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.



Let’s Talk Makeup


Ok, yes, if you are a boy, you now know that you can safely pass on reading this post. It won’t be of interest to you.

My family’s rule for their three daughters, was that we couldn’t wear makeup until we were 16 — I have to confess, I broke that rule a few times by sneak wearing eyeshadow or mascara, mostly on Sunday mornings since I was embarrassed by already being the country bumpkin at church, and all the other girls there were so much prettier wearing their makeup and perfectly styled hair; sorry for doing that, Mom and Dad!


(Proof of my gawky homeschool days. My apologies to Bekah and Sarah for sharing this photo)

Finally, 16 rolled slowly around, and I was able to go makeup shopping with Mom. We picked out some neutral brown eyeshadows (nothing too dark,) some original Maybelline Great Lash mascara, some light pink blush, a CoverGirl concealer stick, and some lip gloss. I was stoked. Makeup, all of my own! No more sneaking little swipes of eyeshadow onto my eyelids. No more covering up zits on the sly. Now, wearing mascara and blush and all the rest of my little makeup collection suddenly made me feel pretty and attractive. Because a few swipes of mascara and some concealer under the eyes makes every girl transform into a vision of loveliness, right? That was what I thought, anyway, now that I had the freedom to wear makeup.

I was never really attracted to wearing heavy makeup, like some girls that went the hooker/ex-homeschool girls route that I knew; I always stayed within the safe confines of browns, light pinks, and brown mascara and eyeliner, and faithfully put on my makeup the same old way every time. Cat eyes? Who did those? Colored eyeshadow? So 80s! Tightlining, what was that? Highlighting and contouring? Smokey eyes? When I tried, it looked like I had taken a face plunge into my makeup palette. I also was under the impression that secretly, all guys liked it when you wore makeup a lot heavier, and so I always considered that the height of makeup attraction, not knowing that most guys taste for makeup is less is more. But how to perfect “less?”

And, I continued down the path of same makeup boringness until early last year when I ran across a couple of blogs that opened up mind-boggling revelations to me about makeup. The first one was Maskara — I watched several of her videos, especially about applying concealer/foundation/highlighting and contouring, and started experimenting with techniques myself. I never knew that I could apply my foundation with anything other than my fingers. A foundation brush? Never seen one in action before — the only brush I owned was a big, fluffy blush brush.

The second website I found was The Beauty Department, run by Amy Nadine, celebrity makeup artist. Her step-by-step tutorials have taught me great, new tricks, and I always look forward to new ones from her.

And the third website I ran across was written by this cute, English girl who made her “looks” appear easy to do, and they are… She explains do and don’ts for makeup in a fun way. Her website is The Makeup Chair.

And I started branching out. Learned how to walk the line between no makeup and hooker makeup. I bought a brush set with 10 different brushes and learned how to use them all. I learned how to use face primer and eyelid primer for flawless application of foundation and eyeshadows. I learned how to properly apply foundation (love my beauty blender!) I learned how to contour with bronzer and highlight with an illuminating powder. I learned where to PUT the blush for my face shape. I learned how to softly fill in my brows. I learned how to apply eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible to avoid the raccoon eyes look. I learned to put on eyeshadow artfully so as to define my eyes in the best way possible. I learned how to curl my eyelashes and put on mascara properly. I learned how to choose makeup products and brands that were slightly more expensive,  but oh, so worth it in the long run for the ease of application, and quality that they gave me.

Yeah, makeup can be a touchy subject for some, and for others an overwhelming nuisance, but I choose to see it as a fun, rewarding art that, when done well, compliments and enhances the natural beauty found in all faces, and doesn’t detract or degrade said beauty. There are a lot of different beauty standards among various families, but I think a great place to start with makeup (that doesn’t get one into too hostile territory), is to learn how to properly apply foundation/concealer/blush/bronzer/highlighter, and also learn to shape and fill in your brows. A cleaned up, and flawless (NOT cakey) face goes a long way in enhancing already natural beauty. From there, one can move on to learning how to carefully apply eyeshadow (good brushes help a lot), and carefully apply eyeliner that enhances the lash line, rather than detracts from it. A good coat of mascara, and some sheer lipgloss, and a day-to-day natural look is complete. And it’s a big difference from wearing *no* makeup.

I could go on and on about different techniques for makeup, but I’ll save some of that for future posts. Embrace your ability to wear makeup as a girl or woman — it always makes my day feel a little better if I take the time to wear a little makeup, especially as a wife and mother.

Coram Deo!


Favorite Look


Forgive me for being kind of late to the whole skinny jeans/leggings/jeggings party. I was too caught up in my own snobbery of how other people wore that look to actually give it a try myself. I’m not always a fan of the latest styles, unless they flatter my body shape and are something I can keep in my closet for the next several years.

Then I caved. I bought a couple pairs of leggings when I was preggers because they looked so comfortable, and I HATED my maternity jeans. They were my favorite wardrobe staple; obviously, because I wore holes in both knees of leggings.

And, just last month, I got — hold your breath — a pair of high rise jeggings from American Eagle. Hot diggity, what have I been missing all these years? These jeggings feel like wearing my most comfortable pair of sweatpants, I can tuck them into boots easy peasy, and they are warmer to pair with all my tunic tops than just old leggings or tights.

There are a couple of styling tips I’ve learned about leggings and jeggings that are *imperative* to follow, especially if you are short and, ahem, curvy like I am and don’t want to look like a denim pear shape:

  • Choose tops that balance out the “skinny” look of leggings and jeggings. You can’t put on leggings and then pull out any old t-shirt that is also form-fitting to go on top. Unless you are 5’9″ and severely lacking in the curve department, you’ve got to balance out form fitting leggings with looser, flowy, longer tops. Think soft blouses, tunic tops with or without a belt, oversized sweaters, and short dresses. I’m also not comfortable showing off every aspect of my butt in leggings by wearing normal length tops. Leggings and jeggings should NOT be worn like normal pants.
  • Embrace those skirts and dresses that, without the aid of a pair of leggings or jeggings, would look just a bit over the top. 😉 There are lots of skirts that I love the look of, but, unfortunately, I don’t think they look good hitting me 3 inches above my knees without leggings or jeggings.
  • Leggings and jeggings are just so darn comfortable. I’m not a big fan of dresses because of my body shape, and I don’t like my movement being restricted by only wearing skirts/dresses. I love me a good pair of jeans, too, but good jeans are hard to find, and my good pairs wear out over time. Leggings and jeggings are always easy to find and easy to wear.
  • Leggings/jeggings also look good on most body types. It’s a body friendly look, even if you are more self conscious about your legs/waist/hips/breasts; leggings and jeggings help you feel and look seriously sexy.
  • Leggings and Jeggings are summer AND winter friendly. You’ve just got to switch up your tops, and perhaps switch over to cropped leggings/jeggings in the summer.

So, there you go. Quite a few different reasons to go to your local mall and buy a couple pairs of leggings or jeggings. It’s an easy look to transition into if you are feeling your wardrobe needs a fashion update, and it’s easy on the wallet, too.

Coram Deo!