Saturday, May 13, 2017

Retired in Ann Arbor: On the Road!

Greetings all fans of Ann Arbor!

After several years, and 166 posts, I have decided to give this blog a sabbatical.

We have sold our house, and decided to travel the world for a year, before settling down once again in Ann Arbor.  Our possessions are now in storage, and for our first stop, we are staying in one of our favorite towns:  Ann Arbor!!
Avalon Bakery

We have a great little mid-century modern Airbnb in upper Water Hill, and have been enjoying walking downtown for coffee, lunch and farmer's market.  Our new favorites include Avalon Bakery and Mighty Good coffee.
Writing a few cards, while sitting on a sidewalk table at Mighty Good Coffee

RetiredinAnnArbor will be continuing on Facebook and Instagram during our gap year.  We're planning on spending time in Utah, Lodi valley in California, Quebec City and New Orleans.  We will be popping into Ann Arbor between trips.  We're also hoping to cruise around the world in 99 days in January through March!

If you're interested in following our adventures, search and like the Retired in Ann Arbor Facebook page, or @retiredinannarbor on Instagram.


Monday, April 3, 2017

The Session Room

Cheers to you!
Alert!  There's a new awesome place to hang out in Ann Arbor:  The Session Room.  I have been driving past an old machine shop building on Jackson Road (by the car dealerships) for many years.  Last summer, we noticed that someone had started working on the building-- and when we heard that there was going to be a beer garden, we happily waited for it to open.

Usually I visit a site several times before posting about it-- and this time, I can say I REALLY did due diligence.  We have been there with friends, by ourselves, on a girls' night out, and even with our 2-year-old grandson.  Each visit, we have had an excellent time.  The service is very friendly and knowledgeable, there are 70 rotating taps of beer, and a small but acceptable wine menu.  I especially like that you can get the beer in 4oz, 8 oz and pint sizes-- and even the wine comes in 5oz or 8oz pours.

6000 square feet of friendliness

The food is much higher quality than normal bar fare-- they source much of it locally, as you can see from the blurb on the bottom of the menu.

We have tried many things off of the menu, but now we head to The Session Room when we feel like a pizza, and don't want to make it at home.  The Caesar salad is also excellent and the menu seems to be wide ranging enough for all preferences.  Note the purposeful lack of a fryer in the kitchen, so in a real change-up from most bar menus, nothing is deep-fried.

Yes.  70 taps.  My new favorites are New England IPAs.  Unfiltered and not as hoppy as a regular IPA.  

Excellent beer garden area, with room to roam for the kids
Come early on weekends-- the word is out.
Closed Mondays
Tues-Thurs:  11AM-11PM
Fri-Sat:  11AM-Midnight
Sun:  Noon-10PM

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Autumn Walk in Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Beautiful photo by Zohair Mohsen

Look who we spotted doing a little fishing in the pond across from the visitor center

One of the best places to enjoy fall colors around Ann Arbor, is Matthaei Botanical Gardens.  A couple of weeks ago, we did a walk on a Thursday morning, and we had the paths to ourselves.  The colors were just starting, but in the last couple of days, it seems that the maple trees have exploded in color!

We used the Map My Walk app to track our progress, and we did a big loop and a little loop that equalled 2.57 miles in a little over an hour.  I get slowed down a bit when I have to skid to a stop every few minutes and take a picture!  

Be sure to also visit the display gardens, right next to the visitor's center.  

Display garden

Drying his wings in the sun

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Produce Station

 Usually this time of year, I shy away from places selling plants, because they start looking so sad.  The Produce Station, however, seems to look beautiful during spring, summer and fall.

They also have a fantastic selection of hens and chicks, and sedum.

I have a rock garden that I am trying to fill in, but I also love keeping sedum in the house during the winter, because they don't seem to suffer with the lack of humidity, like most indoor plants do in the winter.

The inside of the store has been updated since my last visit, and it is very attractive.  There is an interesting variety of prepared food, a lovely salad and soup bar-- as well as groceries to "build it yourself".

I have also enjoyed the selection of wine that The Produce Station offers-- and this time, I was delighted to find the full selection of Tandem Cider, from northern Michigan.

Check it out!  And remember to buy local.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ann Arbor District Library: Westgate branch

I love libraries!  For many years, I have been driving to the Pittsfield or Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District library, because I was drawn to the wonderful architecture and ambiance of those branches.

Now that the new Westgate branch is open, I decided to stop in and check it out.

Tucked behind this non-assuming store front, is a new, spacious and inviting space.

And as a bonus, this branch also has a brand new Sweetwaters Cafe!

 Inviting glassed-in meeting rooms 
Sweetwater Cafe

 Great lighting design, even in spaces without daylight.

My favorite space is always the reading room.  This winter, I can see myself tucked into one of these chairs in front of the fireplace, enjoying a good book and a cup of ginger lemon tea.  (Or maybe I'll blog more often!)

All branch hours are
Monday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Retired in Ann Arbor: The Villa of Mysteries at Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Time to revisit our most popular blog post!

A short distance outside the walls of the ancient city of Pompeii, sat a beautiful villa, surrounded by fertile fields-- and with beautiful vistas of the countryside, mountains and the Bay of Naples.

The best views were from a large room, used for entertaining and dining, that was decorated with large murals dedicated to the Greek god Dionysus.  The Romans knew this god as Bacchus, the god of agriculture, wine and bacchanalia (according to Wiki, these were wild and mystic festivals celebrating the wine god--).

Today, the Villa of Mysteries still sits outside Pompeii, where it sat undiscovered between AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted-- and 1909 when it was discovered by the then owner of the land.

In 1924, before the villa was fully uncovered, University of Michigan Professor of Latin Francis W. Kelsey commissioned a large-scale color replica of this room for the University.  He contracted a famous Italian artist to paint the replica.  And thanks to Professor Kelsey, we are able to walk into this room today, and enjoy the murals that the Roman owner saw in the year AD 79.

The meaning of the murals are a mystery, as these sacred rites were only known by the initiates, and the Roman owner of this villa is also a mystery.

Whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, it is worth spending a few minutes at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology  (free, but donations welcome) to ponder the mystery of love in this amazing room.

(And who can resist chubby little cupids?)

Open weekends 1-4PM
and Tuesday through Friday 9-4PM.
Closed Monday.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Winter walk in Nichols Arboretum

Yes, there is beauty to be found in a winter landscape
 Sometimes it's not appealing to walk in the winter, but after reading another warning that "sitting is the new smoking", we decided to layer up, and go to one of our favorite venues:  The Arb.

We went on a Sunday morning, so all of the parking on Washington Heights (the road between the Arb and the hospital), is no charge, and was open.  We had the place to ourselves.

What we're waiting for!
Promise of spring!

Walk in past the visitor's center and the peony garden, and turn right and go downhill past the Fairy Woods.  Follow the border all the way around the Arb, keeping to the paths.  We took some of the steeper paths on the way to the prairie-- that can be avoided if you choose.  You can add a little distance by walking all the way around the prairie.

Check the map at the entrance, for a better description of the areas in the Arb.

It seems a little longer than this, because of the hills
Too chilly to sit for long
Total altitude gain = 17 flights of stairs
This info is from a free smartphone app, called Map My Walk

I slow down going downhill  (old knees)
A little bit of sunshine

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Retired in Ann Arbor: Winter favorite things--

Nothing is better than a good fire in the fireplace,
especially lighting it in the afternoon on those cold and gloomy days-- 
Comfort and Joy tea, from The Republic of Tea--
This is only available during the holidays until it is gone,
so if you want to try it, get it now.  (Browse on-line, and buy local.)

Every year about this time, I have to go find this post to remember WHY I don't hate winter.  And here it is, from January 7, 2013.

 Winter is definitely not my favorite season, but when you live in the north, it's good to find things to like about it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday Amaryllis bulbs at Downtown Home and Garden

It's time to start your holiday bulbs!  Every year I plan to have blooming amaryllis in my holiday centerpiece, but don't think of starting them until it's too late.  This year I got a jump on starting my bulbs, and have high hopes that they will be ready on time.

The best selection of bulbs that I have ever seen in person, is at Downtown Home and Garden, on Liberty and Ashley, a block from Main Street.  (It's not an exaggeration that Mark is called the Amaryllis King!)

If you don't have a green thumb, check out the amaryllis planting session that they are hosting in Saturday Nov. 21, from 10:00-1:00.  This is one of the most fail-safe plants you can ever grow.  (And BONUS!  At the same time, you can try a sample of smoked turkey from the big green egg.)

Uncle Bob doing what he likes best-- along with growing amaryllis bulbs!

Each Christmas I send my uncle in Florida one of Mark's bulbs, and it has resulted in a delightful tradition.  After his bulb has finished blossoming, it gets planted in the landscape of his condo complex, resulting in a dozen naturalized amaryllis that blossom each spring in "Bob's garden".  What a nice way to share the joy!

I also like to give kits to those who spend the winter in Michigan.  It's a little ray of sunshine to see those big gorgeous blossoms open up in the dead of winter.

Get planting!

Looking at this on a mobile device, but want to see an index of all the places we've visited?  Check out the right margin of our web version at, or use the link at the bottom of the post.