Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hands Up

To quote Jason, not too many minutes ago: "I think 10.00pm is a respectable time to finish." And so closes the workshop door for another day. The new product upload is well under way, and the new pages have started to appear. It's been a good weekend of work. Tomorrow starts another week... and also another month.

You'll notice an addition to the foot care page. Well... you'll probably notice first that the category name has changed. It now reads, "Manicure & Pedicure". Three new products to take care of your hands. A cuticle butter, with a blend of nourishing exotic butters, to give a helping hand to your nails and cutes. A smoothing hand polish, formulated with walnut powder, gentle aloe, and chamomile. And finally a beautiful rich hand creme, bringing you the moisturizing goodness of avocado oil and shea butter.

Full product descriptions will be following soon on the website, but for now... the new Manicure & Pedicure page on the site is ready to go. As am I. It's 10.00pm, and that means jarmies, drinking chocolate, some telly... and finally to bed for me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


There's four seasons to the year, and every one of them is spaced equally on the calendar. Yet Fall always seems the shortest to me. Maybe it's because it's a long time coming.

August arrives and we know the leaves are going to start changing. Like, we still have the sun, but we're waiting for the smell of apples, nutmeg, pumpkin pie. We're waiting for the straw, the scarecrows, the golds, the reds and the browns. Then suddenly, it's all here. It's bright, it's colorful and... ohhhh, I wish it could last forever.

Blazing color is brief. The heat of summer has turned to cool and the cool grows cooler still. Accompanied by wind. And falling leaves. Fall is very pretty. And if it all lasted longer, we'd probably take it for granted. Enjoy the colors of this last week in New England. November is on its way.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the Dotted Line

Friday night... and it's been a long week. A few ups, a few of the proverbial downs, and a few real good breakthroughs.

It's the website changeover this weekend, and the Signature Scents are finally here. I'm pretty excited about it. It's been a long time coming. It's something I've wanted to do from Day 1. As with many things, the idea might be great, but putting it into practice is something entirely different.

As Manor Hall grew, new products arrived. I've always been creative, and the vision for my products back then was what I've always described as an "art attack". Every store I went to would be filled with labels that were in line with other products. That wasn't me. It wasn't Manor Hall.

As the first two years went by, it was nice adding a new product to the line. It was nice doing a different label. It was nice having free reign with the art attack. What I hadn't foreseen, though, was that having different labels meant that products couldn't really go together on a shelf or in a bag. Well they could... but it didn't look like they belonged together. It just looked like you grabbed hold of different stuff and stuck it in a bag. That could never be Manor Hall, so the gift page has always been lacking.

It's been five years long in the making, but better late than never, I say. While Manor Hall has been busy steadily growing, so have I. I love the new labels. I'm gonna be sorry to see the old ones go. I know that. But you know what? I think this new Signature line is truly Manor Hall, and I hope you'll like it.

As usual, with the monthly website changeover, maintenance will be going on all through the weekend. New products will be uploaded, new pages will be activated, and the home page will change. All should be completed by Sunday evening. Please bear this in mind if you are shopping.

Giddy Kippers

Little girls grow up to be... little girls.

It's just turned midnight, and the day has been a long one. It's been a good one, though. I've just been looking through the photo album of memories of the last six weeks. I thought I'd share the one above. It's me with my youngest daughter on her recent visit out here.

She's a bright light, and she's still as silly as she was when she was a little one. Mind you, so is her mother. Laughter is good for the soul. It releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body's natural feelgood factor. So there you have it... the more you laugh, the better you feel. Go on, break out a big beam today...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We Heart Olive Oil

Olive oil is a wonderful friend to many home beauty treatments. Used alone, or with other kitchen cupboard staples, olive oil is a favorite among natural beauty enthusiasts.

Nails and Cuticles: A twenty minute soak in a small cup of olive oil does wonders for brittle nails and rough cuticles. Add a little sugar when you're done soaking for a moisturizing hand massage.

Hands: If your hands are feeling the rough of the season, massage in a little olive oil before bed and slip on some cotton gloves.

Bath: Add a drizzle of olive oil to your bath water for an all over moisturizing treat. A few drops of lavender essential oil makes for a nice soothing calm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music To Soap By - The Proclaimers

I'm in a waiting game right now here at the Manor. I've been at the Big-Break bus stop since last November. Yes, almost one whole year. And if there's anything worse than being in such a place, it's being there alone. So in the face if it all getting a bit too much, I'm sharing with you. If it should fall through... then I can at least weep among friends.

The hoops I've jumped through have been many. It's all part of growing a business though, and so I embraced what was required of me. It's been frightening, and it's also been exciting. It's been a roller coaster of a thrill ride, that's for sure. Product submission, forms, e-files, forms, ingredient compliance, more e-files, bar code registration, label redesigns, new bottles, and ohh... bless my techy guy husband.

Yesterday morning, Manor Hall products were loaded into the database of a big household name supermarket chain store. I think the "Can't Be Happening" excursion stops today for me. I think it is happening. I think the Big-Break bus is finally pulling into the station, and it's time to believe.

Fear. Excitement. Doubt. Hope. Elation. Ohhh... what I'm feeling this morning is just a giddiness of so many emotions that my knees won't stop wobbling. I've been up most of the night, and I've lost count of the amount of times I have sat with my hands cupping my mouth and nose, lost in a tremendous feeling of "You gotta be kidding me, right?".

I'm just Susan Mann. I have a little soap company called Manor Hall Soap that has grown slowly since 2004. This year started with Jason having major bowel surgery. I've had a frozen soaping shoulder for most of it. And through it all, someone who didn't know anything about me has had faith in my Manor Hall. I am seriously over-whelmed.

So... I broke out the big percussion when I walked into the workshop this morning, and put the music on. As always, it's on reapeat, and it's loud. If I'm jinxing things, then that's the way it will be. I've kept my emotions in check for almost twelve long months while I did what was required for each phase. Personal life creating demands often, and spreading myself thin on the ground. I'm sorry... but after being up half the night in tears of total disbelief, it's time to start believing in myself. The year will soon be over. Jason is well. So am I. And I believe I am holding a ticket for the Big Break Bus.

This might be the only chance I get to sing this song with such belief. Enjoy it. Play it loud. And if you have kids, you'll love the video. I don't know Maisie and Jenny, but they are awesome! So, please sing with me as I wait for the bus to pull up. It won't be long now. "A-hah, a-hah, a-hah..."

The Proclaimers, 1988/89 - I'm On My Way

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Up For Grabs

Jessica over at CraftGossip is hosting a giveaway of some Manor Hall products. I've talked about CraftGossip before in this post.

Here's an excerpt from her contest page:
GIVEAWAY: Manor Hall Soap Company is giving away a luxurious prize pack that includes three full-size Art House Soaps in Caffe, Autumn & Grace scents, as well as a wooden soap tray and loofah.
If you like the Art House soaps, get over to Craft Gossip now to the giveaway page and find out how you can enter and win! Hurry, though... the contest ends Friday at midnight!

Good luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gimme Some Sugar

Every year, it's the same. All through the summer I fuss and fret over my sugar scrubs. Then the winter comes and I fuss and fret some more. The problem for me is that the sugar scrubs are made from oils that are liquid at room temperature, and these oils can occasionally slip out from under the lids. All it takes is one teeny microscopic oil droplet on the rim of the jars before they are sealed, and with any jostling, it's "Hey lads... we are so outta here!" Order boxes travel in the back of the postal trucks... jostle jostle... and it can be leaky jar time if I'm not careful.

Winter's on its way and in the colder weather, the sugar scrubs give me a different headache. The oils are often cooled through traveling, making it a chore to try and mix when they arrive. Okay, most folk know all about sugar scrubs, and how the oil sinks, and that a quick stir around is all that's needed. Some love this part of the scrubs... while for others, it's a chore.

Little Miss Fuss and Fret will no longer be my name from now on. The sugar scrubs have been revised, and are now creamed nicely with coconut oil. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, and helps to bind the liquid oils, while yielding a lovely creamy consistency. Coconut oil is also absolutely wonderful for the skin.

So what's not to love? New travel friendlier sugar scrubs are on the website now available to buy. You get a delightfully creamy spa product, and I get to sleep at night. I'd say it's a win win all round.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Classic Body Wash - Almost Sunset

Our classic body wash recipe is now infused with skin-loving cranberry and white tea extracts, and weighs in at 9 fluid ounces, 12% more than before. This all natural sulfate free body wash gel is made from organic oils of coconut, olive and jojoba, and is free of synthetics and artificial surfactants. With added organic aloe vera for its moisturizing skin softening kindness, this body wash feels silky soft on your skin.

cranberry extract: radiance restoring for all skin types
white tea extract: rich in polyphenols, anti aging help for skin
organic aloe juice: calming and soothing on the skin
organic jojoba oil: hypoallergenic and skin softening
lemongrass essential oil: promotes relaxation and restful sleep
ylang ylang essential oil: eases stress and promotes harmony

With the Almost Sunset blend of pure oil of lemongrass for the spirit, and ylang to pleasantly soothe, this smoky sunsetting scent bewitches with a kick of other essential oils including patchouli.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On the Way

It's the weekend again, and Jason's jumped into the techy seat while I go pour, label and shrink wrap.

He's been working behind the scenes on the website for six weeks now. We have a few new pages ready to unveil. There are also new products all set to go live from the weekend onwards, and a few new gift sets for those who like gift giving.

New bottles, labels and a kicked up formula for the organic body wash have already been completed and the page is live. The first photo is already there, and the rest will follow soon. You'll also find some of the signature scents are expanding to include bath and body collections. Ruby Moon is now available to buy in the organic body wash.

New Art House soaps are curing as I prepare for the festive launch, and out of stock soaps to cure for the new month are:

Sweet Neem
Spearmint Grapefruit
Hardy Har Harvest
Choccy Orange Kerfuffle

All orders from this week's newsletter should be out of the door by Monday. I crave the return of mom-in-law, Barbara. It's amazing the difference an extra pair of hands makes. It's also a bit of a sad act when I'm singing and silly-dancing to the seventies stuff on my own.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Skin Loves Oats

The use of oatmeal in skin care has a long history dating right back to the ancient Egyptians. The Romans and Greeks recorded how bathing with oats helped with healing skin troubles. The tiny oat has had a long journey through the centuries as a natural skin healer, and in 1989 after years and years of well documented and respected studies, oatmeal was finally recognized by the FDA as a safe and effective over the counter skin protectant.

The high concentration of starches and beta glucan in oats are what give oatmeal the ability to hold onto moisture, and protect the skin. Oatmeal also boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, which come from the presence of its different kinds of phenols.

The avenacins found in oatmeal, have potent anti-fungal activity as well as having a soap-like cleansing quality. When finely milled, the tiny oat particles adhere to the skin, smoothing and removing dry skin build up. When introduced to water, the ground oat powder forms a viscous barrier which is important protection from outside irritants. These different moisturizing properties found in oats all contribute toward maintaining the integrity of the skin's barrier, preventing water loss, and alleviating itch.

Among the many sugars, vitamins and minerals to be found in natural oats, is vitamin E, a valuable antioxidant. Oxidative stress is implicated in many skin complaints, and different inflammatory conditions can be helped with the protection offered by antioxidants.

Oatmeal is a natural product, and is helpful with a long list of skin troubles, including: dry skin, prickly heat, hives, sunburn, chickenpox, poison ivy, oak and sumac, insect bites, winter itch, atopic dermatitis, and allergic or irritant contact dermatitis.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jojoba and Oatmeal

Spilling with wildcrafted jojoba oil and fine oatmeal, this soothing bar of extra mild is a luxury for your skin.

Hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and carrying the natural antioxidant vitamin E, the skin softening qualities of jojoba oil are exceptional. It penetrates the skin with ease, and is readily absorbed without any greasy after feel. It is non-clogging on pores, and with the anti-inflammatory qualities of myristic acid, is a very useful oil for acne. The different moisturizing properties found in oats all contribute toward maintaining the integrity of the skin's barrier, preventing water loss, and alleviating itch.

This bar is fragrance free, and yields a wonderful creamy rich lather to baby your skin with the gentleness it deserves.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back to Normal

Yes, Columbus Day weekend is over... the office is open, and it's all back to normal now after my family break. Yesterday the the invoices were all printed off, and today I have been packing.

I'm still packing, and the first shipping emails will be going out in the next 24 hours. Obviously those who have waited the longest will be shipping first. I will be working all through the weekend though, so every order with the CANTWAIT coupon code will be packed and out of here by Monday morning.

The October newsletter is set for next Monday evening, and it's gonna be a good one. If you want to be in on the deals, you can sign up here to make sure you don't miss out. Thank you, and I hope your Holiday weekend was a great one!