My Favorite Things: 5 Back-To-School Must Haves

Welcome to My Favorite Things! Each month, we highlight products to help you create a holistic lifestyle that inspires and nurtures you, so that you can be happier and feel supported.

As summer is wrapping up, many of us are gearing up to head back to school or double down for the fall season. Of course, it's much easier to take on a busy few months if we're organized and ready for what's ahead. So this month we've curated our top recommendations for getting back into the school season swing with a clear head and a neat space. Be sure to also check out our next podcast, with Diane Lowy from New York at Home. Diane creates "apartment solutions", and she's offered our listeners tips on getting organized!

Focus Mist

Our most recent podcast features my good friend and colleague, Andrea Giordano, who is a feng shui and essential oil expert. She also helped curate the Holistic Spaces Apothecary collection, and the Focus spray is one of my favorites!

A blend of fair trade essential oils and carnelian crystal, our Focus Mist was created to provide grounding, clarity and mental focus, and it's ideal for back-to-school!

Available at: Holistic Spaces

Mini Round Boxes

In our next podcast, I chat with organizer and space designer, Diane Lowy, and ask her advice on getting organized. 

Diane was also kind enough to recommend some of her favorite organizational tools for this month's My Favorite Things, and these mini round boxes made the cut!

"These are great for pretty much anything small that's otherwise tough to find in a drawer or your bag: SIM cards, paper clips, earrings, safety pins, a pair of earplugs, Tic Tacs, Tylenol. 12 clear boxes for $2.29 makes them an easy yes."

Available at: The Container Store

Recycled Notebooks

Notebooks are great for keeping notes and lists, setting goals and even organizing your thoughts through journaling

I love MUJI notebooks! I use these to keep all my notes, from meditation class to client meetings. It makes it easier for me to keep things in one location, and I like to write it down rather than put it in my phone. I love that they're recycled too!

Available at: MUJI

Post-It Tape

Another of Diane's favorites is Post-It tape.

"Post-It Note Tape is a great way to make labels anywhere that just peel off without leaving a residue but stay in place for as long as you need it. It comes in white as well as highlighter colors, and you can write on it just like paper. 

Labels can be super helpful when brainstorming for layouts after a move or renovation. They are also great reminders for that first week or two after moving stuff around and are very helpful when living with roommates!"

Available at: Amazon

Saraswati Yantra Mandala for Knowledge and Creativity

I love the Saraswati mandala because it is useful in so many ways! This yantra is associated with the Knowledge area of the bagua, since Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of wisdom and the arts. 

For inspiration in these areas, place the Saraswati yantra mandala in the Knowledge area of your space. 

Saraswati can also be used to cultivate abundance! Deepak Chopra shared a story about this in his book, Creating Affluence. You can read more about it in my blog post on attracting abundance

Available at: Holistic Spaces

Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for Business

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my inquiry. I am a Rooster, born on August 18, 1981. My house faces the east (my front door faces the east). My kitchen is in the NE, guest room is in the east and my son's bedroom is in the SE. Master's bedroom is in the SW, while living room/grand dining room is in the NW. In the west is our bathroom. I just started my business. However, I am having difficulty selling out my products. I am selling fashion bag charms / bag accessories. This is the first time the styles I have are sold in the U.S. I want to be a successful business owner, but I didn't expect it to be this difficult. Can you help me? What should I do?

Avvy C., Cleveland, MS


Hi Avvy,

Thanks for listening to the podcast and your question. First I wanted to explain that there are many schools of feng shui - dozens. The feng shui that I practice is BTB feng shui, and we do not use the compass directions in our analytics. If you’re interested in that, you can try a compass, flying star or classical feng shui consultant. My good friend, Beth Grace, may be a good option. She’s featured regularly on my new podcast mini-series “Astrology and Feng Shui”. Check out the podcast and Beth!

Otherwise, if you aren’t specifically looking for a particular school, BTB feng shui does, of course, give methods for improving your business. You did not mention an office in your home, so the first thing would probably be to look at the feng shui of your office. If you don’t have an office, that could be an issue. 

You also mention that you are selling something that is new to the U.S. When I work with a client, I ask a lot of questions at this point to pinpoint what the issue is. For instance, is the problem that you can’t get the business off the ground? Are there money issues? Are the products desirable; are they made well? Is it that people know about the product but don't want to buy? Or if only they knew about the product they would buy? And of course there are a slew of other questions; these are just a few.

In general, I would make sure you have an office space with a dedicated desk. Please make sure your desk is located in command of your space. There’s information in these articles about the command position. I also have a feeling that you need to work on the Recognition and Fame area, so that people know about your product. You can place something like a new green living plant in the Recognition area of your desk and home to add some fuel to fire up your recognition.

Hope that helps! Let us know and good luck with your new business!

by Anjie Cho

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!

The Feng Shui Home Cleanse That Will Bring Your Intentions To Life

featured this week on MindBodyGreen

  image credit: Stocksy via  MindBodyGreen

image credit: Stocksy via MindBodyGreen

Whether you're an entrepreneur or work for a company, most of us have offices in our homes. Home offices can be a whole room, a desk at the end of the hall, or even sometimes the dining room table. In many cases, I've found that a home office comes with all sorts of challenges. The predicament that I hear most often as an interior architect and feng shui expert is "I can't get anything done! I get too distracted."

Well, there are things we can do to help with that. In feng shui, your home office is an important space, as it is a symbol of your career and affects how you succeed in the world. I'm so happy to share a few simple feng shui tips to create the perfect home office and transform how effective you are!

Location, location, location!

It's really quite important to have a spot for your home office away from the bedroom(s) and toward the front of the home. The bedroom area is about rest and relaxation. If you have trouble with focus in your home office, it's best to move the office out of the bedroom and closer to the front door. The rear of the home is more insular and more "yin," quiet and inward, whereas the front of the home is closer to the world and more "yang," outward and active. It's better to be alert and awake when you're working, especially when you have deadlines or need some motivation. full article

by Anjie Cho

The Essential Elements Of A Productive Workspace (According To A Feng Shui Healer)

featured today on MindBodyGreen

  image credit: Stocksy via  MindBodyGreen

image credit: Stocksy via MindBodyGreen

Manifest the year of your dreams by going inward. Renew You 2017 is a month of mindfulness during which we’ll share content that guides you to create a deeply rooted intention for the new year. We’ll help you navigate inevitable obstacles with the latest science on habits, motivation, ritual, and more and equip you with tried-and-true techniques to outsmart even the toughest inner critic.

Many of us spend countless hours a day laboring away with projects, whether we have a job, work for ourselves, or are retired. I'm continually grateful and amazed by how my life's work has manifested in the world, thanks in part to these simple feng shui adjustments. I hope they encourage you to infuse your own workspace with love, prosperity, and wonder.

1. Rethink your desk position.

The single most important aspect of your work space's feng shui is your desk location. For maximum flow and productivity, place your desk so you can see most of the room when you're sitting there. You should be able to see the entryway, but you should not be directly in line with the door. For the most dynamic desk placement, place your desk at an angle, kitty-corner from the door. This is called the "commanding position," and it creates the most dramatic shift toward renewal, effectively clearing the space for opportunity and abundance to come your way. In case you can't move your desk, you can also place a mirror at your desk that reflects the door. full article

by Anjie Cho

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Marble Countertops: Are They Right for You?

Crisp. Cool. Distinctive. Elegant. If those words are describing countertops, we must be talking about white marble. Marble is a timeless classic that is right at home in a wide range of décor styles and rooms. Whether you’re looking to finish off your kitchen, upgrade your bathroom or incorporate a workstation in a home office, marble should be on your list for consideration. Like any material, marble has its pros and cons. 


  • Classic beauty – Marble is the Audrey Hepburn of countertops: classic, timeless beauty that exudes sophistication. It’s the only natural stone that comes in bright, crisp white, with or without grey veins running through it.
  • It’s got personality - As a natural stone, marble offers a unique, “no-two-are-alike” style that will give your countertop its own distinctive flair. Marble doesn’t conduct heat. It’ll remain cool to the touch, a welcome feature in kitchens and spa-like bathrooms alike. With age, marble takes on a patina. If you’re intrigued by a surface that tells the story of its lifespan with you, then marble is a terrific choice. 
  • Affordable – Unless you’re selecting a more rare variety of marble, this natural stone tends to be within a price range that's comparable to other countertop options. In some cases, it’s even more affordable than other natural stones. 


  • It’s a softy – The same thing that gives aged marble a story to tell may be a turn-off for some. Simply put, marble is prone to staining and scratching. Even with regular sealing, marble may show traces of the red wine you once spilled in the kitchen or hints of your favorite shade of blush on the bathroom counter.

Tips for living with marble

If the pros outweigh the cons for you (and for so many of us they do!), take note of these general maintenance tips:

  • Seal your marble and reseal it at least once a year (or sooner in high use areas). A sealer doesn’t mitigate stains and scratches, but it does give you some time to respond. A splash of wine on a well-sealed countertop that’s wiped up in due time might never leave a clue that it was there. 
  • Be gentle when cleaning. If you wouldn’t wash your hands with it, don’t use it on your marble. Avoid acidic cleaners and abrasive cleaners or pads. Marble prefers mild soaps (such as dish detergent) and warm water with a cloth or sponge. Need something a little tougher? Look for a natural stone cleaner.
  • When you’re choosing your marble countertop, opt for polished finishes over honed. Polished is more stain resistant, whereas honed is more porous and prone to staining. 

If your idea of the perfect countertop is one that retains the pristine, glossy shine from the day you bought it, then marble isn’t the right choice. Conversely, if you are attracted to a countertop loaded with unique character and beauty, classic marble may be for you!

by Anjie Cho

Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for a Space With Multiple Doorways

I've set up my home-office in the front dining room of my house. I have a few feng shui adjustments, but I'm unsure whether I need to use them and, if so, where to place them, as I have two doorways. Can you advise?

Nathan R., Queens, NY

Hi Nathan!

Thanks for sending your floor plan and for reading the blog! 

You may know that in feng shui, using your dining room table as a desk is not ideal. If you work from home, it's best to purchase a desk and create a separate space for your work, so that you can focus on work while you're there and give yourself space from work when you're off. 

That said, if the dining space is all you have, there are certainly adjustments that can help make this area work for you

Your question is regarding two doors in the dining room area. Two doors are okay, however when you sit at your "desk," you are in line with the doorway to the hallway. This is problematic because the qi from that door comes directly towards you. The relationship of where you sit to the kitchen doorway is fine.

Some options for being in the line of qi based on the hall doorway:

  • You can hang a feng shui crystal ball halfway between the doorway and where you sit. You can find these in the Holistic Spaces store. This will disperse the qi coming at you from the doorway. If there's already a crystal chandelier above the dining room table, this can be used as a substitution.
  • Another option is to move the dining table towards the window wall (left side of drawing) so you're not directly in line with the door. This way, you remain in commanding position in relationship to both doors. 

Whatever adjustments you choose to make for your dining / office space, keep in mind that it's important to separate your work from your personal life. When you're finished working each day, take time to straighten your desk and say goodnight to your work. If you can, drape a scarf or piece of fabric over your workspace when you are not working. Out of sight, out of mind! This way you'll feel comfortable and relaxed at night, and wake to a desk that's in order and ready for work! 

by Anjie Cho

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday" (formerly “Question of the Month”).  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers.  Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Q&A Sunday: What to Do When Your Desk Isn't In Command

I happily discovered your blog and am inspired to Feng Shui my desk! Unfortunately I have an L-Shaped desk attached to the walls, and the right side of my body is directly in line with the door. I do not have the option to change this, what can I do instead? Can I use crystals?

- Joanne C., San Francisco, CA

Hi Joanne, thanks so much for your question. This is a good question, because it’s very common. If you work in a cubicle, or most office spaces, it’s very likely you will have a desk that is fastened to the walls, often placing the worker directly in line with the door (or door of the cubicle). I have designed many, many office spaces in my time, and even after learning feng shui, sometimes you end up with a situation like this. For instance, in my home office, my only option is also to place my desk so that my (left) side is directly in line with the door.

Luckily, BTB feng shui gives us some tools to adjust these situations. Ideally, if at all possible, it is best to place the desk in command. But for those of us without that option, I have some suggestions!

Convex Mirror

If the side of your body is facing the door, then you are not in command while sitting at your desk. A simple way to adjust this is to use a convex mirror. I have a small one on the top of my computer monitor so that it expands my view around me. It’s even better if you can place it angled so that you can see the door.

Convex Mirror at

Feng Shui Crystal Ball

Because you’re in line with the door, that puts you in the path of qi. This should be adjusted, because the qi comes at you very quickly and can be damaging. The feng shui way of adjusting for this is to place a faceted feng shui crystal ball halfway between you and the door. Hang the crystal ball with a red string from the ceiling. The length of the string can be cut in a dimension that is a multiple of 9, such as 9”, 18”, 27” and so forth. You can use any units, including centimeters. The crystal ball energetically breaks up that rushing qi and disperses it.

Feng Shui Crystal Ball Kit at (comes with damage free hook and red string)

If you have enough room, you can use something else to break up the line of qi, such as a piece of furniture or plants. We’d love to see a photo of what you end up doing!

I hope you also listen to my Podcast, Episode #3 feng shui for your desk!

by Anjie Cho

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday" (formerly “Question of the Month”).  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers.  Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui in a Small Home

I am living in a very small house with a combination of toilet and shower (too small) on the ground floor. We have the intention to create a proper bathroom (no toilet) on the first floor, but the only room where that's possible is in the wealth & prosperity area of the bagua. As far as I know, this is not the best place because of the downward flow of energy. At the same time, we want to make an extension to create workspace, but this is only possible in front of the front door line. I have a lot of doubts and even consider whether it is better to move.

Corina van T., Holland

Hello to Holland! 

Thank you for your email, and thanks for reading my newsletter!

For clarification, in your small house, you currently have a small bathroom with toilet and shower only on the ground floor. You would like to create a bathroom on the upper floor with a bathtub and sink, but no toilet. However you are concerned because this area is in the wealth/abundance area of your home.

I have a couple of thoughts and comments. First, laying the bagua on upper floors is sometimes challenging. You would determine the layout based on what direction you are facing and where you are located as you make your final step onto the floor in question. So, I would ask you to double check the bagua layout. It’s a little challenging and usually something that an advanced feng shui practioner should advise you on. But if the bathroom must be in the abundance area, or you’re not able to layout the bagua confidently, it is what it is! I suggest balancing the energy with plants. The thought with bathrooms is that there is a lot of water flowing out, which symbolizes loss of cash flow and wealth. By adding plants, you can use this downward qi flow and feed the plants so there’s an upward positive growth.

Your second question is in regards to a work space or office in front of the front door (or “kan line”), which places it outside of the bagua. My teachers have taught that an extension of workspace in front of the kan line (front door line) is fine. In fact, it might be beneficial in two ways. First, you are extending the “gua,” whether the gua is Knowledge, Path in Life/Career, or Benefactors/Helpful people. The extension improves and expands your work in light of the gua it’s in. Second, the office outside the front door can mean you’re out in the world more, and can receive support in this way for your career.

Finally, whether to move or not, well that's up to you. I don’t know exactly how challenging it is there, functionally and feng shui wise, but in BTB feng shui we try to make suggestions so you don't have to move, which can be difficult and disruptive. However, if moving seems like the best positive thing for you, it should be considered. My intuition tells me that the issues that you asked about are able to be worked with :)

by Anjie Cho

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday" (formerly  “Question of the Month”).  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers.  Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Decoding the Temperatures and Colors of Lighting

Have you ever wondered what the numbers and color descriptions on your light bulb packaging mean? Not only is there a legitimate reason for describing lights in terms of color, there is a science to determining what color lights your home or work space need.

The light that we use for our spaces, referred to as white light, actually is not simply white at all. Instead, the color of our light ranges from red to bright white, almost blue, depending on how much electricity it uses. The more electricity, the brighter and more whitish-blue a light will appear.

A British scientist named William Kelvin discovered this characteristic in the late 19th century using carbon and heat, so we currently measure these temperatures in Kelvin, or K, a concept generally called correlated color temperature (CCT).

For the most part, a light source is either on the “warmer” or “cooler” end of the Kelvin scale, though this can be somewhat confusing. When you think of a red color, do you imagine warmth or cold? Warmth, right? For this reason, even though red lights register at a cooler temperature on the Kelvin scale, they are referred to as “warm.” The same goes for “cool” blue lights, which are actually the hottest on the scale.

What does this mean in terms of numbers? A warm bulb, one that gives off red light, typically measures at about 2000K-2800K, at the lower end of the Kelvin scale. For cooler bulbs, like the blue bulbs I mentioned earlier, the temperature averages around 5000K-6000K. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale, the “warmer” the white light color will be.

So what can we do with this knowledge? Studies have been conducted that show the shades and temperatures of lighting in a room actually affect the ability of the people in that room to accomplish certain tasks. For example, reading under a “warm” light is not a good idea, as this lighting is essentially the same as reading by candlelight. Instead, studies show that brighter, cooler lights, sometimes up to 6000K, are best for reading or completing work tasks. On packaging, this light is sometimes referred to as “Day White,” as it puts off a brighter light, more similar to the light we see during the day. At the same time, using a cool light in your family room might not provide the most relaxing atmosphere.

You can see why it is important to use the right lighting for each room in your home, depending on what that room is primarily used for. Each temperature in Kelvin is best for a specific set of activities.

For office work, or any room or area that requires a high level of detail and precision, it is best to use colder lights, or those ranging from about 5000K to 10000K. This lighting is also ideal for rooms like bathrooms, where you may put on makeup or do other everyday tasks that require good lighting.

For more relaxing spaces, like the bedroom, living room or even the dining room, it’s acceptable to use a much warmer bulb, even as low as 2700K. This is ideal lighting for maintaining calm, watching television, meditating and a variety of other casual activities.

Ideally, for most average rooms where you may do a variety of things, aim for lighting somewhere in the middle of these two. It isn’t necessary to have an extraordinarily bright light for all activities, but sometimes dimmer lighting can cause problems, for instance when reading or studying. A medium temperature bulb, around 3500K, provides a balance for a wide range of everyday tasks without creating strain.

Not only does proper lighting save energy in areas where bright light is unnecessary, it can go a long way toward holistic living and wellness, from preventing depression to enhancing eyesight to promoting relaxation or focus. When you shop for lighting, whether for your home, office, outdoor areas or even home offices, be aware of what temperature and color bulbs you are buying to ensure that you properly light each area of your life.

by Anjie Cho