Posts filed under Gifts

Catholic Craftsman: Faith, Family, and Mad Skills {MountainBOWorks}

"You'd really like this guy, Mom." My oldest son loves everyone he meets so I uh-huh-ed like any good mom would and kept doing the dishes.

No... really. He is incredibly talented and passionate. Catholic to the core... and just proposed to his girlfriend.

How old is he? I asked. (Because that's what good moms are supposed to ask when they hear of an engagement.)

He's 20... I met him on a discernment retreat. 

Twenty... young. I remembered my own wedding day as a 19-year old. Clueless. Passionate. Committed. Catholic. And I thought.... Good for him. He'll have a good life. 

I turned my attention a bit more to my boy's words. He's an amazing craftsman, he said. And of course, I had to see for myself. And when I saw this man's work my heart leapt. Yes, he's a craftsman. An artist. Beautiful work. Thank you, Jesus... the Church and the world need more men who know how to put their souls into their work.

I was not surprised to learn that Jacob McCormick was homeschooled. To be a skilled craftsman at 20-years old is not a common accomplishment and my experience of home education is that it allows for that kind of exploration and dedication. He's also a self-taught pianist and by all accounts (well, my kid's anyway), a gifted magician. But he gives his handcrafted mountain bows something extra special... 

From the MountainBOWorks Etsy shop:

I started my shop after I began having many requests for bows. One day I was walking through our town festival with one of my bows on my back. Someone stopped me and ask me which vendor I had purchased it from. We happened to be standing in front of a vendor that sold these simple kiddie PVC bows. I told the person that I made it and she offered right away to buy it from me. My buddy who was with me suggested we come back the next day and walk around with more bows on our backs. We did and that day I sold 4 more bows, 4 quivers and 12 arrows. When I got home I decided to put my replica bow on Ebay and it sold. I have since sold several more and always have requests for them. Since then I have had contact with the Backyard Bowyer (my mentor and teacher) and he encouraged me to become a part of his PVC Bowyer Directory which I am excited to become a part of. I have continued to explore and build bows of many different styles and artistic elements. I hope you find my bows to be as exciting as I do!

For being handcrafted, these bows are very fairly priced. And knowing that Jacob is preparing a foundation for his home and domestic church... just makes me that much more eager to purchase his beautiful work. And yes... my kids (boys and girls) would love to own one.

Go visit Jacob and his shop... do pray about investing in his beautiful workmanship... and in a blossoming Catholic family. I received no compensation for this post. I just really love being able to support Catholic artisans and families! Deo Gratias!

Posted on January 27, 2016 and filed under Gifts, handmade.

7 Perfect Gifts for Girls

My upcoming birthday girl will be two years old about the same time her older sister turns eight. They are following on the heels of two more young ladies who are 10 and 15-years old (and three brothers besides). That's a lot of dresses and bows. And hair. It's also a lot of gift-giving celebrations and... stuff. We try to keep it simple but the piles grow and grow if we don't weed out the things that aren't clearly useful or loved. The items that remain after the great family purgings are tried and true, lovely, and uniquely suited to my feminine people. I'm posting 7 of them here for your consideration. (Yes, there are affiliate links... but that only means that I like these items well enough to stake my reputation on a recommendation.) 

The list could have been a digital mile long but I've limited it to items that can be purchased online (big family life saver), can span multiple age levels, can be used as a primary birthday or holiday gift, and items that we own and can stand behind. Enjoy!


I purchased several Faber Castell Creativity for Kids kits at Easter and was very happy with them. Even more importantly, the kids were happy with them. Most of our purchases were art supplies but the Flower Crown kit is a project that can be done anywhere, anytime. All the ladies in the house love it (including me) and we have remade them a dozen times into pretty crowns that any good fairy would be proud of. 

The materials are sturdy and I was surprised by how pretty the flowers are; not just toy-like plastic flowers but little paper treasures in themselves. There are plenty of materials for four unique crowns and each is fully adjustable to different sized noggins.

Some digital dexterity is required but there is no glue or tying involved... just wrapping covered wire and fabric garland.


Crayola's Light Up Tracing Pad is pretty genius. This is essentially the kid version of an artist's light box, except a lot lighter and a lot cheaper than any I have used. I purchased an adult version 15 years ago for three times the price of this little beauty. Mine is slightly more functional for my needs... but not much. 

The pad comes with really fun designs ready for tracing with many more designs available on Crayola's website for free. The original paper is rather flimsy so we ran my girl's favorite designs through our laminator, cut the images apart, and store them in an envelope. 

All of my girls love this item and have used it. But if you have an older child who doesn't necessarily want the bright pink (or blue) edges, there are some very nice and reasonably priced pro artist light pads available. We purchased the Huion Light Pad (below) for our 10-year old and she really enjoys it. It is incredibly slim, lightweight and allows her to trace anything her heart desires. 


Yep. A real one. Did you know that archery is one of the rare sports in which the men do not have a skilled advantage? The hand/eye coordination in women matches the men even at the elite levels in many shooting sports. Still buying your daughter Nerf darts? Perhaps it's time to start testing her mettle! And yes, they come in pink. Our daughters own them in pink and green. This set is great for a middle school age girl who is a beginning archer because it is affordable and a little easier to handle than the larger sizes. You can buy arrows anywhere from Amazon to to Walmart.

4. Paint by Number Watercolor Pencil Kit

I'm already coming back to Faber Castell because they are just fabulous. Here's a simple, self-contained Paint by Number Watercolor kit that has everything needed for a beautiful finished painting. The child gets to dabble a bit with real art materials (watercolor pencils... one of my favorites!) and is also given the parameters to successfully complete the project. Not too long, not too short. My girl was 9 when she did this one and it is ready to be mounted on my craft room wall. 


If you have a big purchase event coming up (or Grandma and Grandpa want to splurge), a starter die cutting set is a very fun way to meet the need. It is not a "toy" per se but that makes it so much better in my book. Less random junk... more purposeful items. My middle schooler received this last Christmas but all the gals in the house have used it. There are countless additions you can make to this set to meet all needs and seasons but the basic set included will go a long way. My girls have made some beautiful cards and package embellishments with it. 

The actual mechanism is very easy to use. The illustrated instructions are (I think) quite clear. We are looking forward to shopping for a couple new shapes and embossers to use for Christmas cards this year. 


Here's another grandparent gift for you. We received these many years ago and they never lose their appeal with the boys and girls alike. The EZ Roller comes with additional bar length so that it can grow with your kid. We have used these indoors before we had carpeting in our family room and now they roll around the neighborhood. One caution: These are low to the ground. If you have little people rolling around in them, please attach a flag or something so that drivers can see them!

The pic below is of my littlest on her brother's fully extended rider. By the way, he's 13... and she loves to sit in his lap as he rides around with her. 


We love Playmobil in our house. And girls just love horses. Perhaps it's a stereotype but it's a pretty accurate one! And I do think that Playmobil does horses and their many accessories rather well. 

As long as you don't mind stepping on little tiny saddles and buckets (think Lego-level pain), you will have hours and hours to do anything you like (blog) while your girls play with these sets. The price range is nice as well. You can get a simple horse and rider for $10 or so or splurge on a Horse Farm with Paddock for a wee bit more. Of course, you'll need a horse trailer and a sweet horse family, right?

And that's it... for now... because I know we've got years and years of gifts ahead of us. Feel free to ask any questions about these products in the comments. I'll have my girls answer them for you!

Posted on August 19, 2015 and filed under Gifts, Girls.