ignorance was bliss

Have you ever found out about something fabulous that was practically right in your own backyard your whole life?  And after you find out about it, you can't imagine HOW it is you have never experienced it before?  Please let me introduce you to the Miraval Spa and Resort, a mere two hours away from my front doorstep.  An oasis in the desert.

Did you all see me and  Mia and some of our girlfriends on the {Nate Berkus Show} back in November?  The day we taped our segment was one of the best days EVER!  At the end of the day, Nate's amazing producer Jesse and the rest of his crew surprised all of us with beautiful gift baskets and day spa certificates to the Miraval Spa in Tucson.  Now, the two of us had heard about Miraval from Oprah a few years ago when we were actually in her audience for one of her shows.  The theme that day was all about health and nutrition, and she and Gayle sat on big sofas and talked about their recent trip to Tucson and the Miraval Spa.  They showed a lot of hilarious footage, and almost sold us on the fact that Arizona is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  But more than that, they convinced us to put Miraval on our bucket list of places to visit in our lifetime.  And so we added it to our ever-growing list, never knowing when it was to become a reality.

Last Saturday ended up being our highly anticipated, magical day at the spa.  Even I struggle with words worthy to describe what it was like.  Cara, Mia and I spent one of the most beautiful days of the year there.  We lounged by the pool in puffy white robes, sipping smoothies and deliciously mixed juices whose clever titles promised us endless beauty and youth, and enjoyed being pampered with facials and massages.  Yes, we felt like princesses, and we loved every minute of it!

We visited with several other girls who were there from all over the United States with their besties, enjoying a week of the Arizona sun and staying at Miraval the whole time to truly embrace the whole experience.  They were enjoying amazing classes everyday ranging from stress management seminars to cooking classes with professional chefs, hiking and rock climbing to tennis lessons, and everything you can imagine in between.  We have convinced ourselves that every year hereafter, we will add a night to our stay, until we get to stay a whole week. Now we have to convince our husbands.  Please pray for us.  

Of course, half the experience was the amazing food, all created under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil, who I am a big fan of.  The creativity and presentation of each dish was exquisite.  The chef's special that day was pan-seared cod with a chilean sauce served with lightly sauteed green beans over sticky red rice. 

Our drink was also delightful.  Prickly pear herbal tea, served chilled with a lemon wedge.  We toasted to our commitment of finding ourselves in the same spot next year!

One of our favorite dishes was the Quinoa Asparagus Salad with a Honey Basil Vinaigrette.  If you aren't familiar with quinoa, let me give you a brief introduction.  Quinoa is considered a super-grain, and is packed full of amino acids and protein.  It is also gluten-free which is a big plus, and comes in three colors: white, red and black.  They all cook up just like white rice.  I use white a lot at my house, and usually mix it in with white rice.  My kids have never noticed.  My favorite way to use the red quinoa is for breakfast, covered in fresh berries and agave (or honey), drenched in cream.  Always rinse your quinoa before cooking it to eliminate a bitter flavor.  This is a cold salad recipe, perfect for Spring.  If you make this a day ahead, be sure to hold a little bit of the dressing back, and toss it in your salad just before serving to freshen it up.

        Quinoa Asparagus Salad
  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • ½   teaspoon salt
  • ½ bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water
  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place quinoa in a medium saucepan. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes (no need to stir).
  3. Toss asparagus with sunflower oil and salt. Spread asparagus onto a baking sheet, leaving space between pieces. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until tender.
  4. In large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, asparagus, sundried tomatoes and sunflower seeds. Set aside.

    Honey Basil Vinaigrette
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, basil, and garlic.
Toss salad and dressing together.  Chill at least 4 hours.

Our day was beyond dreamy, and we were all so thankful to Nate for his generosity.  What a guy!  It was so thoughtful and kind of him to send some simple DIY moms off for a day of pampering.  We were so grateful for the experience and blessed his name numerous times during our stay.

In true fashion, we did make it to one Goodwill, where I secured a pig trophy for under a dollar.  Did you know my Dad owned a pig farm while I was growing up?  I took a pig to the County Fair every year until I was in high school.  It's such a symbol of my childhood, I will be finding a very special spot for it!

Until next year girls......


  1. Wow, wow, wow! I'm so glad you girls got to go. You deserve it. What a fabulous treat for fabulous people. Oh, the dreams you inspire. ;)

  2. Just enough to wet the tastebuds... ;)

  3. Just enough to wet the tastebuds... ;)


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Mia & Jilly

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