Featured Book Club — Surprise, Arizona

February 16, 2012 at 10:14 am , by

Thanks to the LHJ Book Club (have you checked out our March pick, Vaclav & Lena? It’s a must-read!), we’ve been talking about our favorite characters, plot lines and themes for weeks around our office—we can’t stop! With book club on the brain, we’re itching to hear about other clubs around the country, and will be featuring one each month right here on our blog.

Our first club is from Surprise, AZ (doesn’t that sound like a fun place to live?), and they are one bonded bunch. “We’re coming up on our fourth anniversary as a club and were talking about everything that has changed in our lives since we first met,” says member Tina Mollica. “Two new babies, graduations, children entering the military, retirement, the loss of parents and jobs, and some major changes at our church. We started as eight strangers and became 11 life long friends.”

Here’s what some of the other members have to say about their beloved group:

Do you have a name for your book club?

“We often refer to ourselves as The Greatest Book Club Ever!  I don’t know if it’s an official name, but it shows how we feel about each other.” – Krystal Ford

Is there anything special you do for each meeting?

“Different gals volunteer to host our meetings, but we don’t adhere to a strict rotation. When one of our books has been made into a movie, then we have a movie night and try to all attend it together. But we all agree that movie night does not replace book club meeting for that month—it’s just too important!” – Colleen Kolb

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A Jersey Girl Goes West

October 23, 2009 at 11:59 am , by

DSCN2885I am from New Jersey. (No, I do not have teased hair, a mob connection or a cousin named Vinny.) As a native Jerseyan, I’m much more city chick than country girl. And the only contact I’ve ever had with a horse was during birthday parties circa grammar school, when all the girly girls would have pony rides in their backyards. So I was super excited to be able to visit Tanque Verde Ranch, in Tucson, Arizona, this past weekend to experience a taste of life as a cowgirl.


As I hopped up on my horse, Katmandu (that’s him in the picture), my first thought was, good Lord, I’m high off the ground! That quickly gave way to oh crap, he’s moving, followed by please don’t turn your giant head and bite me. But I was pleasantly surprised; not only was he (and the other two horses I rode during the weekend) calm and docile, but I quickly got used to the feeling of maneuvering him along the trails at the ranch and getting him to slow down with a little woah and a gentle tug on the reins. He did stop about every 10 feet to scoop some unsuspecting foliage off the ground and chomp on it, but otherwise he was perfectly agreeable.

DSCN2920I also got the chance to do some hiking in the Saguaro National Park (a snapshot is to the left), a breathtaking expanse of giant saguaro cacti, little prickly pear bushes, sweeping mountain views and lots of plants with needles on them. And at night, my fellow travelers and I sat around a roaring campfire, listening to classic western tunes and chomping juicy mesquite barbecue. Delish!

I’m normally a beach-vacation kind of girl, with a little European traveling thrown in for good measure, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the wild west experience. Perhaps I’m a little bit county…

What’s your favorite place to vacation? Have you ever traveled anywhere totally out of your comfort zone?