Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12/31/08 - New Year's Eve

I was a little put off this morning by the clear glee the CNN weather woman was expressing over the idea that people in Times Square would be freezing their butts off tonight. She said “I may just tune in to watch them suffer”. What the heck!? I bet Anderson Cooper wanted to take a swing at her as he will be out there suffering too. I don’t have any desire to go see the ball drop in Time Square but I do have a lot of respect for the people who do brave the elements and stand out there for hours and hours.
Matt and his roommate have been kind enough to host a New Year's party. I am forever grateful to them for keeping me out of the cold, not forcing me to pay $150 that I would have to pay if I went to a bar, and allowing me an opportunity to just be surrounded by wonderful friends. And I have the same wish for you…may your New Years Eve be warm, cheap, and filled with good friends.
Today’s song goes out to all the tough folks who are probably already gathered at Times Square. You show that nasty weather woman what’s up!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12/30/08 - 2008 with a silver lining

As another year comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. When I first started thinking back on 2008, my mind was flooded with memories of hardship and tragedy. But, as I’ve found with most things, if you take a deeper look you can find, at the very least, a silver lining. So here is a list of some accomplishments or things I figured out during the past year:

· Began to like sushi. Well, just California rolls but you have to start somewhere
· Got bangs
· Let bangs grow out
· Said goodbye to the best roommate ever
· Hiked in the Alps
· Got a new job
· Tried Pilates
· Watched good friends get married and have babies (well, I didn’t WATCH them have babies. EEEK!)
· Tried golf
· Realized I liked stuffing
· Realized I actually still don’t like stuffing
· Fell deeper in love
· Realized I am amazingly blessed and that I have the best family in the whole world

And last, but certainly not least…

· Started PositivelyAnna! There have been over 125 posts and Songs of the Day. Thank you all for your stories, support and song suggestions. Keep it up in 2009!

So when you do take a closer look at things and you still can’t find a silver lining, do as James Brown says and “Get up off of that thing and dance ‘til you feel better!”.

Monday, December 29, 2008

12/29/08 - Positively Delicious

I’m back! My apologies for not posting much over the past week. For some reason, when I’m home in New Hampshire my creative juices don’t flow as readily, but whatever juices make me want to eat, drink and sleep constantly overflow.
I would like to dedicate this post to all the wonderful cooks that made this particular holiday so special. I was spoiled with so many delicious meals from seafood chowder and lasagna to roast beef and roast chicken to a broccoli salad that would blow your mind (yup, I just described broccoli as mind blowing…it was that good!) If I were allowed one more Christmas wish it would be that weight gained from eating wonderful food would go to a wonderful place, like my chest or someone else’s butt. But alas it does not. And because I plan on making good on my promise to wear my new Diane von Furstenburg dress for New Years, I’m going to have to hit the gym. BOOOO. But I wouldn’t replace any of the new rolls in my belly for a single bite of all the great food I ate.
As promised I got rid of all the Christmas music on the Song of the Day playlist, well except Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You. People go nuts for this song! Today’s song is Cher’s Strong Enough which is one of my go-to songs when I need motivation to work out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

12/24/08 - Christmas Eve!

Hello all! I've added some of my favorite holiday songs to the Song of the Day playlist. This is what my family and I will be listening to as we decorate our tree tonight. I hope all of you have a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

12/22/08 - Happy Hanukkah!

It has begun! I promised myself that I would not start with the holiday music until right before Christmas. And don’t worry, I’ll take these songs off the Song of the Day playlist once the holidays are over.

A friend reserved today, the first day of Hanukkah, for Adam Sandler about 2 months ago. So for all of you that are Jewish, grew up in New Hampshire (that is where Adam Sandler is from) or came of age in the 90’s, please enjoy Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song. Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, December 19, 2008

12/19/08 - Positively Successful!

Mission accomplished! Dinner last night was delicious and spirits were high! I’ve had several requests for the menu so here you go…

­Whole Chicken
My mom swears by this recipe. Super easy and the chicken was moist and flavorful. It didn’t even need gravy!

1 lemon (size of lemon should be determined by size of chicken)
¼ cup of orange juice
¼ cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of paprika

1. Place whole lemon inside chicken
2. Mix OJ, olive oil, kosher salt and paprika in small bowl. Rub chicken all over with mixture
3. Cook chicken as directed on package or 20 minutes per pound at 350
4. Relax and have 3 sips of wine

Sweet Potatoes with Apricots and Bourbon
This is one of my dad’s favorite holiday recipes. I believe he got it from Sunset Magazine. I made the sweet potatoes the night before which was a huge help.

1/3 cup bourbon
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
5 pounds red garnet or jewel sweet potatoes (sometimes sold as yams)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a small bowl, pour bourbon over dried apricots.
2. Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce each in several places with a fork. Place potatoes on oven rack or in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350° oven until potatoes are soft when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.
3. Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, butter, and vanilla to the bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork until mixture is only slightly chunky. Stir in apricots and bourbon. Spoon into a shallow 2 1/2-quart baking dish and spread level.
4. Bake, uncovered, until hot in the center, about 30 minutes. Serve warm. (I heated them up the night of the dinner)

Matt prepared his famous asparagus. He places the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzles it with olive oil and salt; cooks it for 10-12 minutes at 350; sprinkles with grated Parmesan before serving.

More Potatoes
We also made mashed potatoes. Everyone seemed mortified at the idea that I was making two starches but as I have mentioned, I love potatoes. And if you can’t have two starches at Christmas, when can you, dang it!?

I think dessert was the highlight of the meal. I had charged our friends with providing dessert and they rose to the occasion! They picked up a Mille Crepe, which is about 20 stacked crepes with a light, creamy custard in between each layer. They served it with raspberries. The Mille Crepe came from Lady M Confections on the Upper East Side of Manhattan Check it out!

I was comforted to know that so many of you get stressed while cooking as well. Not that I can consider myself an expert after one successful meal but I do think that there are a few tips that really will help alleviate some stress:
1. Do what you can in advance. Tackling the sweet potatoes the night before was a lifesaver because I have never tried that recipe before. I was able to focus on the directions and I didn’t feel rushed.
2. You may have noticed that all the dishes needed to be baked at the same temperature. This is a huge help for novice chefs like me. When the chicken was almost done cooking we threw in the asparagus and reheated the sweet potatoes. No worrying about over cooking or having to recalculate cooking time.
3. Don’t hover or critique. Matt helped peel some of the potatoes. I just didn’t look and before I knew it, I had a bunch of beautifully peeled potatoes. I don’t know how he peeled them and I don’t care.
4. If friends offer to bring something, let them! Having to make one less trip to the liquor store or not having to make dessert can be a total life saver when trying to put together a big meal.

I can’t wait to hear about all your holiday cooking adventures!

I received an excellent suggestion for today's song. Please enjoy Lionel Richie's All Night Long.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

12/18/08 - The Evil Kitchen Monster

I generally consider myself a cheery person. I like to think that I am pleasant and that people like to be around me. But I have recently realized that I am a nightmare in the kitchen or rather my boyfriend, Matt, told me I was (He said it very sweetly of course so I wanted to hug him and not punch him). I love to cook but when I am cooking I’m controlling, tense, and almost always frantic. Not a pretty picture, is it? So I have set out on a search for the root of my nightmarish tendencies.

My dad is an excellent cook. Food has always been his major creative outlet. He understands food; what flavors work together, how to make a recipe even better, etc. When I am home I like to be his sous chef, helping when I can and trying to pick up as many new techniques as possible. Now, I love my Dad very much but he can be a little controlling in the kitchen. He will ask me to help by doing something simple, like peeling potatoes, but he will abandon his dish to look over my shoulder to make sure I’m doing it correctly. I have to glare at him until he goes back to his task so I can finish peeling or chopping MY WAY. During this Thanksgiving we were going about our usual routine of him hovering and me glaring when I had what Oprah calls an AHA! Moment. This is what I do to Matt! I will ask him to help me with dinner but then I will critique or hover while he is grating cheese or draining the noodles. Good Lord! Who cares how he does it as long as the cheese gets grated and the noodles get drained. I shared this revelation with my dad and we both agreed we would work on relinquishing a little culinary control.

Now I mentioned that I am also tense and a little frantic when cooking, but this is just because I am a good person ;). In my family you show people you love them through food. When we are home my mom spoils us with homemade rolls or fresh squeezed orange juice. And my dad will bring me a sandwich when he picks me up from the bus station. I love this tradition. I like to show my friends, roommates and Matt how much I care about them by making a fancy dinner or their favorite treat. But I realized, as my loved ones stare at me in horror as I run around the kitchen like a PMSing bat out of hell that this is not a great way to show love. I need to ease up on my desire to make the perfect meal and actually enjoy the time I get to spend with the great people in my life. Some would suggest abandoning trying to emulate Giada and just order take out but as I mentioned I do love to cook. So I’m admitting I have a problem (the first step) and I’m going to make a conscious effort to be more pleasant while cooking. I’m preparing a holiday dinner for some friends tonight which will be a great test. I have already done most of the shopping and prepared some of the dishes last night. And if that doesn’t help, I’ll just drink a lot of wine. Wish me luck! I will let you know how it goes.

I also like to show my friends I love them by playing the songs they request. Here is Lady GaGa's Just Dance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

12/17/08 - Hugh Jackman! That is all I have to say

I can’t decide what I am more excited about: Hugh Jackman hosting the Academy Awards or Hugh Jackman starring in X-Men Origins: Wolverine! That is like asking me which I like more: baked potatoes or mashed potatoes. It is an impossible decision!

Let’s start with the Academy Awards or, as I like to call it, The Best Night of Television EVER. I tried throwing a party on Oscar night a few times but, evidently not everyone is interested in sitting in silence, waiting with bated breath for the announcement of every award. That’s right! Every award! I even care who wins the sound editing and short documentary categories. And to find out Hugh Jackman is hosting this year, well that is almost too much!

But on the other hand there is the new X-Men movie. X-Men is my favorite movie series, well second to the Die Hard series. I was blown away when the first X-Men movie came out in 2000 and I had to wait 3 long years for the next one. I had just moved to Scotland when X2 came out. I had to bribe my two new friends to come with me on opening night. They were two blond sorority girls from Texas and comic book movies really weren’t their thing. However they were lured in by the idea of Hugh Jackman in spandex (who could resist!). They did, however, almost ditch me when I literally yelled “Woo Hoo!” during the opening credits. In my defense, I was a little buzzed at the time. They serve booze in the movie theaters in Scotland. What a great country! While I didn’t enjoy The Last Stand as much as the first two, I was still very entertained. And now they are coming out with Wolverine, which will give us incite into how Logan became Wolverine. Check out the preview!

It is the year of Hugh Jackman, which I know is a cause for celebration for every women and quite a few men. Starring in Australia, named Sexiest Man Alive, hosting the Oscars and now Wolverine. I’m comforted by the steady stream of Hugh we will be receiving for the next 6 months.

So now that you think I’m a giant weirdo I shall sign off with today’s song. Please enjoy Summer of 69.

Monday, December 15, 2008

12/15/08 - I Wonder

I went to a holiday party this weekend thrown by my friends Kate and Amy. They have it every year and it is always a great opportunity to catch up with old friends. And while the food, drinks and ambiance were fun and festive, the small talk had a different feel this year. When any group of young professionals get together “How is work going?” is usually one of the first questions asked, but this year the question was asked with hesitation. Many of the party goers had already lost their jobs and others feared that they would be next, myself included.

I was chatting with a friend who I always enjoy because she has opinions and is very passionate. I was saying how sad I was about my smart, hardworking friends getting laid off. I hadn’t turned on the news in the past couple days because I couldn’t bear to hear about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have also lost their jobs. “There is no hope” I said (not very positive, I know). My friend smiled and said proudly “Except for President Elect Obama”. And while I too am excited about our new president, I wondered aloud if Obama would remain a source of hope and inspiration to the country once he takes office.

There have only been a few presidents during my lifetime. I obviously have no recollection of how I felt while Reagan or the first Bush were in office. I was a teenager during the Clinton years but I can’t really remember how I felt about him either. My recollection is clouded by all the controversy that surrounded his presidency. So the only real frame of reference I have is George W. Bush and to say he has not been a source of hope and inspiration for me is an understatement. I pose this question to my older readers or to my younger readers who paid more attention growing up than me: Is it possible to be proud and uplifted by your President? I’m not talking about opinion polls or approval ratings. Lots of people will say they support the president, but what I am wondering is if the President of the United States is a figure that people can be excited about. Or is the president sort of like a high school principal. The student knows he has their best interest in mind but they all think he is kind of a jerk.

I know that we can be inspired by ex-presidents. Growing up I had a picture of the Lincoln Memorial hanging in my room (I was a dork) and I have always found Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats very moving. But is the love and respect we have for these great presidents a product of hindsight or is it possible to feel admiration for your current president while they are making the difficult decisions that affect your life right now.

While this may seem like a pessimistic post, I ask this question with optimistic anticipation for the answers I will receive. My hope is that while Obama is president during these unbelievably trying times he will continue to be viewed with the same excitement and hopefulness that he was on election night.

Today's song is the Dixie Chicks' I Hope, something we could all use these days. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

12/12/08 - A True Inspiration

My friend is a physical therapist at NYU. She works with patients who have recently been through a severe trauma or major surgery. She often comes home from work exhausted and frustrated because getting some of her patients to do physical therapy is difficult, even though it is vital to their recovery. But the other day when we met up she was elated, saying “I have a new patient who is a quadruple amputee”. My look of horror made it obvious that I didn’t understand why this was a good thing. She quickly explained that this patient’s attitude was amazing. She is hardworking and incredibly positive. Her story is incredible! Check out this news clip. My friend is the cute physical therapist in the green ;)
Tabitha is clearly an amazing woman and her idea of erasing “can’t” from our vocabulary is advise I know we could all use.

This inspirational story deserves an inspirational song. Please enjoy Garth Brook’s Standing Outside the Fire.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12/11/08 - Giving Back Made Easy

To help give back to the city we love, a co-worker and I decided to start a coat drive at our office. New York Cares, a volunteer/charitable organization, collects coats and distributes them to those in need in New York. They have set up collection areas all over the city and will accept coats until the end of December.
We have been pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get the coat drive started. Our building management has been very helpful and New York Cares sent us posters to help promote our drive. Once a week we bring the coats from our colleagues to one of the collection sites. It is that easy! Please consider starting a drive in your own office or looking for a coat collection in your area.
One of the fans of Positively Anna prefers the song of the day to relate to the theme of the post. I challenged him to come up with a fun song about coats. The best he could come up with is We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off. And while it certainly isn’t about giving coats to charity it is a great song that is guaranteed to pick you up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12/10/08: Morally: Liberal; Fashionably: Conservative

I’ve never been a flashy dresser. When I was showing my mom my new clothes for my first real job, she said “Well, no one will confuse you with the office floozy”. My closet consists of mostly cable knit sweaters, cardigans and button downs. But just because I often look like I have just come from an afternoon of sailing doesn’t mean I don’t dream of fashion grandeur. I look at celebrities and in the pages of Vogue and long for the guts to wear something “fashion forward”. Sometimes I will get up the nerve to buy something that is not from the Gap, Banana Republic or JCrew. Once in college I bought this great sequins mini. It was fierce. And guess where it is? Still in my closet with the tags on it. Shameful!

Well a few days ago I was doing a little window shopping and I got up the nerve to go into a Diane von Furstenberg sample sale. It was jammed packed with angry, feisty fashionistas, which as I explained, aren’t exactly my crowd. I was afraid of what would happen to me if anyone noticed my LL Bean all-weather moccasins (it was cold out!). So I pick out this amazing little dress which, in true von Furstenberg tradition, is covered with a large, vibrant print. It fit like a glove. I was glowing on the walk home. I had just bought my first designer dress (it was a sample sale, remember. I’m not a millionaire). I tried it on for my boyfriend, rejoicing in beauty of dress and exclaiming all the places I was going to wear it. But the longer I stood in front of the mirror, the number of places I would wear the dress started to deplete. “I’m going to wear this dress every single day!”…“Maybe just on Saturday nights!”…“Well maybe just on special occasions”…“Shit! When am I EVER going to wear this dress!” So since I can’t return it and it really is a great dress, I have resolved to wear it on New Year’s Eve. For those of you who will see me on New Year’s, please hold me to this. Because while I’m sure the sequins skirt could use some company, my very first designer dress deserves to be worn.

Today’s song is one that used to pick us up in high school. Enjoy Tim McGraw’s Where the Green Grass Grows.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

12/9/08 - Merry Christmas Paxton!

My friends Kelly and Ben just opened up their home to a new dog! Paxton was abandoned, along with his two sister, on the steps of a nearby veterinary hospital. They hadn't planned on getting a dog but as Kelly puts it "Paxton just kind of found us".

There are millions of animals in the United States and with this economic downturn, many families cannot afford to keep their pets. If you are looking for a pet please go to your local animal shelter. There are thousands of cats and dogs that need a good home and they make a great presents (hint, hint). Check out Iams has set up this site to help you find shelters in your area and will allow you to locate dogs by age, gender and even breed.
Today's song was a recommendation and it is a lot of fun. Please enjoy I'll Be in the Sky from B.O.B.

Monday, December 8, 2008

12/8/08 - Klutzes and the men who love them

Hello. My name is Anna and I am a klutz. My lack of grace mixed with a knack for attracting bad luck earned me the nicknames “Bonk” and “Spaz” when I was growing up. And while most people say goodbye to their klutzy phase after puberty, mine has lasted into adulthood. So let’s face it, for me klutzy is not a phase, it is a way of life.

I have grown used to the ripped clothes, broken glasses and head injuries over the years but it has definitely been an adjustment for my boyfriend. When we first started dating I think he was afraid that I would fall down a man hole or electrocute him some how. And he was living in constant fear that one of my flailing arms would hit him in the crotch. But he has gotten more accustomed to me over time. Now when I sit next to him he simply guards his drink and/or his crotch and when I ask him why he is doing it, he simply says “You make me nervous” and gives me a kiss.

And I am not the only klutz out there. Just this morning my best friend told me this great story: She and her man were just settling into the couch to enjoy some holiday cocktails that he had whipped up. She accidently kicked the tray of drinks, spilling them all over her boyfriend. Because there was cranberry juice in the drinks she immediately threw his pants into the washer. And because she is cursed, there was chapstick in the pants pocket. Goodbye pants! While her boyfriend wasn’t impressed by the complete destruction of his pants, he is a good guy who knows he as a great girl who will, from time to time, kick drinks on him.

So I tip my hat to the klutz loving men out there. Move your drink, cover your crotch and give your klutz a kiss.

Here’s a song that always makes people happy. Enjoy Cyndi Lauper’s Girl Just Want to Have Fun.

Friday, December 5, 2008

12/5/08 - Reason 210 Why I Love New York

As I have mentioned I live on Wall St. I was walking home from the subway last night and when I was in front of the Stock Exchange I noticed a bunch of people were gathered and music was playing. I took off my headphones and it only took me 2 seconds to realize who was singing. You will never guess who it was!? Aretha Franklin! Holy crap! I couldn’t believe it. She was belting out Christmas Carols about 30 feet away from where I was standing. Her voice is unbelievable. I stood in the rain with about 200 other people and was just blown away. When she was finished she said “I love you New York!” and we all shouted back “We love you Aretha!”. It was very cool. This city rocks!

In honor of the Queen of Soul herself today's song is Chain of Fools. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

12/4/08 - Positive Geniuses

A few years ago I saw the play Three Days of Rain with Julia Roberts, Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper. Roberts and Rudd play siblings reuniting with their childhood friend, Cooper. Rudd is a brooding intellectual while Cooper plays a happy “golden” boy and Roberts is torn between the two. Rudd spends most of the play teasing and even berating Cooper for his “glass half full” attitude. Finally Cooper snaps and shouts “Just because I’m in a good mood doesn’t mean I’m an idiot!”. I almost shot out of my seat and said “THANK YOU!”.
For some reason it looks cool to put things down…this bar sucks, that teacher is a moron, this show is stupid. And it seems like you don’t have any taste or you don’t know any better if you generally enjoy things. Why is this? I know I am a culprit of putting things down just because I can but I try not to do this very often. This is not to say that people can’t disagree. I’m all for different opinions but if you don’t like something and someone else does that doesn’t make you a better person. So here’s to all you “glass half full” people out there! You are clearly geniuses!

In the spirit of this post today's song is Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry Be Happy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

12/3/08 - Ode to the Bagel Guys

One of the most important relationships a New Yorker has, beyond their doorman, is with the Bagel Guys. They are the fellows at the deli closest to your office who provide you with your morning sustenance. They are friendly and always happy to see you, which is impressive because they are usually crammed like sardines behind the counter. They support almost everything you do…new hair cut, a tan, etc. The only thing that they are not too thrilled about is your New Years resolution to cut back on carbs (NO BAGELS!) but we all know that will only last 2 weeks and then the Bagel Guys will welcome you back with open arms.
I switched jobs a few months ago and while I was concerned about my boss liking me and making friends, I was really worried about finding new Bagel Guys. I was very attached to my guys at Bagel & Bean (SO good – 54th and Broadway – Check it out!), where I had frequented for years. But after a week or two at my new job I found new Bagel Guys at Guy & Gallard. And guess what happened yesterday!? They remembered my order. When I got to the front of the line they were already spreading the cream cheese on my cinnamon raisin bagel and were putting the milk in my ice coffee. This is a major milestone in the Bagel Guy relationship! So thank you for making all our mornings POSITIVELY brighter Bagel Guys.

Today's song in Mrs Robinson. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12/2/08 - Wall-E

If you haven't seen Wall-E yet I definitely recommend it. It is funny and very sweet. Great for the holidays and the whole family. It has nice messages of hope and love and all that other junk ;)

Today's song is Wide Open Spaces from the Dixie Chicks. Enjoy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

12/01/08 - Giant Pool of Money

While ignorance may be bliss, it is not very responsible, especially in times like these. I’ll admit that until recently when anybody would mention terms like “economic crisis” or “housing bubble” I would shake my head and looked discouraged but I really didn’t know much about any of those topics. But once the problem came to my front door (Literally! I live on Wall St.), I resolved to figure out what the heck was going on! It wasn’t easy though. It isn’t like there is a “What Is Wrong With The Economy For Dummies” at Barnes and Noble. So I began my research through one of my usual references: Oprah! She did a show a few months back about the economic crisis, and while it wasn’t as detailed as I would have liked, it definitely started me off in the right direction. Next, I reached out to my boyfriend, who is wise beyond his years. I like to ask him really broad, important questions about the world when we have had a few drinks and are just about to fall asleep. He stayed up until 4 AM patiently trying to explain what was going on (don’t worry, we are still together). But I still had more questions! I was badgering my dad for answers when he mentioned that I check out Giant Pool of Money. Giant Pool of Money is a piece that This America Life (I worship this show) put together to try to give their listeners a better understanding of the housing crisis. You have to check it out! You can listen and/or download it at It is an hour long and worth every second. I promise it isn’t boring and you will come away with a much better understanding of what happened to our economy. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Today’s song is Madonna’s Vogue. I hope Madge will forgive me for not including one of her songs so far….oops.
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