WIP Wednesday: Lipstick Granny Ripple 

5 Apr

For this weeks installment of work in progress Wednesday, I’m featuring my Lipstick Granny Ripple blanket. I started crocheting this blanket last year as a side project for myself to work on between my shop orders. With the rush of Christmas and birth of my second daughter in February, it got pushed aside into a closet. But as April 20 approaches, I wanted to finally finish this blanket that’s been 9 years in the making. 

The reason why April 20 is significant to me is because that is the day my sister Heather died 8 years ago. I had originally started knitting a blanket for her with this yarn to give her for what would end up being her last Christmas, but unfortunately I never finished it in time. The project sat in a bag for many years and several moves before last year I finally decided to repurpose the yarn into a different blanket for myself. The original pattern I picked wasn’t a good fit for this yarn, but for 6 years I didn’t have the heart to undo my work, even if it never made it to my sister. 

Now as the 8th anniversary approaches, I have a strong desire to finally finish this blanket so I can wrap it around my two babies. It’s sad they never got to meet their Aunt Missy, but there are traces of her everywhere in our house. 

The Lipstick Granny Ripple will be just one more memory to add to our family and remember the one who isn’t here. Working on a yarn project has always been a way for me to cope with hard things in my life, so it seemed appropriate to work on such a special blanket this time of year. Someday I hope to tell my girls about the story behind this blanket as they pull it out to play with and cuddle under year after year. We love you Heather, forever in our hearts! 

All is Bright // Ben-Hur [Review]

3 Apr

All is Bright by Nancy Gunthrie

Due to a mix up with shipping, I didn’t receive this in time to use for Advent last year, so I’m saving it back to use this year. This devotional coloring book includes a family devotion and coloring page for every day of December, as well as additional activities and talking points in the back. The devotions are written by Nancy Gunthrie to provide the spiritual journey through the advent season and set the stage for each illustration. 

The illustrations are detailed and thoughtful, ranging from abstract lines and swirls to hand lettered messages to pictures depicting the nativity. The pages are a nice quality great for coloring with pencils and markers. The size is big enough that several people could gather around the book to color together while still being small enough to be portable. 
I can’t wait to go through this book in December, and I would recommend it to any family looking for a fun but meaningful coloring activity. 

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Carol Wallace

As an English major in college, I loved grabbing a thick classic and sitting for hours reading. Now as a busy mom of two, it’s hard to find time to read big books like I used to. That’s why I was excited to receive a copy of this adapted version of the classic Ben-Hur story to read. I haven’t ever read the original or seen any film adaptation, so this was my first introduction to the story. 

I was confused by the subtitle “A Tale of the Christ” since the story itself centers around a young Jewish man named Judah Ben-Hur. The text follows him through his journey of betrayal by his close friend Messala, exile and revenge, and eventually an encounter with Jesus that leaves him seeking a path of forgiveness instead. Although he does interact with Jesus, I didn’t feel like this was the main focus of the story, at least in this version. 

The writing itself felt accessible to a wide range of modern audiences while still keeping some of what I assume to be the original language. While reading it, I definitely wanted to go back and read the original version to see what Lew Wallace actually wrote and if the more antiquated language would add to the richness of the plot. At times the story felt a bit flat, which is a downside of reading a condensed version of the original story. 

All in all I found this to be an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a more modern introduction to the story. 

Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale 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.”

Mermaid Tail Blankets

23 Nov

Looking for a unique handmade gift to put under the tree this holiday season? Look no further than a handmade mermaid tail blanket, now available to order in my shop!

Available in child and adult sizes. Two styles available and 8 color options to choose from. 
Limited spots available to order. These blankets are made to order in the colors of your choice. Order by November 29th to ensure Christmas delivery! 

These warm and cozy lap blankets are sure to delight any mermaid lover in your life. Visit kountingsheepshop.etsy.com to order today!

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.

Want to read more Bible reviews? Visit the Bible Reviews page to see all available posts. 

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.

To order your own Inspire Bible, click here (affiliate link)!

Want to read more Bible reviews? Visit the Bible Reviews page to see all available posts.

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. 

Want to read more Bible reviews? Visit the Bible Reviews page to see all available posts. 

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.

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