Merry Christmas Eve!

by Jenn (eating bender) on December 24, 2009

I am LOVING all of the exciting things your coming up with for the Knock Knock Giveaway. Keep ’em coming!

Also, to those of you who have left comments with questions (some of you are even in Chicago — cool!) on my most recent posts, I will definitely respond back while I’m on my holiday “break” next week.

For now, I’d just like to say…

Families come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen a lot of changes this year — and I mean A LOT. All have made me a stronger and happier person in some way: engagement, graduation, new job, family loss and coming together to celebrate a life.

Through it all, I don’t know where I’d be without my “families.” First of all, there is my mom, my dad and my little brother. I love them all so much.

My second family is the one that will be starting on 10.16.10. (Just realized that could mean something more than what I actually mean — I’m only talking about the wedding people!) My future husband — still feels weird typing and/or saying that word, but “natural” at the same time — is my rock and support system whenever times are good or times get rough. For all that you have been and all that you will be — I love you, Bobby!

But perhaps the most unique family of all is the one that has been formed in the blogging community. I said this at Thanksgiving, but it should be repeated: all of you have had a profound impact on my life these past 1.75 years. I mean that very wholeheartedly, too — from eating and living choices to career choices and beyond. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. My life is much better with you in it!

To celebrate, I thought I would share pictures of many of the bloggers who I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to meet in real life. Not everyone is represented here due to lack of pictures in some cases, but hopefully this gives you an idea of just how impactful this community has been. Just look at how many new people have entered my life as proof!

First, back in 2008, I met the amazing and wonderful VeggieGirl.

Started the year 2009 with a bang!

L: Heather, Gina, Melissa, me.

R: Me, Rose and Mara.

Went on to meet many more friendly faces.

L: Me and Karla

R: Mara, foodie friend (!!), Michelle, me and Shannon

The blog love would continue through the summer at BlogHer ’09.

L: Me and Kath

R: Mary, Roni, MizFit

As well as a trip up to my old campus stomping grounds to meet with Mara, Caroline and Amanda. I also met Amanda and her sister, Ashley, on a separate occasion, but we don’t have a picture!


And even when the temperatures began to dip, there were still Chicago blogging buddy meetups to be had.

L: Lo, Me and Val

R: Brittany and Me

In conclusion, these pictures do not even begin to encompass the friendship, happiness and opportunity for growth that blogging has afforded me. My good friend Sarah — a former blogger and awesome person — came and stayed with me in Chicago, and my friend Mara was kind enough to invite me to her wedding and has taken me on several foodie adventures.

Can’t forget about my meetup with Kristie Lynn, either! There were so many opportunities — forgive me if I’ve forgotten anything. It’s not over, either — more foodie fun to come in the next couple of weeks!

I can only imagine what 2010 will bring! I know that there are more of you in Chicago and still more that might be visiting. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you’re in town because I would love to meet all of you.

To summarize, I would like to wish ALL of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS, from the Bender family to yours!!

Back soon with a festive recap of our extravaganzas!!!


1 Danielle December 24, 2009 at 10:35 am

Aw, Jenn, we need a picture together! Maybe 2010 will be our lucky one :) Have a beautiful and wonderful holiday, you deserve all the love in your life and more!

2 Molly December 24, 2009 at 10:37 am

love it! happy holidays!

3 ksgoodeats December 24, 2009 at 10:45 am

What a wonderful post!! Merry Christmas to the entire Bender family :)

4 Jenny December 24, 2009 at 10:47 am

you are so blessed to have so much love in your life, Jenn – and you deserve it all! your beautiful family, your beautiful future family (yay Bobby!) and your beautiful blog family are all that more special because of you. I feel so fortunate to have met you and I can’t wait for he day when we meet.. because we WILL.. if its the last thing I do :) Merry Christmas, gorgeous!

5 Stephanie December 24, 2009 at 10:57 am

What a wonderful retrospective. Congratulations on a truly monumental year.
BODA weight loss

6 Brittany December 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

Jenn, I loved this post! Family is so important and special, whether it be your immediate family, a new family you are starting, friends, or a whole community.

I’m so happy to part of the blogging community as well and that we were able to MEET one another this year- so much fun!

Merry Christmas Eve – have a lovely time with your families!!

There’s a quote I saw recently that this post reminded me of: “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~Jane Howard

7 Ameena December 24, 2009 at 11:04 am

What a beautiful family you have! So many cute pictures of your blogger friends too.

Have a happy Merry Christmas Eve!

8 luckytastebuds December 24, 2009 at 11:10 am

awww Jennpie, I’m so honored to be featured and YES to be reminded of all the wonderful people and relationships that i have in my life. You are such a sweet heart and someone positive, kind, and thoughtful. I just wanted to let YOU know that I’m incredibly grateful that we met and am so honored to have you as a friend, not just through the blog world, but in life. :) I wish you and your family the best X’mas in the world ever!!!!

9 Melissa S. December 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

ahhhh…yay! you are such an beautiful and wonderful friend Jenn. i can’t wait to see you next week!

10 Pure2Raw twins December 24, 2009 at 11:47 am

Great post Jenn. You have some amazing people in you life : ) We look forward to the day we get to meet you!

Merry Christmas and wishing you all the best this new year!!

11 Kath December 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm

What a sweet post!

I’m glad wer’e friends :)

12 Tracey December 24, 2009 at 12:28 pm

What a great post! It is really nice to hear all the good things going on in your life.

Are you getting married in Chicago? My husband and I just got married last October in Chicago and it was great!

13 Shannon (The Daily Balance) December 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

SO honored to be part of it!

Here’s to many more meet-ups! 😉



14 Erica December 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Merry Almost Christmas!!! Love this post- so sweet! You have really met SO many bloggers- that is just awesome. Hope Santa treats you well this year. Much love

15 Karla December 24, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Jenn, this is an amazing post!!! I love the look back at all of your fun meet-ups and can’t wait to have some more time together this spring! You’re an amazing, beautiful person and I’m so lucky to have you as a friend.

Have a great time with your family and a fun, relaxing and enjoyable time at home :) Merry Christmas!

(By the way as I type, my Dad just handed me the most gorgeous card from you know who. Thank you SO much! It’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. Seriously.)

16 Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Wonderful post, Jenn! Love it all, I wish you and your family an extremely Merry Xmas, a great holiday season, and keep on being full of love and life!!!

17 Jamie December 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Those are some greattt pictures, I especially love the one of you and Bobby. ITs a good one!

18 verbalriot December 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Merry Christmas Jenn! :)

19 kbwood December 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm

you are so beautiful and the Lord has blessed you so much! what great pictures!! have an awesome christmas love!

20 jenngirl December 24, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Merry Christmas Eve Jenn!! Family is such a wonderful thing, and I am so excited for you and Bobby in the coming year!

I can only hope to one day be added to your list of blogger meet-ups :)

Hope you have a spectacular day!

21 Erin December 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm

This is such a beautiful tribute and I love it so much Jenn!
You are an amazing woman.

22 Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce December 24, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Your family and friends look like a great bunch. I hope you get to spend lots of time with them this holiday! merry xmas!!

23 Julie @savvyeats December 24, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Happy holidays, Jenn! Hope you’re having a great trip, and I hope I get to meet you soon!

24 glidingcalm December 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm

AWWW I LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas beautiful!

25 Amanda December 24, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Merry Christmas Jenn!

26 Nicole December 25, 2009 at 9:30 am

How fun! I love the pictures! I met a blogger this month but we forgot to take a picture! CONGRATS on your upcoming wedding! If you’re getting married in Chicago, I have a LOT of information on florists, DJ’s, photographers, make-up artists…you name it! I got married in Chi in May 2009! Happy holidays!

27 Bekah December 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

Aw I loved this post! So many meet ups, and what a great year. Can’t wait to add myself to that list on Sunday! :) And I didn’t know you went to Blogher!? I didn’t.. but am thinking about it for next year. Lots to discuss over lunch. :):)

28 Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) December 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

Such a nice tribute to all your friends. Looking forward to meeting you soon! Congrats on all the great achievements and accomplishments and I’m sorry for the loss of your deal grandmom. I remember reading the post a few months back.

Merry Christmas!

29 MarathonVal December 25, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Jenn, I (and of of the other bloggers you mentioned) are the lucky ones to have been able to meet and spend time with you!! You are such a sweetheart, I always love how your kindness and sincerity shines through in all of your posts.

I hope you have a fabulous Christmas and New Year’s and have a blast spending time with your family!! :)

30 BroccoliHut December 26, 2009 at 1:58 am

I wish you a very merry Christmas, Jenn! I’ve loved every minute of reading your posts over the past 1.75 years:)

31 elise December 26, 2009 at 10:46 am

what a fun – foodie filled- year…merry christmas!!!

32 Andrea (Off Her Cork) December 27, 2009 at 9:39 am

Happy Holidays Jenn!! Glad you are having such a great time and look at everything you’ve accomplished this year, amazing! :)

33 gina (fitnessista) December 27, 2009 at 10:04 am

OH i love the bender family!
thanks for including me in your bloggy friend pics- hopefully we can meet up again sometime soon
have a great day and live it up in az for me 😀

34 Emily December 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

Love the photo recap! You are so lucky to have met so many bloggers! Hope you had a great Christmas, Jenn!

35 Shannon December 27, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Lovely post Jenn, hope you and your family are having a wonderful christmas season!!!

36 Marianne December 28, 2009 at 2:46 am

I loved the photo recap :) Maybe one day we’ll even get to meet up!

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family 😀

37 carolinebee December 28, 2009 at 9:52 am

Merry Christmas love!!!! Hmm i seem to remember running into u somewhere as well…;D

38 chrysta December 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm

So awesome. Its fantastic that you could meet up everyone! What a great experience.

39 Lo December 28, 2009 at 8:21 pm

omg i cannot wait to have more pics and memories with ya! lets do karyns verrrrryyy soon!

maybe like next week!


40 Lori December 29, 2009 at 9:10 pm

This is the first time I have taken a peek at your blog and I think I was meant to see it with this post being the first one I read. What a lovely post, full of gratitude and happiness. Thank you for sharing! Look forward to reading your blog more often!

41 Jenn (eating bender) December 31, 2009 at 1:59 am

Lori ~ Thank you so much for your comment. It really means a lot to me! I’m looking forward to checking out your blog as well. Comments like yours are what make this community so amazing to me. Thanks again!

42 Hangry Pants December 29, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Hey Jenn, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy every second with your family! I can’t wait to read more about your wedding planning, and I truly hope we will be able to meet at some point soon!

43 zestycook December 30, 2009 at 10:24 am

Great post Bender! Hope you have a great Christmas!

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