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


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

Feng Shui and Pregnancy.jpg

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

Tips for Spiritual & Healing Providers.jpg

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

Spring Clean Your Bedroom, Any Time of the Year - 2.jpg

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


Swap Out Commercial Cleaners for DIY All-Natural Alternatives

Before you roll-up your sleeves and get down to a good, deep cleanse around the house, let’s talk about the type of cleaners you’re using. When you walk down the cleaning products aisle, the labels call out with powerful statements about killing bacteria and viruses. Other bottles claim to root out mold and demolish mildew or give your windows a streak-free shine. Sounds good, right? 

What if I told you there’s something better? Something safer. Something that will deep clean and leave behind a fresh scent without chemical components. Even better, what if I told you that it’s something you could make on your own? Here are 5 do-it-yourself cleaners that will be good for the environment, good for you, and good for your wallet

The basics: 

When you’re making out your shopping list, you’re going to want to stock up on white vinegar, baking soda, tea-tree oil, and lemons. These simple ingredients are powerhouse natural cleaners. As you dig into the recipes here or find others to experiment with online, you’ll quickly learn that at least one of these basics is a component you’re going to need. 

1. Glass cleaner

Grab a spray bottle and add two cups of water to it. Combine ½ cup of white vinegar, ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of your favorite scented essential oil. I recommend trying a citrus scented oil or peppermint. Shake the spray bottle gently to combine the ingredients. Spray the solution on a microfiber cloth and apply it to your window or mirror to clean. 

2. All-purpose cleaner

You’re not going to want to use this one on your windows, but everything else is fair game. Combine ¾ cup of water with ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and a squirt of natural dish soap. Add the same essential oil you used to clean your windows. You can combine these in another squirt bottle for easy application. 

3. Removing mold and mildew

Tea-tree oil is a natural disinfectant and one you ought to keep around the house for a myriad of uses. One task ideal for tea-tree oil is banishing mold and mildew. Add a couple of teaspoons of the oil to 2 cups of water and spray the mixture on the area you wish to clean. You’re going to want to let it sit – the more deeply rooted the mold and mildew, the longer you want to leave it. When you’re ready to remove the cleaner, apply some baking soda. If you’re working on a vertical surface, you may need to make the baking soda into a thick paste with a bit of water. If you’ve cleaned a horizontal service and the tea-tree treated water is still pooled there, just sprinkle enough baking soda to form a paste. Using a small brush, scrub the area gently and then rinse. For tougher stained grout and tile, try using some peroxide, either on its own or in a paste with baking soda. Apply, let sit, and then scrub as needed.

4. Garbage disposal

If you’ve got a garage disposal that smells a little funky, there’s a natural freshen-up for that, too. The next time you’re enjoying an orange or using lemon in a dish, save the peels. Fill an ice cube tray with them and top each cube off with white vinegar. For an added aromatic boost, throw in sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary or lavender. When you want to freshen things up, toss in a frozen cube and turn on the garbage disposal.

5. Wood polish

Treat your wooden furniture to a natural clean with a few items from your kitchen. Combine the juice of one lemon with a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil in a small jar. Seal the jar tightly and shake the ingredients until they emulsify. Using a clean cloth, apply the mixture to your furniture.

by Anjie Cho


Greenwashing and How to Avoid It

canstockphoto10910774.jpg

With the increased focus worldwide on taking better care of our planet and preserving our natural resources, marketing campaigns have started to focus on sustainability as a selling point in many fields. This is an awesome move if the company really is an active advocate for preserving water, energy and the like; however, many times companies toss a green marketing claim to consumers based on little to no actual action. Customers who fall for these claims and purchase advertised products from companies who aren't actually green are doing little to help save our planet and, in reality, may be unwillingly doing more harm than good. We call this "greenwashing."

Fortunately, greenwashing is a villain that can be stopped relatively easily if consumers are careful and pay close attention to products they purchase. The most accurate way to avoid being greenwashed is to properly research "green" products before purchasing. If your favorite detergent company has just launched a green cleaner, take the time to check facts about what exactly makes this new detergent qualify as green.

On this same note, avoiding greenwashing is about more than just ensuring that you buy holistic products. The idea behind going green requires that we do everything in our power to reduce the carbon footprint each of us leaves on the world. In this way, we can directly save many of the non-renewable resources we're currently flying through. That said, even if a product really is "green" on the consumer side, if the company is required to use more energy and produce more waste in order to create the product, perhaps promoting its production isn't the best thing for our planet. Just like you research your products, research the companies who make them. Are they really following a green initiative or just trying to make a buck off the good efforts of others?

I'm very happy to see the overwhelming number of new environmentally friendly options on the market, but remember the reason for these products. If we aren't actually conserving the earth's resources, perhaps these campaigns are less "green" and more "greenwash."

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for a New Pet

Feng Shui for a New Pet.jpg

What are some considerations to make for a new pet (dog!)?

Jenny Beth M., New York, NY

Hi Jenny Beth, 

Thank you for your question, and congratulations on your new dog! I actually have two dogs, so I do have input on feng shui considerations for a new dog in your space. We have a blog post with insight on this question as well. 

Speaking from my experience and knowledge as a feng shui practitioner and pet owner, I believe one huge consideration is to allow the dog to find its own space in your home. Whether that means a favorite corner with his comfy dog bed or maybe a crate - whatever it is, it's important to give your dog a space of his own. It's also a good idea to locate that space in the commanding position so your dog feels safe. The commanding position governs the location we want to situate ourselves in, and dogs are the same as us. They want to see what's coming toward them and not have their backs to the door. In fact, dogs are even more in tune with that since they're animals! I find that my pups often want to sleep at the foot of the bed or at the door mat to protect us, which is common for dogs. 

You'll also want to take a look at the green plants in your space and make sure they're out of reach to prevent your dog eating them. There are a lot of houseplants that are toxic to dogs. Some of the most common are azaleas, tulips and oleander. One of the first things I did when I got my first dog was to look up all the toxins in a home, and one (for animals) is green plants. 

Another is cleaning chemicals. Dogs live very close to the ground and are very sensitive, so toxic cleaners will affect them more strongly than they might us. Switch to non-toxic cleaners out of consideration for your pet. In fact, switching to non-toxic cleaners can improve the indoor air quality of your space for you as well! Check out some of our posts on non-toxic cleaning options and choose one that fits your lifestyle! 

Congratulations again on your new pet! I hope you really enjoy your new companion. :) 

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!