Makeup: “No Makeup”

I’m on vacation at home in Colorado, and I have a lot of time on my hands for the next few weeks. Expect many makeup posts!

Today, I went for the opposite of yesterday’s heavy-duty vintage look. The “No Makeup” look is very popular, even though I have a lot of makeup on to achieve this style.


The most important thing is to be able to look put-together in about five minutes. I have practiced enough that it’s pretty easy now (barring some kind of mascara-in-the-eyeball-oh-dear-god-why moment). Maybe I’ll post my makeup that I wore for work this year tomorrow, with a timer and video to prove it is in fact only five minutes.

Due to having more time on my hands, I should be able to crank out the rest of the TEFL for Newbs series this week. Let me know if you have topics that you want to see covered, especially for new teachers living abroad.

How long does your makeup routine take? What do you prefer between the more natural look and the heavier eyeliner? 

Give us this day our daily routine

This is how I get ready most days, at the start of 2016. At 28 years old, I am in possession of some pretty good skills at hair and makeup. I wear this look almost every day in one incarnation or another. Braids. Winged eyeliner. Blush. Here’s a before and after for you!


Before and After 

The lighting isn’t changed and both photos have the same filter. Makeup and hair makes a huge difference in my opinion. I don’t do them for anyone else, especially since my husband finds me to be a beautiful person overall and not just physically! I like the way makeup and hairdos make me *feel*.

It’s really important to me that as I get older, I continue to have this time to make myself feel pretty. It’s part of taking care of myself.

Today, my hair style is quite complicated. This is because I didn’t have to work on New Years Day, and I had a little time on my hands. Check out the process!


Shanghai-Proof, 12 hour teaching hairstyle:

  1. Start with brushed hair, with a little lemon juice in it to try to brighten it.
  2. Using a rat tail comb, section the hair into three parts on your head with parts running parallel to your face. Put the two sections at the back up, and comb the front one forward.
  3. Now, begin a Dutch braid (tutorial here) starting at your ear. Pull the braid up and over your head to the other side, gathering hair as you go. Braid the remainder when all of this section has been added, and secure with an elastic.
  4. Let the second section down and brush it out to get rid of tangles. Do the same type of braid (or a different one for more texture)  on the other side, starting at the other ear. Secure with an elastic.
  5. Tug on the braids to make them bigger. You can find a tutorial for this awesome trick that I recently adopted here.
  6. Braid everything into a single, large braid. Secure with an elastic, and pin it under to make a chignon. Pin the living crap out of that bun, to make it secure. Criss-cross the pins so that they lock together.


With a little practice, this hairstyle could be done in ten minutes or less. I wear braids precisely because they are some much quicker than blow drying or straightening. Braids are feminine and secure for a long day of work, too.

Take a break for some tea.



Next is makeup. Follow these steps.


  1. Moisturise. Dot some foundation under your eyes and on the chin. Don’t put it on your whole face, because this can look cakey. You want as much of your natural skin to show through as possible.
  2. Add some peachy blush. Sweep it all on your cheekbones and up to the edge of your hair. Focus on the area just below your temples for a vintage look (tutorial here from 1948).
  3. Add some shimmer with a few dots of highlight. Put them on the top part of the cheekbone and just under the eyebrows. I use Benefit’s High Beam, which I bought for my wedding and is only about half gone more than a year later.
  4. I swear by NYX Milk as an eyelid primer. Smear it all over the eyelid and in the corner of the eyes to brighten. Blend it really really well, or you will look as silly as my picture up there.
  5. Blend some light brown eye shadow on the outer parts only of the eyes. Blend with a brush. Blend. Blend. Blend again. Think you’re finished? Blend again!
  6. Using a liquid liner in a dark brown, draw on a wing. Use it carefully and incrementally. It’s easier to add more than to remove the liner once it’s on. I only draw my eyeliner to the middle of my eye or just beyond the midline on the lid, because I want the white corners to stay as white as possible.
  7. Two to three coats of black mascara. Check for stray bits of anything that inevitably fall onto the cheeks.



Winter look! 

How do you like to do your makeup and hair? What are the tricks you use to make it faster/easier?

Goodbye, Etsy: Why I Will Never Purchase Through Etsy Again (And Neither Should You)

EDIT: Since I posted this, I’ve received at least 50 emails and comments about the same situation for others. It seems that in some cases, Etsy even threatens their customers with legal action if they complain about a missing purchase. I have still not bought a single thing from my former favourite website. 

I attempted to buy myself a pair of boots for my birthday this year. I had a pair of leather boots from Peru that I loved in the past, and wore until the soles came off in Korea. I have been searching for a pair like this ever since (almost five years now).

What better way than to order custom-made boots on Etsy? I loved Etsy. I bought a huge amount of the things for our wedding there, including the materials to make my veil and our wedding goblets. I loved the community aspect, and the fact that Etsy actively promotes their both global and local maker community. I even wanted to open my own shop at some point to join in more. I trusted them.

I was apparently wrong.

My boots turned up in time for my birthday. They are made of leather, and of good quality. But they are also approximately seven sizes too small. They look like a comedy prop. This, after I had measured my feet and indicated that I wear a US 10 (Eur 41).

I contacted the seller, and they said that there were ‘some problems’ with their Etsy site. I found out upon checking that they had been removed from Etsy for what I can only assume were fraud reasons. Etsy never notified me of this, even though the website was removed during my transaction.

Oh yeah, and I paid $137 for those ‘custom boots.’ 

At no point did Etsy notify me (or anyone else who might be caught up in this) that they had removed the seller from the site. I attempted to file a claim about the case on Etsy. It was immediately ‘resolved’ by saying that the seller was no longer active/allowed, and that I would not be able to take any further action with Etsy. I had to go to Paypal directly and hope for the best.

This is the message I sent on 18th October after they ‘closed’ my case immediately. Subject line: ‘This is outrageous.’

I require that Etsy immediately issue a refund to my Paypal account for a purchase I made recently.

You apparently allowed a person who swindles people out of money to not only sell items on your website, but *did not notify or contact me when you closed their shop*. I had a purchase for a significant amount in process, and my birthday has been ruined as a result of Etsy‘s negligence.

I attempted to open a case directly, but received this ‘closure’ instead:

‘This is Etsy‘s Trust and Safety Team.

cmonroe1611, we are sorry to inform you that dreamgirl220220 no longer qualifies to sell on Etsy and will not be returning to the marketplace. While this case is unresolved, it is now closed.

Because this order was paid for using PayPal, your next step will be to open a separate claim for a refund with PayPal. As you may already know, PayPal’s policies state that buyers have a specified amount of time to file a claim for a refund. This eligibility window may differ depending on your location, so at this time we would recommend that you get in touch with PayPal directly for more information. Their contact information is as follows:

– PayPal Help Center:
– PayPal Contact page:
– PayPal # 1-888-221-1161 (US), 1-402-935-2050 (if calling from outside the US)

If the PayPal deadline passes, you might consider reaching out to your bank or credit card issuer. We apologize for the inconvenience.’

This, I’m afraid, is completely untenable. You have a responsibility as a site that hosts sellers to notify buyers of problems, especially when more than $100 is at stake. I don’t make very much money at all, and I chose to use your site to buy myself a nice pair of shoes (the only ones I will buy all year) for my own birthday.

Instead, I am stuck with shoes that are more than three sizes too small and you will do nothing about it. When you cancelled the store for the seller in question, why did you not immediately contact anyone with an outstanding order? You actively allowed this person to take my money and ruin my birthday.

I will never purchase anything from Etsy again, and will actively discourage others from doing so, if this is not immediately resolved. I simply cannot believe how bad your customer service is.

I am contacting Paypal directly, and expect your immediate and complete cooperation on this matter.

After several days, I received a response from Etsy’s ‘Trust and Safety’ team.

Hi there,

Thanks for getting in touch with us. Before I address your concerns, I hope you’ll forgive our slow response time. We’re currently experiencing a high email volume, and are answering each email in the order that it comes to us.

I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t received your order from SmithHandmadeShoes. I’ve looked into this, and I see that this shop no longer qualifies to sell on Etsy and will not be returning to the marketplace. While this means we can’t ensure you will receive your order, I wanted to provide you with some suggestions for your next steps.

Although the seller can no longer be contacted on Etsy, you’re welcome to continue discussing your order with them via email. Here’s where you can reach them:

Taking a closer look at your order, I noticed that your payment was sent directly to the seller’s PayPal account. Some sellers opt to receive funds into their own PayPal account. This means that PayPal, not Etsy, is the only party that has access to those funds. As you may already know, PayPal’s policies state that buyers have a specified amount of time to file a claim for a refund. This eligibility window may differ depending on your location, so at this time we would recommend that you get in touch with PayPal directly for more information.

I’m including the contact information for PayPal below:

Additionally, PayPal may require the PayPal transaction ID, which is different from your Etsy transaction or order number. For your convenience, I wanted to provide this number for you: 0DX075027C305141B

If your date to file a claim with PayPal passes, we’d urge you to contact your credit card issuer or bank for further assistance in pursuing a refund.

You may also want to consider taking these steps to protect yourself and others:

  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center:
  • Contact a law enforcement agency in your location or the seller’s location

I’m sorry that you weren’t contacted when SmithHandmadeShoes was removed from the site. For privacy reasons, Etsy doesn’t currently notify buyers when a seller has been removed from the marketplace. More information on our Privacy Policy can be found here:

I definitely understand your concerns, and we’ll consider this as we move forward with the site and the way that we handle these issues. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts — please be assured that we hear you and we will take your thoughts into consideration as we continue to work to improve the site.

While I don’t want to discount the difficulty you’ve experienced with this seller in any way, please know that these situations are rare. Most transactions on Etsy are completed without incident, and the average Etsy seller is a devoted and passionate individual who is willing to do their best to assist you with any order you place in their shop.

That being said, I hope you’ll consider this an isolated incident and give the Etsy Seller Community another chance again in the future. Should you have further concerns about this, please let me know.

Etsy Trust & Safety

So yeah. Apparently it was worse than I even thought.

Etsy’s official policy is that they never tell a buyer when the seller is removed. 

This means that for any purchase made on the site, there is no protection for the buyer. Etsy could remove a seller without letting anyone know, and close any cases that come up as a result. At one point last year, we were considering buying an Engagement Ring on Etsy!

I mean, Jesus Christ! Can you imagine if someone bought something that important, hoping to get outside the mainstream wedding industrial complex and support a small scale artisan, and Etsy just deleted the seller and made no attempt to contact the buyer?! You could be several hundred dollars in the hole and without the ring, and Etsy’s ‘Trust & Safety’ would just put up its hands and say, ‘I’m sorry that you weren’t contacted when EngagementRingsRUs was removed from the site. For privacy reasons, Etsy doesn’t currently notify buyers when a seller has been removed from the marketplace. More information on our Privacy Policy can be found here: Case closed.’ 

I could never make a significant purchase on Etsy again, after what’s happened. But worse still, they apparently are lying about what has happened in my case. They claim that I was issued a refund through Paypal. This is definitely NOT the case. The seller refunded some of the shipping fee because I am in China. I’m still out more than $100.

Screenshot from my former Etsy account

Screenshot from my former Etsy account

Let's zoom in on the problem...

Let’s zoom in on the problem…

Ah, there it is!

Ah, there it is!

That has not happened. The proof is in the Paypal.

From Paypal's Resolution Centre - clearly showing no refund issued.

From Paypal’s Resolution Centre – clearly showing no refund issued.

A consolidated list of the issues, then:

  1. Etsy allowed a fraudster to take more than $100 from me 
  2. Etsy’s policy is not to contact buyers if a fraudulent shop is removed, even mid-transaction
  3. Etsy closed my case without resolution 
  4. Etsy claims (falsely) that I have received a full refund via Paypal

As a result, Etsy’s team received this email from me today:

Dear Trust &Safety,

Thank you for getting back to me. I have filed a claim with Paypal but do not expect to receive a refund.
If Etsy‘s official policy is that buyers are never notified when a seller is removed from the site, I’m afraid I have no choice but to remove my account effective immediately. It appears that Etsy puts seller privacy ahead of buyers’ security, money, and peace of mind.
I will never purchase from Etsy again as a result of this transaction, and will actively discourage others from doing so.
I am so disappointed in this situation, and cannot believe that the official policy is designed to screw over buyers in situations like mine. I had hoped to open my own Etsy shop in the future and am so sad that I cannot use the services of this site anymore. I feel that I have been betrayed by Etsy and I am losing a significant online community, which I loved being a part of until now.
But I cannot now trust Etsy to treat me well as a customer, and I could never make a significant purchase on the site again without fear that my money and effort could be wasted.
I will be blogging about this situation and from now on will discourage everyone I know from using Etsy.

And I have deleted my Etsy account as of 12:00 CST today. Their banner popped up afterward, seeming to mock me and this situation directly.

Definitely unsatisfied customer here. My seller was certainly passionate about ripping me off! And secure transactions? Please.

I will never purchase anything from Etsy again, and neither should you. 

EDIT: I received this email back from Etsy’s ‘Trust & Safety’ team. I publish it here to show just how much Etsy wanted to shift the blame for this situation onto me for this transaction.

Hi Coleen,

Thanks for writing back to me.

Again, I’m sorry there wasn’t more we could do for you regarding a refund. I’m here to help, and while I may not be able to lessen your frustration or ensure your satisfaction regarding your order, I want to do everything I can to provide you with the information that I hope will be most helpful to you.

Some sellers opt to receive funds into their own PayPal account. When you send payment directly to a seller’s PayPal account or send or a check or money order, you submit payment off-Etsy to the seller directly.

For this reason, Etsy does not have access to the funds you submitted, and we’re unable to issue a refund.

I am sorry to see you closed your account. Again, I would like to state that these situations are rare. While it is our hope that sellers will practice good customer service, but we regretfully cannot guarantee that this will be the case.

We hope you’ll return to the Etsy community. In the future, I recommend that you try contacting the seller directly before committing to a purchase.

You can do your part to help ensure a smooth transaction by following the best practices for buyers, which are outlined here:

Getting to know your seller can help you to make an informed decision. This article from our Help page explains how to send a message using Etsy Conversations:

You may also wish to check the seller’s Shop Policies regarding shipping to see if they offer tracking information or insurance for their orders. To find their shop policies, go to the main page of the seller’s shop and click on the blue Policies link in the left-hand menu.

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to thoroughly read the listing description for each item you’re interested in. I also suggest you take a look at the shop’s Reviews. To see reviews that have been left for a shop by other buyers, visit the seller’s shop and click on “Reviews” in the menu on the left. A shop’s star rating is the average from the last 12 months. The review count is the total number of reviews received. You can also see all of a shop’s written reviews on this page.

Because you paid with a different method than using a credit card on Etsy, such as through PayPal, you may wish to familiarize yourself with PayPal’s process for reporting a problematic transaction as well as Etsy’s process.

I’m sorry there wasn’t more I could do for you. If you have any further questions about this matter please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m always here to help.

So in short, make sure that you contact everyone that has ever viewed a shop, and contact them privately outside the normal Etsy process of messaging and listing it for sale, which is totally not what we do as a company. They clearly have no care at all for people who buy on their site. Instead, let me patronise you about how you should have been more careful when using our ‘secure’ site.

My response says it all:

I’m glad that you’re happy to shift the blame onto me for this situation. If Etsy had any modicum of respect for buyers on its site, this situation would never have happened. Rest assured that everyone I know will know about how badly Etsy treated me, and that you have lost a customer for life.

I Live In Cotton In Shanghai

It’s Hot. With a capital H. When I got up at 7:30AM today, the sun was already a blistering height in the sky. I’m struggling to get the weather to come up on the Internet, but it seems that the heat simply never goes away. You know how sometimes in summer, it’ll cool off at night? No. Not in Shanghai.

coleen to delete 051Our very apartment building seems to inhale the heat of the day, and exhale it through the tiled floors at night.

coleen to delete 094

I live in cotton. It wicks, somewhat. It’s light. It absorbs my dripping sweat. I have black cotton, which is strategic. It doesn’t show the sweat.

I haven’t made a style post in a long time, but today felt as good a time as any. If you’re wondering why I’m wearing bright blue tights….a word…chafe.

I’m wearing:

Black Cotton Maxi Dress: Target

Cotton Scarf: From a store dedicated to cotton in Xujiahui

Blue tights: Target

DIY pompadour hair: By yours truly


Stay cool, everyone!

DIY: Wedding Veil

Putting the veil on.

Putting the veil on.

Wedding veils are a special piece of clothing. Patriarchal connotations aside, it is one of the things that marked me as a bride in my mind when I got married. I love the pictures of me putting it on before the ceremony.

Veils are horrifically overpriced. The ones I was offered while trying on my dress were all over $120. A quick scan of the major outlets that I considered, and these two come into (pricey) focus.

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Courtesy of David’s Bridal

The most affordable one, at 66 GBP ($100). Others that were similar to mine come in at nearly $200, inexplicably.

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Courtesy of David’s Bridal

You might think, as I did, that going the Etsy route might be a cost-saver. You would be mostly wrong.

How is this 81 GBP, exactly? Courtesy of gebridal.

How is this 81 GBP, exactly? Courtesy of gebridal.

I dreamed of making my own wedding veil for years. I used to wrap myself in my great-grandmothers’ table cloths, imagining how cool they would look as a homemade cathedral veil. I wanted to make my own, and this is how I went about it.

To Make Your Own Wedding Veil

  1. Decide what length you would like, and the style. My veil is a fingertip veil with a blusher to go over the face.
  2. Research your fabric options. Keep in mind that vintage fabrics will cost more. ALWAYS check the measurements with a measuring tape at home before ordering. Order a comb of a medium size as well.
  3. When your fabric arrives, play with it. For several days/weeks. Don’t cut it until you are sure of what style you’d like.
  4. Lace is hard. I originally wanted a mantilla-like veil. I decided the lace weighed it down too much and skipped it. If you want a mantilla-veil DIY tutorial, check out this one!
  5. Decide how to attach the veil. I used metal wire and wrapped it around the comb with freshwater pearls and beads, but plain string could work just as well. Make certain that the attachment will be strong.
  6. Sit down in the afternoon and attach the veil. Try it one with the comb and make sure you like the placement.
    Close up of the attachment.

    Close up of the attachment.


  7. If you’re happy with it, reinforce the attachment site with another round of wire/string.
  8. Be happy with your wedding veil!

Playing with the veil in late October.

My whole veil cost less than 20 GBP to make, and it was exactly what I wanted. If you only do one DIY project, let this be it!