12 [Creative] Days of Christmas – Challenge!

Christmas is right around the corner now with just two weeks to go, and I’m looking forward to having some vacation time and a chance to see some family members I don’t get to spend enough time with. And as  you may know from my recent posts, I’m continuing to work on keeping my heart and mind in a good place about the season: not too much hype, not too many unrealistic expectations. It can be difficult!

I recently opened up to a few people about how decorating for Christmas suddenly felt lonely this year. For some reason, decorating as a single person never really bothered me the way it did this time around. The experience reminded me of an article I read around this time last year . . .  so I thought I’d share that here now in case I’m not the only one who’s having some difficult moments:

If This Holiday is Hard, You’re Not Alone

Sidenote: I don’t 100% know if I agree with every single thing in this article, but I’m not trying to dissect it — If you’d like to, please feel free. I was just generally encouraged by the reminder that Jesus knows and can relate to difficult experiences.

And Now For Some Fun . . .

I’m throwing down a challenge! Write or draw something every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

If you’d like, print out this grid and play along. My grid starts on the 14th and goes through Christmas day, but you can shift and do whatever days work best for you. Post your progress on social media with the hashtag #12creativedays . . . I’ll be doing the same.

If you have any problems with the file below, you can also try downloading it as a PDF from this Google Drive link.

Do you have kids or friends who like to get creative? Get them to do this with you!

If you miss a day, don’t stress — you have enough to worry about. Just skip it or make it up and move on! ChristmasChallenge.jpg


I’m looking forward to seeing if any of you will participate in this challenge. Either way, I think you’re amazing & I’ll be back with more next week.

❤ Nicole


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Fireworks for the 4th!

Today’s featured image is a beautiful painting of Fireworks created yesterday by one of my Nephews.

There are a lot of clues that Summer is fully underway–temperatures in the 80s, people headed on vacations, kids having water battles, meals made on the grill, and of course . . . fireworks.

I admit it–I’m a sucker for fireworks: both the small ones we “set on fire” in the driveway (tiny tanks and spinners and flashers) . . .

IMG_6590

AND large aerial displays. Both are such a classic (although not-necessarily-logical) way for Americans to celebrate their independence.

Because fireworks displays are so widespread, they can start to seem rather ordinary, but have you ever thought about how much engineering, dreaming, planning, and magic-making goes into the show? The invention and history of fireworks and the perfection of the craft of hosting a large-scale fireworks display are such feats of creativity that I wanted to pause for a few minutes in the midst of the festivities to celebrate the fireworks themselves.

I did a little research to better understand how these explosive beauties work & among the things I read was this cool article from How Stuff Works. I found it especially interesting to learn this about the different explosive designs:

T­he pattern that an aerial shell paints in the sky depends on the arrangement of star pellets inside the shell. For example, if the pellets are equally spaced in a circle, with black powder inside the circle, you will see an aerial display of smaller star explosions equally spaced in a circle. To create a specific figure in the sky, you create an outline of the figure in star pellets, surround them as a group with a layer of break charge to separate them simultaneously from the rest of the contents of the shell, and place explosive charges inside those pellets to blow them outward into a large figure. Each charge has to be ignited at exactly the right time or the whole thing is spoiled.

There’s a special collective energy that happens in a crowd at a fireworks show, everyone gathered in the darkness with necks craned toward the sky. Each new boom brings its own mystery–what shape and size of colorful light will it throw across the night sky?

Did you know that most of the standard firework types have names? I love this chart that shows some common types and gives a simple explanation of each (you can use it to impress your loved ones):

fireworks-types

What do you think of fireworks and the “centuries of experience, weeks of planning, and hours of painstaking labor” behind them? Do you have any special holiday traditions? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

And now, just for fun, enjoy this brief video of Fireworks filmed from a drone:

Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

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