Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Music To Soap By - Miranda Lambert

It's the soap pans this morning, and I have Barbara here again to do the wash-up. Silly dancing ahoy. I love it!

I don't usually soap so late in the year. Normally I close the office from around December 14th until the second week in January. This year may be different though. I think the natural chain store supermarket order might be arriving this week. The wait is absolutely killing me.

I'm blaring out this one today. It's got a great beat, and a pretty good hook. I love Miranda. Remember those good old school days? The ones with the "Pink Ladies" there to make you feel small? Yeah well... sing along with me, and enjoy having those days behind you...

Miranda Lambert, 2010 - Only Prettier

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Gift Options

Okay, I'm really stoked. The first four gift collections have been uploaded to the Gift Options page tonight. I still have the writeups to do, but I think the pictures tell a good story.

All the packaging I've chosen is eco-friendly. The paper packaging is recycled and the reusable zipper tote bags are 100% cotton. There are still a few more gifts to be uploaded. We'll be working on those tomorrow!

The Sun In Winter

It is believed that around 5,000 years ago (3,000 B.C.), in what is present day New Mexico and Arizona, the sunflower was domesticated into a single headed plant with varying seed colors including black, white, red and the familiar black and white striped. Yes... the sunflower was domesticated in North America. And it's the only crop harvested around the world for seed that can make that claim.

Way back when, the seeds of this plant were pounded into flour, cracked and eaten as snacks and mixed with other vegetables. And evidence indicates that other parts of the plant were used in the making of ointments for snakebites and other skin conditions. And the oil from the seed was actually squeezed for use on the hair and skin.

Sunflower oil is utilized widely today in cooking, but also as a carrier oil for massage. It is chemically stable and therefore excellent as a base for natural balms, lotions and creams. It is easily absorbed and contains skin-adoring vitamins A and D, and more vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. It also has calcium, iron, zinc and phosphorous, minerals which help nourish and revitalize, while the oil moisturizes, softens, heals and protects.

Organic sunflower oil is the base of my Manor Hall Lip Skippers Lip Balm, including the super-soothing Lip Skippers Mend Blend. Also made with calendula infused organic olive oil, this lip balm is ready to take on the harsh of the cold season. It's just what every pair of smackers needs this winter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snuff Said

With a comforting aromatherapy breathe-easy blend of eucalyptus and ylang ylang essential oils, it's the vapors time, and much needed relief is a welcome escape at any time during your snuffly day.

eucalyptus essential oil: gives breathing a breeze
ylang ylang essential oil: eases stress and promotes harmony

The fragrant foaming bath and body wash, creates soft and gentle sulfate free bubbles, to bathe your beautiful body in. Organic aloe juice, jojoba oil, and wonderful extracts of oat and white tea help soften and soothe, and all that's left for you to do is pour... and breathe the day away.

The fragrant aroma rollette rolls onto the skin with ease, releasing its wonderful aromatic essential oils into your world wherever you may be. Just roll onto your wrist, rub together, and breathe the day away.

Both are brand new for the cold and snuffly season, and available only at the Manor.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paraben Free Face Creme

This nourishing face creme is a rich blending of organic olive oil and organic aloe juice. It feels absolutely wonderful on your skin, gliding on with a velvet touch and absorbing with ease. Formulated to deliver deep moisture and nourishing hydration, it lends a helping hand to the suppleness of your skin, leaving behind an incredible feeling of softness.

Moisturising your skin is important whatever your skin type. Use day and night after cleansing and toning, with upward sweeps to the face and neck. When delivering care to your skin, always use a gentle touch on the face, with circular and upward movement.

88% organic, and paraben free.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Music To Soap By - Cyndi Lauper

Ohhh... where has this last ten days gone? The Barbara leaves tomorrow, and I still feel like there's loads to get through. On the plus side, the workshop is organized like it's never known before.

I opened up this morning at 5.30am, and it was like... wow! Every shelf in there has something that belongs on it. There are drawers, tubs, plastic buckets, trays, little boxes, and even my shipping station has a place for everything.

It's been a great time. I've caught up on an awful lot of things. Two pairs of hands really do make light work. Even better when the extra hands belong to a real friend. I shall miss the Barbara when she goes home. I will be back to silly dancing alone. Today though, she's all mine. The music we're blaring out this morning lends itself nicely to some nifty footwork and head bopping. I must get myself some over the knee striped socks.

Whatever you're doing today, stay in the moment. Make the most of your surroundings and have a few laughs. Altogether now.... oh, girls just wanna have fun.

Cyndi Lauper, 1983 - Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's in the Bag

It's Monday night and the overhaul of the gift page has begun.

I'm really revved up about this. The delivery arrived on Friday and we spent the weekend unpacking and sorting through carry bags of different sizes, gift tags, and some nice cerise tissue paper. All the packaging is really great, but I think the star of the show has to be the eco friendly canvas zipper tote. Brightly printed with big polka dots, it's made from 100% heavyweight cotton with a nicely sized pocket on the front. Handles are strong and long, and the first tote option will include a body wash, sugar scrub and aroma roll-on from the Signature Scent Collection.

The pic above is from the first photo shoot, and various gift options will soon be available. I'm so gonna to enjoy this week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veterans Day Weekend Sale

It's Veterans Day on Thursday 11/11, and Manor Hall is celebrating with you all weekend long. Just type in the code "LOVEVETS" at checkout and you will receive 11% off of your order. Offer ends Sunday the 14th at midnight.

The cold season is already setting in and taking its toll on hands. As a bonus, all orders placed over the Veterans Day Weekend will receive an exclusive Manor Hall manicure pack. Treat yourself to samplings of these brand new hand pampering goodies! Ordering during the sale is a great way to try them out, while also getting your hands in tip top condition.

And, of course, don't forget the regular November order box freebies.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Veterans Day Weekend. And today, a special Happy 235th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps. A huge thank you to all who serve, and their families.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aroma Roll-On - Twisted Lavender

With a signature Twisted Lavender blend of pure essential oils, this aroma rollette rolls onto the skin with ease, releasing its wonderful scent into your world wherever you may be. Just roll onto your wrist, rub together, and be Twisted Lavender all day.

• lavender essential oil: promotes relaxation and restful sleep
• ylang ylang essential oil: eases stress and promotes harmony
• lemon essential oil: brings cleansing freshness

With pure oil of lavender for soothing calm, and lemon oil for tang and zing, this relaxing yet stirring scent twists nicely with a kick of other essential oils including ylang. Scented only with essential oils.

Paraben free, phthalate free.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Spa Salt Experience

With family being my main rock for the next ten days, I think this is ideal time to bring you another informative beauty article from the pages of my eldest daughter. It's about pampering yourself during the cold months. I think its rather appropriate on this New England morning where despite the beautiful sunset last night, the sleet is raining down. Rooftops and ground are a mushy white. I think winter is saying its first hello.

You can find an introduction to Gayle, in an earlier post I made here, and of course, all her articles can be found under Natural Beauty on the blue sidebar of the website.

The Spa Salt Experience, by Gayle Whelan

With its cold days, biting winds, central heating and long nights in front of the fireplace, the winter is an ideal time to treat your skin to a simple spa experience, without leaving your home and without a hefty price tag. Taking some time to spoil yourself with natural bath salts and essential oils invigorates your senses, calms frayed nerves, and relaxes tense muscles. There is no time like the present to put yourself first.

Begin with a spa facial made with three tablespoons of honey, 1/3 cup ground oats and 2 teaspoons of peppermint tea. Apply in circular motions and leave for a few minutes before rinsing off. Your skin will be exfoliated and will look gorgeous and feel soft. Now it's time to start running your bath. Consider the temperature of your bath or shower as this can affect energy levels. A cool shower is very energizing, while a warm bath set at a few degrees above body temperature is relaxing while maximizing absorptions of nutrients. A hot bath, however is best with a few drops of lavender oil, and helps promote sleep.

While considering what to add to your bath for the ultimate relaxation, it is best to use only natural products. Mixing essential and aromatherapy oils with bath salts can result in beautiful aromas that enrobe you while offering a host of healing and relaxing properties.

Using Dead Sea salts in your bath is also an effective way to absorb the qualities of the minerals the Dead Sea is renowned for. Research has proven that the nutrients in these salts can help alleviate many skin conditions including psoriasis. Add two or three handfuls to your bath water to relax, rejuvenate and relieve muscle tension. Salt aids buoyancy, which helps take the load off the muscles.

A couple of cups of apple cider vinegar in your bath will help restore a natural pH to skin, as well as rejuvenating and building up the body's resistance. Cider vinegar combats unfriendly bacteria and is soothing to the skin, helping to alleviate itchiness, poison ivy, and sunburn.

For the ultimate spa experience, mix your Dead Sea salts with oils to create your own mood enhancers and stress relievers. Bath salts offer wonderful relief of stress symptoms by increasing circulation and encouraging detoxification of cells. They also moisturize the skin and enhance relaxation. Bathing close to bedtime may help you get a good night's sleep, which is necessary for regeneration of the body.

Whichever way you choose to indulge in the benefits of salt soaks and rubs, use a good natural moisturizer to help retain all the good nutrients your body has just absorbed. For best results, apply within two minutes of leaving the bath. Your spa experience should leave you relaxed and content, and able to face another day.

The Barbara

Superwoman has arrived!

She's sleeping now, but when she wakes I am so in for a workout like you wouldn't believe. The woman is like a whirlwind. Nothing stands in her path. She's like the dreaded time and motion man. No sooner have you got one thing done, then she's off seeking out the next task. She's relentless, like some superhero with laser sharp eyes that home in on work to be done. I am aching all over just thinking about it.

She's here for ten days.

She cleans. She tidies. She dusts. She sweeps. She vacuums. She clears out cupboards. She checks the dates on everything inside the fridge. She fluffs cushions. She picks up shoes. She does laundry. And that's only what she does when we get back into the house after a full day in the workshop!

All day long she makes my cups of tea. She makes sure I eat. She sterilizes my bottles and jars. She carries boxes of soap. She preps the work stations. She organizes the labels. She does the wash up. She wipes the soap bars. She puts things away. And just when you think you've finished and it's break time... she says, "Okay... what's next?", and she's off out of the trap like a greyhound.

I am exhausted before the day has begun.

But there's more to this darling wonderwoman. She's a rock. She's a heart of gold. She's a giggle machine. She's a steadier. She's an optimist. She's seen it all. She's never fazed. She's a hug when I'm over-whelmed. She's a reminder when I forget. She's a light on darker days.

She's a rare gem.

She's the Barbara. And she's the best mother-in-law evah!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunset Over Springfield

We've had a blustery day today. I think the last of the leaves have fallen. This was the evening sky outside tonight. It lasted for all of ten minutes, if that. But what a ten minutes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Have a Dream...

From being a kid, I've been a swimmer. I love the water. I swear I was a dolphin in a previous life.

The one thing I've always wanted to do is swim with dolphins. Another one is to own a wetsuit. And wait for it... can you believe that in ten years of being stateside, I've never been in American waters. Riding a horse in West Virginia with a cowboy hat on is another thing I have to do. Don't ask... I was brought up on cowboy films. I always wanted to be the hottest dead-eyed cowgirl ever. I have to go to Savannah... and I have to go to Charleston. I have to wear Scarlett's green drapes dress, and sashay across some dusty ground somewhere.

Oh... the list is endless. There are so many dreams I've held all these years. In August, I checked one of my dreams off the list. I bought the wetsuit. I also treated myself to a body board. Narragansett, Rhode Island, we headed for. Me and Jason, camera in tow. I couldn't have asked for better. It was a beautiful, warm summer evening. And I got to go into the water with my wetsuit and bodyboard, as day turned nearly into night. It was exhilarating. It was a dream come true.

I've been wanting to post the photos on the blog ever since, but have never gotten round to it. So, without further ado, here's me, and one dream checked off the list...

There's people on the beach, but as far as I'm concerned there's only me and my dream.

At this point, I really can't believe it's happening. Like I know I'm there, but it's still a bit unreal.

This is my spot. Just me and the water. It feels absolutely fantastic. And let me tell you, a wetsuit might keep the water out a bit, but you still get to feel the cold.

You know what? The American sea does not taste like the English sea. The sea in England is salty beyond belief. This was so lacking in salt, it tasted like freshwater to me.

Like, OMG... what a feeling of triumph. It's been many years in the waiting. Seriously, what an absolutely incredible feeling!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today's Bounty

Another day of soap done. I thought I'd share some photos of the logs before today's cut. Bars are now on the shelf. They'll be ready for wrapping later this month. Enjoy the pics...

Ruby Moon

Sesame Ginger Me

Almost Sunset

Choccy Orange Kerfuffle

Hardy Har Harvest

Spearmint Grapefruit

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music To Soap By - Dobie Gray

I'm never happier than when I'm soaping. It's an absolutely incredible feeling. It's like... freedom. It's like... I've made a break for it and I'm outta the door. It's like... it doesn't matter what's going on in the real world, I'm here in my own little world, and... I'm free.

I was feeling so great when I broke out the soaping clothes today, that in wondering what music I wanted to be spurring me on, I was taken right back to my teenage years. Yeah... we all had those. Least said soonest mended and all that. I think the one thing about growing up is that you can look back and be aware of what you put your parents through... with a full blown cringe. My poor mother. That's all I can say. You know... I still apologize to her regularly in our phone calls whenever the subject of children comes up. I don't think you can be sorry enough when you've put loved ones through hell. So, here's another apology while I'm on the subject... "OMG, Mum... I was a nightmare for you. I'm so sorry!"

So... in choosing my music this morning I remembered one particular song that used to cause me to feel so... hmm... what's the word to describe it... to feel so... resolved. Yes... that's the word I'm looking for. Resolved. But not just any common or garden feeling of resolve. No, this kind of being resolved brings with it an incredible feeling of, "I am running so free, nothing can catch me."

And that's how I was feeling this morning. Not a care in the world. Maybe. Sometimes, things get on top of you and you don't even know it. So I'm looking at that. For some reason this morning, I chose to soap with my old friend, Dobie. Maybe deep inside I just wanted to feel like nothing out there matters, and it brought to mind that old teenage resolve. You know the one I mean. Where you get the last word in and slam the back door behind you leaving your poor mother in tears. And what's more, you know you've left her in tears and you just don't care. You're gonna live your life how you want. After all... you're right. What do they know anyway?

Course... you can stamp your feet, and cover your ears saying to yourself, "Neh, neh... I can't hear you." You can do that all you want. But somewhere in your head you have heard, and you're really screaming out for it all to be sorted. You just don't want to be the one to back down, because... well, as a teenager, you're just too proud to admit you're an insensitive jerk.

You know what... I'm glad I'm grown up. I'd hate to be the age I am now, and still feel the same way that I did when I was a rebellious teen. And I'm glad I had the where-with-all to tell my mum years later that I was sorry for what I'd put her through. Moreover, I'm glad I could actually feel some real pain, embarrassment, and true discomfort for the way I'd been with her.

That's the backdrop to today's music. It was always an anthem that stopped common sense from taking over. Course, I'm all grown up now. I'm older. I'm wiser. I've had my kids. They're out in the wide world with their own life's events to grow from. It feels so great to hear the music, and be at a point in my life where its effect of drowning out the real world isn't needed. A point in my life where those days and my unforgivable insensitive behaviour are long long behind me. And you know what I've realized in dusting off this old song? I've realized that with no angst to feel while it's playing, the song is an absolute cracker of a song. I never fully appreciated that when I was young. I was too busy rebelling. OMG... what blinkers (blinders) I was wearing back then.

To rebels everywhere. To all those who are still on the journey of growing up. Whatever your age, may you hear this song without angst and feel true appreciation for the music. To everyone else... enjoy. It really is a get-up-and-go song.

Dobie Gray, 1966 - Out On The Floor

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hand It Over

Taking time out for a manicure isn't just about relaxing in the salon and catching up on all the gossip with the girls. Looking after your hands is important, and the purpose of manicuring isn't only about improving the look and feel of your hands, fingers and nails, but also to cleanse and strengthen.

Manicuring hydrates and exfoliates the skin on your hands, and also the skin that surrounds the fingernails. Massaging the hands is great for unwinding and for melting away the stress of the day, but combined with gentle exfoliation it can work to slough off the old skin cell build up that often prevents full absorption of your moisturizing creams.

Hard skin, flaky skin, dry skin... all of this only serves to create a barrier, preventing much needed moisture from reaching the healthy young skin below. Trying to moisturize dead or dying skin cells is a losing battle. Creams and lotions settle on the surface, and that's about as far as it goes. Skin needs to be maintained if you want to avoid dryness, and the "weathering" problems often associated with it.

Regular hand exfoliation will maximize your moisturizing routine. There are many polishing products on the market specifically for this purpose, but a simple one can be made easily with a little olive oil and sugar. You can even warm the olive oil and add a little honey to really kick up the silky effect. Once rinsed, you'll notice a difference immediately in the condition of your skin.

Regular use of cream or lotion will keep hands moisturized, and again, try to take a few minutes to massage it in. This not only serves to relax and de-stress, but also helps to deliver the moisture where it's needed - into the skin.

Looking after the finger nails is also an important step in the manicure routine. Finger nails can be brittle, split or dry. And the cuticle area can be hard, often cracked and painful. A nice soak in warm water will soften them up, and a good cuticle balm or butter will deliver nourishment to where it's needed. This all serves to aid strength and growth.

All in all, there's more to a manicure than first meets the eye. It's not about striving for pretty hands... it's about maintaining hands. The prettiness naturally follows.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sneak Peek

It's not a soap bar.

It's not a wax tart.

It's not a bath fizzy.

It's softening. It's smoothing. It's silking.

The middle of November. It's coming soon...