Handmade Blankets

2 Sep

Have you seen all the new crocheted blankets now available in my shop?

Blankets are one of my favorite things to make, especially baby blankets. As I start preparing for the arrival of our second baby, I decided I wanted to go back to making what I truly love: blankets. 

I want to enjoy this time while my babies are little, and making other things was stressing me out too much. In an effort to be a happier and better mom for my kids, I decided to transition my shop to crochet blankets only. I am excited about this new phase of my life, and as always I’m thankful for the support I’ve received as I make these changes. 

I have several ready to ship baby blankets available. Mermaid tail blankets are available for preorder in the colors shown or you can custom order and pick your colors. As always, I’m happy to make a custom blanket, so click on one of the custom order options to get started!

Visit kountingsheepshop.etsy.com to see all the new blankets available for purchase! Every baby needs a handmade blanket, so wrap your baby in an one of a kind crochet creation from Kounting Sheep Shop. 

HCSB Illustrator’s Bible [Review]

31 Jul

I have been looking forward to the release of the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible for several months now, so I was thrilled to receive a copy to review. However, I wasn’t the only one who was thrilled with this new Bible, and the brown leather copy ended up being claimed by my husband. So after purchasing the purple linen covered version, I can finally write my review now that I’ve been able to use it myself. 

The thing I love the most about this Bible is that the illustrations are much more subtle, modern, architectural, and gender neutral than the Inspire Bible. As soon as my husband and I looked through the Illustrators Bible together, he immediately wanted to start reading and coloring. His positive reaction to the illustrations would definitely make me recommend this Bible to men and women alike. 

This Bible boosts over 600 illustrations, and they are peppered throughout the Old and New Testaments. There are several full page illustrations at the beginning of some books, mainly in the New Testament, but there are a few in the Old Testament as well. The front and back inside covers are fully illustrated, as well as some of the additional pages at the front. 

The only drawback to having over 600 illustrations is that several of the designs are repeated anywhere from 2-5 times, so it is not 600 unique illustrations. Over time once I begin to fill in more and more of the designs, it might become redundant to do the same one over and over again. However, I do like that if I were to mess up on a certain illustration, I would have a chance to redo it in another spot. 

Some of the details are rather small for colored pencils, but that doesn’t bother me too much since I love to use watercolors as my main medium for illustrating in my Bible. If someone were to strictly want to use just colored pencils, I would suggest getting ones that have very sharp points or can be sharpened periodically to maintain a thin pencil for easier coloring. 

Because this is also a notetaking Bible, the pages without illustrations have lined margins. Some of the columns with smaller illustrations also incorporate lines as well, so there is plenty of opportunity to take notes and write out prayers and memory verses. The illustrations are also printed in gray to make them less dominant; you could easily write over top of an illustration of desired. 

Like all journaling Bibles, the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible has thin pages and small font, but I have grown accustomed to using these Bibles and find it easy to manage. I also like the fact that this Bible is single column. This Bible is larger than my ESV double column journaling Bible (my husband’s HCSB is pictured above with my ESV), but it is comparable in size to other single column Bibles. 

Overall, I think the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible will quickly become a favorite for both my husband and myself. We are excited to study and illustrate God’s Word together with these Bibles. I would highly recommend this Bible to anyone looking to creatively connect with scripture.

Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H publishers through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Paperback Inspire Bible Comparison

5 Jul

I was able to get my hands on an early copy of the new paperback Inspire Bible, and I wanted to show a comparison with my hardcover Inspire Bible. Both Bibles have the exact same content. There is no difference in the amount of pages and illustrations. 

However, I was disappointed to find that there was an overall size difference. The new paperback is about half an inch shorter, slightly narrower, and then because of the thinner cover, there is a difference in the width. The difference isn’t quite as noticeable when it’s laying flat open, but a decrease in size means a decrease in margin space. I was expecting them to be the same size as far as height and length, so it surprised me to see such a noticeable difference. I didn’t look through all the illustrations in the paperback, but I’m sure there are some pages where the design gets cut off because of the size difference. 

Obviously, since it’s slightly smaller, the paperback is also more lightweight than the hardcover. I think having a lighter option is great for those who want to carry this Bible around a lot. The lower price also makes it more enticing to those with lower budgets. The retail price for the paperback is half the price of the new Large Print coming out in September, so that is definitely a bonus.
Another major difference with the paperback is that the endpapers have no design. The blank edges are great for those who may want to decorate it themselves, or for those who want to add tabs and don’t want to obscure the designed edges on the other versions. Although the cover is mostly decorated, some of the flowers could also be colored in or extra detail could be added to the blank space as well. 

I think over time the paperback version will have the same issue as the softcover version, in that the cover does not stay closed when the Bible is completely closed. That would definitely bother me, and I would either get a cover for it or get a stretchy band to help keep it closed. I cover all of my journaling Bibles with a handmade fabric cover anyway, so this wouldn’t necessarily deter me from buying it, but for those who purchase this Bible specifically for the cover design, that might be a drawback to using a cover. Another thing to note is that the paperback version does not have a ribbon bookmark. Again, not a deal breaker for me, but this might bother others.

Eventually there will be 4 types of Inspire Bibles: the hardcover (teal), the softcover (butterfly design), the paperback (white floral), and the large print (blue cover). I still prefer my hardcover to the paperback, but I think that the paperback will appeal to a lot of people looking for a compact, lightweight pre-illustrated journaling Bible. With all the different types, there is sure to be an Inspire Bible to appeal to a wide range of Bible journalers. 

HCSB Notetaking Bible [Review]

1 Jul

Since I started Bible journaling at the beginning of this year, I’m always looking for different translations to add to my library and study from. I was excited when I got the opportunity to receive a copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Notetaking Bible from B&H Publishing to review. After receiving the brown one, I purchased a second copy for myself, the red floral. I gave the brown one to my husband for Father’s Day so that we can study the Bible together and take notes, journal, pray, and draw together. I love that there were several different choices in covers so that we could have the same Bible but be able to tell them apart.

We have been excited to read from this translation, so this was a great opportunity to start. Here is a description from HCSB.org about the translation itself: “HCSB employs a translation philosophy known as Optimal Equivalence, which seeks to achieve an optimal balance of linguistic precision with contemporary clarity. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. In places where a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is favored. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original are conveyed as accurately as possible.” 

These Bibles are beautiful and well made. Each margin is lightly lined to help guide notetaking, and even some of the blank pages are fully lined to offer more space for writing. The Bibles include the HCSB notes in the back, a concordance, and full-color maps. Each Bible lays flat when open to make it easier to study and write on a flat surface. 

I especially like that these Bibles are single column, which makes it easier to take notes right next to the verse you are studying. As far as size comparison, this Bible is bigger than my ESV double column, but smaller and lighter than my Inspire Bible. As with all journaling Bible, the pages are fairly thin and would require pens and highlighters that won’t bleed through. My favorite pens to use are Micron pens and gel highlighters, which neither of these will bleed through the page. 

Overall, I highly recommend these Bibles to anyone looking for an HCSB journaling Bible for notes or creative journaling. 

Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H publishers through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New Pattern: Swiss Cross Blanket

9 Jun

I just released another new crochet pattern: Swiss Cross Baby Blanket. This blanket pattern is great for adding a handmade modern touch to any nursery or toddler room. 

You can get the PDF pattern with written instructions and color chart on Etsy or Ravelry. If you don’t crochet and you’re looking to purchase a Swiss Cross blanket, visit my Etsy shop to see all available blankets for sale or choose custom order to have one made. 

I also have other free patterns and for sale patterns available. You can browse all of them by clicking “My Patterns” in the menu or click here

The Prince Warriors [Book Review]

16 May

It’s been a long time since I have had time to actually sit and read, so I was excited to get the opportunity to read Priscilla Shirer’s new young adult book The Prince Warriors. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of this book and the texture of the hardcover; it’s very appealing to hold this book in my hands, and I immediately wanted to begin reading. This is the first book in a new trilogy of young adult fantasy Christain fiction, and here’s the description from the publishers: 

The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer 

“As brothers, Xavier and Evan are used to battling each other. But now they’re discovering that there is a much bigger battle going on all around them. And it’s their turn to fight. Based on Ephesians 6:10–18, The Prince Warriors is the first book in Priscilla Shirer’s epic new series that brings to life the invisible struggle ensuing in the spiritual realm. Xavier, Evan, and their friends have typical lives until they enter a mysterious land called Ahoratos. There they meet their guide, Ruwach, who offers wisdom and direction as the kids’ initial adventure begins—an adventure filled with armor and danger and a very real enemy. Written by New York Times Best-Selling author Priscilla Shirer, The Prince Warriors series was created for middle-grade readers and will include the fiction trilogy as well as Unseen: The 365 Prince Warriors Devotional and the Unseen app.”

As I started reading, this book immediately grabbed my attention and made me want to keep reading. It didn’t take me very long to get through as an adult, and I would think that an interested young reader would be able to read through it pretty quickly too. The writing is very descriptive and uses a wide variety of vocabulary. Some of the harder names and words are given definitions and phonetic pronunciations within the text to help readers with unfamiliar terms. This so helpful for the fantasy names, as well as more difficult words for the younger readers. Although the publisher recommends for ages 8 and up, I think for 9 and up is more accurate, especially since one of the main characters, Evan is 9 while the rest of the characters are around 11-12 years old.

The story itself is very creative and a great allegory for the armor of God and the spiritual battle without beating you over the end with “Christian metaphors.” The action flows naturally and is enjoyable to read. Most of the characters are well-rounded, especially the boys, which I think makes it even that much more relatable for boy readers. The only character that seemed a bit on the flat side was the main female girl, Brianna. She’s a little wimpy and a little too over the top “girly,” and it would have been nice to see her as a stronger female representation as compared to the male characters. However, I’m interested to see how all of the characters will develop over the course of the trilogy. 

A few hand-drawn illustrations enhance the text throughout the book. I remember when I would read a chapter book in grade school and would come across a drawing with excitement, so I’m glad to see it included in this book. The story itself is very descriptive and paints a great picture for the imagination, but it’s always helpful to have a few illustrations. 

Overall I am pleased with this book and I look forward to eventually reading the rest of the trilogy. I would recommend this series for advanced younger readers or any middle-grader looking for an enjoyable challenge. This makes a great gift for boys especially, but I think everyone can learn something from this book. 

Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H publishers through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Journaling Through Psalms

11 May

I have been doing some simple journaling through Psalms in my new NLT slimline Bible, as I mentioned in my review post here. This Bible wasn’t intended for art journaling, but I wanted to add color to the pages as I do my daily reading. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have a Bible now that will remain untouched by paint and color.

I also wanted to be able to show others that you don’t have to start with a specific journaling Bible in order to illustrate your faith. Just as God invites us to come right where we are, as we are, to Him, so also He invites us to connect with His word, right now with whatever way works best for us. Bible journaling doesn’t have to be elaborate; as a visual learner and a creative person, it only takes a little bit to help me connect with God’s word in a new way. 

I have found that the pages of this Bible are slightly different than in my other Bibles, and it does not take watercolor paint very well. I wanted to use this Bible as a way to try new techniques, but instead I plan to stretch myself to try different mediums. I am also trying to do some micro-journaling (aka tiny/miniature drawings in small margins and spaces). Flowers and leafy vines are my favorite, so I plan to add a lot of those to the tiny margins as I continue to read my way through Psalms. 
As I read, I am underlining verses that stand out to me and speak God’s truth to my heart. I have found that I am reading a lot more scripture in one sitting since I am illustrating a full two page spread at a time. I’m reading about five Psalms a day, so it should take me about 30 days to illustrate my way through all of them in this Bible.

I have also been trying to do more of my original journaling by writing out scripture and praying through it in my regular journal. I have missed doing something that has been my main method of devotions for a decade or more. I love that Bible journaling has refreshed my spirit and my time with God. It has helped me to creatively express myself as I connect with scripture as well as return to writing and praying the way I have always done. 

And of course, I had to sew a pretty cover for this little Bible. Although I like the neon blue and pink fuzzy cover, I wanted something a little more subdued. This makes two Bibles that I’ve done a cover for in this fabric because I love this pattern so much. I’m excited to read and illustrate more in this Bible. Follow me on Instagram @kountingsheep to see more pages.

Life Verse Creative Journal Set [Book Review]

10 May

Do you have a life verse? A verse of the Bible that speaks to your heart, one that perhaps you go back to over and over again throughout different seasons of your life? If you don’t have one or if you are unsure, this is a great place to start!

Life Verse Creative Journals by Jana Magruder and Morgan Grace Magruder is a set of two journals that helps you to creatively explore different passages of scripture through writing and drawing prompts. The first journal has pre-drawn illustrations and prompts to guide you through scripture and prayer to help discover meaningful verses to you. The second journal is filled with blank unlined pages to help you continue your writing and illustrating journey through prayer and scripture.

I was eager to receive this set and pleasantly surprised at the compact size of the journals. This set would be great for carrying along with your Bible as a tool to help you creatively explore God’s word. The illustrations inside the first journal are beautiful and great for coloring. They could even be used to trace into a journaling Bible. My favorite illustration was a stack of tea cups, but all of the drawings are inspiring; as soon as I opened this, I wanted to sit down to write and color and paint.

There is a good mix of drawings, hand-lettered verses, prompts, and blank space for writing. Each page is unique and different. One page even encouraged you to add in your own doodles amongst the ones already there on the page. Even the covers on both of these encourage coloring and more artwork. This set is definitely more than just a coloring book, though; it is an intentional creative exploration through several different beloved verses. The journaling prompts are not super in-depth, but they offer a great variety and the blank journal makes a good complement to do more in-depth study if you desire.

I can’t wait to get a chance to color and journal in these! I imagine that I will be using them soon as a creative study tool as part of my Bible journaling. I highly recommend this set as a gift or for yourself.


Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Lifeway/B&H Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Girls Slimline NLT Bible [Book Review]

3 May


Today I’m excited to share with you about this sweet little Bible that I received to review. The Girls Slimline NLT Bible from Tyndale has been a great Bible to carry around and use for my daily devotions. I think the reason why I love this Bible so much is because it would have been something I would have wanted as a teen girl. To be honest, I was absolutely giddy to receive it as a grown woman!

Here’s the description from the publisher: “This adorable edition of God’s Word for girls features the easy-to-understand New Living Translation text with a soft-fur, bright-neon LOVE design and silver glittery lining. The BOLD FAITH design on the back cover encourages girls to live out their faith in ways that bring God glory. This hardcover deluxe edition also features purple page edges, neon orange ribbon marker, special presentation page, 8 pages of full-color maps, and a 53-page dictionary/concordance to help locate passages on various topics. The New Living Translation text is excellent for young readers because it is so clear and they can understand what they are reading! When they can read and understand God’s Word, God can work in their hearts!”

Not only do the outer and inner covers of this Bible feature fun colors and textures, but it also encourages young girls to Be Bold in their faith. And you have to be bold to carry around a teal and pink fuzzy Bible!

The size is prefect for carrying around to church or slipping into a backpack or purse. It is not heavy at all, and the text is still very readable despite being on the smaller side. The extra material in the back includes Concordance/Dictionary, One Year Reading Plan, Great Chapters to Read and Verses to Memorize, and maps.

I really like the suggested chapters to read and verses to memorize, because it’s a great way for teens to navigate the Bible on their own. This section gives the reader the ability to look up helpful verses by topic to help see what God’s word says about what she is currently struggling with.

Another great feature of this Bible is that it lays flat. That way you can lay it on a desk or table to read without having to worry about losing your spot if you walk away. This also makes it easier to read with this Bible on your lap in church and take notes.

I’m really impressed with the Girls Slimline NLT Bible, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and functional Bible for a teen girl (or for yourself, let’s be honest). I’ll be posting later this week about how I have been personally using this Bible in my daily devotions.


Please note that all pictues (except the first one) and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I Can Learn to Pray // Read With Me Bible [Book Reviews]

2 May

What happens when two English majors get married and have a baby? It means there’s a lot of books and reading! Our daughter is developing the same love for books that she sees from mommy and daddy, which absolutely thrills us. I’ve been getting a lot of great books lately, so today I’m going to share two children’s books that I have received to review and can’t wait to share with my daughter!

I Can Learn To Pray by Holly Hawkins Shivers (illustrated by Becka Moor). This book from Thomas Nelson Publishers is a 52 week devotional centered around teaching your children how to develop a closer relationship with God through prayer. There are 7 topical sections that break prayer down week by week, starting with learning what prayer is and how to pray, and then covering topics such as “thank you prayers” (prayers of thanksgiving), “help prayers” (praying for others), and “Jesus prayers” (prayers from Scripture).

From the back cover it says that author Holly Hawkins Shivers,  “a mother gifted at connecting with kids, makes every discussion engaging and relatable, and helps young believers grow leaps and bounds in their faith.”

This book is as cute as it is practical. Fun illustrations are scattered throughout to highlight important concepts from the text.

Although my daughter is a little young for this book, I can’t wait for when she’s old enough to understand and we can go through this book together as a family. Each devotion has a description and a practical application that guides young children, with the help of their parents, through the act of prayer. The writing is age appropriate for kids 4-8 years old, but I think even older kids and parents would find just as much enjoyment from this book as younger kids. I would highly recommend this book for parents looking for a fun and practical devotion to guide their children through prayer.

Read With Me Bible for Little Ones by Doris Wynbeek Rikkers (illustrated by Dennis G. Jones). This books from Zonderkids (Zondervan) is a padded cover board book full of colorful and bold cartoonish illustrations that highlight 8 stories from the Bible.

From the back cover “The Read With Me Bible for Little Ones is the perfect way to introduce the Bible to young children. Featuring simple language and vibrant, full-color illustrations by Dennis Jones, this action-packed padded cover board book is a great way to jump-start literacy and a love of the Bible.”

As soon as I opened this book, I knew my daughter would love it. The illustrations are bold and unlike what you would find in most board books. “Action-packed” is a great way to describe the drawings that almost resemble a comic strip style. I could definitely see this book being very appealing to young boys, as well as girls.

And I love any book that introduces the Bible in an easy to understand format to young children! This will be another great book to add to our bedtime reading rotation.

I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait to give this to my daughter for her birthday. She will love flipping through the colorful pages just as much as listening to the important truths found in this book.

I will be writing about more books this week, so make sure you’re following my blog to be notified when a new post is published! Click in the sidebar (or at the bottom on mobile) “Follow This Blog.”

Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these books free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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