Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Music To Soap By - Slade

I've had help this last few weeks. From all over the place, too. Relatives, friends, neighbors, my doctor, and even some nice cards from a few customers who know me and Jason. Whether it's been with the soapy stuff, out in the garden, or just out and about shopping unable to find the right size in something I dearly wanted for myself. I've had help.

I'm a proud person. But I don't think I'm alone. Certainly not back in England, I'm not. It's the English way, you see. Stiff upper lip and all that. But sometimes, accepting help comes with a good feeling. That's the way it's been this last few weeks for me, anyway.

So, taking the rough with the smooth with this frozen soaping shoulder of mine, I'm in the workshop playing the music nice and loud today. This particular song, though a regular to my ears on a normal week, has been meaning such a lot to me these days. To everyone, everywhere... whatever the help you might need, may you accept it warmly and feel good about it. And if you're not in need of help, then why not take a look around you for someone who just may need some. It's amazing the difference a small thing makes to someone who feels a little overwhelmed by those life event flurries that all too often all come at once.

Enjoy today's music to soap by, and just make sure to check your volume if you're in work.

Slade, 1983 - My Oh My

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Calling Alexa Hente

Yesterday afternoon my mother-in-law arrived. She's here for a week, and she's worth her weight in gold. She's one of those people who starts a task, and there's no let-up whatsoever until the job's finished. It's just what I need. She's one of those incredible women with a lifetime of strength under her belt, and a whole kitbag of peculiarities. Each and every one of them adorable.

So, last night after we'd eaten, we're all chilling with the telly and the dessert she'd made. I was enjoying it and suddenly she pipes up, "I see Alexa Hente approves", referring to me. She says, "You know. Alexa Hente. Alexa Hente approves. From that commercial way back. You know the one I mean. The one with the coffee and... ooh, hang on.... it's coming to me... yes, I remember now... Juan Valdez was in it..."

Okay... now I'm from England, and our commercials are different to Amercian ones. I'm neither use nor ornament in this one. So, it's the sidelines for me as she starts to zero in on Jason.

"Yes... Juan Valdez." she excitedly continued. " I think it was the Colombian Coffee ad... and... ooh... yes... it's coming to me now... what was his name... Alexa... that's it... Alexa Hente."

And so it began.

Half an hour later, and we're still searching for this Alexa Hente guy. We've decided between us that it probably isn't Hente at all. That it's perhaps spelled with a "G"... or maybe a "J". Maybe it ends in an "ay". And maybe Alexa could possibly be Elixa... or Alixar... or... maybe it isn't quite Alexa at all, but just sounds like it.

"You know what...?" says Barbara as we draw yet another blank on Google. "Maybe it wasn't coffee at all. Yes... I think... I think I can see grapes. Yes... maybe it wasn't coffee beans at all. Maybe it was grapes. I think it was. I can see it now. There's a bottle of wine, and grapes... and there's... Alexa Hente. Yes, it's grapes."

We forgot the telly, and googled for most of our chill time for this bloke Alexa Hente, Alexa Gente, Alexa Jente, Elixhir Hente... and just about every phonetic possibility we could dream up. Then we did YouTube. It was a television commercial afterall, it must be out there on YouTube.

But it wasn't.

This morning, we started getting the workshop ready for an early start tomorrow. I love having Barbara to help me. It's relaxed, it's often good fun, and it is always on pace and with a purpose. So, after a few hours of prep, Jason took us out for Sunday lunch. We crashed Yankee Candle's flagship store. They have a great restaurant there, called Chandler's. And the three of us sat at a lovely window table. The meal didn't dissapoint, and we talked and laughed and just basically got lost in our own company. Sitting after with our wind-down coffees, it wasn't long before Alexa Hente came up again.

"I wonder why he isn't on Google." starts Barbara. "He has to be. I didn't dream it. There really was a commercial. I remember it. I can see it in my head. I know he existed. I'm telling you, it happened." And we stand up to leave.

As we're walking through the aisle, there's a nice older couple also sitting at a window table. I mentioned to Barbara that I'd bet they'd know. They're older... they'll remember television commercials from back in the day. And as we passed their table, I had to. I just had to. I bent down, and politely excused myself, and asked them point blank if they knew Alexa Hente from the telly. Okay... with my English accent I can get away with it. It's good when you come across as ditsy. And in less than a minute we have a whole conversation going on with them about coffee... grapes... wine... Juan Valdez... and yes... Alexa Hente.

We drew a blank though.

And we drew a blank in the gardens that we walked through on our way back to the car. Couple after couple. We asked them all, old and young. Many mentioned coffee, but I think it was because we'd already mentioned Juan Valdez. At one point Barbara even got out her phone and phoned a friend of hers back in New Jersey. "She must know. She knows everything." But she didn't, and we left Yankee Candle gardens and parking lot, still non the wiser.

And now it's 9.15pm on Sunday evening. Alexa Hente is still haunting us. And I'm throwing it open to the gallery. Come on you Manor Hall Soap Folk. Who remembers Alexa Hente? There's a soapy thing or two going to the first one to reply to this post with a comment that will put us out of our misery. Who knows Alexa Hente???

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Soft Skin

First thing this morning, I was up and about in the workshop busying with lotion sticks. I love making these lotions-to go, and in the peace of 6.00am with a wet morning mist hugging the grass and floating the trunks of the pines, it's a tranquil and heavenly start to the day.

My lotion sticks are a lovely moisturizing blend of natural oils that I formulated way back, using the wonderful qualities of organic shea butter, calendula infused organic sunflower oil, and organic jojoba oil. I also incorporated jojoba and aloe butters to help the smooth and soothe glide nicely over the body. It's a recipe I spent a lot of time and patience with. It's one that has stood the test of time, and it doesn't disappoint.

Whether you use it to soften yourself after a shower, after a pedicure, or after a day out of doors, it's an absolute skin loving treat for your skin. This month, the Lavender and Vanilla solid lotion stick can be yours for free, along with two other full size order box freebies that are great for thirsty summer skin. All made by me, here at The Manor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Swirl Before the Fall

I'm working on my new Fall soaps and I've been playing with color this last week. I love the smells of Fall. I love the reds, the oranges and the golds.

The soap above looks really vibrant in real life. I'm hoping the color holds up through the cure. The smell of it is filling the workshop, and I'm absolutely thrilled with it. I swear it's getting stronger by the day. Oh please, color, stay bright.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Lady's Summer

Well, that was a fast week.

Today is the first day of Summer. It was a hot one too, here in Massachusetts. I was wiping soap bars for most of the day, but this afternoon I did manage to get into the garden and do a spot of weeding. Well, it started as a spot and just sort of grew from there. Then I felt the heat... and that was that, really.

I've soap bars to wrap in the morning. I've looked at the weather and there's no rain. I dare say I'll be tempted to get in the garden again in the late afternoon, but I have a feeling it's going to be sweltering like today. I do like gardening. It's just not suited to the kind of heat American summers are known for.

I wonder if I took an umbrella with me tomorrow, it might give me some shade. I'm sure that's what the English ladies used to do. Didn't they used to use parasols to keep themselves shaded? Yes, I think they did. Mind you, they also used to wear those whalebone corset things. You know the ones I mean. Where someone had to put a foot in your back to draw all the laces tight.

Now, I don't mind putting up an umbrella, but I'm sure drawing the line at one of those bustier things.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We're Open

I've truly enjoyed my family time this last couple of weeks. And now... it's back to the soapy stuff. Yes... we're open!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Across the Pond

Okay. My excitement levels are up.

My son and his fiancee have started their journey, spending the weekend on the outskirts of London, before getting on a plane early next week. England is known for its quaint little villages. And this afternoon, I got an email with a photograph. I thought I'd share it with you.

It really is stereotypically English. It's taken from the parking lot of a pub in a village called Gaydon. It's where they stopped for dinner (which is known as "tea" in England). To confuse you more, lunch back home is called "dinner". Enjoy...