How to make a terrarium: step-by-step guide

FacebookGoogle+TwitterRedditWhatsAppPinterestStumbleUponGoogle GmailEvernoteBlogger PostWordPressShare

Imagine you’re an interstellar planetologist on a mission to alter the state of planets or moons into luscious gardens capable of sustaining (human) life. In this mission, you must know how to make a terrarium.

The terrarium is a confined area used for growing, observing and researching plant development. Adding creatures such as worms, snails or reptile results in creating vivariums (“viva” meaning life, in Latin). Or consequently, by adding water and fish you create an acvarium. Insect aficionado? Insectarium! Terrariums are reduced scale simulations of the conditions of life and it’s absolutely fascinating to witness their development.

In no way am I an expert or above the general knowledge when it comes to plants. But with some research, I think I managed to put-up a nice collection of terrariums (yep… I didn’t stop at one). Looking online, you will find quite a few websites that sell terrariums for anything from 1 euro to almost 1000, which in my book is just too expensive. Obviously they’re made by artists or professionals and they indeed look amazing. Nonetheless, the joy of making a terrarium yourself is far greater.

What you need and where to look for

Plants – I must admit, as much as I appreciate plants, there have been days when watering the house plants was completely out of my mind. And this is one of the reasons why I went with cacti or succulent/ fat plants. These remarkable plants evolved to conserve water. Forgot to water the plants? That’s fine, no need to water them more than once every 3 weeks. They come in interesting shapes and sizes that make them a great choice for ornamental reasons. And did you know that some cacti have psychoactive agents? These plants require some exposure to direct sunlight, but not more than 6 hours/ day.  They’re not prone to a large number of pests or disease but you can treat them to insecticide if you think it’s needed. I got all my plants from a indoor/ outdoor garden store. The plants have labels on them so picking the right ones for your terrarium is pretty straight forward. Keep in mind not to mix outdoor plants with indoor ones or water loving plants with cacti.
Tip: Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering. Adding too much water to a confided glass space can lead to molding or even the slow death of the plants inside due to harmful bacteria.

Containers – the more intricate the container, the better. That’s what makes people go “whaaat! plants can’t fit in there, that’s crazy!“. Look for glass jars, bowls, glass tanks, candle holders, hanging vases, light bulbs, glass domes, whatever you fancy. Most of my glass bowls come from thrift shops aka hidden treasure chests. They were no more than 1-2 euros and scratch free. The narrower the neck of the glass, the harder it will be to insert the plants so if you’re new to this, try sticking to something you can easily manage. There are two ways to approach containers according to the plants you pick. Fat plants, like the ones I’ve got, do need ventilation (meaning that most of my terrariums have an open hatch). Au contraire, if you want to observe the cycle at first hand, pick plants that love humidity and close them in completely.

Tip: Don’t forget to wash your containers with water, at a high temperature, just to get them clean and sanitary. Bacteria and mold are your enemies here (nah, mold is pretty awesome but not in your terrariums).

Soil and drainage – Building terrariums is like building pyramids – a good foundation is key. In the case of these enclosed little worlds, the most important element to consider is constructing drainage holes. For this you need: activated charcoal (found in the pet store, acvariums section), gravel stones or small rocks, moss and soil (choose the soil accordingly, meaning either water or non-water intended).

how to make a terrarium soil

Soil specially used for indoor plants.

Tip: If you notice your moss drying out, you can easily revive it by spraying it with water and keep it in the sun for a couple of hours daily.

Decorations – Although not a necessity, adding decorations to your terrarium will truly give it that unreal look. Gnomes, birds, dinosaurs, Legos, miniatures, mushrooms, shells or runes can help tell the story of your little sampled world.

how to make a terrarium steps

Neatly organized decorations I collected from around the house.

Tips: Keep it light tho. Your decorations should compliment your terrarium and not overrun it. Simplicity works best so don’t overlook decorating solely with gravel, sand and moss. I started with adding more decorations than needed and they just ended up being removed.

Tools – Gloves for handling plants and soil, spatula to scoop soil and charcoal, cardboard surface or paper to work on (it will get messy), cardboard box for garbage collection, a long wooden pick to arrange your plants position inside the container, water spray bottle and a relatively large, clean surface. I hadn’t had the necessary amount of clean hands to also take pictures of the tools so my bad but I’m pretty sure you can envision them just fine.

That’s pretty much everything you need to get started. It takes about 15 minutes per terrarium.

Easy steps in creating a terrarium:

1. Create a thin bedding of pebbles and gravel stones in the glass container. This will act as drainage as you must imitate the conditions in nature.
2. Add activated charcoal in between the stones. Activated charcoal helps against mold and bacteria.
3. Add moss over the charcoal. Fresh moss acts as drainage and it prevents the soil from becoming soaked into the base of the terrarium.
4. Add a generous layer of soil and dig holes in it for the plant roots.
5. Add your plants in the soil holes. Avoid the placement of plants exactly against the glass or each-other as it might lead to spots or over-moisture.
6. Add decoration such as small sculptures, pebbles or sand.
7. Myst your plants with water.
8. Bask in the glory that is your very own terrarium. Now you can freely scatter or preserve life wherever your travels take you, into the wastefulness of space and time.

Maintenance – Observe your plants regularly and check for any suspicious changes such as yellowing of leafs, rot or condensation. Rotting leafs or plants need to be removed or they’ll spread. Also, condensation is not welcomed when you’re planting succulents. Condensation can lead to bacteria so try keeping your terrariums fresh and healthy. Once every month or so try to move the soil around with a dining fork. Another important terrarium maintenance requirement is keeping the glass clean, inside and out. Use a napkin to remove excess moisture. Water your plants as they need it, depending on their environment. My succulents are being watered every 2 weeks and they seem to be perfectly fine. And there you have it. Taking care of a terrarium is a lot like having your own experimentation area. Every terrarium is unique and thus it varies in conditions, just like a planet.

Here are my finished terrariums:

how to make a terrarium guide with pictures

And the final result: my very own terrarium garden.

how to make a terrarium fairy tale

Experimenting with fairytale forest themes. In the right corner lies my chemical experimentation with small rocks and moss.

how to make a terrarium succulent plant

Sticks and stones.

how to make a terrarium nuclear winter theme

Here I imagined Wall-E during a nuclear winter. with overgrown mutated plants. In the back you can see a completely enclosed terrarium that I open once a month for fresh air.

how to make a terrarium garden

Wish these were samples from distant planet.

how to make a terrarium in glass

This plant has very intriguing twists and turns and makes for one bad-ass terrarium.

how to make a terrarium forest themed

Forest themed terrarium with pine cone and pebble decorations.

Terrariums can be great personal gifts and a great alternative if you live in an apartment because not only do they look great but they’re very easy to maintain. I wish you success in creating one yourself.

Reverse gender cosplay – Heroes and heroines

FacebookGoogle+TwitterRedditWhatsAppPinterestStumbleUponGoogle GmailEvernoteBlogger PostWordPressShare

Ah, the world of reverse gender cosplay… where ordinary people turn into extraordinary heroes and villains of the opposite gender. Cosplay is short for ‘costume and play’, a growing phenomenon thanks to social media. The word cosplay was conceived in 1983 where Nobuyuki Takahashi was impressed by fans wearing costumes at the 1983 World Science Fiction Convention.

People who don’t want to end up with a poor recreation of your favorite characters should be prepared to spend money or skill and time. This is why the quality of costumes varies from basic barely recognizable clothing to astonishing outfits worth hundreds of dollars. Not to mention the fact that it takes a little courage to walk around dressed as your favorite (or look-a-like) hero, even while masked. And with reverse gender cosplay (also known as gender-bender cosplay) a little creativity comes into play.

Be warned that this gallery is slightly nsfw.

Bilbo Baggins – The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings

Very professional reverse gender cosplay of characters in the Hobbit movies.

Be sure to click the image for the rest of the cast.

Loki – Thor, Marvel Comics

Genderbender Loki cosplay.

Loki is looking more villainous than ever.

Deadpool – Marvel Comics

Reverse gender cosplay of Deadpool.

A suicidal mercenary who cannot die is already an interesting idea on its own.

Scorpion – Mortal Kombat

Even the eyes are correct in this reverse gender cosplay of Scorpion.

Hey there, what’s your sign? Is it scorpio?

Pyramid Head – Silent Hill

A girl dressed as Pyramid head of the Silent Hill game series.

Looking dashing, or should I say slashing?

Majin Buu – Dragonball Z

Reverse gender cosplay of Majin Buu.

Kawaii Buu.

Two-Face – Batman

Genderbent Two-Face.

This is what I meant with “creativity comes into play”.

Morrigan – Dragon Age

Courage is required for people to cosplay, especially when going for the opposite gender.

A rarely spotted male gender-bend cosplayer.

Ash & Misty – Pokémon

Are you even trying, Pikachu?

My, what big leghairs you have, Misty!

Disney Princesses

Cosplay doesn't get more reverse than this.

Disney princesses with more facial hair than needed.

In anime the genders have often been a little blurry, with lots of male characters appearing to be very feminine. Take Deidara of the Naruto series being mistaken for a girl, or James of Team Rocket looking very similar to Jessie. All these cosplayers simply took it one step further, while showing love for their passion.

Top 10 video games couples can play together

FacebookGoogle+TwitterRedditWhatsAppPinterestStumbleUponGoogle GmailEvernoteBlogger PostWordPressShare

Video games couples enjoy are becoming more common as games are shifting towards social play and co-op. Gaming is another fun activity that can be done in 2, be it co-op or competition.

Sure you might know that person head to toe but you never really get to know someone until you’ve accidentally pushed him into a pit of lava. Let’s take a look at some of the best games to play with your girlfriend or boyfriend:

Number 10: Mario Party (Nintendo Wii and other Nintendo consoles)

For those interested in minigames.

Wario competing with Mario and friends to grab the golden star.

Don’t let the smiles fool you, whoever grabs hold of the desirable star will turn into a walking target.

This romantic game time is both a hoot and a recipe for a breakup. The game is stuffed with minigames that let you see who is fastest and strongest. Test your partner’s sportsmanship at the finale where suddenly sheer dumb luck decides whoever gets to do the dishes.

Number 9: Borderlands 2 (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3, Vita)

For a badass duo looking to shoot stuff.

Couples will enjoy playing Borderlands 2 together.

Just be careful not to shoot eachother in the face.

A lot of gamers find it difficult to introduce their partners to games, let alone shooters. However this is a fun shooter with interesting classes and enemies, a unique art style, plus a good sense of humor. The excellent loot system has randomized weapons that you can give to one another.

Number 8: Amnesia: The Dark Descent (singleplayer: PC)

For couples who are into scary movies. 

Couples will need to bring a pillow to cover their eyes when playing Amnesia.

Looks like this guy is lefthanded.

Unlike some of the cuter games of this list, this is a survival horror game with some puzzle elements. Perhaps it’s a little cliché to expect cuddles and kisses after monsters appear, but results cannot be argued with.

Number 7: Scribblenauts (Unlimited / Unmasked) (PC, Mac, Nintendo DS, Wii U)

For getting to see your partners imagination in action.

Penguins tied to balloons, because why not?

If you can imagine it, you can write it, the game will do the rest.

The Scribblenauts series work wonders for imaginative couples. Write almost anything you can think of and it will pop up in the game, including all the needed materials for a romantic candlelit dinner. The game calls for a lot of ewws and awws.  Your partner’s brain may turn out to be even more beautiful than you thought.

Number 6: Minecraft (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

For a creative ride together.

This doesn't have to be a singleplayer video game, couples too can let their creativity flourish in Minecraft.

A whole bunch of cubes representing a village in the middle of nature.

Perhaps not what you’d expect to see on a list like this, nonetheless this is a game worth a shot. You and your partner can build a crude version of your dream home or pretend to be cave explorers together, assuming the amateuristic graphics don’t prevent immersion into the open world of Minecraft.

Number 5: The Lego game series (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4)

For those looking to play with Lego. 

Iron Man, Spiderman, Wolverine, Thor, all ready for action in the world of Lego.

Wolverine finally looks cute.

Whatever fantasy world you two fancy, it’s already been “legofied” into a fun cooperative game. Anything from Marvel Super Heroes, Batman to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter has been transformed into a Lego world. You will learn a new meaning of needing your loved one as puzzles are designed for specific abilities. The co-op works especially well in the later installments where the screen splits into two when you get too far away from each other.

Number 4: Mario Kart (Wii U, and any Nintendo console, really)

For lovebirds into go-karting.

Princess Peach leading the crew of Nintendo characters.

Go-karting combined with weaponized turtle shells and banana peels.

Not sure what game to pick on a couple’s night? Go for Mario Kart, the go-karting game designed especially for multiplayer. Choose from a wide array of Nintendo characters and enjoy shooting turtle shells at each other in beautifully designed race tracks.

Number 3: A MMORPG game (PC, mostly)

For an experienced pair wanting to become heroes.

Devotion equals rewards in MMORPG's.

Dangerous looking players in The Elder Scrolls Online.

For heroic couples there’s the game genre that requires dedication. Explore, communicate, and battle together, even savings eachothers lives. World of Warcraft, the most famous of the game genre, has partially become famous for couples finding each other in the land of Azeroth.

Number 2: Portal 2 (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3)

For a match seeking to solve puzzles.

Bonding in Portal 2, as if this video game is designed for couples.

The cute little robots designed specifically for one purpose: TESTING! Also hugging.

This is co-op for brainy couples. If the singleplayer campaign wasn’t difficult enough on its own, co-op offers the possibility to combine brainpower and overcome the ingenious puzzles as a team. Be warned that this video game isn’t just a series of tests, it’s a true relationship testing device.

Number 1: LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

For an energetic twosome.

Can't blame the sackbots for loving this little sackthing.

That’s right sackboy, you’re the center of affection.

Design your own adorable ‘sackboy’ or ‘sackgirl’ and travel through the millions of user created levels together without needing to first go through tutorials on how to play. LBP2 is fun, fast-paced, and forgiving; If one of your little ‘sackthings’ dies they simple respawn at the last or next checkpoint so you’re never alone for too long. Did I mention the grappling hook that lets you swing around the levels, and ‘accidentally’ grab onto your partner? It’s easy to sabotage eachothers jumps and have a good laugh or a (in-game) slap in the face.

A few other great video games for couples:

Super Mario 3D World – Solid platforming gameplay.
Team Fortress 2 – A shooter without a price tag.
Castle Crashers – Play as cute knights beating up everything.

Gnomoria review – guiding gnomes to greatness

FacebookGoogle+TwitterRedditWhatsAppPinterestStumbleUponGoogle GmailEvernoteBlogger PostWordPressShare

Your Gnomoria base begins to crumble under the goblin attacks and you wonder what went wrong.

Was it the lack of valuable ores to make armor and weaponry, or the fact that the buildings were too spread out leaving them vulnerable to attack? Perhaps those farmers could have been drafted into militia as a last resort. Whatever the reason, you’re already planning a new and improved underground fortress. This Gnomoria review will help you understand what you’re getting into.

Honey badgers and giant ants have already died before witnessing this epic battle never before seen in Gnomoria.

3 goblins think this fortress is easy prey, little do they know zombies are already wrecking it.

Made by Robotronic Games, Gnomoria is a sandbox village management game set in a procedurally generated (random) and fully deconstructable land. The player acts as an overseer guiding the gnomes to greatness. Yet you are never in direct control – instead progress is made by giving gnomes professions, selecting areas to be worked, and placing blueprints of various workshops and furniture. Designate a chunk of mountain area to be mined and observe how dirt and stone makes way for a cave. Once the chain of production feels familiar your dirty workspace can transform into a livable base of operations.

There is always work to be done in Gnomoria.

An early fortress still in the process of expanding.

After the first season gnomads start to appear wanting to join the workforce. But friendly gnomes aren’t the only ones to be lured into the prospering land, goblins will also want to take a bite out of your riches. Feeble as they are these pests are not that big of a threat, but the power of invaders is cleverly linked to the value of your kingdom. Naked goblins are replaced by armored ones who eventually even team up with ogres. Assuming the difficulty setting isn’t set to peaceful this forces the player to not be too greedy and take it slow. Patience applies even more to mining as deep underground is the home of dark creatures waiting for their chance to cause havoc.

Imagine the guilt I felt when intentionally letting one of these escape just for this Gnomoria review.

The dining room is filled with statues at the cost of a possible zombie chain reaction.

All this might sound pretty straightforward but in reality the learning curve of the game is fairly steep as there are a lot of different materials linked to various workshops and professions. A common complaint is confusion over orders not being executed which can have a wide range of causes such as lack of materials, or workers being too upset to be productive. Micromanagement will take a big chunk out of your playtime so the unofficial Gnomoria wiki certainly comes of use as there is still a lack of in-game explanations. Personally I find the handholding in other modern games annoying and unclever, but in contrast Gnomoria does the opposite by throwing you into a moving vehicle you’re unfamiliar with.

Combine materials to make products in Gnomoria.

You thought beds just pop up out of thin air?

Luckily there is no need for being overwhelmed as orders can still be given while everything is paused, a pleasant aspect as it gives more control over the somewhat unpredictable events.  Another interesting ‘feature’ is that the game saves when closed, meaning failure or progress cannot be undone, just like in Minecraft. Forcibly exiting by holding ALT+F4 or creating a backup of your save file is a way around this but this may be seen as cheating. Furthermore just like Minecraft this is a game that gets progressively easier over time as the player finds better and stronger defences, which is very nontraditional for video games. The game even shifts from management to simulation if players are clever enough to make everything automated which feels like a reward on its own.

So how does all this compare to the legendary Dwarf Fortress? It’s difficult to compare a goblin to an ogre as Gnomoria is basically Dwarf Fortress Lite. While both games are still in development, Dwarf Fortress was born in 2006 whereas Gnomoria popped up years later in 2012 and isn’t nearly as deep and rich. It is however more pleasing to look at clear isometric pixel art instead of Dwarf Fortress’ ASCII graphics that make you feel like you’re trying to decypher the Matrix code. So perhaps most importantly, Gnomoria is much more approachable. This doesn’t necessarily make it a better game, as Dwarf Fortress takes the cake with its vast world of ever surprising complexity.

'Imagination is key' has never been more true, a Gnomoria review pales to even describing one aspect of Dwarf Fortress.

You may not be able to tell, but this dwarven fortress makes Ironforge look like cavemen scribbles.

Back to Gnomoria; The yay:

  • A solid game for strategists and management fans alike.
  • The amount of content. This Gnomoria review doesn’t even cover the happiness system, the traps gnomes can set, magic to be released in a future update, and so on.
  • Who needs an ant farm when you can observe your little antlike workers as they go on about their business.
  • A charming soundtrack with retro or orchestral option.
  • The developer is in touch with the community with proper communication.
  • The €6,99 price tag.

The nay:

  • The high learning curve.
  • Making progress can be frustratingly slow.
  • The somewhat uninspired look of the game.

The final say:

If you enjoy strategy, management, or simulation games this is a game worth checking out especially since this game has a big list of things still to come.

Additionally there is the beautiful game Banished to check out.

iOS 7 icons – an analysis on why they’re so bad

FacebookGoogle+TwitterRedditWhatsAppPinterestStumbleUponGoogle GmailEvernoteBlogger PostWordPressShare

The iOS 7 icons were released by Apple in September 2013, also known as the day Apple achieved to kick itself from the throne of icon design. There are certain guidelines for designers in every field, and while icons may be small and thus seemingly insignificant, a lot of thought actually goes into developing them.

Icons are quick visual descriptions of what they lead to when clicked or tapped on. Therefore it is important that people are able to quickly identify what an icon is supposed to represent. Apple attempted to go from a fancy glossy look to a minimalistic one, while trying to integrate the saying ‘less is more’ into its look. However, the icons were immediately heavily criticized due to various amateuristic mistakes, and here are the reasons why: (more…)