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Signs of Spring

floral image by Thao Thai

I woke up the other day and had this unsettling feeling of déjà vu. After a few disorienting minutes, I realized that the air felt like … high school. More specifically, it felt just like it did when I got up in the early mornings in Florida to get ready for school. My windows were open and there was a bit of humidity in the room, the familiar smell of shampoo on pillowcases, this air of anticipation (I really liked school). It’s never happened before, but I let myself sit back and enjoy the memory for a bit. Springtime is finally making its slow crawl to the Midwest.

Here are other signs of warm weather to come:

1.) The squirrels are crazy active. And fat. How did they get so fat during this polar vortex?
2.) Little purple flowers have sprouted along the walks in our yard and among the ivy beds. I’m almost sure they’re weeds, but they’re too pretty to extricate just yet.
3.) Everyone is in a great mood. Seriously, I was winked at by two happy-go-lucky cashiers this past week.
4.) The farmer’s market is open! Granted, all we bought was lettuce and a bag of mini donuts, but the produce will soon be plentiful again.
5.) I’ve been seeing my neighbors around. Well, hello, guys. Forgot what you looked like.
6.) We dusted off our patio furniture. Next comes the grill.
7.) I have this insatiable wanderlust. I keep wanting to hop the next plane to anywhere. (Luckily we have a lot of travel planned in the next couple of months!)

All I (and everyone who went through this winter) can say is: about. damn. time.

Prosciutto and Parsley Deviled Eggs

recipe for prosciutto and parsley deviled eggs

I’m a deviled egg fiend. Put a plate in front of me at a potluck or picnic, and they’ll be gone within minutes. That dense, creamy filling. The tiny, perfect-for-a-bite size. I can’t get enough. They make me think of warm weather, bare legs, a whisper of wind in the trees.

But I’ve never made them before, for whatever reason, so in honor of our inaugural spring picnic on the patio, I decided to make a batch. I gussied them up a bit with some chopped up parsley and prosciutto. Paired with a crisp wine, soft cheese, and miniature toasts, they were a perfect way to enjoy spring.

They almost make me forget that it snowed (!!) last night.

recipe for prosciutto and parsley deviled eggs
recipe for prosciutto and parsley deviled eggs

Prosciutto and Parsley Deviled Eggs | makes 6 deviled eggs

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grainy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 slices of prosciutto, chopped, plus 2 slices divided into ribbons and reserved for garnish
  • 3 springs parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste (you won’t need much)

Boil the eggs. My method is to add the eggs to cold water, bring everything to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat and let the pot stand for ten minutes. At the end of that time, I run the eggs under cold water and peel them. Let the peeled eggs cool a bit before handling.

Meanwhile, combine the mustard, mayo, prosciutto, and parsley. When the eggs are cool, gently scoop out the yolks with a spoon and add them to your filling mixture. Mash everything up to combine. You’ll want to taste to see if you need more salt, but chances are, the prosciutto gives enough salt. Add the filling back to the hollowed-out eggs, using a spoon or pastry bag.

Garnish each egg half with parsley and a thin ribbon of the prosciutto.

A Grand Website

We only go to movies every few months, and often as a last resort to the what-should-we-do-this-afternoon question. But Wes Anderson movies feel different. They’re almost like research. The color palettes, the strange character (non)developments, the typography and design. (Check out this interview with The Grand Budapest Hotel’s lead graphic designer. Talk about a dream job!) I think we’ve seen nearly every W.E. movie in the theaters.

After being immersed in the beautiful, alpine world of Grand Budapest for a couple of hours, I went home to look at the website.

feature on the website design of the Grand Budapest Hotel movie by Wes Anderson
Picture 2

It’s got everything I love. Big, atmospheric homepage. A simple user interface. Opportunities for multimedia engagement. But my favorite part? The microsite for the Zubrowka Film Commission.

design review of Zubrowka microsite for Grand Budapest Hotel
design review of Zubrowka microsite for Grand Budapest Hotel

It’s such a joy to see a site with an understated sense of humor and style. Card-style layouts with subtle animation. Surprise graphics. It feels like another world to enter and explore. And the design gives the site an intentionally in-progress, not-quite-finished feeling which adds to its quirky feel. I’m also 99% sure that Zubrowka is a vodka and not a real place, which makes me even more thrilled that there’s a whole site developed for it. I think all fictional places deserve a website, no?

The Anti-Networker

Before I went freelance, I took one of those hokey quizzes. “Are You Ready to be Out On Your Own?” For the most part, I “passed.” Self-starter? Check. Organized? Check. Good with change? 1/2 a check. But then, the kicker: Are you good at networking?

To be honest, I didn’t really know what it meant. I went to school for the arts, where networking seemed much more subtle and nebulous. I’ve attended a handful of industry events and I’m usually the one standing in a corner with a muffin in my hand, waiting anxiously for the next panel to start. Networking, it turns out, can be nearly impossible for an introvert.

Professional development resources always tell you to reach out boldly but sincerely, with good intentions. I thought that was an oxymoron. How do you self-promote without being selfish? I sent out lots and lots of query letters during my first month freelancing, expressing my interest in working for brands I liked. A few responded, but for the most part, there was a lot of silence. I didn’t think I was doing it right. Then, I had a revelation that now seems like a bit of a no-brainer.

You don’t network with businesses. You network with people.

People with passion for their projects, interests outside of work, individual quirks and communication preferences. Now, networking I don’t get. But people, I get. People, I like. So I’ve started approaching my relationships with that in mind. It’s nice to send an email to a business I admire or a person whose interests align with mine, without expecting anything in return. I follow local businesses on social media, I subscribe to newsletters. I’m trying to be less strategic and more sincere. To me, it’s not about a broad sense of self marketing, but about building relationships that last beyond the span of time it takes to eat a conference-subsidized muffin. And that seems like a skill worth working on.