Muscle Massage Balm

Hello friends,

Today I am restocking my all natural herbal muscle massage balm.  This balm was formulated by me in the mid 1980's and it has been a customer favorite for many years.  Pure natural ingredients including some of my own grown herbs, no preservatives or artificial additives.

 Click here to purchase

Allegheny Hearth muscle massage balm is a soothing cooling application for everyday aches. 

All natural balm with a strongly fragranced blend of pure essential oils including mints, ginger, sweet orange, menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, cinnamon, cassia etc. Natural waxes, butters and oils form the base of the balm.

My own formulated herbal recipe offers a wonderful aid when massaging sore muscles. Just soften a small amount in the palm of your hand and vigorously rub and massage the area of your body that needs attention. 

Packaged in recyclable tin. 2 or 4 fl. oz.  

My Muscle Massage Balm is intended for use as an aid to provide a soothing feel and enhance the benefits of massage. It does not treat any disease or serious injury. Please consult your physician for any medical concerns. Avoid mucous membranes and discontinue use if any skin irritation develops.

Full ingredient list:  Ingredients: Shea butter, Emu, Sweet Almond, Avocado, JoJoba Oils, Bees and Soy waxes, menthol, peppermint, ginger, clove, cinnamon, cassia, eucalyptus,white camphor, sweet orange essential oils. 

Available for purchase at my retail locations, Fiore's in Altoona, and my on line venues:

Thanks for visiting,


Dilly Beans

Hello friends,  

Today I share a family favorite recipe from Aunt Mildred Bartley - Dilly Beans!
These are delicious and make a nice elegant addition to party trays and a well appreciated home made gift basket for the holidays, a step up from the usual pickles.

I process these using standard canning methods so they can be stored longer but you can also make them in a “refrigerator” version. If you do the refrigerator version, just blanch the beans before you pack them in the jar by submersing them in boiling water for 3 minutes them plunging them into ice water to cool quickly.  Then proceed with the usual recipe.  After you add the hot brine and place the lids on the jars, allow it to cool a little and refrigerate.  Allow them to sit for a few days and they are ready to enjoy.  They will last several weeks in the refrigerator.  If you want longer storage, use safe canning procedures as detailed below the recipe directions.

Beautiful dill fresh from my herb garden.

I have also used this recipe for refrigerator veggies - cauliflower, carrots, cukes, peppers, onions etc.  

Soapsmith’s Dilly Beans

Makes 4 pints – you can easily double the recipe

4 properly cleaned pint canning jars
Canning lids and rings
Canner with rack
A jar lifter is handy if you have one
Wide mouth funnel & ladle

I use water bath canning method as described below the recipe.


Fresh Green Beans (or yellow beans) about 2 pounds

4 heads of fresh dill weed 
(or 4 sprigs of fresh dill weed or 4 tsp dried dill seeds)

4 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup pickling salt

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

2 1/2 cups water

1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Wash the beans, snap off ends and if needed cut to fit the jar length.
Pack each jar with beans length ways as tightly as you can get them. If you tip the jar sideways it is easier to pack them in nicely.

Add to each jar:

1 fresh dill head, (or 1 sprig of fresh dill weed or 1 tsp dried dill seeds)
1 garlic clove
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
 (If you don’t like the heat you can skip the cayenne, I always use the pepper)

Note:  You can use any spice options you prefer - pickling spice mix, mustard seed, pepper corns etc.  Just add a little to each jar to your liking.

Combine the vinegar, water and salt to make the pickling brine.  Bring to a boil in a stainless steel pot and be sure the salt is dissolved.  Ladle the hot brine into each jar leaving ¼ inch space at the top.  If your beans are really tight in the jar, make sure there are no bubbles of air – you might need to move them around a little with a small silicone spatula or spoon handle to make sure there are no air pockets. 

Wipe the rims clean so you will get a good seal with the canning lids.  Follow safe canning procedures as detailed below. Process for 10 minutes. If you use different size jars you need to adjust the processing time and also make altitude adjustments if needed (check the instructions below for more info on safe canning)

Directions for Hot Water Bath Canning

Fill your canner about one third full of water. Heat the water while you are preparing your recipe.  The water needs to be hot but not boiling before you add the jars. 

Wash your jars and keep warm. Jars can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher. Keep jars hot until ready to be filled.  Place the clean jars upside down in a large skillet with 2 or 3 inches of hot water. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Leave the jars in the water until ready to be filled

  Also warm the canning seals in a small bowl with boiling water.  Just put them in the bowl and when you are ready to use them they are ready to go. You don’t have to keep the water boiling as they will be sterilized in the canning process.  This just warms them and rinses them so they will make a good seal on the clean jar lip.

Prepare and pack food according to instructions in your recipe.

Fill the hot jars leaving the recommended head space.

Wipe the rim of the jar clean with a damp towel. Place seals and rings on jars. Tighten finger tight, they just need to be snug.

Place jars in the canner rack. The rack will keep your jars off the bottom and will also keep them from hitting each other. 

Lower the rack gently to the bottom. The jars must not sit directly on the bottom of the canner, or touch each other as they may break during processing. Water needs to flow around each jar. Add hot water if needed until the jars are covered by at least 2 inches.

If you don’t have a canner, you can process jars in any pot deep enough to have jars fully covered in boiling water. You will need to put something under the jars to keep them off the bottom, maybe a rack or tea towel would work. Water bath canners are the easiest to use but you can certainly improvise. 

Cover and return to a full boil. Once the pot is at a full boil you start your timing. Keep the pot boiling for the entire time required by your particular recipe. Also keep an eye to be the water level stays above the jars, you may need to add some boiling water if needed. 

NOTE: If needed, be sure to adjust processing time according to your altitude.  This is important for food safety!

Altitude Adjustments for Boiling Water Bath Canner

Altitude in Feet- Increase processing time

1001-3000- increase 5 minutes

3001-6000- increase 10 minutes

6001-8000- increase 15 minutes

8001-10,000- increase 20 minutes

Once you processing time is reached, carefully raise the rack and jars up and hook it on the sides of the canner. Using a jar lifter,  remove the jars and set upright on counter or table on a thick towel or rack to cool. Be sure they are in a draft free area and leave 1 to 2 inches of space in between so air can circulate. Allow the jars to cool naturally. One of my favorite sounds is the “plink” as each jar cools and the seals are pulled down - satisfaction.

After jars have cooled, you may press on the lid to check the seal. The seal should be sucked down and not pop up. If you find a jar that did not seal, put the jar in the refrigerator use the food within a few days.

Wipe the jars before storing.  Some people prefer to remove the rings before storing just in case they rust but you can decide if you want to do that. Label the jar with the food type and date.  Store your jars in a cool, dark, dry environment.

I hope you'll give these a try.  They are really pretty simple and scrumptious,  Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting,


Wild Harvest Yarrow

Hello friends,

A nice little patch of wild yarrow cropped up this year along side the dirt pile from the retaining wall project. It is too rough to mow so we have daisies and yarrow there - conveniently growing right off the back deck.

I harvested enough to distill a hydrosol, small bunch for drying and fresh herbal yarrow tea.

Such a pretty herb - delicate fern like leaves and tiny flower clusters with yellow centers.

Love "volunteers" in the garden! Lots of positive medicinal properties in wild harvest herbs. A delightful herbal tea can be made from fresh or dried yarrow sweetened with a little raw honey from the Amish farms - warm and inviting!

Thanks for visiting,


Visit my on line soap studio

Sacred Amber

Hello friends,

Today I present my line of Sacred Amber and Infused Oils.

Amber is the king of scents. Dark, deep and mysterious fragrance. Amber resin is formulated with natural essential oils, waxes and powders. Sandalwood, Patchouli, Ylang-ylang, Vetiver, Lavender, stryax tree resin and beeswax.  The pure natural powders, oils, waxes and resins are blended carrying the combination determined by the artisan.

 Sacred Amber Oil

Amber resin was developed in ancient times by a physician as a mood enhancing formula. It is renowned as a spiritual aid in meditation and elevation. Irresistible fragrance enjoyed as a natural body fragrance, sachet, dream pillows etc. 

This fragrance is enticing and very strong. You can use it by gently applying the resin to pulse points, open the vessel and allow the aroma to fragrance your room, infuse it in oil etc. Just a little gives you fragrance that will last the entire day.

I offer my blended Amber as resin nuggets in charming little soapstone vessels or in infused oils.  I infuse the amber resin in pure organic jojoba oil and present the precious oil in one of a kind artisan glass perfume bottles.  

Try a little amber resin and revel in the heady natural aroma - 
an ancient ritual scent that fills the senses and enhances relaxation!

Thanks for visiting,


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,