Treating Your Homespace with Respect

Whether you are a college student, a young person living on your own, or an “older and wiser” person that has created personal homespace for many years-

We all must respect our homespace and what we surround ourselves with.  We must understand the importance of this.

This means NOT just making it mirror your unique self. It also means treating it respectfully so that it serves your highest good.

Things to pay attention to in order to make your space honor you in the highest way

  • Remove clutter.
  • DO NOT wear shoes indoor that are also worn out in the world.
  • Remove dirt and dust regularly just as you bathe and wash your hair regularly.
  • Open up the windows and let some air into your space at least quarterly.
  • Be aware of ridding your home of any and all toxic products that you can and begin using earth friendly ones instead.
  • Bring nature indoors.

I will address each of these areas in later posts. Look for them in the weeks and months to come.

Just remember to truly pay attention to what is in your homespace on a daily basis.  Do not let it be a utilitarian space for shelter.  Instead, let it be a sacred space to shelter your mind, body and spirit.

You deserve it.

One thought…

Honor your body, honor your home, and honor the earth.

Keep decorating…

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Love of Nature’s Bounty

As a young girl growing up on a farm with 12 siblings in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I could not wait to move to the big city. Free of farm chores, free of farm smells and free of wide-open farm spaces.

The city beckoned. Or, Blacksburg VA did anyway. Free from chores and ready for a new experience in college. Little did I know that the love of nature was in my blood. I soon realized that I had taken nature for granted and I actually loved it.

So, I set my sights on a degree in horticulture with a minor in Vocational Education as a back up to get a job in my chosen field. After college I taught horticulture in high school.
Years and three kids later, I still love it. It is my chosen path.

Love of nature

Here are some reasons I love nature:

Nature is calming and peaceful.

Immersing yourself in nature makes you better understand where your food comes from.

Nature reminds you that it is the simple things in life that bring the greatest joy.

Craig and Blake mowing grass

Photo credit: Crystal Balzer aka "The Domestic Diva"

Blake and his first strawberries from the garden

Photo credit: Crystal Balzer aka "The Domestic Diva"

Infusing nature in the home

Once I finished college and married, I began to make sure that the aspects of nature became part of my home.  As a mother I tried to impart this love to my three sons.  I cannot tell you the number of times they balked at being outdoors working in the yard.  Their idea of being outside was to play.  But, all my teachings have paid off. My oldest son, Craig calls just to talk yard talk!  And now I get to watch my grandchildren reap the benefits of nature having learned it through their parents teaching them.

I marvel at my grandson, Blake’s interest in the simple joys nature has to offer like watching a robin outside the window looking for food and then finding a nest in the tree house full of eggs.  Or Ryleigh and Blake picking the first strawberries from the family garden they have helped to nurture and tend.

In future articles you will find ways to bring nature inside for you and your family.  Gardening can be a fun hobby and it can involve the whole family!

Look for articles on other topics as well such as, “How to make a terrarium”, and “How to reduce toxins in the home with indoor plants”.

Happy gardening!

Nest with robin eggs

Photo credit: Crystal Balzer aka "The Domestic Diva"

Celebrate Summer and Bring it Inside

Helpful Hannah Tip #1

Bring elements of nature specific to the season inside to decorate your home.

Years ago when my son, Ben was little we took a daily walk in our neighborhood or at the park.  Every single walk involved searching for a new rock to add to his ever-growing collection we kept housed in our foyer closet.  The rocks varied in size and some were so large that they would not fit in his pockets and so I had to carry them home.  He memorized each rock that was added to his collection and each one brought special joy to him for its individuality only he could see.

These walks not only gave my son fresh air and exercise, they taught him how to bring nature inside.  You see Ben was happiest when he could select rocks to place on his dresser or nightstand to see each day.  This was his way of decorating his own space.  A little bit of nature that he had discovered on his own filled his room!

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Why leave nature outside?

Just like my son, you can bring elements of nature indoors to enjoy.

There are so many ways you can achieve this.  Here are some examples:

  • Decorate with seashells, sand dollars or unique rocks you find outside.
  • Place shells in bowls, on coffee tables or sitting as a collection.
  • Let driftwood or unusual pieces of wood adorn the hearth.
  • Bring wildflowers in and surround your homespace with their beauty and fragrance in every room of your home.

Look for other bits and pieces of nature found during the summer season and place these around your home as well.

Your options are limitless and you can make this a family event to share all summer long.

Bring the wonders of the outdoors into your home. Celebrate the season!

One thought…

Elements of nature radiate calming energy.


Photo credit: Sean Kalooky


What is Living in Perfect Harmony?

So, what is “Living In Perfect Harmony” all about?  Is this site just to teach about Vastu Shastra?  Feng Shui?

Yes, both of these philosophies will be integrated in my plan. However, they are only springboards of knowledge that reinforced what I already intuitively knew.

Let me explain…

As a young girl I felt pretty weird.  Quirky if you will.  You see I loved nothing more than to constantly redecorate my bedroom I shared with my sister Mary Ann.  I did this almost every season and it brought me all kinds of joy.

Maybe because I shared a room with her I had to find some way to make my part of the space unique.

Over the years of living together there were many, many battles and we would create invisible lines of demarcation in our room that kept each other out. Funny, my bed was on the opposite side of the room from my closet.  It was the same for Mary Ann.  Poor planning I guess!  So, we had to devise special rules of when we could cross these invisible lines of demarcation in order to dress for school, church, or activities each day.

By the way- if you know Mary Ann, ask her about my turtle!!!

Anyway, I soon realized I loved positioning things in my bedroom and even throughout my family home.

Next, I obsessed over the homes of my girlfriends.  Some I offered my suggestions to and others I just ruminated over in my head all the changes that needed to occur in these spaces without ever saying a word.  Suffice it to say; to this day I remember in vivid detail most of the homes of my friends I grew up with.

I never forget detail.

The art of picture hanging and other musings.

Flash forward many years and I soon learned I had developed quirky hobbies as well.  My greatest joys came when I walked or drove through neighborhoods at night and nonchalantly peered into windows (from the road mind you, I am not a voyeur) and recreated the interiors I would see. My, my, my- so many houses needed work!  Do you know how many pictures are hung too high?  Do you know how many are hung in the wrong place?

Before long I was focusing on the yards in the daylight hours.  So much work to be done there, too!  My obsession was growing- what about the back yard?  What about the window treatments or lack thereof  (so many people leave the garage windows untreated and all you see is the mess and clutter of the garage)?

The Energy of the Home

All this time I began to understand that there were vibes I felt from these homes.  I could feel them.

After abrupt changes in my personal life occurred (what I call trauma-drama), I set out to start a new company.  I partnered with my daughter, Sammi.  I did the decorating and design and she took care of the business side of things. (Anyone that knows me knows I have lousy math skills!)

I began to realize something more was going on in the spaces I helped flower.  On the surface I was changing colors, changing fabrics and updating the look.  But way down underneath all this I was doing much, much more.  With every subtle change I was incorporating into the plan, the rhythm and flow of the house began to change.  I began to “feel” the shift in the energy.  Homespaces and workspaces became more balanced and relaxed.  I could absolutely feel it.

Today I am a “know it all” just waiting to teach.  It is my mission.  It is my passion.  It is my calling.  Prepare to be taught.

One thought…

Your homespace is a window to your soul.

“Spike” The Next Generation. Photo credit: Sammi Blake

Creating Balance Through Exercise

My first experience with exercise outside of elementary school play period was a show on TV called “The Arty Levin Show”.  I loved it and I loved the feeling of stretching my body.  Then,  exercise in my early adult life included walking, hiking, tennis and all sorts of indoor aerobic classes.  As a mother of young children, my kids and I exercised by dancing to Marlo Thomas’s album, “Free to be you and me”.  Little did my children know that in dancing for fun they were also exercising both their bodies and minds through the lyrics of this wonderful album.  If you have young kids yourself, check it out!

Also, I was a runner for years (in fact, quite obsessively so for the first few painful years of separation and divorce) and ran so many miles some days that I felt like Forrest Gump- my legs just needed to run and run and run.  For years come rain, sleet, hail or snow my running partner Susie (and my dearest friend) and I ran every morning.  It is amazing how many problems of the world and most importantly, your own that can be worked through with each step you take. 

Trauma-drama looks very different when viewed through the haze of exhaustion from exercise.

(If you know Susie ask her about her fall and subsequent trip to the hospital after completing a few more miles!!!)

So, I believe it was no coincidence that after pounding the pavement for more miles than my body shape could probably handle I succumbed to health issues.  Running, tennis and a few other choice activities became a thing of the past.

I first met Hector while embarking on a fitness-training program for myself in answer to these changes.

I needed a trainer to put me on the right path of combining exercise with weight training to give myself a healthier routine.

Hector and his fellow staff met my needs.  Today, he works with many people I know that have very specific needs as well. He knows how to tailor each of their programs to meet these needs.  But, over and above that- Hector is passionate about teaching everyone the joy of being physically fit.  He is passionate about bringing exercise into every home he can.

Remember, “Everything begins in the home”.

I am honored to have him join my Blog as an expert in his field.  I hope his words, pictures and videos will empower you.

I sat down with Hector to do a Q&A to introduce him to you readers.

Please read on…

A Conversation with Hector Benitez

What was life like in your home of origin?

Born and raised in sunny south Florida, I grew up spending afternoons and weekends at the beach.  My family life was full of birthdays, cousins and friends.  I also grew up watching and participating with my mother in exercising, drinking protein shakes and hanging out at fitness clubs watching her wrap a leather belt around her hips because the vibration was supposed to induce fat loss!

How has it impacted your career choice today?

The impact that my upbringing had on me towards my career choice is empowerment.  The career path that my adolescence carved out for me wasn’t fitness or training.  The choice for me involved the path that would allow the best way for me to help people realize how much control they truly have over their emotions, thoughts and physical well being.

Explain the importance of physical fitness as you view it.

The importance of physical fitness as I view it has to do with feeling balanced. Physical fitness like painting, drawing, music, writing, or Interior Design is another way for people to express themselves through physical exertion, emotional accomplishment and imagination.

Are there ways to incorporate physical fitness in the home on a daily basis?

Examples of how people can incorporate exercise into their homes are as easy as rearranging furniture using proper lifting techniques, jumping jacks in the living room, push-ups in the bedroom before bed and in the morning before starting your day, and stretching in the shower under warm water.

What is the message you would like to give readers?

The message I would like to pass on to readers is EAT, LOVE, STAY ACTIVE!!!!  Participate in your life and don’t watch it pass you by while sitting down.  Embrace it and hang on to it through healthier-balanced choices.

What future topics will you discuss?

I’ll be discussing the 2 goals of EVERY Physical Conditioning Program to fine-tune the beach body.  I’ll also be discussing the Phases that every exercise program should include and when to incorporate them safely.  These 2 examples will assure that all will be ready for Summer of 2012.  Other topics will include everyday exercises to use at home, family fun exercises and exercises for senior living.

Welcome Aboard Hector!

One thought:

A healthy body makes for a healthy mind.

Get up on those feet…

Jamie's New Cruiser

Jamie’s new wheels for decorator sleuthing. Photo credit: David Solganik

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Oddly enough, I have chosen an “electronic platform” to teach the importance of getting back to the basics in our homes.

But, with the frantic pace of invention- for example, the constant introduction of newer and better computers, newer and better TVs, newer and better phones, newer and better electronic games- we continuously move away from the simple beauty that is around us.

Thus, we need to become ever more mindful of infusing nature in our homespace.

Over the lifetime of this blog, I will offer tips, ideas, and plans to help you shift your space to a more nature centered space.  As the months go by, so do the seasons and I will emphasize this in my postings.  The photography for each post will pay homage to these seasons as well and visually give you an idea of the calming aspects nature offers to us.  Each season brings us wonders of it’s own- embrace them!

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Here’s a quick summary of some of the topics I plan to address.

  • Your home is an extension of yourself.  It reflects aspects of you going back to your earliest memories.
  • Your home can express your spirituality and bring you more in tune with nature.
  • There is a close relationship between our environment and our physical, mental and spiritual health.  (Discussions of Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui)
  • Our homes are the outward manifestation of what we are and feel on the inside.  Creating harmony in your space will create harmony within.
  • A beautiful home impacts your mood and behavior.
  • A beautiful home is not the result of material consumerism.
  • Clutter in your space clutters your mind!
  • Color your world.
  • Shape, texture and placement of things can balance the energy in your home. What works best for you?
  • Don’t give in to following the trends.
  • What about your shoes?
  • See your home through the lens of a camera.
  • Take the smell test.
  • Noise pollution in your home.
  • Music speaks what the soul feels.  How music impacts your homespace.
  • Absolute Do’s and Don’ts.

Product reviews and shout-outs

Along the way I will offer to you guest writers on some of these topics. I will also give product reviews as well as shout -outs to companies and organizations that I have found to embrace the truth of getting back to the basics, honoring our earth and furthering the global shift of consciousness.

Helpful Hannah Tips and Ideas

At times on this blog I will offer what I call my “Helpful Hannah” tips and ideas that you might find interesting to incorporate into your homespace.  These will range from decorating tips to household cleaning tips to spiritual tips- all to create more balance and harmony in your homespace.  I will also provide photographic examples of “before and after” work I have done to show how you can change space to bring on the warm fuzzies I believe to be so important in the homespace.

Pay it forward

My greatest joy will not only be that these words and photographs of nature inspire you but that you share them with others and “pay it forward”.  In life, it is the giving to others what we learn for ourselves that holds the most value. I hope you will agree.

One thought…

The home is truly where the heart is.  Where the heart is you will find peace. Let there be peace on earth. Let it begin with you by living in perfect harmony.

Keep decorating…

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

The Sacredness of Home

We wish for you a home- not a place of wood and brick or stone- but an island of sanity and calm in a busy and hectic world.  We trust that your home will always stand as a symbol of people living together in love and peace.  We trust that it will encompass the beauty of nature- that it will include the elements of simplicity, silence and color.

Rev. Bob McAden
May 14, 2011

I recently heard these words during the wedding ceremony of my niece, Britney and her new husband, Tim in Roanoke, VA. I come from a very large family and so weddings are plentiful. (Truth be told, babies are plentiful as well!!!) But, who would have guessed that the words of Rev. McAden (who by the way is my niece’s paternal grandfather) would come at just the right time for the opening post of my blog.

Timing is everything right?

Synchronicity at it’s finest.

Rev. McAden’s words came at a time when I was pondering just how to find a clever, catchy way to write my first blog post.  You see I have many posts already written and waiting.  But, the first introductory post was baffling me and just not coming together.  Honestly, I had been stuck for weeks and weeks trying to figure out how to begin my blog.

What a wonderful message.  Who would have ever guessed that a wedding ceremony and a family life cycle event would provide for me the words I was looking for to describe the importance of creating a home and sanctuary.  Thank you Rev. McAden.  Thank you Britney and Tim. Thank you Mary Ann, Jim and Ballyhack Golf Resort for providing the wondrous beauty as a backdrop for such an occasion.  Thank you Roanoke Valley for the majestic mountains you gave us on that beautiful May evening.

Rev. McAden’s message is clear. He knows the importance of home. Not what it is built of but what we make it.

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Everything begins in the home.

It is true and that is what this site, “Living In Perfect Harmony” is all about.

Throughout the years in my business as an interior decorator, I have had the honor of meeting many different types of people with varying styles of décor.  I have loved being invited into their homes to offer my version of a better “homescape”.  Home after home, client after client I have not tired of perfecting the beauty in these spaces that I feel is just waiting to blossom.

Along the way I began to realize some homes drew me in while others didn’t have that same warmth.  I think this is the case for most of us.  In ways we might not even be aware of, the homes we enter give us certain feelings.  When I like the feel of a home I get “warm fuzzies”.  And, either a home exudes them OR it doesn’t.  OK, some are in between and just need a bit of tweaking to truly flower!

The point is that there is a method to achieving a homescape that feels good.  “Living In Perfect Harmony” will teach you how to do it!  Through tips, ideas and plans you will find on this site, you can create a home of warmth that will offer you the sanctuary that fits you.  By doing so, you will become a better steward to others.

In essence, your home is an extension of yourself.  It is the first outward expression of you.  It influences how you relate to yourself, your family and the environment around you.  Make sure it fits whom you are and that you treat this space with respect.  It is that important.  Period.

It is vital to your essence to understand the sacredness of your homespace.

Britney and Tim, fellow readers of this blog and all those people I come to spread my message to – listen up.  If your homespace does not match the essence of your heart and soul, if it does not honor you and all that dwell within it- it is an injustice to your true self and how you present yourself to the outside world.

Britney and Tim, begin this new chapter in your life with this awareness.  Do not just create your homespace by happenstance.  Make your home together become a true reflection of who and what you are.  May it provide for you what we all deserve- a home that beckons to us whenever we are gone, a home that wraps us tightly in comfort whenever we enter, a home that mirrors our hearts and souls.

New beginnings…

June is the traditional month of weddings.  That makes June the month of new beginnings.  What a wonderful time for all of us to look at our homes in a fresh new way.  Join me as I lead you on a journey that will help you transform your home into the personal space that mirrors your heart and soul.

One thought…

“When you decorate your home, you decorate your life”.

Start decorating…

Photo credit: Kevin Hurley Photography

Everything Begins in the Home

Everything does begin in the home.

What you experience as a child makes you much of what you become.  Whether it is the moral code you are taught in your home, the core beliefs that become ingrained in your subconscious, the attitudes you develop, the family habits and traditions you learn or the décor style you are exposed to – what you learn from all this affects you forever more.

Our homes mold us.

Our homes shape us.

Our homes define who we are.

That is why the homespace is so crucial.  It is that simple.  And yet, it is that complex.  Every subtle nuance that goes on in your home of origin weaves history through your psyche.

Do not take the art of living in your homespace for granted.  Make it fit you.  Make it fit that which your family is and what they will become in the future.

A little bit of psychology, a dose of design, a lot of common sense and an abundance of spirituality goes into the making of a homespace that truly honors you, your family, and the earth.

“Living in Perfect Harmony” blends knowledge and information from each of these disciplines to teach you how to live in peace and harmony.   Learn to live as nature intended us to – at one with each other.

Oh, and don’t forget humor.  Life is too serious to be taken too seriously!

One thought…

Everything begins in the home.

Start your bliss!

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Glossary of Words and Phrases

Homespace:  The home you create and live in.

Homespace Coach: A coach that teaches and inspires you to bring your home to full blossom so that it becomes the outward extension of your spirit.

Warm Fuzzy/Warm Fuzzies: This describes the wonderfully warm feeling you get from something.

Broccoli Moment: This is the phrase to describe the good feeling you get when you do something healthy and good for yourself. (When I was a mother of young children, I always felt good when my kids ate their broccoli:hence, broccoli moments became my phrase for awesome feel good moments.)

Happy-Sappy: This describes the ultimate good feeling you get inside you as happiness bubbles within you to then ooze from your very essence.

Trauma-Drama: This describes situations that are traumatic for you but, include so much drama that you begin to view them as wonderful teaching moments.  This phrase is not meant to belittle trauma- quite the contrary, it helps you to make good out of seemingly insurmountable situations- lemonade out of lemons if you will!