29 June 2014

Summer Stargazing and Galaxy Shirt Instructions

This article is part of Kallan's wonderful Sunday Stew. Please hop on over and read all the different flavors added by each chef. I know that you will love it!

I love being able to go into my backyard in summer and look up at all the stars. I love seeing the moon and the jewels surrounding her, thinking about galaxies and their beauty.

I ran across a cool craft last week and I thought I would try my hand at it and show you guys how to do it. It makes an unbelievably beautiful shirt. This technique could also be used with shoes, a handbag, or pants.

But, while making the shirt I began to think that a stargazing post was in order. I mean this is something that you can do as a family, it starts a great discussion on myths and beliefs, and you can learn science facts. Plus, you can make these shirts beforehand and wear them while you are stargazing!

Checklist for stargazing:

1. Choose a site with low lighting. You don't want light pollution to ruin your experience.
2. Preferably a site with good, flat land. You don't want it to be close to running water if you have little ones. You don't want accidents to happy. Also avoid large trees so that they won't block your views.
3. If you have a telescope, take it!
4. Things to sit on: chairs and blankets.
5. Insect repellent, preferably organic. You don't want bug bites ruining your night. My wonderful friend and fellow Stew author, Autumn, makes a great essential oil repellent. You can find it here.
6. Know where North is.
7. A red light flashlight.
8. A logbook if you want to record what you see. Here and here are great log pages

Something that would be helpful to have for Stargazing would be a planisphere.

You could also make one. Here's a great site with PDFs to print

To use a planisphere, hold it in front of you and face north. You want the planisphere's north pointer to point towards your stomach. If you want to look in the east, you will turn it 90 degrees to the right and rotate it so east is then pointing toward you. Do this with each direction.

Directions for a pinhole viewer here.


I love to take pics of the moon. Here are a few that I have taken:

Things to discuss about the moon include the phases, eclipses, blue moons, black moons and mythology and stories, and superstitions.

Mythologies that you can discuss:


Your main things that you will be looking for in the summer sky will be Vega, in the Lyra constellation; Altair in the Eagle Constellation; Deneb in the Summer Triangle; the Keystone in Hercules; Antares in Scorpius; and the Teapot in the bow of Sagittarius.


The planets that you will be able to see with the naked eye are: Mercury (rarely), Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn

Now it's time for the craft!

You'll enjoy doing this craft, then you'll enjoy wearing your creation.

You will need: 
black tee
small spray bottle 
a used toothbrush
plastic sheet to put inside the shirt
variety of paints, I used puffy fabric paint and also some glitter acrylic paint
small natural sponges

Lay out your shirt.

Put plastic inside to keep your bleach and paints from bleeding through.

In a small bottle put some bleach. I put 4 parts bleach to 1 part water.

Spray a pattern. Any will do. You can look at galaxy pictures on google to get ideas if you wish.

I doubled sprayed a couple of spots to make them lighter and I also dripped some bleach in spots. When you are finished, let the shirt set for 20 minutes, then rinse and dry.

Put your shirt back on your worktable and return the plastic inside. Next I took the toothbrush and dipped it in the glitter paint. To apply to the shirt, just run your finger on the loaded toothbrush and make it spatter the shirt.

 Next you will be using your sponges with your chosen colors.

I have chosen turquoise

Dip your sponge into the paint and lightly pound the sponge on the shirt, just randomly but connected.

If you want to make a spiral galaxy, pinch the shirt and twist. Hold on to the spiraled twist in the center and lightly pound the wrinkled fabric with the paint sponge.

Now, I'm going to add some turquoise glitter to the turquoise puffy that I have already applied.

It really made it shine and stand out!

Pink is next

And green

I just randomly put the colors on with no patterns, I just put it where I thought it would look best.

Next, I took the toothbrush and spattered the white to make distant stars.

I decided that I wanted to add a bit of purple.

When I was finished adding the purple, I let it dry for a bit. The reason that I did this was so that I could lean in and paint some larger stars on the shirt. To do this you can add a large spot, and drag outward from the spot in a cross shape. It gives the allusion of a twinkling star. You can also add some larger dots without dragging the twinkle, just to give a variety of stars.

And it's finished! Let the shirt dry for several hours or overnight.

This is another that I made for the hubs. I gave it a large white spot with a twinkling star in the center. His shirt really glows.

I hope you enjoyed the gathered information on star gazing and the shirt tutorial.

Brightest Blessings,

22 June 2014

Virginia Creeper Trail Biking Solstice Adventure

One of the ways that I celebrated the Solstice with my family was a beautiful bike ride on the Creeper Trail in Virginia. It is one of our most favorite things to do as a family. It's relaxing, fun, adventurous, and breathtaking. The beauty of the mountains makes you think that you have walked into a magical land. The moss covered cliffs, the babbling water of the river, the smell of the mountain laurel mixed with pine and cedar.......nothing can compare. I love being surrounded by this.






The Creeper Trail was once a railroad line. It's end began with the Depression, with the track being removed in 1977. You can read about it here: http://www.vacreepertrail.com/history/vacreeperhistory.htm It is the perfect place to camp, hike, horseback ride and bike. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the trail.

The entire Creeper Trail is 34 miles long, but the part we enjoy is 17 miles. We have our own bikes, so we don't have to rent them. There are several bike rental/shuttle services in Damascus. We paid $13 per person for our shuttle to the top. My hubs called ahead of time to find out when the last shuttle for the day would be and reserved our spots on the shuttle. The last shuttle time was 2:00 p.m and we had to be there 15 minutes before it left. We left our home at 12:00 and arrived just in time to make the shuttle.

They had also informed the hubs that it had been raining off and on so far that day. We decided to wear black shirts, because of mud splatter. The dirt on the trail is a black dirt, so I knew it would be a muddy mess. You can see the mud splatters on my hubby's shirt. We actually did buy some plastic ponchos at the bike shop, in case it came a downpour, but we didn't want to wear them just for mud splatters because it would have been like wearing a garbage bag in the sun. No thank you.

It turns out that this was going to be the best day to go ever! The mud was fun, the rain caused it to be a nice, slow day. There weren't that many people that wanted to deal with the mud, so we had the trail to ourselves for much of the day, passing random bikers only here and there.

On the way up the mountain, a gorgeous young black bear ran across the road in front of our shuttle and dove over the guardrail. I didn't have time to snap a pic, it happened so fast.

These are from the board at Whitetop Station.

There are all kinds of bridges to ride your bike over, camping sites, and pathways. We have decided to go back and camp for the night. You can also take your dogs as long as they are on a leash. 

It's hard to tell from the pics but these two were actually about 80 feet in the air. We are looking down on the tops of the trees.



When we came home, we dug a small firepit and celebrated our day and the Solstice.

Brightest Blessings,