Beyond Words

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

The Kardashian Mystery Solved December 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:51 pm

keepingupwiththekardashians

 

Spend a weekend with a female between the ages of say, 10 to 30, and you’re likely to catch at least one episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” If it’s just one, consider yourself lucky. This was me over the weekend as I spent it with my 24-year-old daughter who is a long-time Kardashian fan. Yes I’ve tried and tried to convince her of all the reasons to not like them; all to no avail. Fellow Kardashian haters, I tried.

 

So, I decided to change hats and see them through her eyes. It was eye opening.

 

I realized that yes, she loves their fashion and their fame, but what she really loves is how close a family they are. I asked her this and she totally agreed.

 

YOUNG Ks

Think about it as a girl. You have fortune and fame, but most importantly you have four best friends who have your back on everything. Everything. Each one has a ginormous house that they all just flutter between; open doors and open kitchens to boot. They sit around in those beautiful Mackenzie-Childs bedecked kitchens with those perfectly arranged cookies in a jar, eating delivered or chef-prepared salads, and visit. Just visit. Think bedroom or dorm room in the real world. That’s what they do. Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they cry, sometimes they argue, and sometimes they bond. What girl doesn’t want that?

 

Then there’s their mom, Kris, the brains behind the botox. Full disclosure, Kristen often calls me Kris or “momager” because she says as much as I hate to admit it, she would be in what we like to pretend is our “celebrity squad” and that deep down I do like her. Plus, her real name is Kristen. Okay, I’ll play.

 

So first the hair. I’ve loved Kris Jenner’s signature short hairstyle for many years. I had it once, gave in to peer pressure and let it grow out, but I may go back to it soon. I also like her fashion and décor style 80 percent of the time and her obsession with Mackenzie-Child’s “Courtly Check” matches mine. I share her love of black-and-white everything as well as large framed old-school Barbie photos and framed family photos. She’s also an admitted control freak, as am I. This became crystal clear in a recent episode when Kris moved her aging mom from San Diego to a condo near her and wanted all the decorations to be how she wanted them. That would be me. On two fronts. I would love to be able to move my mom near me in a safe and monitored fabulous place when needed but I would also want to do it up how I want it.

 

Then there’s the Bruce Jenner ordeal. Who didn’t feel at least a little bit sorry for Kris? So you’ve been married to this man for many years and somewhere along the line you find out he isn’t seeing another woman, he wants to be a woman! And it all plays out on national TV. Yes, I know, they’ve chosen this life but let’s be real, that was rough.

 

Speaking of men, do they really keep up with those Kardashians? Not at all. It’s a world run by a momager and her five daughters. This is yet another tidbit not lost on young woman watching. I detest the fact that it all started with Kim’s sex video but props to Kris for brilliantly spinning the family situation in a way any Washington D.C. politician would envy. Today they are a multi-million dollar corporate brand of woman. An estrogen empire. Yes, I get the whole “but they have no real talents,” but is it not even a wee bit impressive that a group of six women with no talents have somehow duped us all into buying what they’re selling? That, my friends, is girl power.

 

thr-kardashians-aug-2017-1502894607

Consider this, the show is currently celebrating 10 years of production. TEN YEARS! And each Kardashian gets paid hundreds of thousands just for showing up at various appearances, whether it be opening a club or debuting a product. And perhaps most amazing is the fact that they make mega bucks just for posting something on Instagram. Kim receives half-a-million dollars for every sponsored post and the rest of the gang gets anywhere from $150,000 to $400,000. Bananas!

 

It didn’t take long for young Kylie to say adios school and hello solo success. At just 20-years-old, they youngest of the clan topped Forbes’ youngest high-earning celebrity list with a net worth of $50 million, thanks most in part to her popular Kylie Lipkits. Truth be told, I tried some of Kristen’s and they’re good. Real good.

 

But, the Kardashians aren’t just rich, from most reports, they are nice. Yes they can be trashy (note to Kim: you’re a mom…please stop with the nudies) and filthy-mouthed (just stop!), but you rarely hear of any mean girl or substance abuse behavior.

 

Men need not apply in the Kardashian world though. Rob, the sole brother, is somewhere off camera figuring out his life with Blac Chyna; Scott, Kourtney’s baby daddy, is battling addictions and the fact that he’s the only white male amongst the group; Khloe’s ex Lamar Odem was last seen in a Nevada brothel in a near OD state; and Bruce, well we all know what happened to him. That leaves Kim’s hubby Kanye West who seems to always have issues of his own but who also stays clear of the film crew. Maybe he’s the smartest one of the male bunch.

 

k

But, I can’t write a Kardashian blog without mentioning what really annoys me about them: the level of fakeness they present to the world of young and even mature girls. Yes, their family dynamic is real, but nothing else about them is. Each one of them has the looks, so why can’t they just be happy with what God has given them? So much of them is fake: their extension-heavy hair, their tightened and tanned skin, their ridiculously plumped-up lips, their over-sculpted bodies, and even their lashes. They’ve had implants in everything from their cheeks to well, their trademark “cheeks.” It’s all so unreal and unattainable for the average Josephine. When you have an army of glam squads, personal trainers, and surgeons on command, of course you’re going to look good. The rest of us, not so much. It’s anything but reality and I wish they would put the brakes on some of it.

 

Young Kylie is probably the worst, with Khloe coming in a close second. I do admire Khloe for her workout ethic, but c’mon, do we really believe her “new bod” is all due to getting on a treadmill and going to a Pilates class? As for Kylie, nothing on her is real. She is a shell of her former face and it’s sad. To be so young and so unhappy with how you look is just tragic. It’s also not a good image or message to give to young fans, or even 24-year-old fans. Now that she’s unwed and pregnant, maybe maturity will come by way of motherhood and she will find her real soul.

 

More likely is her baby will be welcomed with open arms into the ever-growing family, ensuring years more of Kardashian spawns. It’s all about the family, and in this season of wishing we were all near family and of opening our homes to family members, how bad can that be? Maybe it’s really not their fame that we envy, but their family. They definitely have family in check. Still, I can’t promise I’ll be keeping up with those Kardashians but I’m pretty sure millions of others will.

 

Thanksgiving All Year Long November 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:00 am

Gratitude is peace

 

Thanksgiving is officially over and now it’s a full- throttle Christmas mode. But how ‘bout we say goodbye to the Thanksgiving holiday for a year but not the idea of being thankful? Everywhere I looked the past few weeks I saw the quote “There is always, always, something to be thankful for.” If that’s so and if so many people believe that, why is it we celebrate thankfulness only one day a year…a day that is immediately followed by a day when we go on shopping frenzies to buy all those things we think we have to have and things we think might make us happy? Does having more equate to more happiness? Does being happy equate to being thankful? Do things that frustrate us have to make us unhappy? Not always on all counts.

 

Grateful4

 

Today I’m thankful my internet was not connecting to the very computer I am writing this on. Yep, you heard right: I’M THANKFUL MY INTERNET WAS OUT. What in the world? Call the troopers and call me crazy but first, let me fill you in.

 

Our house sitter/dog sitter extraordinaire, John, has been helping us set up a new TV for the past two days. This has involved DirecTV set up, “smart” TV controls (and tutorials!), universal remote formatting, and a few modem resets. Come to discover that those resets wreaked just a bit of havoc on my desktop computer. No worries; house sitter/dog sitter/fabulous TV installer John is also an IT expert. Can I marry this guy now? After a few quick checks and resets, I’m up and running. But, not before learning something very, very important. And a little bit alarming.

 

While checking my modem and internet connections, John asked if I by chance had another Ethernet cable. First of all, “Ethernet cable” is somewhat akin to Russian to me, but I knew I had a bin of cables and cords that he could go through. In that bin was also an old MacBook battery. This, my friends, was not a good thing. John proceeded to let me know the dangers of said battery (similar but waaaaay bigger than all those phone batteries not allowed on airplanes) and that it already showed clear signs of “inflation,” which could have caught fire, exploded, and basically caused a whole lot of damage. So, as worried as I was about my internet going out, I suddenly considered it a “God wink.” Had the internet not sputtered, the battery would not have been discovered, and who knows what might have happened. As John said, “things always happen for a reason.”

 

Amen.

 

Grateful7

Trials are not usually the places in which we find gratitude. Instead, they try us and they frustrate us. It’s much easier to be grateful when everything is going smooth and life is good. But there will always be challenges and obstacles in our lives, so it’s high time we focus on what we are thankful for year round and even in the midst of trials. There are so many things we can and should be thankful for and they deserve more than just one holiday in November.

 

Grateful6

As Jimmy Buffet sang, we need to change our attitudes. This is also the philosophy behind a great book titled “FISH!” In the bestseller, a high-stress and non-energetic corporate office team is compared to the fishmongers in Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market. They may not have the most sought after jobs, but they are famously happy and thankful for their place of work. It’s a philosophy filled with lessons of being grateful and joyful.

 

Lessons learned.

 

Grateful5

An attitude of gratitude should be our goal and it starts with both the head and the heart. If you think you are blessed, you’ll likely feel blessed. If you love more than you long, you’ll feel loved. If you fill your life with things and people the build you up rather than tear you down, you’ll feel positive and thankful. Maybe instead of trying to “keep up with the Joneses” you might ask yourself if the life you are living is a life you would want someone else to have. Chances are your life is pretty darn good on many levels so being thankful for it is Plan A. Plan B is to make “thanksgiving” a reason to celebrate 12 months a year; not just one day a year.

 

So before you go out, stress out, and max out your credit card on holiday shopping and entertaining, sit back and be thankful…truly thankful. Be thankful you have a job even if it’s not your dream job. Be grateful you have a place to live even if it’s not your dream house. Be appreciative that you have a car rather instead of complaining about traffic. And always remember that so many out there have less than you but could very well be more grateful and happy than you.

 

And if you have a John in your life, be sure to be thankful for him too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw Glitter on Your Feet November 20, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:58 am

Title pic

 

I literally feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’ve browsed through the fashion mags and blogs and see a trend I’m totally raising my hand for: glitter shoes! Woohoo! Yippee! My “closet” closet is now on trend! And I’m not just talking Target and Old Navy. The likes of Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Isabel Marant were all a-glitter on Fall 2017 runways and what better way to celebrate the holidays then in a sparkly pair of flats, heels, or booties?

 

“Shine” and “sparkly” have been dubbed this season’s neutrals and it’s music to the ears of this black, white, and camel girl. Glitter can be found on everything from ladylike pumps to menswear loafers. In a fun and whimsical way, glitter goes with nothing and yet goes with everything. It’s a bit like leopard. Wear it and wear it well!

 

I have forever been a glitter girl and think it is EVERYTHING, so the fact that designers agree with me if just for one season is pure awesomeness. I can now wear my glitter Kate Spade pumps, Sole Society pointy-toe loafers, and several go-to Tom’s with both pride and panache. Have you seen the new Tom’s candy cane slip on? Dying!

 

Toms candy cane glitter

 

When wearing a pair of shoes with sparkle, be sure to keep the rest of your outfit understated. You want the shoes to stand out but you don’t want to look like a little girl hot mess. You want to work it, but you want it to all werk. Keep it glittery but keep it glam.

 

If you’re hesitant to jump on board the glitter train, start simple with perhaps just a glitter accent like these booties from Old Navy, Chinese Laundry mules, and amazing satin and suede platforms from Miu Miu:

Old Navy glitter block heel  Chinese Laundry Mara glitter heel satin mule    Miu Miu cyrstal-embellished satin and suede platforms

 

Feeling casual? Try comfy yet chic slip-ons like these traditional black ones from Asos, rose goldy ones on Nanamacs with a cool zipper accent, or trendy flatform slip-ons from Misguided:

Asos     From Nanamacs with zipper    black-glitter-slip-on-flatform-trainers from Misguided

 

Flats are also fun in a loafer style, like these from Kate Spade, Bill Blass, and Miista:

KSpade Calliope loafersBill Blass embellished slip ons  Miista

 

Another option is to go with just an embellishment of sparkle, like these velvet darlings from Ivanka Trump’s collection:

Ivanka Trump Wareen

 

If you’re feeling a little more festive, go big or go home with some heels from Trina Turk or Kate Spade, shown here:

Trina Turk confetti sequin pumps  KSpade       Kate Spade Charm

 

Thinking stilettos are too shaky and unstable for your liking? No worries. Casadei offers a beautiful and sensible kitten mule and Aquazurra’s block heel looker is stable and stunning:

Casadei-glittered-Alexa-mules    Aquazzura Alix pumps

 

Not quite sure? Then turn to none other than Jimmy Choo who offers similar styles in both a sky-high stiletto and BA block heel:

 

Jimmy Choo pumps   Jimmy Choo Billie

 

 

Trendy yet tasteful are this glitter and suede ankle-strapped Isabel Marant and Miu Miu’s velvety and dreamy wine platforms:

Isabel Marant glitter and suede   Miu Miu velvet platforms

 

Booties are all the rage this fall and you won’t go wrong with these two basic styles from Marc Jacobs and XYD, a stylish pointy-toe version from Nine West, and my personal favorite albeit impractical rainbow glitter stiletto bootie.

 

Marc Jacobs CamillaXYD bootie  Nine West Savitra point toe bootie   Multi bootie

 

While we can’t all be Bella Hadid rocking it in Saint Laurent sparkle from head-to-toe, we can maybe consider these amazing bow-embellished stunners by Marco de Vincenzo, or maybe even these round-toe ’60s inspired knee-highs seen on the Chanel runway:

Bella in Saint Laurent   de-vincenzo-clp-rf17-2568 Chanel

 

And please, don’t let a little bad weather keep you from having good style. Glitter rain boots will add brightness to any dark day, including these from Melissa and even tradition-steady Hunter:

melissa_raindropboot_goldglitter_4w   Hunter

 

If it’s comfort you’re still looking for, look no further than ballet flats from Cotswolds, Tabitha Simmons, Polly Plume, and Jimmy Choo:

Cotswolds Crunch  Tabitha Simmon Hermione ballets   Polly Plume bowed ballerninas  Jimmy Choo Wylie ballerinas

 

For real comfort, there is always a good sneaker, including these from Keds, Step, and yes, Chanel:

 

Keds    Step sparkle Repeatchanel-sneakers

 

Going somewhere warm this season? Then you’ll want to pack at least one of these flip-flop options by Reef, Tory Burch, and Kate Spade (I own and love them all!):

Reef Stargazer flip flops       TBurch Carey   Kate Spade Icarda glitter flip flop

 

Okay, so don’t take my word for it, take Gucci’s, who has glittered up some of their most iconic styles:

gucci3  GUCCI2  GUCCI1

The last word on glitter shoes? Stay polished as you party and anything but boring. Sophistication is key as you step out to either shop ’til you drop or dance the night away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread the News October 21, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:40 pm

Butter, etc

 

Did you hear the one about margarine being one molecule away from plastic and that it shares more than 20 ingredients with paint? I did and it was news to me! It also prompted me to research the little cooking devil and other spreads. Turns out none of it is true and that it’s not so devilish after all. In fact, the same could be said about butter and a variety of other foods. You see, one little variation in structure does not make a near miss a full match. We as humans are only a few DNA links away from chimpanzees but that doesn’t make us the same.

 

So why the rumors though and which one is better: butter or margarine? Let’s start with the rumors, which may stem from the fact that margarine’s origins came from a French chemist.

 

FDA To Propose Ban On Artificial Trans Fats

I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER

Margarine is the imitation butter spread of all imitations and was created in France when chemist Hippolyte Mege-Mouries developed a substance called oleomargarine in response to Emperor Napolean’s request that someone make a butter alternative suitable for the armed forces and lower classes way back in 1869. Who would have ever imagined margarine came from the French, the culinary connoisseurs? Say it ain’t seaux!

 

At its inception, the principal raw material in margarine was beef fat, but in 1871 Henry W. Bradley of New York created and patented his process of making margarine using vegetable oils. Years later during the Great Depression and World War II, the supply of animal fat was greatly reduced and a shortage of butter occurred, both paving the way for the popularity of margarine, or as it was often called, “oleo.”

 

Funny thing is that this non-dairy product is always found in the dairy case. The primary ingredients in it today are vegetable oil, water, salt, and emulsifiers. Since it is made from vegetable oils, it contains the “good” unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

 

There are many brands of margarine though and their contents vary. One thing that doesn’t is true margarine’s fat content, which is required by law to be 80 percent. Any item with less than that is considered a “spread” and can have fat content ranging anywhere from 10 to 90 percent. In general, the lower fat content the higher percentage of water and lower percentage of vegetable oil.

 

Margarine may not have the saturated fat that butter does, but it often contains partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats. Not only do trans fats increase cholesterol levels, they lower good HDL cholesterol levels and raise levels of bad cholesterol LDL. The more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it likely contains. This is why stick margarines usually have more trans fats than tub margarines.

 

Still, many margarine brands that you find on the aisles of your favorite grocer are a bit healthier than they originally were. Most popular brands have eliminated hydrogenated oils as well as trans fats, and some brands boast Omega-3 fatty acids, have low or no salt, and are sometimes made with olive or vegan oils. The oleo of old has come a long way!

 

 

butter

BUTTER ME UP

Butter on the other hand, is a true dairy product and is essentially the fat of milk. Through the churning process, butterfat is separated from buttermilk and butter is the result of the cream that is separated from the milk. In the U.S., all butter must be pasteurized, meaning the cream used to make it is first heated to kill pathogens and prevent spoilage. Butter can be either salted or unsalted and you’ll also see “sweet cream butter” on some labels.

 

Most butter commercially produced in the U.S. is sweet cream butter. This doesn’t mean it’s sweeter or creamier than other butters, it simply means it was produced from fresh sweet cream rather than from soured or cultured cream, which is more common in Europe and other places. Cultured cream is created by adding cultures, bacteria cultures, to the butter before it’s churned, which causes the butter to be a bit more tangy and even a bit sour. There is also “whipped butter,” which means air was added to it to make it lighter and more dense. It also has fewer calories and lower fat content than non-whipped versions.

 

Since butter is an animal fat, it naturally contains cholesterol and is higher in saturated fat than margarine. And any commercially sold butter in the U.S., whether sweet cream, whipped, cultured, salted or non-salted, must, just like margarine, be at least 80 percent fat.

 

 

Buttery toast

IS BUTTER BETTER?

Although most would agree that good butter wins the all-important taste test over margarine, what many consider the deciding factor in choosing one over the other is often calories and fat content. Surprisingly, the two contain nearly the same amount of both, about 100 calories and approximately 12 grams of fat.

 

Some health experts say neither is the “better” choice but if you must, spreads sold in tubs are a bit healthier than either butter or margarine sticks. These vegetable oil spreads usually contain less than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.

 

The basics? Margarine contains unsaturated “good” polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, butter contains high levels of saturated fat, but many margarines have high amounts of trans fats.

 

Butter will probably forever be on the list of foods to avoid regarding the risk of heart disease, but stick margarines, with their high levels of trans fats, aren’t far behind. Either, and even margarines free of trans fats and low in saturated fats, are still loaded with calories.

 

As for substituting one for the other when baking and cooking, it’s generally not recommended to do so, as margarines with lower fat content have more water, which can result in tougher or more watery baked goods.

 

One option and one that earned the Good Housekeeping “Seal of Approval” are “buttery sticks” from “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” GH testers were impressed by their taste and versatility, that you can use the sticks just like butter, and that you don’t have to wait for them to soften. Perhaps best of all, they have only 3.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fats, and 45 percent less saturated fat than regular butter. They also boast plant-based ingredients are a blend of vegetable oils.

 

Whatever you choose, your goal should be to avoid or at least limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet and avoid trans fats all together. If you opt for tub versions that have less trans fats but not the handy-dandy measurement markings that we all love about sticks, you can sometimes find economical and clever ways to reuse and repurpose the tubs!

 

 

shortening

WHAT ABOUT SHORTENING?

Did you know that margarine and butter are both types of shortening? What?

 

Yep. Although most of us think of shortening as that white, flavorless tub of stuff that mom and grandma use every Christmas; butter, margarine, and even lard can be considered shortening.

 

When pig-fat heavy lard was frowned upon in the cooking world, manufactured fat products were created for baking uses. Originally shortening was synonymous with lard, but when margarine was invented, it too was considered a shortening. The main difference between shortening and lard is that lard comes from animal fat while shortening comes from a variety of oils that are plant-based.

 

Vegetable shortening as we know it was invented in 1910 by Proctor and Gamble. The company developed the product as an alternative to lard and introduced Crisco to American cooks as a more healthy and digestible substitute for lard or butter. It gained popularity because it was reliable, cheaper than butter or lard, and flavorless.

 

The term “shortening” originally referred to fats used to “shorten” the protein platelets in baked goods and gluten strands in wheat. It’s that “shortening power” that lumps butter and margarine right up there with shortening and lard but today “shortening” almost exclusively means hydrogenated vegetable oil “vegetable shortening.”  It’s meant to lack any discernible flavor, and since it has 100 percent fat content rather than butter and margarine’s 80 percent, it results in a very tender baked good.  Shortening is rarely used in other areas of cooking and today the term “shortening” seldom refers to butter and is more closely related to margarine.

 

 

Ghee-33

GHEE, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT

Healthier alternatives to butter or margarine include olive oil, vegetable oil-based spreads, and something called ghee.

 

Ghee is a type of clarified butter popular in South Asian dishes. The word “ghee” comes from the Sanskrit word for “sprinkled” and it’s made by melting butter and skimming the fat off the top of it. When cooled down, the result is a creamy looking solid that looks just like butter but doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It can be used much like either butter or margarine but lacks many of the health risks the two contain.

 

Since it’s made from milk solids, impurities have been removed so ghee is lactose friendly. It’s also known to promote flexibility and lubricate connective tissue, making it a popular item with yogis. It’s many health benefits also include being rich in fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, which promote bone and brain health and boost the immune system. Finally, since ghee converts fiber into butyric acid, it is beneficial in healthy digestion.

 

Perfectly-Softened-Butter-for-frosting

HOW SOFT IS SOFT ENOUGH?

Recipes often call for “softened butter,” but how do you know just how soft and how do you avoid the tragic microwave melt down? At all costs, avoid softening butter in the micro as it will more than likely melt too fast and will melt unevenly. Butter will soften at room temperature in about 30 minutes, so if you know you’re going to need softened butter, plan ahead and pull it out of the ‘fridge. Butter is officially softened when it can be easily squished between your thumb and forefinger. You can also test the softness by gently pressing the top of the stick with your index finger. If an indentation remains but the stick holds its shape, it’s good to go. If you can’t press your finger very much, it needs to soften some more but if it’s mushy and soft to the touch, it’s become too soft.

 

In those dreaded moments when you need softened butter but have only refrigerated sticks, here are three ways to soften it safely:

 

  • Cut it into small chunks as they will soften quicker than a whole stick.
  • Place a stick of butter in a Ziploc bag or on wax paper and pound it using a rolling pin. Then remove the flattened version and set it to cool at room temperature.
  • If you’re in a real hurry, a warm water butter bath is your best bet. Pour a few cups of very hot water into a double boiler. Put the butter over the water but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t melt. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a sauce pan with a metal bowl inside.

 

I don’t know about you, but the next time I’m buying butter/margarine I’m certainly going to look much closer at labels and contents. I’ve always been under the impression that butter was better only because it’s been around for so long and is what my mom always uses. It’s “old school” and wasn’t “invented” like margarine was. To me, “invented” sounds more like a science experiment and not food item but I’ve learned that butter isn’t always better. Better read those labels!

 

A New Spin on Fidget Spinners October 1, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:52 pm

Fidget spinner

 

They are everywhere. They are fidget spinners, the popular toy that consists of a centered ball-bearing that allows the metal or plastic piece to spin on its axis with little effort and pretty much non-stop. You could say they are the toy of 2017 but as with anything, there are up sides and down sides to them.

 

Marketed as a way to keep fidgeters focused and relieve stress, the spinners have also demonstrated to do just the opposite and have even proved dangerous. A co-worker’s son swallowed one of the ball bearings and there has been no scientific evidence of yet that they are beneficial for treating the “three As:” anxiety, ADHD, or autism. In the end, they are really what they were first marketed as: toys.

 

Leave it to Pope Francis to take them a step further.

 

Trinity336x361

 

During a staff meeting last week, our director gifted each of with a fidget spinner. I’d heard of them but had never really seen one. I, like everyone else at the meeting, were a little curious as to why she would give a fidget spinner to a roomful of grown-ups. She, like Pope Francis, had a reason.

 

We learned that during a recent homily the Holy Father surprised the congregation by taking a fidget spinner out of his pocket. He then used it in a most unusual and inspiring way to explain the Holy Trinity.

 

“Just as St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to teach his followers about the Trinity, I am using my aluminum Tri-Fidget Spinner to reveal the mysteries of our God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said. “As the spinner spins faster, the three arms seem to become a single disc yet they maintain their individuality.

 

The Father gave us the Spirit...

 

Genius. Yes, the Trinity consists of one God that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the three persons share one nature and receive the same worship, but they are also three distinct beings.  Returning to the spinner comparison, Pope Francis so eloquently pointed out that just as an improperly balanced spinner won’t work very well, our faith will falter and our lives will suffer if our view of God is improperly balanced.

 

“Could we execute a behind-the-back move if our fidget spinner was unbalanced?” he asked mass attendees. “No. It is the same if we don’t balance God equally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Truth be told, any way you look at it the Trinity is a tough one, even for a cradle Catholic like myself who grew up calling the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost! God is indeed one, but he is also three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How can this be? Well, as a friend one time posted, “If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.”

 

Still, in our logical world how can we grasp the Trinity? One way is to consider water, which comes in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. But, water can only be either ice, flowing water, or steam. God on the other hand can be all three at the same time. Some consider God the Father to be the solid piece of ice, God the Son to be Jesus flowing through our hearts and minds, and God the Holy Spirit to be the gas.

 

Another way to symbolize the Trinity is with fire. God is the fire itself, Jesus provides the warmth and the light, and the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a flame but can also be the smoke the permeates through our lives.

 

Lastly, we can also turn to Genesis to understand the Triune God. In the first three verses of the bible, the Trinity was present. Think about it:

 

“In the beginning when God (the Father) created the heavens and earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep while a wind from God (the Holy Spirit) swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light (Jesus).”

 

In the end, perhaps the Trinity is not for us to completely understand but to simply believe. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Jesus didn’t say ‘take and understand,’ He said “take and eat.”

 

As we take and eat today and every day, let’s all try to keep things properly balanced. If you need a fidget spinner to remind you to do so, spin away.

 

A Cup of Savings to Go Please September 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:00 am

 

Happy National Coffee Day friends! No, this isn’t a blog about coffee; it’s a blog about money. But still, I love coffee so I’ll have a cup while writing about money.

 

When it comes to money, we spend a ton of it on coffee. In fact, if you buy two lattes a week, you’re spending $500 a year on just to-go coffee drinks! Five hundred dollars! And that doesn’t include the coffee you drink at home and most people who frequent coffee shops do so way more often than just twice a week. That’s a lot of dinero on java.

 

But, if you instead invested that money spent on coffee, in 10 years you’d have enough to take a great vacation. Save it for 20 years and you’d be able to pay for one year of college tuition. Yowza! Makes you think twice about coffee to go, doesn’t it?

 

As I said, I love coffee but I’m not a buyer of lattes or cappuccinos at Starbucks or anywhere else. For starters, I can’t stand the size names of Starbucks drinks! Why isn’t the “grande” the large anyway?!

 

 

Great advice but not the advice many Americans are heeding. According to CNBC, nearly 70 percent of American adults have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and almost half of U.S. families have no retirement accounts savings at all. What gives?

 

In some cases it’s simply a matter of not being able to, other cases lean toward not knowing how or just not choosing to. In the case of the younger generation, the common thinking is “I’ll save more when I make more.” This is not the way to go about it though, because the younger you start saving, the better; even small amounts saved early on are better than no amount at all; and because it’s just often not the case according to Money Expert Kimmie Greene.

 

“Often times what happens is when people make more, they don’t save more, they spend more,” she told CNBC.

 

Money and numbers expert I am not. Far from it as a matter of fact. But it does make perfect sense even to me that the earlier you start saving, the smarter the plan is. When you’re young, it’s even more advantageous because of interest and compound interest in particular, which is basically interest on interest. It is the result of reinvesting interest, rather than paying it out, so that interest in the next period is then earned on the principal sum plus previously-accumulated interest.

 

 

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Benjamin Franklin

 

Saving doesn’t have to mean investing in stocks or working with a broker and saving large amounts of money. As Ben Franklin said, even if you save one penny, you’ve earned a penny!  Saving money for retirement is important, but so is saving for a host of different things such as major purchases like homes, college tuition, medical expenses, and other needs. It can also mean living within your means and knowing when enough is enough. As Mary Poppins so eloquently said, “Enough is as good as a feast!

 

But, how much should you be saving right now and how much should you have saved by now? Fidelity Investments says a good rule of thumb is to have the equivalent of your salary saved by age 30 and 10 times your final salary in savings if you want to retire by age 67. Greene’s shared her timeline with CNBC and it’s similar albeit more detailed. It’s still a pretty simple formula.

 

In your 20s have the goal of saving 25 percent of your overall gross pay and make sure your expenses don’t exceed 75 percent of that gross income.

 

By age 30 you should have the equivalent of your annual salary saved. This includes retirement contributions, company matching funds, cash, and investments.

 

After that you should have:

Twice your annual salary saved by age 35

Three times your annual salary saved by age 40

Four times your annual salary saved by age 45

Five times your annual salary saved by age 50

Six times your annual salary saved by age 55

Seven times your annual salary saved by age 60

Eight times your annual salary saved by age 65

 

I think you get the drill. What I like about this plan is that it’s not based on how much you should have saved, but is based on one’s annual salary. Someone making $50,000 a year until their 65-years-old should not be expected to have the same amount saved as someone making $500,000 a year all that time.

 

 

There’s no question it’s tough to do though. We live in a consumer-based society and are constantly fed the belief that not only is bigger better, but more is magnificent! Live like the Kardashians and buy $1,000 phones. Put it all on a credit card and pay a little at a time. Ugh.

 

Then there’s the school of thought studied by many that, “life is too short and I’m going to live for today.” Awesome and have fun doing so, I just hope if your life ends up being long, you’re financially prepared to make up for all that spending and the likelihood that Social Security may not be around to help you out. There’s also insurance costs and medical expenses. My friend’s daughter is a successfully employed woman in her 20s but recently had a medical issue cost her thousands of out-of-pocket dollars despite having decent health insurance. Good thing she had saved her money!

 

If you are looking to save, what are some of the best ways? First off, spend less. Again, I’m no financial expert but finding a reputable financial advisor you trust is a good place to start if you’re looking to make investments and save large amounts. Which brings me to a burning question I’ve had forever: if brokers and investors are so good and so successful, why are they working? But I digress. If your funds aren’t quite on the “financial advisor level,” meet with banker at your local financial institute. A simple savings account may be the way to go. And don’t be afraid to toss spare change in a jar…they really do add up! Something else I read years ago is to save every $5 bill you get. You don’t get them all that often, stocking away $5 doesn’t seem as painful as $20, and take my word for it, they add up too!

 

So maybe the next time you pull up to order a drive-through venti non-fat soy latte, you might think about saving that $5 bill instead of spending it. It might just earn you a king’s ransom.

 

Shades of Fall September 25, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:40 pm

It gets confusing that fashion industry. We just had New York Fashion Week but don’t be fooled, what was shown on the fall runways is actually what will be worn and sold spring 2018. Think of collections as what will be in store and in stores next season. But, no worries; here’s what you need to know about what to wear this fall. At least color-wise.

 

I’m going by the Pantone Color Institute’s “Fashion Color Report,” which the paint and color experts compile after evaluating what colors were most prominent in fashion week collections. Every season Pantone creates a palette inspired by the hues fashion designers used on the runways and I couldn’t be more thrilled with what colors they advise we should be wearing this fall.

 

JCrew hair ties1

In a nutshell, it’s many of the colors that make up both my home décor and my closet racks: a little bit of red and whole lot of camel and gray. I like to think of my design color style as my spice rack: I love a mix of nutmeg, paprika, oregano, and a dash of saffron. Or, maybe it’s my ‘fridge with even amounts of lean beef, tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan! And it goes without saying that both my closet and home are chalk-full of classic blacks and whites.

 

 

JJill

The photo above is from JJill and I literally could own every piece and have a closet that could look very similar if I grouped my blacks, whites, and camels like they did.

 

 

RZoe Pre-fall 2017

Here you have some selections from Rachel Zoe’s pre-Fall 2017 collection and I love every single piece. The black and white. The red. The fringe. The glitter!

 

Pick and choose from both of them and voila; you have right now’s fashionable colors and the official shades of fall.

 

Pantone’s Leatrice Eisman says this palette is “Bookended by a dynamic Grenadine red and a tawny Autumn Maple and leans more to warmth.” I love it. Cue the awesomeness!

 

Let’s look at each of the colors:

 

 

Grenadine good group

Grenadine is described as a powerful, evocative, and dynamic red. It is a very vibrant tone of red; almost a orangey-red. It’s definitely not a color for the faint of heart but instead a confident color and a self-assured attention-getter.

 

 

Tawny port group good

Tawny Port takes those reds to new depths and is more elegant and sophisticated. Much like a good port wine, it looks and feels full-bodied and rich.

 

 

Ballet slipper group

Ballet Slipper can go almost bubble-gummy or more similar to recent “it” color, blush. I guess it depends on how broken in the ballerina’s toe shoes are! Pantone describes it as reminiscent of the rosy glow of health and you can consider it soft, safe, and subtle.

 

 

Butterrum group good

Butterum is a toasty shade evocative of drinking a glass of Butterum by a roaring fire. In my world, it’s a classic camel and one of my all-time favorites.

 

 

Navy Peony group

Navy Peony is basically your classic navy and is considered a dependable and anchoring shade. It also takes some of the load off of black as the go-to neutral. In fact, many are saying navy is the new black but even though I’ve surprised myself of late at how much navy I now have, it will never take the place of black in my closet. It just won’t.

 

 

Neutral gray group

Neutral gray, however, could. I love me a yummy gray and love that you can wear it as a muted pop of accent or as head-to-toe classiness. You can also easily glam it up by making it a more sparkly silver. When I picture the color I picture something fuzzy and warm like velvet, suede, or cashmere.

 

 

shaded spruce group

Shaded Spruce is a meshing of teal and emerald to me but Pantone says it’s designed to make you think of the forest and the protectiveness of evergreens. I’m not feeling the forest but do like the color as I like green in general and have always thought of it as “God’s color.” But be careful when pairing it with any of the above reds and don’t go 1980’s jewel tones on me.

 

 

Golden Lime group

Golden Lime is a yellow-green shade and that leans toward chartreuse. It’s never been a color I gravitate toward as I have olive skin. If I was a betting woman, I’d ante up that it will never make it to my closet. Just saying.

 

 

Marina group

Marina in the only true cool color in the palette and it brings with it a freshness and brightness. It’s very periwinkle to me and is utterly yowza! I love it! We all need a little “vitamin sea” in our lives and Marina is the color that will bring it.

 

 

Autumn Maple group good

Autumn Maple is a quintessential autumn color but the new version has a tawny, russet hue that keeps it fresh yet classic. Close your eyes and smell the maple syrup!

 

So there you have it: a brief roadmap on the colors you might be seeing a lot of right now and the ones you can confidently use to create a wardrobe. Be smart though, consider what looks good on you, your budget, and if you really and truly need any of it. Truth be told, I could easily not buy one new thing this fall and have the Fall 2017 color palette pretty much covered. It’s still fun to talk about it though, right? Which ones are your favorites?