Fresh Flowers = A Better YOU!

Fresh Flowers = A Better YOU!
Fresh Flowers = A Better YOU!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fresh Flowers = A Better YOU!

Do you ever think you’d love to regularly put a vase of fresh flowers on your dining room table to brighten your mood?  What stops you?  Time? Cost?  Feeling like it’s an extravagance that you can live without?  Think again.  There are lots of physical, mental, and psychological benefits when fresh flowers grace your home and work place.

Restaurants Often Use Flowers
Have you ever noticed how many restaurants place a vase of flowers on each table?  Wageningen University’s researcher in the Netherlands studied restaurant diners and found that people with fresh flowers on their tables seem to be in better moods.

Flowers on Your Desk
Even our cognitive abilities are enhanced in the workplace by adding flowers and plants, according to a study done by Raanaas, Evensen, Rich, Sjostrom, and Patil.  Think about adding flowers or a plant to your office desk- both at work and at home.  You’ll be more productive, even though the effort to make certain they’re watered (and fertilized if it's a plant) takes some extra effort.  They’re worth it, so add it to your calendar!

Sparking Creativity:
Just viewing green leafy plants is associated with being more creative according to research done by Shibata and Suzuki.  Need some new ideas?  Bring some flowers or a green, leafy plant into your space at the office, or anywhere else you need creative ideas or solutions.  They also freshen the air by providing more oxygen!  Wow!
photo credit: blue hydrangea via photopin (license)

Our Physical & Mental Health:
Research consistently links flowers and plants with happiness, health and prosperity. The research by Park and Mattson in 2008 confirmed that patients in hospital rooms brightened with flowers and potted plants were less anxious and tired, needed less postoperative pain medication, had lower blood pressure and pulse rates, and were in a more positive psychological state than patients in rooms without them. 

Selecting Flowers’ Hues
Keep in mind that research shows the following:

Longer Lasting Arrangements
People are often frustrated because they want the arrangements to last longer than a few days.  Here are some suggestions to extend the life of your cut flowers:
  1. Ask your florist to use only flowers that will live longer in an arrangement.  Iris (my personal favorites) are infamous for lasting a few days at best, for instance, so they aren't great candidates for an arrangement.
  2. Make certain that the vase you’re using has been cleaned with hot soapy water (or better yet has been washed in the dishwasher) to avoid bacteria that will kill your new cut flowers.
  3. Use sharp scissors to trim stems so that they aren’t damaged and can’t take in water.  Trim them at a slight angle, and remove leaves that will sit in the water.
  4. Trim flower stems at least a 1/2” when you first get the flowers before putting them in a vase.
  5. Add water daily. Change the water completely every 2-3 days.
  6. Trim 1/2” of your stems off every time you change the water.
  7. Place your flowers away from heat and sunlight or bright light, and put them preferably in a darker, cool spot.
  8. If you’re placing flowers in the kitchen, don’t place them near ripening fruit (especially apples or bananas) as they'll last a shorter time.
  9. Use flower food for all flowers except gladiolas, sunflowers and zinnias.
Previous Post on Plants
Some of you might have read my previous post on the value of plants, “Plants Improve Almost EVERYTHING!” I wrote on 4/27/15:;postID=63259628453757409;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=23;src=postname
If not, go back and read that post when you’re done here- it’s a post about the virtue of plants - and the research regarding this is amazing!

More pics!
Other floral arrangements on that I love include:

In conclusion

I am so excited about all these findings that I’m running out after I post this entry on my blog to buy some flowers!  I already have more than a dozen plants in my home!  What an easy way to improve concentration and memory, increase productivity, stay healthy, and lower stress!  Want help including flowers and plants in your home or office?  Write a comment below.  You can also contact me through my website, and we can talk!   I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Feng Shui: Science or Hogwash?

I recently had the opportunity to hear a series of interviews conducted by the (2014 and 2015) Hay House World Summit. Many of the interview experts shared remedies for the rampant problem of stress for almost everyone on the planet. I was able to make some observations and connections regarding feng shui that I wanted to share.  Feng shui masters often say that science will eventually catch up (with feng shui), proving not only its existence but recognizing its value.  Feng shui was developed by observing nature in all it’s glory, so it makes sense that the naturally evolving sequence of seasons and the circle of life is honored.

Two of the interviews that piqued my interest were ones who interviewed
Dr. Bruce Lipton, who is a pioneer in the field of science, and internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit. He’s a leading cell biologist who was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and later did ground-breaking stem-cell research at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He is the best selling author of three Hay House books including The Biology of Belief and The Honeymoon Effect, both of which I recently read.  In the former, he states that we are entering a new era in our civilization where we are recognizing that it’s not our genes that are predisposed to give us cancer, diabetes, or heart problems, (or the many other diseases and health conditions that plague us) but it’s the environment of one’s cellular make-up that determines our future.  We have long believed in “genetic determinism”- that our genes control our lives, including our health, behavior and ultimate fate in this life.  It’s pretty stressful to live with the belief that our future is predetermined and often isn’t anything we’d choose, whether it’s because of our father’s heart problems or our mother’s cancer.  In the right environment, your healthy cells will grow and reproduce.  In a negative environment, cells have to protect their life, rather than nurturing themselves and reproducing. Think of it as the difference between how upset you felt when an incident in your life scared you half to death and how great you felt when you first fell in love.  Physically, your body naturally sends your blood to your limbs to fight or run in the first instance, and to your many vital organs for care, maintenance and reproduction in the latter.  No wonder you're suffering from symptoms of diseases and conditions that plague you when you're so stressed. 

The Effect of Stress
photo credit: Lisa via photopin (license)

Our society as a whole is often stressed to the max. Our bodies produce cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, not when we’re actually faced with a life and death situation (such as being attacked by a predator) but on a regular, daily basis.  It’s no wonder that our systems get messed up and manifest diseases when these stress hormones are constantly coursing through our veins reaching every part of our body!  Our healthy cells can’t be nurtured to grow when the fight or flight signals are constantly present.  The answer is not to start believing that everyone and everything is wonderful all the time because it’s honestly not.  If we take the information in yet don’t pay attention to it, it can have dire consequences, possibly even threatening our life. 
photo credit: The Knight via photopin (license)

We have a built-in reader of the environment, which Westerners often called “vibes” that is, in reality, the body reading the energy in its close proximity.  If the body has more power, more energy in a particular environment or around a particular person or group of people, then we thrive.  That’s what is called feng shui.  Humans communicate through language, and somehow I think that language has coerced us into blindly ignoring those vibes that we get at the very least some of the time. Every other organism on the planet, down to the most primitive bacterium up must read the environment and move toward survival and maintaining its life. So what does a worm do to know what is good for it and what is not?  It must be able to read the energy, and move toward what gives it power and away from what takes away its power.   
photo credit: Jim Ridl and Tim Horner via photopin (license)

Feng Shui
Feng shui has to do with the feeling or vibe that we get being in a place, being in another person's presence, or moving from one space to another.  I think most people will agree that our pets can sense things that we don’t.  It seems apparent to me that some people are more sensitive to this energy than others but everyone, should we want to, is capable of being more attuned to energy around us. If we become more attuned, we can create a home and office/work environment that feeds our body and soul with positive energy.

In conclusion:
If you’d like to lower your stress, or improve your health, consider checking out any/all of the following experts in learning to reduce stress and raising your sensitivity:

 Dr. Bruce Lipton
Louise Hay
Dr. Emmet Miller
Hale Bloskin

Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear from you.  Have I convinced you to consider feng shui in your life?  It’s exciting for me to know that a small piece of the puzzle in connecting feng shui and science has been made.  I’m sure there’s more to come!  If you’d like to know more, or would like a feng shui consultation on your home or office, contact me via my website, and we can set up an appointment.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Reflecting Autumn in Your Decor

The days are shorter and beginning to cool off. The kids are back in school and settled into the routine. Football is back, the leaves are turning... Let's celebrate the beauty of the season in our homes!

1. Add New Throw Pillows/Plush Throws in the Living Room
Many of us have begun to notice that we’re all starting to spend more and more time indoors because temperatures are cooler. Add a variety of plush throw pillows in different shapes, sizes and patterns on your living room sofas and chairs. These comfortable accessories will emit a warm and inviting coziness perfect for the season. One warning: If you begin to notice that your guests put the pillows on the floor next to the sofa upon which they are sitting, consider lessening the overall number of pillows. 

Run your blankets and throws through the washing machine before putting them out for use this Fall. In a contemporary living room, a faux-fur throw adds subtle warmth and texture to a simple, solid-colored sofa. Select a throw in a contrasting hue to really create a pop of color if you're hoping to make a bolder statement.

2. Prepare the Fireplace
To prepare for cool fall nights and the brisk winter ahead, get your fireplace ready for its seasonal debut. If yours is like mine, it probably gets a bit dusty from March to October. To ensure your gas fireplace is ready to light up, contact a specialist to regularly check for any safety hazards like gas leaks.  While he's there, vacuum out what dust you can in the lower portion of the mechanism. On the next warm and breezy day, open the windows, turn on the fireplace and start up a fan blowing (1 ft. away from the fire and toward that window) to take the unpleasant smell of burning dust out of your home. It only takes a half hour of your time, but it’s worthwhile to avoid that first smelly night of burning dust.

To keep your wood-burning fireplace safe, contact a professional to do a thorough check of the fireplace. Once your fireplace is safe, you're ready for relaxing evenings by the fire. 

3. Set the Table, Create a Mantelscape & Light the Candles in Autumn

Spend a little extra time at the grocery store with decorating in mind. Pumpkins, nuts, squash and gourds can be a wonderful addition to your mantel and/or tablescape. (Think about purchasing various shapes & sizes for more interest.) You can also use unpinned popcorn, split peas, and such from the bulk dry foods for the base of vases and other vessels.  Stow away all of your pure white dishes in favor of crème, tan and brown colors for the season. Use boxes of varying sizes under a tablecloth for your centerpiece to create varying heights for interest. Pumpkins don’t haveto just represent Halloween, nor do turkeys have to represent just Thanksgiving. Think through your possessions that often come out for a day or a week during Autumn and use them throughout the season.

Take advantage of shorter days (and less daylight) by placing candles throughout your living space. The warmth and ambience they create will make returning from a long, hard day at work so much easier, sliding you into a calmer and welcoming atmosphere.

Do you have questions, or would you like to share your creations with followers of this blog of ideas?  Please send me pictures and any description and I'll include it at the culmination of this blog, or in my next one (giving you credit for your idea.)  If you need further assistance, contact me at
if you need further assistance in feng shui or interior design, or both!  I can't wait to hear from you. 
We can set up a meeting in October, which if you make the appointment by the end of September 2015 will cost $200, rather than the regular rate of $300 (for a two hour consultation) with no travel costs if you live within 30 miles of Seattle. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Planning Your Kitchen - Part 5 of 5

Intent should play a big part of your planning of your kitchen.  When you look into your crystal ball, what’s your plan for the future when it comes to your home?  Below are some scenarios that are common to most adults.

  • Planning on staying in your home for the rest of your life?  Then consider Universal Design when planning your kitchen (and the rest of your home!)  Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. It evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use.  You never know when you or your partner are going to need it, but if you’ve thought through the changes you’d need made should you be in a wheel chair, or visually impaired, or having to deal with other maladies that sometimes occur in our busy lives. credit: Apex Astra Kitchen via photopin (license)
  • Planning on selling in 10-15 years?  Worry less (or not at all) about what others want.  It’s all about your preferences in style.  If you love to make pastries and bread, then consider one work area that’s slightly lower than a standard 36” height countertop, depending upon your height, of course.  I would still consider universal design, because you really need to make your home as accessible as possible. credit: Apex Astra Kitchen via photopin (license)
  • Planning on selling in five or seven years when your youngest goes off to college?  My suggestion is to put more money into your kitchen remodel (as well as bath remodels.)  Any real estate sales person will tell you that kitchens and baths sell homes.  Rather than putting up the turquoise mosaic backsplash that you’ve wanted for years, think about selecting components that will appeal to buyers looking for the perfect home.  And yes, think about granite countertops- they are what Gen X and Y are anticipating in their next home. credit: Apex Astra Kitchen via photopin (license)
  • Planning on flipping (fixing an older home up and reselling it within a few months) the house?  Then you want to look at places like Lumber Liquidators for flooring, Home Depot for your sinks, and perhaps Tiles for Less for your backsplash.  Don’t forget about places like Second Use or Surplus Building Materials in you live in the Seattle/Tacoma corridor for all kinds of cool finds you can use for pennies on the dollar.

Short on funds?  I’d spend more on flooring and cabinets, and save money on countertops and backsplashes.  Buying one brand of appliances in a package deal can save you money.  Want more info on flooring, appliances, countertops, or cabinets?  Look back at the last four weeks of info, as well as my previous offerings at:

Got questions about kitchen design?  Write back and send photos and we’ll try to help.  We always make time for our readers. 

In conclusion:
Overwhelmed? Contact me through my website: and we can set up a meeting, which through the month of September 2015 will cost $200, rather than the regular rate of $300 (for a two hour consultation) with no travel costs if you live within 30 miles of Seattle.  You’ve got just 9 days left in September. The holidays will be here in no time, and you want to get this show on the road!  

Happy Kitchen Remodeling!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Planning Your Kitchen - Part 4

An efficient, welcoming kitchen is one of the best presents you can give yourself and your family.  The kitchen, it’s often said, is the heart of the home: it’s where your partner and you share quiet moments while preparing a meal, where your kids complete their homework, where your extended family gathers to toast birthdays and holidays, as well as to provide wholesome nourishment for healthy lives.  Here are a few more technical considerations to make your space as functional and beautiful as possible.
photo credit: KBIS 2007 Thermador booth via photopin (license)

The Distance Between Work Centers
According to NKBA* Guidelines, the sum of the distances between work stations (the sink, the refrigerator and the cooktop/oven) should be no more than 26’.  No leg of the triangle should be less than 4’ and no more than 9’. 

What if your current arrangement of these features (the sink, the refrigerator and the cooktop/stove/oven) is less than 4’ or greater than 9’?  Well, there are two options: either live with the problem and deal with it as best you can, or move one part of this equation to a more advantageous place.  Moving appliances can be costly because you generally have to involve a plumber (for the sink, & refrigerator) and electrician (for the frig and stove), adding to the costs of the remodel.  You need to decide which is the better alternative.
*National Kitchen Bath Association
photo credit: Kitchen Showrooms _07 via photopin (license)

Arranging Your Kitchen:
You’ll want to have counter space ideally on both sides of your refrigerator so that when filling it with your groceries, or acquiring ingredients for preparation you have a counter on which to place it.  
Placing garbage and recycling near your sink works well, as there will be waste that occurs in preparation of food.
You’ll want to have counter space for food preparation on both sides of your cooktop as well.  Having your dishwasher next to your sink makes it easy to load, and having cabinets that hold flatware and dishes near the dishwasher make clean dishes easy to put away.  
If you use your microwave to reheat foods regularly, then it’s best to house it near the frig so leftovers can easily be placed into the microwave within one step.

Floor Plans
You need measurements once you’ve done a freehand drawing of your kitchen floor plan. Get a 25 ft. measuring tape. Having two people do this is a huge help- one to measure and call out numbers, the other to record the measurements.  If you don’t have anyone to help, it’s a great idea of either use a tape recorder on your phone or other device to tape yourself calling out placement and measurements of your current kitchen.  There are a lot of drawing programs out there on the web.  You could find one and download it onto your computer, or you could do it the more basic way by getting graph paper and a pencil.
photo credit: frenchkitchens21 via photopin (license)

photo credit: frenchkitchens21 via photopin (license)

photo credit: frenchkitchens21 via photopin (license)

Design Styles
If you love the architecture of your home, whether it’s Craftsman from the 1930s or later, a Mid-Century Modern home built in the fifties or sixties, or a Victorian built before 1900, you can honor the design style of your home in your kitchen when you remodel.  The fixtures, finishes, cabinets and hardware can all reflect your home’s architectural style while bringing in the most contemporary and energy efficient appliances, designs and features.  Consider what you will use as the focal point of your kitchen.  This could be the gorgeous grained granite you select for your countertops, the amazing view you see outside your kitchen window, or the unique backsplash you design for above your cooktop.  Utilizing a color palette that blends seamlessly can visually expand a small kitchen to achieve an effective flow from one element to the next in your design.
photo credit: frenchkitchens21 via photopin (license)

photo credit: frenchkitchens21 via photopin (license)

photo credit: frenchkitchens21 via photopin (license)

In Conclusion:

Determine what you want, what you can actually afford both spatially and financially, and what’s going to work best for you and your family. If you have questions, please write them down and send any pictures that will assist in describing your dilemma(s.)  We always take time for our readers. If you need help determining how feasible some of your dreams and ideas are, contact us through our website, and give me a call/send me an email or text. We can set up a meeting, which through the month of September 2015 will cost $200, rather than the regular rate of $300 (for a two hour consultation) with no travel costs if you live within 30 miles of Seattle. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Planning Your Kitchen - Part 3

If you read last week’s entry, you might have been more than a bit blown away by the costs of remodeling a kitchen, and asking yourself where you might save money in order to get your granite countertops, chef-grade appliances, or fabulous backsplash.  Hopefully you’ve listed upgrades in terms of “Must Haves” and “Wishes” so you don’t get side tracked when you see that fabulous tile backsplash at the showroom.  I will make some suggestions regarding where to save and where to spend this and next week.  If you missed the first and second installment in this series, I suggest you go back and peruse them. 
For now, let’s try to work on kitchen layout, because form follows function, and you need a functional kitchen, as it’s the heart of the home.
photo credit: French Country Kitchen via photopin (license)
Three Kinds of New Kitchens:
  1. New construction:  This is, of course, building an entire home from the foundation up.  Because you’re looking at the whole house, you can decide if you don’t want to waste space on the seldom-used formal living room that was in your last abode, if you don’t want a formal dining room for the same reason, or if you want the kitchen facing the southwest so you can grow herbs year round and have more light in the evenings.  You also get to select the ideal kitchen shape for your family’s cooking, its square footage and pretty much everything else.
  2. Remodeling: If you need to change the whole footprint of your kitchen, add space, reshape, or combine rooms (like opening the family room and kitchen wall,) then you’ll be remodeling.  Remodeling simply depends upon your budget and your needs and desires for food preparation area of your home.
  3. Renovation: This can indicate alteration, but not structural changes.  Often you are trying to preserve the best parts of your home’s style and heritage while providing yourself with a kitchen that works for you in today’s world.
photo credit: Western Interiors Kitchens_23 via photopin (license)
Know Your Home:
Become familiar with the basic structural, plumbing, electrical and mechanical layout of your home.  Whether you’re moving pipes (for your sink, refrigerator or dishwasher) a few inches or across the room, often permits and building inspectors will be required to visit and cost you money and time.  The same is true for electrical if you’re moving your range, cooktop, frig or dishwasher, or adding a wine refrigerator in your island, for instance.  If you’re changing your cooktop from electric to gas, you’ll need to know where gas lines run and the type of gas you have to access.

The Essentials:
You’re better off spending your money on design services rather than on high-end materials.  Investing in a good design for your floor plan to get essential parts right means that you can change out laminate to granite countertops, back splash or high-end appliances later.  If your kitchen doesn’t function well, relocating the stove, sink or refrigerator will be more costly in the long run.  This is especially true if you don’t plan to move in five years.  I need to say that I think it’s important to buy the best the flooring, ventilation, and cabinets you can afford.  You can replace countertops, backsplash and appliances as your budget allows.
photo credit: Chelsea Kitchen 4 via photopin (license)
Kitchen Shapes:
There are a few basic arrangements of the vast majority of kitchens, because that’s what functions best for most family cooks.
  • L-shaped kitchens generally have one side longer than the other, often with the range on one end and the refrigerator on the other, with the sink in between.
  • Single Galley style kitchens have  cabinet storage and appliances along a single wall.  They often have a refrigerator on one end and the stove on the other with a sink in between.
  • Double Galley style kitchens have two banks of cabinets with a walkway between.  Often the frig and sink are found on one wall, with the range on the opposite. 
  • U-shaped kitchens have equal length sides, with the frig and range opposite one another and the sink at the base of the U, all being pretty close to the same distance apart.
  • G-shaped kitchens are generally U shaped with a peninsula partially dividing the work area from an eating area or family room.
If your kitchen falls into one of these categories, then they are considered generally functional options, but may need some skillful design to make them the most functional they can possibly be.
photo credit: Western Interiors Kitchens_16 via photopin (license)
Next week, we’ll talk about actual arrangements of kitchen components, and what other elements you’ll want to consider when starting to draw out your plans.  Got questions about kitchen design?  Write back and send photos and we’ll try to help.  We always make time for our readers. 

In conclusion:
The holidays will be here in no time, and you want to get this show on the road!  Overwhelmed? Contact me through my website: and we can set up a meeting, which through the month of September 2015 will cost $200, rather than the regular rate of $300 (for a two hour consultation) with no travel costs if you live within 30 miles of Seattle.  

Happy Kitchen Remodeling!