Monday, July 30, 2018

introversion and personality type

Hello! How has your summer been? Mine has been really busy, but I think that's the norm for most people during the summer. Between all the usual household and garden care and meal planning and shopping and the making of meals; dentist appointments (I need another crown in August - waah!), lots of vet appointments, yoga classes, finding contractors for our damaged roof, replacing the central air conditioner (finally got a new one!) and for re-doing our front porch and sidewalk (this contracting stuff has been kind of a nightmare)...then Brian was on vacation for 12 days so we did some day trips and got some projects done around the house...things have been a bit crazy. But honestly, it's all good. We're getting things done, we're in good health and feel great, we're spending more time outdoors and doing things with friends and family. It's all what a summer should be.

Brian went back to work today after his 12 days of being home, so now I'm trying to get back to my usual routine. Like I was telling a blogging friend in an email, of course I love my husband, but with being an introvert - especially an INFJ - I need a lot of alone time. And when I don't get enough of it, it makes me anxious and cranky. She said she understood because she was an introvert, too - and that she thought that most bloggers probably were.

Later edit: if you're not sure what an introvert is, or even if you're one yourself, here's a good article that explains it: Signs You Are an Introvert. It does not mean you're shy. 

Are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? According to Wikipedia, it "is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions." I learned about this - and took the test - when I was 18 and taking a Psychology class in college. Since then, I've taken the test a few more times and I always come up as an INFJ. You can take the online test here if you're curious as to what type you are.

Here's some tidbits about the INFJ personality (from

"The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world...

INFJ's tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging in rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.

INFJs indeed share a unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – INFJs will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance...

INFJs find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw....
Famous INFJs: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Alanis Morrissette, Jimmy Carter, Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman, Goethe"

How about you - are you an introvert or extrovert? 
What's your personality type?

Saturday, July 21, 2018

because you were

Today would be Phil's 30th birthday. Thirty! I wanted to do something special for his milestone birthday to honor him, but I wasn't sure what to do. 

A few weeks ago, my First Best Friend, Cin reached out to me and offered to write a poem about and for Phil. She didn't know that his 30th birthday was coming up. Perfect timing! Definitely meant to be. Cin is a professional, award winning poet who writes poetry to honor a special event (poemgrown). Cin emailed us some very thought-provoking questions, plus asked for a few pictures of Phil. After some back and forth and a few revisions, here's the magic that Cin came up with. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect gift to honor Phil's 30th birthday. 

Because You Were….
for Philip Thomas Riley
First child, first grandchild, 
first knowing that love unconditionally
could crack us open in a single breath 
and change everything.
30 years ago I pushed and gasped until
out of me, you. Strong-will-shy-smile-loyal-
and-articulate-hearted you. Our sweet boy
who birthed belly laughs from every friend.
Child who held both strength and kindness 
with ease, like your Dad.
Child of music and reading, like your Mom.
You made us parents. You made us a family.
When you left, our hearts cracked open
and never closed.
But now we know that is how 
the light gets in to show us our next step.

The path we walk is forever changed.
Wider, kinder, more compassionate,
inspired by your gentle soul and spirit.
A path of self-care and consciousness.

Here is what we want to tell you, Phil: 
We miss you. And we miss you every day.
Today we celebrate all you were in the world
and all we are because we love you.

You live deep inside us, always. 
Making us parents, making us a family, 

Written by cin salach in collaboration with Melanie and Brian
on the occasion of deep love and Philip’s 30th birthday, July 21, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018

exploring a chicago neighborhood

You would think with only living 45 miles north of Chicago, that'd we'd go into the city often. We don't. The only reason: traffic. It's nuts. That's why when we want a taste of a city, we usually go into Milwaukee, WI. It's much easier and quicker to navigate for us. However, with Chicago being such a beautiful city with so much to see and do, it'd be a shame to miss out. Plus, Brian spent some of his childhood years growing up in Chicago and I spent most of my life in the Chicago area, so we both have an obvious fondness and connection to this city.

This past weekend, we decided to hop in the car and take a drive. At first, we weren't sure where we were going. And then I suggested going into Chicago. Brian was all for it. So we headed towards the city, still unsure of exactly where in the city we wanted to go or what we wanted to do. On the way, I remembered I had always wanted to check out Myopic Books - a three-story used bookstore in the Wicker Park neighborhood. We actually found a nearby parking spot - though I'm glad Brian was driving, because trying to parallel park into a tight space on a busy street with traffic behind you is not my idea of a good time.

There it is! Let's go inside...

The aisles are narrow and the books are stacked high...

You really need to spend at least a few hours in a place like this, unless you're going in to look for a specific book. It's a browser's paradise. I love this ornamental iron gate. Let's play "Where's Brian?"...just like "Where's Waldo?" Do you see him? 

The patina of well-traveled stairs...

After our jaunt to the bookstore, we walked for a few hours, up and down Milwaukee Avenue, popping into a few shops, but mostly taking in all the sights and just enjoying the busyness of city life. I told Brian one could tell we were from the suburbs (hello Skechers, cargo shorts and capris!) and didn't live in that neighborhood, which had a younger, hipster vibe.

Love the architecture of this building...

I also found this old metal cornice interesting and beautiful and we wondered who M. Houlberg was. I looked it up and found that "Martinas (Martin) Houlberg was a Danish decorative artist who came to Chicago in 1892 to work on the World's Colombian Exhibition. He designed and built the metal cornice on the building, which was built in 1903. This housed both his painting and decorating business. He moved out of the building to LaGrange by 1922. He died in 1940." (Source: Chicago Now)

Another great thing about Chicago is the vast array of restaurants. You can find just about any type of cuisine in the world here. Besides all the pubs and pizza places (nothing beats Chicago pizza!), in the Wicker Park area alone, there's Indian, Costa Rican, Middle Eastern, Creole, Ukrainian, Polish, Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Mexican, Greek, French...hmm, I might've missed some.

Just a block over from where we had spent the day, was a restaurant I spied from the car on the way. I love looking out the car window as we drive down the streets, noticing all the different shops and restaurants. Sometimes the name of a business or the building itself will catch my eye and I look it up (good thing for smart phones!) to see what it's about. This particular restaurant had caught my eye from the vibrant colors on the storefront with Day of the Dead decor and the name - Estrella Negra. I found their web site and was impressed by their menu and how they were featured on Check, Please!, Chicago's Best, and WGN TV.

Even though we weren't particularly hungry, we had to try this place or we knew we'd regret it.

Each entree comes with your choice of a starter - pozole, bean dip, goat cheese salad, or sweet potato fries. I chose the bean dip (and Sangria!) as my starter. I know you're probably thinking, "Big deal, boring bean dip". It's what I was thinking before I tasted it, too. Let me tell was the best bean dip I've ever had in my life. Their beans are definitely not from a can. These beans were slow-cooked. The homemade salsa verde on top only made this dip even more exceptional, if possible. I saw other people around us devouring this dip, too ~ taking apart the shell cup at the end to get every last bite of dip.

Brian chose the chicken pozole. 

For our entrees, we both had empanadas. I had one chorizo and corn, and the other spinach and artichoke. Brian also had a chorizo and corn and the other, goat cheese and veggie. Best empanadas we've ever had. We couldn't finish and took half our empanadas home for lunch the next day.

Back to Myopic Books, here's the books I came home with ~ two food memoirs, an Anne Lamott book (one of my favorite authors), and a novel whose name caught my eye. Again, good thing for smart phones. I looked up the book on amazon to read about it and quickly glance at reviews. 

Brian's birthday is next week and he has the day off. He wants to go into Chicago again, this time exploring another neighborhood, or maybe we'll go into the downtown area. I have a feeling that battling the traffic will be worth it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

mid-july already

Goodness, it's been so long since I've done a blog post! It's mostly the busyness of summer...lots going on. Big things and little things. Everyday life things. Spending less time online. Talking outside with neighbors on evening walks. Walking down to the lake and watching the sunset. Sitting on the patio with a glass of iced tea after pulling weeds and watering the garden.

Happy celebrations ~ driving up to Cedarburg, Wisconsin to meet up with one of my childhood best friends from Canada...word of advice: when someone is taking your photo when you're sitting down, don't be the one in front and don't lean back! Unless you want to look like Jabba the Hutt. And new of my best friend's newest granddaughter, just 12 days old when I got to visit. I held her for almost two hours straight. 💓

Glorious summer...we're in the thick of it now. All my gardens are lush with blooms and the bees are very happy. The farm stand up the road opens this week and will have fresh corn and tomatoes. I can't wait. I've been making summery dishes ~ pasta salad with pesto made from the basil in my herb garden, quick stir-fries, chicken thrown on the grill, strawberry-rhubarb cobbler made with the last of the rhubarb from my garden. With the fresh tomatoes from the farm stand (I'm only growing cherry tomatoes and they're still green), I'll be making BLT sandwiches and caprese salad.

That's it in a nutshell for now. How's your summer going?