The Basics of Feng Shui in Your Home

The concepts of feng shui originated in China and are an integral part of Daoism beliefs. Anyone who wants to feng shui a home is trying to make it harmonious with the local environment, and the concepts of decoration and arranging furniture are used in each area of a home.

The purpose of feng shui design in architecture is to harmonize qi or invisible forces that bind humanity, earth and the universe together. The focus of feng shui is on the life force known as qi, but it also includes ying and yang or balancing positive and negative. The eight trigrams or bagau are diagrams or maps that help people decorate homes to meet the requirements of feng shui.

The Feng Shui Basics

The concepts of feng shui are over 3,500 years old, and many of the methods of harmonizing were suppressed during political turmoil in China. Today, people worldwide are returning to the ancient concepts of feng shui to creating a harmonious environment inside a home. There are several forms of feng shui, and you can choose one or more technique to create a relaxing home.

  • Form school – uses the shape of landforms to create a harmonious design
  • Compass school – modern techniques using the eight cardinal directions
  • Black sect – eight home sections that represent life
  • Aspirations method – uses the life aspirations such as fame, wealth and family

Most people today use a combination of feng shui methods or schools to create a home environment that displays the basic concepts of this ancient philosophy. It is possible to hire experts who will visit your home to see the position of rooms in relationship with the building’s entranceway. These feng shui experts can provide advice on the exact way to arrange furniture or place mirrors. There are also numerous educational resources about feng shui, including college courses or books.

How to create a Feng Shui House

One: Entranceways

If you want to practice feng shui, then keeping a home free of dust is important, and you can begin at the front door by using a doormat on a front porch or directly inside the door to absorb rainwater and dirt. Make sure to take a doormat outside on a regular basis to shake out the debris that collects in its fibers.

A15ofnUhvEL._SL1500_

Two: Remove Clutter from a Home

An essential concept of feng shui is orderliness that includes having an environment that is free of clutter. It is especially important to have an entranceway that is not blocked to permit the flow of positive energy. If you are devoted to the concepts of feng shui, then you will want to get rid of unneeded possessions.

Three: Have Houseplants inside a Home

The addition of living houseplants to a home can bring love and harmony to your life. Select houseplants that are easy to take care of, and make sure to have the ivy or potted palm tree in unusual areas of a home instead of just the living room.

nature-flowers-white-plants

Four: Repair Broken or Torn Items in a Home

To practice feng shui effectively, repair broken or torn items in a home. You should not have defective plumbing fixtures, ripped upholstery or holes in a home’s drywall in order to create a positive energy flow.

Five: Have Learning or Meditation Materials

The concepts of feng shui are also about meditating or learning on a daily basis. You can have organized bookshelves filled with books or a quiet area for meditation. Everyone in a home should have access to this learning area or mediation area to increase harmony.

Six: Have Clear Countertops in a Kitchen

If you are accustomed to having numerous small appliances and cookie jars on your kitchen’s countertops, then find cabinet space to put away most of these items. Only have the most needed appliances such as a toaster or coffeemaker on the countertops, and keep the items spotlessly clean.

Seven: Maintaining a Feng Shui Living Room

You need to understand the position of a home’s living room in order to select the correct colors and design elements. A living room is one of the most important areas of a home when beginning to use feng shui techniques, and this is when you must use the bagua energy map to assist with decorating and arranging the room.

Eight: Create a Calming Feng Shui Bedroom

The second most used rooms in a home are the bedrooms, and you want sleeping spaces that are calming rather than energizing. Choose plain color draperies and bedspreads in a soft tone that help you to relax at night. When choosing furniture and lamps, select items with rounded edges instead of harsh angles to create positive energy for sleeping.

Nine: Feng Shui Office

Today, most homes have an office space for working or paying bills. It is important to feng shui this space in order to keep money flowing into your life. The most important rule is to avoid having an office inside a bedroom, and if you can put a home office far from the bedroom, then that is a better idea.

Ten: Have a Bathroom that has Feng Shui Concepts

If you have a bathroom that is located in what is considered a bad area of your home such as next to a kitchen, then learn how to correct the energy levels by using certain colors of paint or placing mirrors in strategic locations. By keeping a bathroom free of clutter, it is believed that you and your family will have improved health.

Eleven: Design a Feng Shui Dining Room

Because the table is the focus of a dining room, it is essential to choose a shape and size that is appropriate for feng shui concepts. A round table is the preferred shape for the best flow of positive energy in a home, and you should choose chairs with a solid back and rounded top to create harmony among guests.

Design with your qi in mind

The concepts of feng shui in your home can help harmonize your qi – keeping your home and family balanced and happy. Essentially, its really about keeping things organized and clutter-free. From your feng shui dining room to your feng shui office, maintaining a simple home style makes your life less complicated. That is something everything can use.

The 5 things you should avoid before bed

In these days of smart-phones, e-readers, televisions in the bedroom, laptops in bed and working from home, it is no wonder that the need for sleep has taken a back seat to other priorities. Our “to do” lists are getting longer, but the days remain the same length. When something has to go, the first thing we tend to sacrifice is sleep. We all know the immediate effects of not enough sleep, but not everybody knows that chronic sleep deprivation can have negative effects in not just our emotional well-being but also in our personal relationships and most importantly, our physical health can be affected.

With all the stress the average adult is under in their life these days, it is more important than ever that you get a good night’s sleep. I have compiled a list of 14 things that you should never do before bed in order to really sleep well.

Never drink coffee after 3PM

Coffee contains a lot of caffeine (as much as 120mg per cup) and it can affect you for a long time, sometimes as long as 12 hours! Be wary of “Decaf” coffee, also. Many “Decaf” coffees do have a small amount of caffeine in them still, some can have as much as 20mg per cup, which is only slightly less than a can of Coke, which has 34mg per 12 ounce can. For those who are sensitive to caffeine, like myself, it is also a good idea to avoid decaf coffee as well.

Don’t use your smart-phone, e-reader, or laptop in bed

The light given off by the screens of our devices, including but not limited to bedroom televisions, smart-phones, tablets and laptops, can be disruptive to our sleep pattern by preventing our bodies from naturally producing melatonin. Robert Rosenberg, DO, recommends people not use these lighted devices within an hour of bed time. If you are like me and you just can’t seem to do that, your best bet for minimizing the impact on your sleep is to hold the device away from your face (a study by the Mayo Clinic from 2013 recommends at least 14 inches) as well reducing the brightness of the screen as much as possible, being careful not to turn it down so far that you are now straining your eyes.

Keep the thermostat set between 60 and 70 degrees

Again, we are all different and therefore, our ideal bed-time temperature is going to be different for everyone, but a good general rule is to keep it in the 60-70 degree range, just marginally cooler than the temperature where you are comfortable during the day. The reason we tend to be more comfortable sleeping in a cool room at night is because our body temperature tends to run slightly lower at night than during the day. Some people, myself included, find comfort in wrapping up in blankets and thus will sleep better that way. If the room is too warm, snuggling up in your favorite blanket isn’t quite as cozy. We also don’t want to go overboard and crank up the air conditioning, either. Keep the temperature to where you are comfortable, but also, if you share the bedroom with someone else, you will want to take their comfort into consideration as well.

Adjust your temperature automatically.

With a smart thermostat like a Nest, you can set up your programming to automatically adjust to your perfect temperature when its time for bed. This allows you stay comfy and comfortable without leaving your bed or checking your phone.

Don’t smoke!

In addition to all the other health problems that smoking causes, it also can disrupt our sleep. Not only can the fact that nicotine is a stimulant keep you from falling asleep, but the physical addiction to it can also cause you to wake up before your alarm rings the next morning. It’s important to remember that it is not the smoke in the cigarettes, but the nicotine, so if you are in the process of quitting or have quit recently and are using nicotine replacement products, these products will have the same effects on your sleep as the cigarette did. If the nicotine does affect your sleep, try to not use any product containing nicotine within a few hours of bed time.

Don’t skip your wind down routine!

Have you ever come home from a long day and been so exhausted that you just skipped everything and crawled into bed thinking that you are so tired that you will just fall asleep right away and then spend the next several hours lying awake and staring at the ceiling? That is because you didn’t take any time to wind down from the day before going to bed. Taking a half hour to an hour to unwind can greatly increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. This is the conclusion of your day, time to avoid anything that is thought provoking and exciting. Instead of starting to watch the hockey game you DVR’d while you were out, try making a “to do” list for tomorrow or spend some time with your pets if you have them.

Let’s have good sleeping habits

When it comes to good sleep habits, I believe the most important thing is to have a set time where you sleep. It is also important to not move too far away from that time, even on the weekend. The reason it’s so important to stick to a regular schedule (ideally asleep at night and awake during the day) is that our bodies work best that way. It will be easier to sleep when it is time to sleep and be awake when it is time to be awake when the time period is generally the same every day. Sticking to a schedule and getting enough sleep every night will help reduce the risk of developing the health problems that can be attributed to sleep deprivation. Remember, each and every one of us are different and what works for one of us will not necessarily work well for everyone. Happy sleeping!

Styling Your Home on a Small Budget

Interior decorating takes a lot of work, flair and an enormous amount of cash, right? Not exactly. Sure, you can drop a lot of dough on your decorating, or you can create a lot of stylish updates with some ingenuity. Check out these tips below to find out how!

DIY

If your house desperately needs new updates, the best way to do it on a budget is to handle needed repairs yourself. This way you’re only paying for materials, and not adding on the exorbitant cost of labor. Although this may sound frightening to a newbie, a lot of home remodeling tasks aren’t that difficult. You can easily re-tile a bathroom in a weekend with some rented equipment from your local hardware store and some trusted DIY tutorials found online. This site has some great places to get your DIY juices flowing

And this can’t be emphasized enough: plan, plan, plan. Plan everything out before you do any work so that you can minimize costs as much as possible. And to reduce wasted time and money, always measure twice (or even thrice) before cutting anything.

Paint

Painting is the #1 way to update your look without breaking the bank. You can bring a whole new feel to an outdated room with a fresh coat of paint. You can get paint inexpensively, and brushes and rollers don’t cost much, either. To make it even cheaper, check the end caps at your local hardware store for unwanted paint. Oftentimes, these stores will have random buckets of paint that were mixed that customers never picked up, or weren’t satisfied with that you can grab for pennies on the dollar. You may have trouble finding enough of a color you like to paint an entire room, but these end cap finds are great for painting accent walls or small rooms.

Renew your space

If your couch looks older than your Aunt Sally, or you can’t stand the shade of your end tables, don’t assume that those items have to be ditched. With a little bit of legwork, you can refurbish your items and breathe new life into a dull room. Tables can be sanded down and re-stained or painted to give them a new, vibrant look. Lamps can be brought up to date with the change of a lampshade. Or swap out some old frames for your pictures and you’ll be amazed at how small touches can transform a space.

Don’t discount yard sale finds

There are people that make their living by selling refurbished flea market items. Check out your local paper, or Craigslist for nearby garage sales, estate sales or flea markets. You can find furniture, accent pieces and décor outrageously cheap at these venues. Don’t look at the imperfections, look for something that you can utilize. Then, once you’ve found an item, get creative to find ways to refurbish it. Chairs can be re-upholstered and stained; mirrors can be re-finished, accent pieces can be created with some ingenuity. Pinterest is fantastic for finding ideas on how to make old items practically new again, depending on your personal taste.

Get Creative with your wall decor

Artwork doesn’t always have to be purchased from fine retailers. If you have a creative streak, why not create your own art to hang in your space? Get a canvas and go to town. Or think outside of the box and hang inexpensive, decorative plates as decorations, or frame pretty pieces of fabric, or make a shadow box of old mementos or vacation souvenirs; the sky really is the limit. You can even make your wall have a purpose: you could create a vision wall collage using cut out pictures, quotes and personal items; or, hang a cheap calendar and make it part of a workstation that the whole family can use.

Use things you already own

Stacking a few of your favorite books on a shelf, or setting out some candles can brighten a place without spending anything at all. Most people have a myriad of things they love all around their house. Some people stack old letters in drawers, and others get creative and display them in frames, or use them to make a new lampshade. Find an old dress that you loved (but no longer fits) and cut it into pieces create some new and fabulous couch cushions. Rustic lovers can even use the outdoors as their muse. Tables have been made from old driftwood and curtain tie-backs can be created from painted twigs.

Utilize accent colors

Sometimes, all you need is some color in your life. If you don’t have the money to totally revamp your space, try adding in a few pops of color to brighten your place. Grab some bold accent pieces at the second hand store, or stop by Wal-Mart to grab a cheap, vibrant throw rug. If you’re looking to redecorate a dining room, try finding a colorful vase and arranging some bright flowers to perk up the look.

Rethink what you need

You may think that your kitchen needs a whole overhaul when perhaps just re-facing the cabinets would suffice. A bathroom may do well with just a new tub and tiling instead of a whole demolition. There are plenty of products on the market right now that offer cosmetic quick fixes, such as cabinet & countertop restoration kits that include everything you need to refinish your kitchen surfaces. There are tub inserts you could purchase instead of a brand new tub that would shave costs off of bathroom remodels.

Small Budgets Can Make Big Changes

Small Budgets don’t always have to mean your place has to have outdated décor, hand-me-down furniture and an unpolished look. As you can see, with some elbow grease and a healthy dose of creativity, you can have a pad that reflects your personal style that won’t put you out thousands of dollars. So, get to work!

How to Dye and Color Easter Eggs

Dyeing eggs for Easter is a fun activity for the whole family. The healthy hard-boiled egg becomes a colorful, enticing decoration that enlivens the holiday and makes eating eggs fun. Beautiful, colorful eggs can be obtained by several methods, including commercial dye kits and natural dyes. You’ll enjoy exploring all the ways that these small white canvases can be transformed into eye-catching colors and designs.

Hard Boiling the Eggs

The first step is to hard boil the eggs that you are coloring. Although they can be boiled by regular means, removing the bloom coating from the egg will help the shell accept dye and become more colorful. The bloom is a natural coating on the egg that prevents bacteria from entering the porous eggshell. The bloom can be removed by washing the egg with soap and water or vinegar. A small amount of vinegar can also be added to the egg-boiling water, and it will be added to the egg dyes as well to ensure that you have created a dye bath that will result in vibrantly colored eggs. A simple way to boil the eggs is to add the eggs to a pot of cold water and vinegar, with the water just barely covering the eggs. Bring the water to a boil for 12 to 15 minutes, then immediately transfer the eggs to cold water to stop the cooking process. By starting the eggs in a cold pot and adding just enough water to cover them, you reduce the risk of the eggs being jostled by the boiling water which could cause the shells to crack.

Commercial Egg Dyeing Kits

Commercial egg dyeing kits are readily available in supermarkets, drugstores and online. The kits contain several colors of dyes that are typically in tablet form. Although the kit instructions can vary, hot water, a small amount of vinegar and the tablet can be added to a small container to create a dye bath for the eggs.

The Dye Bath Process: Commercial Dyes

Each egg should be soaked in the dye bath until the desired color is achieved. A longer time in the dye bath will typically result in a darker color. Commercial dyes work quickly, so keeping a close eye on the eggs while they are in the dye bath will help you decide when the optimum color has been reached. Eggs can also be added to more than one dye bath to create unique colors; an egg that is added to both a yellow and red dye bath will become orange, for example. The dominant egg color will be the dye bath that is used first and has the best opportunity to soak into the pores of the eggshell.

Different Commercial Kit Methods

Different types of kits may include additional egg coloring tips or products for a unique look, such as egg-marbling methods, non-toxic markers, tie-dye techniques or stickers. Most egg dying methods will require adult supervision for young children, although coloring with crayons, markers or stickers may be a suitable alternative for toddler-age children.

Natural Egg Dyeing Methods

Herbs and spices can also be used to color hard-boiled eggs for the Easter holiday. The colors you achieve with natural dyes may be unexpected, so if you are wanting specific colors, it is best to use commercial dyes. More planning and preparation may also be required to ensure that your natural dyes are intense and colorful.

Spices, Herbs and Teas

You may already have some of the items you’ll need for natural egg dyeing in your kitchen, including vinegar, onion skins, herbal tea, berries, red cabbage and turmeric. Starting with white eggs will ensure that the colors are bright, but for earth tone and natural colors, beautiful shades can be achieved when starting with brown eggs.

Natural Earthtones

Red cabbage generally creates blue eggs, and in a dye bath with vinegar, you can expect a range of clear blue colors. Turmeric and yellow onion skins create medium-intensity colors ranging from yellow to orange, and camomile tea will create light yellow colors. Black tea tends to create a khaki-brown egg, and hibiscus tea may create colors from red and pink to green, depending on the blend. Berries will color the eggs with the color of their juice, which can be red, pink, blue or purple.

The Dye Bath Process: Natural Dyes

Creating the dyes is very similar to the process used in the commercial egg-dyeing kits with the exception of a boiling process. A cup or two of water combined with a tablespoon of vinegar and the herb or spice of your choice will create beautiful dye baths for your eggs. You will need to use quite a bit of the spice or herb for intense colors – anywhere from a couple of tablespoons to a full cup of natural materials may be required for your dyes. Bring the dye bath to a boil and simmer it for 15 minutes. Let it cool for a short time, then strain any solid materials out of the dye, and your dye bath is ready to use. Place an egg in the dye and let it soak until it is the desired color. With natural egg dyes, it may take an hour or two for the eggs to develop vivid colors.

A Colorful Easter Holiday

With any type of egg-dyeing method you use, when you remove the egg from the dye bath, it should be dried before storage or use. An egg-drying rack or a metal baker’s rack will work well to hold the eggs until the dye is dry. The colored eggs can then be polished with a small amount of cooking oil to add a beautiful shine for all of your Easter events.

Removing The Cell Phone From The Dinner Table

At meal time, when people should ideally be in the moment and concentrating on the other people who are with them, they instead choose to spend that valuable time seeking responses from people on social media and engaging in activities like texting. Some people even find themselves scrolling through social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook simply out of habit.

Time For Dinner

On a humorous note, one in eight mothers in the UK have actually admitted to texting their kids to get them to come to the dinner table. When did this become the norm, and how do we stop madness like this? It seems like it became more of a problem with the increased popularity of cell phones. Technology was once relegated to certain areas of the home. The television, for example, would be in a living area or in a family room and would be used when people were in that room. Cell phones are in our pockets and always close by and accessible. Therefore, they have become a constant temptation.

Meal times were once a time when people would reconnect with one another, share stories from their day, bond as a family and learn important social skills. Nearly 75 percent of people feel that meal time is important for families to spend time together, yet cell phone use has made its way into that time and has interrupted that precious time for many families. Not only that, but 88 percent of people surveyed believe that it’s inappropriate to use a cell phone during a meal.

Ways To Put Cell Phones Down

There are some good ways to get everyone to put down those cell phones during important family times like meal time. Doing this begins with awareness that there is a problem. Once everyone is on the same page and realizes that it’s become a problem, it’s easier to convince people to be proactive and to take steps to lessen the use of cell phones, or to stop using them altogether during meals.

Some of the best ways to get everyone into the moment again include:

  • Turning cell phones off, silencing them or putting them face down during meals. If this doesn’t work, you can try having everyone plug in their phones and have meal time become phone recharging time. When the meal is over and everyone goes their own way, cell phones can then be picked up again.
  • Turn off notifications from social media. We’ve become so conditioned to want to look at phones every time we hear a ding or a beep to let us know someone has made a comment, posted a photo or sent a text message that we instinctively reach for the phone. Turning off these notifications lessens this reflexive response and helps us to curb the urge to always be looking at our phones.
  • If you can’t stay away by turning the phone face down at the table, or turning off notification sounds, physically put the phone away someplace while you eat.
  • If getting a lot of “junk” email is an issue causing you to spend time sifting through it and deleting, try unsubscribing from all mailing lists and notifications you receive through email. You’ll lessen your volume of email and free up more time for things like face-to-face social interaction at meal time!

The Problems with Cell Phones:

  1. Is distracting
  2. Eliminates our ability to effectively interact with others if we spend too much time on them
  3. Has been shown to reduce cognitive abilities
  4. Undermines the depth and character in face-to-face interactions. We become less likely to read looks on people’s faces and to be able to respond to their emotions when our mind is essentially someplace else.

What Being On Your Phone During Dinner Tells Others

People might be tempted to think that being on cell phones during times like family dinners is a harmless behavior. But really, there are some things you could be telling others without even realizing it! You can be communicating that:

  • Time with family is not important to you
  • Physically you are there at the table, but psychologically you are not. You’re off in some never-land place filled with clouds, text messages, pet videos and air.
  • It sends an off-putting message that you have other things to do right now that are more important. Kids especially can be very sensitive to messages like this and can become withdrawn. They can eventually be inclined to stop interacting with you.
  • Even if you don’t intend to be rude, you are when you’re constantly checking your phone.

Imagine The Implications!

Just imagine if meal times can become times to reconnect again and really get to know those people you live with, even the littlest ones. Imagine finding out what happened to each person during the day at preschool, school or at work, and being able to listen attentively as they tell their stories. You may even be able to offer them advice about how to deal with special or difficult situations. Bonding can happen, and true affection and trust can be built.

Kids learn that they’re important and that they’re valued. Adults learn that they are respected and that their opinions, values and traditions are important enough to be passed to younger generations. Everyone realizes that home is the one place where they can truly be themselves and express themselves freely. Imagine a better home life when cell phones are put away during meal time. It is possible!