A “Prepare Ahead” Meal For Family Gatherings

Cabbage salad recipeWith graduation season upon us and the first day of summer fast approaching, below is a simple, easy to make and prepare ahead meal for large gatherings, family reunions and special celebrations. Enjoy!

Recipes include: cabbage crunch salad, lasagne (meat and vegetarian), and chocolate sundae pie.

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Life Wisdom For The Places You’ll Go

8,789 words of wisdomAs college graduates toss their hats in exhilaration and Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! resumes its seasonal place on the bestseller list, we tip our hats to a few lesser-known books for their equally important life wisdom, advice and inspiration.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, the words contained within these books are timeless and true, challenging us to a continual commitment to self-improvement and encouraging us to live deliberately, creatively and thoughtfully.

We hope they bring you – whether you are a college graduate or a seeker of all things good – the same inspiration, comfort and encouragement they have brought us. Read more

“All Things Living & Green”: Van Gogh & Frida Kahlo

Coco Chanel quotes“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” –Coco Chanel

“What is Happening” in New York City this summer season are two “fashionable” exhibits that are worth checking out: Van Gogh Irises and Roses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

Van Gogh Irises and Roses

Van Gogh irises and roses art exhibitThe Van Gogh exhibit at the Met brings together for the first time a quartet of paintings that Van Gogh (1853-1890) did during his stay at the asylum at St. Remy in 1889 before his death in 1890. The exhibition of the four paintings, two of irises and two of roses, was timed to coincide with the blooming of the flowers in the Spring, a period of time he likened to the “calm after the storm.” Calling painting the “lightening conductor for my illness,” Van Gogh’s art became “the first example of a truly personal art, art as a deeply lived means of spiritual deliverance or transformation of the self…” Read more

Four Years Wiser, A Message For This Year’s Graduates

college graduation speechesA little over four years ago, in one of my last articles for Holy Cross’ student newspaper, The Crusader, I offered a reflection, or a “graduation message”, for my fellow Crusaders, the class of 2011.*

Inspired by graduation season, I recently reread it and was reminded of how much my life has changed since then. Now four years into the “real” and working world, long gone are the “all-nighters”, the month long vacations and the clearly defined sense of purpose that studying provides.

What remains, however, is a lesson I had learned and shared at the near end of my college experience: Read more

Ex Machina: A Sci-Fi Thriller With Much to Ponder

There are many reasons to be impressed with Ex Machina, the recently released, exceptionally well-done sci-fi thriller directed by Alex Garland, starring Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander. Most notably, however, is its ability to be both ordinary and unique at the same time.

As any good futuristic, mystery thriller does, Ex Machina forces viewers to question who knows what, who’s outsmarting who and what – or who – is real, perceived or imagined, holding its audience in a controlled suspense throughout.

A deeper dive into the core of the movie, however, reveals a strikingly smart, unique and profoundly powerful exploration into the very essence of existence, weaving together thought-provoking questions on everything from philosophy to psychology, language to sexuality, religion to death and art to technology. Read more

How Then Shall We Live?

St. Ignatius spiritual exercises“How Then Shall We Live?”

Posed to me nearly eight years ago as a freshman at the College of the Holy Cross – a Jesuit liberal arts school in Worcester, MA – this question has left an indelible mark, frequently echoing in my mind when undergoing times of trial and tribulation.

As the signature mantra of the “First Year Program” (an optional program for freshman that has since evolved into “Montserrat” – an intensive, yearlong seminar for all first-year students), it came to encompass what I found to be the trademark of a “Holy Cross education”: a steadfast dedication not only to the academic and intellectual development of students, but to the personal and spiritual formation of one’s self. Read more

A Mother’s Influence

A Mother's Influence: How a Colombian Mother Has Influenced His Son
Esven and his mother on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina; January 2016
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln

The quote above speaks to me because every time I say goodbye to my mom, in person or on the phone, the last thing she always says to me is “que mi dios me lo bendiga,” a popular phrase for many Latin Americans who identify with the Catholic faith. I used to roll my eyes during our goodbyes or simply ignore it as a child, but I have come to appreciate it as a genuine reminder that she is always thinking about my younger brother and me.

As the son of parents who emigrated from Colombia to America, some of my fondest memories as a child are of our family gatherings – both big and small, in Colombia and the United States. Such visits allowed me not only to see where my parents grew up and what they had experienced in their childhood, but also how central of a role family played in both of their upbringings. Read more

The Virtue of “Early Rising”

Bran muffin recipeIn keeping with our celebration of Mother’s Day, below is a reflection on First Lady and Mother Martha Washington, followed by recipes for a special Mother’s Day brunch (muffins, grapefruit and avocado salad, curried carrot coconut soup, easy curried chicken and grandma’s southern coconut cake).

“As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house”, wrote Isabella Beeton (1836-1865), an English woman concerned with the critical importance of the art of “making” and “keeping” a comfortable home.

In her book The Campaign for Domestic Happiness (1861), she describes all of the virtues, etiquette and duties that are essential formanaging a home with excellence, along with recommendations on everything from a suitable wardrobe to the treatment and pay of “domestic help.”

A particular favorite of mine is the importance of “early rising.” Ms. Beeton writes:

“Early rising is one of the most essential qualities which enter into good Household Management…when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be orderly and well-managed.” Read more

Make Way For Mothers*

Make Way for Ducklings StoryIf you had to choose one word to describe your mother, what would it be? How about one piece of advice she has given you that has always stuck with you or influenced you in some way?

These are the questions I recently posed to a large group of family and friends, in anticipation of writing a piece commemorating the Mother’s Day holiday – a day dedicated to honoring and respecting all mothers, celebrating motherhood and expressing gratitude and appreciation for all the things, both big and small, our mothers did, have done or continue to do for us throughout our life. Read more