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Oh to luxuriate on a weekday. Very few people are blessed, I know.  While most people are to be found in their workplaces (whether in a cubicle or doing field work or heaven knows where else), I’ve been, for the past nine months, enjoying my sabbatical leave.  Yes, it is a sabbatical leave and that means aside from the paid leave, I am also expected to have a research output. The thing is, I am done with my research. Make that two research outputs. All I need to do now is submit the expected report to the powers that be and that should be it (I know, I know, there is still that dreaded, dreadful, and damned dissertation, but that’s another story altogether).

So what to do, now that I still can’t seem to find the drive to finish the dreaded D?

Enjoy the leave while it lasts, I say.

And so I found myself at the mall today, with so much time to kill (and some moolah to spend as well).

First off the list: LUNCH.

Ramen, anyone?

I discovered this little ramen place at the 3rd floor, Midtown wing of Robinson’s Place Ermita last week called Ajisen Ramen. I enjoyed their house specialty called, ta-da, Ajisen Ramen, so I just had to have it again this afternoon.  It’s ramen sprinkled with vegetables, plus 2 pieces of pork and half a hard-boiled egg. For those who favor hot and spicy, you can have, for an extra 15 pesos, the Spicy Ajisen.

It was a very comforting lunch. The noodles were kinda chewy (their pride and joy) but not tough, no. The soup, oh the soup. It’s perfect for rainy afternoons, I tell you. It’s savory and flavorful and heartening, all in one large bowl.  The Ajisen Ramen costs 235 pesos, plus a cup of their house tea (always a good deal for me) so not bad, I think.

For dessert, I went upstairs and checked out Sweet Recipe. I ordered one of their bestsellers: a slice of Chocolate Indulgence, and a cup of Caramel Macchiato.

Surprisingly, the cake wasn’t too sweet, unlike most chocolate cakes in the metro (although I might not be the perfect gauge for this since I do have a high tolerance for sweets. What is sickeningly sweet for others is usually just right for me). Looks can truly be deceiving. The dark chocolate top of this particular slice of indulgence fooled me. It’s not even bitter, as in the case of some cakes that use dark chocolate. Not only that, it wasn’t heavy and compact as most chocolate cakes are. It’s lightweight without being fluffy. Kind of like a ganache.

Sugar and caffeine rush.

And while some cake slices are too large a slice and too expensive for most foodies, Sweet Recipe’s Chocolate Indulgence is only 95 pesos, and about three quarters of the usual slice size. I could’ve finished my slice in just two minutes, but I acted all prim and ladylike so I was able to extend the cake’s plate life to oh, maybe 6 minutes. The coffee helped in this regard.

Oh the caramel macchiato coffee. The foam is to die for, I swear. I could live and die in that foam, that’s for certain.  And it’s not even a cup. It’s a soup bowl! Swim amidst the frothy top and dive underneath to explore the rich coffee experience that is the macchiato. Good to the last drop.

After my back-to-back food adventure, how about some feet time?

At the top floor of the same mall is an entire corridor of spas to choose from, and each one offers a good number of services: body massage, foot reflexology, manicure and pedicure, and other services guaranteed to give you a good dose of pampering. I decided to check out one that I’ve never heard of before. It’s called the Nail Spa Lounge by Ellabell.  There were no clients when I went inside (this was around 2 pm) which was good for me since I didn’t make any appointment at all.

I opted for their foot massage, and they gave me a 10% discount. Apparently, they have what is called a Weekday Promo, that is, from Monday-Thursday, 11 am to 3 pm, you can avail 10-15% off on all services. How cool is that?

Very cool.

So I sat in the middle of the bright pink sofa, put my feet up, and waited for my attendant to start giving my feet a well-deserved afternoon delight.  My attendant’s name is Cathy, by the way. She gave me a cup of hot tea (I liked it. It had a rice-y taste to it), and then the 45 minute session began.

It was heaven condensed within 45 minutes.

Hi, high tea!

Cathy asked me initially if I wanted the hard kind of foot massage. I immediately said ‘yes.’  The thing is, I have small, bony feet, and when most masseuse see them, they usually end up giving me their standard pressure (they’re probably too afraid to break my bones), and even if I tell them I want the deep-tissue kind of massage, I usually end up not feeling anything.  And on the off chance that I do get the hard kind of massage, they usually mistake ‘hard’ for ‘rough.’ Hard massage for me is having a firm, heavy hand. I want to feel the full pressure of the masseuse’s arms. Rough is the bumpy, bouncy, jarring kind of massage, and nobody likes that.

Cathy gave me the heavy hand alright. She started by giving my legs and feet a hot towel rub, followed by a dry massage.  After that came the oil.  That was it, give or take 20 minutes per leg and foot. After the massage, there was another round of hot towel rub, followed by this small, black pouch filled with hot beads, I think, which she rubbed on both my legs and feet. It was very nice, yes.

I will definitely be back for more.

After the feet treat, I went for some ice cream at Yoshi’s and More where I ordered a cup of Amazing Reese’s. You guessed it right. It was a cup of chocolate (again!) ice cream with sprinkles and huge slabs of Reese’s peanut butter chocolate (I love peanut butter). It was a huge cup. Well for a hundred and fifty pesos, I’d say the huge cup is pretty standard. It was nothing special, though. It was the Reese that did it.

To top the afternoon, I went to the bookstore and bought Kinsella’s latest book. This is the icing on the cake of Tuesday Splurge Day. Why? Because I bought a Kinsella book, that’s why. It’s my fluffy fiction fix. Not only that, I’ve yet to finish The Somnambulist by Fox, so buying a new book, and a fluffy one at that, is truly the height of splurge.

Oh, I bought several DVDs too (The Artist, The Ides of March, Immortals, to name a few); something to stimulate my mind in the days to come.

So, that’s about it.  I spent a good amount of money, but no regrets.  I never regret spending my dough on food, or books, or dvds, or spa sessions. They make me feel good, intellectually, physically, and even emotionally.

Thank heavens I work hard for the money. So hard for it, honey.

Let’s see how things go next week.