Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dining Alone - Beauty and soup at the mall

I'm not sure whether this is unusual, but I go through season cycles in my personal style.

Winter has brought a lack of enthusiasm. I wear pants with a simple long-sleeved tee-shirt. I wear scarves, but really it's to keep my neck warm more than for style. I stopped wearing make-up; I haven't even been wearing earrings lately.

I can tell I'm coming out of this phase - is it seasonal affect disorder? - because I suddenly had the urge to buy some fresh make-up. I've mis-laid my go-to lipstick, and the little pots of creme I dab here and there are all dried up. My few frowsty-looking eye pencils are blunt and broken. The other day, I saw a video at Une Femme d'un Certain Age about maquillage for mature women, and I thought - give that a try.

I had a $20 rewards certificate from Nordstrom burning a hole in my wallet.  What better way to give myself an affordable reward, and update my make-up bag?

There's a Nordstrom a short walk from my office, but instead I decided to go to the big Westfield Mall in Canoga Park - I almost wrote "big new mall" but it's been there for maybe 5 years and I've never visited. Why not check it out?

I circled the jam-packed parking lot, then the multi-story parking garage on the eastern side. The numbers indicated only a couple dozen spaces on each floor, but luckily, a car pulled out right in front of me on the second level.

I was right in front of the entrance to the "Dining Terrace" and although I am usually focused like a laser beam on the purchase I come for, it was lunch time and I was hungry. When the mall opened, I'd read that its food court was supposed to be impressive. Why not check it out?

There are 42 dining establishments listed on the mall's website, ranging from the Neiman-Marcus Cafe, for ladies who lunch, to Hot Dog on a Stick.  Though there are the ubiquitous chain joints like Subway, Chipotle Grill, and Panda Express, the Topanga Mall also features Brazilian grill, gourmet sandwiches and an Italian place. It's heavy on Asian food, with Korean barbecue and three Japanese places. There's also Vietnamese food, at 350 Pho.

The open kitchen arrangement allowed me to watch the cook prepare my meal. As I watched, he arranged bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and basil stems on a small tray, then pulled up a clump of cooked noodles into a large white bowl. He opened a plastic wrapped portion of thin-sliced raw beef, all rosy red and fresh looking, and laid them on top of the noodles, followed by a handful of chopped herbs and onions. He called my number, and then, as I stood at the counter, he poured steaming hot broth into the bowl as I watched.

Eating in a mall set my expectations low, but it wasn't a bad meal. The presentation was nice, with a pretty ginkgo-leaf patterned cafeteria tray and white plastic dishes. There was a little plastic pot to mix hoisin and sriricha sauce to spice my soup.I wish they'd provided the traditional Asian-style soup spoon instead of a shallow-bowled American style metal one, but why nit-pick? The broth tasted good, the ingredients were fresh, and while the amount of herbs, meat, and noodles were not as lavish as they might be in the San Gabriel Valley, it certainly satisfied me. 

Revived, I headed to Nordstrom, and the Bobbi Brown cosmetic counter. A nice young woman named Eunice sat me down in a chair and dabbed some "Extra" SPF25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm onto my face, then smoothed it with a little sponge. Although this was the only thing I'd asked her for, she reached for other products - some Hydrating Eye Cream under my eyes; then some Creamy Concealer on my dark circles; a touch of Eye Brightener to lighten things up, and some stick foundation "to smooth it out."

"Do you use powder?" she asked. "Not really," I replied, but she bade me close my eyes while she brushed some on. "What about some bronzing powder?" The brush swept across my cheekbones.

I looked in the mirror. Yes, it all made my skin look more even, and the Moisturizing Balm felt nice and dewy. But Aaaack! the mirror also revealed the dark hairs on my upper lip!

It was time to close the deal. Eunice arrayed before me the Moisturizing Balm ($54), the Creamy Concealer ($33) and Eye Cream ($49), the Sheer Finish Pressed Powder ($36), the Foundation Stick and the Bronzing Powder ($38).

"I'm just going with the Tinted Moisturizer," I told her, because that was what I'd come for. "And maybe the concealer" - thinking of my dried up little pot at home. "I don't really buy much make-up anymore."

"You don't buy much make-up?" Eunice asked.

"Actually," I said, "The problem is that I used to buy make-up. I just never use it. It sits on the shelf. So I've finally learned. Just the moisturizer."

What about the eye cream, she asked, which was essential? "Do you have any samples?" I asked. "Maybe I'll get in the habit and decide to buy some." She looked at me. "No, but I can make one up for you." She used a wee spatula to fill a little plastic pot with a handwritten label.

OK. I bought the concealer, too.

Yes, it was pricey, but the discount coupon made up for it. Did I want to try some lipstick? Wait, maybe I should get my upper lip done first, I thought.

"Is there a threading salon in the mall?" Eunice gave me directions to a salon a few doors down. A few minutes of slight discomfort (or torturous agony, it's your opinion!) and my lip was smooth and presentable.

A solo adventure, with food and beauty, at the mall.


Sharon said...

This sounds like a fun day! I know what you mean about Spring making us think about new make-up and have been splurging a little on it myself.

cactus petunia said...

It's so dark and gray here in the winter, that I just feel like blending I know how you feel. But now that the sun is coming back out, I feel I might just do what you did!

Gilly said...

Winter always brings me out in a rash of unenthusiasm! However, Spring is just around the corner, and I'm looking for a new lipstick colour!

Must be a female thing! ;)

Mrs. G. said...

Sounds like a fun girl day, except for the threading!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I've never sat at one of those counters, but I've been at plenty of home parties and been a sucker for things I don't normally purchase. Last time, however, I used them fairly faithfully (does that even make sense?) and they did make a difference. If you have the money and are willing to keep up the habit, why not?

smalltownme said...

I have a few basic make-up items that I refresh occasionally...but confession...I still have some eye shadow from high school. That's gross, isn't it.