Saturday, 17 June 2017

SoapMaker–The best soap making software around.

SM whiteBanner
In 2007 I started making soap and I soon realised that it was a real pain working out the lye content and oil percentages every time I wanted a new recipe. I am pretty sure you all know what I am talking about.
If you are not a lover of Math's then this may lead you to break out into a cold sweat. I do like Math's but I like to save time more. So I did a little internet research and came across an AMAZING tool – SoapMaker.  My business was just starting out AND the programme was in dollars!! The cold sweat was back. What to do? I emailed the contact address and asked if there was a payment plan option not really expecting a reply. Boy was I surpried when an email came back with a link to download – FREE. Please note the options available now are a lite version for $49.00 or Pro version at $99.00.Ever since then I have done everything in my power to download every beta test they have and test the heck out of it.
I recently realised that I communicate with this faceless person (Crawford Woodman) and it would be nice to know more about the man behind SoapMaker. You can see the basic information on his about page.
I have decided to write this post of my own accord and have no affiliation with SoapMaker, other than using it to run my soap business.
SoapMaker was created By Crawford Woodman as an aid for his wife, Diane’s, soap making business. She was very involved in the initial programme creation and always had the best soap with many repeat clients.
Where about in the States are you? State is good enough. (boy am I on the wrong foot already I know you Americans and Canadians love getting mixed up!! – OOPS):
We live in Canada, in Perth, Ontario. It's a small town with a heritage flavour - lots of lovely stone buildings built after the Rideau Canal was finished in the early 1800's.
If you don't know where it is, like me, Google it. Wow is it pretty.
Do you have any children?
We have 3 - two daughters and a son. All are grown up and married. We have 4 grandchildren.
I see that Jason Bowles was/ is your programmer for SM. Does he still work on SM? If so is it a full time undertaking?
Jason was only involved in the early days. I wrote version 3 myself.
Version 3 is the latest update and it is AWESOME
Do you have any programming background? What was/ is your profession before SM took over your life?
I worked for Nortel for 30 years, first as a programmer and then as a manager.
I also had to Google Nortel. Nortel was a multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer founded in Montreal, Quebec in .
Do you employ other people to work on SM?
Nope - just me.
If you started SM from scratch what would you change or do differently? If anything?
I would use a platform that could easily be ported to different operating systems like Macs and Android. But I'm stuck with Windows. There are over 100,000 lines of code and it would take a complete re-write to do that now.
Is there a vision for SM? I.e. is there some sort of plan or does it just grow depending on what users ask for and what is feasible?
I'm 73 and don't really have the energy for major adventures anymore. But I enjoy hearing from users and trying to make the program as useful as possible. Our son is studying computer programming - maybe he'll want to undertake some major changes.
How do you decide what feature makes it into an update? I.e. Do you have to have a minimum no of people ask for it?
I don't really have a set algorithm. I guess it's a combination of how many people ask for a feature and how feasible it is to build it within the overall structure of the user interface and the database. And often if I notice something that seems a bit awkward while I'm testing, I'll decide to change it.
Does your wife have any input about new features and how useful they will be?
Diane used to. In fact SoapMaker was originally created for her soap-making business.  But she retired from soap-making a few years ago so now she hasn't kept up with the program. But she's supportive - doesn't complain when I spend hundreds of hours on a new update.
Do you know how many users you have? You can see a list of some of them here
I have almost 8000 registered SM3 users, and one of my resellers sells CDs which do not always get registered so there could be more. I don't know how many are still active -it seems people get into the business for a few years but then drop out later. There are also still people with the old version 2 SoapMaker - I still get the occasional upgrade purchase.
For all you die hard SoapMaker users there is a Facebook group that is a great help if you are stuck. My advice, though, is to use the programme as much as possible to get the most benefit from it . This programme will save you so much time – I could not survive without it.
Thanks Crawford, you and SM rock.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Feedspot Top 100–we made it.

I was recently contacted by Anuj Agarwal to say that we had been included in the Feedspot Top 100 Soapmaking blogs.

“My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Riverlea Soap has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Soap Making Blogs  on the web.

I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of  Top 100 Soap Making Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!”

I have to admit that I had not heard of Feedspot so I had to Google it…

Feedspot is a News and Blog Reader used by over one million users Globally.Its a place where users can read all their favorite website in one place. We are Based in U.S.

We have considered following factors to rank the blog.

· Search Engine ranking

· Social media influence

· Social media buzz

· Alexa Ranking

· Post frequency

· Quality score by our editorial team


Thanks guys what an honour.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Soap Dough–a soap making challenge

Soap Dough Lolly (138)

This is a challenge I was so excited about. It really taught me a new skill and I have new found respect for all cake decorators! The precision and skill that is required is beyond me.

For this challenge I had to call on my best friend Debbie, who is an award winning cake decorator. She has been living in Australia for the last 8 years and we have just reconnected after she moved back here again. What a great way to take up our friendship again. She taught me to mould and shape roses and leaves.

Soap Dough Lolly (91)

Soap roses and a palette knife

Soap Dough Lolly (94)

Moulding and shaping the soap lolly. This was harder than it looks. I really battled with the uniformity of the top and trying to get the “dipped” soap layer an even thickness was quite a challenge.

Soap Dough Lolly (96)

Debs took the plunge and started to add roses to the lolly i had made while I made the next lolly for me add roses to.

Soap Dough Lolly (61)

As you can see the “chocolate” strip was also quite thick. I was too afraid to roll it thinner as it kept on breaking.

Soap Dough Lolly (71)

Debs did a great job of adding the roses, while mine was much more basic and simple. She clearly has done more of this than me adn has an artistic eye for bunching the roses together.

Soap Dough Lolly (49)

Soap Dough Lolly (135)

Thanks Amy, as always this was a great challenge and I had a lot of fun.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Do me a Favour

I have been neglecting the blog a little as I have been very busy making soap and re-stocking our basic line.

We made these favours a long time ago but they are still a favourite with most people who see them.

Ice cream favours

Monday, 27 March 2017

Essential Oil information–Black Pepper

Black Pepper – piper nigrium

black pepper essential oil

Botanical Info.   Black Pepper is distilled from the unripe pepper corns of the Piper nigrum which is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae.  Cultivated for its fruit, this is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately 5 millimetres diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed. Peppercorns, and the powdered pepper derived from grinding them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper (dried ripe seeds).

Black pepper is native to India and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. Currently Vietnam is the world's largest producer and exporter of pepper. Dried ground pepper has been used since antiquity for both its flavour and as a medicine. Black pepper is the world's most traded spice. It is one of the most common spices added to European cuisine and its descendants. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine. It is ubiquitous in the industrialized world, often paired with table salt.

History :.Pepper has been used as a spice in India since prehistoric times. Pepper is native to India and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2000 BCE. Black peppercorns were found stuffed in the nostrils of Ramesses II, placed there as part of the mummification rituals shortly after his death in 1213 BCE. Although little else is known about the use of pepper in ancient Egypt and how it reached the Nile from India.  Black Pepper was known in Greece at least as early as the 4th century BCE, though it was probably an uncommon and expensive item that only the very rich could afford. Trade routes of the time were by land, or in ships which hugged the coastlines of the Arabian Sea. By the time of the early Roman Empire, especially after Rome's conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE, open-ocean crossing of the Arabian Sea directly to southern India's Malabar Coast was near routine. Black pepper was a well-known and widespread, if expensive, seasoning in the Roman Empire. Apicius' De re coquinaria, a 3rd-century cookbook probably based at least partly on one from the 1st century CE, includes pepper in a majority of its recipes.

The Oil has a strong and sharp spicy smell.  Black Pepper Oil is a circulatory stimulant.  Therefore, it can be helpful with arthritis, neuralgia, general stiffness, sprains, and sciatica. It’s warming and spicy qualities helps to increase warmth of the body and mind, relieving sore muscles and joints, it can help boost the immune and digestive systems, stimulate the kidneys and disperse bruising by increasing circulation to the skin.

Benefits Emotionally it is an aphrodisiac, and also is said to both increase self confidence and to be grounding and stabilizing.. It is recommended for concentration and memory loss. Black Pepper oil is said to heighten alertness, assertiveness, and improve the user's self-image.  It is also strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral oil, warming and comforting for congestion, the flu, etc.

Some testing being done indicates that inhaling black pepper may be helpful for those trying to stop smoking.  

Suggested uses : Use is burners & vaporisers to add warmth to chills and colds and to create an atmosphere of 'getting things done'.

As a blend in a massage oil, or diluted in a bath, to assist with circulation, bruises, rheumatoid arthritis and muscular aches and pains. Also it can be blended into a base cream for tired aching limbs, sore muscles, rheumatoid arthritis, stimulating the appetite and to help sort out bowel problems. In small quantities it can be used to reduce high temperatures. It increases circulation to the skin and is therefore helpful in restoring proper functioning of the skin.

Culinary : Add to cream cheese, mayonnaise or vinegar ( remember One drop goes a long way)or in stews and sauces.

Caution  :As with most oils there are precautions …..Black pepper oil may cause irritation to sensitive skins and using too much could over-stimulate the kidneys. It should be avoided in pregnancy due to its possible skin sensitizing effect.

Blends well with other essential oils such as bergamot, clary sage, clove, coriander, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, juniper, lemon, lime, mandarin, sage, sandalwood and ylang-ylang

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