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)!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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!


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).


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!


Spring Not Sprung

Spring Not Sprung 7

Before I begin with our regular post today I want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to each and every one of you who wrote in with your support this past week. The Pie and I really appreciate all your positive comments and we’re really grateful for the fantastic crowd that shows up on the Ali Does It site.

Now enough with the mushy stuff.

Spring Not Sprung 10

Whoever said that April showers bring May flowers clearly never visited my neck of the woods. What April showers bring is a giant swamp at the bottom of my yard and pretty much nothing else. While the bulbs and perennials are just starting to think about poking shoots out of the soil, and while the grass is starting to shade itself just this side of brown, we still have a long way to go.

Spring Not Sprung 13

So I figured if I couldn’t bring spring inside with me, I’d bring some form of nature in instead.

Spring Not Sprung 8

I’ve been staring at these seed pods on my daily dog walks since the fall and I absolutely love them. I figured that they’ve long since dropped whatever seeds were in them so it wouldn’t be a bad thing to haul a few with me back to the house.

Spring Not Sprung 2

Not exactly a harbinger of spring but pretty nonetheless.

Spring Not Sprung 6

And there’s a wee bit of spring showing there, too.

Spring Not Sprung 12

I do not know this Instant Gram of which you speak.

I did it. I did the thing. Trav and Chel have been harassing me independently for a while to do the whole social media photo-majig and finally when I was last in Toronto with Chel I let her browbeat me into signing up.

And so.

Now you can follow me in this instantly-gramming extravaganza. Both allythebell and alidoesit were taken. So I’m now alidoesit.herself.

But it doesn’t matter. I’m on there. Follow me and things. You can see the link in the sidebar to your left.

This is the first picture I posted:

View this post on Instagram


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

August in Photos: the Skinny

You may recall me saying that I was going to take a photo a day for the month of August, seeing as it was going to be such a momentous month.  Well, here’s my little August gallery.  You can see the ones that didn’t make the cut on my Flickr here.

1 August:

1 August 2013 13

Dad admiring the new paint job on the old Cape Spear lighthouse.

2 August:

2 August 2013 2

Last day at work in the Lawffice Liberry.  For five years this was my exclusive domain.

3 August:

3 August 2013 41

Met a very calm snowshoe hare at the Salmonier Nature Park.

4 August:

4 August 2013

It was raining, so I painted the bathroom. Apparently yellow wasn’t neutral enough. Oh well.

5 August:

5 August 2013

Still raining. HARD. We stayed inside.

6 August:

6 August 2013 2

Dad and I went to the Crow’s Nest (a members-only club for naval officers) in January of 2008 when we were thinking of moving here. Today we bookended our time in Newfoundland with another visit. Here is the angle from the “hidden” door down the stairway.

7 August:

7 August 2013 31

The first Wednesday in August (weather permitting) is Regatta Day, the oldest regatta in North America (195 years old in 2013).  This is our view from blueberry picking up behind the Johnson Geo Centre.

8 August:

8 August 2013 4

After some hectic back and forth, we sent Gren off on the plane to stay with my parents. This is one of the extremely nice and helpful security officers using cable ties to make sure Gren stays put.

9 August:

9 August 2013 3

We had to re-paint my office to a more neutral colour. I was trying to get excess paint off my brush.

10 August:

10 August 2013 3

Down to the essentials now in our pantry: booze, Oreos, ramen …

11 August:

11 August 2013 2

Our house is surrounded by trees, and the moving shadows the sun creates as it shines through the blowing leaves is quite spectacular.

12 August:

12 August 2013 2

Today I packed up the kitchen. My parents bought these plates at the Denby factory when we lived in England over 30 years ago. I bet they’ve moved almost as many times as I have.

13 August:

13 August 2013 6

One last walk along the jetty after breakfast at the downtown Cora’s.

14 August:

14 August 2013

I had a job interview over Skype today, so this was where I spent the most important part of my afternoon.

15 August:


Moving day. The movers were late and when they arrived they were unaware they were supposed to be moving the whole house so it was a little frazzling but we got it done.

16 August:


Sun in an empty room. My favourite Weakerthans song (which is based in turn on this painting).

17 August:


Our first morning in Ottawa.  Gren was very happy to have us back with him.

18 August:


Brunch at the new home of Mags and her boyfriend, the Flying Dutchman. YUM FRESH FRUIT!

19 August:


Best shawarma in the city is Castle Shawarma on Rideau Street. They have spicy garlic sauce that is incredible.

20 August:


Today we got the Pie fitted for some suits to wear to interviews at Moores. Looking pretty slick.

21 August:


My dad was painting the woodwork on the ground floor. He may have accidentally painted me in passing.

22 August:

22 August 2013

Our fourth wedding anniversary. Crazy how time flies.

23 August:

23 August 2013

Grenadier reunited with his sister Bakhita at Bruce Pit.  Both of them reunited with some mud.  This is the picture I took BEFORE Bakhita stuck herself in the middle of an enormous puddle and refused to come out.

24 August:

Two Processor Pies

Gardened with Mum today. Harvested a ton of rhubarb. Obviously I made pie.

25 August:

25 August 2013


26 August:

26 August 2013

Out for a misty stroll on the Ottawa River Parkway. Reminds me of St. John’s.

27 August:

Star Wars Exhibit 27 August 2013

Caught the Star Wars Identities Exhibition at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Epic. Like, literally.

28 August:

Cottage Life

We weeded out the path at the back of my parents’ house today, and got to use the weed torch on the remainders. I love setting things on fire.

29 August:

Cottage Life

Hanging out at a cottage with some friends. Gren actually swam voluntarily.

30 August:

Cottage Life

Cottage life: early morning on Mississippi Lake.

31 August:


The Pie started growing this beard at the end of July, just to see if he could. He’s a little tired of it now so I recorded it for posterity and he’ll shave it off tomorrow.

And that was August!

August in Photos

Whoa.  I know.  A post on a Thursday.  What the freaking heck.

I was flipping through the Scope the other day and I came across a page touting a challenge to Newfoundlanders to take a photo every day in August.  At the time, there was no further information than that, but I thought, hey, that sounds like something I can do.  Probably not for the Scope challenge, as I’ll be leaving Newfoundland halfway through the month, but I can swing this shindig just for you.  August is going to be a pretty heavy month for us, what with moving, wedding anniversaries, and job searches, so I think it will make a pretty good gallery when I’m done.

New camera
My trusty (non-canine) sidekick.

But I can’t promise that there will be no pictures of Gren.  Though I will try.   But no promises.

Full Derp 3
Just trying to get it out of my system …

Reflections on Reflections

Happy Birthday Mags!

I finally got my new reflector in the mail.  Hooray!

Reflections on Reflecting 1

The problem is, when I bought it, I thought, oh, 44″, that’s the size of my TV, I can live with that (because for some reason it was half the price of the smaller size).  But then I got it and was shocked at how huge it was.  And then the Pie told me that 44″ was the size of our LAST TV, not this one, which is significantly smaller.  Oops.

Reflections on Reflecting 2

So this one has a shiny silver side, a shiny gold side, a white side, a black side, and even this nifty translucent section — for softening harsh sunlight.  I doubt I will be using that one much while living in St. John’s, if these gray skies are any indication.

Reflections on Reflecting 7

My first experiments with the reflector therefore had to be with a gray afternoon sky as my main light source.

So I took a grapefruit. It was what happened to be there when I thought of this.  This is the control shot. The following photos have been cropped but are otherwise unedited.

Reflections on Reflecting 3

Here it is with the silver.

Reflections on Reflecting 4

And the gold, to warm it up a bit.

Reflections on Reflecting 5

And the white.

Reflections on Reflecting 6

I didn’t try the black one because I needed all the light I could get, but that’s what I got so far.  I’m looking forward to experimenting more in different settings.  But I do wish I’d gotten a smaller one.  I guess I could just get the Pie to hold it for me …

Going Postal

Going Postal

You may recall that in the spring I acquired several envelopes of vintage postage stamps once belonging to my great grandfather and I was casting about, trying to figure out what to do with them.

In the interim, my dad found some more of them in a filing cabinet, and now I have lots.

Going Postal 1

It took me a good hour to sort them from his weird Scottish code to something that I could understand.

Going Postal 3

And now I’m going to show you two things I did with them.  I’m sure I’ll do more in the future.

The first idea I had was to enlarge two of the stamps I liked very much.  To do this, I took a close-up photo of each using my macro lens and some bright light.  I was originally going to scan them instead, but I found they lost a lot of their depth that way.

Going Postal 5

This is my improvised light box: a bright window, a white sheet of board, and a clean surface.

Going Postal 4

I touched up the images to improve the contrast and remove imperfections. I love the sheer size of my new computer screen for doing this. No more sticking my nose to the screen!

Going Postal 6

After alterations:

Going Postal 7

So here are the two I want to blow up. The mountain goat:

Mountain Goat 1956

And Expo 67.  You can see that by taking a photo instead of scanning you can pick up the slightly raised red ink on the expo67 and the 5.

Expo 67

Then I had the Pie take the images to our university’s printing services and he came home with these nice big printouts.  I bought a special pair of scrapbooking scissors at Michael’s that resembles the edges of a postage stamp, so I cut out the stamp image to look like a giant stamp.

Going Postal 2 1

Then I simply inserted it in a photo frame of the appropriate size and shape.

Going Postal 2 2

This extra one is for Rusty, because he’s an ice maker (and does curling ice), so I thought he would like it.  Three stacked one on top of the other I think makes the colour contrasts stand out nicely.

Going Postal 2 13

The other thing I did involved a stamp series, which I simply placed in a collage on black paper (for contrast) and inserted in the frame.

Going Postal 2 10

This is actually two series together, both of Queen Elizabeth, both representing certain elements of Canadian culture and industry.

Going Postal 2 12

For added interest, I did a little research on each stamp (Collections Canada has a comprehensive list) and printed out the information to accompany each framed picture.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Happy Birthday Ando!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

When we were much younger, my brothers and I sailed with my dad on his ship across the strait from Victoria to Vancouver to see the sights.  Back then, I was too terrified to attempt the crossing at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but the time had now come for me to face my fears.  Ando, his wife Teedz, and my two nieces, Tego and HG, decided to attempt the bridge while we were out west, and the Pie and I thought we would tag along.  I’m really glad we did.  In recent years, the rainforest surrounding the bridge has been turned into a huge educational conservation area, with lots of interesting stuff to see and do.  Admission is pretty steep ($28 for us students), but it’s worth it.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Right off the bat, you head across the 450ft (137m) bridge, suspended from cables 230ft (70m) above Capilano River.  The Pie told me that the bridge would support 96 elephants, so I was not to worry about falling.  As long as there were no elephants around.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Tego continually watched me for my reaction every time the bridge bounced under the feet of the hundred or so people crossing it at the time.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

The view of the river (a little low at this time of year) from the middle of the bridge.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Once across, there were tons of things to see and do to get kids (and grownups) more in tune with the nature around them.  One such activity was to test out your wingspan.  HG was not pleased to be ONLY halfway between a raven and a great horned owl. She’s trying to make herself longer in this shot.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Tego was happier to be a great horned owl, almost a goose.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

And the Pie broke the mould by being a giant, and an eagle at the same time.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

We were surrounded by so many ancient and massive trees, cedars and firs and all sorts of things.  It was quite a shock to come from Newfoundland, where trees are maybe the height of a house and live for about 40 years, to see things like this Douglas Fir, which was 205ft tall, 20ft in diameter, and about 1300 years old.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Tego learned quickly what it means to be a tree hugger.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

HG didn’t find the tree’s height all that impressive.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

We also took part in the relatively new Treetop Adventure, which I actually found more nerve-wracking than the big bridge.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Teedz, Ando, and HG were happier than me.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

But we got some great views and learned a whole bunch of stuff.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Then we crossed back over the bridge …

Capilano Suspension Bridge

And went on the park’s newest attraction, the Cliff Walk, which is a wee construction sticking out from the side of the Capilano gorge.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Tego watching to make sure I don’t freak out.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Because the floor is made of GLASS in some parts.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

HG again was unconcerned.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

In fact she ran ahead while I clutched the rails.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Once our ordeal was over, the Pie and HG were pleased to accept their certificates for having completed every activity station in the park.  What you can’t see (because it matches his shirt too well) is the Park Explorer button that HG won for completing the Tree Top adventure.  She gave it to her uncle because it didn’t go with her outfit.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Definitely worth a visit!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Gettin’ Hitched, Persian Style

When Krystopf and Atlas got married, they did it in style.  Atlas is from Iran, and so their celebrations involved many Persian traditions — and lots and lots of dancing.  And food. It was truly incredible.  And we got to meet the newest member of our family, my cousin’s baby, Ari.  She’s five weeks.  And she slept through all the celebrations thanks to her baby headphones.  So.  Awesome.

Baby Ari

Our relatively small Scottish-Canadian family was completely enveloped by Atlas’ huge Persian family as soon as we arrived, and I don’t think Krystopf could ask for a better set of in-laws.  Atlas’ sisters and parents are absolutely lovely, as well as all her aunts and uncles and cousins … Atlas’ mother, in fact, is my new hero, and she taught me how to make my own yogurt and feta cheese, so I’ll have more on that later on.

On the first night the Pie and I were there, we had the Persian wedding ceremony known as the aghd.  It was a very interesting affair, with lots of symbolic items laid out in front of the bride and groom, including the present of a mirror that they gazed into as they were wed.

The aghd spread. Ando’s foot is in the foreground.

Then there was dancing.  And food.  And more dancing.  At this point the Pie and I had been awake for longer than was really sane so we promised Atlas’ aunt that we would do our best to dance our feet off at the western wedding on Saturday.  It took three washings of my face to get off all this makeup, but that is how it is done.

Aghd Face
My mother-in-law tells me I look like Posh Spice in this photo.  And yes, those are my real eyelashes.  The falsies we saved for Saturday.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early and drove with Atlas’ mom to the hotel where the bride and groom were getting ready for their big day.  I was a bridesmaid and the Pie was one of Krystopf’s groomsmen so we were quickly whisked off to get ready ourselves.  I know the boys spent most of the day sitting around giggling at dumb jokes, but us ladies were busy from the first moment until we left for Stanley Park, where the ceremony took place. Because I have short hair, my set-up took no time at all and I was able to take some “getting ready” shots before the professional photographers arrived.

Atlas and her mom, both be-curler-ed.
Atlas’ hair, all done.
Middle sister, fluffing up her ‘do.
Baby sister, getting her makeup done.
Sister-in-law, getting her hair done while trying to eat breakfast.
The dress.

When the pros got there I gave up my camera because then I had to be IN the photos, but the photography team was really great and easy to work with — a good thing, seeing as we spent all day with them. They even produced a short video on the day, which we got to watch DURING the reception that night. It makes my brother look like a total rock star. Atlas of course is stunning (as always), and you can even see me dancing dorkily with a knife. Check it out on Brellow Productions’ blog here.  They did a great job.

Newly wed, we headed from Stanley Park back to the hotel for the reception.  We had the use of a party bus for the occasion, complete with dancing pole.  The Pie is the same height as the pole.


But that didn’t stop him from trying it out.

Hard to take a good picture when you’re laughing hysterically while trying to stand on a bus that is careening madly through downtown Vancouver.

So then all the other boys had to have a go.

Ando works his Blue Steel magic.

The trick was not to kick the beautiful bride in the face while doing so.

Krystopf needed a little help getting up after this.

A good time was had by all, especially the newlyweds, and we’re so happy for them. Congratulations!


Vancouver Ho!

On home turf... sort of.

Today the Pie and I head west yet again.  This time Papa John and Mrs. Nice have flown in to babysit Grenadier while we attend Atlas and Krystopf’s wedding with my parents.  We will be starting off on the mainland, and then after the wedding we’ll make a trip back to Victoria to catch up with some old friends, whom I haven’t seen since the early 1990s, and old landscapes, which I haven’t seen since 2001.  I look forward to showing the Pie the place where I spent an awesome five years of my life.

Posts will be as regularly scheduled, plus daily tidbits from the marvelous technology that is in my magic phone.  Then a nice trip digest upon our return.  See you then!

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