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)!

chelle_for_alidoesit1

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.

photo3

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.

chelle_for_alidoesit4

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.

chelle_for_alidoesit5

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

chelle_for_alidoesit6

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

photo7

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!

chelle_for_alidoesit8

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).

chelle_foralidoesit9

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!

(More) Meals en Masse: Beef Stroganoff

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 14

I know, it seems like this is all I’m doing these days. Well it’s kind of all I have time for in the evenings now, and I kind of want to get as much of it done as I can before I start to get REALLY tired. This Martha Stewart Stroganoff (adapted for lazy busy people) is almost as good as it would be if you made it by searing the meat and cooking it in a Dutch oven, and it takes way less time to put together. The amounts below will make a meal that serves six; I doubled the recipe and then divided it into three, cooking one and freezing two, and it perfectly sated the Pie and myself for dinner and provided a hefty lunch for us both the next day.

Start by chopping up 1 large onion. Chop it as coarsely or finely as you prefer. This is your jam, man.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 1

Grab as well 1 lb white mushrooms. You can cut them in half if you like but I was extra lazy and bought the pre-sliced mushrooms. Because I’m an adult and this is my house and I totally can do whatever I want (the novelty has not worn off yet – I don’t think it ever will).

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 2

Grab yourself 2lbs good quality stewing beef. Mmm beef. The original recipe calls for you to take 2lbs chuck and slice it 1/2″ thick and 3″ long but who got time for that?

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 3

Pitch all that into a 5-6 quart slow-cooker pot and dust liberally with coarse salt and black pepper.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 5

The other batches I chucked in freezer bags and I’m hoping the mushrooms will come out of it okay. Fingers crossed. If it doesn’t work out I’m sure that the Pie and I will be too sleep-deprived to notice.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 4

Cook your beef for 8 hours on low (or 6 hours on high), until everything is nice and brown and you have all this awesome juice. Scoop out about 1 cup of that awesome juice and pour it into a wee pot on your stove.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 6

Grab 2 tablespoons cornstarch and blend it with 2 tablespoons water.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 7

Pour that cornstarch mixture into the cooking juice and bring that to a boil.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 8

Let it cook for a few minutes until it gets nice and thick.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 9

While that’s going on, cook up a batch of egg noodles. I feel like this particular dish is what egg noodles were made for. If you wanna go gluten-free on this one, you may have to find alternative noodles.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 11

Turn the slow-cooker off (or leave it on warm) and return the thickened juice to the pot. Tip in as well 1/2 cup sour cream and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (this version I use has tarragon in it and it’s AMAZING). Give that a solid stirring.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 10

Serve over your cooked egg noodles with fresh dill, if you have it (I didn’t).

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 12

A hunk of nice bread to sop up the extra sauce won’t go amiss, either.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff 15

Mind Blown: Cups and Saucers

Cups & Saucers 1

Ever so slowly the Pie and I are beginning to tackle parts of the house where when we moved in we found a temporary solution and left it at that for the nonce. One of these areas is the kitchen. Every week I try to tackle one cupboard or drawer to make it make a bit more sense. This week I was browsing through one of the million or so emails that Martha Stewart sends me (because, y’know, we’re like, besties), and I saw something that totally blew my mind. This was the current configuration of my mug cupboard, with my Denby teacups stacked haphazardly on top of each other, tipping every which way, and my saucers stored in a totally different cupboard, with my dessert plates.

Cups & Saucers 2

Turns out, that’s crazy pants. If you store your cups and saucers together, in fact, if you store them alternating cup and saucer, stacked on top of each other, you get a more stable stack, and a much more streamlined tea-making process, as you can just grab however many sets of cup and saucer that you need at any given time.

Cups & Saucers 3

Plus the stack is much more stable and damage to your more delicate cups is less likely to happen. My Denby ones will sustain a nuclear blast but if I HAD tiny delicate ones I’d do it the same way.

Cups & Saucers 4

We’re Moving! AGAIN!

It’s finally happened. The Pie and I have joined the impoverished proud ranks of people who are horribly in debt forever first-time homeowners. And we couldn’t be more terrified happier.

DSCN8693

We close on the 14th of January, so we’re on a tight timeline to pack up the Tower and get ourselves over to the new place. So in the meantime, please excuse the mess you see in the background at Ali Does It, and possibly more cheater posts than normal in the next few weeks. I promise you that we will be back to regularly scheduled programming – and more! – by the end of January. We bought a house that is almost 60 years old and came with a good many of its own quirks – which we will, in true Ali Does It style, make our own.  And we will make sure to fill you in on all the craziness while we’re at it. Crazy corgi included, of course.

DSCN8694

Plus the house has way more space for making stuff and doing things (it. has. a. WORKSHOP. and. COLD STORAGE. I am so excited), a bigger, brighter kitchen, more light in general, and NO MORE BLUE CARPET. So things are only going to get better from here on out, on the blog and otherwise. Stay tuned!

DSCN8695

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Experiments in Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese 13

I’m trying to change up the way that I make food that I know is crappy for me. I figure if I make it well, with conscious effort to be precise, then it somehow makes it less crappy. Early on in our relationship, the Pie schooled me on the correct way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and today I’m going to start playing with it to see if I can’t jazz it up a little bit. Today I’m going to add some tomatoes to the mix. Because tomato/cheese sandwiches are a favourite of mine.

Grilled Cheese 1

So we start with our bread. The Pie prefers a solid white Texas toast or thick-sliced sandwich bread to be his base. Everyone has their own preferences of course, but I do like how light and crispy white bread gets when you grill it, and it’s pretty much the only time we eat white bread so we figure that’s okay. Next, sparingly cover one side of each slice of your bread with margarine. This is the only time (aside from making those margarine cookies) that we use oleo in the house. Normally it’s butter, but we find the butter tends to burn too quickly in this particular case.

Grilled Cheese 2

Make sure to go right to the edges with your margarine. And don’t add too much – this is already a grease pile of a snack so you don’t want to overdo it. This is also why you don’t put margarine on BOTH sides of the bread. That’s too much.

Grilled Cheese 3

Now you can plop one of the slices of bread, spread-side down, on your warm griddle (medium heat is best), and add your cheese slices. We like to use high quality old Canadian cheddar. Because really it’s the best.

Grilled Cheese 4

I also had some cheese curds in the fridge so I added those as an experiment.

Grilled Cheese 5

Then I added on my slices of tomato. I think it helps if your tomato is at room temperature so it doesn’t interfere with the melting of the cheese.

Grilled Cheese 6

Then my second slice of bread and more cheese. I need the cheese on the second slice to melt enough to stay in place when I flip it down over the tomatoes.

Grilled Cheese 7

Of course when I flipped all the cheese curds fell out into the pan. But then I got some warm fried cheese curds, which were great. Like mini haloumi.

Grilled Cheese 8

And now you cook it long enough for everything inside to get gooey. Some people like their cheese only lightly grilled.

Grilled Cheese 9

Others, like myself, prefer a tougher exterior.

Grilled Cheese 10

Serve with a glass of milk and some pickles on the side. Always. How do you do YOUR grilled cheese? Next time, I’m going to try avocados!

Grilled Cheese 11

Handy Items: Circle Cutter

Circle Cutter 8

This right here is a circle cutter, and it’s a pretty ingenious device, which is deceptively simple to use. This one in particular is made by Martha Stewart, and we all know she has her sh*t together when it comes to handy tools.

Circle Cutter 1

So you have this ring, which holds a clear disc inside with a million holes in a spiral. The centre disc spins inside the ring.

Circle Cutter 2

And you have this tiny witchy yet super sharp wee blade on a small handle, which also spins.

Circle Cutter 3

And you have your thing that you want to cut. In my case this is Con-Tact paper made to look like stainless steel. I originally tried to do this with my 2″ circle punch, but things went badly.

Circle Cutter 4

On a reliable and steady cutting surface, place your material. Top with the ring, and figure out how big you want the diameter of your circle to be. Insert the tiny evil blade into the requisite hole in the disc that matches that measurement.

Circle Cutter 5

Then carefully draw your hand around in a circle. The blade will rotate as you go, and the disc will spin. And then all of a sudden you have a perfect circle.

Circle Cutter 6

I’m making quite a few of these. It’s not as fast a process as it would have been with a circle punch but I like the flexibility to make my circles any size I want. I’ll keep you posted as to what I plan to do with them.

Circle Cutter 7

Fast Tip Friday: No Effort Bulletin Board

Quick Bulletin Board 8

I told my partner at work that if he didn’t decorate his office, then I would. He told me to go ahead. I said I would. He thought I was joking. Dear reader, we all know I would never joke about something like that. I’ll show you more of the things I have been working on for both his and my office, but here’s the first one that I planted there when he wasn’t looking.

Our team leader always gets cheesed at him for having papers lying around on his desk (and we work in pretty much a paperless office so it boggles the mind that they’re there), so I figured if he had a place to put them then they wouldn’t be lying around.

I had a handful of cork tiles that I picked up from the dollar store at some point. I got two packages of two for two dollars each. Not bad. With some painter’s tape and some acrylic craft paint, I was ready to jazz them up a little to give them some form as well as function.

Quick Bulletin Board 1

So I laid out the painter’s tape to mask off the areas I wanted to paint.

Quick Bulletin Board 3

Quick Bulletin Board 2

Then I painted.

Quick Bulletin Board 4

Then I peeled.

Quick Bulletin Board 5

So satisfying.

Quick Bulletin Board 6

Then I used 3M Command Strips to attach them to his office wall (the strips ensure they can be removed later with no wall damage).

Quick Bulletin Board 7

And a gentle reminder to put his crap away. 🙂

Quick Bulletin Board 9

Stay tuned for more quick and dirty office decor activities!

EDIT: My team leader, delightful keener that she is, took the idea and ran with it in corporate fashion in her own office:

20150914_150619

Tea for Two … or Thirty-two

Tea for Thirty-Two 5

For my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary party I decided to go with a garden party luncheon theme. It turned out to be one of the hottest days we had this summer so I made sure to have plenty of refreshments. Rather than employ hot tea on a hot day (even though the tea cups would have been super cute), I went with iced tea in the hopes that my guests wouldn’t collapse from the heat. I decided on a nice cold decaffeinated mint version (using Stash Organics Cascade Mint), a black tea with a twist (Teavana’s Mango Blank Tea with Lemon), and then the popular Earl Grey Gin cocktail (made with Tetley Vanilla Earl Grey).

And it is suprisingly difficult to make large quantities of iced tea. For one, I only had one pot large enough to hold the required amount of boiling water for each batch. So that meant I could only make one batch of tea at a time. I also only had one bowl large enough to hold that much hot liquid while it cooled. And then I didn’t have enough room in my refrigerator to cool it all down. But I did manage. It took a bit of math to figure out how many tea bags I needed for each of my batches (seeing as I usually just chuck two bags in a teapot and I’m done).

Tea for Thirty-Two 1

And I had to calculate how much fluid would fit in each of my glass jars. I got these 7.5L ones from Home Sense for a reasonable price. Remember when you figure out how much water you need, you also need to consider any other displacement volume, such as whether you’re adding fruit (lemon slices) and/or ice.

Tea for Thirty-Two 3//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

And speaking of ice, because I didn’t want to water down my tea as the day wore on, I chose to make my own giant tea ice cubes by freezing some tea in these little ziploc containers.

Tea for Thirty-Two 2

All in all it was a very successful shindig, and everyone was refreshed!

Tea for Thirty-Two 6

Fast Tip Friday: Fancy in a Pinch

Cake Stands 13This has definitely been done out there on the internetz. But I needed some tiered cake stands for this upcoming shindig and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money so I made them myself. I think my grand total on four sets was $25, which is the usual price of just one. Cake Stands 3

Make sure you clean everything well before you start. You’ll need some plates and some vases or glasses.

Cake Stands 1I have this silicone adhesive that’s leftover from my failed Kintsurokoi experiment and some carbon-silicate sandpaper from my glass-cutting exploits (I never throw anything away). Cake Stands 4

I used the sandpaper to rough up the areas on the plates and glasses to which I’d be applying adhesive.

Cake Stands 5Then I carefully applied large amounts of silicone adhesive to the rims of the glasses I was sticking down. Cake Stands 6

And ever-so-carefully plopped them on the plates. You might want to measure where the centre is. I eyeballed it. But that’s my style.

Cake Stands 7And added more plates. Cake Stands 8

I followed the instructions on the adhesive (you should always do that) and let it cure for 24 hours.

Cake Stands 9They’re going to make great little treat stands! Cake Stands 12

Our New Toy! Silhouette Cameo

New Silhouette 25After much deliberation and discussion, it was decided that my parents would purchase a Silhouette Cameo die cutter to be shared between myself, the Pie, and my mother. We ordered it recently and I finally got it set up this past weekend. New Silhouette 10

It’s a bit of a frustrating tool to use, to be honest. The manual, while lengthy, is not particularly useful. There is, however, a plethora of information about it by users on the internet, with handy instructions such as, if your cutting mat is too sticky, rub it with a t-shirt for a bit and it will be fine. Seriously.

New Silhouette 11Basically, you take your paper, stick it to the mat, shove it in the machine, and you’re ready to go. New Silhouette 13

Then you use the software to design a thing and then you “print” it to the machine and the machine cuts it out. It makes a terrifying noise that sounds like it’s jammed and it takes for-freaking-ever but it cuts it.

New Silhouette 15There’s a lot of trial and error, like figuring out how thick your paper is versus the setting on your blade – this butterfly was made with a lower cut setting than it should have been and that’s why you see the rough edges. New Silhouette 1

Another error was trying to use construction paper.

New Silhouette 17Don’t use construction paper. I don’t think it’s cohesive enough. New Silhouette 18

But when you get the settings right it’s so satisfying to pull the paper off and watch the design reveal itself.

New Silhouette 20I originally thought this weird spatula tool would be totally useless. New Silhouette 14

But it’s super handy getting all the little stuff up off the mat.

New Silhouette 21And you can make some really neat 3D objects with some careful layering, like this little succulent. New Silhouette 6

New Silhouette 7And this flower. I MADE THAT. OUT OF PAPER. New Silhouette 5

New Silhouette 2The possibilities this opens up are pretty amazing. My mother wants to use it to create 3D city scapes and greeting cards. The Pie and Trav want it for cutting out custom templates for their role-playing games. It’s also going to be way handy for making screen prints – no more printing out three layers of transparency and hoping they line up properly – I can just print out a sheet of opaque vinyl and adhere it right to the screen. Or use it as a stencil on its own. New Silhouette 22

I also decided to use it to make a nice decorative banner using two different patterns and two colours of paper: the yellow flowers you saw earlier and these green vines.

New Silhouette 23

New Silhouette 24

I used a dab of glue to stick the little flowers to the vines and then I strung both flowers and vines up on a length of fishing line, so it’s all delicate and floaty. I love it!

New Silhouette 33

New Silhouette 32