Why would he ever need to come home?

31 08 2009

This article shows just one of the MANY perks that Dan’s new job offers….I’ve experienced the food there a couple of times, and all I can say is WOWIE.


Perhaps this article will entice some of you foodie friends to visit us in California. Free gourmet meal anyone?

Roadtrip Honeymoon

17 08 2009


Today marks the end of a one month vacation for Dan between jobs. Immediately after the wedding we didn’t take a honeymoon. Actually, we spent the first 2 weeks of marriage either with house guests or with me out of town traveling with some of my best friends who came internationally for the wedding. It made for an interesting start to things for sure! The next two weeks of marriage we spent merging, purging, and packing our two lives, we’d be heading west soon. Destination: Mountain View California, where we found a charming little condo to rent and Dan procured a version of his dream job as a software engineer for Facebook.

We had a month between jobs, lots of sad midwestern goodbyes to say, and planned to drive first to the east coast, then all the way west to our new home. Week one: Chicago to visit with Dan’s family and some of our best friends who live in the city. Week two: Baltimore to spend a few days with Martha and to attend the wedding of Melissa, a friend of mine from high school. Then we had a pit stop back in Urbana where we said our last goodbyes to my family & many dear friends.

Week three the honeymoon road trip really began as we spent six days driving out west. Our trip would have us starting off on the northern route, then dipping south before heading west. Our last day of driving was due north as we traversed the winding cliffs of coastal highway 1. Major cities that we stayed in or passed along the way included Lincoln NE, Denver CO, Albuquerque NM, Flagstaff & Sedona AZ, & Bakersfield CA. I loved spending literally every moment of that week with Dan, I didn’t wait the drive to ever end.

Here are some of my highlights from the drive:

  • Downtown Lincoln, NE. So full of history and charm.
  • All the wild sunflowers along the road, particularly in Colorado.
  • Listening to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein book on tape. Oh. My. Goodness. This book is amazing and deserves a blog post of its own.
  • Driving into the sunset multiple nights, but most of all the sunset at the NM/AZ border.
  • The hot buffet breakfast at the Hampton Inn in Kingman, AZ. Lets just say I ate a lot of papaya. mmmmmm.
  • Hiking the Jordan Trail in Sedona AZ. The beauty of Sedona is like you’re in a whole different world.
  • Being able to see so far into the distance in the wide open southwest deserts. I loved being able to see it rain miles & miles away, but have it be dry where we were.
  • Seeing all the California crops being grown along the road and getting really, really excited about all the fresh and local produce we’ll have at our fingertips.
  • Listening to the War on Drugs CD really loud as we entered the breathtaking coastal highway 1. Music=Scenery. Perfectly.

To take a photo tour of our travels click here for my album, and if you’re friends with Dan on FB be sure to check out his AWESOME album.

Week four, this past week, has been spent hanging out with Mona and Jiongyi, camping out on the floor for everything (eating, sleeping, relaxing…) until the moving truck came, getting acclimated with the area, and unpacking. More updates to come!

Its been an amazing month!

Coral & Pearls

17 08 2009


Dan and I just reached our two month wedding anniversary. A lot has happened between then and now, but I wanted to post SOMETHING about the wedding before moving on. Two things that summarize my feelings:

1. A quote on marriage from the Baha’i Writings that was read at our wedding:

In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven – a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical.  The home should be orderly and well-organized.  Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens.  Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony.  They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others.  They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest true and sincere love towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family.

2. Some of my favorite photos from the day. Our photographer Liza did a phenomenal job capturing the day. She has an unnaturally talented way of manipulating light to capture dramatically beautiful effects. Check out her photography blog by clicking here.

Click on this link for my FB album. Just a few of my many favorites from Liza.

Happy Naw Ruz, Happy News!

24 03 2009

Spring is here! These last few weeks have been hard for me to feel motivated. My winter blues had to push me down just a bit more before I was able to jump out of it with a happy Naw Ruz** and signs of spring all around. My lethargic ala constant was making me seriously worrisome. But alas, I see the light.

I got some good news the other day. I had received my invitation for Baha’i Pilgrimage a few months back.  Currently the wait is a couple of years before you get invited, then typically a year or so before you actually go. I was given a list of dates to choose from and I kinda randomly picked the end of March/early April 2010–exactly a year from now. When I picked the dates Dan and I weren’t even engaged, and I’ve just been figuring that I’d probably be going by myself (which didn’t seem that appealing to me, but I knew since it was Pilgrimage and all it would work out). Next, something really exciting happened. My dear friend Eileen told me that she had received her invitation for Pilgrimage, but had not chosen dates. I told her the dates that I was going and she was able to reserve the same ones! So now I will have a perfect companion on my trip to the Baha’i Holy Land in Israel next spring. YAY.

**Naw Ruz is the Baha’i New Year which falls on March 21st, the first day of Spring.

Mosaic Of Me

22 03 2009


– Go to Google image search.
– Type in your answer to each question.
– Choose a picture
– Use this website ( http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/mosaic.php ) to make your collage.
– Save the image for use in this note.
– Post and tag your friends.

1. What is your name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What is your hometown?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What is one word to describe yourself?
10. How are you feeling right now?
11. What do you love most in the world?
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?

The Engagement

2 02 2009

Dan and I got engaged last night! It wasn’t your typical engagement, that’s just not our style. Here’s how it happened.

Since I got back from Korea the two of us have been discussing what marriage means to us, and working towards preparing ourselves for the engagement. We have been actively investigating and becoming acquainted with each others character, really digging deeper beyond they surface of compatibility, asking lots of hard questions. We have focused a lot of our discussions on preparing for marriage around the Baha’i Writings on the subject.

Dan and I believe that families are the basic building block of society. That the happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation, and conditions surrounding a family surround the nation. We want unity to be our focus at all times, and love and agreement to be manifest. It is based on this though that we believe that in focusing our efforts on this goal, and by always working to ensure unity in our household, we are essentially helping strengthen the moral structure of society.

It is a Baha’i law that for a couple to get married they must obtain the consent of all parents. So when we felt prepared for marriage, we called our parents together for a consultation. The purpose of asking parents for permission goes back to the principle of unity. It is designed to ‘strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts for those who have given them life…’

So yesterday all four of our parents got together so that Dan and I could discuss our vision of marriage with them, and share some inspiring quotes from the Baha’i Writings that we’ve been studying. We felt very prepared and relaxed and ready for whatever might happen. The meeting of our two sets of parents was very joyous and full of love. We could feel the unification of our families beginning. They all happily gave their blessings (and lots of great compliments) and we officially became engaged.

Back in Urbana

27 01 2009

My 3 and a half months of traveling have come to an end. What an experience! In that time I’ve been in 4 countries, 15 States, and can’t even start to count the amount of beds I’ve crashed on. Its been a truly priceless time getting to catch up with so many friends and family members, and experience so many new things.

So, if my traveling has come to an end, does this mean I’m no longer ‘stuck in transition’? Not really. But here’s whats up.

I signed a five month lease in Urbana. I already moved into my place and am ecstatic to have an apartment. Even though its far less than perfect it brings me much happiness to have a space that’s all mine! I am living in East Urbana, right across the street from the middle school off of Vine St. I have a roommate. His name is Badr and he is a 19 year old Intensive English Institute student from Saudi Arabia. So far so good (apart from the *minor* heating issue where he was keeping the thermostat at 75+ degrees. Yikes!) I feel all settled in, comfortable and enjoying spending time there. I am eager now to share the wonderful hospitality that was extended to me during my travels, so come visit. Everyone is welcome to invite yourself over for tea, a meal, a weekend… Please come!

As far as employment goes its looking like I will be starting to Substitute Teach in Urbana Schools as soon as next week. I’m told that there is a need and that I will be kept busy. I really like the idea that its temporary, though. It suits my personality to leave room for daydreaming about a much broader range of trips and interests and whatnot’s to pursue than a traditional 9-5 job would. So thats cool. Plus I’m eager to start working with the kiddies again (this sentiment will likely be reevaluated after day one, but for now I’m looking forward to it).

Then there’s the Dan factor. We’ve done a great job meshing our two lives together (now that I’m back and actually have one!) We take turns cooking for each other and spending evenings at the other one’s apartment. We’ve been having a lot of really focused talks about our future and our spirituality. And we joined a gym. Yay!

The Baha’is are keeping me quite busy, too. Of course.

It feels good to be back.

Tennessee Family New Year

23 01 2009


After a fantastic Christmas/Hanukkah with Dan’s family in Chicagoland we headed down to Tennessee to spend the week of New Year’s with mine. It had been YEARS since all 6 Quinlan family members were able to vacation together, and a lot had changed since the last time. Its quite different vacationing with a bunch of adult sisters, versus adolescent sisters if you get the picture. It was also a nice bonus to have Dan along. He did great going along with the flow (always Mr. easygoing), hydrating everyone with his famous french pressed coffee, entertaining us with his guitar playing, and keeping up with us crazy Quinlans. It was amazing to have all those people I love so much get to spend some real quality time together.


So, what did we do while we were there? When we were hanging around the condo we did hottubbing, yoga, visits to the fitness center to work out or play ping pong, movie and TV watching, cooking and snacking galore, knitting, dance parties, a fashion show, and LOTS of listening to John Legend. When we ventured out of the condo it was usually to go hiking, on a scenic drive, or out to eat. We also spent a really fun day at Dollywood. Yes, that’s right, Dolly Parton’s theme park. Who would have thought?


To see a few more photos from the Quinlan family reunion in the Tennessee Smokey Mountains check out my album here.

baltimore, MD to washington, DC

12 01 2009

n1933777_46931719_7826Once I had covered the essentials on the West Coast, it was time to head east. I went next to visit my big sis, Martha, who lives in Baltimore.  We were met there by Dan for 10 days of adapted happy camp.

I got to see Martha’s apartment that she moved into while I was in Korea. I loved it! It was in a historic neighborhood and had ceilings that were two stories high. It also had a beautiful fireplace and mantel. Just a whole lot of character. It was nice walking around the neighborhood and seeing all of the beautiful row houses. I had been to Baltimore before, but each time was just for day trips. This was the first time that she was living there, and I got a better feel for the place. We ate at a lot of great restaurants, and cooked some great meals (Martha is quite the foodie). We also checked out a lot of cool cafes and neighborhoods within Bmore. Probably my favorite thing that we did in the city was spend an afternoon at the American Visionary Art Museum. Part of what made the place so fascinating was that all of the art included artist bios, and the lives of these artists were often as interesting as the art itself. It is one of the most amazing museums that I have ever been too, and is an absolute must if you’re ever in Baltimore. Another really cool thing that we got to do was volunteer at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen. Martha has volunteer days that she can take off from work, so we spend one afternoon doing just that.

We also spent a day on the Mall in D.C. We went with Azul and Sugeet, two of Martha’s international interns at work. The were both really cool and all of us had a fun day popping in and out of the Smithsonian museums, and seeing the White House, Congress, and other governmental buildings.

n1933777_46931792_7138I got to know quite a few of Martha’s co-workers because Dan and I visited her at work, went out to lunch, and attended a house party with a bunch of them. Plus, Martha let me be her date to her company holiday party, which was of course really fun.

It was a nice visit. Most of all I was happy that Dan and Martha got a chance to get to know each other better.

Click Here for some more photos from our time in Baltimore/D.C.


11 01 2009


After visiting Mona in SF I headed north to Seattle where a few of my favorite people in the world call home. I’m not sure what I was thinking trying to pack so much goodness into 5 days, and wish that I would have had longer there, but I sure did make the most of it.

First stop was visiting my U of I friend, Oliver, who is now a phD student at U Wash in Psychology. We had less than a day and a half, but we packed quite a bit in. I got to see his school, working space, and meet quite a few of his colleagues.  I even got to attend a seminar and his department holiday party. It was really cool seeing him in his element, and seeing how great of a fit it was for him. We also spent some time downtown, visited the famous Pike Place Market, and window shopped. The evening was finished off in boystown, where we took in a darn good “cabaret show,” if you know what I mean.

Early the next morning I was picked up by my other dear friends in Seattle, the Bishops- Nathan, Katie, and little darling Elsa. We went to Portland for the weekend for a big regional Baha’i Conference, then returned for only one more day at their place. Highlights from our time together, other than the conference, included hearing about their recent Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holly Land, everything Elsa–especially playing tea and singing songs, and most of all seeing Katie and Nathan as parents. They are so loving and patient and simply amazing. I know for certain that some day when I start a family I will turn to them for support and inspiration. It really touched my heart listing to Katie reflect on her journey thus far as a mother, and seeing her put her tender words into action as a parent. And Nathan seemed happier and calmer than I’ve ever seen him before, especially while interacting with Elsa.

Even though my time in Seattle was so short, I feel that it was very significant on my journey of reconnecting with friends after my time in Korea. I feel blessed that I got the chance to make a stop there.

For a few snapshots from San Francisco and Seattle check out my facebook album.