Thursday, March 26, 2015

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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Music To Soap By - P.P. Arnold

We have rain coming in late this afternoon. Last thing I need when I'm soapmaking. I cool the lye out on the deck, and any rain, snow or wind means everything stops.

Full on panic, I was up at the crack of dawn to try beat the rain. This track is keeping me going today. I love P.P. Arnold. Yes, there goes that all too familiar percussion of mine. I am such a sucker for a half decent drum beat. And I don't mean the heavy rock stuff either. I love drums that build into something. The anthem type song that you just can't help yelling along to when it gets to the good bit.

This is the only video I could find of P.P. Arnold singing this. Have a guess of her age as she shimmies about in this knockout dress. Like... are you kidding me?

P.P. Arnold, late 1960's - Everything's Gonna Be Alright

Pause For Thought

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” -Milton Berle

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Mug Or The Soap

A good day's soapmaking is always measured by the mess left behind for the clean up. Oh, and the tea mugs. It wouldn't be a work day without an army of empty ones scattered about the workshop.

And office.

And packing room.

And... oh, every room you can imagine. Yes... it's a close call between which I love best - making soap or a cuppa. Please, don't ever make me choose!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Music To Soap By - Fun

It's been a hard winter here at The Manor.

Ohhhh, let me just wallow in a bit of self pity as I write that again. It's been a hard winter here at The Manor.

The winter storms here in the NorthEast have been relentless, and try as I may... I had to cave into it. I tried, I really tried to stay on top of things. In the end, I closed the office for a couple of weeks while I waited for the delivery times to be more predictable and also tend to the mounding snow from the skies and the plows.

My usual post-Holiday supply purchasing of bottles and jars, soaping oils and ingredients, and many other assorted shipments that my little soap business needs to keep it ticking over had to be postponed. Deliveries just couldn't be relied on as many states were having their own weather dilemmas, and my Manor Hall order boxes couldn't be left for mail collection. Manor Mania couldn't go ahead as it usually does each February. Curing times of soap were seriously messed with, and some soapmaking just couldn't get done.

It's the first day of Spring today. Manor Mania is on, and the orders have been pouring in. I'm still waiting for a few supply deliveries, as well as being behind on curing times. I've lost the whole of this morning to the water men, who have been here to do their repairs. Like... after all my years on earth I know this time will pass. Right now though... I just wanna keep my head in my hands for a few. But you can't, can you? You can't run a business and keep your head in your hands. You really do have to suck it up and carry on. And that's what I'm doing just as soon as the last drop of this cup of tea has hit the back of my throat.

On loop and blaring out of the workshop today is this one. It's a slow starter, but it builds into a great chant and will keep me going as I work late tonight and on through the whole weekend. The work men are gone, and the workshop door is finally open again. Sing it with me now... "If you're lost and alone, Or you're sinking like a stone... Carry on."

Fun, 2012 - Carry On

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Back To The Future

It's a "Back To The Future" kinda day for me. On the website I've got February's Manor Mania happening - in mid-March. In the workshop, I'm four weeks into the future as I begin work on the new product line that I'm launching in April. In my head, I'm plotting the summer products. On my jotting pad beside the phone, is a pen and some ideas for the Fall. In the pic, is today's work. Which is really for next month... that I'll be telling you more about soon.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Loving Smooth for the Mighty Rough

My hands are in water a lot. When I'm soaping, they tend to take the brunt of it all. Yes, I wear rubber gloves, but I take them off whenever they're not needed for protection. I watch the ads for soap on television, but as mild and gentle as they claim their products to be... they're only mild and gentle compared to other detergent bars. A commercial detergent bar just cannot compete with real handmade soap.

With my hands constantly in water, my wrists seem to feel it the most. The skin where the hands meet the lower arms dries out much faster than the rest of me when I'm soaping. I suppose the rubber gloves don't help either. Making my own soap affords me to pick and choose my ingredients according to what I want them to do. When I first started to make soap, I quickly discovered my hands needed a little more protection than just a pair of rubber gloves.

So, a purpose made bar was the order of the day. Of all the ingredients on my shelf to choose from, there were two that I wanted to build a working-hands bar around. Honey, and almonds. I often used both together as a paste... it's great on the face, and on the hands. Actually, it's great as a gentle exfoliating scrub for the whole body too. I'd warm the sweet almond oil with the honey, and add a heaping of almond meal. It's probably one of the best home made beauty recipes around. It's basic, it's simple, and it offers one of the richest moisturizing treats you can give your skin.

Honey is a humectant. It grabs hold of the moisture from the air, and keeps hold of it. It forms a barrier on the skin, and protects it. It's also anti microbial, so it does the duty with the nasties too.

As for almonds? Oh... boy. When ground fine the almond fruit doesn't half yield some wonderful skin softening properties. Sweet almond oil is very similar to our own skin's natural oil. It's gentle, and helps with the relief of dry itchy or sore skin. It boasts naturally occurring vitamins, including the valuable anti-oxidant Vitamin E. It's considered to be anti-inflammatory, and is very emollient. It's a light oil, readily absorbed without greasy after-feel, and it is often the oil of choice for use with skin troubles such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.

Almond meal is what remains after the pressing of the almonds used to yield the sweet almond oil. As with sweet almond oil, the meal is very gentle and anti irritating to the skin. Dry, dead and flaking skin cells form a hard barrier on the skin, which prevents it from absorbing much needed moisture. Almond meal is moist with the oil from the pressing and gently exfoliates these cells.

And so Honey Me Smooth was born. It's my soapmaking bar. A bar for hard working hands. It protects my hands, and smooths any dry that might be flaking around. It's one of the few bars that doesn't have any essential oils in it. They weren't needed. The simplicity of the ingredients alone were enough for what I wanted. I wanted to be able to wash my hands often, and not have my skin take a pounding.

"Honey me Smooth" is great for winter itch. It's also a dream on the scaly skin we get on forearms, shins, and thighs... and it's an absolute warrior on chafe. There's not many jobs out there that beat soapmaking for repetitive wear and tear on the skin. And there's not many soap bars that take on the duty like "Honey Me Smooth" does. It was made for sore hands. Those hands were mine. And for me, this bar is just what they need.