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Created by latte artist, Kazuki Yamamoto.
A Happy Cat made from a latte? Einstein in foam? The Japanese have such a love of the cute and the whimsy.

See more images from today's NPR article by Maria Godoy, "Masterpiece in a Mug: Japanese Latte Art Will Perk You Up," featuring work by Japanese latte artists, Kazuki Yamamoto and Kohei Matsuno, also known as Mattsun. Kohei Matsuno's website contains a video of him creating his art, literally painting with espresso! And both tweet images of their daily frothy creations. 

Ephemeral art. Totally cool. 



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How can one sip away something this cute? Latte creation by Kazuki Yamamoto
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It's Kiki from Hayao Miyazaki's animated film, Kiki's Delivery Service! I love this film! I think this is a Mattsun latte.
 
 
Oh my gosh! This was so delicious! The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen's Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast. It was everything I love: fast, healthy, full of texture and breakfast-for-dinner! Thank you Smitten Kitchen!

Every time I go out for breakfast, I have poached eggs. I love the delicate white texture contrasted with the warm, gooey yolk, but I find poaching eggs at home to be troublesome. These five minute boiled eggs capture that delightful texture with no hassle! 

My very favorite brunch spot in the world is Tartine in NYC in the West Village. I have so many fond memories of brunches there with friends. While Cate was attending massage therapy school, I would go to her rent control apartment and she would "practice" on me, both swedish and shiatsu techniques. Afterwards, we'd walk down the block for breakfast at Tartine and indulge in the very best hollandaise sauce. On the weekends, they offer Eggs Benedict (with canadian bacon, Dave's fave) or Eggs Florentine (with spinach, my fave) with dark, crusty-browned potatoes, orange juice and coffee. They do booming business with a line that snakes around the block every weekend. 
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Even better than eating outside on a sunny spring day, was being bundled up in winter, waiting in line filled with anticipation. Here's Wendy, Dave & Mike, preparing for our Tartine ritual.
I loved Cate's apartment. It was light-filled and looked down upon one of those rare-Manhattan sights, a neighbor's backyard garden. I remember one warm summer evening, Cate, our friend, Joel, and I, sat out on her fire escape and chatted about the books we were each reading. I had so much time in those days. It never felt like it though. I was always rushing from one thing to the next, but in comparison to my life now, the days were long with vasts amounts of free time. Now the hours, weeks, months tumble by, and I'm trying to learn to better savor each day. I'm attempting to worry less about how things turn out, control only what I can control (i.e. how I respond to the out of control) and to stay present (less regret about the past and less anxiety about the future). I think that's what this blog is about. An attempt to have fun, reflect, be a little creative and an opportunity to practice really tossing things out there.

Last night, the girls were out at a birthday party, so I tried SK's smashed eggs for mine and Dave's dinner, and was richly rewarded with memories of our old Manhattan days. Maybe that's a good formula. Indulging the senses with nutritious and memory-invoking food, blogging about good times with dear friends, and again, remembering to appreciate what I have.
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The ingredients!
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Does everything I love start with shallots?
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SK said to use a "small puddle of water." I'll call this about 2T.
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4 oz. of spinach. Washed but does not need to be dried.
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Just wilted and about to remove to drain in a colander.
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Melt 1-2T butter, saute minced shallots until soft, translucent and fragrant, but before they get brown.
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Add drained spinach
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Add 2T half and half, pinch of salt, a couple of turns of fresh ground pepper.
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Add eggs to boiling water and cook for five minutes.
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Toasted bread thinly spread with dijon mustard.
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Peel eggs under water to remove shell. Be sure to peel away thin membrane, and pat to dry.
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Gushy goodness! Eat with a fork and knife, or just pick it up and eat with your fingers.
Smashed Egg & Spinach on Toast, from Smitten Kitchen

Equipment

small sauce pan
fry pan
fork, butter knife, serrated knife
colander
wooden spoon, measuring spoons

Ingredients
2 large eggs
4 oz fresh spinach leaves
2 slices of hearty bread. I used herb slab sliced in half
2T shallots, minced
2T butter
2T half & half*
1 tsp Dijon mustard
kosher salt & fresh-ground pepper
1T crumbled cheese, such as feta or goat**

*Smitten Kitchen uses heavy cream. I always have half & half for my coffee so I substituted that instead and it tasted great!
**I skipped the crumbled cheese, and for me, it was plenty rich without the extra dairy. 

I have a hard time getting everything to come together at the same time. SK begins the process with boiling the water and then cooking the egg for 5 minutes. I find that's a lot to juggle so I waited to boil my water until after the spinach & shallots were cooked. I think that was a little late, so in the future, I plan to start the water after draining the spinach.

Procedure
1. Mince shallot into very small mince.
2. While washing spinach leaves (no need to dry. Yay!), heat 2T water in skillet over medium low heat.
3. When water bubbles, add spinach. Cook just until wilted. It should still be a bright green color. 
4. Drain spinach in colander, and press excess water out with a fork. Don't squeeze. You want the spinach to retain its shape.
5. Pat dry the pan (though I found the residual heat evaporated the left-over water from the spinach), and melt 2T butter over medium low heat.
6. While the butter melts, start boiling the water for the eggs in a small sauce pan, and slice & toast the bread.
7. Add shallots to melted butter and saute until soft, about 3 minutes or until shallots are fragrant and translucent, but not browned.
8. Add two eggs to boiling water, lower heat a bit so they don't knock around too much, but water is still boiling. Cook for five minutes for a really loose egg.
9. Add the spinach to the saute pan and incorporate. 
10. Add 2T half & half (or heavy cream) and incorporate, simmer for about a minute
11. Add two pinches of kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste. Turn burner off, but it's okay to leave in the pan on the stove to keep warm. 
12. Spread about 1/2 tsp. dijon on each slice of toast.
13. Drain eggs, peel under warm tap water. At five minutes, they are quite jiggly so gently pat dry with a paper towel.
14. Arrange spinach on toast, making a nest with an indented area for the egg to nestle.
15. Place egg in nest, smash with a fork and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, serve immediately.
 
 
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Congratulations bouquets for my babies!
I love the color orange, and we purchased these creamy orange roses for Franny and Jordan for their post-play gift. Last night was their final performance of their school's production of Beowolf.

This was the girls' fourth production, and it's been wonderful to watch them grow as performers and to witness their confidence bloom.

Sending the girls to an Independent middle school was a difficult decision, and the financial strain has been greater than I could have imagined. But the access they have had to the arts, the opportunity for inquiry instead of teaching to the test, and the chance to develop their ability to self-advocate, have been completely worthwhile for our family.

At school, the play is performed three times before the two evening family performances. Once for the 3rd and 4th graders, once for the 5th and 6th graders, and once for the 7th and 8th graders. What a terrific way for these classic stories to come alive for the students. In the fall, the production is always a Shakespearean play. The language is meant to be heard, and it is amazing exposure for both the kids in the play, as well as for the kids in the audience. And for me, too!
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Jordan as Queen Wealhtheow, and Franny as a Shaper (a group of six characters who shaped and narrated the story with text and movement)
There were two quotes from Beowolf that rang so true. The first that Dave pointed out: "Men carve their gods from what is best in them; what is left must define their fears." And Beowolf says: "There is no courage without fear." We all want our own lives, and the experiences for our children, to be smooth and without turmoil. But it is resiliency that is important to learn. There will always be things to worry about, times where we are disappointed or scared, and it is how we acknowledge those feelings and prevail that matter. Truly, it is more valuable to push up against those fears and know that you can come out the other side, stronger and more energized. What a wonderful thing to be reminded of such life lessons while watching your lovely, talented and smart daughters on stage. I am thankful, and filled with love and admiration.

Congratulations, Franny & Jordan, and all the students and teachers involved in Beowolf, for a wonderful evening of theatre!