Saturday, August 30, 2014

Goodbye TBC!

After 4, almost 5 years at the Telephone Banking Center, I'm finally moving on to a better job within my bank.  It's bittersweet though because I've met some really incredible people & had some really great experiences. The prospect of leaving has been quite a rollercoaster of emotions... From excitement & gratitude to sadness & nostalgia - It's been an interesting few weeks.

Goodbyes are always hard. This felt a bit like high school graduation. I'm ready to move on, I know what awaits  is going to be better than what I'm leaving behind... but there's still a finality & a sadness to leaving behind what's familiar.

Yesterday I walked into work to find my desk decorated by my boss & a few of my teammates. There were balloons & even zebra-print streamers! It made me all teary-eyed. Apparently, they'd spent the night before working on decorating after I left at 5. Quite a fun surprise to walk into.


There was plenty of hugging, plenty of reminiscing, well-wishes & congratulations. I found myself thinking back to when I began my journey at the bank & remembering how grateful I was for the kindness of my coworkers. They've been such a blessing to me & I have been enriched by knowing them.

Did I mention there was cake? My boss bought Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake. It was divine! I'm pretty sure it was the best "Goodbye-Cake" in all the world. :-) It's also pretty photogenic. See for yourself --

Monday is Labor Day so I will start my new position in my new center on Tuesday. I'm equal parts excited & nervous. I've been waiting for a few years now to finds a position that'll better suit me, offer me more opportunities & give me the chance to gain experience. This is definitely what I've been waiting for. I'm so grateful that I've been given this chance. I know I'll meet new, amazing people. Plus, this new center is only 20 minutes from my job so it beats the heck out of my current commute (1 hour... On a good day, in good weather...) This is definitely going to be a blessing for me. I can't wait to start! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Mother of All Guilt-Trips

There are a lot of awful, uneducated things that we say to each other under the guise of "giving advice" or "sharing an opinion." They're well-intentioned most of the time, I suppose, but it's still very possible to be hurt by a comment someone didn't "mean that way." 

One such comment I received on Mother's Day this year. A friend whose mother passed away scolded me for not calling my mom to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. She said, & I quote "You don't know what I'd give to wish MY mother a Happy Mother's Day."

This is a terrible thing to say for many reasons.
First off - Thanks for the guilt trip, friend. 

But just some background - I've been abused, neglected & hurt by my mother my entire life. I've tried SO many times over the years to fix our relationship. My pride has been swallowed, my heart worn on my sleeve & for years I've tried to earn my mother's approval & affection. There have been so many heartbroken tears cried over my mom. So many nights spent longing for a mother I've never had. My mom is not a loveable woman & she will never show me the compassion I need from her. She does not have my best interest at heart. She does not want to be a part of my life. This has taken me years to realize & accept & still, I struggle with the the fact that my idealized version of a mother-daughter relationship will never exist. 

Years, I've spent, calling, sending cards, praying to God that she'd decide I was worthy of her time, her love. My mother is only interested in me when she has something to gain from it. This realization has often made me wonder what is wrong with me. What is so bad that my own mother doesn't love me? Her neglect has made me insecure & created an intense, never-ending, self-deprecating inner dialect. Basically, she throws me scraps of affection to keep me in the palm of her hand, I eat it up, she walks away when I've served her purpose & I spend weeks hating myself for letting her in, feeling guilty for hating her & hating myself for being so unlovable. It's an unhealthy cycle that has consumed me for years.

Finally cutting ties with my mother has not been easy. I've felt so much guilt & sadness. I've mourned for a relationship that will never be. It's been difficult, but it has been healthy for me. Ending the cycle & escaping from the constant misery has given me insight I hadn't anticipated. I now see that I am worthy of love & SHE is the one missing out.

To my well-intentioned friend: I'm sorry you lost your loving, dedicated, faithful mother. My mother, unfortunately, is not that way. I wish that you could have had more fun, memorable moments with your parent. I know you long for her love, for her advice, for her gentle encouragement. I long for those things too. But, like your mother, my mom cannot give them to me, although she may be very much alive. I've struggled with guilt my entire life & I will not feel guilty about a decision that has been healthy for me. I hope you understand that while having YOUR mom in your life may have been a blessing, my mother hurts me & makes me unhealthy. Maintaining a relationship with her is not what is best for me. You were lucky to have had, even briefly, a mother worth missing. So, this Mother's Day & every Mother' Day I will recognize the women who have been confidants & loving role-models. I will NOT recognize a woman who has failed in her obligations of motherhood. 

To those of you with parents who have chosen not to be part of your life: Know that you are lovable. You are worthy. You are deserving of compassion. Do not measure yourself by your parent's affection. Know that they are missing out on all that you are & all you will become. You will be able to look at yourself in the mirror & say "I am who I am thanks to nobody but me." Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for cutting ties with someone who hurts you. You have the right to eliminate people who hurt you, hinder you or cause you to be unhealthy. 

Stay strong! xoxo

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Dinner!

Finally. I have a blog-worthy Sunday dinner! Woo!

Today I woke up feeling extra housewife-y. (As in, I wanted to shop, cook, bake, clean & decorate simultaneously while wearing an apron) After getting myself dressed I drove to my local produce market to get myself some supplies for a big, beautiful dinner & dessert!

It was a successful shopping trip at Niagara Produce & strolling through the aisles of fresh, colorful produce inspired me. I get so excited by places like Niagara Produce. There's a lovely local Farmer's Market in Lockport as well but unfortunately, they're only open on Saturdays. I try to catch it as often as I can, but sometimes the inspiration doesn't strike until Sunday....

ANYWAY, after returning home with my purchases, I made a small lunch (so we'd have LOTS of room for our big dinner!) & then visited my grandma at the nursing home for awhile. Then, unexpectedly, my in-laws stopped in for dinner. I decided to pull out all the nice dishes & glasses. Luckily I'd picked up some pretty, fresh flowers at the market! The place looked (& smelled!) amazing & it was nice to entertain, even if it was last minute!

So, what was on the menu, you may ask? Well. Wait no more for your answer.

A carton of grape-tomatoes, some olive oil, cubed mozzarella, fresh, chopped basil, salt & pepper are all you need to make this delicious, colorful, YUMMY Caprese Salad!

I love fresh basil & today was kind of the day to just buy some & use it in pretty much everything. The caprese salad was a nice change-up from our usual lettuce/spinach salads. I like to keep it interesting, you know. This is such a quick, easy salad to throw together. It looks & tastes A WHOLE lot fancier than it actually is to prepare. It was a huge hit for dinner & there wasn't a single tomato left!

Which brings me to dinner - Chicken Asparagus Alfredo!

Cream sauce. Pasta. Grilled chicken. Asparagus. Basil. Mm, mm, MMM! I'm such a carb-lover, you guys. It's sad how much I love pasta. I probably would marry it if that were possible. I just love it. I just love it so much.

But, I digress.... This is a super easy pasta to make & can be thrown together fairly quickly. Just cook the chicken thoroughly with some olive oil, salt & pepper, then toss the asparagus in the same pan. Let it cook until al dente. Add the sauce (or make your own with heavy cream, milk & some parmesan cheese!) & fresh basil. Prepare the pasta in a separate pan & then serve the sauce over the pasta. SO easy. SO delicious. I'm sick of chicken-broccoli alfredo & this is a nice twist on it without deviating too much from all the wonderful things that make alfredo the perfect, flawless, little yum-fest it is. 

While at the market this morning I found some of the most lovely, ruby-red, local strawberries in existence. I knew it was going to be dessert in some way, shape or form. I decided to go with a basic strawberry shortcake. Then I decided to make the strawberry shortcakes in martini glasses. Fancy Level = Pro. 

But, really. How pretty are these little decadent beauties!? I suggest cutting your strawberries up a few hours before serving, putting them in a bowl with some sugar sprinkled over them & letting them soak in their own juices. Sure, it adds some calories but it makes them softer & sweeter which makes the dessert, in my opinion. I just cubed some angel food cake & layered the strawberries, cake cubes & whipped cream in the martini glasses. They were a huge hit! Dessert is always awesome. But put it in a fancy glass & it is just over the top!

Okay. That's all for now. My family & I are in food-comas & ready for some Netflix & an early bedtime! 

Until next time, 

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm Dreaming of a White..... Kitchen.

This is random.

But, I'm on Pinterest right now just kinda scrolling around.
Can I just tell you how obsessed with white kitchens & subway tile I am!?
Like, every part of my rational brain is screaming "THINK OF THE STAINS. THINK OF THE DUST." But some weird, minimalist, modern part of me just won't hear a word of it. I want a white kitchen. With subway tile. & cool-toned, modern hardware. 

Found on
I mean, c'mon. Look at how elegant & clean everything looks. It's so classic & aesthetically pleasing. It's so prettttttttyyyyy. Plus the contrast of the gray subway tile against the white cupboards? Look how stunning those flowers look in such a neutral setting! *sigh*

 & how perfect are those open cupboards? I know if I had a ton of cupboard space (perhaps if I had a pantry so I wasn't using each & every freakin' square inch of my cupboards....) I'd totally do something like this above the sink. It's like built-in display cases & I love it oh-so-incredibly-unbelievably-much.

My husband will fight me tooth & nail on this, I know it. But in the eventual Casa de Breen there WILL be a white kitchen. Because, I mean. There just MUST be. :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hard Lessons

It's been awhile but I've finally got the motivation to write. It isn't that there hasn't been blogable moments the past 4 months. It's been chock-full of blessings, realizations, projects, improvements, disappointments & experiences. Sometimes the words are easy & flow effortlessly making it natural & easy for me to blog about it. Sometimes all I can do is observe & process inside my head, making it harder to share. Either way, I will save you the recap of the past few months & just say that going forward I hope to have plenty to share but if not, I am sure there will continue to be times when the posts are few & far between. Feast or famine, as they say. 

I've signed on today to write about patience.

It seems this has been my lesson, which I have fought against learning, for some time now. The amazing, nearly 2 years of marriage I've enjoyed have been so full of  lessons. I've learned that career success can be twice as rewarding when it is shared with my teammate & partner. I've learned that recipes that have been passed down generations of family always taste the sweetest. I've realized that having a slightly disorganized house doesn't make me a bad wife. Neither does burning the cupcakes. I've learned that cheap champagne & candles at home can be even more romantic than a fancy dinner out. 

But most importantly, I've learned that I do not have to "have it together" at every single moment of my existence -- something I have tried my entire life to do. 

It's okay to not know your next move sometimes. It's okay to admit that you're unsure. It's okay to throw your hands up & say "I don't know." I, the one with the plan, the one with blueprints to even the most mundane of life moments have learned that I am not always in control. The timing will not always be my own, no matter how detailed the plan I have made. Life has a way of showing us who is boss, doesn't it? Reality check: I am NOT in control of much. 

Buying a house, having a baby, going on a dream vacation, buying a new car -- These are all wonderful goals. But I cannot punish myself for the setbacks. I cannot get discouraged at the time it takes to reach these milestones. & most importantly, I cannot chastise myself for not reaching these goals at the same time my peers, my loved ones or my Facebook friends are reaching them. 

God's timing is perfect. His plans may differ from mine & that is okay because I MUST trust that he knows what is best for me. I am grateful for the beautiful years that my husband & I have had together. There is no new house, no new car, no bouncing baby Breen & the farthest we've ventured from home is my in-law's house. But we have spent hours dreaming together while looking at houses online or on Pinterest. My husband's diligence to maintaining my not-so-new car's repairs warms my heart & I smile at the way he shows me his concern & care by making sure my car can take me safely where I need to go. We've bonded over researching infertility clinics & cried many tears together over a family we have dreamed of having for so long. 

All these "inconveniences," set-backs or disappointments have made us stronger. It has shown me sides of my husband I did not know existed. It has allowed me to be vulnerable & depend on this wonderful man's strength to get me through. We have had the opportunity to open our hearts & minds to things we didn't know we could. For this knowledge, I am thankful. For these experiences, I am blessed. 

Sometimes the most valuable lessons are taught waiting for the answers. This is my ultimate test.