Friday, February 26, 2010

99 Bottles Of....

 I envy these birds and their feeder
A wood headboard and frame would be better choices in Feng Shui
 Their front door of opportunity            all photos: Alfredo Santa Cruz

I have to ignore my Feng Shui opinions just for a minute and let my full designer-ness take over. This little Argentinian plastic bottle house is so cool. And hey it's eco-friendly. And ingenious and resourceful. All good things according to me. I just want to know, is that bed actually comfortable? Get the full scoop here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Talk To Me People!

 Please take this 5 question survey. THANKS!

I'm just trying this survey website out so also let me know if this works for you. Or if it's just annoying and you have another suggestion.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunshine On My Shoulder Makes Me Happy

This colorful fridge is keeping my New York ashen days bright!

Can anyone tell me if Mr. Groundhog revealed his little furry head on Groundhog's day? I hope so. I am getting a bit tired of grey, cold days not knowing whether it's going to snow, rain, sleet or be 60 degrees! I'm dreaming of sun-shiney days prancing around Central Park or being able to open the windows to allow the warm, fresh summer air in.

Today I felt the Spring-Summer fever pretty bad. I counted - 28 days until the official First Day of Spring. Until then, I am going to keep staring at this cute and colorful fridge from Smeg. But if staring at this fridge is not lifting your Chi blahs, maybe these little tips will:
  • buy some colorful flowers and put them where you sit the most  
  • have salmon for lunch and get your vitamin D! (what we're deficient in when there is no sunshine anywhere or anyway to be found) 
  • put on your brightest winter accessory - scarf, hat, gloves, whatever. That's an easy cheer up! 
  • write in a colorful inked pen for the day (unless you're an accountant or are in any other profession where this may be frowned upon)  
  • laugh for 5 full minutes with a child
If none of these work (although I really think the last one will), then make some popcorn, flick on the Winter Olympics and cheer on your favorite athletes. I guess if you can't beat 'em, you may as well cheer them on!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Way Down Low

Nice but it's deceiving. This bed is too low.

At first glance, this bed is pleasing to the eye, isn't it? It's modern, sleek and clutter-free! Those are definitely all good things but the problem I am having is that it is so darn LOW. I just had this discussion with a client and her architect. There has been a surge of these "Low Profile Beds" (or what I will expertly refer to as LPB) recently. I don't know if you've been in the market for a bed lately but it's really hard to find a bed that is regular height. I wonder what the thinking is behind it?

I've got nothing personally against any company's beds but I have to say these LPBs do bug me a bit. For example, think about the bed above. Imagine yourself waking up from a good night's sleep, still groggy from your awesome dream. You step off your bed and oops, you stub your toe on the ledge that you always forget is there. As you maneuver around it, it takes more of an effort to stand up since you are so low to the floor. Grumpsville!

The bed you sleep in is just as important as your front door. Getting in and out of bed should be graceful and effortless. You shouldn't have to heave yourself up every morning nor should you have to hoist yourself up to a too high bed. That's how you start and end your day and that's way too much effort.

This bed is too high.

This bed is just right! (heightwise that is)

If you discover that your bed is too low, you can try adding a box spring to put the spring back in your morning (I couldn't resist). If it's too high, you can consider placing a simple step that helps you easily ease into bed. Make these small adjustments and your Chi will thank you. If you're in the market for a new bed, give me a holler if you find a good height bed. I'm looking for a bed and it's been challenging. Now just don't get me started on headboards. I'll save that for next time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Open Sesame

I have door envy.

Don't ask me why, but I've been thinking about doors alot lately. Not just any doors but specifically front doors or main entry ways. In Feng Shui, the front door is one of the most important aspects of your home. It represents the pathway of opportunities into your home, in essence how all of life's opportunities will find you. I know, that's a big statement. But think about it, the entry door is the last thing you see when you leave home for the day and the first thing you see when you come home. It should welcome you and anyone who comes to your door and bring a smile. 

What does your front door look like? Do you still have last year's Halloween decorations on the door? Don't laugh, I've seen this alot. Is your door squeaky? Does everything work as it should - the door knob, locks and latches? Is the paint chipped or is the home's address or unit number visible? Does the light and doorbell work? Even if you don't use them, they should at least be functioning so that if you wanted to use it, you could. An even simpler question - can you see your front door easily or is it hidden under overgrown trees and bushes?
Doesn't this make you want to ring their bell?

These may seem to be very mundane and nit picky items but once again, it's all about first impressions and how it makes you feel.
I love these doors. Even if you don't go for a color, your door can be beautiful too!

Now what's on the other side of your door? What is the first thing you see when you come in? A pile of recycling? Shoes or coats strewn about? Does the door hit anything when you open it? If so, clean it up, put it away or throw it out. Allow for movement through your door. Alot of people who own houses may regularly use their garages as their main entryway for many different reasons. It's not the best idea in Feng Shui but we can work with it using many different remedies. What you want to remember though is even if you go through the garage entry regularly, don't forget the "real" front door. We should be able to find you. A great example we use in Feng Shui is - "if Ed McMahon had a huge cardboard $1 Million dollar check to present to you - would he have found you through your garage door?"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Rip-Roaring Year!

A beautiful vision of the White Tiger
Folks, we are just hours away from Chinese New Year. Isn't that exciting? I am finishing up my last chores  – vacuuming, cooking, putting out my fresh flowers. And later I'll be meeting some colleagues for some Chinese New Year rituals that help welcome in the new year.

This year is the Year of the White Metal Tiger and it is quite different from the one we are just exiting - the Year of the Ox. The ox is slow and close to the earth while he plows and diligently trudges along. You get the idea. And not surprisingly, it was a tough year for many as you may be able to attest to. This coming year though, the energy level and Chi will definitely be changing as the Tiger is definitely a more energetic and dynamic entity. Boy I can tell you, I am sure ready for the new year!

But as with all exciting and dynamic relationships, there may be extreme moments of ups and downs. Sorry to break the news to you. As the above photo demonstrates, the tiger can be beautiful and serene but once it gets moving, look out! This doesn't necessarily mean that it will be a bad year per se, just one that you may need to brace yourself for. It is important to make sure that your personal Chi and home are ready for this powerful year. In Feng Shui, there are many ways that we mitigate these affects. Depending on your animal in the Chinese calendar, there are specific ways to do this as each year interacts differently with each animal.
Are you as happy as this little guy?    photo:

For the sake of time, here's one suggestion to help you start this new year off with a bang. (whew, we were getting so serious there for a minute!) Between the hours of 11pm and 1am (the most auspicious hours of the night), open up all your windows and doors of your home that connect to the outside for about 15 minutes. This is a Feng Shui tradition that helps change the Chi or energy of your home. I know, it' s cold out there, so just don't forget to put on your hat and scarf.

If you'd like more information on how to get more specific remedies for yourself this Tiger year, please don't hesitate to contact me for a phone or in-person consultation. Until then, Happy Chinese New Year! And of course, Happy Valentine's Day! Which ever holiday you are celebrating, I wish you all the blessings for auspicious changes this new year. Tiger Love is in the House! Whoops, not that Tiger.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pre-Tiger Prep

Chinese New Year is 3 days away. Are you ready?     photo:

I've asked you to organize, clean out closets and drawers and toss out the old to bring in the new. Now that you've made some room for good things to come in, start cleaning! Spring clean your house for the big day. A deep cleaning will assure that you start your new year off on a good note. Once you're done with that, buy some fresh flowers for your home to bring in nature Chi!

Now this is the fun part – 2 to 3 days before the big day (meaning today!), start planning where to have your new year's dinner. Gather a group of friends and family to either cook your favorite foods or eat at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Tell them you are coming in to welcome in the new year with. I'm sure they'll be impressed!

And if you don't know your Chinese animal yet, you've come to the right place:
Find out more about your animal here. I would love to hear what animal you are so please leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Weather Report

Ancient Chinese Herbal Remedy

You've probably noticed that I disappeared for a few days. Unfortunately, I've been feeling a bit under the weather. I guess that's no surprise considering the weather. So I decided to nurture my Chi back to health with some good old fashioned rest. My good friend Lea gave me the best advice for when I'm sick, "As soon as you feel the slightest sign of ill-health, make my ginger tea. It will knock whatever it is right out." (Sorry Lea, I am quoting you but in my sickly haze I have paraphrased a bit) So please find below my version of her wonderful Ginger tea. I'm sure that my trusty nettie pot along with this delicious tea will have me back on the road to recovery in no time.

Lea's Get Well Ginger Tea

1" chunk of fresh ginger
At least 3 cups of water (preferably filtered)
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp of honey

Peel ginger. I use a spoon to scrape the skin off. Slice and dice as you wish. Put ginger into a tea kettle with the lemon juice. Heat all ingredients until it comes to a boil and for all the flavors to infuse. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes on stove top. Pour into your favorite teacup and add honey. 
Couldn't help but to include a couple of great mugs I found online!
Top:   Bottom: Taika Mug by Klaus Haapaniemi for Iittala

As you can see this is my first time writing a recipe so please feel free to adjust measurements to your own palette. It's not an exact science but just make sure you make it sooner than I did.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bowery Wowery

Bowery's finest fireplace but unfortunately we were seated too far away!
photo: agentsmithfiles

The gorgeous garden we didn't see either since we were there at night

I'm often asked by people, "What locations in New York have good and not-so-good (that's a euphemism) Feng Shui?"  I naturally pay attention to these details but I don't always advertise. But I guess as they say, "Any publicity is better than no publicity."

A bit late on the cool scale, or perhaps just fashionably late, we finally visited the bar in the Bowery Hotel. We read some great reviews and thought it was time to take a peek. At first, we weren't able to locate it. Instead we ended up first at its bar at the corner Bowery restaurant but quickly realized that it didn't seem to rate high on the "cool" scale with the bright lights and very restaurant feel (understandably so, it is a restaurant) so we inquired about another bar. Our accommodating bus boy informed us that we were probably referring to the bar in the lobby that was down the hall and around the bend. Those of you who have been reading my blog so far know what I am going to say about that. "Where is the bar? And why didn't we find it right away??" 

In any case, down the hall and around the bend we went to be welcomed by a very warm and tastefully decorated interior. Everything was well thought out and rightfully appreciated - the crackling fireplace, the warm wood benches, plush velvet upholstered chairs and dimmed chandeliers. So what do you ask is my qualm? Weeeellll, not to be a complainer, but it was the lobby entrance that irked me.

First of all, we passed by the hotel not even realizing that the bar was just steps beyond the entrance doors. Maybe that was done on purpose to confuse and deter appearances by late bloomers such as ourselves. But once we were seated and part of the decor, we were able to observe the inner workings more closely. The front part of the bar near the reception area was the biggest disturbance. It was sectioned off from the reception area by two large plants, a wood table and two beautiful but awkwardly placed space dividers. You know, like folding screens. It was as if the set up was an afterthought. I tried to take some photos without a flash (to maintain my cool appearance) but the photos were too dark. When I googled some Bowery Hotel Bar images, the majority of the images that came up were of understandably the gorgeous back garden - invisible to us at night - and the lovely fireplace. I can understand why the lobby area was hardly photographed.

Reception and hotel entrance is beyond the red curtain

Another view of the room divider on the left

In Feng Shui terms, they almost got it right. In lieu of the makeshift dividers and plants, why not something more definitive, elegant and confident? Perhaps an iron gate partition married with smokey glass that mixes modernity with their romantically masculine feel? Just a suggestion. 

I would love to hear comments about who has been there and what your experience has been. And if you haven't been there, go check it out and let me know what you think. My intention is not to take business away from BHB but to use it as an example in Feng Shui and the eternal fluctuation of space and energy. So get on over there. The overall decor is a gorgeous salute to the Old World. Added bonus -  drinks were good and the service even better!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Black is Beautiful

Look at these faces. Need I say more?

There are so many holidays happening in February - President's Day, Chinese New Year which coincides with Valentine's day on February 14th and yesterday was the first day of Black History Month. I know that I don't need to tell you why it's important to celebrate the differences and likenesses of all people who have made this country, and world great. Tell me I don't. Ok I won't but I'll quote Irish novelist George Moore, "After all, there is but one race: humanity." Well said George.

Some more eloquent passages to help inspire you this month:

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.  - Barack Obama

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  -Maya Angelou

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice. -Carter Woodson

The past is a ghost, the future a dream. All we ever have is now. -Bill Cosby

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. -Booker T. Washington

Monday, February 1, 2010

Green Day

A cool indoor garden idea. FYI, this is not me glancing at my plant!

This weekend, I glanced over at one of my plants and saw that the leaves were droopy and starting to yellow. What's up I thought? I was confident that long gone were the days when I had a brown thumb. Or so I thought. My living room is flooded with sunlight and usually my green friends sit happily by the window drinking it all in. But alas, I have overlooked one. Upon closer inspection, I realized that there were strange brown spots on the plant's leaves and that some were even sticky. Ick. Putting on my Sherlock Holmes hat (aka I searched google) I discovered what was happening to my plant was something called scale. A harmless enough name but it was slowly sucking out the sap, draining the chi out of my plant and killing it. To counter this, it is recommended that you wipe the leaves down with alcohol to remove the bumpy brown insects and to clean off the sticky sap.

Beautiful succulents that are a great alternative to a leafy plant

But you may be saying to yourself, "Is she nuts?? My plant has about 1000 leaves!" Yes my friends, the same thought crossed my mind when I looked lovingly at my bushy ficus. Do I fall back on my brown thumb days and throw my arms up in defeat? Decidedly not an option. I am a changed person. Armed with my tools, I carefully swabbed down each leaf and stem. It did take a while but what I realized was that it allowed me to focus at the task at hand, connect with nature (although it was only on my window sill) and keep me in the present moment. The hour flew by, I felt relaxed and happy knowing that I saved my little plant but also I was happy knowing that I took the time to attend to something that only needed an hour of my focused attention. Moral of the story: Pay attention to your surroundings, don't procrastinate what needs tending to and enjoy the process as well as the rewards. And if you think you have a brown thumb, prove yourself wrong and find an easy indoor plant here.