Challenge Accepted: IMPOSSIBLE PIE

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I found this recipe in the newspaper a little while back and thought it looked tempting enough to try. It’s easy peasy and totally delectable but it looks complicated and fancy when you serve it, and it is not a totally overpowering dessert, so you can always have seconds!

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The impossible part of this pie is that you mix everything together all at once and pour the very liquidy batter into your pan for baking, and what comes out ends up having three layers: a sweet fudgy layer at the bottom, a custardy layer in the middle, and the chewy coconut layer on top. Full disclosure: I never achieved the fudgy bottom layer, but I suspect it’s because I used a huge heavy pie pan (because that was the only one I had that was deep enough). Perhaps if you use a thinner pie pan you might have better luck – if not, the pie is still pretty effing good.

Heat your oven to 325°F and spray a 10″ wide and 2″ deep pie pan.

Melt 1/2 cup butter, and let that come to room temperature. Pro tip: if you only melt the butter halfway, then give it a stir, the melted butter will melt the non-melted butter and the non-melted butter will bring the temperature of the melted butter down faster and you don’t have to wait as long for your super molten burn-y melted butter to cool down. It’s like MAGIC. Or thermodynamics. Either or.

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Grab 4 large eggs out of the fridge and bring them to room temperature by plopping them in a bowl of warm water. While you’re at it, leave 2 cups whole milk (or a combo of milk and cream) out on the counter to warm up too. HEY PRESTO!

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Take 1 lemon and zest it and then juice it. Nothing super magic about that. It’s a lemon for crying out loud.

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Grab yourself a perfectly ordinary food processor (or is it?). Or a blender. Or do this by hand. I prefer the magic of electricity. Plop in your 4 eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

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Then tip in (or do this first, the order doesn’t matter – this is just how I took the photos) 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.

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THEN tip in (or do this second, or whatever) your 1/2 cup butter, 2 cups whole milk, and lemon juice and zest.

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Give that a good whaz, THEN tip in (and this time it DOES matter the order because this has to happen after the whazzing) 1 1/4 cups shredded sweetened dried coconut (I used unsweetened. It was fine.). Stir that around.

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Pour the batter into your prepared pan. There it is, all perfectly ordinary and homogeneous-ish.

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Shove that in your prepared oven (I used my convection toaster oven) and bake for 55-60 minutes, until the top is a golden brown around the edges and you can shove a toothpick in the centre and it comes out clean (LIKE IT WAS NEVER DIRTY! AMAZING!).

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Pop that on a wire rack to cool. You can serve this warm but it cuts best if it’s been chilled first, so I recommend that. Keep any leftovers (HA) in the fridge, covered up.

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Even without that fudgy layer, this thing was still ballin’.

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Baby Butt Butter (hahaha, BUTTS)

Sorry, I got another baby post for you. I promise that magic pie is next.

Latergram: Mr. Jaunty. #alidoesit

A post shared by Alison Bell (@alidoesit.herself) on

LongJohn is going to daycare (NEXT WEEK OMG OMG OMG) and I gotta make sure I send everything with him that he needs over the course of the day. One of those things is diaper cream (or butt butter, which is a much better term). I’ve been making my own for a while and I’ve tweaked it to a point where I’m pretty happy with it. My recipe also allows for substitutions when you run out of things, which is handy. Because I run out of things OFTEN. The secret to a good oil-based lotion consistency is to use the correct ratio of solid oils to liquid oils, and everything after that is golden.

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As long as you use a 3:1 ratio of solids:liquids, you can do pretty much whatever you want, in any quantity. So let’s get started, shall we?

Gather yourself 1 tablespoon beeswax1/4 cup cocoa butter,

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1/4 cup mango butter (or shea butter),

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1/4 cup coconut oil,

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and 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or sweet almond oil, or extra virgin olive oil).

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Tip all those things into a double boiler and let them melt.

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When the mixture is uniform, remove it from the heat and add in 2 tablespoons vitamin E oil – you can get this in the pharmacy, either in a bottle or in capsule form.

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You’ll also want to tip in some essential oils, about 15-20 drops (in total, not each). I used a combination here of calendula, chamomile, lavender, and a bit of tea tree oil.

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Next, stir in 1-2 tablespoons zinc oxide powder (I ordered this from Amazon). I find this is the magic amount to avoid leaving too much white crap everywhere, and I’ve also never had any issues using this amount with cloth diapers. If you’re not a fan you can leave it out altogether. As I said, this is a flexible recipe.

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Now leave this oily goo to cool. You don’t want it to cool so much that it solidifies, because you want the finished product to be scoopable with a finger.

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I find that putting it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes is a good start. Then you get this solid bit around the edge but it’s still thick and liquid-y in the centre.

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Next, grab your hand mixer or immersion blender and a strong spatula (because the butter tends to solidify hard on the sides of a cold bowl) and give it a good beating, scraping down the sides as much as you can. Whip it until it looks like cream cheese icing. Now you’re done! Alternatively, you can pour the totally liquid butter into a mould for a stick-shaped solid, and use it kind of like deodorant on your baby’s butt, but(t) you will find that it melts on your hands quite a bit when you’re doing that.

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You can see how a few seconds on my arm and the butter just melts, which makes it easy to spread around and it sinks in nicely – I’m not a fan of gooey baby butt crap.

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But(t) even though it sinks in nicely it still forms a very nice moisture barrier, as you can see from my hands after I started to clean up my post-butter-making mess.

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I tried to pipe the butter into this tiny container in the hopes that I would make less of a mess doing so than I normally do, but I failed. So I ended up making just as much of a mess and now the butter looks super weird.

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Weird looking or not, it still does the job!

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Sea Creature Floor Pillows 2 of 2 (with Better Cheater Box Cushions)

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Phew. This was a long time coming. LongJohn went through a period of time where he was particularly uncooperative so getting this done was a bit of a challenge. As you know, a while back (a WHILE back) I made a whale floor cushion for grown-ups to sit on while hanging out on the floor with LongJohn.

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My two assistants.

With the second old pillow I had, I made him a boxfish. Why a boxfish? Well the pillow is rectangular, and I’m making a box cushion. So it makes sense to make nature fit my plan. Plus I had a gorgeous scrap of blue jacquard that looked very similar to a boxfish in pattern. That pretty much settled it.

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I only had a small piece of it though, so I had to carefully hoard my trimmings. That’s why some of the bits and pieces I’ve tacked onto this sucker look a little weird.

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So here’s the stuff I planned to use for the snout of the fish.

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Here you can see the bits I got for the tail. And then I happened to have some gorgeous orange stuff with a bit of embroidered detail on it I decided to use for the rest of the fins, so I loosely cut out basic shapes.

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Don’t forget the eye, which I made out of felt.

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I freehanded the sewing of the fins.

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And once they were sewn I trimmed the excess, turned them inside out and sewed lines in from the scallops for further separation. I realize that’s a terrible description – hopefully the picture makes more sense.

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Then I stuffed it!

Boxfish Cushion 11Definitely trim the excess when you’re sewing otherwise when you turn it right side out it won’t look right.

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Here’s the tail. The tail was definitely the weakest of my half-assed derivations.

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Especially seeing as I wasn’t paying close enough attention and didn’t sew it far enough and it came undone. Rather than fixing it properly I just ran the machine over it a bunch of times. I’m now passing it off as a war wound from some battle the box fish had with whatever predators they deal with.

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Stuffing the snout.

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Because I only had *just* enough fabric, I didn’t have any leftover to hem the edges of my open seam, so I rummaged through the basement and found some gray grosgrain ribbon that I folded in half and sewed over the raw edges.

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Now for the complicated process of attaching the fins to the whole shebang. This was wayyy easier than doing it with that stretchy whale fabric.

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Turn everything inside out and securely pin everything in place. Sew, sew, sew!

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Now the eye …

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Everything is attached except for the side fin and the snout, both of which will be hand-sewn because they’re hella awkward and not on seams.

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Also the tail, which is not on a seam either. I cut a hole in the side and stuffed that in.

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That was easy to sew with the machine.

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Next I take the corners and flatten them so the seam is in the middle. Then I sewed across to make an isosceles triangle, with the base being the height of the pillow.

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There’s my pretty box corner, with the tail attached!

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Now the job of hand-sewing on the snout and fin.

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Complete! LongJohn loves it, and we enjoy having a second place to plant our butts.

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Sequin Background for YouTube

She’s back! The lovely Chelle has been co-opted to write in my place yet again. Enjoy, and be sure to check out her stuff on her website (details below)!

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Hi everyone! My name is Chelle and I run the beauty blog Makeup Your Mind and YouTube channel of the same name. I’m filling in for Alison today with a DIY on how I created my sequin background for my YouTube videos!

Since I live in downtown Toronto in a one bedroom apartment with my husband and two cats, we don’t have a heck of a lot of space to use as a filming area for my YouTube videos. The *only* area we really have available to put up a backdrop was our entrance “hallway” to the apartment.

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So this is how my filming setup looks in essence. I’ve got a high chair in the middle of the entrance, my ring light and tripod with camera pointed at it. Sadly, the apartment door and surrounding walls just aren’t attractive enough for videos, so I had to rig up some kind of contraption to put up behind me that could be put up and taken down easily.

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I decided to buy some sequin cloth from Ebay and a shower tension rod to hold it up. The sequin cloth came as one straight sheet of cloth, so I was going to have to attach it to the curtain rod somehow.

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I flipped the cloth around so that the curtain rod lay on the unfinished side of the cloth.

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Wrapped the cloth around the rod, and safety pinned it into place!

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Since the whole curtain is on a collapsible tension rod, it makes for quick and easy set up and take down every time I want to film a video!

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You will find that the cloth needs to be pulled tight on the edges so that you don’t get any wrinkling effects in the background and for that I use painter’s edging tape (not pictured).

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Et voila! A shimmery, abstract background that helps bounce light back into the video! I love how professional this can look on camera, and yet when you pull away it just looks like such a hot mess in the entrance to our apartment!

Thanks so much for reading, and if you’re interested in my little corner of the internet, come say hi over on my blog Makeup Your Mind!

Fast Tip Friday: PlagiarEYEs Me

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The eyes have it, folks. Feel free to take this idea (rather poorly  executed on my part, after LongJohn was in bed) and run with it for your next greeting card.

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Step one: acquire googly eyes. These came from the dollar store.

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Step two: come up with a pun that can be properly appreciated by a one-year – old (or a fifty-one-year-old).

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Step three: apply both to card stock. I hope you have better drawing skills than I do.

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I have some bigger projects in the pipe for you – now that I’m getting a bit more sleep I can actually think up some stuff – but strangely, when you have a baby in the house these projects tend to take a bit longer than they should. So stay tuned!

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Snap Happy!

Didja miss me? A whole twelve days without something new from Ali Does It? Shenanigans! We are starting to find ourselves in a routine with now month-old LongJohn (for the most part) so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to some kind of regular posting schedule in the near(ish) future.

Anyway, here’s something for you now. I recently found myself looking for a birthday gift for a mom friend of mine, who takes a good number of pictures of her kid on her phone. As a new parent too, I find myself doing the same thing – my phone is usually to hand when my actual camera is not (if you check out my instagram you can see what I mean …).

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So on my searches on the internet I found a company called Photojojo, and their specialty is photography. And they had these nifty kits with camera lenses you could attach to your phone! So I got one for her, and one for myself. Naturally.

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Each lens comes with several little adhesive rings so you can attach them to your phone, your partner’s phone, your tablet … whatever. The ring clips easily to a magnet set into the lens itself. No fuss, no muss.

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Simply stick the ring to your phone (that blue plastic comes off) and let it sit for half an hour.

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I got all the bells and whistles in my kit.

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Including this wee pouch that holds all the lenses!

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Here’s the ultra fisheye lens securely sitting on my phone …

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And its effect.

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You have to zoom in a bit so that the lens itself doesn’t show up in the shot:

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I’m especially interested in the wee macro lens that also came with the kit. Most of the stuff I do here on Ali Does It is in macro so I think I can have some serious fun with it. Stay tuned!

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Modding the Mom Hat

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I hope you all enjoyed your Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend! And if you didn’t get to celebrate a national holiday this weekend then I hope at least it was sunny where you were. Speaking of sun, I bought this hat at IKEA last summer for 99 cents. It is great to wear to baseball games to protect my pasty white skin.

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Now I’ve discovered that it’s also a fantastic wearable parasol for LongJohn (so named because he’s a lanky albatross like his dad) when I’m wearing him out and about.

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The problem is that in a good breeze the parasol becomes a parasail and I lose the darned thing. It’s very hard to chase down a hat while wearing a baby. So I need to make some modifications to keep the thing on my head, and while I do that, I might as well have some fun with it, right? With that in mind, I dug out a huge pink grosgrain ribbon.

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I cut it to match the band around the hat. I set that aside for the moment.

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Then I took two more pieces and wove them into the inside of the band, for straps to tie coquettishly around my chin. I felt very much like a Jane Austen character, dressing a bonnet, while I was doing this.

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Tied off the ends to prevent fraying.

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And then decided I needed a feather in my cap.

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And because it was Pride Week in Toronto (Ottawa’s isn’t until August and it’s much more low key), I decided to put a rainbow of feathers in my cap.

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I wound them together with some wire.

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Used a bit of hot glue to ensure they stayed that way.

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Then wove the wire end into the hat to fix the feathers in place.

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And I managed to do all of this while still wearing LongJohn.

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Then I glued the first piece of ribbon around the band, leaving room for the hat to expand as it gets squashed on my head.

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And I took another piece of grosgrain, this one in black, and fashioned a rosette out of it.

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The rosette fit nicely on top of the feathers, hiding the wire machinations.

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Tada, my Mom Hat that I can wear with Pride!

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