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!

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Things You Might Not Know About Coconut Oil

As a holistic designer and architect, I'm all about finding ways to incorporate natural, less-toxic substances into my daily life in place of those harmful chemicals we normally keep beneath the kitchen sink or in the medicine cabinet. One of my most recent discoveries is coconut oil. The holistic perks of this natural oil are incredible, and of course I want to share them with you. Some of my favorite uses are below!

In the Bathroom

Coconut oil is awesome as a natural hair serum. Adding just a small bit to your hair can reduce the frizz we so often deal with as ladies. Be careful here, as you don't want to overuse any sort of oil in your hair. Just rub a dab onto your palms, then distribute evenly throughout your locks!

Try mixing coconut oil with equal parts sugar to create your own simple exfoliating scrub for those long, nourishing showers. 

Coconut oil makes an easy lip balm too! Especially in colder, dryer months, our lips are susceptible to weather and have the tendency to chap and crack. Anyone who's ever experienced this knows it isn't fun! Next time your lips start acting up, try rubbing a bit of coconut oil on as a lubricating balm and soothing agent.

One of the most common beauty products containing toxic materials is deodorant. Unfortunately, this isn't a product we can really do without, unless we're all willing to deal with each others' body odor. Coconut oil can provide a natural remedy for this issue. Using the oil by itself as deodorant is very effective and eliminates the need for harsh chemicals that you may find in other store-bought products. 

Around the House

Aside from its numerous uses for the body, coconut oil also makes a super stain remover and furniture polish. You can rub the oil alone on a tough-to-conquer stain for some help, or mix the oil with baking soda for a non-toxic stain removal option. 

Back in the bathroom, coconut oil works wonders on soap scum, which is great, since bathroom cleaners can be some of the most toxic on the market. Instead of exposing yourself, and ultimately your family, to the toxic chemicals and VOCs in bathroom cleaning chemicals, try using natural coconut oil on a rag instead! 

There are literally hundreds of uses for coconut oil outside the most common uses in cooking. With an increasing number of cautious dieters and, thankfully, individuals concerned for the environment, coconut oil is becoming more and more popular, and with good reason! Next time you're near a natural market, stop in and get some coconut oil to get started on the many things you can do!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui and Pregnancy

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Is there any sort of feng shui I should pay special attention to if I'm pregnant?

Stephanie C., Washington D.C.

Hi Stephanie,

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! 

There are a few things to consider when we look at feng shui and pregnancy. For one, I would encourage you not to do any kind of house renovations during your pregnancy. Your home represents your body, so during a pregnancy, you don’t want to do any renovations or move things around or rebuild things. Not only does this disturb your body's natural chi, any chemicals or substances that become airborne during a renovation can be harmful to an unborn baby. 

Since your body, for the next nine months, is your baby's only space, do your best to keep this space healthy, both emotionally and physically. Avoid high-stress situations and instances where you might come into contact with anything physically harmful for your baby's growth. Check out my recipes for DIY non-toxic cleaners and laundry detergent, and if you feel the need to nest (which you most likely will!) aim for a green cleaning approach, natural space clearing and the like. And don't do any painting yourself, but check out how to create a relaxing atmosphere, use the color wheel and incorporate other feng shui aspects into your baby's space

Don't forget to take time out for yourself to eliminate stress too! Meditate, use essential oils or do any other activities you can to calm down without changing the overall chi of your baby's temporary space. 

In feng shui, there are also some important factors to consider before you get pregnant, when you are trying to have a baby. One of the most important is to avoid cleaning out from under your bed during this time. Though feng shui recommends keeping space beneath your bed clear, it is important to understand the concept of "ling particles" as it relates to pregnancy. 

Feng shui practitioners believe that there are what we call "ling particles" in the air that help create and support life. When a baby is conceived, a ling particle gives the embryo life, and these particles are said to collect under the bed. For this reason, if you're hoping to become pregnant, you don’t want to clean under your bed. I would also encourage you not to do any renovations when you’re trying to get pregnant.

For the most part, feng shui advocates creating a healthy, positive space for your baby. This means not making any drastic changes to the environment you've already created, and doing what you can to maintain a stress-free, healthy lifestyle. This will also help to create a holistic space in which for you to welcome your baby to the world!  

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!


Q&A Sunday: Tips for Spiritual & Healing Providers

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What are some basic tips for people who provide spiritual or healing services to reflect a fun, sacred, zen-like atmosphere to spaces/venues that are already designed?

T.F, Stamford, CT

This is a situation that many face: how to create a holistic space with what you have. It’s a little like life, right? We come into this world with our cultural and environmental conditioning and limitations. My teachers would say that if you’re born a Honda you’ll never be a Mercedes, but you can be the best Honda you can be! Similarly, we can work with what we’re given. Most feng shui is remedial - we make adjustments after the fact. With my clients I actually incorporate feng shui into the architectural design. But not everyone has that luxury or foresight.

Space Clearing

My first suggestion is space clearing. In feng shui we use different rituals involving mantras, sometimes rice, sometimes oranges and others. If you want to do this yourself I recommend getting some orange essential oil and placing 9 drops in a bowl of water. With this bowl, walk around clockwise from the entrance sprinkling the essence throughout the space. Lately I’ve also been burning palo santo, a Peruvian wood used to smudge (or clear) a space. Remember when you clear a space, always put positive energy back in.

Commanding Position

Second, use the commanding position to layout the most important areas in your space. For a spiritual or healing provider, this may be your desk or the position in which a client receives your services. The commanding position locates us in an advantageous place so we can feel relaxed and in control of our environment. This position is that which is furthest back from the door, while not in line with or behind the swing of the door.

Five Elements

Third, use the five elements to create a balanced and harmonious space. Take a look at this previous Holistic Spaces blog article or explore our five elements series on the Holistic Spaces podcast.

Bring in Nature

Finally, for a healing and zen-like space be sure to have some green plants. Use non-toxic cleaning products and add fresh flowers when possible. The plants not only improve the indoor air quality, they add life energy to the space. Plants promote kindness and flexibility. Fragrant fresh flowers bring joy and improve energy flow.

There is also something my teachers call “method of minor additions” which involve the use of feng shui adjustment objects such as crystals, mirrors, windchimes, colors, etc. Unfortunately that’s where the feng shui expert comes in. This depends on the particular location, situation, and person.

Good luck with your space, and kudos to you for providing such beautiful services to help others.

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!


Spring Clean Your Bedroom, Any Time of the Year

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When our homes were heated solely by coal, oil and/or wood and we lit our nights by candle and lantern, the first hint of spring’s warmer days marked a time to air things out and clean things up. Today our climate-controlled homes don’t require a sunny day to flush out the dirt and soot accumulated throughout the winter. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should skip the tradition of spring cleaning. In fact, a good, thorough cleaning doesn’t even have to wait for spring! Here are helpful tips to freshen up your bedroom any time of the year.

Bedding

Start your spring-inspired cleaning by stripping the bed. Nearly everything except foam pillows can be laundered. Read labels, of course, before you start the wash and be sure to follow the directions. To lightly scent and soften the fabrics of your bedding, combine a drop of tea tree oil with a cup of white vinegar or ½ cup of Epsom salt. Add that the mixture to the wash. If the weather cooperates, dry your quilts, blankets, and pillows outside. As long as it’s not too damp or too cold, using Mother Nature’s drying system is the way to go! If you like to switch up your bedding to match the season, give your seasonal blankets and sheets some outdoor air time also. 

Flip it

If you have a coil mattress, this is a good time to flip it. These mattresses can wear unevenly, so flipping and/or rotating your mattress can help prolong its life. Bring in the vacuum cleaner too. Before you get busy cleaning the floor, run the vacuum’s brush over your mattress. 

Weed your drawers

Clutter can make even the cleanest of spaces look untidy. Your spring cleaning day is a good time to cut the excess. Go through your closets and dresser with a fair and even hand. If you haven’t worn something this season, it’s time to let it go. Donate your discarded items or hit up Pinterest for crafting ideas. You’d be amazed at the beautiful rugs, throws and other crafts you can make with that old, well-worn t-shirt you’re about to toss!

Go bare bones

If your nightstand boasts more covered space than visible table top, it’s time to organize. Grab a funky basket and create your pamper station. This is the place to keep your hand lotion, the book you're currently reading, and anything else you want in close reach to your bed. This basket, a lamp, a clock if you’ve got one, and a box of tissues is all your nightstand needs. 

Let the sunshine in

You probably already have an attack plan for the windows. You’re going to grab your favorite natural cleaner and wipe down the panes of glass with a soft cloth (inside and out!). Your deep clean isn’t done, though. Dust and vacuum the blinds and drapes. Read the cleaning instruction on those curtains. If you can, toss those in the wash too, and add them to the laundry air drying outside! 

Shake it out

If your bedroom features area rugs, take them outdoors and shake them out. Let them air outdoors while you put the vacuum through its paces back inside. Make sure you get under the bed and in the corners. 

Bonus boost

Seasonal changes and deep cleaning days are ideal to swap out your accessories for a new look. Change up throw pillows, switch the pictures hanging on your walls and roll in a new area rug for a different take on accent color.

by Anjie Cho