Babies, Babies, Everywhere!

I’m not sure what was in the air this summer…but it resulted in lots and lots of babies!!!

Besides myself, my friends Cassie, Kelly and now Kathy are all pregnant and due in March/April! Crazy…(and no. We did not plan it!)

Kathy asked me to design her announcement, and (if I may say so myself) it is adorable! Kathy and I made the banner, then we set up the perfect time for photos and I added some perfect handmade design elements! Kathy wanted a postcard design for easy sending so, here it is:





Also, for those of you who either…

a) Live across the country or

b) Just haven’t seen me in awhile

I am including a recent belly pic for you just so you can see how big Baby Brown (and Momma Brown) are getting!

Here I am at 9 weeks:


And this was last week at 18 weeks,,,

18 weeks

Oh dear…and I’m only getting bigger.

ALSO…in other exciting news, Nate and I are in the process of buying a home…more to come on that in a few weeks!

AND at the end of the month (assuming Baby Brown & everything with the house cooperates) we will be having a party to reveal the gender of our little peanut! Can’t wait to send out these invites!


Happy Wednesday!

2,458 miles…

Good afternoon readers!

My husband & I recently moved from Walnut Creek, California back to Central Illinois! We took a 6-day road trip on the way back and saw some beautiful things along the way! Click here to see our exact (2,458 mile) route!

We had a fun, little goal to not stay in a “chain hotel” on any night and we even tried to keep the cost under $50.00 per night! Yelp is terrific.

Here is a little tid-bit about each unique (and even wacky) hotel/motel where we stayed…

  • Scott Shady Court, Winnemucca, NV – Nate and I suspect that this property used to be some sort of military housing. It seemed to be straight from the 60’s and we loved it! $45 per night plus a fun experience! IMG_3906
  • Gas Lite Motel, Laramie, WY – This place had the most ridiculous décor! Horse/bison/bear statues, cowboy figures and paraphernalia, etc. Go ahead and check out the link to see more of the craziness… $50 per night.IMG_3939
  • Armstrong Hotel, Fort Collins, CO – This was our “splurge day” in Fort Collins. We spent an entire day (not driving) and seeing all of the breweries and fun sights we could! The Armstrong was a great recommendation from a couple we knew in California. IMG_3971
  • Big Sky Lodge, Rapid City, SD – We were one of two patrons at this lodge the night we stayed. (South Dakota’s “busy season” starts Memorial Day, and we were there just a few weeks before) The view at this place was gorgeous…South Dakota in general is gorgeous…we even saw Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse while we were here!!! $35 per night.IMG_4024

On the last night, we drove ALLLLL the way from Rapid City, SD to Eureka, IL (892 miles) to avoid a snow storm…..guess what? We drove through a snow storm….in the middle of the night….when the truck drivers weren’t even crazy enough to be out! One of the most stressful 4 hours of my life. (Yes…4 hours. I am surprised I didn’t have a heart attack)

The good news is that we made it all the way home in one piece! Our moms were thrilled!

AND NOW…COMES A PICTURE EXPLOSION OF OUR 2,458 MILE ROAD TRIP! Enjoy and please try not to fall asleep before you get to the end of the page… 😀




(The alien-like salt flats and the beautiful Salt Lake)


↓ Salt flats….not snow! ↓

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(Lots of fields, beautiful scenery & a crazy motel)

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(Fort Collins – New Belgium Brewery, Bike ride around the city, beer, beer & more beer!)

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(Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands National Park, Wall Drug)

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These bizarre pictures were all taken in Wall Drug. A crazy, bizarre, cluttered, yet hilarious tourist trap…


My very attractive husband riding a jackalope…

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Want to see my descriptions for some of these pictures? View them on Instagram by clicking the following link!


Please MAKE ME SO HAPPY and leave me a wonderful comment below! I will be so excited to see your feedback!



Blogging Hiatus

Hi Friends!

Did I disappear for awhile? Sorry about that…it has been a CRAZY few months! Here is a recap of a few exciting things that happened…

  • Nate and I moved (and took a great road trip) from Walnut Creek, California to Central Illinois. Read more about our road trip HERE.


  • My baby brother graduated from high school! Congratulations Jacob!!!IMG_6643e
  • My husband and I have been spending many hours with three adorable kiddos. My mom and step-dad foster a 3-yr old, 2-yr old and (almost) 7 month old. They are tons of fun and so sweet! Here are a few pictures that I took of the three musketeers last week…

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  • I have also been keeping myself occupied with wedding crafts for friends as well as another venture I’ve been working on. More (exciting) news to come soon so stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by and come back now y’all!

Please MAKE ME SO HAPPY and leave me a wonderful comment below! I will be so excited to see your feedback!



Guess Who’s Moving?!?!


That’s right…we have decided to embark on our next life journey…and that is moving to IL!!!!

We are very excited! Although, it will definitely be very different not sharing the sidewalk with homeless people everyday….and the lack of mountains in the landscape! (Among many more glamorous things that California has to offer of course!)

Wish us luck!


: : 8 Months of Marriage : : & My “Love is” Doodle!

I can’t believe that it’s already been 8 months since I married my handsome husband! On one hand, it feels like we’ve been married for decades…and on the other, it feels like we just got back from our honeymoon last week!

Nate + Carissa Wedding | Deidre Lynn Photography | |

I am blessed to have found someone who is my best friend and love of my life. Plus, it’s great to be able to giggle over silly things, hang out on the couch together, rock out to our favorite music, talk about our mutual (and not so mutual) life goals, daydream about our future kids and just have a good time with each other! All the while being completely trusting and comfortable with one another and totally ourselves.

(Don’t get me wrong, not every day has been a walk in the park. We’ve had a few rough days where we’d prefer to be on different planets (different galaxies even)…but those days help us to keep it real and appreciate the good days even that much more.)

Anyway, 8 months ago today, I stood in the sweltering heat, saying my vows to a handsome man and listening to my grandparents read a few bible verses. One of those verses came from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13. Today, I wanted to not only remember our wedding day but also the message in the verse. Here’s the verse:

1 Corinthians 13

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

And here is my doodle with a few of my favorite parts of the verse….


Thanks for looking and stop by again soon!


St. Patrick’s Day Shenanigans…

For St. Patty’s day this year, we didn’t drink green beer or pinch anyone who wasn’t sporting green, BUT we did have a good time at our friend, Lynne’s house, eating corned beef & cabbage, drinking sparkling wine/drink of choice, playing board games and just goofing around!

Our goofy fun including making a “photo booth” with cheesy St. Patty’s day photo props! If YOU would like to print out some fun photo props for St. Patty’s Day next year…or just for fun next weekend…click HERE!

The “Lucky” banner in the background can be printed here.

Have a good day!!!




St Pattys Day Collage

Traveling to beautiful, rustic Big Sur, California!

Are you prepared to see the most amazingly, beautiful place in California? And a very picture-heavy blog post? Well lucky you (!) because you are about to experience both…

Earlier this year, I surprised my hubbie by taking him for a weekend to Big Sur for his birthday, and we had an amazing time! Big Sur is one of those places that feels almost like you stepped back in time; no cell reception, most restaraunts are lit by candlelight, beautiful, rustic inns and the food is out of this world! Here’s a little snippit of our weekend…


First, we drove down to Big Sur on Highway 1 and were treated to two hours of amazing, amazing views of the Pacific Ocean! Exhibit one below…


We drove over the infamous Bixby Bridge on our way down too! Honestly…we expected it to be a bit longer but considering it opened in 1932, it was pretty darn impressive for that time! Here’s a snapshot as we were driving away…


We got to Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, where we were staying for the weekend, after a two and a half hour drive. I can’t even BEGIN to explain Deetjen’s to you…you must see it for yourself someday, but I will do my best to give you an idea of this whimsical place. Here is one of the seven buildings you can stay in. Each building was built over a thirty year period, take a look at their website (linked above) it gives you a great history of the property.


Has your jaw dropped yet? Well there’s more!

Top left -One of the rooms in the building where we stayed, this one even had a small balcony! Top right – Each room had several journals for each set of guests to write a note or draw a picture and keep in the room for many years to come!  Bottom left – The restaraunt/check-in area. We ate here twice and oh my word…the food was a-maz-ing! Bottom right – Another bit of the top left room, what a fun wood burning stove!

See what I mean about rustic? When we woke up the next morning, we could hear nature…which is amazing considering what we normally hear when we wake up (dumpsters slamming, honking horns, footsteps from the floor above, yelling people, sirens, etc.)

Deetjen's Collage


My very exciting idea for Saturday morning didn’t go as planned, but it was definitely an experience! I started the morning off by giving the hubbie this note…can you guess what we were going to do???


Whale watching of course! We drove a little north, up to the Monterey Bay, to (make an attempt) at whale watching…the problem was that the ocean was really choppy that day…I’m talking 15 foot swells…the boat rocking all sorts of directions, and I was very thankful for Dramamine! Here’s what we could have seen if the ocean would have cooperated that day…(a happy beautiful, killer whale breaching the Pacific Ocean)


But what did we see? Well…lots of sea otters, all sorts of birds and maybe a few sea lions…and lots & LOTS of choppy water!


Once we were done getting bumped and sloshed around the boat, we decided to head back to our inn. On our way, we took a detour, a road called Old Coast Road that was used back before the Bixby Bridge was used in the 1930’s. It’s a one lane, dirt road that is approximately 13 miles long. Because of the terrain, (hills, cliffs and forest) this 13 mile road took us 2 HOURS! It was ridiculous but very pretty! We saw redwood trees, cliffs, bridges, praries and beautiful views of the ocean before it took us back to Highway 1! Our good ole Subaru got us through it! Here’s a few pictures of our drive…

OldCoastRoad Collage


We went back to our inn for a short nap and then finished our night off at a great restaurant called Nepenthe. Nepenthe has great views, delicious food and amazing sparkling wine! We indulged in all three! 🙂 If you ever want to eat a delicious burger, I would recommend their Ambrosia burger! (They even have the recipe on their website!)


Sunday, we woke up and we were ambitious….possibly a bit too ambitious! We wanted to go for a hike…in the mountains…of Big Sur. It was pretty challenging but so worth it! The trail was called Timber Top Trail, the entrance was very inconspicuous…this gate and old broken down livestock herder were the only indicators a trail even existed.


Our destination….are those trees as the very top of this summit. They look like bushes in this picture, but I will show you in a little bit that they are, in fact, full-size trees!


The total hike took us about 2 and a half hours round trip. During the hike we encountered the following:

  • Many noises that we were convinced were moutain lions stalking us
  • Beautiful views of the ocean and rolling hills
  • Hunts for our perfect walking sticks (we succeeded as you can see in a few pictures below)
  • Chilly winds once we got to the top of the trail (we ended up wrapping our scarves around our faces!)
  • Eating trail mix at the top of the summit (best trail mix I’ve ever tasted)
  • Some weird bird (a California Condor we think…) was stalking us from the sky as we were going back down. I don’t know if we looked tasty or we were near its nest, but honestly I was afraid for my life. Seriously…click the link or Google them…they are terrifying!
  • Finally, we made it back to our car and looked back up at the group of trees and felt so accomplished that we were just up there!

Without further adieu…here are a few pictures of our hike:

Just a quarter of the way up…


Getting closer to the top!


Here are those trees I was telling you about! We made it to the top!
Our goofy selves all wrapped up in our scarves! You would never believe how windy it was up there!
One view from the top of the summit
One view from the top of the summit
Another GORGEOUS view on our way back down…

Well, hopefully I’ve inspired you to take a trip to Big Sur at some point in your life…I promise you won’t regret it! I hope everyone has a great weekend filled with traveling, sparkling wine and good food! (Or just your favorite of the three!)

Thanks for stopping by and please come back!!!

Holidays with Family & Friends

My husband and I went home to Central Illinois this holiday season for 10 whole days! It was the first time in 16 months we had gone home and didn’t have to worry about planning a wedding! It was relaxing, full of happiness and terrific =)

So for a lot of people, it is probably a battle to be home for the holidays and running around from one Christmas to another but I am very lucky to have a terrific mother-in-law and a wonderful mother! They are always very courteous when scheduling holiday get-togethers so they don’t coincide with one another…makes it very easy for the hubby and I. We are very lucky.

During this trip, I spent a lot of my time cuddling my mom and step-dad’s new little foster baby boy/two toddler foster girls, they are so sweet and all three have already made it into the hearts of our big family!

I was so excited to see my friends and their growing kiddos! I can’t believe they are all walking (everywhere) and talking (a little bit anyway.) It gives me mixed emotions to see how much they’ve grown while I’ve been all the way out in California! [Happy] because they are growing up to be such great kiddos and well…they can’t stay tiny, little babies forever & [Sad] because I’m not there for key points in their lives. I just want to have a good relationship with all of my nieces and nephews even if they live 2,000 miles away =(

Nate & I are also very blessed with a terrific group of friends! We had such a great time playing board games, watching movies and having good yet possibly controversial discussions. Within the past two months, two of our couple friends got engaged and we are SO happy! Can’t wait for your big days!!!

So anyway, here’s some entertaining pictures for you. My mom and I prepared some Christmas themed Minute-To-Win-It games for our Christmas get together this year. We based all of our games from a great blog I found, although you can find these all over the internet and Pinterest. Here are a few pictures from the festivities:

Game 1: See how many nuts you can stack on end in 60 seconds using only a candy cane as a tool


Game 2: See how many levels of plastic cups you can pyramid stack in 30 seconds (we had to change the time since we didn’t have enough cups)


Game 3: You put a blob of vaseline on your nose, tie a pom pom to a string, put one end of the string in your mouth andbe the first to get the pom pom on your nose without using an hands!


My cousin, Andy, actually won the game but couldn’t get the pom pom to stick for the picture!


Game 4: See how many ornaments you can balance on a yard stick that is balanced on a used paper towel roll in 60 seconds


Game 5: This one is my favorite…see all of the hilarious pictures below and you will know why!

Put a cookie on your forehead and get it to your mouth first without using any hands!

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This was not one of the games we played, this is just my crazy cousin, Ben, using his ear as a Christmas tree!


After everyone was done making fools of themselves, we took some family pictures. We had everyone from our family all in one house (which doesn’t happen all that often) so we did the typical grandkids and family pictures. SOMEONE (ah-hem Andy) had the terrific idea of putting together an awkward family picture with random members of each family. So without further adieu…our weird and akward family photos…and yes I realize these are nothing more than for our own bizarre entertainment! =)





Thanks for stopping by Sparkling Twine! Have a great weekend!!!

Commuting Woes & Rewards : : Beautiful New Downloads!

Hello friends! How many of you commute for work? And no…I don’t mean a 15 minute easy-as-pie drive.

I mean the commute where if you don’t leave your house at a very specific time, you are likely to miss the last commuter train that will get you to work on time….most days I actually sprint to the station…

I take BART ([Bay Area Rapid Transit] every morning so my morning routine involves waking up (late usually,) then frantically gracefully searching for a weather appropriate ensemble and leaving my apartment at [literally] no later than 8:12am. But before I leave I need to make sure that I have the following items:
Umbrella (if needed of course…and considering San Francisco & the Bay Area, I can pretty much assume that I’ll need this most days from December through February)
Rain boots (same as above)
• My clipper card (the card I use to pay for my train fare every morning and night…a whopping $5.00 each way)
• An appropriate coat/jacket
• My make-up….(I am usually running so late that I have to do my make up on the train…which is really fun considering the amount of people that ride BART and more importantly, the really attractive faces I make while applying make-up…)
Scarf (Year round..Remember people, we are talking about San Francisco here…)

Anyway, so you are probably wondering “Ok, Carissa…why you are telling me this?”… WELL because my commute is 35 minutes each way, 70 minutes total…which gives me plenty of time to play around on my new favorite app and make you some new beautiful iPhone wallpapers!

The app is called “Collage Day” and it is adorable! Check it out at the Apple Store by clicking here! In the meantime, download one (or all) of my adorable iPhone wallpapers I made!



Right click to “Save As” to your computer or iPhone.
Right click to “Save As” to your computer or iPhone.
Right click to “Save As” to your computer or iPhone.
Right click to “Save As” to your computer or iPhone.
Right click to “Save As” to your computer or iPhone.
Right click to “Save As” to your computer or iPhone.