Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Botanical Inspired Fine Art Prints

Hibiscus Tea is just one in a series of fine art prints inspired by botanicals and aromatic plants, and now available through my main website. Bursting with hues of deep pink and fuschia, this beautiful illustration will bring a pop of colour to any room.
Each print was printed on high quality archival card, which ensures that the artwork will not fade in sunlight, and will last for generations to come!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The beauty of biodiversity: Jamaica

(Jamaican boa and iguana from greenantilles.com)

Throughout the years, Jamaica has positively distinguished itself in a number of ways — including its rich biological diversity.
The island is rich in plants, animals, micro-organisms, their derivatives and their ecosystems. Jamaica is, in fact, ranked fifth in the world in terms of its endemic plants and biodiversity.
This biological diversity," according to information out of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), "is influenced by physical factors, such as topography, geology, terrain, and climate."

There is, too, a high level of endemism (being natural to or characteristic of a particular area) for many animal species.
(Jamaican hutia. Photo copyright NEPA.)

Species diversity, according to NEPA, takes into account all species present within various terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats and includes, among other things, birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, insects, crustaceans (such as shrimp, lobsters and krill), plants, and micro-organism.
Jamaica's terrestrial flora (land-based plants):
* 579 species of ferns, 67 or 12 per cent of which are endemic;
* 230 species of orchids, 60 or 26 per cent of which are endemic;
* 20 species of cacti, 10 or 50 per cent of which are endemic;
* 10 species of palms, seven or 70 per cent of which are endemic;
* 60 species of bromeliads, 22 or 37 per cent of which are endemic; and
* 200 species of grass, one or 0.5 per cent of which are endemic.
Jamaica's terrestrial fauna (land-based animals)
* 514 land snails, 505 or 98 per cent of which are endemic;
* 211 species of rotifers (also called wheel animals), 21 or 10 per cent of which are endemic;
* 133 species of butterflies, 20 or 15 per cent of which are endemic;
* 67 species of land birds, 30 or 45 per cent of which are endemic;
* 59 species of ants, six or 10 per cent of which are endemic;
* 43 species of reptiles, 33 or 77 per cent of which are endemic;
* 39 species of shore and sea birds, one or 2.6 per cent of which is endemic;
* 26 species of jumping spiders, 20 or 77 per cent of which are endemic;
* 21 species of bats, four or 20 per cent of which are endemic; and
* 48 species of fireflies, 45 or 93.8 per cent of which are endemic.

Taken from the Jamaica Observer. SOURCE: National Environment and Planning Agency.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Khus Khus Perfume by Benjamin's

Last year I started working on a perfume featuring lemongrass extract and I hope to have it available in my Etsy store at the end of this month. It will be available both as a perfume oil, and alcohol version using locally distilled Barbados sugar.
I was doing some reasearch recently and came across an apothecary-type company from Jamaica called PA Benjamins™. I was pleased to find it, because there seems to be so little information available on Caribbean perfume houses or apothecaries, I guess mainly due to the fact that the majority of well-known perfume houses tend to be European or from the US.
Anyway, this company has been around for a very long time, since the 1870's, and they have a wide range of products from body sprays, flavourings, pharmaceuticals and condiments such as barbecue jerk sauce.
I was also able to track down one of their vintage perfumes, Khus Khus Perfume, either from the 1950's or 1960's. Online information is limited, but Khus Khus features vetiver grass and it's great to be able to add this to my collection of perfumes. I haven't smelt it yet, and won't be using it, I prefer to keep it more as a collector's item.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saffron, Sugar and Spices

Can't believe it's been over two months since I last blogged! Apart from a bad case of the flu, Xmas was great and I've been quite busy ever since. I have also been reading up on some books about the global history and culture behind some of the spices and aromatics that we all love to use in our cooking, not to mention our perfume and soap making. Sometimes it's hard to believe that the beloved spices we commonly use today without a thought were rare and extravagant luxuries centuries ago, and have had a huge impact on the politics and economics of many countries today.

Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern Historyby Sidney Mintz addresses how the role of sugar has been transformed throughout history - from a crop revered by the British aristocracy and inextricably linked to the transatlantic slave trade and European colonies in the Caribbean, to a cheap and accessible commodity which continues to define modern-day eating habits.

Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg…… Michael Krondl's The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice gives a history of the spice trade, concentrating on Venice, Lisbon and Amsterdam - these three cities were each major centres for the spice trade at various times. Among other things, the spice trade influenced European political policy, global trade - the Dutch East India Company was formed as a result of the spice trade - medicinal and cultural eating habits.

And Secrets of Saffron: The Vagabond Life of the World's Most Seductive Spice by Pat Willard is an enchanting historical and cultural celebration of the world's most precious spice, complete with recipes, anecdotes and folklore.

As I study the books more thoroughly, hopefully I will be able to bring you some reviews on them all.