Brown for Blue

When I first started out wearing makeup, I knew only one thing: brown liner and copper/gold shadows looked good contrasted with my blue eyes. However, my application style was severely lacking. I usually just washed a single shade over my eyelid and drew heavy brown liner around my top and bottom lid. The end result was a muddy looking disaster.

I was frustrated with my makeup looks from an early age, and longed to look “more like those girls.” The ones who knew how to do their makeup well every time, or so I thought.

So I switched over completely to heavy black liner. Didn’t change my eyeshadow or eyeliner application, just the color. Now I looked like an amateur wearing black liner instead of brown. Great.

It has taken me many years and many hours of watching and reading makeup tutorials to start to enjoy my makeup looks more. I’ve been learning about correct eyeshadow placements for my eye shape, eyeliner styles, and what colors look good with my eyes.

I’ve been avoiding brown liner for quite a while. I still do like how black liner also makes my eyes pop, and adds a sharply defined look, but somedays a girl just wants to be wearing what is considered more “soft” makeup and still look good. Not every day has to be black eyeliner and vibrant lipstick — that gets boring fast.

  • Couple of pro-tips (I don’t have the time this morning to cover in full my makeup routine)
  • As a general rule, don’t just do one wash of color on your lids. Unless you already have large eyes, this will make your eyes look smaller, and it’s boring. Place darker shadows in the crease and outer V of your eyelid, vibrant pops of color on the middle of your lid, and lighter colors towards the inner corner of your lid. This is an illusional trick to make your eyes look larger.
  • Bonus points if you wing your eyeshadow and eyeliner together. At the very least try to pull your eyeshadow out beyond your crease a little bit, but never extending past the end of your eyebrow. Unless you are a professional model or a pop singer it’s not a good everyday look to overextend your eyeshadow or liner.
  • Brown for blue, Black for brown, Purple for green, or any variation on those colors. Look at a color wheel — when you are picking a complimentary color for your eyeshadow liner you want to go with the color that is opposite your eye color on the color spectrum.
  • HGTV_Color-Wheel-Full_s4x3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462

And here are the results of retrying brown eyeliner. I used the Naked1 palette, paired with Stila’s Eyes Are the Window palette, and NYX gel liner in brown:

IMG_1148 IMG_1208


Before and After

This last Monday I did something scary: I shared a picture of myself without any makeup.

It was frightening for a couple of reasons. Aside from my naturally fair skin that is splotchy red (thank you Irish/Germanic ancestors), and my dark circles and sparse eyebrows, it evokes throwback feelings of my home-schooled girl days when I didn’t wear any makeup, I didn’t feel pretty, and I equated looking pretty with making friends.

Well, since 16 (almost 10 years ago!), and being allowed to wear makeup, a few things have changed.

  • I’ve learned that being pretty doesn’t have any bearing one one’s ability to be socially well-adjusted.
  • I’ve learned that looking pretty is about more than just how well you apply makeup, it’s about one’s attitude and bearing.
  • I’ve learned how to apply makeup in ways that highlight my natural features, rather than obscure them.

Most women judge themselves pretty harshly when it comes to looks. Some of the prettiest women I’ve known in my life, even with makeup on and dressed to impress can still see their “flaws” and “imperfections.”  But to a detached and experienced make up artist can easily see the features to enhance and build on, not obscure or over color. Maskcara is very good at this in her Before and After Makeover Mondays. Here is one of my favorite makeovers she shared on her blog.


So, next time you pick up your makeup applicators, try to remember to not judge yourself harshly without makeup on. I recommend building on simple looks, and working your way up to more “dramatic” makeup, like a smokey eye or dark lipstick. Start off by just tight-lining your top lash line and add mascara. Remember to add darker colors, “shadows,” to outer corners of your face and eyes, and use lighter colors more on the center and inside of your face and eyes.

Here is my before and after, for the record. I used mainly Sephora liquid foundation and concealer and the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette.


Durable Beauty

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.

I have a weakness. It commonly afflicts members of the female sex, or so they say… It has often been the ridicule of men who won’t admit that deep down inside they love to see their woman sporting her newest find. Or perhaps these men don’t want to admit that they share a love for the same thing, that is: I. Love. Shoes.
Now, I would like to point out a difference between me and your common shoe addict; you won’t find me just trying on any old shoe. I wouldn’t be caught shopping in the Target shoe aisle, or Payless. I’ll let you in on a little secret: none of the shoes in my collection cost me less than $100 and ALL of my shoes are genuine leather.
But what really turns me on when it comes to shoes is finding that certain shoe with qualities I can’t resist, namely the quality of being durable, functional, and beautiful. While stiletto Christian Louboutins may be for many women who don’t have to walk more than 1 city block at a time (and there is an undeniable beauty to these shoes), on the comfort and functionality scale they just wouldn’t cut it for me.
I could talk about different types of pumps, slingback, and flats all day, but right now, I actually wanted to address the subject of boots.
Boots have been trending for a long time now. And it makes me very happy for the reasons I outlined above. I applaud the Fall/Winter/Early Spring trends towards functionality paired with bold colors and designs. Some well known brands that exemplify what I’m talking about are BornDansko, and Frye (though, I have yet to save up to afford Frye boots).
In particular, I embrace the short bootie trend. If I’m going to wear a boot and want it to be absolutely functional and something I can walk in for hours, I choose booties with a heel height under 2.5 inches. They go not only with many different cuts of jeans, but dresses, skirts, and even shorts. For example: rolled skinny jeans and booties with a lace top? Thrilling combination.
My personal favorites right now are these low-key, shorter heeled fringe booties by Sam Edelman– click on the picture to take you to the boot:
But since I’ve been wearing these non-stop this last winter, the shoe bug is biting me again, and have been looking at other options. Here are some new booties I’ve found that are very tempting right now:
Maybe I’ll just put all of these choices in a hat and choose. I’m a stickler for reading reviews and specifications about shoes, too, so I’ll always bear that in mind when deciding between my next love affair with shoes.

Fresh Start

This is my fresh start. My libation to life for the new year.

This blog is going to host my photography, travel adventures, meetings with old and new artists and designers, and restaurant reviews. You can expect to see resplendent photos of food, drinks, fashion, makeup, and art — alongside my favorite subjects which are portraits of local people.

Graciebird — It has been my homage to Grace Kelly for over 10 years to use her nickname “Gracie,” and “Graciebird,” in association with my older blogs. I use it now in association with my own passion for beauty, class, and fashion. It is my hope to channel and emulate the same elegance that she lived and breathed, onscreen and off.

Please come back soon.



Mercy Cuts So Deep

Sometimes I cannot forgive And these days, mercy cuts so deep If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep

While I lay, I dream we’re better, Scales were gone and faces light When we wake, we hate our brother We still move to hurt each other.

Sometimes I can close my eyes, And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing, What makes me so badly bent?

We all have a chance to murder We all feel the need for wonder We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

-Jars of Clay-


The spirit of creativity always strikes at quaint times. Like 6:30 in the morning after getting 4 hours of sleep. If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep…

I considered going back to bed, but was lured into the thought of hot coffee and an hour of quiet, sleeping children. It’s hard to resist the siren call of silence sometimes.

And I can’t shake my thoughts. Pesky, persistent, beautifully haunted thoughts. These thoughts and bittersweet memories are stirring my hibernating emotions. I feel like I cannot control the coming and going of my fervent feelings. All I can do is embrace them when they come, and wait in a semi-stable state until they return unpredictably. I think it’s my brain is going into self-preservation mode to protect from being in a constant, overwhelming state of emotion.

This morning, one thought is staying with me as I reflect on my past and all the pain, hurt, beauty and nostalgic-filled days I have lived through; and it’s this thought that brings me comfort, even when my deadened emotions cannot be jolted back to life. This thought is: I don’t have my life figured out, but that’s okay, God does. That might be a simplistic statement, but it could not be more true.

I think everybody in the history of humanity has fallen into the trap of thinking they have their lives and life itself figured out. Nailed down. Tightly categorized and philosophized. Then life goes sideways. People leave you and hate your guts. You wake up to the fact that you are being abused or abusing others. You lose faith. You find faith. You have everything taken from you physically and emotionally. You stare into the jaws of responsibility and reach inside to find your inner strength but come up empty-handed.

Then you either come to the end of your self-preening and break to be remade by the ever faithful potter, or you keep polishing the outside of your sepulcher, and prolong the inevitable end of oneself.

I won’t pretend that being self-righteous is a one-time thing. I cry when I think of all the self-righteous ugliness inside of me that has spilled over into my marriage, relationships, and daily life. It’s an hourly and even moment-by-moment struggle as a human being, whether you are Christian or not. There’s never a clearly defined line between being humble and being self-righteous and thinking you can tell yourself and others how to live life and predict success, happiness, and salvation.

But this I do know and rely on: even during the darkest nights of my soul and the bleakest times of my life, even when my faith was shredded on the floor and my heart hard and full of hate, He has been my anchor, and He has been my tether. He never breaks, He never lets me go. He is ever-providential and ever-caring.

So, after seasons of self-pride and nights of undoing, I am learning to say with Job.

Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Photo Feast

Feast your eyes upon these photos, lovelies. I am too busy and too happy to try and hammer out a 1,000 word post detailing any cranky details of my life. My life isn’t too cranky of late, anyhow — I did manage to find a temporary rental in Roseville, and I have good leads on a couple other places. Yay!

I took a bouquet of photos for my brewpub last week. Since work is keeping me so busy, the photos will have to speak for themselves (I have yet to get food shots, but that is going to happen soon).

Feast your eyes:

*All the views expressed on this blog are mine alone and not representative of my work.*