All posts by Norma Lehmeier Hartie

About Norma Lehmeier Hartie

Norma is an award winning author, speaker and an eco-friendly designer. Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet won The Grand Prize in the Writer's Digest Book Awards, and was the Award Winner for Best New Non-Fiction USA National Best Books 2008. Her most recent book is Sell Your Home Fast in a Buyer's Market. Norma created the practice she calls Harmonious Adjustments, which combines the best principles of Feng Shui, the use of eco-friendly materials, the application of the Four Elements, color, Vastu, creative visualization, energy work and good design. Norma is an an animal lover, a hiker, crafts person, healer, and a gardener. She lives north of New York City with her husband.

How to Make a Green Bed for Your Pet

My boys, Cobi and Ferdi and foster, Penelope, on hand made bed

For the holidays this year, consider eco-friendly bedding for your pets. (And for yourself—a subject for another posting.)

Your pets probably spent a lot of time in their beds. If they are sleeping on most synthetic products, they are probably breathing in and absorbing through their skin toxic chemicals. The petrochemicals found in pets’ beds outgas for years.

Synthetic bedding came be made up of a combination of materials—and that is where the real problem lies. It is estimated that the scores of potentially harmful chemicals in our homes can be up to sixteen hundred times more potent when combined. Yet, no one knows for sure, as the outcome of mixing chemicals has barely been tested.

Green bedding is often more expensive than synthetic, but if you choose wisely, it will last for years. My foster, Sam, came with a cheapie synthetic bed that ripped after several washings. Not only is buying a poorly made bed a waste of money—constant replacement ends up exceeding the cost of a well-made bed—but the bed will end up in landfill, where it will leach chemicals for years.

Fortunately, there are now many stores that sell non-toxic bedding, or you can make your own. Look for natural fibers such as organic cotton or organic wool, hemp and man-made materials that do not outgas like Sunbrella fabrics for bed covers. For the fill, good choices include natural latex (rubber), buckwheat, wool and recycled non-toxic materials like soda bottles.

I make beds for my dogs. They last for years and rarely need to be replaced—and then, only the covers have worn out. Currently, my Pugs, Cobi and Ferdi, share a double bed made of two shredded latex queen size pillows sewn together, with a pure wool cover that closes with a zipper. Note: buy 30% more wool than needed to cover pillows, and then wash in hot water. This will shrink the wool and you can then safely wash it again with no further shrinkage. Shredded latex—rubber—is great because if there is an accident, the pillows can be washed. It is also very comfortable for the dogs and they love them. Their other bed is a single pillow made of buckwheat and covered with Sunbrella fabric. (The photo above is the double pillow bed with Cobi, and Ferdi and their foster sister, Penelope, behind them.)

One other tip—make sure that the cover is removable and washable or that the entire bed can be washed. Every two weeks, I wash our bedding and theirs and the boys get a bath. (The boys sleep with us—I want clean boys!) This helps keep everyone smelling fresh and clean and helps with the shedding.

Pet Beds:

easier than You Might Think to Make Green Purchases!

Do:

  • Replace products that are made from petrochemicals with products that are made with natural, non-hazardous and preferably renewable products. For example, use bamboo flooring that is finished with natural wax and Tung or Linseed Oil, and purchase natural paints, lime plasters and cork floors.
  • Purchase raw materials near production site to save on transportation expense and fuel waste.
  • Purchase materials that were processed using renewable energy.
  • Extend product life by reuse and recycling of components.
  • Recycle waste to become ingredients in other products. Called "biomimicry", it is the manufacturing process that takes one product and turns it into something else. For example, carpets that are made from recycled plastic bottles, paints that are made from vegetable extracts, tiles that are made from ceramic waste and rubber flooring that is made from recycled tires.
  • Support companies that employ safe and clean methods to produce product or who use recycled products.
  • Support companies that sell healthy, organic, sustainable products.
  • Support companies that engage in fair-trade and good wages for employees and a safe and fair work environment.*

 

* Not related to green living, but relates to conscious living.

Don’t

  • Purchase from companies that pollute.
  • Purchase from companies that sell toxic or otherwise unsafe products.
  • Purchase from companies that do not support child-labor laws.*
  • Purchase from companies that practice unsafe or discriminatory working conditions or pay wages that do not constitute fair or livable conditions.*
  • Purchase from companies that use endangered wood or other unsustainable materials.

 

The following products cause pollution and should be avoided when possible:

  • Most commercial cleaning products and other household chemicals.
  • Garden pesticides.
  • Carpets glued with solvents, treated with fungicides and containing residual pesticides.
  • Fabrics treated with chlorine, benzene and/or formaldehyde.
  • Most plywood and particleboard, which contain formaldehyde, urea, and other dangerous glues.
  • Many paints and stains, which contain fungicides, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and other chemicals.
  • Vinyl flooring, furniture, and plastics that contain VOC’s such as bromides and chlorine.
  • Dry cleaning.
  • Underground oil tanks.
  • Electricity (While it’s not feasible for most of us to eliminate electricity, there are ways—illustrated later in Harmonious Environment—to reduce your exposure to it.)

Replace Toxic Products with Green

Virtually every object used in building your home and the objects within it—from the insulation in your house, your sofa, food storage containers, floor cleaners and even fabric softener—impacts both your health and the health of the planet. Unfortunately, in spite of the "all natural" or "safe" labels that are included on some of these products, many of them are unhealthy. This chapter will help you to identify what poses a risk and will introduce safe alternatives for you to consider.

The good news is that concurrent with growing consumer awareness of the dangers in ordinary household objects is an increase in the availability of environmentally-friendly and human-healthy choices as manufacturers acknowledge and try to meet this burgeoning market.

Nowhere has the impact of the average consumer been greater than in the food industry fueling the rise in the availability of organic food. Organic retail sales have grown an astonishing twenty percent per year since 1990—compared with an increase of between two and four percent of total food sales in United States.

As desire for organic food grows, so does the demand for healthful products of all kinds. Even though the major manufacturers are aware that there is a demand for healthful products, the vast majority of them are still not offering them. Although many businesses appear to be providing environmentally-friendly and healthful products; beware of the company that advertises its product with terms that are unregulated—such as "natural". "Natural," when used to describe shampoo, is usually a complete misnomer—the shampoo is still filled with synthetic chemicals and might contain only minute amounts of truly natural ingredients, such as jojoba or honey.

In addition, the government has historically allowed unsafe products to be sold as safe in this country. The use of lead is a great example. In 1909, eight European countries banned the use of white lead for interior painting. It took half a century for the United States to catch up—lead was not banned in paint and gasoline in this country until the 1970’s and 1980’s respectively.

Today, there are still thousands of toxic products being sold. To exacerbate the problem, manufacturers continue to pollute our air, water and land. There is no way to avoid all contamination while living on earth, but this chapter provides practical information and tips to help protect you from excessive exposure to the variety of pollutants that most of us are subjected to.

In addition to providing tips on how and what to purchase to live in an environment free from toxins that are made from cheap, unsustainable methods, this chapter explains how to eliminate nearly all pollutants from your home. You may be shocked with the discovery that many seemingly harmless household products contain dangerous chemicals. However, most of these products can be easily removed and replaced and some will lose their toxicity over time, so you needn’t panic and think everything in your house must be replaced. For example, freshly installed wall-to-wall carpeting emits toxic gases into the environment; however, carpeting stops outgassing six months to a year following installation. Another example would be if you have painted your walls with paint containing volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)—the damage is already done, the paint stops outgassing and you may as well wait until the next time to use an eco-friendly paint.

Author of Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet and Sell Your Home Fast in a Buyer’s market Tips from an Expert Green Feng Shui Staging Designer.

11 Tips to Transform Your Home into a Safe Haven–for Stressful Holidays!

In these times of economic upheaval, it’s tough to keep stress levels down. Most of us know some ways to keep stress in control; eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise, meditate. But, did you know that making your home a safe haven can also be extremely beneficial?

The other day, Oprah had Peter Walsh, the organizational expert on her show. The segment was about clutter and how it’s the last thing we need in troubled times, as clutter makes us feel unsafe and anxious.

As an eco-friendly interior designer and Feng Shui expert, I have had the honor of helping many clients transform their lives by changing their homes. Living in a home filled with positive energy, with beauty, a home that is clean, organized and clutter-free makes the occupants feel safe. In safety comes freedom; freedom to be creative, to be motivated and energetic.

Best of all, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to create your sanctuary. I recommend the following steps to create your safe haven:

* Eliminate harmful products and replace them with eco-friendly ones. This step will improve your health and the health of the planet.

* Clean your home well and get rid of clutter! This is huge and you can even make money by selling your stuff! A clean home is a healthier home and just feels good. Clutter, as mentioned previously, causes stress, confusion, depression and lethargy. Get rid of anything you don’t love, need or have used for over a year.

* Clear your home of negative energy with smudging or dowsing. See a previous post of mine on smudging.

* Get rid of processed food and eat wholesome and organic.

* Allow energy, or chi, to flow unobstructed throughout your home. Don’t crowd furniture.

* Use color to your benefit. The cool colors, like blue and purple, are great in the bedroom because they lower blood pressure and help us relax. Social rooms, like the kitchen and living room, benefit from the warm, expansive colors like yellow, red, and orange.

* Place objects in the Bagua to attract whatever you want—love, money, fame.

* Balance each room with all four elements—earth, air, fire, and water.

* Houseplants add great energy and suck up indoor air pollution.

* Treat yourself to flowers every week—simply my favorite way to make my home feel like a sanctuary.

* Learn to decorate with confidence! Don’t worry about what’s in style—decorate to please your unique style.

One last suggestion–have fun while doing this! Transforming your home into a sanctuary is really enjoyable—something we all need a bit of now.

Allow Money to Flow Into Your Life!

A recent New York Times article wrote that psychics and astrologers are seeing a boom in their business as people flock to them to answer questions about their finances.
 
But, there is a better way to attract money and it begins in your home and office. There are definite steps to take to keep your money intact—or to make more. 

Attracting money begins with a clean and clutter-free home. Clutter bogs us down and doesn’t allow us to perform as well as we should, Energy should flow into a home and glide effortlessly around the home. Having a lot of junk in the entry way, for example, is a good way to prevent this from happening. Even more importantly, clutter prevents us from thinking clearly, which prevents us from manifesting what we want—in this case, money. 

Once your home is clean and free from clutter, Feng Shui can be used to bolster your finances. The Bagua is the sacred octagon used in Feng Shui and is one of the oldest methods for reading energy patterns. The eight sides of the octagon plus the center are the nine sections, or Guas, that correspond to one or more life areas.  

The wealth area is in the upper left section of the Bagua. Superimpose the map over the entire home, or concentrate on important rooms, like the bedroom, office or entryway. The wealth corner of the desk is also important. You can bolster the wealth corner in one or all of the rooms in your home. 

Depicting the flow of money, water objects like fountains or aquariums are the best choice in the wealth areas of the home or office. A photograph of water will also work. Add coins to a fountain for even more power. Heavy objects, depicting grounded finances, are also good. Choose plants, sculptures and other heavy objects. When you look at these objects, think about attracting good fortune and having as much money as you desire. 

Finally, another key to attracting money is to think positively and to give energy, focus and attention to making it. Writing down your thoughts about how it feels to have plenty of money and feel what it’s like to be worry free about finances. 

Try these tips before you spend your money on a psychic! 

By the author of the book:

Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet

March 2010: Sell Your Home Fast In a Buyer’s Market: Secrets from an Expert green feng Shui Staging Designer.

 

Pamper Yourself with a Home Sanctuary

Every home needs a space that is a sanctuary–a place in which to pamper yourslef. This can be your bedroom, a room for meditation or yoga, or just a space to be. A sanctuary will resore and relax you and ultimately, invigorate your soul. 

To create your restful room, you will want to create a room with and abundance of yin. Yin and yang are opposite but complimentary forces and are contained in all things. The following are some examples of yin and yang:
 
Yin                                                                                          Yang                                     
Feminine                                                                                 Masculine       
Winter                                                                                     Summer
Dark                                                                                        Light
Interior                                                                                     Exterior
Curved/rounded                                                                      Straight
Water                                                                                      Fire
Wet                                                                                         Dry
Earth                                                                                       Sky/Air
Moon                                                                                       Sun
Wood                                                                                      Metal
Pottery                                                                                   Glass
Horizontal                                                                               Vertical
Wide                                                                                       Narrow
Stillness                                                                                  Movement
Odd numbers                                                                          Even Numbers
Cold                                                                                        Heat
Soft                                                                                         Hard
Sleep                                                                                       Wakefulness
Low                                                                                        High
Passive                                                                                  Active
Black                                                                                      White
Blue                                                                                        Red
Indigo                                                                                     Orange
Violet                                                                                     Yellow
 
Yin is cool and soothing and using yin objects will help create your restful place.
 
Perhaps the easiest way to achieve a predominately yin room is with color. Each color has its own vibration; color can be used to bring harmony and balance into your life. The invisible vibrations of color can be used to either relax or stimulate.
The color spectrum is made up of seven colors, with thousands of tones, shades and tints in between. The longest wavelenghs. yang colors—red, orange and yellow—are considered the warm, expansive and outgoing colors. The shorter wavelengths, or yin colors—blue, indigo and violet—are cool, soothing and introverted.Green is considered neutral,
 
So, you will use predominately the cool, yin colors to decorate your room. This can be as easy as painting the walls a soft lavender, for example. Feel free to use some warm colors, however, as the room need not be entirely made up of yin colors.
 
Other Tips
  • Rounded, curved furniture and other objects are preferred over straight angles. 
  • Water features such as fountains are perfect and the sound of the water is very relaxing.
  • Earth features can include plants and flower arrangements in ceramic vessels. Ceramic objects, rocks and crystals are perfect, too.
  • Soft furnishings, pillows and blankets will make the room cozy.
  • Candles and incense will add a soothing atmosphere.
  • Fabric wall hangings, like a quilt, are cozier than artwork in glass frames.
  • Special, cherished objects will work beautifully and you may want an altar for them.
 
Bringing in some or all of these elements will make your room a sanctuary. Enjoy!
 
For much more on creating a sanctuary and ways in which to pamper yourself, read my book,  Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet,  
 
 

 

Treat Yourself and The Planet to an Eco-friendly bed!

Because so much time is spent in bed, special consideration should be given to this piece of furniture and this is the place to splurge on the best quality, organic products that you can afford.
 
·       Choose a good solid wood or bamboo frame that has been assembled with non-toxic glue and finishes. A slotted frame is best, as it allows air to circulate beneath it.
 
·       When it is time to replace your mattress, opt for a chemical-free mattress made with any or all of the following materials: organic cotton, organic wool, natural latex and organic silk. Most mattresses are made from polyurethane foam plastic, sprayed with chemical fire retardants and covered with polyester. Mattresses take several years to outgas.
 
·       Use mattress and pillow barriers to prevent and trap dust mites and protein allergens. The best mattress toppers or pads are organic wool (best choice), non- treated down or merino wool. What I especially love about wool is its wicking ability to keep you comfortable and sweat-free year-round.
 
·       Choose sheets and blankets made from chemical-free, organic cotton, silk and wool.
 
·       Vacuum your mattress monthly to clean out dust mites and place pillows and mattress pad in the sun, as direct sunlight kills dust mites.
 
·       Choose comforters and pillows made from hypoallergenic down encased in organic cotton, silk or wool. Pillows made from organic buckwheat are also a great choice.
 

Do You Have Hyper Kids?

My neighbor is all freaked out because her three boys and girl are finished with school for the year and they have so much energy that her husband can’t stand to be around them!

It may come as a surprise that you gain control over overactive kids by reducing the energy in your home. Here are some tips:

  • Reduce–or eliminate–clutter. Clutter causes stress and anxiety in adults and overactive kids.
  • What color is your child’s bedroom? Colors like red, orange and yellow are overstimulating. Studies have proven that red raises blood pressure! Replace with blues or purples to get a calming effect.
  • Does the energy from the street rush into your front door? If so, slow it down with the addition of trees, bushes, rocks, a meandering walkway, fence.
  • Is there an abundance of noise in your home from TV’s, music and computers? Lower volume, decrease time spent watching TV or on computers.
  • Add houseplants. They are calming and also reduce air pollution!
  • Make sure your kids can get time to play in nature everyday. This not only makes them happier, burns off energy, but calms them down.

For lots more tips on calming kids, read 

Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet

Get Rid of Clutter!

You can do it! And no, this does not mean throwing everything into a closet! If you are the typical American, you probably have a great deal of stuff. From clothing to collectables, photographs, CD’s and tapes (or worse, records and eight-tracks!), books, sports equipment, hobbysupplies, tons of kitchen gadgets, a bathroom cabinet filled with old prescriptions and makeup and on and on…the list is endless.

Getting rid of things you no longer use or like is essential. You might be holding onto stuff for sentimental reasons. My neighbors have an ancient boat and an old Dodge Caravan that have been sitting on their property as major eyesores for years. My neighbor admitted to me that he is holding onto the boat for sentimental reasons—that it was his family’s boat. To that, I said nothing…but I have sworn that the next time the subject comes up, I will say: “OK, then fix it up, use it and have new memories—or, take a photograph of it and dump it!”

The truth is, saying that an object has sentimental meaning is usually just an excuse not to deal with getting rid of it. Besides, how many times are these revered objects actually looked at; most of the time they are simply gathering dust in the garage or in a closet. You might have to get tough on yourself. Meanwhile, I am serious—if a never used object has meaning to you, take a picture of it and save the memories in that manner.

Actually starting an organizing project might be the toughest aspect of the job. I know people who have groaned about their messes for years, but are so overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable work that they are rendered incapable of doing anything.

Instead of focusing on your entire home, decide what single space in your house bothers you the most. What space haunts you in its need for an organizational overhaul? The space could be as small as a single junk drawer in your kitchen or as large as your two-car garage that is filled with several generations’ worth of cast-offs.

If the prospect of organizing is akin to a trip to the dentist, start with a small space. If cheap psychological tricks—like rewarding yourself for a job done—work, employ them. Conversely, do not try to organize a space so large that the project could take weeks—forcing you to look at depressing piles of things waiting to be organized or removed. Take that large space and divide it into easily managed projects.

Until you feel confident with the skill of organizing, focus on projects that you can complete in a couple of hours. You will feel good about your work and how the newly-arranged spaces feel, thus giving you a sense of self-assurance that will make your bigger jobs a welcome challenge.




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My next post will discuss specifics.

 

 

Engage Your Emotions to Attract Your Dreams!

In Black Sect and other Western forms of Feng Shui, visualization is a one-step process. To visualize means to form a picture in your mind of a desired outcome. So, when you place the water fountain in your living room, you see money flowing into your bank account with ease.  
 
With Harmonious Adjustments, there is a second component to visualization. In addition to forming an image in your mind’s eye, you feel what it’s like to attain your goal. In the case of having money flowing into your bank account, allow your body to tell you how that feels. You become emotionally attached to the outcome of your desire. This time, when you place that water fountain in your living room, smile. Smile and feel the emotions of what monetary abundance means to you. Feel the emotions in your body and in your heart. You may still ‘see’ a monetary figure in your bank account, but you must also engage your emotions.
 
 When you place an object with the desire for a particular outcome and you engage your mental and emotional energy for that same result, a huge amount of positive energy drives that wish to be made manifest. Leave no room for negative thoughts—energy—to weaken the positive energy. The object that has been placed is already infused with your positive energy; you must hold that same vibrant energy in your thoughts and body.
 
For many more tips, read my first book,
 
Norma Lehmeier Hartie. Harmonious Environment is the Grand Prize Winner of the 15th Annual Writer’s Digest International Book Awards and won the coveted 2008 USA National Best Non-Fiction Book Award.

 

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