Friday, September 13, 2013

Our Natural Ingredients - Jojoba Oil

The woody shrub that grows jojoba seed is a slow grower, and lives for between one and two hundred years. Its properties of moisturizing amazement have been known throughout many ages. From the dry Sonoran Desert of North Mexico, stretching through California and Arizona, Native Indians used the jojoba seed oil in many ways, but its use for hair and skin has endured.

Though it is called jojoba oil, it isn't a tryglyceride oil at all... it is actually a liquid wax. Highly moisturizing and conditioning, it is a golden richness of extraordinary chemical makeup which mimics sebum, the natural oil released by human 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 its anti inflammatory qualities, is a very useful oil for acne.

Jojoba oil is also good for the scalp and hair, working well in breaking down the build up of excess oil. It is also effective in breaking down product build up and the everyday pollutants that cling to the hair. Jojoba oil nourishes, conditions and adds shine, restoring dull and lifeless hair back to health.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photo Journal - August

Can you believe September is tomorrow? August has been another great soapmaking month, with more new soaps taking their place in the curing room. July's new soaps hit the website during August, and it was also the month of Manor Mania, where the Manor Maniacs got to go manic for their faves at silly prices. Here's some of my August in pics.

I love the color that honey lends to soap. Here's a tray of goatmilk with oatmeal and honey bars, ready for the curing shelves.

An afternoon's bounty. I'm was so looking forward to waking up the next morning and turning them out of their moulds. Some batches were brand new soaps, and I couldn't wait to see inside them.

A line up of the soap logs from the four afternoon batches, all waiting to be cut into bars.

A bevy of bars, hanging around the green room waiting to take their place in front of the camera. It was a Happy Monday Morning, from each and every star-studded one of them.

Into the pot goes... lavender essential oil. I like to add most of my ingredients when the soap batter is at trace. "Trace" is the stage when the oils and lye water have married and is evident by the "trace" that the batter leaves on the sides of the pan.

All sliced up and ready for the curing shelves. 2oz bars front left. Sample bars just beyond them. And 4oz bars to the right. The foreground batch is scented with essential oils of Spearmint and Pink Grapefruit, with added Babassu Oil for that extra moisturizing touch.

Soap bars waiting to board the 6.00am wrapping train to Stock Shelf Station. Passing through Clean Off Junction, WrapFest Bridge, Label Crossing, and arriving at the final destination of Stock Shelf Station sometime late afternoon.

Another bounty of logs, running clockwise from top: Lime n Thyme O'lyptus, Rainy Day Sunrise, Goatmilk, Goatmilk Oatmeal with Honey. Is it September yet?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Little Slices of Nices

Sampler bars, all dressed up and ready to go. Photo shoot is in the can, and the new pic should go live on the product page sometime over the weekend.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Music To Soap By - Jimmy Nail

Soap making is a centuries old industry. Many indie businesses today, are looking to the old and making it in a modern world. America is a fantastic place for dreams and opportunity. It's what it's known for world wide. The American dream.

This morning, I'm making the old traditional lavender and oatmeal soap bar. No matter what new comes along, the old always seems to be there guiding us with wisdom when considering modern change. I truly believe if we cannot respect the old, there's no chance for any new.

Today, my music to soap by is in full respect to the old. Whatever your industry may be, it's the old that made it what it is today. And it'll be the old that will make it what it will be tomorrow. I think it pays to bear that in mind when we find ourselves attracted to the shine and glitter of the promised possibilities of the new.

Jimmy Nail, 1995 - Big River.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On The Workbench - Rainy Day Sunrise


Prepping the logs of Rainy Day Sunrise. I've prettied up the tops on these with drizzles of white soap, sprinkled with lemon peel and ground rosemary. It really complements the yellow of the soap and the wonderful fresh scent of rosemary and lemon esential oil blend. They should be hitting the website later in September.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Next Train Leaving

Soap bars waiting to board the 6.00am wrapping train to Stock Shelf Station. Passing through Clean Off Junction, WrapFest Bridge, Label Crossing, and arriving at the final destination of Stock Shelf Station sometime later this afternoon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our Natural Ingredients - Sunflower Oil

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.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

A bevy of bars, hanging around the green room waiting to take their place in front of the camera. Happy Monday, from each and every star-studded one of them!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Cure For August

The new Basil, Lime and Cedarwood soap is curing nicely. The dark grey band at the bottom is dead sea mud, with activated charcoal. It's a great all over skin bar with earthy notes of warmth and fresh. I'm looking forward to getting it on the website soon, along with a few more new soap releases.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

He's Back

An old fave is back for the fall, as Hardy Har Harvest rolls off the log splitter. Essential oils of Bay Rum, Cinnamon, and Sweet Orange, speaking the coming season loud and proud. Is it really August tomorrow?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Photo Journal - July

August is almost upon us. Here's some of my July in pics. It's been a great soap making month, and it's also been the month where Manor Hall Soap Company turned nine years old.
Inside the brand new black and white batch. Scented with essential oils of Anise and Peppermint, it's an eye opening blast of natural fresh. Exhilarating!
New Anise and Peppermint essential oil scented batch, all logged up and waiting for the slice. This smells as good as it looks.
Another brand new soap, waiting for the unmould. It's a beautiful blend of Basil, Lime and Cedarwood essential oils. It's warm, and it's earthy, but not overpowering. It's sweet, and a little minty. I keep going back to it to sniff it some more. I'm really excited with how the notes play off each other. Colored naturally with ground parsley and activated charcoal, and sprinkled on top with Kosher salt. I couldn't wait to cut this one open.
Inside the new Basil, Lime and Cedarwood. The bottom layer is dead sea mud, and I'm really pleased with how it's turned out. No name yet though.
Another new essential oil kid on the block. Bergamot, Sage, and Cedarwood, anchored with West Indian Sandalwood. It's light, but not without strength. This is a fresh barefoot in the dew blend, with all the forest flowers nodding in approval. Whoa there!
I knew I was heavy handed when I first poured the white layer onto the green of the new Bergamot, Sage and Cedarwood batch. Aaaargh! Not to worry... the bars from that section will be headed for my shower when the cure is complete. What a real shame that is, huh?
Worked on another two orders of facial products for Whole Foods Market. If you're local to Boston, you can find us in the Whole Body department at the Symphony store on Westland Ave. If you're local to Hadley, you can find us there too. Thank you, Whole Foods Market!
Walk outside early one evening and what did I see perched on one of my naturalized fleebane weeds? A teeny little butterfly, and I tell you its whole wingspan was no bigger than a silver dollar. I ran in and grabbed the camera. Thankfully she was still there when I came out so I just snapped away. She hung around for quite a bit before flitting off. It turns out this one was called a Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)... and they like weeds. I did NOT know butterflies came this small. So excited!!!
Close up of ground rose petals on top of the batch of Ruby Moon. It smells incredible. A gentle waft of real rose, followed by the bewitching aromatics of cedarwood, patchouli and ylang. I couldn't wait to break into it to see how the colors had played.
Batch of Honey Me Smooth, all logged up and getting cut into bars in 3... 2... 1. Good Monday morning to you all!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Damp and the Dew

It's one of those damp and dewy summer mornings of mugginess out there. Just the right conditions for weeding out the flower beds, dividing a few plants, and continuing the pathways. I love getting lost in my cottage garden, but the real plus is that I get to harvest the herbs and florals that grow through the seasons, then dry them for infusing in the wonderful oils that go into the soap.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Skin Softening Salute

An army of Almost Sunset bars, lined up and ready to salute some softness all over your skin.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Spoon Handle Hues

Swirling the color through a batch of Almost Sunset

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rainy Day Sunrise

After the wet weather of the last 24 hours, there's only one bar to be wrapping this morning. Essential oils of rosemary and lemon, with herb infused organic olive oil... it's the fresh of a Rainy Day Sunrise.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Out Of The Trap

Order box sample baggies being assembled, sun already streaming in through the window, and it's hello to a beautiful Monday morning!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pause For Thought

“Everyone wants happiness, no one wants pain
But you can't make a rainbow, without a little rain.” -Unknown

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Top Layer in Action

Layering the color onto a batch of Twist Of Lemongrass.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Splitting Image

Swirled soap is like opening a wrapped present. You don't really know what inside until you open it. Here's Lavenders Wild on the log splitter. I'm loving the marbling in this batch.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Put The Lid On It

Just putting the lid on a couple of batches of Luxury Shea. Unrefined shea butter is high in non-saponifiables and has a unique fatty acid profile. Together, this makes for an incredible ability to moisturize and retain the skin's elasticity. I love putting great natural goodness into soap.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ready, Pedi, Go

Feet walk thousands of steps a day. They are squashed into shoes, bumped into table legs, and stubbed against curbs and sidewalks. They swell, they sweat, they throb. Yet despite what they shout out to us, we tend to ignore it all until there's nothing left to do but hide them away.

The soles of your feet don't have any of their own oil glands to soften them, which is why feet and heels so often become dry and cracked. Caring for your feet isn't difficult, and needn't take much time out of any busy schedule. A foot makeover is one of the simplest and effective beauty transformations you can do for yourself, with little other than a bowl of warm water, a pumice stone, and fifteen minutes.

* Soaking the feet for ten minutes will soften, soothe, and relax. Adding an aromatic foot wash or salts to the water will deodorize and freshen, and a drizzle of olive oil kicks it up a treat. Soaking also softens the nails, making cutting so much easier. Always make sure to clip the nails straight and across, as rounding the corners can cause ingrown nails.

* Use a pumice stone to reduce the hard skin, making sure not to employ the "once and for all" attack method. Hard skin is better conquered with a gentle and regular approach. Smooth skin off with an exfoliating paste product. This helps reveal the new layer of skin, delivering hydration while sealing the moisture in. A salt polishing paste also infuses the skin with natural nutrients and minerals, and can also be used with a light brushing over the toes for nails and cuticles.

* Finish off with a slathering massage of moisturizing creme, natural shea butter, or favorite balm. Massage increases the circulation, relaxes muscles, and also relieves the aches and pains of the day.

Pretty soft and silky smooth. Perfectly pampered feet, all refreshed and ready to skip through the distance of your next working day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ehhh... Whassup Doc?

Logging up a batch of Carrot and Fennel Seed Complexion Bar. I love this part of my work. Unfortunately, it's short lived. Next is to slice the logs into bars, shelve them for the cure, and it's back to weighing out the oils as the next round of soap making starts all over again.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Naughty Goat Milk Soap

Four batches from yesterday's bounty of twelve. These will be cut up Classic style. Bottom to top: Goat milk, Luxury Shea, Orange Tree Blast, Orange Patchouli.

These are new molds, and I was excited to use them. So excited that I forgot the wood was much thicker than I'm used to, retaining more heat and causing the goat soap to misbehave and go into super-gel.

I caught it in time, and the threat of eruption settled. I think it's gonna be fine.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our Natural Ingredients - Unrefined Shea Butter

Unrefined shea butter is a very versatile and natural moisturizer, having excellent soothing and anti-aging properties. Shea butter has been used for dry skin by African healers for too many centuries to count. It is high in non-saponifiables and has a unique fatty acid profile. Together, this makes for an incredible ability to moisturize and retain the skin's elasticity.

But the wonder of Shea doesn't stop there. It also helps to protect the skin against damage done by all kinds of weather. It repairs degenerated cells, and its vitamin A content makes it a true friend to excema, dermatitis, and skin blemishes. Many report the natural butter to promote and accelerate wound healing, scars, and stretch marks..

The unrefined butter has a characteristic "nutty" scent to it, that disappears after about twenty minutes on the skin. It is thick, easily melts when rubbed between the palms, and a little goes a long way. Intitially, for the first few minutes it feels a little greasy. Then, almost as fast as it melted between the hands it's gone, leaving behind a soft silkiness of protection that soothes cracks and eases dryness.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Under The Hammer

Another batch about to see the wonderful world we live in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In The Pot

Blending the oils with the lye water to reach the trace phase. Trace is where it thickens and leaves a "trace" along the sides of the pot, signifying that it's time to pour. I usually like to soap between 110-120 degrees, but today I'm soaping at around 90 degrees. I'm playing with color, and I need the batter to stay thinner for longer than usual so that it doesn't set up while I'm swirling and layering.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Luxury of Shea

Monday morning and it's Luxury Shea butter soap on the cutter. Three batches to get onto the curing shelves to keep the supply plentiful. Shea butter is just the thing to keep skin moisturized and protected through the dry of winter, and these Luxury bars have heapings of it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Just Another Manic Soap, Yay!

Sesame Ginger Me. A beautiful creamy bar made with organic sesame oil and a warmly scented essential oil blend of addiction. This soap bar carries a 20% price discount throughout Manor Mania. Come go Manic for your faves and soak up the steals.

Friday, February 8, 2013

NorEaster Weekend

This was snow in the driveway two years ago, February 2011. The snowbank wasn't from just the one storm though. There'd been a few over that winter. The February one was a particularly large one though, and saw the last of our shed as the roof caved in under the weight.

There's a huge NorEaster coming in today. It won't be leaving us until late tomorrow. They're reckoning on up to 36 inches on the higher elevations over Boston way. We won't get such an amount here in Springfield, but I've been hearing as much as eighteen inches.

That's a lot of snow. The shovels are to the ready. I'll be posting how much we get. Fingers crossed we keep our power. It's gonna get real blustery tonight. And thundery. With lightning too. And... did I mention snow?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dave is Back!

Only the other day I wondering whether I should be grieving for Dave. Last I saw of him was spring 2012, when he was cavorting daily with Blondie across the back garden. They ran off together one day, and although I saw Blondie a few times after that, I never saw Dave at all.

Dave is a black squirrel, with a beautiful shiny coat. Blondie is a grey one, with a ginger blonde tail. They made a great couple, and although I feared the worst may have happened to Dave I told myself all through the winter that he'd gone to live in another tree far far away.

This morning, 9.30am, and Dave is back. I was feeding the birds, and he came bounding across the cold and stark winter's greenery, making a bee line for our garden. Up and over... bound after bound after bound. I think he was on a mission. I stood absolutely still, and after running up and down a few of the pine trees, he sat for a while on his fave broken limb and looked down at me. "Hello Dave," I said to him. "It's good to see you again." He waved his tail a couple of times, brushed his little paw across the back of his ear... and I came indoors leaving him to it..

Dave's back. I never thought I'd see him again. Fingers crossed he graces me with some new pics.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Reflections of soap in gel phase.