Gardening | DIY Seed Starter

It’s that time of year again.  I’ve been hustling and bustling in preparation for my vegetable and flower garden.  Gardening, at one point in my life, I mocked.  Maybe it is a maturity thing, but I’ve found the concept of hand to mouth, lending me a sense of self-gratification that stems from growing your own food.  
When it comes to planting, I am about as impatient as a two year old.  I always want to plant earlier than is recommended, usually resulting in withering leaves, and a disappointed Liz.   But I’m trying to suffocate my eagerness this year, especially being in a new state and being unfamiliar with its climate.  In Texas, I began my garden in February.  This year, my vegetable seeds still await in their packages.
Today, however, I was able to plant my lavender indoors.  Usually, I purchase the little Jiffy seed starter kits, but this year I am trying something different. 
I’ve been saving toilet paper rolls for a couple of months so I could make my own seed starter containers. I hope they work!  
Here is how I make them.

 1) Take your toilet paper rolls and cut them half
2) Lay them out on some sort of tray or baking sheet
3) Fill each container with seed starting mix.  I used Miracle Grow Seed Starting Mix.
4) Pour water in each container to moisten the dirt
5) Plant your seeds according to the package directions
6) Water again
7) Set outside/sunny spot inside & let nature do its work!

iPhone Editing Tip: Get A Good App

Most of us by now have heard about instagram, used it, or have seen others use it.  
I’m also sure you have seen some amazing photos other users posted that made you wonder how in the world did that picture come from an iPhone.  Right!?  Or is it just me? 
I wish I could tell you that I have it all figured out, but I haven’t.  At least not completely.  However, I can tell you how you can use editing apps to improve your photos.  
Editing photos can take a good picture and make it a great picture. 
Before I start, I want to tell what editing app I use.  It is called Snapseed which is a free app by Google.
I like it because it offers an array of filters, as well as the typical fine tuning: contrast, brightness, saturation, cropping, and other general options.  Plus, it is FREE.  My favorite four letter word!   Did I mention that twice? 
In fact, the very first picture I edited using this app, became the winner in an instagram photo contest using this picture! 
Now that I have my bragging out of the way, here is an unedited photograph that I took of my daughter’s hands while she was in the tub.  
This is an okay picture in itself.  However, I wanted it to be a little more dramatic, so I selected the self tuning option on the app and played around with the contrast and lighting, which resulted in this photo.
Can you see the difference?  I lightened it up and added a little depth with the contrast.  Next came the first filter.  I decided to select Bright from the Drama option.  Here is what I got.

From this point, it’s just about layering the filters of your choice.  On this particular photo, I wanted to use the Dark from the Black & White option. 

I could have stopped here because it is pretty close to what I was aiming for, but I decided to take it a step further and layer the Bright from the Drama options, again to make it brighter while still defining the hands.  Here is the final picture.

 Alright, lets recap with the side by side photos.

Here is another before and after photo of Rori.

As for other tips, people who take their iPhone photos seriously, invest in attachable lens and other accessories such as the two pictured below.  The first one is a lens that attaches itself by its magnet.  The second photo (the yellow one) is a case and lens that allows you to take photos in water.  These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to iPhone camera options.  
But if you are a ho-hum instagramer like myself, then I would just stick with a free app and play around with it.  : D

Digital King 000DKWIDE Wide and Macro iPhone 4G/4GS Lenses

Watershot for iPhone – Underwater Camera Housing