Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The New Workshop

I've been in the new workshop now for six weeks, and it's great. It feels like a completely different place. Really... it's like I'm somewhere else. I thought I'd share some long overdue pics with you of how it looked the day I was moving in.

The work area. I spend most of my time here. Running the length of the wall on the left is a long countertop. I wasn't too sure whether to have the whole wall kitted out in a full top to bottom cabinet of shelving, and decided that perhaps a work surface might be a better option.

Under the counter top are deep pocket shelves, and it's here that I store most of my ingredients in the aqua topped tubs. Grains, salts, sugars, carrier oils, butters, spices, herbs, florals... you name it. If I use it, it's found here.

In the center, is the workbench. The photo doesn't really do justice to the overall size of it. To give you some idea of perspective, the white pail sitting between the countertop and the workbench is a five gallon one. Underneath the workbench is storage like you wouldn't believe. I keep all my soaping tools here, as well as my soaping pails.

The door is a utility closet. I love this! It's a deep space, and holds many things that I need for different tasks, but not tasks that I do every day. At the side of the door on the right of the photo you can just about make out a darker line going down the picture. That's the curing shelves alcove. I thought I had photos of it, but I haven't. I'm thinking I must have decided to wait until they were full.

This is my scent blending station. It's got an incredibly long work surface, and it's absolute heaven for me. The cabinet is a big one and the bottles look so small against it, but that's the perspective of the long shot. To give you some idea, the bottles on the bottom shelf are 8oz, 1lb and 2lb sizes.

The wash-up area. The original intention for here was for it to be my formulary. But once the long counter top was put into the work area, it was a no-brainer. Having my formulary stand back to back with my workbench is so much more efficient. So, this has remained solely the wash-up.

This is my computer station. The pockets on the wall have been fantastic, and have kept the countertops clear of folders, paperwork, and mess. I've since added hooks along the bottom, and the order box invoices and worksheets hang there now.
So, there you have it. My brand spanking new workshop. I have to say, I think I did rather well with the reno considering the many nightmare stories you hear about contractors. It didn't give me too many headaches, and the guys were an absolute dream to be working with.

I will be posting current photos soon so you can see how it looks now that I've really settled in. Meanwhile, I hope you've enjoyed this little peek into my world.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Patchouli Essential Oil

A plant native to India and Malaysia, Patchouli is known as "puchaput" coming from two hindustan words, 'patch' meaning 'green' and 'ilai' meaning 'leaf'. Its dried leaves were used to repel moths when transporting cashmere shawls to Victorian England, and the smell became a signature of authenticity, without which the shawls wouldn't sell in England.

Distilled from young leaves that are dried and fermented first, patchouli oil is like a fine wine, getting better with age. Its smell is a strong one, very rich, sweet and musky, and is used widely in perfume.

Antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory, patchouli oil is a magnificent tissue regenerator. Helping to stimulate new cell growth, it promotes speedier healing, and aids in the prevention of scars. Patchouli oil also cools down inflammation, insect bites, and fungal infections.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Numbers Are Back

Many soaps are reaching their curing dates this next few days. Soaps back in stock today are:

Honey me smooth
She She Shea and Lavender.

More will follow tomorrow. Meanwhile... if you want to check on curing dates for your fave, just click here. I love the new curing date feature. I hope you do too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Order Box Pucker Up

Our all natural petroleum-free lip balm, stars as this month's order box freebie.

Made with calendula infused organic olive oil and organic sunflower oil, this lip balm is ready to take on the harsh of the seasons. Unrefined shea butter helps to complete a trio of chafe-chasing natural knights to keep you pouting pretty no matter the mood of Old Man Weather.

This easy glide lip balm skips over the lips, naturally moisturizing and nourishing while it protects. And protects. And protects. Just place your order and pretty up that pucker... for free.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Soften Up To Spring

Did someone say spring? Yes, it's time to start softening up those tough spots left behind by the harsh of winter, with a healthy slathering of natural.

Each Manor Hall lotion stick is full of wonderful nourishing ingredients to moisturize and soften your skin. Made with organic oils and spilling with soothing butters, these convenient lotion sticks will make sure you have soft skin all day long, wherever you may be.

The four varieties are Lavender & Vanilla, Chamomile & Lavender, Rose & Ylang and Naturally Fragrance Free. Check them all out here and say hello to the soft skin that winter tried so hard to deny you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Special On 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.

On special today! Buy 2 and get 1 free. No coupon needed. Just put 2 face creams into your cart and I'll pop a third into your order box for free. Offer ends midnight tonight.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Praising the Bar

The soapfest I've been on for the last three weeks has been absolutely fantastic. Even though soapmaking is my job, I never stop marvelling with each batch that I make. It's almost like I've never made it before and I'm seeing it for the first time. I suppose that's because each batch is an individual in its own right.

I'm sharing with you here the latest batch of Calendula, Calm and Co. The oils creamed beautifully together and every step of the way, I kept saying to The Barbara, "OMG... I can't believe this batch." It really is a beautiful soap to make.

The soap has sat in the mold for 36 hours and I'm splitting the first log. I don't often get this in photographs, but the consistency is so perfect, it looks like it's just been poured. It's just so smooth and the petals have really yielded a bright orange.

This is the log lineup as they come off the cutter. I do this by hand with a single guitar-type string. It gives me a very even cut. It's hard to believe that once upon a time I did this part with a knife.

The full batch lineup. I get five logs that yield 11 bars each, and a nice thick strip that I'll use for samplers or Mischief Makers.

My trusty soap cutter. This stage is a bit like cutting cheese. At two days old, the logs are firm, but even so, you can see the strings slice through it easily enough. In only a few days, the soap bars will have hardened up nicely. But it's the four to six week curing time that really makes for the hard, long-lasting bar of soap that is Manor Hall.

Here's an artsy pic. I don't know what it is about this one, but I love it. I think I might have this blown up and put it on the workshop wall. There's something still and peaceful about it. I think that's rather fitting, seeing that it's Calendula, Calm and Co.

The bounty. I can normally write off a good ten bars per batch as Mischief Makers, but this particular batch has been a full yield. I wasn't supposed to be testing this one out until Wednesday, but it looked so good, I couldn't wait and had to lather it up today. Believe me, it feels as good as it looks. And it will be available for you to lather up on March 28th.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Facial Cleansing Oil

Clear skin is something we all strive to attain. Blemishes, pimples, and blackheads etc, all knock the confidence in the best of us when they appear. Many skin care products on the market today leave the skin stripped of its natural oil. In response to this, the body signals production of more oil. It's an over compensation and is very often the reason behind clear skin troubles.

When the problem seems to be oily skin, the last thing you'd consider bringing into the equation is more oil. But, when considering your cleansing routine, it's useful to know that oil dissolves oil. As it soaks into the skin, it is carried deep into the pores, drawing dust and grime to the surface where it can be wiped away cleanly. The essential fatty acids found in plant oils also help to restore the balance of the skin's natural moisture.

For many, cleansing this way is found to be more preferable and effective than using alcohols and synthetics to strip the skin of oil. Regular cleansing with natural oil is helpful with fine lines, delivering a welcome moisturization. It leaves the skin feeling incredibly soft, offering a natural healthy radiance.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Cure For All

Ever wanted to know when your favorite soap is going to be back in stock? There's a new feature on the web site that allows you to see at a glance when a soap is curing, and when it will be available. Never feel lost without your favorite bar again!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Music To Soap By - Dexys Midnight Runners

And the soapfest continues!

Today's "on loop" is another great shout along. I love making soap, and I love a good beat while I'm on my feet. The workshop is alive. Even The Barbara is hopping about to this one.

Wherever you are in your day, let loose a little. "Come on... Eileen taloo rah hey, come on... "

Dexys Midnight Runners, 1982 - Come On Eileen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sulfate Free Spree

With a peaceful aromatherapy less-stress blend of ylang ylang and patchouli essential oils, it's Chill Out time, and quiet and calm is bliss at the end of your crazy day merry-go-round. This fragrant foaming bath and body wash, creates soft and gentle sulfate free bubbles, to bathe your beautiful body in. 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.

ylang ylang essential oil: eases stress and promotes harmony
patchouli essential oil: aids emotional balance
organic aloe juice: calming and soothing on the skin
jojoba oil: hypoallergenic and skin softening
oat extract: helps with moisture loss and the integrity of the skin's barrier
white tea extract: rich in polyphenols, anti aging help for skin

78% organic content. Sulfate free, paraben free, phthalate free.

Also available in a sleep-easy Night Time blend and an uplifting Bounce Back blend.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Thought to originate from southern China, the sweet orange grows on an evergreen tree known for its dark leaves and white flowers. Brought to Europe in the 15th century by Portuguese traders, the sweet orange certainly passed the taste test where popularity was concerned, causing the bitter orange of Persia to take a sideways step.

Sweet orange oil is cold pressed from the peel, and it is the "limonene" content that gives its aroma the clean fresh tang. Yellow to orange in color, sweet orange oil is thin in consistency.

Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, sedative and tonic, sweet orange oil creates a feeling of warmth and light of mood. It is a safe non-irritating oil, but it can increase sensitivity to UV in prolonged sunlight. Known to help with colds and flu by stimulating the lymphatic system, sweet orange oil has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Salt Of The Earth

Taking time out for a bath is one of the simplest home spa experiences, and dates back too many centuries to count.

As well as softening the water, the addition of salts to your bath alters the osmotic balance of the water. Because of such, less water is absorbed by the skin, reducing the pruning and wrinkling ususally associated with prolonged fresh water bathing.

Magnesium sulfate, more commonly known as Epsom Salt or Mineral Salt is probably the most studied bathing salt around, and its effect on the muscles and nervous system are many. Absorbed by the skin, its magnesium content has an anti inflammatory effect.

The many natural salts from around the world boast therapeutic qualities, with people traveling to the Dead Sea to relax in its famed buoyant waters while soaking up the high mineral count it is renowned for. The minerals found in the salt from the Dead Sea are also found in the skin but are often depleted, causing dryness and other associated problems. Bathing with Dead Sea salt allows the skin the chance to drink a little of what it may be short on, as it absorbs the various wealth of minerals that form a high percentage of its content.

The addition of salt in bathing also aids buoyancy. This is particularly helpful after a hard days work, when you need to take the weight off your feet. The relaxation eases away stiffness, helps with tension, and improves the way you feel.

Salts open the pores, purify and cleanse. They soften skin, and help with insect bites, minor rashes and skin conditions. Salt also aids exfoliation, helping shed the skin of the dry flakiness that prevents the new skin from absorbing the moisture it needs.

Being able to relax and unwind at the end of the day is conducive to a good night's sleep. Taking time out to step into the comfort and ease of a nice warm salt bath, is a rewarding end to any demanding day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cleaning the World

This morning, together with a round of Manor Mania order boxes, the mailman collected two extra ones. These two boxes were filled with Mischief Makers, end slices, and various soap scrappy doos. They're headed to an organization in Florida for a very good cause.

Clean the World Foundation, Inc. was founded in February 2009 by two individuals, Shawn Seipler and Paul Till, as a Florida not-for-profit corporation. Through the collection, recycling and distribution of soap and shampoo products discarded by hotels every day, Clean the World is dedicated to preventing millions of deaths caused by acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease.

We tend to take soap for granted, but those little blocks do a lot, and it's something you really miss when you don't have it. It's hard to believe that in some parts of the world, there's such a serious shortage. It's difficult to really make a difference in the big wide world, but as a soapmaker I feel that this is one small part I can play in getting help to a lot of people.