Leisure Reading Travel

Mid-Week Retreat

We were fortunate enough to get away for a couple of days mid-week last week to visit Kohl’s Ranch in Payson, Arizona.  We visited there last summer and had such a wonderful time we went back. 

This year we went with DFs Evon and Barb and Stu.  Our rooms all lined up facing the pool with a beautiful grassy picnic area.

The little wedding chapel at Kohl's Ranch was an early morning photo op on our anniversary day
Sharing a Little Kiss on Year #32

John and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary while we were there.  DF Evon treated us to a toast with Veuve Clicquot. Which is a quite a step up from the champagne we could afford on our wedding day.

Fun and Games

We ate, drank, played cards and corn hole, hiked and walked, spent a little time at the pool and laughed a good deal.  It was very good medicine.

Between the wine, the potato chips and the s’mores, it’s time to get back to reality this week. Umm, okay next week. Whoops!

What I’m Reading

My Achilles and calf healed up enough that I could do a really nice hike on the Mogollon Rim and continue my walking through the early mornings this week.  That means more audio book time!  I finished Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry and I could not have loved it more.

The backdrop of pre-war, WWII, and post-war Texas (why is it called Leaving Cheyenne?) is rich and detailed.  The characters are beautifully developed, believable and likable.  He takes his characters through their teen years to their old age. McMurtry was, in fact, was a young man writing it but his perspective was spot on.  As a person who has myself lived through those years, I can only say he got all those stages pretty right.

I would not classify this as a Western, but a romance and a great piece of literature.

In print I finished The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.  I am a pretty big fan of her writing and her stories which are sweet and thoughtful and spiritual and just plain good.  I am deducted about ½ – 1 star from it because I think the “modern” day characters (1980s) were a little shallow and didn’t act like we acted in the 80s.  The other, more compelling post-civil war characters and story were much more robust and a better story.  Just my humble opinion, but the historical story could have stood on its own.

All in all, two books I’m glad to have spent time with.

What I’m Eating

Light summer dinner of chicken salad, chips and watermelon
Chicken Salad on Sourdough with Arugula

Chicken Salad Sammy with Chips and Watermelon.

I know this seems super simple, but this is just about a perfect summer dinner.  Wanna know my secret to a delish chicken salad?  It’s very little mayo, a bit of yellow mustard and a nice shake of Tabasco.  I dice up celery, carrot and green onion tops and add that to the mix. A little toasted sourdough and a bed of arugula. Yum!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Light summer dinner of chicken tortilla soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup on a Hot Summer Day

As nice as having a cold sandwich and watermelon for dinner is, I equally like a bowl of hot soup in the summer. Tortilla soup has a light tomato chicken broth base and not too heavy on a hot day. What makes it perfect for summer cooking is that I can throw everything in the crockpot in the morning and keep out of the kitchen until it’s finished.

I have shared this recipe before. But have I shared my trick for quickly shredding chicken breast? After it’s cooked, I place the whole breast (or in this case, two breasts) in the KitchenAid with the flat beater on medium. In about 30 seconds, perfectly shredded.

Perfectly shredded chicken breast in the KitchenAid
Shredded Chicken Breast in 30 Seconds

The Fourth holiday looks to be pretty low key everywhere. That’s certainly true here in Arizona. In fact, it’s a little depressing, but I dressed up my front porch to cheer myself up a bit.

My front porch dressed up for the Fourth
Front Porch Dressed for the Fourth

I have these patriotic decorations in my garage and I haul them out for Memorial Day, Fourth and Labor Day. I know it’s not much, but it’s just enough red, white and blue for me.

It’s so hard to believe July is already here. It seems like summer speeds by after that. I hope you’re getting out and enjoying a holiday weekend! XO