6 Simple Steps to Creating Your Own Book Nook

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Shrugging off the busyness and stress of the day is easier when you’ve got a dedicated sanctuary space. Even if you’re not a bibliophile, creating a reading nook can be one way to escape and unwind without leaving your home. Don’t think you have the square footage for a dedicated spot? Think again. With these 6 tips, you’ll be curled up with a good book in no time. 

Find your nook

Think outside the box. A good reading space may be nestled into a sunny corner of your bedroom, tucked into an alcove of your living room or even hidden away in a closet. Select a space that is large enough to fit, at minimum, something to sit on, and is accessible to a light source. The perfect nook will be in a quiet place away from distraction. If possible, and if you'd like to, aim for a nook placed in the Knowledge area of the feng shui bagua map. If you can't, don't worry. It's not required!

Pull up a seat

What’s your ideal chair? Does it engulf you in fluffy comfort? Do you want something you can curl up in or a seat that lets you dangle your legs over the arm? Is a bean bag a good fit or is a hanging chair more your style? This is your space to unwind. Pick the seating that best fits your style and space. 

Add a small table

No need to go big if you’re tight on space. A small end table would suffice. You need a place to hold your cup of tea (or glass of wine!), your book, and reading glasses. If space allows, go ahead and personalize some more by adding your favorite plant or candles.

Set the borders

Your nook should be a clearly marked sanctuary space. A decorative screen delineates the line between your reading nook and the rest of the room, while giving you the flexibility of opening your nook up to the whole room if you need the space. If that’s not your style, experiment with drapes or a sheer canopy hung from the ceiling. Check out my tips on separating small spaces using a curtain.

Light it well

Of course, a good reading nook requires proper lighting. Tap natural light resources when you can. Streaming sunlight brings warmth and comfort to any space. For evening reading or spaces with limited sunlight, add a small side lamp to your table. 

Make it you

This is, after all, your sanctuary. You don’t have to paint the walls of your dedicated space to make it special (although you can!). Add wall art, paper lanterns, book shelves, and other small touches to personalize your nook and make it inviting.

by Anjie Cho


Gardening Without the Garden: How to Garden When You Don't Have Outdoor Space

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There’s just something about fresh-grown produce that elevates a good dish to a great dish. What’s a home cook to do, however, when there’s no home garden to harvest? Flex your green thumb and get ready! Whether your gardening is on hiatus due to seasonal weather or it’s non-existent because of lack of outdoor space, an indoor garden is just what you’re seeking.

Let’s start with where.

You can dedicate as much or as little space to your indoor garden as you wish. Ideally, your indoor plot will have ready access to natural light. A window sill is a natural fit for this. Consider using brackets up a length of your window frame and boards to add shelving if you’d like more window-fronted planting space. Other alternatives are a table, repurposed dresser, or bookshelf placed in a sunny spot. Heavier plants will be happy in beautiful pot on the floor. 

If your ideal space doesn’t have ready access to sunlight or you’re growing in the dead of winter, consider purchasing a grow light.

Most of your plants like a nice consistent ‘warm’ state. Aim for a range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. That should be easy enough because it likely falls within the same range a happy human enjoys. Just remember to avoid putting your indoor garden in a drafty space. 

So what will you grow?

Some plants are more readily adaptable to indoor gardening than others. As an example, you can grow tomatoes indoors, but certain varieties will be happier in a pot near a window than others. Smaller fruited plants like cherry, grape and plum will perform better than the larger varieties.

Carrots and other root vegetables require a good amount of room to grow down. If you want to try your hand at some crunchy goodness, look for a window box or pot that’s at least a foot and half deep. Alternatively, grow varieties that tend to be more short and squat than long and lean. One more tip: water your carrots with tepid chamomile tea to help ward off fungus! 

It’s probably no surprise that microgreens are a good indoor option. Look for a shallow pot or tray (no more than 2 inches deep) and use a seed mix containing greens like kale, Swiss chard, beets and mesclun. Mist the soil daily to keep it from drying out. Once the greens have grown 1-2 inches tall and have at least two sets of leaves on them, they’re ready to eat. Other good indoor plants include: lemons, potatoes, herbs, mushrooms, beans, and strawberries. Don’t stop there, either! Do some digging and experimenting to see what works well in your space. 

Your garden is also your décor.

As practical (and yummy!) as an indoor garden might be, it’s also unique and beautiful design choice! Get creative with your planters; empty tins (with drainage holes added), troughs made from reclaimed wood, and old shoe organizers can all make unique and beautiful planting options.

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-Do Business Boosters for Soulpreneurs and Wellness Practitioners” coming up, too! To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


How To Give Your Home An Energetic Makeover This Fall, According To Feng Shui

featured on MindBodyGreen

In feng shui philosophy, the season of autumn is related to the metal element. Metal, water, wood, fire, and earth make up the five "phases," or elements, that Taoists and Buddhists observe to relate the cycles of nature with the patterns in our homes, bodies, and lives. Many different ancient cultures have their own five-element system, such as the Native Americans, Tibetans, and Hindus. 

So what's "metal" about autumn? It's the feeling of the cool, crisp air on your skin, the poignant sadness that summer is ending, the leaves on the trees begin to die and fall away, and the sense of contraction—a hibernation of sorts.

Conceptually, metal is about precision, beauty, and completion. Metal can be wielded into a mighty sword or exquisite shiny jewelry. As a sword, it can swiftly cut through confusion and chaos with intelligence and compassion. A beautiful gold necklace can magnify the radiance embodied by the wearer. Metal and autumn is connected to the time when we work hard to harvest the fruits of our labor as well as celebrate our successes. The mouth and right speech are also connected to the element of metal.

…read full article

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I launched our program in September 2018. To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for Small Spaces

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I am trying to use more basic Feng Shui tips to make my medium-sized bedroom into a sort of mini convertible studio. During the day I would fold my bed up into a mini couch and have much more open space to do yoga and other activities. Then during the night I would unfold my bed and use ceiling curtains to separate my office area from the bed area (with balanced elements on both sides of the bed). Oh and the bed lays on the ground, which I personally find most comforting. What do you think about this setup in terms of Feng Shui? I really need to have a sanctuary at home from all the intense things going on in my life.

Tenzin C., Easthampton, MA

Hi Tenzin,

Thank you for sending in your question! Your description is careful and thorough, so I can only imagine that your bedroom is laid out with as much attention. 

I’m guessing that you live in a roommate situation, so your bedroom is where you find your personal space. It sounds like your daily ritual of transforming your bed into a sofa is beneficial. Not only do you have more space for your daily activities, but you have also created a separate “daytime” space for more active applications that goes hand in hand with daytime. The visual separation with curtains of your bed from the office is also wonderful, so that active yang energy will transition into the yin sleepy time when it’s appropriate. Plus you don’t have a bed in the daytime - which can prove difficult in a studio apartment setting. Seeing the bed while working can affect your attention and motivation. Also, good job on the balanced bed elements, probably nightstands and lights

The only thing I may comment on is the bed on the ground. In feng shui, it’s ideal to have the bed off the ground, on a stable bed frame with headboard so that the air and qi can flow around you while you’re sleeping. This is good for your health. Also, if you’re prone to depression, the proximity to the floor may correspond to the low mood. However, you have described you find the bed on the ground “comforting”, so pay attention that that. If it feels correct for you, then it’s okay. Especially if you don’t have a tendency towards depression.

You mentioned that there are intense things going on in your life. I don’t know the details, but I can suggest a feng shui adjustment to lighten things up! It can be very simple, but I’ll offer two suggestions. First, bringing fresh cut flowers into the bedroom. You can collect them yourself, or get some from the store. But fresh flowers uplift the qi and bring joy. Second, purchasing a new lamp where the light shines up. A Torchiere like this one works wonderfully. Again, this lifts the energy and can balance the low bed.  

Overall, I think that you’ve done a wonderful job of creating a feng shui studio sanctuary in your bedroom. All the attention to the details and the ritual aspect provide a lot of positive energy in the space. 

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design feng shui cerfication program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-do business boosters for soulpreneurs and wellness practitioners”  coming up, too! check us out at www.mindfuldesignschool.com

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Visit the Holistic Spaces Store

Brighten Your Apartment: 6 Simple Tricks

Not everyone has the luxury of having big windows that let in ample sunlight. Most apartments have at least one room or space that is continually dark. A dark room can cause accidents, eye-strain, and even a sour disposition. If you’d like to illuminate your space – without taking a sledgehammer to your walls – try a few of these apartment-brightening tricks. A brighter space will lead to a brighter mood!

Paint your walls a light color

Dark walls actually soak up the light, making the room seem darker – even when you put the lights on. But lighter colors have a higher LRV, or “light reflectance value.” LRV tells you how much useable light is reflected by a surface. Wall colors with a higher LRV help to spread light deep into a space. 

Use eggshell or semi-gloss paint

Flat finishes absorb light, while glossier paints reflect the light back into the room. One warning, though: Because of the light reflection, a glossy finish does call attention to any flaws in the wall.

Keep your ceiling white 

It’s amazing the difference that a white ceiling makes on a room. Even if you have dark walls, a white ceiling will help keep the darkness from overwhelming the space. My go-to color is Benjamin Moore Super White in a flat finish -- it's the most reflective for ceilings.

Add more lamps

Yes, this seems obvious. But many apartment dwellers rely solely on overhead lights to illuminate the rooms. Light needs to come from various levels – low, middle, and high. Combining uplights on the floor and lamps on tables around the room with overhead lighting will create a brighter, more comfortable space. In feng shui, uplighting can also lift your mood and energy.

Hang large mirrors

Large mirrors can act like windows, reflecting the light back into the room. 

Choose reflective surfaces 

Just like walls, other large surfaces can absorb or reflect your light. Opt for glossy countertops, add glass panes to your hanging artwork, and place mirrored trays on top of dark tables.

Light is important for your physical and mental health. So make sure your home is gets as much light as possible!

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-Do Business Boosters for Soulpreneurs and Wellness Practitioners” coming up, too! To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


7 Rules of Mindful Renovation

featured this month on Hunker by Laura Lambert

  image credit: Describe the Fauna  via  Hunker

image credit: Describe the Fauna via Hunker

There's mindful eating. Mindful breathing. But mindful renovation? Well yes, of course. The mindfulness revolution absolutely belongs in the home, because home is where we retreat, recharge, and reimagine ourselves. But what is mindful renovation, exactly?

"One of the ways that my teachers describe mindfulness is paying attention to all the details in your life, whether it's making a cup of tea or your environment," says Anjie Cho, an architect and feng shui consultant who practices mindful design and writes about it on her blog, Holistic Spaces. "Mindful renovation is also like that."

Mindful renovation is informed by so many things that Cho has embraced in her own life — feng shuimeditation, Buddhism, as well as architecture and design. It's about slowing down and paying attention to how the space around us makes us feel, and using that quiet intelligence to inform design decisions. It's also about making choices — like using high quality, green materials, or paying your craftsmen well — that have a thoughtful impact on the world around you. And it's as much about the process of renovating as it is the colorstextures, placement, and finishes.

...read full article


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-Do Business Boosters for Soulpreneurs and Wellness Practitioners” coming up, too! To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


Q&A Sunday: Best Feng Shui Location for an Altar or Shrine

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I read your "9 Feng Shui Things in Bedroom" and find it helpful. I'm currently remodeling my whole home. My question that I've tried to find an answer to in my books and online: Where is the best position to place an altar...what direction, and is the bedroom not a good place to have it? I am a single woman and my bedroom is in the front right section of the bagua map. 

Carolyn K., 

Hi Carolyn,

Thank you for your question, and I’m so glad you like the MindBodyGreen article, “9 Things That Should Be in Your Bedroom (According to a Feng Shui Healer)”.

Wonderful that you have an altar (or shrine) in your home. My first response would be to ask what’s most appropriate from your teachers and spiritual lineage. If there’s no specific place required, the next suggestion would be to locate it where you will use it. I’m assuming this is where you would practice meditation, so it’s a good idea to have it placed so that it works for you functionally. 

When I created my first altar, it was after I started studying and practicing BTB feng shui. My teachers taught me that, if we’d like, we could create an altar in the BTB feng shui tradition to honor the teachings and as a focal point for our attention. We were even encouraged to assemble “altar committees” in class so that we could have a special sacred place in the classroom. Here we offered an image of the teacher (a Buddha and/or Professor Lin Yun), a musical instrument, a red ribbon on a stick, saffron water, rice, and a mirror in a rice bowl.

Since I live in a small New York City apartment, I have my shrine in the living room. I’ve even included a photo of it here. If I had more space, I would like to have a separate shrine room near the rear of the home. It’s ideal if the shrine can be in a more private space. I’ve been told that the bedroom traditionally is not great, as it’s seen as disrespectful for the Buddha’s image to gaze upon our romantic activities. But remember, the mundane and functional is as important as the spiritual and transcendental. It’s up to you and your specific situation. I can only share guidelines.

I have a spiritual Buddhist shrine, but there are also secular altars that you can create. Laura Morris (together we founded the Mindful Design Feng Shui school) has a blog post about more secular altars. An image of a deity is not required... you can even have a vision board or beautiful inspiration piece of art, like from my talented friend Amy T Won. On my shrine I also have a manifestation list and my ikebana cutters. The cutters are there to remind me to "cut my thoughts" and a tool of my contemplative art practice.

Since I practice BTB feng shui, the direction is not important. However, my shrine is located in the commanding position of the living room. And when I sit to meditate, I face the shrine, so I’ve also placed a small convex mirror so that when I’m sitting, I can see behind me as well. This corrects and places me in command as I meditate. But the Buddha holds the leading seat - the seat that’s most in command.

On a final note, wherever your altar ends up, you can see what area of the feng shui bagua maps it corresponds with. Or alternatively, if you have total flexibility, you could choose the feng shui bagua map location based on your intention. For instance, the Knowledge (dark blue) area would be wonderful if you seek to deepen your self-cultivation. The center area of your home, or the Health area, would be useful to have your altar become the central focal point of your life. A shrine in the New Beginnings area might give you a sense of freshness and nowness every time you sit to practice.

As with so many aspects of BTB feng shui, the optimal placement of your altar does depend on you and your preferences. Of course it helps to observe any feng shui guidance, so I would encourage you to consider the feng shui bagua and the energy of the area when selecting your altar space. Don't forget to arrange your altar with intention as well!

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-Do Business Boosters for Soulpreneurs and Wellness Practitioners” coming up, too! To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Visit the Holistic Spaces Store

DIY Terrariums with Margaret West

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Terrariums are increasingly popular houseplants, but arrangements can get expensive. My talented and crafty sister, Margaret, shared with us how to make beautiful miniature terrariums with succulent plants, so you can make your own arrangement!

A terrarium is generally a transparent enclosure or similar container for cultivating plants. This version is not sealed, but is enclosed in a small container. Margaret’s interest in miniature terrariums started while browsing Pinterest. She opted for succulents, as they are a bit heartier than other houseplants. Their ease of care makes them a good choice.

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Margaret browsed the web for instructions on assembling her terrariums. Everyone has a slightly different way of doing things, so Margaret recommends you adapt her instructions based on what materials you can find.

So, let's get started!!! 

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First, the supplies:

THE CONTAINER.  Margaret used glass containers she had left over from flower arrangements. You can find vases like this second-hand at thrift stores or garage sales. Have fun finding containers in interesting shapes! It’s helpful if they don’t have a lot of patterns on the surface of the glass, obscuring the view of your plants. She also used hanging glass terrarium globes that were purchased online. They are easy to find as single pieces or in larger sets in bulk. Margaret prefers the flat bottom globes, they are simpler to travel with because they do not roll around. She also recommends the globes that are meant to be votive candle holders. The additional holes make it easier to water the plants.

SOILOrganic soil is always preferable to synthetic-chemically treated potting soil. Margaret recommends an aerated mix such as a cactus blend, rather than general potting soil. The cactus blend has more sand and rocks mixed in. She likes “E.B. Stone Organics” Cactus blend. If you can’t find an aerated blend, mix some porous rocks, such as perlite, into your mix.  

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GRAVEL.  Gravel is easy to find at a pet store or aquarium. Margaret opted for the neutral earth tones, but she’s seen people use colored glass, black or white stones, and even sand instead. The size of the gravel depends on the size of the container as well as your preference. If you’re using 4” diameter globes, a 3-5mm pebble size is appropriate. For larger container, you can use the smaller pebbles, or go bigger, like 10-16mm.

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL. You can find this at your local pet store or aquarium too. It’s mixed into and used to filter the soil and minimize any odors. Any leftover activated charcoal you have can be used in a satchel in your closet or shoes, again to minimize unwanted odors. 

SUCCULENTS. Margaret suggests you purchase 2" or smaller sized plants at your local nursery. In NYC, I love Sprout in Brooklyn. You can also find varieties of small succulents on Etsy. Margaret’s favorite at the moment is the Echeveria, because they look like little roses and come in different colors. Avoid purchasing cuttings, which don’t have roots yet. Instead, look for potted plants with root systems.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS. A spoon, mixing bowl, and soft bristle brush, such as a ½” wide paint brush.

Finally, it’s time for the assembly!  If possible, this part should be done outside to minimize the clean up.

1.  CLEAN THE CONTAINER. It is a good idea to start with a clean container. It will get messy as we assemble the terrarium, but starting out clean keeps the cleaning you’ll do later to a minimum. The soft bristle brush is excellent for wiping off the dust.

2.  MIX THE SOIL AND CHARCOAL. Combine 5 parts soil with 1 part charcoal, and mix thoroughly. Add water to this mixture; the soil should be moist, but not wet. How much water to add will depend on how dry the soil is to start with. We recommend ¼ cup increments. Add a little at a time; you can always add more water. If you overwater, just add a little bit more soil and charcoal. Make sure the entire soil mixture is combined well.

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3.  PREPARE THE PLANTS. Squeeze the outside of the plant container to loosen the soil and roots. Then tip the plant upside down and lightly pinch container until the plant comes out with the roots intact. Gently massage the root system, to release the loose dirt. The goal is to have the root system exposed and loosened, because there will not be enough room in the container for all the soil.

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4.  ADD GRAVEL.  Now is a great time to rinse your hands off. With clean hands, add gravel to the bottom of the container. Margaret suggests using a spoon to ease the pebbles through the small opening of your container. Add about 1/2" layer of gravel for a 4" bulb. Then add a thin layer of charcoal on top of the gravel. This layer of gravel and charcoal will drain the soil, which is especially helpful if you overwater.

5.  ADD SOIL/CHARCOAL MIXTURE AND PLANT. Next add a couple spoons of the soil mixtures into your container. Margaret likes to make a well for the plant to go into, with more soil towards the back of the container. Loosely wrap the root system into a ball, and gently place the succulent plant roots down into the soil. Move the soil around with your fingers to gently pack in the roots. At this point, you can add more soil as required to cover the roots. 

6.  FINISH OFF WITH SOIL AND GRAVEL. Once you have the soil level as you like it and the plants where you want them, spoon a single thin layer of gravel on top. This is decorative and also helps to keep the soil layer in place. Use the soft bristle brush to clean off any dirt and gravel from the sides of the container as well as from the plant(s).

And voila! Your own beautiful miniature succulent terrarium!

If you need some inspiration on the plant arrangement, check out Margaret’s Succulents Pinterest board. You can also look at Sprout’s gallery. Margaret reminds us that odd numbers tend to look best, but two can also work. Pay attention to the size of our container.  And look around the web for inspiration!

CARING FOR YOUR NEW TERRARIUM. Keep the terrarium in indirect sunlight. Although succulents love sun, because it's a terrarium, the heat gets amplified like the greenhouse effect. Lightly water your plants every two weeks, or as needed. A good way to tell when using a glass container is to water when you start to see the soil turn light brown and dry. Be careful not to overwater! Remember that succulents need very little water. 

by Anjie Cho

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Margaret West is my fabulous and brilliant younger sister and mother to my adorable nieces, Mia and Julia. Margaret has always enjoyed doing crafts and DIY projects.  She lives with her family in Seal Beach, California.  Follow her on Pinterest

 

How to Spring Clean & Green your Beauty Cabinet with Anjie Cho

featured this month on Modern Minerals by Mo Mi

  image credit: Lotus Wei

image credit: Lotus Wei

In the late summer of 2015, I was in Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan where I found a book titled “108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces“. I was in a bit of a rush, but snapped a photo of this because I knew this was something I needed to read. At the time I was with my Mom and said “I would love to meet this designer one day”. A year later, my friend Katie Hess invited me to a super moon soirée on the roof top of building in Flatiron. I sat down next to Anjie and we started talking and I immediately knew we were going to be friends. It wasn’t until in 2017 that I had finally got around to organizing my photos when I found this photo I had taken in 2015 to remind me I wanted to read this book, and to my surprise the author was my incredible friend Anjie Cho! Since getting to know Anjie and watching her on YouTube, I often turn to Anjie when I’m feeling like something could be made better or for practical solutions to improve the flow of energy and balance in my space. Learn more from her podcasts HERE.

I wanted to find out more about Anjie for some advice on how to Spring Clean our beauty cabinets and asked her for some advice…Check it out!

...read full article