Friday, September 30, 2016

My homemade pumpkin spice syrup


It's the time of year for pumpkin spice everything, but myself and many friends of mine don't care for the extreme flavor in most brands. The coffees are too sweet, spiced, or just taste artificial. I created this recipe so we can all enjoy pumpkin spice again.


1 & 1/2 cups water

1 cup of sugar (or 1/2 cup if you prefer less)

1 cinnamon stick

2 TB of pumpkin puree (I use canned pumpkin)

1/4 TS ginger

1/4 TS cloves (optional)

1/4 TS cinnamon

1/4 TS nutmeg

You will need:

Measuring cups

A blender, or a Cuisinart machine that can liquify ingredients.

Measuring spoons

A pan to simmer the syrup.

Start by putting your water and sugar in your pan and letting the sugar melt. Allow it to simmer until you can no longer see sugar granules. Add a cinnamon stick and let it sit for a few minutes.

Put your remaining ingredients in your machine and puree them. Once the water mixture is very warm (but not boiling) take out the cinnamon stick and pour some of it into the machine to liquify everything. It should start to look like a syrup after about 15-20 seconds. If you need more sugar water you can add it to make this smooth. There shouldn't be a single lump in the syrup. Pour everything back into the pan and let it simmer on your stove with the cinnamon stick for 8 minutes. Allow your syrup to cool and place it in a container. This will last in your fridge for up to four weeks. I use a glass salad dressing jar with a lid so it is easier to pour into coffee.

You can add this to any type of coffee, but I like it with a shot or two of espresso, steamed milk, and some froth. Let me know if this version of pumpkin spice tastes better to you!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What to do if your liquid lipstick cracks


I think anyone whose tried the liquid lipstick trend has come across some particularly drying formulas. They crack, flake, and make a desert of your lips. This feeling can be unbearable if there is no makeup remover in sight. I've found a way to soothe my lips without altering the color of the lipstick. The first step is to not reapply any throughout the day. That just makes it worse. Take a tissue and get all the little flakes out from the inside edges, and apply a dab of Nivea Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia Kiss with your finger. I've tried a ton of balms and this is the best one for this quick fix. It doesn't alter the color and creates a creamy lipstick while moisturizing. Keep rubbing it into the lip color until that dryness is gone. You can then leave it as a full coverage lipstick, or blot it down and apply a little more lip butter. The shea butter formula will keep your lips hydrated the rest of the day.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My 'no makeup, makeup' look


                  Romee Stirjd at DSquared2's fall 2015 show was my inspiration for this look.

The ultimate goal of this look is that other people think you're naturally a little flawless and were born that way without filters.  I speak from experience that it can take some trials and errors to get it right for my skin type. I have dry skin that is normal in the warmer months, and many products on the market can work against it. It needs hydration and balance in order for makeup to set well and stay throughout the day. I start with my skin care.

   Skin care:

1. Cleanse with Burt's Bees Orange Essence or Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser.

2. On certain days I will need a light peel with Pixi Glow Pads. Leave it on for 3 minutes and then rinse. This makes my skin smooth and ready for the serum.

3. I then use Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Absolute Serum. This milky serum is for dry and sensitive skin. It absorbs quickly and the scent is natural rose.

4. I  spray on some Jurlique Balancing Rose Mist and immediately add Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb or Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè.

5. SPF has always been tricky for me. I don't like heavy feeling creams during the day and they can often interfere with the performance of cosmetics. My current  choice is Shiseido Urban Environment Oil Free UV Protector with SPF 42. It's also water resistant if humidity is an issue.

The best tip for makeup is to blend out everything that has color to it. It should almost appear to be part of your skin instead of sitting on top of it. Using the least amount possible, keeping to neutral tones, and avoiding any makeup lines has worked for me. When I think I've blended it all out, I blend some more.


1.  The foundation I've used the most out of my collection is Bourjois Healthy Mix. Just a small amount on my t zone, and I blend it with my hands. The warmth of your clean hands will always be the best makeup tool.

2. I then use a highlighting concealer in strategic places. Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch in Radiant is a good affordable option. I know some people have complicated concealing routines, but I apply it at the outer corner of my eyes, the very corner of my under eyes, my cupid's bow, and on any other place that seems like it needs brightening. I blend that out with my fingers as a I go. If I have a blemish I use Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, and it can pretty much cover anything.

3. My powder of choice is Rimmel Stay Matte, but I only use it on my nose and around the hairline of my forehead. I use a Laura Mercier Velour Powder Puff because I like how vintage it feels. The Cinema Secrets puffs are good too.

4. On my brows I like something natural like Glossier Boy Brow in Blonde. The tiny brush is the best.

There are so many options for the eyes. I often choose bare lids.

When I want a matte look I will use Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Bone, a classic shade since the 90's. I heard about Carolyn Bessette Kennedy using it and that always stuck with me. It's sheer enough so your lids don't look powdery and it blends into most light to medium skin tones.

If I want something with a little shine it's a touch of RMS Living Luminizer, or their Eye Shine in Lunar. You have to like coconut oil to appreciate RMS. It's in most of their products.

I usually choose one coat of Maybelline Full n Soft Mascara in Dark Brown, and this shade might be discontinued. They still have the black shade.

5. My cheeks are simple with Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Uber Beige.  I learned about this from Hannah Martin at Bobbi Brown, and it's easy to blend with your fingers.

6. If I'm using lip liner I choose one from Prestige Cosmetics, and it's getting harder to find. Sand and Cameo are my favorites. I blend this out so there are no harsh lines and then top it with the same pot rouge I used on my cheeks. Just a dab. If it seems like too much color I will blot it down.

And that's it. What's your technique for a natural beauty look?
Have you tried any of these products? I'd love to hear about your makeup bag favorites!

― Kristi from Modern Grace

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Time in a bottle: September 2016 favorites



Behave Couture Top and Majesty Couture Skirt
Both are made to order. 

Secret Garden Dress in Green

                                         Makeup inspirations:


Michelle Pfeiffer


                                 D.S. and Durga Radio Bombay


Guerlain Lingerie de Peau (sheer)



Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage




ColourPop Bardot 


Look #1

MAC Swiss Chocolate

MAC Sumptuous Olive

This rich cocoa and patina olive are a perfect match. 

Look #2 

These shades are inspired by the 

MAC Spiced Chocolate quad

MAC Coppering

MAC Cranberry

Viseart 01 Matte Palette Sable, Ivoire, and Chocolat.


L'Oreal Feline Noir

Lip products:

Tom Ford Lip Contour Duo in Make Me

RMS Lip2Cheek in Diabolique and Illusive 

Diabolique is the color of crushed elderberries. As a kid I would smash them between my hands to see the pretty purple color they'd make. Using this product reminds me of the time I spent wandering around my grandma's backyard exploring her plants and creating "makeup" with the berries. 

 Bite Multistick in Cerise

  Nail Colour:

Zoya Yasmeen

Autumn reading list for 2016


 It's that time of the year again to get some cocoa, a blanket, and curl up by a fire. Here are twelve books I recommend for the fall season.

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

"Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville family's home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?"

The Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

"This single volume brings together all of Poe's stories and poems, and illuminates the diverse and multifaceted genius of one of the greatest and most influential figures in American literary history."

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

"A fast-moving, eerie...tale set on Halloween night. Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween. After witnessing a funeral procession in ancient Egypt, cavemen discovering fire, Druid rites, the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages, and the gargoyles of Notre Dame, they catch up with the elusive Pipkin in the catacombs of Mexico, where each boy gives one year from the end of his life to save Pipkin's. Enhanced by appropriately haunting black-and-white drawings."

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

"This is Oscar Wilde's tale of the American family moved into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance its tired ghost. The family -- which refuses to believe in him -- is in Wilde's way a commentary on the British nobility of the day -- and on the Americans, too. The tale, like many of Wilde's, is rich with allusion, but ends as sentimental romance. "

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

"Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat--blindfolded--with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page."

Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

"A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples... At a Hallowe'en party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the 'evil presence'. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer... "

Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

"Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol' Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.

Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He's willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror--and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . . ."

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

"On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking. And the witching hour begins...

Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches - a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.

A hypnotic novel of witchcraft and the occult across four centuries, by the spellbinding, bestselling author of The Vampire Chronicles.

The Voices by F.R. Tallis

"In the scorching summer of 1976—the hottest on record—Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London.

The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices.

For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work aside, he begins the project of a lifetime—a grand symphony incorporating the voices—and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard . . .

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson has a new cover from Penguin books. Haunted houses will always be my favorite of the horror genre. 

"First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own."

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

"The Fall of the House of Usher" recounts the terrible events that befall the last remaining members of the once-illustrious Usher clan before it is -- quite literally -- rent asunder. With amazing economy, Poe plunges the reader into a state of deliciously agonizing suspense. It's a must-read for fans of the golden era of horror writing. "