Mom's Rosary & A Wink from Heaven

Hello friends,

Today, April 30th is my Mom's birthday. I want to share the story of her rosary and a little wink from the heavens.

This is my handmade rosary that carries the story I want to share today.

My Mom was very devoted to praying the rosary. When I was a young child, my Mom cared for the church and altars and I took over for her as sacristan when I was in the 7th grade. We lived across the alley from the church/school complex and were very close to our pastor Fr. Walter Wernoski.  One day, I remember Father Walter giving my Mom a truly beautiful crystal rosary that had been on the hand of the Blessed Mother statue at the church.  My Mom used that rosary from that day on until she moved into my home at the age of 88.  Somehow, in the hectic move, the rosary was misplaced.  Someone recalled seeing it in the glass dish that sat next to her chair in her home but after that no one seems to know what happened to it.  My brother, son and I were handling the remodel  and her move to my home here at the house and my sister and other brother took care of cleaning out the old house.

When Mom moved in, she asked for her rosary.  We searched but to no avail, somehow it disappeared.  I have a similar rosary that belonged to my boys Great Grandmother, Margaret Wimmer.  When Grandma Wimmer passed in the 1970's the rosary was gifted to me as the only Catholic in the family.  I cherished it as a memento of her so I gave it to Mom to use.

This is Grandma Wimmer's simple little rosary - Mom's was larger and quite elegant but both were clear crystal.

Each night Mom made sure she had a rosary as she prayed while she fell asleep.  I wanted to be sure to keep that particular rosary in the family on the Bartley side so I later gave her my handmade rosary that I had been using for many years.  I made it with large heavy beads so she found it easy to locate as she was always losing the smaller one among the bed linens.  She really liked it and was eventually buried with that rosary.  When I gave her mine, I made myself another one. But couldn't find a suitable cross.

My large rosary next to a regular one - it is very large. I love the hefty weight of an over sized rosary:

 I used sizable heavy black glass beads for the Ave beads and handmade amber glass beads with a touch of sparkling gold for the Pater beads with smaller amber, copper and black beading for spacers rather than the traditional chains. I like the tactile weight and heft of those beads in my hands which were similar to the one I gave to Mom.  The problem was, I couldn't find a cross that was in the correct proportion for the size of the rosary.

I used a temporary cross while I kept the search for the perfect sized embellishment for my rosary. For 3 full years I checked just about every store, on line venues, Etsy, Ebay, ArtFire, religious goods shops etc.  Everything was either too small or very expensive (like hundreds of dollars!)  Well, low and behold, today - my Mom's birthday, I was gifted a vintage cross from one of my former RCIA candidates that is just perfect.  How did he know??? And how is it just right for my rosary???  For no reason, out of the blue, the cross arrived in the morning mail with a sweet note ... A wink from above - thanks, Mom!

When I wrote the eulogy for my Mom's funeral I spoke a lot about her hands.

Some excepts of my eulogy:

"When I gathered my thoughts for this remembrance, my mind kept returning to my Mom’s hands. Our hands are magical, think of your hands and the hands of those who are close to you. Hands are as unique as faces; we carry our hearts in our hands. We don’t need photographs to remember them. How do I recall my Mom’s- patient enough to teach, gentle enough to hold, strong enough to discipline and wise enough to trust.

My earliest memories are of strong, steady hands that pulled the wisps of my hair into long braids and pin curls. She guided the hands of her children to be folded in prayer, taught us the sign of the cross along with our nursery rhymes, scrubbed our faces, tending to scraped knees and loose teeth, wiped away our tears and held us in support while we struggled to walk. She taught us to whistle with a blade of grass between our thumbs and put buttercups to our chins, to pick wild flowers and tend the garden.

She guided our hands in the tying of shoes, I remember sitting at the kitchen table writing my name for the first time – no easy task with a name like Klisiewicz! I can still see her hands folded in prayer while she and Dad knelt next to their bed each night praying silently alone but together.

Her hands taught my hands well. I watched them roll out nut rolls, glide around the edges of pie crust, rolled the golubki and pierogi, canned the tomatoes, fruits, jellies and jams. The greatest compliments my Mom ever gave me was when she asked ME how I made my apple pie because it was so much better than hers and when she told me my homemade chicken soup was the best she ever had and asked for the recipe. My Mom knew full well she was the best home style cook around, she rarely gave out statements like that, I am honored that she said that to me twice!

Never adorned with anything but her wedding band, not beautifully manicured and polished nails, her hands carried the no nonsense elegance of hard work. They hung the sheets to dry because it made them crisp and fresh, shoveled coal and snow, worked the soil, ironed countless baskets of laundry, scrubbed and waxed floors until they shined, tended the altars of SS Peter and Paul Church, sewed and moved in the mystical rhythms of crochet. 

As she aged, those capable hands grew thinner and more fragile but they never slowed. Each day her hands faithfully embraced her rosary as she moved along the beads. She repeatedly told me that she prayed the rosary every single day for my Dad. Each night when I prepared her for bed, I would hand her the rosary that I made for her. She would kiss it and every night she always said “Bonnie, who is going to pray the rosary for me when I die?” I assured her that I would indeed pray the rosary for her and I have already fulfilled that obligation several times since her death on Tuesday. I would like to ask each of you here today to do just that one thing for my Mom. Not every day, just once, pray the rosary for my Mom, she will be ecstatic."

Thanks for visiting,


Herbal Tub Tea Soak

Hello friends,

My handmade relaxing, pure natural tub tea will fill your bath with appealing aromatherapy. The affordable luxury, a soothing bath at the end of a long busy day. This all natural enchanting feast for the senses is inspired by my herb garden filled with enticing scents .

Light the candles, put on some tunes and scent the tub with this seductive blend of fragrant herbs for a most relaxing bath while your troubles ebb away.

My custom blended tub tea comes with muslin bags. Scoop the herbs into the bag and allow the bag to steep under the hot running water. The all natural ingredients carefully chosen for this herbal soak are: lavender, rose buds, calendula flowers, juniper berries, hops, spearmint and rosemary combine to create a tranquil bathing experience.

I present my herbal tub soap in a glass jar with 3 reusable cotton muslin bags and scoop. This generous offering will last for many uses.   I also offer an economical refill version of my herbal tub tea only. The 5 cup refill option comes in the white bag as shown along with 3 muslin bags.

Available for purchase in my on line studios of, Etsy & Artfire and at Fiore's in Altoona, PA

Thanks for visiting,


Customer Feedback & Reviews

Hello friends,

    I truly value my customers.  They are the foundation of my business success.  I receive such awesome feedback I wanted to share a few of my ratings.  

All of my products are available for sale on my website - click this link to order:

I have the best customers EVER! I just received this lovely note and adorable Radko ornament from a family that has been using my soap for - wow, 4 generations. That is a record. While my business has been an enjoyable venture, it is feedback like this that makes it so much more than just a business.

Thanks to Ruth, Mary Jo, Ashley and now baby Lizzie, you guys are true treasures. This darling Santa adorns my tree in an honored place right up front, I love it and will cherish it and you for all time.

  I am always happy to work with you to find the product that meets your needs.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.  Know that I am dedicated to providing positively outrageous customer service to you - my most valued customers!

Thanks for visiting,


Products available for purchase at Allegheny,  Soapsmith on Etsy and ArtFire.  Just google me!

Homemade Gourmet Sea Salts and Herbal Blends

Hello friends,

My herb garden again provided an abundant harvest bountiful enough to share with family and friends. Homemade infused sea salts and herb spice mixes makes marvelous holiday gifts that are always appreciated.

I dry my herb harvest through out the growing season. My final picking this year was in November while a light snow was falling. If you don't grow your own herbs, you can certainly utilize purchased herbs, just be sure you use the finest ingredients. Your final product is only as good as the individual components.

I made herbal bread dipping mixes to use with olive oil, herbs de provence, pink Himalayan sea salt infused with raspberry Merlot, French gray sea salt with micro brewery beer, flake salt with rosemary, and citrus dead sea salt with lemon and lime and hickory smoked sea salt and lemon pepper.

I used my garden culinary herbs: Basil, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Lavender, Sage and Mints.

Here are the flavorful sea salts that I chose: Pink Himalayan, French Grey, Black Hawaiian, Flake Salt and Dead Sea Salts - both coarse and fine grinds.

The infusion process is simple. For herbs, simply combine a handful of your fresh or newly dried herbs with the salt of your choice. You can process the herbs in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or food processor. If you are using dried herbs, be sure you use plant material that is freshly dried with high aromatic oil content. Allow the salts to infuse over a few weeks for optimum flavor.

Here is my rosemary flake salt, I include a spring of the herb in each jar.

I also infuse salts with liquid flavorings. I made an artisan beer - Amber Oak Stout, a raspberry Merlot and Citrus Lemon Lime salt.

You need to reduce any liquid to a thick syrup before adding the salt. I boil down the beer, wine and juices. Keep a close eye, once the fluid is thick enough to cover a spoon it is ready to go but be careful, it can easily burn once you get to the syrup stage. A full bottle of wine is reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Once reduced and cooled, add enough salt to absorb the liquid, spread the salt on a parchment covered cookie sheet and place in a low oven, 170 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, until well dried.

The lemon lime citrus fusion sea salt was made with reduced juices and the zest of the fruit. The same process was used, the zest is added after the salt is combined with the reduced syrup before drying in the oven.

The herb mixes utilize flavorful properly dried herbs. I did bread dipping mixes that can be combined with quality olive oil and grated cheeses for a classic appetizer. These versatile blends can also be used to enhance roasting vegetables, meats and seafood, yogurt or sour cream dips as well.

My garden provided the sun dried heirloom tomatoes and herbs for these mixes.

Herb Citrus Blend contains 3 parts sweet basil, one part Italian parsley, one part thyme, lemon and lime zest, crushed red pepper and sea salt to taste.

My Sun Dried Heirloom Tuscan Herb blend has my garden herbs: 2 parts basil, one part oregano, one part parsley combined with granulated garlic and minced sun dried tomatoes from my garden.

Lemon Pepper is a simple mix of lemon rind, freshly ground tri color peppercorns and sea salt. I used equal amounts of each. You can customize the blend with dehydrated garlic, onion powder or whatever spices appeal to your tastes.

Package up your creations in jars, tins, glassine or cellophane bags. You can choose rustic style, something whimsical or modern. Embellish the jars with beads, charms, hemp cord or fabric dust covers.

Make some nice tags, include instructions and ingredients on the back of the tags. Assemble gift sets or baskets.

You can do tins, bags or baskets. Economical options can be found around the house or at dollar stores, even a brown kraft shopping bag decorated with a sprig of pine is charming. If you need a more upscale gift, choose a container that can be reused - a lovely tray, wire organizer, fine crafted basket, a vintage blue enamel basin, add a dipping bowl, organic virgin olive oil, crusty artisan bread etc.

Invest a little time and gift your loved ones with delicious gourmet herbs, salts and spices. You will be giving a one of a kind present that is sure to fill your friends with wonder and good taste that lasts for months.

Thanks for visiting,


Reader's Comments

By luvncrafts on 11/14/2014 @ 11:42amThey look great! Nice blog

By JimJuris on 11/13/2014 @ 05:46pmFantastic blog post filled with lots of helpful advice and great photographs.

By desicrafts on 11/13/2014 @ 01:35pmHey Bonnie, I read all of the Recipes in this post and I am delighted. It reminded me of the salt recipes that my grand mother used to tell us. One of the most common was making a paste of green chillies and coriander leaves and mixing it with regular salt. After keeping it under the sun for drying, it would become dry and ready to use, through out the year. That green salt tasted really tasty back then :) Thank you for reminding me of beautiful old days spent with my grand mother.