McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains for one of their Star Parties. It was really wonderful and a perfect night for it, if cold. I learned a lot, so I am hoping the kids did too. And it was fun! I would absolutely recommend it if you can get there. It's not particularly expensive ($12 adults/$8 kids), but you do need to get a hotel room nearby because it ends late and is way out in the middle of the desert. James planned it near the new moon, and that was a good idea too. Even just the tiny sliver of moon was blinding to our dark-adjusted eyes until it set, early in the evening. The demonstrators did a presentation, telling a little about the observatory and showing us the constellations. They had laser pointers that made a super-long visible beam so that they could really point to each star! That made a big difference - knowing to what exactly they were pointing. And looking through the telescopes was very cool. We saw the clouds on the surface of Jupiter!
When I started writing down what I'd like to tell about the visit, I surprised myself by writing two pages. It wasn't that is was so momentous, but just that I was interested in telling the little information like how we saw the Orion Nebula and how we bundled the kids up by putting their jammies under their clothes and how one of the demonstrators took a special interest in Sammy and explained everything again just to him. I decided to just make it a double page spread and instead of narrowing down what I wanted to say, and to write very tiny!
My pictures were not awesome - one is a mostly dark shot of us inside one of the telescope domes. You can't really see anything but I used it because it evokes a memory for me. My other photo is a blurry shot of the boys drinking their hot chocolate but I love the Star Date Cafe sign in the background. The two photos of the Indian Lodge, the hotel within the state park where we stayed, are not bad, and I included them to show a little of the beauty of the mountain desert (and that I was there too, even though I'm not in any of the other photos!)
I started the layout with plain, navy blue cardstock and flicked some Mr. Huey Opaque White mist on it. I worked the main page around a piece of paper with a splattered pattern I had made some time ago and never used. It started with a piece of very glossy cardstock, then I dripped ink (from re-inkers) on it and blew the ink around with my heat tool while drying/heat-setting it. Pretty, but also odd, so it was sitting around unused. It had a fantastical-space-nebula feel to it so I wanted to use it for this page. I also wanted to use one of the stickers we each wore that were the "ticket" to the star party. I covered it with Glossy Accents. Although it didn't turn out quite as smooth as I would have liked, it's still thick and glossy and I like it. The only hitch with it was that the color was a neon yellow-orange and very hard to match! I found a couple of items that were close and called that good, including a little paper sack from a museum gift store. It was from another science museum but it has a similar memory-feel to me. I layered it with the nebula paper and a piece of packaging - a pretty, geometric-patterned background card from the new gloves I received for Christmas and wore to the Star Party.
I spent forEVER rearranging that stack of layers with my photos and a part of the observatory brochure. It was very difficult to get it balanced with the layers showing, the nebula showing and not give the feeling of trapped white space (meaning a blank unconnected space in between elements). It still has a little of that feeling but I like it anyway :). I mitigated it a little by using a strip of navy washi tape and a punch paper circle at the top of the photos to connect it to the title, which is made of silver foil Thickers.
The embellishment clusters were the most fun part of the layout! I used a very old set of die cut frame/squares and inked them a little darker with Stampin' Up! Midnight Muse. I used some yellow-orange paper to punch out gears (and the circles out of the middle of the gears), with the SU! gears punch (love that punch!!). I finished each area with silver dots, little silver glitter stars, and some dots of Stickles. OH, and the stars! Those are Heidi Swapp sequin stars. I've had them a while, but aren't they a perfect color match?
I do want to ask some people about white spray mist. I love the way that stuff looks, but I don't find that it dries properly. Advice, anyone? Even if i try heat setting it, it smears in the page protector later.