Of herbs and spices

I'm completely out of my herbal balms and I miss them!  Right now I'm infusing oils for more batches.  Arnica is the most recent herbal infusion I have brewing.  I know it's fabulously good for bruises and such, but the dried herb is rather expensive so I've never tried it before.  But recently I was wandering around my local Mexican grocery store to get one of the staples of life, corn tortillas (the real ones), and a little bag of dried arnica caught my eye.  I had never noticed the shop carried it before, probably because I'm so focused on my beloved tortillas, but it got me pretty excited.  (Really, I ask you, who else goes to a Mexican market and comes out with bath and body ingredients?)

I am using the slow method of infusion, letting time and sunlight do its thing on the arnica.  I've heated infusions up on occasion, but it often leads to deep-fried calendula petals, crispy lavender buds and things like that.  It's better for me to stick to the patience method.  ...And then there was the time that I was in the same building when someone was making an experimental batch of arnica balm (no, it wasn't me).  The shortening/arnica mixture in the saucepan overheated--it may have even been forgotten on the stovetop. The stench of scorched and blackened balm was incredible and lingered.  And lingered.  Did you know that blackened arnica smells vaguely like the worst burned popcorn you ever smelled?  (There may have been multiple errors in that little experiment....)

And then there was the comfrey that I was so excited about but afraid of overtaking my yard... It promised to be invasive, and I was looking forward to having all the comfrey I could handle.

I don't know if it was the drought (I suspect it was) but even after leaving it untouched the entire summer, it has remained a demure, well-mannered plant in the corner of my yard.

And finally, speaking of all things natural, here is a soap I made recently using only natural coloring that I call Spiced Orange.  I'm super happy with the way it turned out!

I used paprika for the orange layer and cinnamon for the top layer.  Oh, and it's an essential oil blend I made up myself, which includes orange, anise and cinnamon oils. 


  1. Ohhhh, that Spice Orange soap looks and sounds divine! Is it available to buy??


  2. It looks so delicious!What beautiful colours you obtained using cinnamon and paprika!
    Still so many natural spices to try it soaps :)

  3. Arnika is one of my favorite Sufjan Stevens songs, I didn't know it was an actual herb. Silly me! Sounds nice, and the soap looks great, the EO blend sounds awesome!

  4. Thanks! It's not available yet, Deb (but thanks for asking!)and when it is cured I want to try it out first, and maybe tweak the blend. I'm not really confident in my EO blending skills yet!

    Natalia--I had no idea cinnamon would turn so dark! It's nice to have a few more natural coloring options now.

    Laura--Arnica balm is pricy stuff in the stores. I'm anxious to try out mine...hmmm, I guess I'll start crashing into things so I can collect some bruises!

  5. Wow, I love your orange spice soap Amy! Such pretty natural colors from the paprika and cinnamon!

  6. Thanks, Cee Gee! I tried paprika only once before and didn't use nearly enough. I really like both shades I got this time.


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