Good morning, and happy Monday!  How was your weekend?  If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had an enjoyable holiday, too.  Mine was absolutely wonderful.  I got to engage in lots of quality time with loved ones, cook and eat yummy food, spend time relaxing, and so much more.  It was great! Today's post is going to be loaded with photos, but I will be back tomorrow with a regular ol' Happy, Healthy Balance post.

I'm starting with Christmas Eve, and making my way down...

photo 1 (3)Our pretty tree.  I really loved our tree this year.  I say that every year, but this year it seemed super magical.  Do you love the holidays as much as I do?  Since I was a little girl I have always been a BIG fan of Christmas.  I'm sure it all started with the excitement of Santa coming to visit, then leaving milk and cookies for him (and carrots for the reindeer).  Then, the joy and anticipation of Christmas morning.  Oh my goodness!  The sparkle of the lights, the gorgeous tree, and all the presents.  My brothers and I would sit around the tree in amazement waiting for my parents to wake up, and for my grandparents and aunt to come over so we could open gifts.  These were super special times for me, and as I get older, they become even more special.  No longer am I excited about Santa, or all the gifts that I receive, but rather the magic that comes along with the season.  The act of giving, the joy of community and the love that is all around. That, is the true meaning of Christmas to me.

photo 3 (3)My dog nephew, Calvin, on Christmas morning.  He is the sweetest lab-shepherd mix, and pretty much demolished the toy I gave him in about 20 seconds.  Totally worth it though!

photo 4 (3)As per tradition, my Mom makes the most delicious egg dish every Christmas morning.  She always makes me a small vegetarian version (the other has sausage), which is absolutely amazing, and really thoughtful of her.  Thanks, Mom!

photo 5 (3)This was the making of my stuffing.  The colors were so pretty I had to snap a quick photo. This recipe has sourdough cubes, onion, sage in brown butter, dried cranberries and pecans. Soooo good!  Everyone contributed something to Christmas dinner, I only wish I was able to take a picture of everything.  Oh well!

photo 4This was a portion of the group on Christmas (we hosted, and there were 25 of us).  Greg took this very candid, and absolutely lovely photo.  It's not perfect, but I love it.  I get very sentimental around Christmas, because it is so special to me that we get to combine our two families.  I truly love our family.

photo 1 (2)photo 3 (2)

Before and after photos of my hair.  I love getting a fresh weave and a trimming my ends.  Such a great feeling!  I've been seeing Shannon for quite some time, and I have to say, she really is the best!  If you're local, she's at A Secret Place in Ventura.

photo 4 (2)

photo 5 (2)

photo 1

photo 2Over the weekend several of us went to The Lazy Dog Cafe and had dinner.  Brenda and I (my pretty SIL in the photo with me above) each had Moscow Mule's and shared two plates.  One was a Veggie Lavash Sandwich with Japanese Cucumber Salad (very similar to my Mom's recipe), and it was delicious!  The other was an Ahi Salad, which was good, but not great. It would have been better if the ahi was seared (which isn't always the case).

photo 3Finally, yesterday morning Greg and I had an impromptu breakfast date at our favorite spot before we went to church.  It was so nice to spend a little time together, especially with all the busyness as of late.  I love my guy.  :)

Okie dokie, have a great day, and an amazing week!  Can you believe it's almost 2015?!

xo.  Jen