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Thanks for stopping by for Day 3 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

The holiday season is all about adding a little bit of cheer to our otherwise routine lives — something that's easy to do when you're surrounded by sparkling lights and a blanket of snow.


Once we all return to our regular, holiday-free slog, however, finding joy in the unexpected becomes more of a challenge.

It's a challenge that photographer Jenna Martin has decided to tackle head on, through her awesome portrait series "Ugly Spots, Pretty Shots."

[rebelmouse-image 19533447 dam="1" original_size="768x512" caption="All photos by Jenna Martin, used with permission." expand=1]All photos by Jenna Martin, used with permission.

The photo series showcases just what kind of magic can happen when you look at an otherwise unremarkable place with a more creative attitude.

Martin and her model friend Rachelle Kathleen picked out "ugly" places — like hardware stores and tire shops — and found ways to create amazing photos from these otherwise uninteresting backdrops.

Next thing you know, this lighting section:

...becomes this crystal wonderland!

Martin has a few rules the pair follow when they do these unconventional shoots. "We have to work with what is there," she explains on her blog. "No props or extra lighting." So what you see is what was there — no behind-the-scenes tricks to make the photos look fancier.

They also don't change the scene in any major way (though they do stay out of the way of customers and employees) and they always try to do the whole shoot within an hour.

Though Martin is a professional photographer, she doesn't do these shoots with clients. It's just a fun opportunity for two creative friends to force themselves to see beauty where, normally, people see the exact opposite.

You can click through to the original posts (there are two so far) to see more of Martin's shots, plus snaps she took with her phone to demonstrate exactly what each backdrop looked like to the naked eye.

It's proof that, with a little creativity and some resolve, we can find joy anywhere — and not just at the holidays!

More days of happiness here:DAY 1 / DAY 2 / [DAY 3] / DAY 4 / DAY 5/ DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17/ DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31
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FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

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Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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According to NBC News San Diego, Eliana Martin was shopping at Ralph’s supermarket when she accidentally left her purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot. After she left the store, she realized she had lost her purse and began frantically canceling her credit cards.

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