Q&A Sunday: Herbal Plants

I am interested in purchasing herb plants to put in my window sill, which is sort of in between Prosperity and Health guas. My local farmer's market sells them in small round plant pots. I also have another window sill located in my prosperity corner. Would you suggest plants instead? If the herb plants are ok, could you offer suggestions on which ones I should buy? Also, what is the minimum or maximum should I place on the window sill, which is 42 in. L and 5 in. W?

Cynthia H., Chicago, IL

Dear Cynthia,

What a lovely idea to have edible plants as a feng shui adjustment! I think herbs from the local farmer’s market are great.

I would select the herbs that you would most likely use, and that will survive with the natural light that’s available. You can also look at the meanings behind the plants and see what is most relevant to you.

Basil: Good wishes

Rosemary: Remembrance 

Thyme: Courage, Strength

Italian parsley: Festivity

Mint: Virtue

Chives: Usefulness

From http://www.almanac.com/content/meaning-flowers

For the size of your windows, I would suggest 3 on one sill and 2 on the other, for a total of 5. And 5 is a great number because it relates to the five elements!

Send us a photo of how it turns out!

by Anjie Cho


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5 Ways to Add More Relaxation to Your Home

After a day jam-packed with full-speed busyness, (and let’s face it, for most of us that’s pretty much a normal day), slipping your shoes off and melting into your favorite, comfy spot at home is likely high on your evening to-do list. That is, until you get home and that transition from ‘doing’ to ‘unwinding’ isn’t as smooth as you’d hoped. Don’t give up. Try these five simple steps to convert your home into a more serene, relaxing sanctuary.

Dedicate a space.

There are areas of your home that are ideal for work and for play. Set aside a space dedicated to relaxing, too. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. Create a nook or corner dedicated to relaxation. Folding screens can help differentiate the space from the rest of the room. If a good book is your ideal way to unwind, add comfortable seating, a shelf of books or a small table to hold your current reads, and proper lighting to the space. If music or movies are more your style, design your space accordingly.

Get organized

It’s hard to relax amidst clutter. Set-aside some time to organize and properly store your stuff. Look for storage solutions that complement your personal style. Look for baskets, bins and other containers that work as décor accents, as well as functional pieces. 

Light matters

Sunlight is a natural pick-me-up, but too much can be more stimulating than calming. Use light filtering shades for some privacy, as well as to create a softer, more tranquil effect. In the evening, use dimmer lights and candles to create a spa-like ambiance. As an added bonus, use a lavender scented candle to help promote relaxation. 

Colors count

Bright colors energize; soft, earth-toned shades soothe. If you’re looking to add more peacefulness to your home, incorporate tranquil blues, greens, and neutrals like gray, tans and white into your sanctuary spaces. Keep this in mind when you’re looking for accessories, too. Whether that peaceful space is a nook or whole room, stick with serene hues for your furniture, pillows, rugs and other accents.

Unplug

Your dedicated downtime space should be free of high-tech distraction. Learn to leave the phone, tablet and laptop aside. That reading nook we talked about above should be device-free to eliminate the urge to check your email just one more time or to count how many likes your last Instagram post garnered.  

Above all else, make your space yours. The best way to relax and unwind is to create a space that you feel most comfortable in.

by Anjie Cho


Welcome More Sunlight into Your Home

Have you noticed the days getting shorter? Just as the school buses start their daily routes and the pumpkin spice take-over gets underway, the sun tucks in under the horizon a little bit earlier each day. If you’re lamenting the loss of summer’s languid sunlight, read on. I’ve got 6 tips to help you bring more sunshine into your home

Mirrors

Mirrors are a quick and affordable way to double the sunlight in your room. Select a beautiful, large mirror and place it on the wall opposite the window. Don’t overlook other reflective surfaces as well. Incorporate metallic decorative elements like candlesticks, picture frames, and even doorknobs to increase the level of reflected light. 

Paint

Open up your rooms with a lighter paint color on the walls. Dark paint will absorb light, while lighter hues reflect it. Likewise, selecting a satin finish as opposed to flat will increase the amount of reflected light. If you prefer a darker palette, consider going light on the walls and introducing your warm, more saturated tones in design elements like your furniture, or accents like pillows, throws and rugs

Window treatments

Those gorgeous drapes may be hindering your ability to let the sun shine in. Look for window treatments that offer privacy without blocking the light. Beautiful bamboo shades, translucent blinds and drapery sheers are beautiful, light-welcoming choices. 

Yard work

Don’t forget to look outside when you’re looking to let more light inside. Trim hedges and trees that may be blocking the sun’s path through your windows. This bit of yard work can make a big difference.

Alternate light inlets

Go beyond the traditional window. One option is to replace a solid exterior door for one with window panels; even a small window can make a big impact. Adding in skylights or “sun tunnels” will lighten things up in your room from the ceiling down. Also pay attention to your light fixtures. Avoid heavy lampshades that obstruct the light being given off. Consider installing a dimmer in some rooms so you can pump up or dial back the light depending on your need. 

Keep it clean

You may already know that cleaning your windows can boost the level of light they let in. Don’t forget to dust off your lamp shades and bulbs as well. While you’ve got the cleaning materials out, go ahead and finish tidying the room. An open, uncluttered space simply feels lighter.

by Anjie Cho


3 Ways to Bring the Outside In

The summer may be winding down but that doesn’t mean the warmth and relaxation of the outdoors has to go with it. Bring that same summer sun-drenched comfort and vibrancy indoors with these three simple steps.  

Indoor Planters

For many, the warm weather seasons kick off with a mad dash to the nearest garden center. There are flower beds to populate, veggie gardens to plant and a generous assortment of flower pots and window boxes to fill. Just imagine how beautiful all that green and color would look inside your home

Don’t get tied down to standard indoor planters. Traditional outdoor options like window boxes are a great way to bring the outside in.  Start by picking a window box that compliments your décor. You’ll have your choice of materials like wood, iron, cooper, and wicker. Consider creating a kitchen window box and fill it with fragrant and flavorful herbs you can cook with!

Another perk of using a window box? Instead of filling the box itself with dirt and planting directly in it, use it to corral smaller, separate pots of your favorite plants. If you need to replace a plant, it’s simple to just slip out one pot and make the switch. Likewise, when it’s time to water the plants, remove the pots and water the plants in the sink. Once the excess water has drained, return them to the window box. 

Tidy-up

Clutter can make a room feel restrictive. Simply organizing your space can open up the room and make it feel more inviting. As you’re cleaning, use natural cleaners with fresh scents. Imagine the woodsy scent of tea-tree oil or a little bit of lemon lingering in your living room. Makes you smile just thinking about it, doesn’t it? Now, throw open those windows and let the great outdoors shine in! Inviting more natural sunlight will enliven your space. Don’t forget a little TLC for your window treatments too. Wipe down the blinds and wash (or dry-clean) your draperies. 

Draw color and texture inspiration from the outdoors

When you think of being outdoors, what colors do you think of? Whether it’s the lush green of grass, the salty blue of the ocean or the warm yellow of the sun, bringing those hues into your room is a fantastic way to welcome the outdoors into your home! 

While a fresh, clean coat of paint will make your space feel fresh and bright, you’ve got other options when it comes to color. Introduce pops of outdoor-inspired hues with accessories such as pillows, blankets and rugs. Even candles, vases, and wall décor are fantastic options.

What’s your favorite outdoor place? If you’ve got a picture of it, frame it and hang it! Look for paintings, prints and design elements that mimic the scenery and texture of your outdoor sanctuaries. If you’re a beach person, for example, weathered grey wood textures mimic water beaten driftwood, while cool blues, greens and white bring to mind the water and elements like sea glass and shells. Is the forest more your style? Choose accessories in natural wood finishes and greens.  

If you find yourself wishing you could spend more time outdoors but the seasons or your schedule are making it difficult, bring the outdoors in. If you incorporate these steps, don’t forget to come back here and share your pictures! Which step will you try first?

by Anjie Cho


Sunshine Makes Us Happy!

SUN yantra Mandala, available at  holisticspaces.com

SUN yantra Mandala, available at holisticspaces.com

I've said it before, and it's pretty believable during summer months, but sunshine literally makes us happy. Think back to the last time you spent some time in the sun. When you step into the natural light and feel the warmth on your face, how do you feel? Do you feel content, maybe even blissful? I sure do! 

As it turns out, this happiness we get from spending time in the sun isn't just psychological. The presence of sunlight actually physically makes us happier! Here's how. 

Sunlight helps us produce serotonin, which is the chemical in our brains responsible for keeping us positive and happy. In many people who experience depression, serotonin levels are lower than normal, which results in a lower level of happiness. This also explains the phenomenon, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), where people seem to be more depressed in the winter. What don't we see a lot of during the winter? That's right, the sun! Sunlight can help us all to produce the right amount of serotonin to keep our spirits high and our smiles wide. 

Based on studies across the world, sunlight can actually help to combat certain diseases, like high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer. Of course, spending TOO much time in the sun can actually lead to skin cancer, but getting natural Vitamin D in smaller doses can help prevent certain cancers. In addition, being in warm sunlight can loosen the body's muscles and tendons, which can be helpful in easing the pain of certain conditions like arthritis. 

Sunlight gives us more energy. Spending time in the sun also affects another of our brain's chemicals, melatonin. If you've never heard of it before, melatonin is the substance our brains release when it's time to calm down and go to sleep. The sun suppresses this chemical, making us feel more energized, and therefore happier! 

There are countless other perks to spending time in the sun, but it's very clear that one huge benefit is that natural sunlight can make us happy. In fact, without it, many people tend to become depressed and suffer from low energy, so it seems that the sun is actually an integral part of our happiness. So get outside and soak up some healthy rays!

by Anjie Cho