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!

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(More) Meals en Masse: Beef Stroganoff

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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.

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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).

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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?

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Mind Blown: Cups and Saucers

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wingin’ It Wednesday: Experiments in Grilled Cheese

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Others, like myself, prefer a tougher exterior.

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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!

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Handy Items: Circle Cutter

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Fast Tip Friday: No Effort Bulletin Board

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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.

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

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Then I painted.

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Then I peeled.

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So satisfying.

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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).

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And a gentle reminder to put his crap away. 🙂

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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:

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