Monthly Archives: February 2013

Photo on 2011-12-06 at 11.49 #2

I love essential oils/aroma oils

 

Hi every one, I’m back again and this time I want to write about essential oils.

A while ago, On one of my trips back to India, I happened to visit one of the busiest markets in the very heart of Delhi. If you do not like crowded places then this is certainly not for the faint hearted. Funny thing is that all the years that I lived in Delhi I hardly ever visited these places. Anyway I wandered into this tiny, small little lane attracted by such a gorgeous mixture of smells emanating from it, that I just had to go and check it out.The beautiful mixture of smells was coming from one particular shop which happened to be selling essential oils.k6379734

Talking to the owner, I learnt that this was a family business and had been run by his family for the last 76 years. They were exporting these essential oils all over the world. It was very fascinating to sit there with him sipping a hot cup of chai, which he insisted on getting me and learning all about the oils and how they are processed into these beautifully packaged bottles .India is known for its Ayurvedic products and what I saw in his store was the product all ready to be sent abroad.

There were so many varieties, in rolled top tiny bottles used as perfume , small little boxes in cream form and of course the massage oils and bath oils all packaged in gorgeous hand blown bottles.I was totally blown away with all the information that I had got and I know that I would love to share it with everyone here._DSC0183

So here goes : Essential oils are volatile, aromatic oils obtained from plants and used for fragrances, flavoring, and health and beauty applications.

Historically, aromatic plants have provided important ingredients for perfumes, incense, and cosmetics for centuries. They have also been used for ritual purposes and in cooking and medicine. Egyptians used aromatic plant materials to preserve mummies, the Ayurvedic literature of India includes many references to scented substances, ancient Chinese herbalists valued them for their curative properties, and royalty used rare aromatics to perfume themselves and their surroundings. In those days Perfumes were only for the very rich or the royalty. Distillation became an important method of obtaining the healing and fragrant components of various plants and was well-studied ,starting in the 18th century and continuing on in the 19th centuries . In the 1900s, during the time of the industrial revolution, component parts of many essential oils were identified. These components were then synthesized for use in the perfume and flavor industries. The art of using essential oils declined during this time but experienced a re-birth in Europe with aromatherapy later in the century. In recent years, the use of essential oils has increased in many industriescopy-Logo-Totally-Bananas-Final.jpg

and in new applications as awareness of the benefit of naturally derived products grows.

 

Plant anatomy and structure as they relate to essential oil production:

 

An essential oil is the volatile material derived from plant material by a physical process. The plant material is usually aromatic and of a single botanical species and form; some essential oil plants have a different chemical makeup, depending on the variety of plant, and the essential oils are correspondingly unique. Like grapes used to make wine, “terroir,” or the location, soil, climate and weather where the plant is grown, will affect its aromatic properties. The usual method of obtaining essential oils from a plant is through distillation or expression. Distillation is the most common method and may be water distillation, steam distillation or distillation using a combination of water and steam. Expression is the pressing of oil from a plant part: citrus oils are generally obtained from expression of the peels.PLS-00009058-001

 

All varieties of plants are used, including grasses, annuals, flowers, trees, herbs, shrubs, and mosses. All parts of the plant are used, including bark, leaves, stems, seeds, fruits, blossoms, even roots and rhizomes. Essential oils tend to be derived from volatile oils that the plant produces; these are often terpenes, aldehydes, and oxygenated compounds such as alcohols. Essential oils are more than just the familiar lavender; sources list more than 300 different essential oils and by-products .

 

Oil may be in youngest leaves or twigs—new twigs and leaves of citrus trees contain petitgrain, and patchouli oil comes from the young twigs and leaves of the patchouli shrub—and production of essential oil in the plant often coincides with the period of most active growth. Flowers may be used as a source—lavender essential oil comes from the flowering tops of the plants. In many plants, the wood is used and essential oils can be gained from distillation of chipped wood. Tall grasses like lemongrass and palmarosa, or the roots of vetiver grass all contain essential oils often used in perfumery.k1281338

 

History of distillation and essential oil production

 

Distillation of plants has a long and varied history that includes distillation of alcoholic spirits as well as essential oils. While the product may be different, the process is similar. Egypt, Persia, and India are some countries where distillation was first carried out. It is likely that the first distillations of aromatic compounds were intended to produce distilled waters or hydrosols, and the essential oils floating on top may have been discarded. Turpentine, distilled from pine trees, was one of the first essential oils to be distilledalongwith juniper, rosemary, and lavender. These distillations likely occurred during the 1500s and were followed by a growth in distillation through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that primarily involved pharmacists. These apothecaries perfected methods of distillation and studied the nature of essential oils. Later, in the nineteenth century, essential oils were widely used as medicines but gradually became almost more important in perfumes. They also become important ingredients in beverages and foods as flavorings. In 

the United States, turpentine was the most important and first distilled essential oil, in part due to the enormous areas of pine forests and the need for the product. Other early essential oils included sassafras, wormseed, and wintergreen. Peppermint was produced in large quantities by the 1800s; large-scale production continues, and much is sold for toothpaste. With the advent of chemical production of fragrance and flavor chemicals, essential oils decreased in importance. Recent interest in aromatherapy, natural products, and natural perfumery has led to increased production and interest in these botanical products.k1252983

 

Basics of essential oil distillation

 

The essential oils within a plant are generally not soluble in water, which means they will float on top of an aqueous (watery) solution. However, they can be carried away from plant material by means of steam applied in a closed container. The steam can then be condensed using cool water, collected in a container and the essential oils separated out as they float on top of water produced by the steam. The water thus left behind is often aromatic because it contains water-soluble fragrant chemicals from the plant. This water is called a hydrosol, herbal distillate, or floral water, the most familiar of which are rosewater and orange flower water.k6914251

 

Some plant materials require water distillations; for example, rose petals will clump when exposed to steam and must be immersed in water where they can move about freely. Other materials work well when packed into a space above boiling water to allow the steam to pass through. Many of the best distillations are carried out slowly over low temperatures. Distillation ceases when aromatic compounds are not detected in the outflow from the still.

 

I have such a fascination of the history of India and what treasures the land holds for someone who cares to look for it. When I was running my hotel in Pokhara , Nepal, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet many people from all across the globe. People who loved the outdoors and usually visited Pokhara for the chance to do the Annapurna trek. It is a grueling trek of around three weeks and people cane back tired but satisfied and all wanting to be pampered for a bit. Me being a trained Physio therapist I started giving people ayurvedic massages which became very popular and I was quite in demand. I used blend of special oils which worked fantastically and pulled the stiffness and soreness totally out of the limbs._DSC0189

 

You should try some today. Get some essential oils for your bath and pamper yourself, or get a roll on perfumed essential oil or just some special massage oil and surprise your loved one with a special massage.

 

On this note, I shall love you and leave you with a deep namaste. 

Until the next time, be safe in what ever you do..

 

 

Photo on 2011-12-06 at 11.49 #2

I love quilts

 

hi every one,

My last blog made me realize that I really enjoy writing on what I feel passionate about. And that’s totallybananas unleashed. Its nice being able to write about why I love all the products that I have featured on the website. As you all are aware, each and every Item is hand made, hand woven and hand embroidered or hand painted..

And my reasons for doing this,  and creating the website www.totallybananas.nl is for all  those sweet innocent children who are found on the streets, begging for food, and who do not have a shot at a decent life, unless we all focus and decide to do something together. Its a huge issue, and its a issue that needs to be attended to as soon as possible.

Looking at those faces made me realize that I need to do my bit as well. Having two lovely kids of my own I feel so much sorrow that so many children have to undergo such a terrible time when its actually not necessary to do so. I mean, if every one decided to pitch in and do their bit, no child would ever have to go hungry or lack a warm safe place to sleep , or to roam the streets, when  they could be studying and learning  or doing something positive  to make their life a better one.They deserve it as much as any other child in this world belonging to you or me.

This said, I would  now like to talk about another one  of the products that I have featured on my website.

JAIPURI QUILTS.  Perhaps many of you are not even aware of what a jaipuri quilt is, and you are wondering right this very minute  is she talking about ?  Well, these are very fine, thin quilts which are made out of pure cotton and the fabrics are block printed by hand with very traditional Rajasthani prints , the designs, which are usually passed down from family to family._DSC0148

Jaipuri Quilts  are  beautifully colored and  hand dyed as is the tradition in Rajasthan. Rajasthani people are always dressed in very colorful clothes, and you can see the women in their gorgeous beautifully colored  skirts and blouses which are known as Lehngas and cholis.(Blouses) Rajasthan is also very famous for the silver jewelry , as I am sure that many of you are aware of  all over the world.

 

 

Its winter and that time of the year again,

the time to cuddle up under a quilt. An interesting book by the hand and a nice hot cup of coffee or tea , sitting next to you on the table. You are all wrapped up in a soft warm cocoon , light as a feather, which doesn’t   weigh you down as a normal quilt usually would .These special quilts use high quality cotton as stuffing. Of course as in all things you get different qualities suited to  every pocket.

In the rural areas of Rajasthan there is a unique way of making quilts. It is called aimages ‘godadi’ and is made from old, torn, faded pieces of fabrics like the dhoti, saree, dupatta, lehnga or skirts. Such quilts are also common in the drier parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The warmth of layers of fabric softened with use can be compared to the most exclusive and

expensive pure wool blankets. Smaller and thinner ‘godadis’ are very commonly used for newborn babies. Soft and easy to wash, these quilts are popular among urban families too.
 The quilting material has an inner lining of cotton. 
Ralli quilts are a copy-Logo-Totally-Bananas-Final.jpgtraditional feature of north India and Pakistan and  are now beginning to  gain international recognition and popularity. The name “ralli” is thought to be derived from the word “ralannu,” a verb that means to mix, join, or connect. Ralli quilts are made in Rajasthan in India ,and in Sindh in Pakistan. Ralli is prepared by  using multi-coloured pieces of cloth stitched together in attractive designs. Its colour combinations and unique patterns speak for the aesthetic sense of its creator. As is typical of rallis, patchwork adorns the edge of the piece, and there is embroidery on the back. Some of the fabrics are indigo-dyed. The other kind of ralli quilts is sami ralli, used by wayfarers like the swamis, jogis and gypsies. These types of ralli quilts are popular due to their many colours and extensive hand stitching.
But, if you ask a real connoisseur of quilts, he would outright vote for the famous genuine Jaipuri Razai (quilt) and if you buy this masterpiece, you will know what it is to roll up in a heavenly soft cloud. Incredibly soft and light, and warm too, that is a Jaipuri Razai for you. Nobody quite knows when and how this mini marvel came into being. Why did Rajasthan alone become the home of this unique form of winter covering when quilts were common all over north India?
What is it that goes to make a Jaipuri razai superior to others? Do they put in a special variety of cotton? The answer to that mystery lies in the carding. They card away all the dross from the cotton, which they buy just when the fresh crop comes in.
According to some of the master craftsmen of imagesRazai bazaar in Jaipur their families have been carders for generations. A kilo of cotton weighs not more than 100 grams after a whole week of carding. A 100 gram Jaipuri quilt is comparable with any five kilogram ordinary cotton quilt in terms of warmth.  But they create even lighter quilts weighing not more than 50 grams by carding the cotton over and over again. These special quilts are done according to customer orders and take almost three months to complete. The lighter the quilt, the more evenly it is filled and you will find it all the warmer and more  comfortable.
There are three varieties of Jaipuri quilts in the market namely – Cotton, Velvet and Silk, available in different price ranges to suit every pocket. Quilting is the sole purview of women, and mainly three or four standard patterns have been in vogue for as long as anyone can remember.
Time was when these quilts were made only for royalty from the gossamer light, world famous ‘Dhake ki malmal’.  The cloth for the Jaipuri razais, a soft quality voile, mainly comes from Mumbai  . A single quilt takes six meters and a double quilt eleven meters of cloth. The quilt makers get the material printed at Sanganer  . Theimages rest is hard work.
Gol (concentric circles), phool (flowers), paan (the betel leaf) and lahariya (vertical stripes zigzagging down the face of the quilt) are the most common patterns in use. Two women work together on one quilt and between them they manage roughly two quilts a day, depending on the complexity of the design.
 Every winter, the market for Jaipuri quilts expands so much that many people get the chance of employment. Velvet quilts are a new

entry in the market.. In Sanganeri print, Tye and dye, and Makhmali (velvet) fabrics these products are a regular buy in the international markets. 
In addition to the regular markets like Europe and America, new markets like South Africa and Japan are also imagesemerging as potential customers.

 

Of course me, being me, each time I visit Jaipur I have to buy a couple of the quilts and I must say that by now I have quite the collection of Jaipuri quiltsI have such a facination for these quilts that when I was running my bed and breakfast in Pokhara, Nepal, I had these quilts in each and every room in place of the normal humdrum bed spreads , and people never failed to compliment me on the decor and color and how comfortable the rooms looked.

Yes, I used to own a hotel and thats another story altogether and I promise to tell you more next time. You guys should try a Jaipuri quilt . I can guarantee that you will get as addicted as I am to these beautiful jewels and that you will not be disappointed .They come in a wide variety of fabrics , in different sizes from single to king size and can actually be rolled up to fit in a small back pack.’ I kid you not.’

 

I hope , with this, that I’ve  made you a little  bit curious, and wanting to check out the different types of Jaipuri quilts or razais as they are known in hindi, and the wish to own your very own soft  blanket of cloud.

 

On this note I take leave and say namaste. Stay warm and enjoy a hot cup of what ever you fancy .

 

Love you all,  be safe.

 

 

Photo on 2011-12-06 at 11.49 #2

I love Pashmina

Hi every one, this is my first ever post  and I certainly hope one of many. A short introduction about myself. I’m Jyoti and I started Totally Bananas with the sole Idea of helping Street children  and under privileged  women in India. I got the idea of starting a website so that I could help some of the people in India who make all the products that I feature on my website. Each piece is hand made and chosen with care for quality and beauty. Having a strong background in retail  & my job being my passion, I decided to combine it and help children from my native country as well. I am originally from India but since the last almost 16 years,  living in a small town in the North of Holland called Medemblik. It is a very beautiful touristic spot, very popular with people from other parts of Europe for the water experience and historically for the steam museum and steam train.

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I got pushed into retail purely by accident. Got married at the tender age of almost 18, and being young and full of fire, big dreams in my eyes, thinking that I was born to change the world. I wanted to work and study, and do all kinds of things that would change the world for the better.As soon as I was finished with university I had my baby girl and because I wanted to spend more time with her, I got a job with a Leather export house that had a retail outlet close to where I lived, which meant that I could easily pop in to see her during my lunch breaks. I started working there as a sales assistant. It was so very  interesting and I realized  that I was very good at communicating with people and  in selling the products, that I decided  to learn everything I could about the leather industry. the long and short of it was that I learnt all I could, about  working with different kinds of leather, and how to distinguish between different kinds of leathers. I learnt how to tell as well what animal the skins came from. I also loved the interaction and the zing,  that I got working with people.

I loved the stressful atmosphere of working in the factory waiting for an consignment that had to be sent to Europe, quality control being top priority,  had to be done with care,  so that  consignments did not get rejected by the buyers. European laws  are very strict concerning quality and  exporter’s are extremely careful.  Orders from Europe are extremely  sought after as Europe means more quality rather than quantity. That made me realize  that I was neither a 9 to 5 kind of person or indeed even a desk job kind. I was the kind, that survived on the thrill of making sure that I could do my bit in delivering quality products to customer’s.

I left the  company after a few years  with greatest of regrets, but since I was embarking on a new adventure, a new found love, and a new life in Europe along with my daughter who was barely eleven at the time, I left with high hopes.  I came to Europe with many hopes and dreams and  big star’s in my eyes. Sadly not all dreams are meant to be, and  things did not quite turn out as I had hoped for or dreamt about.. The love quickly faded away and my dreams slowly  disintegrated into nothing, as dreams, sometimes are wont to  do. After four years with my dutch partner, I decided that I needed to move out and to start afresh along with my children. I say children , as I had given birth to a beautiful son who was at that time just about  to turn four . A new house, a new job and yet another new beginning. This time round, though, things were beginning to look up for me, as I started my job with a well known  international fashion company,  as store manager, at their retail Outlet store . At long last, life was finally  looking up for me and I was really  happy and over the moon . But sadly, again, it wasn’t to last as this time  I fell very sick and was diagnosed with a chronic and very rare condition which made it impossible for me to work long hours, as I was constantly being admitted into hospital. I was forced to quit my job  as it was just not plausible to work the way I had been working. Being a very  active person, who had always  worked long hours  since my teens, the thought of staying at home and not being able to do anything productive,was unbearable to me.

I realized that  I wanted to leave them a better legacy  than the mother who gave up when life became to tough. Thats  when I got the “eureka moment” The “Totally Bananas”. moment.The moment when the idea was born and the website came to life in my mind. This way I could  help not only the artisans who create the beauty, but also street children and women  in India by pledging a certain amount of money from every sale.

I realized that people here aren’t  very familiar with all things Indian, so I knew that it would be a challenge to do what I wanted to do. Mostly the knowledge that people have, is what they hear and see on the news,and sadly these are not always positive things. So I decided to show them exactly what  one can also get from India, besides the bad and the rotten. It seems that Indians have a pretty bad reputation concerning business ethics here in the west.

My intentions in writing this blog is to inform people , who are not aware of the fact that although India being a third world country , with the second largest population in the world,  is also a land of culture, beauty and a friendly people. Its not just the dirt and the filth, or mass uneducation and poverty, and where people don’t  really know any better..So, coming back to Totally Bananas,  today, lets talk  about Pashminas. What exactly is Pashmina and why is it so expensive?  And what makes it so desirable?

Pashmina comes from the Persian word for wool, which is known in the West as cashmere wool. Capra-Hircus-GoatThe word cashmere is derived from the old spelling of Kashmir. The origins of pashmina date a long way back, when the local people depended on the fabrics they wove for easy travel, warmth and especially, survival. The threads used in making this beautiful  luxurious warmth giving cloth, come from the underbelly of the Himalayan mountain goats, called the Chyangra, in latin, (Capra Hircus) which live in the high regions of the Tibetan Plateau of the Himalayan ranges.Think of the  icy temperatures that blast their way from the high plateaux of Mongolia and Xinjiang in China. Think of temperatures falling to – 40 C. Imagine the freezing winds that whip through the glaciers and mountain sides. It is here in this 14,000ft, forbidding region, that the beautiful Himalayan mountain goat roams and is to be found. To survive this inhospitable environment, this wonderful animal grows a unique, incredibly soft pashm, or inner coat, six times finer than human hair. this is one of the world’s most rare and precious fibres; soft to handle, light and warm, and to wear it is to be insulated in your very own summertime warmth. Every spring/summer, Himalayan farmers scale these mountains to comb the fine woolen undercoat from the neck and chest of, the Capra hircus goat.

With this, I leave you  until the next time reading my ramblings and hopefully understanding what the concept of totally bananas is all about. I would love to hear your comments and remarks and rest assured that I will appreciate each and every  comment that I get as I will also learn along with every one else…

On this note I shall love you and leave you. Be safe in what ever you do.. <3

 

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