Life Style

Happy Hanukkah: The meaning behind the holiday

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By

Rabbi Shmuel Marcus helps Helen Fox light a six-foot menorah in Seal Beach, Calif. (Cindy Yamanaka, – AP) Tonight the Hanukkah celebration begins. American children learn about Christmas traditions through, if by no other means, osmosis. I didn’t realize that until one of our first family holiday seasons, when my husband and I began talking about how to approach sharing our Hanukkah and Christmas traditions. We were preempted by our 2-year-old who announced she’d learned about Santa the previous October. Hanukkah is a different matter. Many of us aren’t even sure how to spell it (it also goes by Chanukah)
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Last minute gift ideas: What to give when you’re out of time

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By

Gift cards: Obvious? Yes. But you don’t really have time for creativity. Readily available at gas stations and drug stores and supermarkets, they’re the last-minute multitasker’s dream. Most major chains now feature a rack of gift cards good for a variety of restaurants, online retailers and clothing stores, along with the all-purpose, good-anywhere-credit-cards-are-accepted options. And if you can get to grandmother’s house without passing a CVS, 7-11 or Safeway, you have achieved the impossible. Still, be careful, advises The Post’s Michelle Singletary: Make sure the card you purchase hasn’t been tampered with, and check the receipt to confirm that the
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The Reliable Source Person of the Year 2011: Anthony Weiner

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By

(Richard Drew/AP) He was a classic Washington character: High school dweeb turned swaggering pol, with a gorgeous power wife, a gift for cable-news combat and an eye on higher office. But then he became the poster boy for whatever madness infected men in politics this year — Chris Lee, John Ensign, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Wu, Herman Cain. Weiner’s scandal didn’t just represent the volatile mix of sex and power — an old story — but the new impulse-control risks of Twitter (which also tripped up Ashton Kutcher and that guy who bashed Lara Logan , plus some very
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The Food section’s best and worst dishes of 2011

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By

Welcome back, friend: The miso ramen at Ren’s in Bethesda. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post) The problem with picking your favorite dishes of the year — at least for me — is that my mind tends to recall, say, only the most recent meals, which handicaps the lunches and dinners I sampled earlier in the year. Or even last month. Fortunately, the camera phone helps supplement what my brain can’t remember. (Or perhaps it helps create a brain with a faulty memory?) In reviewing my photos from the past 356 days, I discovered one thing: The hits far outweighed the misses.
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NEW GOOGLE FUN: Send a personalized ‘Santa’ video — and enter the Search Cartoon-Caption challenge

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By

. THROUGH ITS CARTOONS, Google has begun offering twice the entertainment. First, in the vein of such engaging challenges as The New Yorker’s back-page feature, Google has debuted a themed cartoon-caption contest. The new Search Caption Challenge features cartoons by such top talents as Lilli Carre, Drew Dernavich, Matthew Diffee, Emily Flake, Christoph Niemann, Joey Alison Sayers, Danny Shanahan and Jim Woodring. The common thread: Each cartoon centers on that oh-so-common act of someone doing a Google search. “We’ve left it to you to imagine what they’d be searching for at that moment, and left the caption blank for you
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Christmas recipes: Prime rib, standing roasts and baked ham

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By

A giant platter of rib roast or baked ham is an integral part of a proper Christmas feast, and as the day approaches, you may be already searching for ideas for the all-important main course. We’re here to help. Fortunately, several of the best options from our Recipe Finder take little advanced work, like this in­cred­ibly tender Butter-Poached Standing Rib Roast. Ingredients are minimal as well — a bone-in rib-eye roast, a little thyme, rosemary, shallots, horseradish and a lot of butter. Clarifying the butter may be the most labor-intensive part, but well worth the effort. (James M. Thresher for
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The TV Column: Football and the Other Football top 2011 ratings

Dec 22nd, 2011 | By

Do you know what else Americans loved to watch in 2011? The Other Football — a.k.a. singing and dancing competitions. Specifically, “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars.” Do you know what Americans loved to watch in 2011 when they finally felt the need to take a break from Football and The Other Football? “NCIS.” Nielsen, the company that sets the TV industry standard for determining how many people watch every show on television — and what each show’s audience profile is — on Wednesday issued its Top?10 factoids lists for 2011. In case you were wondering why Fox, CBS
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A Texas icon roars again: Ann Richards, the subject of ‘Ann’

Dec 22nd, 2011 | By

Its limitation is that there’s not much political drama in this dramatic politician’s story: a one-term governorship, a speech at the 1988 Democratic convention with its starmaking zinger at the expense of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush (“He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!”). Her clever phraseology is more memorable than her deeds and, as a result, the piece doesn’t have a powerful context — at least not enough of one for the ambitious structure of two full acts. What it does possess is Richards’s inimitable catalogue of sayings, marinated in Texas wryness, and Taylor’s expert delivery
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Chestnuts roasting on an open Weber

Dec 22nd, 2011 | By

The holiday season in Italy is an archipelago of nighttime neighborhood festivals decorated with strands of twinkling lights in parks and marketplaces, where makeshift booths of cooks, enveloped in smoke, slow-roast the stuffed-pork holiday delicacy called porchetta. Everywhere you go, the crisp winter air is fragrant with the toasty smell of roasting chestnuts. Ah, that scent. To me, chestnuts are like those other Italian marvels, white truffles, in this respect: As good as they are to eat, they might be even better to smell. Don’t get me wrong: I ate plenty of chestnuts, and I even came to appreciate them.
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Sloths are the new kittens

Dec 22nd, 2011 | By

Cats of the Internet, move aside — but take your time, because your replacement is moving very slowly. Baby sloths are the new Internet darling, thanks to a sloth sanctuary recently featured on Animal Planet. A video of its occupants went viral, and now online denizens can’t get enough of the Central and South American mammal. A Linnaeus two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) is seen at a zoological park in Managua on June 27, 2011. (OSWALDO RIVAS – REUTERS) The Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica kicked off the craze when, last year, Lucy Cooke posted video of baby sloths sleeping,
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