Sunday, December 28, 2014

Highlights 2014

Three more days remaining in this year, with today being the last Sunday of 2014! As we say every single year- wow, this year went by SO FAST! I think I ought to wrap up this year with a recap of 2014. So here we go: 

1. My most creative dish: 

"Buried Alive-" Capsicum/Bell peppers stuffed with worms (spaghetti in marinara), with exposed brains (walnuts with some melted cheese)! I put in a lot of effort into creating this dish. The best part was how the "brains" turned out- they looked quite real, and I was thrilled! 

2. My least creative dish: 

Mashed Potato Sandwich- I mean, maybe it isn't that bad, but really, nothing extraordinarily creative about this dish! All I did was spread some leftover mashed potato between two slices of bread, and put it in the sandwich-maker. I realize that it doesn't even look very appealing! 

3. My longest post: 

Clearly my mini-travelogue that took me 4 posts to cover the story! But then it had to be documented-  our summer road trip was the biggest highlight of 2014. What a great trip it was! 

4. My shortest (and least interesting) post: 

Looking back, I actually wrote some very uninspired posts in the last year. I mean, Skin Food? Obsessing about age spots of all things! What a crappy post that was! My birthday post was quite pathetic too- I was so judgmental (more like mental!). Ugh! 

5. My happiest post that turned into the saddest (and that I later deleted): 

Not sure how many of you remember my post on our new puppy, Axl. He was the cutest bull dog puppy ever. We got him in May and were so excited. I was even thinking of starting a whole new blog on home cooked doggie food! Unfortunately, things went downhill, and after a month of trying really hard to take care of him, we realized that we were just not able to do it. The breeders advised us to return him back to them. I had got him as a gift for my sweetie, and the saddest thing is that we took him back to the breeder on Father's Day. That was the worst day of 2014 for us. Finally, after all these months, my heart doesn't hurt anymore--- at least, that's what I tell myself! 

6. My most favorite recipe of 2014: 

That very delicious Tomato bhath (rice) recipe that I learned from my sister in law. I must have cooked that at least 50 times in the last 4 months! Not exaggerating!


With that, I now wrap up this year. I hope to be more inspired in the coming new year, and whip up some new and interesting recipes. On the personal front, I'll be hitting a whole new decade in March 2015. I actually am looking forward to it- just coz I think I'll become a bit wiser! Long shot, you say?! ;) 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tomato "bhath" Rice

When we visited my s-i-l and bro this summer (you probably know that by now!), I got to have the BEST tomato "bhath" I have ever had, thanks to my s-i-l. It was red, tangy, spicy, and just had this amazing punch to it- one spoonful into my mouth, and my taste buds went wild! It was SO delicious!

I have completely fallen head over heels in love with this dish. I could eat it everyday, no kidding! The best thing about this dish is that it is extremely easy and quick to make.

Note: Bhath stands for Rice.


For 2 cups cooked rice:

1. Tomatoes- 3-4 medium size. The better the quality of tomatoes, the better your dish is going to taste.

2. Garlic- 7-8. I say- the more, the better! ;)

3. Cloves- 4-5 whole. This is a key ingredient, that imparts the whole punch factor to the dish.

4. Cooked rice- 2 cups (leftover rice works just fine). I have used only white rice so far. Not sure how it would taste if you use brown rice, but you can certainly give it a try.

5. Salt per taste

6. For heat- either green or red chilies, OR red chili powder. The quantity is per your liking.

7. Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp (can also add 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, a pinch of turmeric powder)

8. Cooking oil- 1-1.5 tbs


1. Cook rice as you would normally (shouldn't be mushy/sticky).

2. Blend the tomatoes, green/red chilies, garlic, and cloves into a nice smooth consistency.

3. Pour in some oil into your pan, and get the heat going. Splutter mustard seeds (and cumin seeds), and pour in the blended tomato+garlic+chilies+cloves paste into this, and immediately start stirring.

Caution: Contents might start fuming up, and splatter.... be careful not to get it on your face!

4. Continue stirring on medium to high flame. I like to draw 8s while stirring- I think it aids in faster evaporation of water.... and, err, cuts down the boredom! About 6-10 minutes later, the water will have evaporated, and the mixture will be of a thicker consistency.

5. Now add salt per taste, extra red chili powder if you like, a pinch of turmeric powder. Sometimes I also add a pinch of garam masala powder. Then add cooked rice (should not be too hot, else it will get all mushed up when mixing) and combine everything together. Another couple minutes over the flame, and it is ready to be served.

Tomato bhath ready! 

6. I like to serve tomato bhath with a simple onion raita (I prefer red onion). If it is for a party, I garnish with fried cashew nuts or peanuts, and fresh cilantro. The nuts add a good crunch to the already mouthwatering dish.

Mm mm gooooood! *Slurrrrp* 

Gotta thank my s-i-l for teaching me this dish that has become the love of my life! Hey, a sentiment is a sentiment, is a sentiment!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween Recipes inspired by The Undertaker

Happy Diwali to everybody who celebrates this beautiful festival of lights!

Meanwhile, Halloween is coming up too, and I bet a lot of you must be gearing up for halloween parties. If you are throwing one, you probably are thinking of some fun recipe ideas too. I got the opportunity to guest blog for Full Circle and this time I got to suggest a topic. So taking cue from my foodie consultant (guess who?), I thought that there are a lot of WWE fans out there, and in particular, fans of The Undertaker. So I took inspiration from the iconic Undertaker, aka The Phenom, The Deadman, and came up with a few recipes that I think would be pretty apt for Halloween.

Here are my creations, which I put so much effort into- and glad they turned out to be quite brilliant actually, if I may say so myself! (Err, OK, my dessert-making skills need some work..... but still.....) Do check out my post if you didn't already, and rate it too. The link is:

Tombstone Piledriver

Buried Alive 
 Sweet Caskets O'Glory

Happy Halloween! ;) 

*Thanks to Full Circle for the opportunity. 

*Special Thanks to my foodie consultant. I dunno what I would do without you!

*Thanks to my daughter for helping me, and shaping those "caskets!" 

*Thanks to my son for saying, "Cool!" 

*Thanks to my hubby for taking pics with his special camera. Um, I finally used pictures that I took with my phone.... just saying! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Summer 2014- Back to Pavilion

Oh what a wonderful time we were having! Even if it meant everybody doing their own thing- umm, as the following picture depicts......

Quality Family Time! ;) 
Now if only we could be on a holiday forever, which sadly does not quite happen in the real world. Our stay was coming to an end--- and we had to pack our bags and get back on the road. We planned to pretty much retrace the route back to Sammamish. My sis-in-law packed up food for the way, and my bro made us panini for breakfast that Saturday morning of Aug 23rd. It was painful to put all our things into the van. It is so funny- when we started off from Sammamish, packing was so fun and everybody was so excited. But when the holiday ended, spirits were all dampened. With great difficulty we finally said our goodbyes, and started off. Had I stayed there a minute longer, I would have bawled away like crazy! We kept waving at each other until we drove out of their neighborhood. Just as soon as we entered I-90, it was evident that our road trip back home had begun.

Highlight of our back-home trip- Mt Rushmore: 

Like I mentioned above, we pretty much retraced the route--- and our first night halt was at Rapid City, SD. This time we decided that we must go see the world famous Mt Rushmore. It is considered after all  "a project of colossal proportion, colossal ambition and colossal achievement." So after spending the night at the hotel, we checked out the next morning, and headed towards Keystone, and further to Mt Rushmore. As we walked towards the mountain, standing magnificently with the statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, it looked incredible! The effort put forth toward carving this Memorial is just astounding. There were 400 women and men involved in the project, led by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. They started on Oct 4 1927 and completed the project on Oct 31 1941- 14 long years of immense hard work and dedication to create a Memorial that would beckon people from all around the world to go see it for umpteen years to follow.....

Where is it, where is it?

We see it, we see it!! 

We just stood there gazing at the mountain sculpture completely awestruck! If it were up to me, I'd have sat there in admiration for hours together. No, really! Apparently there is an evening lighting ceremony that happens every evening from sunset until 8 pm. I bet it is spectacular! I had only read about Mt Rushmore back in elementary school, and never ever thought that I would actually see it. For me it was an absolutely enthralling experience, and I hope we will go back there some day more leisurely.


The one picture we got, and it turned out to be out of focus! 

Our second night halt was at Butte, MT. Butte has a huge mining history, with discovery of gold, silver and copper in the 1870s, that brought in many new companies and people to the fast-growing city. However, unfortunately, a fire in 1879 destroyed the entire central business district. That's when the Butte City Council passed a law that required that all new buildings be built with brick or stone. As we entered Butte, that's exactly what we saw- red brick buildings everywhere, and it looked so pretty!

My bro had recommended we eat some Butte Pasty and we did try finding a place. But the one place that wasn't too far from the hotel was closed for the day; besides it was a Sunday evening. Well, we ended up getting food from The Pita Pit, which we realized later, is basically a subway sandwich shop, only with pita instead of subs. Oh well! The next morning was going to be our last stretch.

And the Road Trip comes to an end: 

Finally, we reached home on Monday, Aug 25th around evening. We dragged all our bags into the house, and all of a sudden, we realized that we were exhausted. Thankfully I had frozen some leftovers the day we left for the trip, and those came in handy for dinner. As we ate dinner, we talked about our excellent holiday, the cute baby, my loving sis-in-law and brother, and how we cannot wait to see them again!


I think that road trips are an eye opener- you realize that there is so much beauty out there, and just SO MUCH to see! Road trips are a great way to get out there and experience that wondrous beauty. And going on road trips as a family is even better, especially in this day and age, where everybody is forever rushing about; for it allows for some unwinding to happen, rejuvenates you, and makes you fall in love with your family all over again!

Saw this rainbow as we left Butte, heading towards WA.... 




Friday, October 10, 2014

Summer 2014- Part 3: Being Tourists

Our initial plan for our 5-day stay at Waunakee was to visit the International Crane Sanctuary, a cheese factory (of course!), the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, for that's where my bro teaches, Milwaukee, for that's where my hubby went to on his first business trip back in 1996, and the very famous Capitol in Madison. Included in all this was to check out some German food, for Wisconsin has a long German history- German immigration into Wisconsin happened in the period between 1845 to 1890; and who wouldn't want wurst (bratwurst and currywurst are my favorites) and some German potato pancakes! Above all, our main plan was to just chill with family, and hold, squeeze and eat up the new baby. Err, OK, that last bit didn't sound quite right- but you get the gist I hope!


Hubby wanted to see and show us the hotel he stayed in, the restaurant where he had butter burgers for the very first time, and the office he worked at back when he visited Milwaukee. Of the three, we couldn't find the office- looks like that place is now a medical facility. It was a nice walk, rather, drive down memory lane for the hubby.

That's where hubby had butter burgers for the very first time

The hotel (the room is on the first floor, behind the tree on the right)

As we were driving, we saw this huge body of water, a dome, flags, and a lot of people. It was the Veteran's Park right by Lake Michigan. Looked very inviting, and so we thought we might as well check it out. It was lovely! The weather that day was gorgeous, the lake looked beautiful with the lovely blue sky above, and there was a gentle warm breeze blowing. There were kids rollerblading, moms walking with their babies in strollers, couples holding hands and just strolling, people trying to fly big, colorful kites; I say trying because there wasn't much wind, really, and so half the time the kites were landing onto the ground. As we were walking, enjoying the atmosphere, we saw this big group of people on segways, going around the park, and it sure seemed like fun. We spotted the bike, skates, and segway rental place and decided to rent a surrey bike, a quadracycle, and cycle around on the lakefront. It was SO FUN!

What about lunch, you ask? Well, that was the day my bro got us those butter burgers for breakfast- so we were very full, and therefore skipped lunch. We ate some ice cream, and drove back to Waunakee. All in all, it was a fun outing to Milwaukee.

Posing with statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Surrey Bike- FUN! 

The Capitol: 

What an impressive building! The Capitol dome- supposedly the only granite dome in the United States, rises to a height of over 200 ft, and has a dazzling bronze statue, "Wisconsin," right on the top. I tried to click a panoramic view of the beautiful ceiling that you see as soon as you enter the first floor rotunda, but now that I look at it, I feel that you have got to go there to really see and feel the beauty yourself. The 43 varieties of stone from all over the world, the hand-carved furniture, and the lavish glass mosaic are simply magnificent. Check out this  Virtual Reality Tour (ref: Those court officials who work there sure have beautiful offices!!

The Capitol 
A glimpse of the inside
The statue of Wisconsin atop the Capitol Dome

We toured the Capitol on the day we visited Fromagination, the place with the gazillion varieties of cheese. Downtown Madison seemed pretty decent, and after walking all over deciding where to eat lunch, we finally ended up going to Noodles & Company and ate pasta/noodles! Nothing Wisconsin about it at all, huh? But you know what, we don't have it here in Seattle, and believe it or not, we thought it was pretty darn good! Either that, or we were very hungry..... ;)

Mac & Cheese with meat balls @Noodle & Co. 

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater: 

When my bro went to WSU, Pullman, I thought that it was such a lovely little college town. When he started teaching at Gonzaga University, Spokane, I thought wow, what a nice place to be. And now, when I saw UW, Whitewater, I thought to myself, ooh, this is really awesome! It takes about 50 minutes from Waunakee to get to Whitewater, and I quite liked the drive. I especially loved it as we entered the town, because it reminded me of the Air Force camps we lived in back while growing up in India- similar look and feel to the place. The building where my bro's office is located is very new, and looks really good. His office is very nice too. They just need to get a proper nameplate for him, though! ;) I felt proud of my little brother, now a prof! After the little college tour, we went to a nearby park, and had chai that my s-i-l had got in a thermos. It was a quick picnic of sorts, and enjoyable.

Nice new building

On our way back home, we decided to pick up some dinner from this New Orleans take out place that my bro was raving about. Their menu sounded really good- jambalaya, gumbo, étouffée, po'boy sandwiches, sweet potato fries, sweet potato pecan pie, etc. *Slurp* I got the shrimp étouffée that they claim is very very hot- and I was stumped, because it WAS in fact very very hot! And extremely delicious. My daughter got the fried cod po'boy sandwich, and I took a bite, and thought, dang, I should have got that! The sweet potato pecan pie was a tad bit too sweet for my liking, but still pretty good. My only complaint for this place is that their portions are very little, and you'd need at least two sides to really feel comfortably full.

So there, out of the 5 touristy things that we planned, we managed to check off 3. We somehow couldn't try any German food. Ah, but wait- my bro and I had a brat each at Costco! I'm telling ya, that brat was tasty!! Hey, but we did spend high quality time with family, and that is the best part of the trip.

P.S.: No, we didn't eat up the baby!!

Just one last part, and I'll wrap up my mini-travelogue.... coming up soon! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer 2014- Part 2: America's Dairyland

My dad asked me after reading Part 1- "You didn't say anything about food, except for that bad chinese food you had in Rapid City!?" Fair enough question, because this blog is after all a food blog. Well, during the drive to Madison, our food was fast food from places like Wendy's, McDonald's, and Subway! So, I figured there wasn't much to say.

Diving straight to the point, here's the most exciting food we tried- CHEESE! How could we visit America's Dairyland, and not try cheese? That would be such a shame! On our day out to Madison, we stopped by Fromagination. The variety of cheese in that not-so-big store, looked amazing. The entire store smelled like, one guess- delicious cheese!


More Cheese! 

The lady who helped us seemed a bit stiff, yet funny. At least she wasn't fake! ;) We were interested in the different cheddar cheeses they had, and we tried samples of Hook's five-year, eight-year, ten-year, twelve-year, and fifteen-year cheddar, and we were stumped! The more aged the cheddar, the sharper and crumblier it was. And there was also this delightful crunch factor, as well as an underlying caramel tone to it. Oh, you have gotta try it to really know what I'm saying! We also tried a soft gouda, infused with basil pesto. One bite of it, and we were in pesto-heaven!

That's pesto-heaven!

Speckled with basil and pepper

My bro had highly recommended that we try some squeaky cheese. The name was intriguing- imagine cheese that squeaks, and it indeed does. Squeaky cheese is basically fresh cheese curd, that "squeaks" with every bite. It has a very smooth outer coating, and the bite is nice and firm. As you bite into it, you can feel a little "squeak" in your mouth, and it is quite delightful, really! To me it tasted like good old paneer (Indian cottage cheese) mixed with cheddar. In fact, one could possibly substitute it for paneer and make matar-squeaky cheese curry. I bet that would taste good!

Yes, it squeaks! 

We also tried some par excellent parmesan. Even thinking about that nutty parmesan makes me wanna dance- it was SO good! We could have spent the entire afternoon in that store trying out every cheese sample, but of course, we had to leave. We bought a few little slabs of cheese, including eight-year and twelve year cheddar, parmesan, pesto gouda, and a bag of that beautiful addictive squeaky cheese. We'd have bought more, but we decided to just order online from Fromagination, since they do have that option available. Guess what I'm getting for Christmas this year?! ;)

The next Wisconsin specialty that my bro said was an absolute must-try- Butter Burgers! There is a Culver's in Waunakee, and he took me there and bought breakfast for all of us! Breakfast that consisted of Butter Burgers, deep fried shrimp, crinkle-cut fries, and deep fried cheese curds! OK, here's the thing- even though I shuddered at the thought of an already junked up burger, for breakfast that too, and from a fast food place to boot, that butter burger is to-die-for, and I kid you not! My hubby and daughter went crazy over the butter burgers, and for the rest of our stay, my daughter kept craving for those butter burgers! Here's the unintended souvenir I got back from Culver's:


Other than the cheese, and the butter burger breakfast, my bro and sis-in-law made awesome food for us. The night we arrived at Waunakee, my bro had made yummy egg curry and jeera rice, and a nice refreshing cucumber salad. According to my son, that egg curry beats my egg curry any day! The next day, if I remember correctly, he made this really amazing jerk shrimp curry, mixed with green beans, and some other kinda greens- it was crazy hot, and our tongues were on fire, but it was delicious! The lovely aromatic and mellow tomato bhath (bhath= rice) that my sis in law made to go with the curry was fantastic. In fact, I am now such a big fan of that tomato bhath, that I can eat it every day- yeah!

Delicious tomato bhath and jerk shrimp and greens

My bro also made this 9-grain pilaf, that was outstanding. On the last night of our stay there, my bro made his special black pepper lamb. It was as ever "pepperylicious!" My loving and thoughtful sis in law made a gazillion chapatis, and potatoes with Indian spices, and packed it all up for our trip back.

And finally, the morning we were leaving, my bro made his extra-special panini. Mine had chorizo, salami, eggplant, zucchini, and it took me back to good old Spokane days........

Old Favorite- panini

Stay tuned in for Part 3.......

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer 2014- Part 1: Washington to Wisconsin

We did it!! We successfully took that much-anticipated road trip to Wisconsin and back. It took us 5 days drive-time in total, 2.5 days each way, with exactly 2 night halts each way, and it was simply great! This summer was action-packed, with guests, camps, and that beautiful road trip I just mentioned.

The Road Trip:

We packed our things, filled up the trunk, packed up a ton of snacks for my junk-loving kids (OK, and us), as well as a whole carton of bottled water, filled up the gas tank, and started off after lunch on Friday, August 15. We had booked our hotels a couple days in advance.

The Logistics:

Route: Sammamish WA to Waunakee WI.
Total Distance to Brother's house:  1940 miles.
Estimated drive time: 30 hours
Main Interstate: I90 E
States: WA--ID--MT--SD--MN--WI

Stretch 1: 

Sammamish, WA to Missoula, MT (Pacific Standard Time to Mountain Time)
Approximate distance: Under 500 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 7 hours

We have taken enough road trips to and from eastern WA (Pullman and Spokane) in the past, and so the first 4-5 hours went by like a breeze. I drove the first stretch crossing Snoqualmie Pass, entering Idaho, driving past Coeur d'Alene, and entering beautiful MT. Thereafter we switched, and hubby drove all the way to our hotel in Missoula. While he drove, I was busy enjoying the beautiful scenery all around us. The undulating mountains, the greenery, the beautiful water reflecting off the color of the beautiful big blue sky was a grand treat to the eyes. In fact, that part is called Big Sky Country (see picture below). We reached the hotel right around dinner time. We found a Qdoba very close to the hotel. So dinner was decent enough. Stretch 1 was over. And we slept.

Stretch 2: 

Missoula, MT to Rapid City, SD
Approximate Distance: 660 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 11 hours

The plan was to leave next morning "as early as possible, preferably before 8am." Of course, it was well beyond 8 am, but we left Missoula, off toward Rapid City, South Dakota. Again, I drove the first chunk of hours, after which hubby took over. Montana is HUGE!! It seemed like it took forever to cross MT! I mean the name Big Sky indeed is very apt. The idea was to stop at Billings for lunch, and so we drove and drove.....and drove! We saw exits for Yellowstone National Park, and we talked about how we must go there perhaps next year. We crossed Butte, grabbed lunch near Billings, and drove some 230 miles towards Sheridan. Then we took US-212 toward Broadus. We saw signs for the historic Little Bighorn Battlefield, and the kids started off a discussion on Native Americans, US history, the battle, etc. And then, I forget exactly where, but at some point, hubby took over, while I dozed off in the passenger seat. Our butts had begun to hurt from all that sitting, and we couldn't wait to get to the hotel and stretch our bodies. The winding road was pretty scenic, and the vegetation looked like evergreen trees, but different from what we see here in the pacific northwest, and shrubs of some kind. There was a sign showing grizzly bears at one point- and I think we spotted some bears too- albeit in cages. So I guess it was some sort of a zoo. We wanted to go and see, but then we decided to just keep going, and not make any halts.

Finally we entered SD, and suddenly the mountains disappeared, the road just went straight, and the land was wide and open. We started seeing signs for the very famous Mt Rushmore and the Borglum (the sculptor) story. We decided that we have got to at least get a glimpse of this (man-made) wonder of the world. But we were on a time crunch, and so we decided to do it on our trip back. We were doing really well with keeping up time. Finally we reached the hotel right around dinner time. The area actually looked very nice. There was a lovely cool breeze, and it felt so good to get out of the van and stretch! After checking in, we went looking for dinner. The little downtown was pleasantly pretty, all lit up, and bustling with people, mostly tourists. We got food from this "highly rated" Chinese restaurant. That was a mistake! We should have got pizza. Oh well! Then we went back to the hotel, took showers, and plopped into bed, in preparation for our last stretch the next day.

The Final Stretch: 

Rapid City, SD to Waunakee, WI, via MN (Mountain Time to Central Time)
Approximate Distance: 780 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 12 hours

This was the longest stretch of our trip. We started off at a good time from Rapid City. Again, I drove first, and this time around, I got a little freaked out. A storm was brewing, and the sky turned dark, with menacing looking dark clouds all around- no, I am not dramatizing this- it actually looked scary to me! I am used to driving in a much more closed-in kind of area, with mountains all around, and really, I AM used to the rain. But that place is completely wide open, and those dark clouds seemed to be ready to attack us with a heavy downpour! I was literally racing, with the hope of escaping the storm. The kids were fast asleep, and so was the hubby, and all I could do was to keep going. As expected, it did start pouring, and here I was, accelerating away; to add to the excitement, all of a sudden I saw this giant life-size dinosaur to my left, and I shrieked!! Well, that dinosaur happened to be a statue of course, but believe you me, it was scary at that moment!! By then hubby was wide awake, and was very amused to see me driving with my sunglasses on, when it was dark and pouring outside. Well, the idea was for me to avoid unnecessary distraction by loitering dinosaurs and what-not! Finally we crossed that storm, and it was a joy to see the bright sun, and clear sky all over again.

P.S.: Later we found out that there is in fact a dinosaur park off of I90E, exit 57, with life-size dinosaur statues made of concrete. So there, I wasn't imagining after all!

We soon entered Minnesota, "Land of 10,000 lakes," and hubby took over. I must mention that the rest-stop there was unbelievably clean, and smelled nice! Wonder if all that extra water they have had anything to do with it! We started seeing more variety of cars, indicating diversity. Else, all through SD we mostly saw pick-up trucks, Fords, and Chevys......  after a few more hours of driving, we saw the sign saying "Welcome to Wisconsin." It was exciting to see that, since that meant we were almost there! Unfortunately we zipped by that sign, and I wasn't ready with my camera to take a picture. The funny thing is that we noticed more water bodies/lakes in WI than what we saw while crossing MN. I found a blog post on this topic. And soon enough, we saw signs for Madison, and all of a sudden, the kids, who had become rather quiet for some time, got very excited, and got all chatty again. I started texting my brother and sister in law telling them what exit we were at, and yeah, we just couldn't wait to reach our destination!!

YAY! Madison, finally! 

And we arrive: 

We finally arrived at Waunakee supposedly "the only Waunakee in the world!" on Sunday, August 17, at around 8:45 pm. The road we took had farmland on either side, and we noticed what seemed like glitter everywhere- fireflies!!!! What a beautiful sight that was! I saw fireflies after ages, and it was simply marvelous! The kids had never seen fireflies before (yeah!), and they were amazed. We took that one last left turn into my bro and sis in law's neighborhood, and our two and a half day road travel came to an end.

Family Reunion:

We rushed out of the van to go see the new baby of the family- my little now-almost-6-month-old nephew!  Oh, it is hard to describe the feeling...... but it was simply wonderful to reunite with family after an entire year.

Stay tuned in for Part 2......