Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October Freebie

Every month I get to enjoy giving away a free bar of soap with every order. Never a mystery and always full size, the order box freebie for the month of October is a bar of Honey Me Smooth. Check out the freebie page to see what else can be free inside your order box this month.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Music to Soap By - Bay City Rollers

Okay... 6.15 this morning and the WrapFest began. I wish it was only a case of wrapping the soap bars, but it starts with carrying them, tray by tray from the curing shelves onto the workbench. Then the quality control starts. I don't like blemishes and dings, so I put those soaps onto the Mischief Makers shelf. They're perfectly good soaps, and many of you love the bargain.

From there, I then begin the wiping. It's like each bar is my own little pride and joy, and I want it to look its best when it goes out into the world. So, I wipe and polish every single one of them, setting them up as I go along like soldiers waiting for their uniforms.

They're now ready for wrapping. Yes, I do it all myself, and it's done by hand. I'd love a machine... but I don't have machine money. I also cut the wax wrap by hand too.

I use a guillotine for that. Don't let that task fool you, though. It's a slippery affair cutting the paper because, well... because wax wrap is slippery. I manage to do eight sheets at a time. I've tried more, but eight sheets is the tipping point. I dream of having my paper cut for me. Buying it in made to order. Maybe one day.

And so the fingers set to work. After six years of wrapping I've got it down to a fine art, and I wonder sometimes if I don't have six fingers on each hand. Pick up a wax wrap... lay it shiny side down... set the soap bar square... pick up the sides... gather the corners... crease, crease and crease... and voila! One down, 55 to go.

After the batch has been wrapped, I then lay them all face up in rows on the labeling station. That's a fancy name for another workbench. I have a few for different purposes, and I call them "stations". I swear, it's like doing a tango. Grab your partner now, one step sideways... one step forward... one step over and... slide, 2, 3, 4.

All the way through the wrapping stage I so look forward to making the final move over to the labels. The thought keeps me going all the time my little fingers are in overdrive with the wrapping. But you know what? It's so short lived, because once I've transferred the little army of dressed bars, I'm then peeling, lining up, and sticking... turning them all over, and doing the same again for the backs. Seriously... I long to get on to the next batch with every label I put on.

And there you have it. I suppose it's a treadmill really. It's like factory work. But it's my own little factory, and I am my own taskmaster. But don't be fooled by that, either. I'm so hard on myself, it's unreal. I seriously have to learn to delegate. But for now, it's 6.00am starts, and 8.30 pm finishes. Long days, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

The music is on loud. It's my 1970's tango - UK style, of course. Grab your partner now, one step sideways... one step forward... one step over and... slide, 2, 3, 4.

Bay City Rollers, 1974 - Shang-a-Lang

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Stall

There's a lot of things to do this next ten days. The new products are ready for the web site, and that means photographs, product descriptions, new pages made. Then, there's the quarterly website maintenance, my big Boston show to prepare for, and a mountain of soap bars to wrap and wrap and wrap.

In between all of this, I've got my son and his fiancee arriving from England. The only time I'm crazier than right now is the Christmas season. I've spent the whole weekend packing all the order boxes and the shipping notices for the last ones have gone out this evening.

I can't be everywhere at once, no matter how much I want to be. So, I've closed the office for the next two weeks, while I pass the computer to Jason so he can do his techy stuff. I'm still here and I'll still be blogging. You can still order your faves on the web site and if you use the coupon CANTWAIT, you'll get an extra 12% discount off your order. The office reopens on Monday, October 11th and shipping is set to start again on Wednesday the 13th. Thank you!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Coffee Beams

Meet Caffe.

Moisturizing olive oil, rich coffee butter, and freshly brewed morning coffee ... all stirred together in a fragrant percolation of sensory awareness. A smooth blend of the best, for that soft skin start to your day.

She's another new Art House Soap at The Manor. Available now...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Teal Family

September has turned out to be a real family month for me. My mother-in-law came to stay for most of it. In fact, at the end of the first week, she returned home, only to make the four state drive back three days later. That was the time when my youngest daughter and her husband arrived for an eight day stay.

Two days before she made the flight, she threw a Teal Toes party at the cafe owned by her sister-in-law. She'd plotted and planned throughout August, working with Carey over at And by the time the big party day came, she had leaflets, handout cards, ribbons and stickers. Donna at the cafe kindly donated the space and the room was decked out in teal, with pink as a nice contrast. Teal balloons, teal trailer ribbons, teal nail polish. All teal, teal, teal. A nice welcome for everyone who was due to arrive.

The day was a huge success, with lots of friends and family, and friends of friends, and cafe patrons all coming and going for the whole afternoon. Toenails were painted, as were fingernails, and there was even one or two teal colored ribbons painted on faces.

Teal Toes is a family all on its own. All through September, women all across America have thrown their own little Teal Toes party. Some in many a number, others with just their BFF. It's all been about one large body of people gathering together to make a noise. It's a huge Teal Toes party. A family of teal toes, all spreading the word about ovarian cancer, by painting their toenails teal and telling everyone they know about the whispering symptoms.

There's still a week of September left to go. It isn't too late to join the party, with your own bottle of teal colored nail polish. There's nothing that says you can't do it alone, but it's a feeling and a half sharing with someone else.

The photos above are from the cafe party held by my youngest daughter, and her sister-in-law Donna. There's five days of the month remaining. Go grab that bottle of teal and make some noise.

In memory of Linda. 1956-2005

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hair Apparent

On the blue sidebar of the website is a reading room section, where you will find many home beauty tips, recipes, and articles. Most of the articles are my own, but when I first began my reading section six years ago I enlisted the awesome help of my first born.

She was a journalist, making her way in the world at a big city newspaper back in England. She's since followed her dream of a doctorate and is buried in research at a big city university, where she's been toiling away for four or five years. I daresay the novels she always dreamed of writing when younger have taken a back seat as motherhood eats into what was once her leisure time. Balancing home and career is an unrelenting juggling act, and that's without consideration for the trials and tribulations that life tosses into your path along the way.

This morning, as I look toward family coming to visit from England next week, I was stuck in a bit of the old memory lane stuff as I looked through the articles under her "Natural Beauty" section. Yes... long gone is the spare time she used to have. But mother's pride never goes "long gone", does it? I've kept it there for all to read. I've kept it there because... well, you do that when you're a mom, don't you? But actually, just between me and you, it's still there because the articles are so informatively great.

Here's one she did on hair for me. You can find all her articles under Natural Beauty on the blue sidebar of the website. Please enjoy the little slice of Mother's pride that I am dining out on right now. Family is a wonderful thing, and I am so fortunate to be blessed the way that I am:

The Hair Apparent, by Gayle Whelan

Your hair is your crowning glory. In perfect condition, it can make many a head turn. But there's no need to spend a fortune on products that promise glossy locks and sleek, shiny hair, as nature has her own less expensive natural products that are fun to use and can give you showstopping results.

There are approximately 100,000 hairs on the average head, which unbeknownst to us, are continually being shed. Each hair can last between three and seven years, and most hair will not grow longer than about three feet long.

If you suffer from dry hair, add a few drops of lavender, bay and sandalwood essential oils to six ounces of warm olive oil. Apply the mixture to hair using a cotton wad and wrap scalp in a warm towel. Leave for around 20 minutes and shampoo your hair as normal. Your hair will be lustrous and deeply conditioned.

Tomatoes, applied in the form of paste, puree or even juice, balance the PH levels in your hair, bringing back its natural color and shine. Massaging mayonnaise into dry hair will help control mild dandruff and leaves you with beautifully glossy hair.

If you're not keen on using harmful chemicals to color your hair, there are some natural alternatives. To lighten your hair, mix water and lemon juice and apply to hair. Leave on while out in the sun, but remember to wash off at the end of the day (and be careful not to get it in your eyes). Similar effects can also be achieved by rinsing hair in cold chamomile tea.

To give brown hair a warmer glow, a cup of tepid espresso onto dry hair and leave on for 15 minutes. After rinsing, hair will be gorgeously sleek. For natural and lovely smelling hairspray, chop a lemon and/or orange and add to a cup of water. Boil rapidly until it reduces by half. Cool, strain, and place in a spray bottle. Use just like hair spray, but store in a refrigerator in between uses.

One good household tip: If you're having a particularly bad hair day and your hair stands up or is flyaway, rub a tumble dryer sheet from your roots to the ends of your hair. Not only will your hair smell fresh and clean, your hair will be tamed.

Also remember that while there are many natural products that help hair gleam from the outside, there's a lot you can eat that will help your hair from the inside out. For good hair health, try wholemeal products such as pasta, brown rice and bread, eggs, vitamin D and C, carrots and always plenty of green vegetables.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Annual Fall Sale

This year the start of Fall coincides with newsletter week here at the Manor, and there's a sale going on right now. 20% off your order, all week long. Just enter the coupon code AUTUMN20 at checkout to receive 20% off your order. (Note: Coupon does not apply to already discounted items, including Mischief Makers.)

And to help your shopping dollar go further during the month of September, all orders will receive $6.00 shipping. Any weight, to anywhere nationally by Priority Mail. No coupon needed, our cart will apply the $6.00 shipping for you.

What a way to celebrate the start of the Fall!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Artful Autumn

Meet Autumn.

Organic sunflower oil, cold pressed pumpkin seed oil, and real pumpkin puree... all brought together with the finest seasoned warmth of fall spices. Ground cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg yield a fragrant blend of everything Autumn, harvest and home.

She's a new Art House Soap at The Manor. Available now...

We're Open

Annual September break is over and now I'm back. We're open! Come on in!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Soft and Smooth

The value of facial exfoliating is often underestimated, and many never consider to include it in their skin care routine.

Old skin cells are shed easily when we are young, but as we age this process slows down, causing dead skin cells to build up on the outer layer of the skin. This is often the cause behind a dull and lifeless complexion.

Exfoliating the face helps to remove the layer of dead skin cells, and as the old is gently buffed away from the outer surface, the new skin cells underneath are exposed revealing a brighter, fresher complexion. This new layer of skin readily accepts moisture, and regular facial exfoliating increases the absorption of your moisturizing skin care routine, which over time can reduce the appearance of the fine lines and wrinkles.

Facial exfoliation is only needed once or twice a week. It increases blood circulation, and will bring a glow to your face. It helps with clogged pores, and breakouts, and also helps maintain the balance of excessive oil. It removes toxins, and stimulates skin cell renewal. The benefits of facial exfoliation are many, and it could be the missing link if your skin care routine is lacking in luster.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Radiance Rules

Looking dull? Avoid alcohol based cleansers if your skin is looking dull. Alcohol can also dry out the skin, making it look tired too. The natural acids in pink grapefruit dine out on old skin cells, revealing new skin, and a more radiant looking you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Teal Toes Pics

These teal painted toes belong to Cathy in North Carolina. She lost her sister 6 years ago to OC. Thank you for your email, Cathy.

They've got a brilliant thing going on over at I'm doing my bit to take part in spreading the word about this dreadful killer, and I hope you'll join me.

Updates will follow as I get more. If you're painting your toenails teal, please email me a pic with your name and state and I will upload it. You can also join's party on facebook by uploading your photographs there, too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sweet September

With the scorching summer sun getting set to yield to the cool of fall, there's no time like the present to give your skin a treat. Small wonder then that this is the month we nationally celebrate honey. Cleopatra had it right. Fill a bath with milk and honey, and sit in it while the world goes by. Skin needs to be kept hydrated in order to remain soft, supple and elastic. Age, life's stresses, and everyday pollution really stretch our skin to the limit and affect its ability to stay moist. Skin becomes dry, cracked, and yes… those dreaded wrinkles appear.

Honey attracts and holds on to moisture, making it a natural humectant. Honey is also good for sensitive skin. But, the benefits of honey for beauty don't stop there. Studies show that honey has good antioxidant properties. Antioxidants not only play a part in protecting the skin from the harmful rays of the sun, but are also rather handy when it comes to skin rejuvenation and the restoration of. Its antimicrobial talents make it good for skin break-outs without drying the skin like most acne lotions, zit creams and wishy washes.

So, celebrate September with a jar of honey, and your skin. Spread it on your face, spoon some in the bath, and even mix with olive oil to condition your hair. Honey, you know you're worth it...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Toes to the Ready, Girls

September the 1st. It's the first day of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Thirty full days for each and every one of us to help spread the word to women everywhere.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, whether you're on your doorstep, in your back garden, in work, in church, anywhere... if you see a woman you know, spread the word.

Ahhhhhh... how to open up a conversation on ovarian cancer. Yeah, like you really can say to someone at the bus stop, "Oh the weather's good today. Wanna know about ovarian cancer?" What you really need is a good conversation opener, and they've got a brilliant thing going on over at I'm doing my bit to take part in spreading the word about this dreadful killer, and I hope you'll join me.

The photos of toes that you can see above are pics of my daughter's toes, over in England. Teal is the color that represents ovarian cancer. It's not Ovarian Cancer Month in the UK, but she's not letting that stop the word getting around. Her sister-in-law owns a cafe, and they're throwing a Teal Toes Party. Everyone who shows up is getting their toenails painted.

It started out with an invite list of 15 friends. Almost every one of them have since asked if they can bring another friend or three. The party is next week and she hasn't a clue how many are gonna turn up. Not to be daunted, though, my little girl is still posting flyers. They're all going to be painting each other's toes teal. That's a lot of conversation starters.

I'll be running photographs throughout the month of any teal painted toes. Get your girlfriends around. Throw your own little Teal Toes Party. Just send me your pics, your first name and your state. I don't need your faces, just your toes. Let's drag this silent killer out of the shadows.

In memory of Linda. 1956-2005

On Your Toes - Repost From 8/7/10

I know we're only just into August, but I want to give you the heads up on a September whisper that's gathering volume out there.

Pink. Women. Walk.

Now... what do you think of with those three words?

Teal. Women. Toes.

And those three?

One shouts. The other's a whisper. We're all familiar with the breast cancer colours, the pink ribbon and the walk, or run, or race. Pink shouts it loud for Susan G. Komen and we all know.

So, what about Teal? As it happens, I am aware that teal represents Ovarian Cancer. It's the silent killer for women. How fitting that the word about it is only a whisper. Yet we do know about it, and usually when it's too late. That's because the symptoms are so in line with many other ordinary women's symptoms. Like... bloating. I mean... can you seriously see yourself saying after a meal, "Oh, I feel bloated. I'd better get my ovaries checked out."

Then there's the pelvic, or abdominal pain. And what woman hasn't experienced bouts of that?

And urinary symptoms. Urgency, or frequency. You know what? I've always had problems laughing so much that I need the loo. It got worse after my fourth child. And I believe as you get older you just accept... well, you just accept you're getting older. And anyway, who hasn't turned to cranberry juice when the old frequency level turns it up some? Isn't that a sign of having a touch of the all too familiar woman's UTI?

The fourth one? Well, that's difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly. Hmm... sounds like my own symptoms of stress there. I go off food. No appetite at all. And when I do force-feed myself... just one or two bites and I'm feeling full and sickly. Best not to bother... stress will be gone in a few days.

Individually, or collectively these four symptoms can be explained away, and all too often are. Which is why so many women die from it. It's silent. It kills. I wish I could put it in a kinder way. But, Ovarian Cancer is anything but kind. Four symptoms, and four words. It's silent. It kills.

September is Ovarian cancer month, and out there women are gathering in number aiming to raise the whisper volume into one large shout. During September, we're painting our toe nails teal. It's a small act, and yet it's such a conversation starter. How many times do women comment on nail lacquer color between each other. Yes... that's what we do, don't we?

I'll be reminding you all again come September, but I wanted to give you all a heads up so you can be prepared. Go out there shopping for your bottle this next couple of weeks. Find a teal that you love, and wait for September the 1st to wear it with pride. Tell your girlfriends at the office, and turn your workplace tealtoed. Make it a conversation starter and spread the word. Show folk your toes, and ask them to show theirs.

Ovarian Cancer. It's silent. It kills. The month is September. Toes to the ready, girls. Prepare for the shout!

In memory of Linda. 1956-2005