Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Closing Reminder

Just to remind everyone that the office will be closing tomorrow night after 5.00pm for our usual Christmas break. All orders placed before then, will be packed and shipped by Friday December 14th. I'll still be here behind the scenes, finishing things off for the year 2012 and making soap for the new year. I am looking forward to some family time though, as I'm sure all of you are. If you need to place your order in in time for the Holidays, please head on over to the website before the closed notice goes up tomorrow night.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's a Date

Monday morning round again, and another Wrap-Fest is underway. I'm making sample baggies for the Whole Foods Market local evening. That's where I get to stand behind my table in the Whole Body Department, to meet and greet their great customers with Manor Hall samples. It's tomorrow night, from 5.00pm til around 7.00pm. December 4th... Symphony Store, Westland Avenue in Boston. I'll see you there!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

He's On His Way

It's the first of December, and we're getting a nice dusting of snow right now. Not something we get a lot of back home in England. I used to really enjoy the Holiday month when the children were little ones. I'd wait for the first snowfall to make the television news anywhere in the UK, then I'd excite the kids by announcing that "he's on his way". Meaning Santa, of course. I can still hear the whoops of delight filling the house all these years later. Where are you this weekend, and what's your weather doing? And to all you little ones out there... he's on his way!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seven Soaps a Slicing

Seven batches waiting for the un-mold, trim and shelf prep. I wish I could just do this stage all day long. Unfortunately, there's comes a point where every wooden box is empty, fresh soap lines the shelves, and it's time to start again. For the seven that are on deck this morning, that should be around 10.00am. Me and my blade are gonna savor every soap slicing minute between now and then. Happy Hump Day everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Guess the Soap Contest!

New soap! Here's a batch in gel, which means that the color morphs over the first five days or so. I will be posting a pic of the same batch later in the week, so you can see its true color.

Meanwhile, grab yourself a guess as to what you think this brand new soap is. A free bar will go to the winner as soon as it is cured.

Just head on over to the Facebook Page to submit your entry. You can guess more than once, but please use a new comment for each try. I'll announce the winner on Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Manic Thank Yous

It's been a long holiday weekend, and I'm all ready to close the workshop for the night. Before I do, I want to thank everyone who has waited patiently for their Manor Mania order boxes. This Manor Mania event has been the most successful one since it began at the beginning of 2008. All shipping notices have flown. I thank you very much.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Facial Exfoliating

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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Red Spotted Purple

We snapped this butterfly over the weekend in Vermont, while walking around farmland and woods. I've been trying to identify it. It seems to be a "Red Spotted Purple". However, online photos of RSP buterflies are lacking the white bands that my butterfly has arcing across its open wings. I suppose that just like people, butterflies are individuals in their beauty.

I'm marking this one as a Red Spotted Purple. Unless of course, you know different...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bring On The Rain

I love the sound of the rain. It has always created a tranquility for me. It falls in a steady rhythm, and can be very lulling to a busy mind.

I've always loved the smell that it brings too. Whether town or country, the rain accentuates the scent of outdoors. Rain also brings negative ions into the air, helping you to breathe in more oxygen. This is great for added concentration, and lifting your mood.

I prefer to walk in the rain, no matter how hard it's falling. But you can still get the benefits that the rain brings by being under an umbrella out on your deck, or even just standing at the back porch. Be sure to catch some in a bucket though. Rainwater is absolutely fantastic for your hair.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weighing In

On the scales and weighing in at a hefty five ounces is... Sesame Ginger Me. With a full morning of wrapping ahead of me, I'm looking to the weekend and wondering what it will bring. Will it bring me the beach? Will it bring me the countryside? Then I look at the boxes of cured soap stacked up on the shelves and it's like, "Don't be silly, Susan... the weekend's a wrapfest, and you know it."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How It's Done: House Of Almonds

Here's a  look in photos of a batch of "House of Almonds" being made.

Make sure your pot of soap is at a light trace. This makes working with the raw soap much easier for playing with layers, splots, drops, or splatters. I always have my ingredients in a see through tray or shoe box, labeled with a sticky note on the inside, and I pop my recipe sheet in there too.

When making your own recipe sheet, make sure to detail all the jugs of soap you'll need, what colors, and how much to reserve for future stages as your batch of soap is built up.

I've poured off some of the base soap into a plastic jug, and here I'm adding rose clay to make the bottom layer a nice pink color.

Incorporate the powder with a spatula first, before moving on to the stick blender. Once you have a smooth batter, pour into the mold.

Wait a little until the layer of pink has set up enough to hold the weight of your next layer. Carefully spoon the soap from your base pot onto the pink, nestling the little dollops close together as you go along. Smooth off with back of spatula to level, ready for the next stage.

Here, I've added some sweet almond oil to a little rose clay powder, and have worked it through to a nice smooth paste with the spatula.

Holding the jug from a height, I'm pouring small individual slops into the batter across the whole layer. Holding the jug high adds weight the the soap, causing it to fall through the white layer. The height of the jug rules the kind of effect you get in the finished soap. Here, I'm going for a tear drop effect, so I need plenty height. I've used about a third of the jug for the drops.

Holding the jug close to the soap now, I'm pouring the batter to finish off the layer. I work in lines to make it easier for spreading out. This is helpful when working with a thickened batter.

Working with the remaining leftovers of all three colors, I'm now building up the top layer in splodges from the spatula. Splodges of dark pink... of white... and then of light pink.

Here, I'm using a bamboo skewer (found in packs in the barbecue section of the supermarket), to twirl, trail, and lift up little peaks. This is the real fun part, and it's very difficult sometimes to stop yourself from playing with all the pretty patterns.

And another batch of "House of Almonds" is born, as the soap sets the mold for 24 hours, sits logged up for 5 days, and then is hand cut into bars and shelved for four to six weeks of cure.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Thanks

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Memorial Day. May 28th, 2012.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chasing The Moon

Tonight brings us a special full moon. It's gonna be the biggest and brightest full moon we've seen in a hundred years. You can catch it around sunset as it first starts to peep on the horizon. It's gonna look absolutely huge.

For moon chasers like me and Jason, it's gonna be an exciting night as we jump in the car and... chase the moon. Sometimes it beats us, and has risen too high before we get the chance to snap the perfect pic. Other times the clouds envelope it and it's a wipe out. We've been hoping all week that tonight just might bring us the perfect sky.

Right now though, it's a gloomy and wet morning out there. Looking at the weather forecast for tonight, it looks like we're probably gonna have to chase the sky too. It won't be the first time we've hopped across a few states in search of the perfect moon.  Jason's checking the weather station stats with his breakfast. My adrenaline is running already. The moon chase is on!

*The moon in the pic is the Cardinal Moon we chased back in July 2010. If you click on it, you'll see it much closer up.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Triple Play

It's Earth Day and from now until Tuesday the 24th at midnight, buy two of anything on the website and get a third for free. Yes, that's right... buy two of your Manor Hall Earth-friendly favorites, and get another one free. Simply enter 2 in the quantity box when making your purchase, and we'll throw a third one of the same product in your order box. For every two you buy, we'll give you a third. Just use coupon code "EARTHDAY" at checkout to claim your triple play. (Sorry, no mixing and matching flavors.) Happy Earth Day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sesame Ginger Me

Here's a batch of "Sesame Ginger Me" lining up for the slice. It's a wonderfully warm scented essential oil blend of Lemongrass, Ginger and Patchouli, mellowed with the sweet of orange. The addition of organic sesame oil, lends a nice after feel of softness to the skin. A popular fave, you can pick up your hefty 5oz Art House slice on the website here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Family Friday

Here's me at the Jacksonville outlets in New Jersey, proudly standing with two of the best mums around. It was taken during my mum's recent three week visit from England. My mum is to the right on the pic... and Jason's mum, affectionately known as The Barbara, is on the left. I don't know who beat who in the shop-til-you-drop stakes that day, but no prizes for guessing what's in the Reebok bag and who it belongs to!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's A Scentfest

I'm making the cut on a couple of batches of soap this morning. First out of the mold is Orange Patchouli. Topped boldly with the dark of black walnut powder, sprinkled with poppy seeds and real orange peel, and armed with a well balanced essential oil blend that includes sweet orange and patchouli. It's a scentfest start to the day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Pretty Week

During April, our foaming facial cleansers come with a sample bottle of alcohol free toner. Other facial products also come with a range of different samples for you to pretty your face with. And if you buy before midnight on Friday you can take advantage of 20% off your whole order by using our "PRETTYME" promo code at checkout.

I'd say the week's looking pretty good at the Manor.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sweet Neem For The Slice

Logs of Sweet Neem waiting to be sliced into hefty 5oz Art House bars.

This natural soap features cold pressed neem seed oil, chosen for its remarkable skin kindness and soothe. Neem seed oil is a amazingly rich oil with antioxidant, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine for conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

With added herb infused organic extra virgin olive oil and an essential oil blend including sweet birch and cedarwood, this extra gentle bar has ingredients which are warriors on dry, troubled skin.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Avocado Hair Masque

Many factors can affect the way your hair looks and behaves. Like other parts of your body, the scalp has its own reaction to weather, stress, hormones etc, and dryness is often a symptom common to external or internal influences. This moisturizing hair masque is simple and effective, and can be made in minutes with ingredients from your kitchen cupboard.

The avocado fruit is rich in natural vitamins and essential fatty acids. It has deep penetrating properties, and is a wonderful natural stimulant for your hair. As with olive oil, avocado acts as a humectant, helping to hold onto and seal in moisture. Both offer thirsty hair a welcome handshake of friendly hydration.

Avocado Hair Masque

You will need:
1/4 cup of mashed avocado
1/4/cup of mayonaise
Drizzle of olive oil

How to:
Using the back of a wooden spoon, or a hand blender, incorporate ingredients until smooth. Apply to your hair and cover with a shower cap for fifteen minutes. Wash hair with a mild shampoo.

Notes: Make sure to peel your avocado before mashing. Always test for allergies first. Be sure to throw away any unused masque, as it is not preserved.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Golden 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.

From our website, find it here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Time Flies

This was my mum, 7.00am yesterday morning, at the start of her long 2 day trek from Wales, UK, to us here in Massachusetts. She's in her seventies, has never flown before in her life, and is traveling all by herself. What an incredible role model.

This is mum on the coach, saying goodbye to her part of the world. It'll be a few weeks before she'll see Wales again. My brother and his family saw her off. It's great to see her looking so excited.
And so the trip began. My daughters, Gayle and Shez, kept in touch with their techy savvy Nan as she traveled, and by the end of yesterday she was in London.

It's air day today, and she's on the plane as I type. We're gonna be spending a great few weeks, catching up on the last decade of stuff each of us never ever thought we'd do together. She's gonna see places she's only ever seen in films. I'm gonna see my mum. It hasn't hit me yet. It'll probably all catch up to me the moment I see her walking through the gate at the airport terminal later today. I'm stoked!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Goat Milk and Oatmeal

The different moisturizing properties found in oats all contribute toward maintaining the integrity of the skin's barrier, preventing water loss, and alleviating itch. With real goat's milk for gentle calm and soothe, sunflower oil for moisture and aloe butter for its wonderful healing properties, our goat milk with oatmeal bar is ideal for shower or sinkside and so kind on your skin.