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!

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Argo Pond Walk

 Our favorite walk in Ann Arbor is around Argo Pond.  It is 2.58 miles, and is an excellent walk in all 4 seasons (unless it is icy!).

As you can see, we took our time, and it still only takes an hour.
 We like to park in the inner lot of Bandemere Park (not as many cars), so when you enter the parking area from Lakeshore and Barton, keep going across the one lane bridge (5 MPH), into the inner parking lot.

After parking, we like to walk back down the driveway we just came in, and across the river.  Follow the river path until you walk under M-14.  (I prefer to get this part of the walk over as soon as possible, as it's fairly noisy.)
I turned around to shoot this photo-- the river will be on your right
 After you have passed under the highway, the path turns into a very nice boardwalk that follows the river.  (In the spring and summer, look for turtles sunning themselves on the logs.)  Check out what it looks like in March, here.

Toward the end of the boardwalk are wooden stairs that go down on the right.  Take these to continue on the path that follows the river.
I'm shooting backwards again-- river is on your right

This is the most natural part of the walk, and is beautiful in all seasons.

Watch for the rowing club across the river.

The path eventually turns into a sidewalk, and passes the canoe livery.  This is a good spot to see ducks, geese. and swans, and there are a few picnic benches around if you want to rest for a bit.

As you approach the dam, you get a great view of the new mill race (Argo Cascades) on your left.  (Or if you're hungry, follow the path along the mill race to the Northside Grill!) If it is kayak weather, it's fun to watch them go down the rapids.

Walk across the dam.  The views are great both ways.
You are just about half way-- so if you're ready to head home, follow the sidewalk between the river and the railroad tracks, away from the dam.  If you still have lots of energy, cross the RR tracks (there is a sign warning not to cross, but there is a path worn from all the crossers), go through the parking lot, and you can follow Main Street toward Kerrytown.  Or if you don't want to cross the tracks, follow the cascades to Broadway, and turn right to head downtown.

Follow the sidewalk back to Bandemere Park.  Looking across the river, you will see where you just walked.  About half way back, you will walk by the rowing club boat docks.  You can get some great pics by walking out on them.

You can either stay on the sidewalk all the way back to your parking lot, or you can take the path that veers off to the right into the woods (after the rowing club), and walk along the disk golf area.  It's nice, especially if there are bikers on the sidewalk.
Not much plantlike to see this time of year-- but there are still some beautiful plants, if you look closely.

So what are you waiting for?  Call a friend, and make a walking date.  Or just go by yourself.  You'll feel great!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Blank Slate Creamery

 Now that the time has changed and the firewood is stacked for winter, it might seem like a weird time to blog about an ice cream shop-- but it's less crowded when you visit businesses off season, and their shop is a cute place to sit.

This is homemade, natural ice cream-- so it beats the socks off of any soft serve type.  I'm usually a dark chocolate/nuts or peanut butter fan (like their PB chocolate or Wolverine Tracks), but on occasion, the interesting flavors at Blank Slate have actually lured me away from chocolate.

Check out today's flavors here

I'm a fan of Blueberry Pancake (fresh blueberries swirled in buttermilk-maple ice cream)-- and I'm thinking of buying a quart of Vietnamese Cinnamon to go with Thanksgiving pumpkin and apple pies.  Or maybe Salty Caramel Coffee.....or Roasted Pistachio?......or one of the 2 vanilla flavors?

Maybe I need a pint of each.

Old style counters to sit and enjoy the ice cream, with chalkboard tops.

You can find them at 300 W. Liberty Street, 2 blocks west of Main.
Check out their hours here.

(I couldn't resist a little advertising on their counter)