Thursday, November 25, 2010

So Very Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving.

A day to simply pause, remember and give thanks.

On many other days I find myself suffering the guilt of the almighty "covet." Stressing over the things that I don't have, salivating over the things that I want and dreaming of the things that I hope to one day have.

On days like today, when I stop and let the quiet that surrounds me take hold, free of all the chaotic clutter that often clouds my judgement, I can openly reflect on the things that matter most, the things that I am exceptionally grateful for and how blessed my life truly is.

In my otherwise cynical little world, it is one of the few days where sappy salutations and attention to the lovey dovey are totally acceptable!

I am appreciative for the simple things, my health,  a roof over my head, a car that runs, gainful employment, food in my fridge, a case of Diet Dr. Pepper in my pantry, a roomful of Pottery Barn furniture that I got with my huge employee discount, a ridiculous looking dog and two scrunchy cats; one of which has just celebrated his 18th Thanksgiving dinner of Friskies turkey and byproduct canned cat food by my side.

So I'm a crazy cat lady, don't judge! Besides which, Shadrach is the only man in my life that has stuck with me through thick and thin, loves me for me, rarely gives me any sassy talk back and keeps me warm at night.

That stuff is the icing, but the cake...the delicious innards are what is the most satisfying. I mean, who wants to cut into a beautifully decorated confectionary only to find a worn out, bland brick of nothingness?

I want the red velvet and the opportunity to eat it every day...and I do, thanks in part to the two things that matter most.

Family: Many believe that they "have the best one in the world" and maybe they their own eyes, but from where I stand I could not ask for a better one. We Martins are far from perfection and at times even a little dysfunctional, but we have the roots that keep us strong and fertilizer needed to keep growing.

Our twisted branches tell a story of generations past and a future filled with hope. We are bold and bright; dazzling even.

Mom, Dad, Kelly, Kaylie, Emma and Rachelle, my immediate circle who keep me forever cocooned in affection and the gorgeous outer shell that makes up my extended family, one that spans the country and beyond.

We are an amazing group of individual personalities tied together under the family tree through fate. No matter the miles between us, each of them are with me every step of the way. They are my life, my insides and a cherished gift.

Friends: New and old. Over the years I have thankfully lost fewer than I have made. To those that I have forfeited along the way, I am grateful for what needed to be learned and appreciate the clarity given in return.

The oldies but goodies and the constants...the ones who without, my life would be humorless and empty. The ones who stick with you through the messy parts and the same ones who care enough to cut you down to size without all of the useless fluff; please continue to say the things that I don't always want but need to hear and I promise to always give back in return.

Some would say that there is no way that I could be truly happy, how could you without the companionship of a husband or the comfortable security that comes with a hefty bank account or the selflessness of being a parent?

There may be no logical explanation as to why, but simply put, I just am. The things that I've chosen for my life work for me; the love and laughter that surround me will always carry me through and for that I am so very thankful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Insert Inappropriate Laughter Here

On paper, I am a grown woman. I have a decent job, I live in a nice apartment, I am a responsible pet owner and look pretty damn good for my age.  At first glance you'd think that I was a pretty together and responsible individual, but get to know me and you will soon realize that I have the mentality of a 13 year old boy; at times you might even question whether or not I was borderline retarded based solely on the things that I find humorous.

I don't remember my parents being such idiots when I was growing up, they always seemed so smart and refined, perhaps they just hid it well. Who knows what they were laughing at when I wasn't around.

As for me, I giggle with inappropriate delight when someone farts, falls down, hurts themselves, vomits, shits themselves, pees their pants, sports a boner or even talks about a sporting a boner.

At times I've even been known to crack up in serious situations like a funeral or in class. Stressful situations can also trigger an unbecoming melt down of hilarity.

During a high school field trip, my best friend Beth and I unsuccessfully tried to stifle our snickering after hearing the word "penis" during a court case. The more we tried to hold it back, the funnier it became until we finally burst into a fit of uncalled for amusement.

Speaking of penis, the only time that I have really questioned whether or not I had a serious problem was when I first started working in the ER. An ambulance brought in a CPR in progress, which by definition is NOT funny in the least bit.

For whatever reason the male patient was brought to us completely naked and every time someone pumped on his chest, his penis would bob up and down in rhythm with the compression cycle. It was tragic watching my colleagues struggling to save this man's life, but even more tragic was my own uncomfortable an epic douche bag, I laughed.

Ah yes, you can always count on me for some ill-timed guffaws.

I blame my sister because the first incident that I can recall laughing at with great irreverence involved her. As the oldest, it was my job to look out for her. Our mother sent us down to the playground one afternoon, I was eight years old at the time and my sister four. She wanted to slide down the slide, so being the stellar guardian that I was, I stood at the foot of the ladder and watched patiently as she climbed the rungs, one by one. Damn if she didn't make it all the way to the top when her tiny foot missed a step and she came tumbling down like a scene from a Three Stooges skit.

It was like sweet slow-motion as I watched her chin hit each of the rungs coming down, the same ones that she had so painstakingly climbed up just moments earlier. The sound of bone hitting metal made a weird clacking sound, almost like a muffled gong. I didn't erupt until rungs two or three, but the sound in combination with the visual was clearly more than I could take and that is when it happened...I laughed.

The farther she fell, the harder I laughed, until it reached a point of sheer hysteria. I laughed as I dusted her off. I laughed at the sight of the blood spurting from the underside of her mandible. I laughed as I walked her home. I laughed as we entered the front door to our house. I laughed when my mother put hydrogen peroxide on her open wound and I laughed behind closed doors when I got sent to my room for laughing.

It was uncontrollable goodness, like I was going for the world record for longest period spent laughing without a break. Hell, I am laughing right now just thinking about it.

Sadly it was the beginning of a torturous life for my poor sister, but in all fairness she has laughed at my expense as well, so it is a win-win situation.

There really is nothing better in this world than laughing. For that moment, no harm can come my way. There is something so genuine and cleansing about a good laugh. All those silly things that they say about it being the best medicine are dead on.

Sometimes you've just got to find the funny and somehow, regardless of what is falling apart around me, I thankfully find it every day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Red Velvety Goodness

I was raised by southern parents who instilled the importance of good manners. If someone does something nice for you, then you for damn sure better express a little gratitude!

I had some car troubles this week that took my ride out of commission for three days as it sat lifeless in the parking lot of the hospital that I work at. Through an amazing display of unexpected events and "pay it forward" moments, I got every where I needed to be with a little help from my friends.

So, just how do you thank so many for their kindness? Homemade cupcakes of course!

I spent yesterday afternoon in the kitchen whipping up three dozen red velvet cupcakes, they were so ridiculously good that I'm gonna pay it forward by sharing the recipe.

Cake Ingredients
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 (1 oz) bottle red food coloring
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food coloring and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not over beat. Spoon batter into paper-linded muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
4. Frost with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting. (recipe below)

Frosting Ingredients
1 1/2 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) box confectioners sugar

1. Beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar until smooth.

Frost cupcakes generously and enjoy!