Tuesday, 28 May 2013

How to Make a Hobbit Terrarium

 For my brother's birthday this week, I decided to make him a a Hobbit Terrarium. I'd seen some amazing looking Hobbit themed terrariums on the internet and I wanted to give it a go. I decided to model mine on a generic hobbit hole, something you could find anywhere around The Shire, rather than on the Baggins' home because that would be too difficult to get perfect.

So, here's the basics of how to make a Hobbbit terrarium.

 You're going to need moss to use as the grass on the rolling hills that the hobbit hole will be set into. I used a couple of different types of moss to give it a bit of interest. These mosses were easy to get at the local nursery and have tiny little yellow or white flowers at certain times of year.
Coloured pebbles are great for covering any soil that you don't want moss growing on. These are sold for use in decorateing vases and are cheap and easy to get at bargain shops like The Reject Shop. 

Sphagnum moss is essentail for drainage in your terrarium. This was slightly harder to get hold of, but good nurseries will carry it.

The right container for your terrarium is the start of your project. This rose bowl was perfect for what I wanted because it has quite a small opening and will retain the moisture in the terrarium. I got this one from Spotlight, but you can get similar ones in a lot of homeware shops.

 Of course, in order to make a hobbit hole rather than just a blob of moss, you need a hobbit hole facade. I made this one out of clay, painted it with craft paints, and very thouroughly varnished it with a non-waterbased varnish so that it would be waterproof. I put 4 coats of varnish on mine and I hope it stays waterproof.

I also made a couple of other things to go in the terrarium. A little bunny to hide in the moss and some cute toadstools.

Then, its just a matter of grabbing some potting mix and putting it all together. Start with a layer of sphagnum moss to cover the bottom of the bowl, add some gravel or pebbles for drainage, and some more sphangnum moss. Mold a hill with potting mix and furnish it with the moss, hobbit hole facade, pebbles, bunny, and toadstools. You can end up with something like this:

The glass bowl makes it difficult to photograph because it reflects the light so much, but you get the idea. The moss should grow in and fill in patchy bits and make it look like a  more natural grassy knoll.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, bro - I had fun making this project for you and I hope you enjoy it too.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Darcy meets a penguin

I'm applying for a job playing with penguins on Phillip Island so I thought that I should get Darcy used to the idea by introducing him to his own little penguin, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to give my brave mouse a little scare.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Deepest Darkest Africa

At the moment I am completely undecided about almost everything in my life, mostly because of the uncertainty of my job. I know I have about 6 weeks left on my current contract, but after that I have absolutely no idea. There is a good chance that I will be able to stay on with the Devil Program, but I feel like I need to move on and do something different before I get completely trapped in it. I'm applying for jobs all over the country, but I have no idea where I'm going to end up. The job is more important than the location for me at the moment. I've been looking at the current holes in my resume and I've decided that I need to focus on getting some demonstratable experience with public interaction/public education so I'm applying for jobs that will fill that gap, but they are the sort of job that I can only imagine wanting to stay with for 6 months to a year and then I'll be applying for jobs again.

But applying for jobs is boring, and your mind (and your internet browser) inevitably wander. So, now I find myself seriously considering doing a short term volunteering trip to Africa. Its going to take me a while and some serious discussion with my family to make the decision, but I found some really cool sounding wildlife conservation volunteering oppurtunities covering most of Africa. The one working on a wildlife reserve in Swaziland is particularly appealing. The only thing that is holding me back at the moment is that I'm a teensy bit nervous about travelling through Africa on my own. I'd be going with the support of the volunteer organisation, but its still a little bit daunting. Ok, its a big bit daunting, but I'm trying encourage my courageousness.

Will my desire for travel and adventure win out over my fear of traveling through deepest darkest Africa on my own, or will I chicken out? Watch this space for the answer.

Oh, and new thing I discovered- there are tigers in Africa. I've always scoffed at people who thought that lions and tigers could be found together in Africa, but it turns out that there are tiger breeding facilities in some of the African wildlife reserves. I would have thought that the Africans would have had enough to do with all of their endangered species, but they are a generous people. Also, it would be good for all of the tourists that are stupid enough to think that lions and tigers both belong in Africa *scoff*!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The cursed pot

Now back to our usual frivolity.
I have a fairly standard looking, white ceramic pot plant pot. It was a gift from my mum and at the time it was given to me it had a nice healthy plant in it. Not for long, though. I believe that the original plant was an African Violet (mum might correct me on that), but it started looking sick pretty much straight away and promptly died. Nothing too surprising about that as African Violets can be a bit tricky, but I claim to have a green thumb and usually pride myself on my ability to keep my plants healthy and happy so I tried again with another plant. This time it was a cutting from an idoor climber that Mum has (not sure what its called). That, too, died almost instantly. Then I gave in and got a succulent. Now everybody knows that succulents are virtually indestructable, right? Not so. It lasted slightly longer than the others, but still died pretty quickly. I had almost decided that this was a coincidence - no pot could be responsible for killing all those plants, so after the pot being plantless for several months, I bought a rather stunning cyclamen and vowed to do everything in my power to keep it alive. Despite all my efforts, however, the cyclamen lasted only two weeks. Two weeks! Almost the instant I put it in the pot, it began to die. I tried moving it from room to room, but no temperature or lighting conditions seemed to be able to reverse the problem. I knew that the pot couldn't be poisoned because I had carefully washed it out after the death of the succulent so the only explanation is that it is cursed. I came to this conclusion after a long discussion with my gardening pals. So the pot is now standing empty. I can't decide wether to try one last plant in it or wether to innocently give it as a gift to someone else and pass on the curse.