Books Ink Slingers Mandi Reviews

Book Review: Can We Be Friends?

REVIEW: Can We Be Friends?

Can We Be Friends? By author Rebecca Frech is a timely book for me and my family. This book arrived for me to review the very same week my teenage daughter experienced a major blow up with a friend she has had for most of her life. And, unfortunately, this mess spilled over into my relationship with her friend’s parents. It has proven to be quite challenging to navigate. So what a gift it was to open up this book while wading through these rough waters.

Rebecca begins simply enough reminding us friendships are an absolutely beautiful and necessary part of life. In a culture that seems to increasingly isolate ourselves, it is important to remember we are created for relationships. As John Donne is often quoted, “no man is an island entire of itself.” We need one another to live a full, glorious life. We must learn how to make friends and keep friends by being a good friend. Rebecca reminds us to be attentive to whom we invite into our life as a close friend versus who we decide are best kept as acquaintances. This idea of acquaintances has fallen out of favor in our current culture of social media friend gathering. She advocates bringing that idea back into favor and I have to say I agree! She also notes how technology can both help and hinder friendships to be cultivated and grown today.

Throughout the book, Rebecca shares sweet and insightful anecdotes from her grandmother. In her grandmother’s day, it seemed much easier to find your friends. But, I imagine you still had to put the same amount of time and energy into sifting through your friendships to find the few that were authentic keepers. She helps us identify the different personalities and characteristics that make-up quality friends and build a healthy tribe. As we become intentional about creating our circle of support, it is important for us to be aware of what we are willing to invest in each unique friendship as it evolves.

As I was reading this book, I found quite a few chapters that were significant for me as I was helping my daughter to weather this current friend drama that had now affected her entire friend group. We talked over the chapter that covered establishing healthy boundaries in relationships. While also noting the importance of giving others the benefit of the doubt before becoming upset with them for something they may or may not have done. I was glad to hand off this book for her to read the short chapters with sound advice that could be easily revisited when wrestling with a situation. We both found her suggestions for realizing when it is time to call it quits useful, in light of the current situation.

I would recommend Rebecca Frech’s book Can We Be Friends?  It is a quick read that includes many touching stories and reliable advice on maintaining and discovering friendships. As I am packing up our current home to relocate to the other coast, I am going to keep this book within easy reach. I think I may need the encouragement to get out there and find my people to build up a new circle of friends in our new hometown.  I might even gift a few of these books to some young ladies I know heading off to college this fall!

You can purchase Can We Be Friends? from Our Sunday Visitor.

Ink Slingers Interviews Products Reviews Sarah

Pycnocline: A Faith-Filled Business

I have been eyeing these gorgeous t-shirts from pycnocline for a while, so when I had the chance to review one and interview Megan, I jumped. Megan was a delight to speak with and her story was quite interesting!

I received two Stella Maris t-shirts in exchange for an honest review. I LOVE the subtle Catholic message of these shirts! One was child-sized and my daughter wears it all the time. She searches through the laundry to find it.

Pycnocline: A Faith-Filled Business

Megan, founder and artist behind pycnocline, is mom to two awesome kids, Catholic convert, and a fish biologist. When she started to stay at home, raising kids, she searched for a creative outlet that honored her science background. Enter bleach dyed tshirts! I just love that her shirt designs reflect both her love of fish AND her love of her faith! In fact, Stella Maris seems to be the most perfect fusion of the two.

Megan has this to say about running her bleached t-shirt business:

I love the process of making my shirts. I get to be structured and organized with my orders and bleaching the shirts- that suits the scientist in me. I also get to create new designs as I feel the itch to create- that suits my creative side.

The t-shirts are great quality and quite durable. My daughter isn’t always easy on clothes and her shirt still looks brand new! I can’t wait to start wearing mine, as soon as my previously pregnant belly goes back to normal.


To Megan, one of the most important aspect of her business is an infusion of her faith into every facet. She prays as she designs and prays for customers as she works. I am a huge proponent of supporting small businesses, and if they’re faith filled as well, it’s just icing on the cake.

Ink Slingers Michelle Products Reviews Faith and Fun in a Box

Every day when the mail comes my kids argue about who is going to run out to get it. Just as I did as a child, they love the job. As the victor of the mail retrieval argument brings in the mail, he or she flips through it to see whose names are included on the letters. Not finding their own, they sigh heavily and hand me the mail saying, “Mama, it’s all for you.”

Of course they simply see a stack of mail with my name on it and think I should be overjoyed to be getting so much mail. Little do they realize that it’s always bills and a whole lot of junk too; not things I truly want to open. While I occasionally get a letter from a dear Sister friend whom I met in Cincinnati at the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, it is rare these days that I get anything that I look forward to in the mail.

But a couple weeks ago all that changed. I was contacted by and asked if I might want to review one of their monthly subscription boxes. Friends, I’m not a person who passes up a free t-shirt, especially a free CATHOLIC t-shirt, and I love getting mail that is not bills, and so I sent on my address and waited patiently for it to arrive.

It didn’t take long for my box to get here. One day a week later the victor of the daily mail retrieval argument rushed inside, a box firmly in her hand held high above her head, yelling, “Mama! Mama! Guess what? You got a box!” To say the excitement at our house was palpable would be an understatement. Taking the box into the kitchen I’m pretty sure I had 7 of my 11 kids gathered around me waiting for me open this unexpected treasure that the post man had so kindly delivered.

As I opened the box I was so thrilled at what I found inside. Lately I have had a very strong pull from God to get to know and understand the Divine Mercy better and my pen pal Sister Clarita from the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor had introduced me to and encouraged me in this devotion. Imagine my surprise when this month’s theme was exactly that- The Divine Mercy! Everything included tied in together and was focused on helping me to not only understand but love the Divine Mercy. God sure works in amazing ways!

The first thing I pulled out was the t-shirt. It was nicely made- the material is heavy and the graphics are well thought out and look great on the shirt. AND it looked like it would fit me perfectly (which is always something I worry about if I order something online, but the size was true!) My experience was going great so far!

But the box doesn’t only include a t-shirt (although you can order a subscription that has simply a t-shirt if you so desire). There were more goodies! Also included in my box was a gorgeous rosary that is specially made to be able to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet (or the normal rosary if you wish), two medals- one of Pope John Paul II and the second was the Divine Mercy image, two prayer cards, a bonus gift of Fr. Gaitley’s talk “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told”, and a reflection on what the Divine Mercy is, how it came about, and why we should incorporate it into our lives. Finally, the Catholic T-shirt Club also tells us why each item is included in our box and how it relates to our lives.

Seriously, getting this box in the mail was like Christmas morning for me! Not only did it make me happy to not have only bills to open, but it was such a wonderful feeling having these amazing reminders of my Catholic faith coming straight to my doorstep. I loved seeing my children’s faces as I pulled out each of the goodies that were included in the box. They were just as excited about them as I was and we all know how important it is to have our children excited about their faith! not only has boxes for adults (and they have three different subscription levels to choose from), but they also have subscription boxes for kids! As I checked out their website I was thrilled to see how they hope to inspire all people in their faith. Their monthly subscriptions are a fun way to do just that.

If you are looking for a fun way to encourage your faith, if you love showing your Catholic faith through awesome t-shirts, and you simply love getting faith-inspiring things in the mail, then I have to suggest you try out the monthly t-shirt subscription at I really think you will love it!

Want to learn more? Go here to check out their website, to have your questions answered, and to sign up!


*I received this box for free in return for my honest assessment of this product. I honestly think you should try it out!

CS in the media Curriculum Domestic Church Homeschool Homeschool Ink Slingers Martina Products Reviews Reviews

Madonna of the Lilies Catholic Homeschool Seal of Approval



We at Catholic Sistas are excited to unveil the launch of the Madonna of the Lilies Catholic Homeschool Seal of Approval!

Over the years, I have participated in many online discussions of schooling options, watched many moms share their perspective of curriculum and how it worked {or didn’t} for her kiddos and family. One thing I loved was the personal feedback these moms gave, sharing product pros and cons and how the family adapted to these products.

As we currently ease into our sixth year of homeschooling, I am pleased to announce that Catholic Sistas has created an internal system for approving products and curriculum we feel would be a welcome addition in your home. I have assembled a team of nine evaluators who bring in a combined total of OVER 80 years of homeschool experience. Because Catholic Sistas already writes reviews of Catholic books and movies, Catholic homeschool products and curricula seemed to be a natural progression.


The new seal of approval system is set up within the body of a review. Catholic companies will contact our homeschool team of reviewers via email {} and let us know if they’d like a straight review or if they’d like us to evaluate the product for the seal of approval. With the template we’ve created, home educators will be able to scan the review with relative ease and find the information they need, such as pros and cons, price point, usability, features, and rating. This takes a good chunk out of the guesswork prior to making a purchase, which families will appreciate.

Products with the seal of approval – the seal can be found at the bottom of the review – simply means that a homeschool reviewer has taken all of the product’s information into account (content, price point, features, pros and cons), verified the content adheres to the Magisterium of the Church, and presented it to our entire team, who then collectively approved the product as worthy of our seal. The varied homeschool backgrounds of our team members will ensure that both company and consumer can be assured that our approval system is thorough and fair.


Because there is already a system in place for Catholic books through the Catholic Writer’s Guild, Catholic Sistas’ Madonna of the Lilies Catholic Homeschool Seal of Approval will focus specifically on two things: Catholic products and Catholic curriculum.


Occasionally there will be times when a product or curriculum is reviewed and does not receive the seal. In those cases, we simply won’t offer a review of the company’s products on our site. Our goal isn’t to publicly skewer Catholic companies, many of which are run by faithful families like our own; we’re sensitive to the fact that this is often these families’ livelihood. Our goal is to showcase products that DO meet our high criteria, so that families can confidently purchase from those companies.

If we have sufficient concerns about a product to withhold our seal, we’ll be contacting the company to 1) share our concerns, and 2) offer reviewer feedback on improvement, including an external panel of Catholic homeschool moms/educators to help the company create the best possible product for the Catholic market. Companies will always have the opportunity to resubmit their product after making changes.

We want to maintain positive relationships with Catholic companies, but our priority is to showcase excellence in Catholic homeschool products and curricula. Catholic Sistas will NEVER publicly share that a company’s product failed to receive the seal.

COMPANIES: if you are seeking to submit your product or curriculum for review, please visit our Review My Product page to start the process.

HOME EDUCATORS: What products are you interested in seeing reviewed? Please leave a comment below to help us cater to your current buying needs.