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Friday, 13 December 2013

Twenty Questions

It's my turn in the hotseat for The Beauty Spotlight Team's game of twenty questions, which will hopefully allow you to get to know us all a bit better, aside from our minutest preferences in eyeshadow finish... so this drivel about drivel about frivol. It's meta, see?

I took the liberty of cherry-picking our BST questions list and then added others posed by readers and makeupalley denizens. Began by attempting to impose some kind of order, soon gave in to free-associative entropy…. this should not surprise anyone who's visited in the past :D Pull up a chair, pour out a cuppa and have some snacks handy: it's an epic ramble.

this is where the drivel happens / it is vital to alternate sweet and savoury to prolong your snacking stamina

1. What time do you wake up in the morning?
I aim to get up an hour before I need to be out the door, which would allow a generous 10-15 minutes to apply thoughtful makeup, another 10 minutes to make neat swatches and 5 minutes of picture-taking in that great early-morning light, along with the regular-person morning-routine stuff. In practice I fall out of bed 5-45 minutes before I'm due to leave and at least once a week I'll rock the bare-faced with glasses and headband-over-mysterious-Johnny-Bravo-quiff-that-has-manifested-overnight look.

2. How do you take your coffee?
IMMODERATELY AND INDISCRIMINATELY. 
I adore good coffee and on weekends will stock up on some freshly roasted single-estate beans, faff around with a burr grinder, fancy-ass water, thermometer and siphon pot, the works. Most mornings it's a few scoops of whatever I ground last weekend in a cafetière. If it's the good stuff I take it black; cream and sugar are added in increasing quantities to adulterate increasingly questionable coffee. Which I WILL still drink because addict. Will also drink: those Japanese cans of what is basically condensed milk containing maybe 0.01% of blandest 'Blue Mountain'. May also have been known to nibble instant coffee granules while waiting for kettle to boil during deadline pile-ups…

3. What do you carry with you every day? Makeup or otherwise.
Whee, I get to sneak a 'what's in my bag' tag! The contents are too boring to justify a solo post -- super dry skin ensuring no need to touch up anything else, the only makeuppy things I take are my lip of the day and a brush for it. I always have a clear SPF and a tinted Fresh Sugar balm with me, too: currently Kosé Cosmeport Pure Double Collagen SPF 20 (cumbersome name, great product; get it here) and Cherry. And my snazzy plastic apple mirror, particularly effective held up as I'm touching up a Rouge G with its useless sliver that keeps snapping shut :P
I also carry a travel bottle of Muji cleansing oil for sensitive skin, some Haus of Gloi pumpkin butter in another Muji pot, and my Sunplay body sunscreen, so that I'm ready to swatch whenever opportunity strikes. Eye drops for my dry eyes, Paul&Joe makeup bag for RDA of kyoot.

The P&J bag with some boring essentials, to illustrate size:
Boring stuff aside, I always have my kindle paperwhite with me, and two contrasting paperbacks. Because what would I do if my phone and ereader run out of juice and I'm not in the mood for one of the paper books?! Cultivate an inner life?? PAH.

4. Have you ever been "recognised" in public?
A bare handful of times. And invariably on a stringy-haired, bare-faced/failed-experimental makeup day. Readers are always lovely and gracious, I'm always highly traumatised and flaily and attempting to sink into the ground. Several sales associates/makeup artists have also recognised me from the blog -- they like to drop this oh-so-casually into the conversation juuuust as they're manoeuvring a sharp liner around my lash line or painstakingly painting my cupid's bow. >:C Y my frivolous drivel fail to strike FEAR AN TREMBLIN RESPECT into the hearts of wo/men, eh?

5. How do you approach beauty and mu when you feel down or need a pick me up? 
I'm much likelier to reach for the gin, junk food, pink mascara, canary yellow blush and all teh glitter rather than lighting a scented candle and massaging the leftover organic constituents of my raw-food salad into my skin before settling down to a nice three hour meditation session. (And by 'much likelier to' I mean ALWAYS.)

6. Are your family/friends supportive of your blogging?
Definitely, as the latest in a long and ongoing string of hobbies, but in a teasing way, again with the whole never-being-taken-seriously thing. But really, my nearest&dearest have bought me makeup, posh camera equipment, let me test formulas on their skintypes/tones and make them over to try placements, waited patiently while I swatched an entire beauty department while offering the occasional pep-talk / shoulder massage / squirt of isotonic water / scooby snack as I passed them on my laps…

7. Do you find blogging about your interests to be a joy or a burden?
Never a burden or I'd stop. I've come to actively enjoy every step of the process (though picture-taking remains my least favourite and most often frustrating part, as my lack of actual skills makes me highly dependent on the vagaries of natural light) and I love interacting with my fellow bloggers and reading every single lovely, thoughtful comment someone leaves me. For me, keeping things quite amateur/personal seems to be key -- the minute I start setting up posting schedules or try to get all slick and churn out reviews of alltehthings, it would tip over into work and become a burden quite quickly, I think.
Some of my other hobbies seem less conducive to being blogged. With knitting/sewing/dance, I prefer to just get on with it. Fragrance, food and media (books, telly, music etc.) are hobbies I share with many people in my offline life, so I tend to be talked out about those before settling down to type. Makeup seems to be uniquely communicable through a combination of words and pictures that makes for a fun, varied blogging experience. Not to mention the truly awesome community of interesting, passionate and just plain strange folks. :D

8. What was your first real job? 
Discounting the tutoring/dance-teaching/waitressing gigs I had through school and uni, my first real job, which I thought of as The First Rung Of The Ladder To A Glittering Career In The Field was at an indie fashion magazine, so new then that I had a hybrid writer/stylist/PR/gofer role.

9. How has your relationship to beauty products changed since you began blogging? 
I was afraid I might turn into a consumerist vortex using the blog to justify all the purchases 'For Science!' but I think I've actually become more critical and less willing to shop -- it'd be adding another 'to review' item to the pile, after all, and I'm always already running behind i.e. have you heard me talk about any of the products featured in the topmost pic? Exactly. I already feel a bit guilty for posting repetitive looks, so 'but I've already blogged something similar' is most often the deciding argument against acquiring another red lipstick whose minute difference in tone from the dozen I already own my camera will probably fail to capture. I always have and probably always will fall for genuine refinements and advances in texture and formula, though. And blogging has made me a much more regular blog reader, which means I'm far more aware and humbled by the extent of knowledge/skill and variety of approaches out there, and much better at pulling a greater variety of looks out of the products I already own.

10. Is there a category of products you like (or dislike) blogging about in particular?
Eyeshadow palettes are my favourites! There's just so much more room for wank finest discernment of exquisite detail, and clowning creative experimentation with placements and combinations to draw out its potential. I'm rarely inspired to write about skincare or non-colour makeup -- behind my current 'back to basics' series lurks a cunning plan to have a few key posts I can link to in future thus avoiding the need to address those topics ever again….

11. What niches of makeup or beauty products do you feel are currently underserved by today's offerings?
Genuinely pale foundations. Especially formulas for dry skin -- even in 2013, it seems that whiteness is most often achieved through chalk. It also feels like the unctuous textures and delicate finishes that work for my uber dry skin tend to come in mostly brown-toned, muted colours, while the garish clown shades that please my tacky heart are mostly to be found in formulas barely differentiated from actual crayons, chalks and craft glitter. I want bridges, dammit!

12. Are there any colours/products you WON'T try?
….No. :D The above whinge aside, I'm irritatingly optimistic by nature and will still play with every new matte yellow eyeshadow (however heavily dandruffed in its own powder fallout), every neon terracotta foundation labelled 'porcelain shade #0000' (lies, lies!!) and every new shade of a waxy-sweaty chubby lip crayon going. I'll also wear anything at all out and about, and have, including but not limited to red lip gloss all over my eyelids (man, that was not a fun blinking day).

13. How did you acquire/develop your current sense of aesthetics?
(Clearly subconsciously hate myself as seem to be placing these questions in highly pointed order…)
The most recent seismic shift happened when I fell down the Japanese makeup rabbit hole around five years ago. Their OL styles were incredibly helpful as I was trying to adjust to a more grown-up, professional way of self-presentation six days a week (Sundays will always remain holy clown days) -- they seemed to allow more room for creative, thoughtful but still wearable looks, with lots of geeky minor variations of placement, finish and tone, than the Bobbi Brown / Laura Mercier schools of bland 'polish'. And learning to navigate and work with those thoughtful and constantly renewed Japanese textures, of course.
But I first fell in love with makeup as a very young, stage-struck kid, and being on the professional ballerina track until my very late teens, the philosophy and language if not the exact grammar of stage makeup still forms a significant influence even on my blandest, simplest, worksafest looks -- a consideration of overall effect in colour-story and shape, theatricality, escapism, and play, a strong dislike of 'signature' makeup. For more see this early (and early-morning :P) blog manifesto. For more coherence and a very readable social history from someone who gets it, check out Carol Dyhouse's Glamour; obviously Dyhouse and I are both English so sit cosily within a long tradition of fostering and indulging this particular kind of eccentric amateurism -- I'm not claiming to be some kind of mould-breaking original here!

14. What are your beauty pet peeves/greatest annoyances?
My scattershot wanderings through academia (ivory tower, bouncy castle, same as…) would probably all fit easiest under the 'cultural history' umbrella so nothing annoys me more than ahistorical definitions of what is 'flattering' or 'beautiful' makeup -- words even worse than 'in/correct' which at least acknowledge their own social arbitrariness. 'Full, naturalistic brows = the best brows' is a frequent current bugbear, but even supposedly obvious things like 'base should mimic skin' make me twitch -- er, not when the chalk-white-powdered look was the only socially acceptable face and anything else would genuinely look 'wrong'. We are by definition blindest (literally) to the most binding and unspoken aesthetic rules in play in our time, and it's rankest arrogance and idiocy -- like declaring yourself 'trend-free' -- to deny that.

15.Which historical period do you identify with the most for fashion/makeup?
I would never give up the postmodernist perk of being able to cherry pick and reappropriate all of the things! I do have an affinity for periods/areas of concentrated and self-aware change, so let's go with 1920's-30's Shanghai in full melting-pot modernist swing.

16. If you were attending a costume party, who or what would you dress as?
My lazy thrown-together-from-existing-wardrobe costumes for that last-minute, "...wait, this is a costume party, wtf?" realisation are Wednesday Addams; Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate (yes, I do have a rubber chicken); or random period extra from the '50s/'60s (hey, I give good subversive Stepford) or from the '20/'30s (effect largely achievable through makeup) as on last Halloween.
My favourite recent costume was Beau Brummell -- I'd found the perfect frock coat in a charity shop and got to stick sideburns on and talk in camp aphorisms aaaaaall night. I also had fun going as Utena in this here wig with my BFF as Anthy swooning into my arms on the regular.

17. Do you have a guilty pleasure? 
Not really :D I am pretty open/shameless about all my pleasures be they '90s anime series, geeky adventure games or terrible teen J/K-dramas. Bit embarrassed by how susceptible I am to Arashi and their damn hooky choons, though.

18. What are some of your favourite movies?
I'm more of a TV series girl, and hate picking favourites, but my most often rewatched include: My Neighbour Totoro, Beauty and the Beast, The Princess Bride, Bringing Up Baby, Some Like It Hot, Singin' In the Rain, Fargo, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Life of Brian/Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Clueless, Mean Girls, and Heathers. Which is going to be A MUSICAL soon, well fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

19. What kind of teenager were you?
Stroppy, is there any other kind? I was a very annoying (again, is there any other…?) oh-so-knowing dabbler in all the subcultures going, who communicated pretty much exclusively in ironic quotations and pop cultural references, i.e. is there any other…

20. What would your dream job be?
Apparently, 'book doctor,' because my heart skipped a beat when I saw a National Health Service recruitment ad for one. Sadly, this turned out to involve prescribing the correct self-help manuals/workbooks from an approved selection to patients with diagnosed mood disorders in the queue for therapy, and not, as I thought, finally getting paid to dispense random book recs to all and sundry, which is already my favourite activity tied with respiration.


There! Anyone who made it through can have first scoop of my bibimbap:

77 comments:

  1. Marvellous post that made for super fun reading! Your ballerina background makes total sense now, I was struck by your lithe gracefulness when we met :) and now I'm craving bibimbap.... That P&J pouch is one of my favorites too.

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    1. What a delicious euphemism for 'awkward flailiness' :D I loved bonding with you over P&J -- still coveting your cosy blanket thing!

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  2. I really enjoyed reading through this post! And oh, oh, we have many of the same movies...I like cartoons because I must still be a kid at heart. Always. Being a grown-up is unfun. Well, except when there's wine or bourbon.

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    1. I left out more cartoons :D Come snuggle up on the couch with me. There's booze as well as popcorn and candyfloss.

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  3. You can get some bibliotherapy at The School Of Life in London - no affiliation. Think I might go and sign up for a session at some point - thanks for reminding me about it as I'd read about it and thought it sounded good, but promptly forgot about it until you mentioned book doctor!

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    1. :O I KNEW this had to be a job!
      It reminds me a little of the Idler Academy. And as a bit of an evening class/short course addict, thank you for introducing me!

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  4. Just realised I didn't clarify what bibliotherapy was - it is what you wanted a book doctor to be - prescribing good novels to read for certain issues and stages of life etc. I think most self-help manuals are rather self-selected in the first place so am not sure they need prescribing...

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    1. Very clear :) Yes, a poor NHS lass got an earful from me when she explained what their 'book doctor' job actually entailed :P

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  5. haven't had a chance to read this properly - which I will do tomorrow with a cup of tea (as opposed to now with three glasses of wine). LOVE your blog as always, its a pleasure to read and I love getting a sense of your personality with each post! :)

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  6. OMG you were going to be a professional dancer? That explains your willowy figure. *_*

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    1. LOL! Ironically one of the reasons was my love of cake > love of daaaaaaance.

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  7. A ballerina? No wonder your shots are always en première, almost about to do a perfect plié :-) I LOVE reading this post & getting to know you beyond your penchant for red lips and sparkly eyes. And if that Dr.Book thing does not work, maybe you can be Dr.Makeup instead..

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    1. pfft, and with stinky feet out of shot? :D
      Dr Makeup sounds awesome too! I do like drawing on people's faces.

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  8. Oh, ballet... How very fitting :) Loved reading the whole post and I also have a thing for the coming-of-age 80's movies (also, dance movies from the same era), and Monty Python, of course. I'll comb through other more obscure to me references in a spare moment. And yay for editing blog photos in Picasa!

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    1. Oh dear god, I should've picked bad dance movies -- ALL dance movies -- as my guilty pleasure! Oh lord. I also sat through every frustrating neverending overwritten bit of dialogue in Bunheads.

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  9. I think you make a nice point in #7. Keeping blogging casual is what keeps it fun... and it's actually really easy to stumble into territory where blogging becomes a chore. I enjoyed reading your answers & getting to know a bit more about you :)

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    1. Especially when you're as lazy as I am :) I like reading the scrappier, more personal blogs too.

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  10. " We are by definition blindest (literally) to the most binding and unspoken aesthetic rules in play in our time, and it's rankest arrogance and idiocy -- like declaring yourself 'trend-free' -- to deny that."

    YEP this! This is a pet peeve of the highest damn order for me, and extends much further than makeup that's for sure...

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    1. YEPYEP. Actually, since I listen to talk radio while I do my makeup there's quite a large RAGE component in every look :P Not to mention a bounce test for all my brushes.

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  11. Teehee, the coincidence that I just made myself the largest coffee before I could read the mysteries of Jessica/Driveller. And eating coffee grinds? That explains your wide-eyed stare (I will interpretate it as "need more coffee-grinds"-look in the future).

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    1. It's Kate :) But vacant is my natural state, yes.

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  12. Hi Kate! Long time lurker. Cannot help but comment as ballet, books, make-up... Omg ticks a lot of similar interests, so can I be your frend!?! Ohkkayyy stalkerish mode overrr, just wanted to say thank you for your blog, reading it counts as one of my simple joys.

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    1. To be counted a simple joy is the greatest compliment I can think of! Thank you so much :D

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  13. This was such a good read! I was so enthralled I didn't even bother to get up and pour the cup of coffee! I don't know why but #5 has me feeling like your long lost twin! LOL
    One day they will make us pale dry skinned lost souls a foundation that won't make us look 10 years older and half dead. They'd better! I guess the one benefit is like you said, touch ups not required. ;)

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    1. LOL! POUR THE COFFEE, WOMAN! Nothing is more important :D
      Any girlfriends who come to me for comfort always gets prescribed glitter on boobs, applied by moi. IDK why, it seems to make sense always. :D

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  14. Kate, you are utterly delightful. That is all. :)

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    1. <3 You are folk of strange tastes which is why I love you.

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  15. I so enjoyed reading this, you have such a distinct and delightful voice.

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    1. My secret: never one well-chosen word when a dozen rambly hyphenated ones will do!

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  16. Great read, I would have loved more! ;-p

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    1. Good lord, no, I think there's a character limit to these things! lol

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  17. Ah, you're such a delight. *toasts with weekend coffee* It's always fun to hear more about the personal side of bloggers, and it's especially great when you're willing to open up and engage so honestly and genuinely. Love your fearlessness with makeup and totally agree with your point re: supposed trend-free-ness and etc. And now I know who to go to for advice if I ever take up those adult ballet lessons that have been on the backburner for years!

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    1. <3 My advice is to plump for the scariest, most wrinkled Russian teacher you can find, prepare to work your ARSE off and have ugly feet, and learn some nice gutteral Russian swearwords. :D

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  18. I r indiscriminate coffee drunker. *sips 4 hour old coffee reheated in microwave* *soft muffled burp*

    This is a post full of everything I need to know about you. I shall squirrel it away in my cheeks for future ponderation and consumption. *shoves computer in mouth*

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    1. Belly, YOU do one as well! :D

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    2. Reheating in microwave takes time! REAL WIMMIN down that icy scum-topped coffee neat!

      *nestles into belly's...belly* hmm that worked out quite well

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  19. What a great read, you are always very interesting. I have to say I feel a bit of green envy about your cute P&J bag ;)
    xx

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    1. It is a bit of an eye magnet, that one :D I always keep a beady eye on it in public as everyone reacts by squeeing and then plotting theft.

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  20. I've always been very curious about what you do for a living *now* that has you jaunting all over the world. But I won't ask, because you obviously would have told us if you wanted to.

    I'm about to be in the pale-foundation-searching camp, I'm afraid. I'm basically NW15 in the summer, so I'm pretty well represented (although *definitely* not by every brand.) Now that it's winter I'm finding my summer staples all ever-so-slightly-orangey. Sigh. I think my cheapest option might be to buy the white Mac F&B, since I already have a basically unused N1 that was too orangey even in the summer.

    Oh, also randomly, since we are in the spirit of randomness here today, I bought my first Rouge G (Garconne) with my last Sephora discount code and I totally blame you.

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    1. Oh, aint no thang! No-one asked this time round :) I work in publishing, though having changed roles three times in the last two years and with another change possibly in the offing in the next it seems pointless to specify further!

      Unwieldy weapons for everyone! So spill, does it turn fuchsia on you?

      Foundation swatches will go up later this week -- maybe they'll help for extrapolation purposes?

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    2. Short test says that Garconne will stay blue-red (which is what I wanted--YSL GS #6 is my warm red, and Addiction Last Scene is fairly neutral) rather than full fuchsia. Much less so than my full-on 80's look in Revlon's Cherries in the Snow, anyway. We'll see how it does in a full day. Fading always emphasizes the fuchsia thing.

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  21. This was fun to read! And every neon terracotta foundation labelled 'porcelain shade #0000 *cries*

    Adele

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  22. I wish you answered 20 more questions. *sighs longingly*

    Re: book doctor, it should be a real job! There was a woman in Brooklyn who went about advertising her services as a "book therapist" at $30 an hour! I've bought a truckload of books to give as gifts this Christmas, but now I'm second-guessing my decision and am on the brink of panic-buying tacky little tchotchkes.

    Which burr grinder do you use? I'm so lazy that I get the local roasting company to grind a bag of beans for me before I bring it home, and I *know* they're judging me in their black little hipster hearts for doing so. :P

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    1. For someone who couldn't imagine writing a personal blog this was worryingly fun :P

      No second-guessing! Simply disown anyone who disdains your book recs :D

      I have a very lovely Breville, but lust after a Mazzer mini *_* LOL my local coffee shop are LOVELY and non-hipstery and happy to grind a week's worth of stuff and fold it into a wee apothecary's envelope :D Which is why you should move to London -- I shall hound the people in the flat next door away ready for your arrival :D

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  23. It was fun reading your questions and great to "get to know you better" through these! :)

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    1. Such a fun series :D I really enjoyed reading yours.

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  24. Hi, I've discretely and pleasurely read your blog plenty of times without writing you comments. Then this morning I saw from Mostly Sunny that you these Q&A going on so I had to come by. Thanks for a great read, and I adore your style and how you pull it off, even though I'm not sure I'd ever have the guts to wear dandruffed canary yellow eyeshadow... Cheers!

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    1. Thank you for commenting :D
      I'm not sure 'guts' is the right word... you are a better person than I am for sparing those around you that particular eyesore :D

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  25. That's a great post :-D I loved reading it. It helps to get to know you better :-)

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    1. <3 Thanks for stopping by! I love your photos and aesthetic :)

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  26. Haha, sure sounds like you love coffee ;-) What a fun post, I love learning more about people through posts like this.

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  27. You know Kate you say you don't want to talk about perfumes on your blog but i really think you should! Your whole style is very interesting and seeing how you're a quirky, funny person I'd love to learn which kind of perfumes you wear! You talked about Séville à l'Aube but that was a thousand years ago. Would you like to make a future post about your favorite fragrances? Home fragrance, candles, perfumes, scented body products, whatever and anything you haven't drivelled about yet.

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    1. I do want to! Maybe some quick collage-y posts if you guys are okay with that :D I seem to have fallen into a brain trap of equating perfume blogging with careful essay-reviews, but it doesn't have to be, right?

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    2. Definitely not! You don't need to write a novel everytime you review a perfume ;)

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  28. I adore all your answers. I feel like I know you better and identify with a lot of your answers. You truly are one of my favorite bloggers.

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    1. *floored*
      tell me someone hacked into your account to post that because *flails*

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  29. Loved this post to bits! It's great to know you much better now. Your answers made me laugh out loud :-)

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    1. I always feel like we'd be constantly giggling like kids if we ever met IRL, Lily!

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    2. Giggling is good. It's nutrition for the soul, Kate!

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  30. If I didn't love you so much already, the fact that you have a Monkey Island hero costume on the ready would certainly clinch the deal. Yet another shared love! <3

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    1. :D This means you will be my buxom pirate wench, yes? YES? We annoy all the people by insult duelling with bad puns, yes?

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  31. Yeah, so I love you. Even. More.

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    1. <3 I've often thought reading your blog that we have many overlapping weirds!

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  32. Loved this a lot. I mean, predictably. But yes. Love. <3

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  33. This is my favourite post from you so far. Love you even more, and your quirky sense of humour!! Wishing you the best :)!! Thank you Kate :)

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  34. *scoops bibimbap*
    i thoroughly enjoyed this post. i agree keeping it casual is key; once the swatch conveyor belt takes over, the blog is less fun. and the more fun a beauty blog, the stranger the blogger.
    *sips sachet cappuccino*

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  35. We are besties in my mind! <3

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  36. I <3 u. I love all those films too. I love this saying: "We're all inside the whale now" an old art history professor of mine used it, which has been slightly adapted from Orwell's original meaning. It highlights beautifully how we're blindsided by our cultural context because we're actually living it.

    Also, where did you get the teapot from? It's beautiful x

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  37. I am a bit late to chime in the chant, but I guess all I have to say is that "Can I love you even more?" (No homo, btw).

    You probably know this already. Berroco has a line of slightly glimmering alpaca yarn called flickers, all the names are named after roles or composers in ballets (I have rothbart, odette and now I am hunting for the dusty lilac called Piotr) now every time I look at the yarn balls (still haven't knit anything with them) I think about you!

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