Please note: ATG is “traveling” along a rosy “ridge” in a distant “realm” of sparkling light. We’ll be back at the “table” December 7th.

“A meal doesn’t have to be like a painting by Raphael, but it should be a serious and beautiful thing, no matter how simple…[w]hat nicer way for a family to get together and communicate? Which is what life is all about, really.” – Julia Child, as found in “Thanksgiving, The Julia Child Way“, New York Times, 2015

Julia Child Quotes

Ghosts, Goblins and Great Decorations in The Big Apple

“They call it the ‘Big Apple’ because that’s how big our apartments are!”
–Billboard on the Hudson River Parkway, NYC (2012)

Halloween in NYCAnyone familiar with New York City knows that tight, close quarters and a small amount of personal space is a sacrifice that must be made for living in what has been deemed, somewhat ironically, “The Big Apple.” Indeed, on a 13.4-mile island populated by 1.6 million people, space is a luxury that many – though not all – can’t afford, which is why New Yorkers are often compelled to get a bit creative.

Such creativity is witnessed firsthand while strolling through the neighborhoods of Manhattan in the weeks leading up to Halloween. With a truly limited and “tricky” amount of space to work with, the elaborate displays, spooky props and ghastly décor that line the stoops, gates, stairs, windows and doors of many apartment buildings is rather impressive – and a pleasant “treat” that lifts your spirits to the festive fun of the season. Read more

Mistress America: So Much To Be, So Little Time

Mistress America Movie ReviewNoah Baumbach’s latest film, Mistress America, is an unexpected delight first and foremost for the abundance of laugh-out-loud moments and the many quotable lines delivered in Woody Allan-esque, rapid-fire sequences.

A classic “coming of age” story set in New York City, it follows Tracy (Lola Kirke), a freshman and social outcast at New York City’s Barnard College who finds herself captivated by the seemingly glamorous life of her soon-to-be 30-year-old stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig), only to become disillusioned by the fact that Brooke’s life isn’t as “together” as it appears.

What makes this film particularly brilliant, however, is its ability to capture – with a rare, authentic awareness – both the exhilaration and lamentation of the endless career possibilities available in today’s world of entrepreneurial pioneers. Read more

#Kindness4Colleen, Kindness For All

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

Colleen Ritzer legacyThe above quote, attributed to the Lebanese-American author Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) most well known for his book The Prophet, has always been one of my favorites. Serving as a counterpoint to a prevailing cultural ethos that too readily equates strength with acts of self-empowerment and self-aggrandizement, it is a reminder of a “quieter” strength, one that doesn’t seek the world’s attention and approval, but instead manifests itself in acts of humility, sacrifice and loving kindness when no one is looking.

While I did not know her, and was made aware of her only recently through a friend, I get the sense that Colleen Ritzer – a Massachusetts native and high school math teacher whose life was tragically and mercilessly stolen from her at the age of 24 – was one of these people. Read more

The Perfect Homemade Cookie for Any Occasion

“Sometimes me think, ‘What is friend?’ and then me say, ‘Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.” –Cookie Monster

Homemade chocolate chip cookie recipeOne of my favorite childhood memories is baking homemade cookies with my mother. Standing on a wooden stool next to her in the kitchen, she would measure the ingredients and allow me to pour them into the bowl before mixing. The best part, of course, was sneaking tastes of dough along the way and licking the bowl clean at the end.

Thanks to her loving guidance, it wasn’t long until I was baking them on my own. From chocolate chip to oatmeal raisin, sugar and molasses, lemon butterscotch and more, I have baked over hundreds of dozens of cookies for dozens of people and events throughout my junior high, high school, college and, now, early adulthood years. Read more

Shining A Hopeful Light on Usher Syndrome

Usher syndrome symptomsWhen I think of Emma, my 1-year-old niece and goddaughter, I think of her big, bright blue, angelic eyes. They are staring up at me, at seven months old, trusting, innocent eyes that eventually succumb to the spellbinding power of sleep in the arms of someone she had not yet come to know.

I remember thinking how miraculous it was that, at such a young age, babies could not only convey a feeling, thought or emotion with one simple look, but could gaze so deeply, so intently, as if, for a moment, they were imparting years of life wisdom that we typically only acquire with age.

It was her eyes in this moment that flashed through my mind as I learned three months later that her hearing loss would not be the only challenge that she would come to face. That what had once seemed like an unlikely possibility had revealed itself as a new reality when the test results diagnosed her with Usher Syndrome – the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness that affects about four babies in every 100,000 births. An inherited disease, it is thought to be responsible for about three to six percent of all childhood deafness and about 50 percent of deaf-blindness in adults. Read more

James Harrison: Wise Words From A Man of Steel

James Harrison Participation trophiesI imagine that one of the most empowering aspects of being famous is the ability to have your voice heard: to fearlessly and boldly share your thoughts and opinions knowing that people are listening and responding on a national or international level.

While their qualifications to speak on certain topics and issues can at times be questionable, the influence public officials have is truly immeasurable, stirring a debate or movement with a simple act, speech or – in the case of James Harrison, the NLF linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers* – a post on social media.

This past Saturday, the notoriously aggressive professional football player used social media to lambast “participation trophies,” writing a paragraph-long post explaining that trophies should be awarded based solely on merit, not for simply trying. Read more

The Truth Behind Einstein’s Letter on The “Universal Force” of Love

Albert Einstein famous quotesOne of the greatest things about discovering something new is the path it leads us down and doors it opens into new insights and findings that we otherwise might have never known. An article we read leads us to a new author or book. A conversation we have leaves us “googling” something or someone we’ve never heard. A segment on the radio inspires us to learn more about a business or topic being discussed.

Or, as most recently happened to me, a letter circulating via social media leads to the debunking of a myth surrounding its alleged author. Read more

The Charleston Tragedy: A Conversation On Faith & Forgiveness

Please note: this piece was also published in The Huffington Post.

Charleston shootingWe often hear about the power of forgiveness. Its ability to transform and heal, freeing us from the weight of bitterness and resentment that anchors itself all too comfortably in the depths of our soul.

The concept, in theory, is familiar: to forgive is to recognize the reality of human fallibility and our finite understanding of the cruelty and injustice we at times bear witness to in an imperfect world. In practice, however, forgiveness is more uncomfortable, challenging us to confront our pride and redirect our inherent desire for revenge and ill will with a purity and grace that seems more well-suited for a heavenly, divine people. Read more