Bright lights, big city

When I pair the words "bright" and "city", two cities spring to my mind: Paris, the City of Lights, and Las Vegas, the city of neon lights. I do love seeing all the lights shining on The Strip at night.

Even inside the casinos, everything shines bright with all the glitz and glitter. This is a photo I took of Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity show at New York New York (ok, ok, you caught me, I wasn't supposed to do that but I couldn't resist sneaking one in.)

In the daytime, Vegas still shines bright -- this time, in the light of the hot desert sun. The glare makes it challenging to take good photos (for me anyway), but the results are so worth the effort -- I love the way the water fountains sparkle and the way The Pea's hair shines golden in the sun.

For more bright things, click here.

Bootcamp, Day 20 -- Mission Accomplished

Purty, ain't it? I was absurdly happy when the instructor handed me my shirt. Maybe not so absurd --after all, I sweated, ached, yawned, gasped and strained for this shirt. It's been a tough month but I've loved it. My only regret is that I didn't ask for a smaller size. Me, in a size S!

Fridays Feast 195

Appetizer: What is the weather like today where you live?
Filipinos don't discuss the weather (since it's hot year-round, weather is a boring topic of conversation). So I'll just say that it was nice.

Soup: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how career-minded are you?
Once upon a time, I was a 7 or 8. But as they say, motherhood changes everything. So now it's down to a 4 or 5. Maybe things will change once the kids are all at school, but I will always work to live, not live to work.

Salad: What type of window coverings do you have in your home? Blinds, curtains, shutters, etc.?
We have a mix of wooden plantation shutters and curtains.

Main Course: Name something that instantly cheers you up.
Watching my children sleep.

Dessert: How many times do you hit the snooze button on a typical morning?
When I have to set an alarm, I almost always wake up before the alarm goes off, just waiting for the alarm to go off.

Bootcamp, Day 19 -- I'm now less of a weakling

Today we redid the fitness test that we took on Day 2 of Bootcamp. I'm pleased to say that I improved my stats on all 3 tests. And I think it's because my fitness level has actually improved, not because I cheated the second time around.

Happy as I am with my current fitness level, I do need to put things in perspective. The running club met again today, and everyone at Bootcamp watched as someone ran the 400-m track in 59 seconds. I did it in 2minutes, 7 seconds. I might need a million years at Bootcamp plus a dose of steroids to get to that level.

The Best Quiche Ever

I'm usually a throw-it-together-and-see-what-happens kind of cook, so the dishes I make rarely taste exactly the same. But once in a while I happen to throw together a real keeper, and I know I need to write down what I did. This quiche, pronounced The Best Quiche Ever by my kids, is one such dish. Alas, my family inhaled the quiche too quickly for me to get a chance to take a picture of it, but the next time it comes up on the menu, I'll have my camera ready.

The Best Quiche Ever

1 frozen deep dish piecrust (9"), thawed
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk (2%)
1 1/2 cup Egg Beaters or egg whites or liquid egg substitute
1 package (12 oz.) turkey bacon, cooked
2 tbsp cream cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Prick the piecrust with a fork on the bottom and sides.
  3. Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of the piecrust.
  4. Spread the cooked turkey bacon on top of the cream cheese.
  5. Mix the eggs, milk and cheese, and pour over the bacon.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees F for 35 minutes (you will need to cover the piecrust edges so they don't burn).

Bootcamp, Day 13 & 14 -- Sleeping In

No doubt you've noticed that the Bootcamp post frequency has fallen dramatically. Well, this ain't no NaBloPoMo. I think I've gotten so used to the class that it's just a part of my everyday schedule now.

This week I've made it even easier for myself by going to the 7AM class instead of the 6AM class. Now that was bliss. No more alarm ringing into my dreams. No more early morning headache. No more shivering in the cold. I felt almost lazy, waking up so late. I'm not planning to wake up for an early morning work out every day for the rest of my life, but I'm certainly enjoying my mornings a lot more this week.

Bootcamp, Day 11 -- Act 2

I've begun the second half of Bootcamp. I feel stronger, fitter and more energized-- but waking up is still excruciatingly difficult and my knees are beginning to ache. My parents are visiting. My sister just moved nearby. I had a great (but tiring) weekend. I've got dental surgery this Friday. Lots of excuses to skip a day. Will I? Stay tuned.

Getting a Kick out of this Party

What a great way to close out the schoolyear -- being treated to a Kung Fu Panda Party courtesy of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, Dreamworks and HP. Thanks to all the fun activities, we all found something to enjoy.

The Pea loved all the Kung Fu Panda craft stations, as well as a table where she learned (in just a few minutes!) how to pick up gummy bears, froot loops and goldfish crackers with chopsticks. She was too shy to join the Kung Fu Panda dancers, but she was happy to sit and watch as they danced to the tune of Kung Fu Fighting, again and again and again and again and again (thank God this happened in a side room and the music was not blaring over the main speaker). She also enjoyed posing for a photo with her little stuffed panda and Po the Kung Fu Panda.


Did 3Po and Jammy like it? Two words: video game. The first thing that caught their eye (or anyone else's, for that matter) were two giant tv screens with a Kung Fu Panda videogame playing on each. Once their turn came, 3Po and Jammy were enthralled. Since they've never seen, much less played a proper video game before, they couldn't really make the onscreen panda do more than jump up in the air and flail its arms and legs about. It took a couple of exasperated eight-year-olds to teach them the basics of video game controls. Once they figured it out, I had to forcibly drag them from the video area to check out the other crafts, eat, or pose for photos with Po.

As for me, despite stressing out over the number of videogames my sons played and the number of times Kung Fu Fighting played (I can't get the darn song out of my head now), I enjoyed the yummy food, the generous and friendly party people (who really panda-ed to our every need... get the pun, I mean pun-da?) and the company of my fellow mom bloggers.

Best of all (for a freebie-lover like me) were the treats they saved till the end. We were given a bag generously stuffed with goodies such as fortune cookies, tags, pens, Snapfish giftcards, Kung Fu Panda craft cd's, the movie soundtrack, and the videogame (I've hidden it from the boys).

Food, games, freebies... what's not to love? Thanks, SV Moms, HP and Dreamworks -- we really got a kick out of the whole thing.

Fridays Feast #193

Appetizer : Do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist?
An optimist.

Soup : What is your favorite color of ink to write with?
I don't have a preference.

Salad: How often do you get a manicure or pedicure? Do you do them yourself or go to a salon and pay for them?
I don't consider painting my toes or nails at home to be a proper manicure or pedicure. I love manis & pedis but they are strictly a treat for me. I tend to get them done only when I visit the Philippines, because it's so cheap to have it done there (approx. $2 - $5)!

Main Course: Have you ever won anything online? If so, what was it?
Yes! I won a gift box full of eco-friendly home cleaners from mod*mom, and more recently I won a set of Mommy Cards from MomViews. And for anyone who has never won anything online, go to my review site here! I've got a couple of nice giveaways going on and the chances of winning are pretty good :)

Dessert : In which room in your house do you keep your home computer?
We have a desk on our upstair landing and our home computer and laptop are both on it.
For more feasts, click here.

Bootcamp, Day 8 & 9 -- Ok, I've skipped a day

No, I didn't miss yesterday's workout, I just missed blogging about it. I think workout fatigue may be setting in. I don't mean that I'm getting bored with the workouts; on the contrary, each day's workout has been different so far. And although I do feel like there's just no way I can go on, after the workout I feel really energized. Today I was actually amazed when the workout ended -- what, already?

No, the fatigue is coming from the routine of working out every. single. day. No rest day. No chance to recover or sleep late (this 10PM bedtime is KILLING me). Waking up in the morning and knowing there's no chance of lying in, even just a little bit. I know there are people who get up every day at 5:30AM to go to work, but that Just. Aint. Me.

Don't worry, I'll be at the track bright and early tomorrow anyway.

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Bootcamp, Day 7 -- Be careful what you wish for

After 7 days of bootcamp, I finally have my first complaint. After Day 2, every. muscle. in. my. body. was. aching. A week later, things are better. The hurting has subsided -- except in my thighs. And this is my complaint -- Why So Many Squats??? Today was supposed to be a "weight training day" but my thighs and heart got a much better workout than my upper body. Every other exercise seems to be some variation of squatting or jumping. Enough with the cardio already! I want toned arms, baby, so let's cut down on the squats and rev up the pushups!

When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers -- Oscar Wilde

Yes, Oscar old chap, I'm tempting fate and asking the bootcamp gods to give us more upper body exercises.

Bootcamp, Day 6 -- Watching the wildlife

After 2 days of rest, I was raring to go. I guess the instructors figured that was the case, because they put us through a killer cardio workout today -- the workout of the day consisted of:

1 lap around the track
50 squats
100 jumps with jump-ropes
25 "bodybuilders" (squat, get into plank position, pushup, standup)
(repeat until time is up or you give up)

To distract my mind from my racing heart, I spent a lot of time watching the other runners on the track. They seem to belong to a running club of some sort. Young and old, they're all fit and fast. They look so graceful, making their way around in perfect stride, with long lean legs and sinewy arms. Like gazelles.

That's Hairrifying!

Check out our wonderful 80's hair. I can't believe we ever thought those hairstyles were hip and cool. No wonder my baby sister is crying -- who wouldn't be after being forced to sit beside such coiffure disasters.
For more bad hair moments, click here.

Bootcamp, Day 5 - 1 week down, 3 to go

5 things I have learned about myself this week:
  1. Working out does give me more energy during the day.
  2. I can train myself to get to bed before 11PM.
  3. Except when So You Think You Can Dance is airing that night.
  4. I cannot get to 100 on a jumprope without tripping up -- yet.
  5. After 2 days of rest over the weekend, I will come back stronger than ever.

Bootcamp, Day 4 - Sarah Silverman is my trainer

I have a hangover from yesterday's YouTube viewing spree. I couldn't get that "I'm f*#%ing Matt Damon" refrain out of my head, so I used it to pace myself when I ran around the track this morning. At least it kept my mind off my aching thighs. I'll bet the other people were thinking:

Poor newbie.
The strain is too much.
She keeps bursting into laughter while she runs.
Her mind has gone.

Jimmy & Matt -- the funniest feud ever

I've heard lots about the Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon YouTube video and the corresponding Jimmy Kimmel/Ben Affleck video, but I'm ashamed to say I never actually watched the videos, nor realized there was a backstory to the whole thing.

Well, now I have, and I think this is absolutely the most hilarious long-running gag on television today! I've always been a fan of Jimmy Kimmel from his Man Show days, and I also adore Matt Damon. I think he's a great actor and a handsome devil (Alfie thinks he's the most handsome star on the planet, next to Brad Pitt). This is just further proof that he deserves our adoration.

Apparently Jimmy Kimmel regularly closes his show out saying "Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time" (spoofing talk-show hosts who need to cut off their last guests due to time constraints). In September 2006, Matt Damon finally got to appear on the show -- sort of:

(I told you he's a good actor). The Gag continues with Kimmel using one of his sidekicks, Guillermo, to hijack Damon's Bourne Ultimatum trailer:

Even Guillermo didn't have time for poor Matt:

But Damon got some of his own back in January 08 when he appeared with Sarah Silverman in the smash YouTube hit:

Kimmel responded in February with an equally hilarious video of his own, featuring his boyfriend, Ben Affleck, and a bunch of celebrities:

Damon, when asked about the video, remained true to character:

These people are brilliant. My sides are aching from laughing so hard (wait, maybe it's because I did lots of situps at Bootcamp this morning -- but trust me, I really was laughing). I can't wait for the next run-in!

Bootcamp, Day 3 - Thank God, a Rest Day

Well, not exactly a rest day -- just a Weight Training Day. I was planning to slow down to a walk when they made us do laps around the track but they must have realized that my legs and heart needed a rest today. It was still tiring -- lots of core exercises interspaced with those God-awful burpees, but at least the upper-body workout wasn't bad. And I got to lie down and stare at the beautiful blue sky -- it sure beats the ceiling of a gym.

I don't know how these people do it. A good majority of the class (about 25-30 people) seem to be in the 40-55 year range; I hear quite a lot of them talking about their kids in high school or college. I'm there huffing and puffing and sweating and swearing, and there they are chatting about what they did over the weekend.

I hope they're regulars. Or cheating. So I don't look so bad.

Bootcamp, Day 2 - File me under Weakling?

Today's main workout was a fitness evaluation. We all had to record the results of the following tests.

A) In 10 minutes, complete as many of the following sets as you can:
5 pushups
10 situps
15 squats

B) Run as many times around the 400-meter track as you can in 6 minutes.

C) In 10 minutes, complete as many of the following sets as you can:
5 tricep dips
10 leg raises (lie down, straighten legs, lift them up & down)
15 gluteal lifts (lie down, bend knees, squeeze your ass up & down)

My results?
A) 8 sets
B) approx. 2.75 laps (approx. 1100 meters or 0.68 miles)
C) 11 sets

I haven't been doing any of the exercises in A or C regularly, so I'm not sure if my results mean I'm fit or not. I certainly thought I should have done better with the run (even though my pace was about 6.8 mph, better than my usual 6, it was only a 6-minute run). I'm sure I would have done better if my every part of my body (and parts I didn't know I had) weren't aching to high hell. But that's beside the point. We'll be repeating this test at the end of the 20-class session, so I'm hoping those numbers all go up.

Bootcamp Day 1 -- What have I done?

I've been suffering from gym fatigue for a couple of months now, so our upcoming trip to the UK gave me the perfect excuse to quit for the summer (why pay membership fees when I'm not even going to be in the country, and besides, summer is a wonderful time to exercise outdoors!).

The next question, of course, was how to keep my metabolism going throughout the summer? I figured that running around the neighborhood and rotating through my collection of workout DVDs wouldn't be enough to motivate me throughout the time that we're here. The solution: Community BootCamp at the Stanford Track. Every weekday for a month. At 6AM.

I've been working out regularly since my twenties, but I've never worked out every day before (heck, I've never woken up at 5:30 regularly before). So, for the month of June I'll be posting a day-to-day account of my Bootcamp experiences and reflections. Today was my first day. I won't describe it in full today so that I don't bore you all at once; let me just say that my ass and calves are already aching. At the beginning of the class the instructor informed the newcomers that everyone who attended every single class would receive a tshirt. My competitive spirit kicked in and I thought, of course I'm coming every day. I want that shirt. Halfway through the class I wasn't so sure.

Stay tuned as I drag my booty through bootcamp and see if I get the shirt!