Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Manor Hall Soap Journey

Okay... right now, I'm shaking. There's an absolutely incredible feeling running through me. I've been waiting to announce the date of the new website launch ever since work began at the end of last year. The announcement is now here.

You thought you were going to be reading the announcement I've been teasing you all with? No, it's a video, and I am so excited for you to see it. There's a little button on the lower right hand corner (with four arrows) to play it full screen, which I suggest you do. I also suggest you make sure your volume is on.

I know you can't wait to watch it, and I can't wait for you to watch it, so what are we waiting for? Here you go... the launch date of the new web site:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Putting on my Co-Hosting Hat

Last Monday, I was a guest co-host on #SmallBizRollCall with Donna Maria Coles Johnson, President and CEO of Indie Business. I've been a member of her trade organization since 2006 and she has been a guiding light to me and my Manor Hall Soap.

The video is below, and I'm going to let Donna Maria do the introduction. She said a lot more, and if you'd like to read the full article, you can do so here. Without further ado, I hand you over to Donna Maria...

If you missed last week’s #SmallBizRollCall, you may have missed the first live streaming video fed via satellite split screen, from Ustream to a FaceBook Page. I don’t know of anyone else who’s ever done so (do you?), and I’m so pleased that, with the help of my business partner husband, we pulled it off. My guest was Susan Mann, IBN’s new Boston Local Director. She joined live from her studio in Springfield, Ma, and you can watch the recorded show here. (I apologize that the audio is choppy until 1:37 — it’s clear after that. I am also told that some a few people in certain parts of the country cannot see the video at all. I am apparently one of those people, but I have heard from others that is plays without a hitch.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Step Ahead

The summer is a time to show off your summer glow – and this time of year there is no excuse not to make sure every part of you is looking its best. While you may exfoliate and moisturize as part of your bathing routine, do you remember to include your feet? It is recommended that we take 10,000 steps each day, which takes its toll on our soles. The feet do not have any oil glands to soften them which often causes dry and cracked skin.

Good foot care is important to keep rough dead skin and calluses under control. After bathing, while feet are still damp, use a pumice stone or an abrasive foot scrub to remove the dead and rough skin. You should moisturize daily to keep skin nourished and soft.

A footbath is also good relaxation technique after a hard day’s work. Put a handful of children’s marbles in a foot spa and roll your feet around on top of them to stimulate the nerve endings. Pick up the marbles with your toes, flex and contract your feet and toes and then let go off the marbles. This will allow the arches and muscles of the feet to stretch. If you have essential oils at hand, add a few drops of lavender, rosemary or peppermint into the warm water for extra indulgence.

While you can pamper your feet, ensuring you have a good pair of shoes is just as important in maintaining the health of your feet, and making certain you put your best foot forward. Every time you buy new shoes, have your feet measured - while standing and not sitting as the shape of your feet changes with daily pressures. Your feet are also likely to expand and lengthen with age as well as during pregnancy. If you wear the same pair of shoes daily, buy a new pair after six months as well-worn shoes lose their ability to support your feet properly. This can lead to feet, leg and back fatigue and problems.

It is also beneficial for your feet to be exercised in their own right. It is heavenly to walk bare feet on the grass, slowly stretching each foot as you walk. Walking along a sandy beach makes for great exfoliation.

For a simple foot stretch indoors, sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Loop a towel around your feet. Keeping the heels on the floor, pull the towel with both hands to draw the middle foot and toes towards your body. Hold for a few seconds and then loosen towel and relax. Repeat five times.

For an ankle stretch, sit with your legs stretched out in front of you with toes pointed down. Then bring toes upwards then bring it towards you as far as is comfortable. Hold for a few seconds, then relax and repeat ten times.

Following these tips and exercises should help keep you one step ahead, all summer long.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Facial Cleansing Grains - Lemon & Rosemary

These all natural cleansing grains are a convenient way to give your face a smooth and soothe cleansing treatment, preparing your skin to make the most of your moisturizing routine.

Suitable for all skin types, these grains will make light work of dry and dead skin, while nourishing and improving surface circulation. Made in combination with finely ground Manor Hall olive oil soap, these facial grains foam nicely as they are worked into your skin, loosening and lifting the dead cells from the surface. Together with soothing oatmeal, skin brightening lemon oil, and the balancing cleanse of rosemary these all natural grains bring a healthy glow, leaving your skin soft and baby smooth.

Take a tablespoon in the palm of one hand and add a little bit of warm water to form a creamy paste. Fingertip massage into wet face avoiding eye area. Gently wipe away with damp face cloth, rinse face, and pat dry with soft towel.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Facial Steaming

Facial steaming is a natural way of achieving the bright and clear skin we see in magazines, which very often owe thanks to a chemical peel. Steaming removes dead skin cells, and also helps to rehydrate the outer layer of the skin. It's easily done at home, and the benefits are many.

Steaming the face works by sweating the skin, causing the pores to open. The daily assault on the face from dust, dirt, and oil, clogs the pores and leads to breakouts, blackheads, etc. Steam penetrates the face, reaching deep into the pores. It's a once weekly simple cleansing method, that lifts away the deep everyday grime that dulls the skin.

Steaming also revives tired skin, and removes toxins, as well as improving circulation. It is also a great stress relief, and helps tremendously with colds.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Finally Letting the Cat Out

Okay... this is it. This is the day I've waited for since an idea back in October became a project. I've mentioned the big project by way of a tease in a few previous posts, and although I've enjoyed teasing everyone with it, the reason for the tease is because I've found it very difficult to keep it to myself. The truth is I've been absolutely bursting with it.

I can go on all day and night about how excited I really am, but I'm not going to do. I'm just gonna tell you right now.

Our new web site is coming soon. I wish it was here this very minute to show you, but it's still being tweaked here and there, so you're going to have to settle for a little pictorial history.

So join me for a little trip down memory lane. I warn you, though, whatever went before is not what's coming next...

This is where it all started. We bought the dot com, prepared the basic design for the site, and Jason put this teaser page up. I couldn't stop clicking on the page and ogling it. This was going to be my web site. This was going to be Manor Hall.

The original home page that went live on Day 1 in December of 2005. The soap is Orange Tree Blast. Photographing the soap with the oranges and the mint in a puddle of rain was an absolute blast, if you'll excuse the pun. Take a look at it closely for a moment. It's not a puddle of rain. It's a birdbath in my garden. And the rain? Well, the rain is me holding a garden hose sprinkler from a height like you wouldn't believe... while Jason clicked away.

This was the second home page, circa the end of 2006. This photograph is real. The seagull truly did come down for a look at the Four Seas Spa Bar. The horizon on the bar really did match the horizon in real life. We hadn't touched the photo up other than to add the text. I thought it reflected well the natural philosophy of my soap and skin care products, and so it made the home page.

July 2008. Full website revamp. I've always loved the simplicity of the frame that the three color bands create. It was achieved by design. I've never been very techy, and I've never been ashamed to admit it. We all excel at different things, and I love the way the world works like that. Because of my "shyness" where computers are concerned, I wanted a web site that was as easy as possible to navigate and fun to be on. What I really mean, I suppose, is a web site that I could navigate, and I could have fun on.

And so... where to next? Well, I'm calling it a "return to my roots". What does that mean, exactly? It means you're going to have wait a little bit longer. Did you really think the answer was going to be anything different?

Stay tuned... the launch date is coming.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trumpet Blare

Okay... I have been waiting since last November for this day. The "Gathering Speed" announcement will be appearing here very soon. Watch this space!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Succeeding in Small Business Interview

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of "sitting down" with Jeanne Yocum, a local public relations specialist and ghostwriter, for a Q&A interview on her Succeeding In Small Business blog. It's a great blog for those in business and I've been reading it since I discovered it at the beginning of this year.

With all the goings-on this past couple of weeks, I never managed to post the alert here, so I'm posting it now. So head on over to Succeeding In Small Business and check out my interview there. I really enjoyed answering those questions!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Surrender To Splendor

I'm pen-pushing this morning. Not my fave thing to do. As soon as I start to do the math, I get Art House soap ideas popping into my head, complete with the most alluring visual images of a new bar!

The Lemon Poppo Mint in the pic above will not leave me alone while I'm clearing the curing shelves of soap to check-in the stock numbers for the website.

Okay, Lemon Poppo Cinderella. You shall go to the Art House ball. Never more will you be just a chip off the old-style block!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Small Act, Big Feeling

Yesterday morning, I took a box of soaps downtown to help with the tornado relief in Springfield. Many thanks to WWLP and Sy Becker for highlighting me in the brief video above (click to watch!), and how we can all help those in the Springfield and surrounding areas who are in need right now.

Also, deep gratitude to those in the community who are working tirelessly to help, including St. Francis Chapel on Bridge Street in Springfield. This was just my small part.

Monday, June 6, 2011

See You At Whole Foods Tonight

I will be at The Whole Foods Market "Symphony Store" tonight between 5.00pm and 7.00pm, for their Local "meet and greet" evening. The store is on Westland Avenue in Boston. Come and meet me, let me hand you some samples, and pick up your regular Manor Hall faves right from their shelves. New liquid soap isn't on the website yet, but Symphony Store has it. YAY!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I haven't posted since the day before the tornados ripped through Springfield. I've wanted to, but I haven't quite known where to start. There's been no shortage of things going round in my head, but emotions have been running high in me... and well, it's never a good thing to write on the internet when the heart is holding the brain hostage. I've seen a lot since Wednesday afternoon. Close up... like, real close up.

In the wake of much upset, this morning I moved to a place that I always go to when emotions are difficult for me to handle. It's a place on the floor... cross-legged, behind pen and paper. I so love the comfort of the written word. The blank page I held in my hand brought to mind images from the tornados that tore through our city. Debris. Huge heavy slices of stuff, being puffed around like paper. It's hard to look at debris. It's difficult to comprehend. Debris is one of those words that says a lot... and yet says nothing of what it really is.

It's the roof of a house spinning airborne.
It's concrete, in freefall descents.
It's trees slamming up against front doors.
It's glass, sharding classrooms and creche.
It's picket fence impaled through kitchens.
It's bed linen, coddling bare boughs.
It's mail found on lawns many miles away.
It's the whys, and the wherefores and hows.
It's the pleas in the eyes of the helpless.
It's the open mouth stare of aghast.
Much more than six alphabet letters.
It's Debris: wretchedness unsurpassed.

-sm, 6/5/2011

"Debris" flowed with ease from my pen this morning, having watched the video below. Now that it's freed from the dark of my mind, I'm hoping I can concentrate more and put my head back into the soapy stuff.