Packing for Spa Day



I am way overdue for a day of indulgence so a couple of weeks ago, a friend and I booked Spa Day Packages at Westglow Spa and Resort in Blowing Rock for this Wednesday.  Westglow is local for us — it’s about 20 minutes from my house — but has an international reputation with awards from Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler magazines.  Tomorrow is a teaching day for me so I’ll be really busy.  I want to get an early start on Wednesday so I am packing my bag tonight.

The day package I chose includes a massage and lunch, access to the dressing room, pool, sauna, steam room, whirlpool, tennis courts, weight room, and best of all, the fireside relaxation room that looks out over the beautiful Appalachian mountains.  I’ve been there several times when it started snowing.  The scene is always magical. The relaxation room also has tea, juice, fruit, warm cloths, cucumbers for your eyes, cold water flavored with lemon ice cubes and blankets for guests to enjoy.  Doesn’t that all sound lovely?

Westglow offers a variety of classes including yoga, pilates and water aerobics, as well other activities such as a morning hike. The hikes are usually off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Cone Manor, my favorite place to walk.  Weather permitting, my plan is to be there in time for the 9 AM hike, then work out in the weight room for a bit before my late morning massage. After lunch, I’ll doze, read  and journal before the late afternoon meditation and yoga sessions.  A glass of wine at the very end of the day has not been ruled out.

So what do I need to pack?  Westglow provides towels, comfy robes and spa shoes, as well as  luxurious toiletries.  The clothes and other items included here are similar to what I’m packing.  They are mostly from TJ Maxx (like much of my wardrobe!), Sierra Trading Post, and Amazon.  For links to the items, please click over to my Spa Day Pinterest Board.

1. A few toiletries.  Since I have rosacea, the only facial moisturizer I use is Zinco by Rosacea Care.  That, deodorant, comb and hair brush, and lip therapy go into the bag. I generally don’t pack makeup because I feel downright purified at the end of the day and all what I want to do that evening is to continue relaxing at home.

 2.  Active wear for hiking. The forecast for Wednesday morning is for the low forties.  I’ll want my fleece leggings, some warm socks, my hiking shoes, and a fleece base layer with a quilted vest.  I’ve walked enough chilly and windy trails lately to know that gloves and a fleece headband to keep my ears warm are good ideas.  This outfit is what I’ll wear to the spa since hiking is the first activity of the day so no need to pack it.  It is nice to have it all laid out and ready to go though!

This color combination of gray and coral, with a bright pop of blue to top it off makes me happy. I stow the little things I always want on a hike – a pack of kleenex, a hair tie and lip balm — in the pocket of my vest.  This one has lots of pockets so as the morning warms up, there are plenty of places to store my gloves and head band.

3.  My swimsuit.  Because at some point in the day, I will probably swim a few laps in the pool before relaxing in the whirlpool.  I generally prefer tankinis if I’m going to be active or hanging out in my suit for a while, but a one-piece blue-bathing-suit works for spa day.  I want something that is going to stay put while I swim, but is cute and flattering (who knows who else might come in for a massage!)  for the whirlpool or for lounging on the pool deck.
blue-bathing-suit This blue one with slenderizing asymmetrical stripes fits the bill.  No need to bring a cover up or flip flops since I can wear the spa robe and shower shoes.  When I go to the spa in warmer months, sunbathing on the deck outside the relaxation room is a lovely option so I add a bottle of sunblock and a hat to my bag.

4. My book and journal.  The book on my night table is Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth.  The reviews are great but I’ve yet to start reading it.  I am looking forward to reading a few chapters while relaxing by the fire.

My journal comes with me just about everywhere these days.  I’m packing it along with my favorite pen.  And just in case I’m in the mood for something more frivolous, I’m throwing in my new adult coloring book, Paris Street Style, as well as my fancy colored pencils.

5.  Comfortable clothes for yoga and meditation.  Fleece leggings will be too warm for yoga, plus I have been admonished by yoga instructors to wear pants that let you to see your knees!  I’ll wear a long tank with a built-in bra and capris for yoga , then throw on the cowl neck sweater for meditation.  I haven’t been to yoga in ages.  Fortunately the class is usually pretty small and caters to individual levels.  I like to wear yoga socks (aren’t these darling!) and bring my own mat. Because.

Don’t you love the combination of black, navy, gray and my favorite aqua?

fuzzy-merrilsAt the end of the day, I’ll throw the vest on over this outfit, put on my favorite fuzzy Merrells that I’ve packed in my bag, turn on my seat heater and head for home.  Hopefully my son will have built a fire and picked up some sushi takeout for dinner.  I’m looking forward to a fabulous day!

Spinach Salad with Curried Almonds

Seafood, greens, nuts and beans.


Seafood, greens, nuts and beans.  That’s been my mantra this week after listening to this Splendid Table podcast with nutritional psychiatrist Drew Ramsey and food writer David Leite about the link between the stomach and mental health. I’m looking forward to reading Dr. Ramsey’s new book, Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health. The book draws on the  Human Microbiome Project’s research on the link between gut health, allergies and mood. Interesting stuff and possibly a cure for all that ails me.

I went all in with an Indian-inspired dinner last night: pan-seared sadark chocolate candied orangeslmon rubbed with tumeric, coriander, ground ginger and garam masala, tumeric basmati rice, this lovely, fresh Spinach Salad with Curried Almonds, a glass of red wine and my newest guilty pleasure, dark chocolate candied orange slices. While the perfect little dessert treat, they are outrageously expensive.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with making my own.

Spinach Salad with Curried Almonds
For the Curried Almonds:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
For the Spinach Salad:
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced chutney
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups diced apple (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Pour the butter on to the baking sheet, then add the almonds, then sprinkle with the curry powder, salt and sugar.  Toss to coat the almonds thoroughly, then spread them in a single layer.
  3. Bake the almonds for around 20 minutes, stirring about every 5.
  4. Cool the almonds completely, then scrape everything from the foil on to a cutting board and roughly chop.
  5. In a small bowl,  whisk together the apple cider vinegar and vegetable oil.  Whisk in the yogurt, chutney, sugar, curry powder and dry mustard.
  6. Add the spinach, apple, raisins,green onions and almonds to a large salad bowl.  Drizzle with the dressing and toss thoroughly to combine.
Yield: 6-8 side servings
Cook time: 20 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Be sure to use good quality, fresh spices! The curry powder I used for the sweet and spicy almonds was my favorite Frontier Indian Curry spice blend — lots of flavor and not too fiery. For the dressing, I used Spicy Plum Chutney from The Virginia Chutney CompanyMajor Grey’s mango chutney would work fine here, but you may want to add a pinch of cayenne or some black pepper to balance the sweetness.