Tag Archives: Washington Post

Peeps Contest a Right of Spring

Chilean miners peeps diorama

Photo courtesy Washington Post

For the past five years, the Washington Post has organized a “Peep Show” in which people create dioramas depicting different scenes using marshmallow Peeps as the inspiration.

Although the Post‘s contest is not unique, it is my favorite because the entries blend politics, global events, cultural touchstones, news, society, and silliness. It’s a mirror of the city.

This year the big winner was a scene depicting the Peeps version of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. It’s an amazing piece of Peep art and I dare anyone to look at the photos of each of the entries without cracking a smile. You just can’t.

It’s amazing how something so childish (in a good way) can bring out so much creativity, imagination, and insight.

It might seem ridiculous but these Peeps creations reflect back at us the world in which we live – the art we appreciate, the daily hassles of modern life, the movies we watch, our scandals, and our celebrations.

So how would you sum up your year through the eyes of a Peep? You’ve got a little less than one year to create your own entry into next year’s contest.

For more Peeps fun, check out the official Peeps website. They have great recipes you can try that feature – of course – Peeps.

And you can read up on Peeps history via KidCulture’s article, Without a Peep.

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Japanese-Americans Standing Up for Muslims

Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post about how Japanese-Americans, who remember how they were treated in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, are responding to House Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King (R-NY)’s decision to hold hearings about Muslims in America.

It’s wonderful to read how times of crisis can bring what we think of as disparate groups close together. And it’s definitely a message worth sharing with our children.

In school, at the playground, and in life they may be the only people available to stand up for someone else. Especially in this time of heightened awareness over bullying, it’s important to recognize that the skills they develop to deal with it in childhood will be useful to them throughout their lives.

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Talking to Kids About Egypt

For the past two weeks, Egyptians have been protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty years in power.

Close on the heels of a similar – but more quickly resolved – crisis in Tunisia, the situation in Egypt has been fascinating to watch on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and – oh, yes – the evening news and in newspaper accounts.

Those accounts have shown that children have been involved in the protests – almost from the beginning – and that they are playing a role in Tahrir Square as well as in their own homes, pushing their parents to join the protests.

This is not a revolution being waged by children, but it is clear that they have something to say – and it’s a great way to encourage greater understanding of power, politics, and personal freedom in your own children.

If you’d like more information on what’s happening in Egypt, read the Washington Post (yes, a daily newspaper) timeline here.

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The World of Manners

As I tell my son, with good manners, you can go anywhere in the world – from the White House to Buckingham Palace to dinner at the neighbors’ – and be welcome. Without good manners, you will not be welcome anywhere.

It’s hard to instill good manners in a child, particularly when those manners seem all but forgotten. I’m only 35 but I was raised in kind of an old-fashioned way. I’ve talked and acted like an “old lady” for most of my life, in fact.

Still the basic principles of good manners – to think about others’ feelings, to show appreciation for what people do for you, to be considerate of others’ circumstances – have not only helped me in my personal and professional life, but they have also proven to be portable.

By that I mean that although some of the customs may change, those basic principles have been as effective in Washington, DC and Trenton, NJ as they were in Oxford, England; Paris, France; Vienna, Austria; and Bagassi, Burkina Faso.

Today I read that Elizabeth Post, granddaughter-in-law to the famous Emily Post and herself a purveyor of etiquette, had passed away. Read the Washington Post article about her.

I would like to think that good manners are not dying out, as well, but it’s hard not to feel that they have been severely diminished by a culture that seems to celebrate rudeness and vulgarity by rewarding it with a reality TV show (“Jersey Shore” cast – I’m looking at you. “Real Housewives,” you’re on that list, too).

It’s funny that most people only get interested in etiquette when they get engaged as though years of ignoring hosts’ pleas to RSVP can be obliterated by one exceptionally well-worded wedding invitation.

The truth is, the mechanics of good manners can be learned from a book but the spirit, the motivation, and the sentiment – all the things that enable one to react to any and every situation with good manners – cannot be taught. You cannot memorize them. You have to start with a quality character. And there aren’t any reality TV shows showcasing those.

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Now We Know: Iceland Has Volcanoes

On April 15, I – and a good portion of the rest of the world – discovered that Iceland has volcanoes.

And not just the boring, dormant kind; they have the kind that disrupts global aviation, poisons farm animals, and causes massive flooding.

Even more fascinating? This was the second eruption in Iceland in less than a month.

Today, there are reports that the British Navy is being dispatched to help bring stranded travelers home and that American ships are also being called into service to help.

Boston.com, the online home of the Boston Globe, has some amazing pictures here.

Look for more pictures from the Washington Post here.

And here’s a map of the general area the volcano has affected:

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Put On Your Easter Bonnet

I read a great piece by Robin Givhan in the Washington Post about the dying tradition of Easter fashion, “Easter fashion has a rich history but its glory is eroding”.

It reminded me of Easters when I was a child. After my three siblings and I woke my parents up at the crack of dawn to hunt eggs and eat chocolate, we were helped into our Easter outfits and went to church.

I still can remember some of those dresses – the one my grandmother sewed for me, in particular (see above photo – author is second from left).

I even wore a little while hat and finished off the look with white tights and patent leather shoes.

Never mind that my brothers and sisters and I had been tearing the house apart just hours before; by the time we arrived at church we looked like perfect angels.

Unfortunately, it’s not a tradition I’ve carried on with my son; at least, not in the last couple of years.

With everything else on my mind, a new outfit for either of us – or even a “freshened up” outfit for either of us, just seems beyond my logistical abilities.

As much as I would love to present that put-together, polished, and reverent face to the world, I’m lucky if I make it to church on time (most of the time).

It’s a good goal for me to set for next Easter’s service. Until then I’ll just try to remember to leave the flip-flops at home!

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The Great Matzoh Ball Debate

As a Catholic, I am a clumsy newcomer to Jewish cuisine, but one sip of matzoh ball soup at a friend’s house more than ten years ago has haunted me ever since.

This year, in a burst of courage, I decided to research and attempt to recreate that delicious soup. I was more or less successful. At the end of the day I had soup, after all. But it was no masterpiece. Take a look for yourself:

Undoubtedly, you will recognize a problem just from viewing these pictures. The matzoh balls are too small!

Blame it on a cautious newcomer. As some friends pointed out to me, the matzoh ball should be big and fluffy, something like the one I was served in a diner in South Brunswick, NJ.

I am delighted to find out that I’m not alone in my struggle for matzoh ball perfection. Bonnie Berwick, a food writer for the Washington Post, has tried – and failed – for years to make a just-right matzoh ball on command. Her article, “The Art and Architecture of Matzoh Balls,” is great but I truly devoured the pictures.

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Without a Peep

Peeps are one of those foods I would rather see – and use to decorate – than actually eat. They’re just colored, molded marshmallows, but there’s something so festive about them.

And until I read this article about them in Salon.com, I had no idea that they were not available year-round. Although they make a Halloween version, most of their sales take place during the Easter season.

Made in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the peeps are produced by the Just Born company, which was founded in 1921 by Russian immigrant Sam Born. Peeps were introduced in 1953 and have become a staple of Easter baskets ever since.

Here are some other fascinating facts about peeps:

  • The albino peep is the rarest, but also one of the most popular peeps.
  • The company can produce 2 million peeps per day.
  • Annual peep consumption is 600 million per year.
  • Peeps were recently introduced to Canada – they’ve just begun their march to world domination.
  • Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy.
  • Peeps have inspired a crazy following, not all of it rated “G”.

Even the Washington Post has gotten in on the mania. For the past few years they have sponsored a contest encouraging people to get creative and photograph tableaux involving peeps. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

I’ve already bought mine, but here are some sneak peaks at peeps to tide you over until you get yours.

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In the Lunch Room

I read this very interesting article today in the Washington Post about a project called Mix It Up, which promotes racial integration through the lunch room.  It encourages students to sit with a new crowd at lunch, which often means with people from different races or cultural backgrounds.  Although the project had mixed success, according to the article, it’s nice to know people are thinking about this.

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