Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Traditions

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year when we celebrate with family and friends. It also can be more stressful for many with all of the additional planning, shopping, decorating, parties, overnight guests and hosting the holiday dinner. It's important to stay balanced during this time by getting enough rest, practicing gratitude and focusing on the positive and what is working in our lives.

In feng shui the stove is just as important as the front door and bed placement. Stoves are a symbol of wealth because it is where we cook our food. If our meals are well prepared with fresh and healthy ingredients it will benefit the family on an emotional level as well, which results in success outside of the home! 

Our "go to" holiday and special occasion favorite, "Uncle" Marty's Shrimp Scampi recipe, that I have been making for over 25 years is so easy and delicious that I thought I would share!

Shrimp Scampi


1-2 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped (I prefer my garlic press) (use the big cloves, too!)


Preheat oven to 350 F
Melt butter in oven safe pan or large casserole dish. Keep an eye so it doesn't burn.
Add garlic when melted, simmer "with a close eye"
Add bread crumbs and shrimp, mix together, spreading shrimp into one layer. Add paprika and parsley.
Cook until shrimp is pink, turning once. (I like my shrimp cooked well, so use a fork to test)

 **recipe was originally on Marty's backyard grill, 2 min per side, but I cook about 10 min per side...depends on your oven.

Enjoy! You will love!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Red Envelopes in Feng Shui

Giving red envelopes is an old Chinese custom. They are also known as "lucky money" envelopes and are exchanged during Chinese New Year and for special occasions like weddings, births, etc.
Take one look at my photo, and you know I am not Chinese (my husband is Chinese American). When I give my name I often receive a baffled look and an attempt at spelling, "Hough?", etc. I am reminded of the character Donna Chang in the Seinfeld episode, "The Chinese Woman" during it's sixth season. She imparts some marital advice to George's mother, Estelle, quoting Confucious. When they finally meet, Estelle feels betrayed, "You're not Chinese! I thought I was getting advice from a Chinese woman!"

Luckily, my clients hire me for my expert feng shui advice and pay me for it. I explain that it is traditional to provide payment in a red envelope to the feng shui expert. The red envelope serves as a protection to the feng shui practitioner who is providing sacred knowledge and represents respect and intention from the recipient of the consultation. Any unused red envelope is fine. When you go to the trouble of looking for a red envelope or making one, it helps to set the intention for a successful outcome for your consultation. One to nine envelopes are often presented to the feng shui expert at the time of the consultation.

This meaningful exchange of knowledge and expertise from the feng shui practitioner and payment in a red envelope by the client forms a seal of protection and intention for the desired results. I always feel a strong sense of gratitude and mutual respect between my clients and myself during the exchange of the red envelope.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Inspiration for Your Home Office

The same feng shui rules apply as they do for important furniture placement in the rest of the home. Place your desk in the "command" position~diagonally across from and with a clear view of the door, but not directly in line with it.  This is the position of power, concentration and authority.  Ideally, your back should be supported by a wall, but a good desk chair or piece of furniture can also provide support while you work.

Feng Shui your Desk

Overlay the bagua on your desk top, orienting it from your desk chair. Desk top arrangement: Career~front center: your laptop. Knowledge~front left: books on current interests. Family~middle left: Family photo or memento. Wealth~back left: Valuables that symbolize wealth, a water fountain here. Fame & Reputation~back center: Lamp or red candle, your business cards here. Relationships~back right: A favorite photo of you & your loved one, flowers or a plant. Creativity~middle right: Children's photo or artwork, a pencil cup of colored pencils, markers or art brushes. Helpful People~front right: telephone or cell phone, address book, current projects.

Wall units with shelves and cabinets provide useful storage to help you keep your home office and desk organized. By implementing simple organizational habits on a regular basis your home office will feel balanced and welcoming for the start of each work day. Desk clutter stagnates and stops the flow of energy. Clear your desk free of old projects, stacks of junk mail & unpaid bills. Keep a waste basket nearby and toss out junk mail daily.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Photo by Katy Ho
 Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.
~ Buddha

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I am feeling so grateful for the wonderful community I live in where good friends & neighbors joined together to share from their hearts & homes! ~kathleen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eliminate Morning Madness! Must Have Mudrooms & Entryways

Summer is quickly winding down with cooler days & nights that feel like fall. Labor Day is around the corner and we're already shopping for back-to-school supplies and clothing. Mornings need not be frantic last minute searches before heading out the door for the bus or carpool. Take the stress out of them by getting organized and having backpacks packed with homework & assignments, boots & shoes, outerwear & accessories organized the evening before in baskets and on shelves in your mudroom or entryway. Don't have a mudroom? A dresser, coat hooks, baskets and a bookcase can help you organize a corner near the door. A simple cubby is easy to build. Home Depot will cut the lumber to your measurements. My husband and I built one in about an hour. (Materials $78). We painted it white and added coat hooks and baskets. A boot tray corrals wet shoes and boots while protecting the floor.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Feng Shui Consultation for the Draper Residence

I am a huge fan of AMC's hit show Mad Men, so I am excited that they have finally begun filming Season 5.
I'm doing a fantasy feng shui consultation for the Draper residence in today's blog, but first, the latest buzz about the show~The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards is only 33 days away, airing Sun 9/18 & Mad Men is nominated for 19 categories including Best Drama, Best Actor (Jon Hamm), Best Actress (Elisabeth Moss) and Best Writing (Matthew Weiner). Hamm's toughest competition: Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Globe and SAG awards winner, & Mad Men hasn't won any acting Emmys, yet. Good luck this time, Jon~you have my vote.

Feng Shui Consultation for the Draper Residence by Kathleen Ho Feng Shui

During Season Four, Betty continues to live in the Draper residence with her new husband, Henry Francis~a year after her divorce. Don Draper is paying the mortgage which is a point of bitter contention between Don and Betty. Betty seems discontent in the home that she once shared with her ex-husband.

In the season finale, "Tomorrowland", Betty and Francis finally move from the Ossining house to a home in Rye. Don is meeting a real estate agent at the house, but is surprised to find Betty still there. They share a drink from a bottle of liquor Don retrieves from a cabinet and he tells her that he is engaged.

I don't know if Don Draper will move back into the Ossining house once he and Megan are married, but a feng shui consultation would bring balance and harmony to the home as they begin their married life. Because this is my fantasy, I am consulting the Draper residence fully furnished as it was in Seasons 1-4 by set decorator, Amy Wells. I've done my research. I combed through episodes, taking a "virtual tour" of their home, making notes.

First, the house is in need of space clearing to revitalize stuck energy that has been building up in the Draper residence over time. A space clearing is a good idea anytime there is a major energy shift in a home including a new home purchase to clear out previous tenant energy, a baby's birth, a new job or career change, illness, death or even a bad argument. The Draper household has been on an emotional roller coaster the past few seasons~that's a lot of stuck energy in those walls!

The Consultation
Prior to my on-site feng shui visit, I request floor plans and a property site plan for review. I also explain that payment is traditionally paid in one-nine red envelopes to the feng shui expert. The red envelope acts as a protection for the feng shui expert who is imparting sacred feng shui knowledge to the client. The client demonstrates respect and openness to the feng shui expert by finding a red envelope to make payment, and presenting it at the time of the consultation. The color red is protective in Chines tradition and "burns" away negative chi.

When I arrive, I follow the straight walkway to the Draper's front door. Ideally, paths to the front door should be curved and winding to slow the chi down. Flowers and shrubs planted along the walkway edge will help slow the chi. I take a walk around the exterior of the property taking note that there are no missing areas at the front of the house and that the front door opens in Knowledge and Career areas of the bagua. The front hedges need trimming to allow vital chi to flow freely in through the windows during the day.

The red front door is a symbol of good fortune for the residents. The color red helps chi to find its way to the home and raises the chi as it enters. A welcome mat, porch lights and a pair of planters with seasonal plantings would enhance the front entrance.

Once inside the well-lit foyer, I notice the staircase to the second floor that is across from the entrance. When a doorway is directly across from a staircase, chi rushes out the door and takes with it good fortune and opportunities. I recommend hanging a 30mm faceted crystal from the lantern to disperse the chi and keep it flowing through the home. In my virtual tour I am happy to note the red rug in the foyer, a perfect cure to slow down the chi. A heavy planter placed near the top of the stairs will slow down the chi, also. There is a tiered round table by the door with a vase. Keep fresh flowers or cuttings from the garden to welcome guests and bring vital living energy into the home.
The Draper's living room is located in three areas of the bagua, Knowledge & Self Cultivation, Family and Wealth. The door opens in Knowledge. The fireplace is in a good location, Fame & Reputation (Fire is the element for this area of the bagua). The stereo is also in a good spot: Creativity and Children, Metal is the element and electronics with their metal components belong here. So go ahead and crank up your Sinatra albums, Don! The main seating, usually a sofa, should be in a commanding position so you can see the door. This is so you feel protected and secure helping you to be comfortable and relaxed.  I love this curved sofa, but your back is to the door, leaving you exposed and unaware of what is happening "behind your back". A narrow table placed behind the sofa provides support. Hang a mirror across from the sofa so you can see anyone entering.  Also, the shape of the sofa and color are Metal attributes. Metal "chops" Wood in the controlling cycle. The coral carpet and pillows (Fire) help to weaken the metal element of the sofa. The blue walls and pillows (symbolizing water) help nourish the Wood element of Family & Wealth.

In Season 3, Episode 7 "Seven Twenty Three"   Betty hires a decorator to redo her living room. The room now feels more balanced. The sofa is in the commanding position. The carpet and draperies are lighter. The two chairs in a graphic print are not considered the primary seating so they are fine. Don suggests to move the end table and lamp to the other side of the sofa which blocks the flow if you are walking through the room (there is a door to the right of the sofa leading to the study).
The bookshelves are highlighted with lighting and coral paint. It's always a good idea to enhance corners of the room so that energy doesn't stagnate there. In the video you can see that there is a table with a lamp and framed photos to the left of the door (Knowledge in the room's bagua). Light sources, as I have mentioned before, are excellent ways to enhance any area of the bagua. The living room decor tells your guests something about you. Amy Wells has chosen Murano glass for the Drapers, and a modern chinoiserie breakfront. There are decorative accents in pairs throughout the room. Feng Shui Plus for this room! Well, until Betty adds her own decorative touch:
Her decorator is horrified and doesn't want to be considered responsible for it. Amy Wells also asks production designer Dan Bishop if it has to be added. Feng shui consultant Kathleen Ho suggests to move it across from the sofa and angle the chairs on either side of the fireplace if it's staying, otherwise remove it to improve the flow of the room.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Everything Happens for a Purpose

In times of reflection, I need only listen and the still voice within always responds. And here's a reliable favorite from my bookshelf: The Spiritual Teachings of MARCUS AURELIUS by Mark Forstater~

Good Vision
Observe carefully and you will see that everything that happens happens for a purpose. 

I don't just mean the actual unfolding of events in time, but the way these events carry meaning, as if some guiding hand were giving each event its own significance. 

Continue to observe yourself, and follow this same principle: that all your actions must be good~good meaning the correct way a man should act. Express this goodness in everything you do. MARCUS AURELIUS (The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius by Mark Forstater)