Michigan puts new restrictions on gatherings, restaurants as COVID-19 cases surge
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Welcome Mat: Go on a virtual trip to a monarch sanctuary in Mexico

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
Monarchs at a Mexican butterfly sanctuary.

Love monarchs? Consider a virtual butterfly experience with monarchs in Mexico

Every fall, millions of monarch butterflies make a journey most of us could never imagine. They travel thousands of miles south through North America to spend the winter in Mexico. Since 2009, local butterfly gardening expert Brenda Dziedzic has traveled to Macheros, Mexico, to see the butterfly sanctuaries, often leading groups of friends to see them as well. They get to see the magical monarchs and their trips support the local economy. But with international travel on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, one nonprofit that works to preserve the Sanctuary Cerro Pelón is taking a different approach. Butterfies & Their People are hosting virtual butterfly experiences instead. The “Adopt a Colony” features bimonthly newsletters that will allow donors to follow the span of the entire season from November through March. The “February Intensive,” meanwhile, uses the platform of a private Facebook group to share daily documentation of the monarchs and dicussions during that dynamic month. It’s $85 for each experience. To learn more, click here.

Bloomscape, an online plant business headquartered in Detroit, sells a range of indoor houseplants such as the Chinese Fan Palm for $195.

Detroit-based online plant retailer adds an app to help customers with plant care

Bloomscape, a Detroit-based mail order plant business, wants to reinvent the traditional garden center. That's why the company, which started two years ago and is owned by Justin Mast, a fifth generation greenhouse owner, has launched an app to help people with their plants. Vera, available on iPhones and Androids, not only helps people figure what plants are best for wherever they live, it also offers tips on how to care for their plants, such as how often to water it. Bloomscape, which has a greenhouse in the Grand Rapids area and ships plants all over the country, also recently raised $15 million and plans to expand into the outdoor and patio plant business in the spring of 2021. It's about "helping people buy high quality plants for every area of home or garden," said Mast. "And that’s indoor and outdoor. And that's part of our vision." To learn more, go to bloomscape.com.

After traveling thousands of miles from North America to Mexico, Monarchs spend the winter in Mexico.
The Screened Porch Mobile from the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio gift store is $150.

Alden B. Dow Home & Studio opens an online gift store

If you've never been to the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, an architectural marvel in Midland, put it on your to-do list, especially if you love mid-century design. Designed by architect Alden B. Dow and finished in 1941, this unique house blends into its natural environment -- a portion of it is literally half submerged in water -- and blends form and function. The house is open for tours -- advanced reservations must be made -- and it's also recently created an online gift store that features some of the unique items that make the house what it is, including mobiles. Pictured is the Screened Porch Mobile ($150). Designed by Albert Chmelar, it was inspired by the porch overlooking the pond of Dow’s sprawling home.  Due to the handcrafted nature of some items, the online site may show limited edition items on "back order" so call the Home and Studio for more information on availability. To visit the gift store, go to https://www.abdow.org/shop/.

Formica, which dates all the way back to 1913, has unveiled a new Laminate Woodgrains.

New line of Formica is designed to look like woodgrains

Is Formica back? Maybe. Formica Corp. this week unveiled a new collection of Laminate Woodgrains to give designers "a complete, on-trend and usable woodgrain palette. Primarily for commercial spaces, the new collection includes 16 new patterns that are grouped into seven series: Elm, Ashwood, Cherry, Modern Oak, Modern Walnut, Traditional Walnut and Casual Woods. Formica's Laminate woodgrains can be applied horizontally or vertically and range in price from $1.50-$2.00 per square foot. To learn more, go to www.formica.com/specialty.