family together. The family matriarch was also known for something else: a nearly constant strand of pearls.

 

 

She wore them for her husband’s inauguration (and can we just stop and pay tribute also to how stunning her black and cobalt blue dress by Arnold Scaasi was?) and she wore them to baseball games. They were her signature and her trademark.

 

 

 

All week I’ve seen social media posts suggesting the wearing of pearls in her honor and the above Houston billboard was perfection in outdoor media. Barbara Bush will forever be remembered for her strands of pearls, as will many other stars like Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana.

 

 

 

I loved Barbara Bush and I love pearls. I always have. I love their simplicity, uniformity, and level of old school tradition.  I wore them in my wedding, I wear them with pajamas I have that have pearls on them, and I made sure our daughter was given a strand for graduation. They are my “logo” for this blog and for my Instagram account.

 

 

 

The name Chanel conjures up visions of conservative and traditional clothing and accessories, but the woman behind the name, Coco Chanel, was actually a bit of a rebel. Yes, she used pearls in her fashion, but she went just a step further by layering multiple strands of pearls in a way that raised eyebrows but years later the look endures on edgy stars like Rihanna.

 

 

 

I agree. Pearls are so distinct in their simplicity. They’re not gaudy and not flashy. They are always in style and enhance any outfit, whether it be black tie or boyfriend jeans. They are a staple in most women’s jewelry boxes and the world of pearls is fascinating.

 

In the fine jewelry world, few names are as influential as Cartier and the namesake behind the legendary red box gems is interestingly tied to pearls. In 1917, Pierre Cartier  traded a double-strand pearl necklace for his landmark Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York. Today, there are many types of pearls and it’s worth knowing what’s what.

 

Most of us have heard the term “cultured pearl,” but what exactly does that mean and are they really the best? In some ways, yes, but in many ways a “natural” pearl is really the best of the best. Both cultured and natural pearls are formed when a foreign object is inserted into an oyster and over time, layers of nacre form what becomes a pearl. The big difference is that with natural pearls, nature causes it all while with cultured pearls, the object is injected by man.

 

Natural pearls are very, very hard to come by and are super expensive so I’d venture to say that with the exception of the Jackie O’s and Princess Di’s of the world, most pearls you and I see are either cultured or fake.

 

 

We can thank Japanese entrepreneur Mikimoto Kokichi for giving the world the cultured pearl and all those pageant crowns. There are also a few reputable manufactured and man-made pearl companies, including Spain’s Majorica. But don’t for a minute think all man-made pearls are cheap in quality or cheap in price. A strand of Majorica pearls can cost in the thousands but are well-made and should last a lifetime or more.

 

Like the “4 Cs” of diamonds, there are “5 Factors” used to evaluate a pearl: luster, surface, perfection, color, shape, and size with luster and surface being the two most important in the grading process. The surface shine and depth of a pearl’s glow is called its “luster” and the higher the luster, the better. In addition, a “smooth” surface is ideal, meaning the pearl is free of cracks and holes. Finally there’s a pearl’s shape. Perfectly round ones are rare and considered the cream of the crop. Many consider the exceptionally large cultured South Sea pearl the ideal pearl, with a Tiffany triple-strand version costing just under $2 million.

 

Freshwater pearls are also very popular and are less pricey because they are more abundant and easier to grow. The irregular shaped pearls are grown in mussels in lakes, ponds, or rivers and are very durable and a bit more casual.

 

 

When shopping for pearls, always ask for an authenticity receipt and if in doubt, do the tried and true tooth test. Slowly and gently rub the pearl against your teeth. If it has a gritty feel, it’s real. If it’s smooth and slippery, it’s probably fake. The best pearl strands are strung on silk, not nylon, and a knot should separate each pearl to keep them from rubbing against each other.

 

Once you’re the proud owner of a string of real pearls, taking care of them is vital. Keep them away from products like hairspray and perfume, don’t get them wet, and never use commercial jewelry cleaners like paste on them.

 

As we say goodbye to America’s Grandma today, wear a strand of pearls with pride and in honor of her and her legacy. Be they real or fake, her pearly whites are sure to be smiling.

 

My pearl Bucket List:

 

           

 

 

How to wear your pearls or any other necklace? Here are some tips on necklace lengths and necklines.

Common pearl necklace lengths:

A “collar” is 10-13” and rests against the throat.

A “choker” measures 14-16” and nestles just above the base of the neck.

“Princess length” refers to strands that are 17-19” long and come down to just above the collarbone.

A “matinee” length measure 20-24” and falls just above the breasts.

An “opera” length is 28-35” and is long enough to reach the sternum or breastbone.

 

 

 

 

A Blast from the Past I’m Not Sold On April 15, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:54 pm

 

I’ve tried it, given it a shot, but I’m just not on board and I’m not sure why. I’m talking about the new “Trading Spaces” TV show. It pains me to say this because in its heyday between 2000-2008, I really liked the show. It was fun, it was different, and it was entertaining. I find today’s version none of the above, but why? I love nesting, I love design and decor, and I love mindless TV. I have some possible answers.

 

First let’s look back. “Trading Spaces” debuted on TLC in 2000 and hired two designers to redo two rooms in two different homes. The twist was sets of neighbors actually traded spaces in that they decorated each other’s room per the designers “visions.” Homeowners had no say in the design and often times those visions were visons of horror. Hay, CDs, and fake flowers  were glued onto entire walls, furniture was epoxied onto the ceiling, and a host of other awfulness made sure the meager $1000 budget per room proved you get what you pay for.

 

 

Somehow it all worked though. Maybe it was because the show is considered by many to be the first home makeover series of its kind that has since spawned everything from “Property Brothers” to the beloved “Fixer Upper.” Another attraction was its cast, almost all of whom have returned for the new version. I always loved host Paige Davis and her hip-hugger jeans and hairstyle and we all loved carpenter Ty Pennington who became an even bigger household name as host of the critically-acclaimed ABC “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition series that promoted volunteerism and helping others. Ty and Paige are both back (but I’m not a fan of Paige’s new hairstyle) as are Vern, Frank, Genevieve, Doug, Laurie, and Hildi who, in my opinion, tries her hardest and maybe too hard to create obnoxious and unlikable spaces.

 

Maybe that’s it: it’s all too silly and in a word: dumb. In a world where Chip and Joanna create livable and likable spaces maybe the time has passed on the idea of creating craziness. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take shiplap any day over burlap walls. Maybe it’s just me but I’m thinking it’s more than just the passing of time and trends, as I also remember loving Lynette Jennings, Candice Olson, “While You Were Out,” “Design on a Dime,” and Matt and Shari from “Room By Room.” The latter was the first show to air on HGTV back in 1994 and is still the longest running decorating show in TV history, boasting a whopping 14 year run. For some reason I think I would still like a 2018 version of it, as well as anything Jennings or Olson might offer. “Trading Spaces?” Not so much.

 

 

But why Carla, why? Maybe it’s just because I’ve grown up and my tastes have changed. I’ve been there done that, have moved and moved again, and am now happy in a one-story home that I feel is homey, simple, and just good. I don’t have any desire to paint walls to replicate a Gucci scarf (like one recent “Trading Spaces” episode did) and would much rather own a Gucci scarf to wear.  For me right now, the more simple, the better.

 

But, I am apparently in the minority as McMansions are everywhere and ratings for “Trading Spaces” have been good. The premiere was seen by nearly 3 million people, ranking it the number one show that night.  High Nielsen numbers are something the original regularly enjoyed, but what they had no idea would matter just as much down the road are social media numbers. The new show thrived there too and was the number one social primetime TV program on Facebook and its hashtag trended on Twitter and Instagram. Trading Spaces-1. Carla-0.

 

So, maybe I’ll give it another shot. I am DVRing it just in case there’s nothing else on and I’m in the mood for mindless viewing but then again I also record “Fixer Upper,” “Say Yes to the Dress,” and “Southern Charm.” Pretty sure I’ll opt for either Waco, New York, or Charleston but what about you? Are you a fan of the new “Trading Spaces?” Please share your thoughts!

 

Spring Fashion Trends April 9, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:52 pm

This has been an unseasonably cold winter even in Texas. Over the weekend we went from 88 one day to 48 the next. Up north, as they say, winter has been nothing short of horrendous and yet somehow calendars are still saying it’s spring. So, whether you’re digging out from yet another snow storm and are dreaming of warmer weather or if you’re smack dab in the middle of beautiful sunny spring days, how about some spring fashion?!

 

I’m pretty much a black, white, and camel girl with an occasional splash of color or pattern thrown in, but a few trends are standing out to me and most of them I can raise my hand to. Everyone from Prada to Target are on board with offerings from clothing to accessories. So let’s all say bye-bye to winter and say hello to these fun trends hitting runways and stores:

 

Cat Women

A cat person I am not. Kittens, maybe. Kitten heels though, yes! And guess what fashion fans, the kitten heel is back and in a big way. Can I get an Amen?

 

The low-heeled but sleek pump popularized by Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O is the current shoe of the moment. Princess Di liked the style (until she divorced Charles, at which time she could wear stilettos for days) is customarily a comfortable two-inch heel in solid colors but this season’s versions are coming in all sorts of florals, textures, patterns, in your basic pump as well as sling-back versions and even a few lace-ups. And don’t for a minute think this trend is reserved for the Talbots set as proven by H&M’s versions. Yippee!

Dior  H&M1 MKors  Prada

Above From left: Dior, H&M, Michael Kors, Prada

 

 

Checkmate

We’re not talking Daisy Duke or picnic tablecloth here, we’re talking a fun and classic way to perk up your wardrobe. Typically checked in white and a bold color, this year’s version is both fun and flirty. Designers are on board and are offering a variety of styles and silhouettes. I die for the Carolina Herrera gown below.

Valentino  Target1  Chicos1Carolina Herrera

Above From left: Valentino, Target, Chicos, Carolina Herrera

Michael Kors    Henri Bendel    Kate Spade

Above From left: Michael Kors, Henri Bendel, Kate Spade

Express  JCrew1  Christian Louboutin1  Keds

Above From left: Express, JCrew, Christian Louboutin, Keds

 

 

In Full Bloom

Always a spring favorite, florals are blooming everywhere. I’ve never been a big floral girl myself, but I do love the Lover shirt below I first spotted on Kyle on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yes, I watch it!)  Standard florals are still in, but this season’s versions are also characterized by dramatic colors and big buds. The tropics are especially hot (excuse the pun) with palm leaves and hibiscus flowers favored by designers. If you go the floral route, just be sure to keep the rest of your outfit subtle and solid.

Valentino  Simply Darling  Lover  H&M  Ann Taylor

Above From left: Valentino, Simply Darling, Lover, H&M, Ann Taylor

Steve Madden  One Faith Boutique  Mia   Balenciaga1

Above From left: Steve Madden, One Faith Boutique, Mia, Balenciaga

 

 

Line Them Up

I love me a good stripe and this season’s offerings have me lined up for a few pieces. You’ll find everything from sporty stripes to sophisticated ones just be sure to take note of the horizontal stripes in all the wrong places rule. Thankfully with shoes, anything goes! How cute are the sporty but tailored Sheln crops below?

Caycee  Sheln  Ann Taylor  Alyson Haley

Above From left: Caycee, Sheln, Ann Taylor, Alyson Haley

Asos  Zara1  No. 21 2  Loeffler Randall1  Franco Sarto1

Above From left: Asos, Zara, No 21, Loeffler Randall, Franco Sarto

 

 

As with any trend, don’t go overboard on any of these “of the moment” offerings, and unless you have the money to do so, don’t spend a ton on them. Consider them simple additions to your current wardrobe and consider it done!

 

 

 

Feet First March 31, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:49 pm

pedicure

 

Last Thursday my toe and fingernails were in dire need of some sprucing up so I headed to my favorite salon to get some TLC. It’s my favorite not because I love the technicians or because it’s a lovely place or even because they serve wine (they don’t). It’s my favorite because they rub your legs and feet for what seems like FOR-EVER. Like seriously; 10-15 minutes on each side. It’s pure heaven.

 

What is it about getting our feet rubbed that is so fabulous? Think about it, the rubbing of hands and arms doesn’t feel half as great as the rubbing of feet during a mani-pedi appointment. And massages? Yes, the back and shoulders being rubbed down is such a treat, but when the masseuse gets to your feet it’s pure luxury. Rub my feet I ask; just rub my feet.

 

Maybe I’m a bit more sensitive to my feet right now because I actually hurt my left foot last week. I have no idea what I did to it, but the top felt bruised and I had to ice it and oil it up for two days. It’s all better now but it made me think about my feet.

 

Reflexologyfoot

 

Our feet are not only essential in many ways, but influential too. Did you know each of your feet has more than 7,000 nerve endings? SEVEN THOUSAND! Also called reflexes, they correspond to every organ system in your body. EVERY ORGAN. If you’ve ever had reflexology, you know this as pressing on them can stimulate the nervous system and open energy pathways that may be blocked, congested, or injured. Everything from digestion to headaches to PMS can be affected by pushing on the right areas of your feet.

 

It’s also interesting how putting specific essential oils on certain areas of your feet can prevent illness, alleviate altitude sickness and allergies, ease aching muscles and joints, and a whole lot more. When travelling recently, during the current flu season, and before heading into my class of three-year-olds, I put two Young Living oils on the bottoms of my feet to prevent catching anything and I’ve yet to get sick this year. Knock on wood.

 

customer-getting-pedicure-at-salon_jpg-600x390

 

As powerful as they are, feet aren’t very popular. Very few people like touching them and in all honesty, they aren’t the most attractive areas of our bodies. Thinking about this makes me respect pedicurists even more. Day in and day out they clip, scrape, and rub client’s feet. As I contemplated all of this during my pedicure last Thursday, it dawned on me that I have never seen the owner/manager of the salon give a pedicure. She sits at the first manicurist table, answers the phone, and is forever working on someone’s fingernails but never does she give pedicures. Why is this? Is it below her to do so? Does not doing them make her feel superior to her staff? In all honesty it kinda bothered me.

 

What about humility?

Teamwork?

Lending a hand in a pinch?

 

I returned home still analyzing this (and over analyzing it cuz that’s what I do) and remembered I hadn’t read my Lenten daily reading and “Our Daily Bread” blog that morning. I sat down to read them and of course it was all about Jesus’ “basin of love.”  Chills.

 

jesus-washing-the-feet-calvin-carter

 

On Holy Thursday, we read about how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples right before The Last Supper. Back in His day, even Jewish servants were spared this task because it was seen as beneath even them. Jesus being Jesus though, washed the feet of all of them including Judas, knowing full well he was going to later betray Him.

 

Ironically, right before Jesus washed their feet, the disciples had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest. It was customary to wash feet often back then but since there was no servant present, the 12 didn’t know what to do and never considered washing each other’s feet. Then, Jesus stepped in and stepped up. He showed love, he showed respect, and he showed humility.

 

I’ll think of this the next time I get a pedicure and the next time a masseuse rubs my feet. They truly have basins and hands of love. And humility. I’m humbled by them all.

 

 

 

 

Time for a Time Out March 25, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:59 pm

Today's plans

 

Today I rest.

 

It’s been a busy two weeks. For the past 10 days we have hosted various out-of-town guests…all of who we love. It has been wonderful but as you know, it can also be exhausting. There’s been lots of driving, lots of going out, lots of planning, and lots of golf. I know, poor us, right? But, my body and my brain are saying “We need rest.” So today, I rest.

 

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in exhaustion levels. Many of us either recently had Spring Break or are currently on it. But how many of you actually took a break on Spring Break and how many packed up the kids and stressfully travelled, did some spring cleaning, or worked right through the break?

 

Do nothing

 

In today’s world of overachieving and staying forever busy, unplugging from life can be hard, even when handed a break.  Our phones keep us plugged in 24-7. We have calendars on them, calendars at home, calendars for our calendars. It wears us down.

 

We ask each other, “How are you?” and the answer is often “Busy.” It’s like we think of being busy as a badge of honor and if we’re not busy, we’re lazy or unambitious. But forever busyness wears us out and can be destructive and even counterproductive. As my blogging friend Courtney at Be More with Less states, “Good work doesn’t come from someone who is overworked and the sleep deprived have trouble making good decisions.” Neither sound like anyone I want to be.

 

Today, I want to be that person who reads the Sunday paper in one sitting and maybe after just sit and read my book. I may even take a bath. I want to take time to renew and refresh so come Monday, I’m ready to take on the week.

 

Invest in rest

 

Today is the day God commands us to rest. He created the universe in six days and even He then rested. We need rest to have energy, passion, and joy. Pastor Phil Restor calls rest a physical activity that has emotional benefits but just as it’s sometimes challenging to put exercise into our daily lives, it can be equally challenging to allow ourselves to rest. There is constant pressure to be doing, but the more we do, the more drained we get.

 

Restor recently challenged his readers to “give up busyness” and warned that busyness doesn’t always translate into effectiveness and that there’s nothing wrong with checking out. You need look no further than Mary and Martha to demonstrate this. When Jesus visited the two sisters, Mary sat listening intently to our Lord while Martha was too busy preparing things for Him. She missed out and Jesus called her on it.

 

XMake a list

 

How many times have you missed out on what really matters because you were too busy doing things that really don’t matter and aren’t necessary?

 

I’m raising my hand.

I’m a “to do list” girl.

I’m forever making lists and feeling accomplished when I check something off.

These lists keep me organized and on task, but every now and then I need to put those lists away and instead lyst to do nothing.

 

XSchedule

 

We must remind ourselves that no matter how much we get done during any given day, there is always going to be unfinished tasks. We never actually get everything done so why stress ourselves out by always being on the go? Even when we reach the end of the ultimate to do list of life, there will be things we leave unfinished. Maybe instead of focusing on our lists, we should be focusing on our lives.

 

You Can Stop Now for rest blog

 

Start by stopping. Stop committing to so much and make time for priorities instead. Do what you like to do, not what others like to do. How many times has someone asked you to do something but you reply, “I can’t, I have too many things to do.” Overcommitment is a societal epidemic and it is unsustainable. We falsely believe everything on our lists is dependent on us. We feel important when we are busy but often have no time to do the things that feed our souls. We must start choosing wisely.

 

XChoose wisely

 

I recently posted that quote on Instagram and got a ton of likes. Wake up call people. Busy, tired people. We can choose who we associate with. Do the people you associate with wear you down or lift you up? Do your daily tasks energize you or exhaust you? Perhaps not totally, but we can choose who we allow into our lives and what we do.

Say no to busy

 

Today, just for one day, I’m saying no. No to “do you want to….” and “I need to….” I’m choosing to unwind and stop. Just stop. And breathe. Wanna join me?