Just Add Cooking Review

March is one of those months that’s full of busy things. No matter the year, despite a lack of major holidays, March is always a jam-packed month. This March I found myself in the midst of searching for a new apartment, signing a lease, and moving within two weeks! Needless to say it was a stressful month which made it the perfect time for Just Add Cooking, a Boston-based meal prep delivery service that I had been invited to try.

For those who don’t know about it, Just Add Cooking is a no-commitment Boston-based subscription service that lets you pick your weekly meals for 2 or 4 people and delivers the ingredients to your home. A big fan of meal prep, Just Add Cooking takes the tedious tasks of planning, shopping, and schlepping your groceries home and delivers it right on your doorstep!

I decided to order the first of four offered Just Add Cooking boxes for the week my boyfriend and I moved into our  new apartment. I knew with the hectic move that the last thing we’d want to do is shop for food. I placed my order online on a Wednesday, choosing from 7 delicious looking options. The website ordering was easy to do and I appreciated how the user is shown all of the ingredients, cooking instructions, and nutritional information before ordering—a huge perk for those watching their weight or looking out for allergies. I chose three Asian-inspired meals: Pad Thai, Beef Teriyaki, and Thai Larb (a pork lettuce wrap recipe).

just add cooking box

Just Add Cooking hand-delivered the box of meals to our new apartment on Sunday, giving us the courtesy of a telephone call to let us know the order was delivered and a text message because I ignored the unknown number! Unlike other services that use FedEx or UPS to deliver their boxes, Just Add Cooking is able to hand-deliver theirs because they’re based locally, which provided a unique personal touch.  I’m sensitive about waste and was pleased to discover that in addition to a recyclable box, the minimal packaging was all reusable and/or recyclable, including the compostable cooling bag that kept the meats and veggies cool.

Thrilled to eat something other than takeout, my boyfriend and I dove into the box, pulling out the ingredients like it was Christmas morning. Everything was so fresh and because the company is based in Boston, all of the ingredients are locally sourced from farms in New England. I’m a big supporter of small businesses and it felt good making meals with ingredients from local farms.

chopping scallions

Shrimp Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of those meals that I always order when I’m out at a restaurant but never make at home because it look too complicated. I was surprised when I realized how easy Pad Thai was to make, thanks to Just Add Cooking’s easy to follow recipe. In what felt like no time at all, the recipe was complete and my boyfriend and I were gulping down the delicious Shrimp Pad Thai. Unlike restaurants that are often stingy on the shrimp, we found ourselves getting shrimp in every tasty bite. This meal was a definite win!

just add cooking pad thai

Beef Teriyaki

I’m not usually big on pre-made teriyaki because of the high sugar and sodium content and was pleased to discover that this Beef Teriyaki recipe included the ingredients to make the teriyaki sauce yourself, rather than provided a packaged sauce. The rice made this recipe a bit of a longer one to make, but it was well worth the wait. The high quality beef was easy to cook and had great flavor. Paired with white rice and fresh cucumbers, this recipe was a healthy spin on a usually calorie-laden dish.

beef teriyaki

Thai Larb

I have minimal experience cooking pork so I was nervous at first for the Thai Larb pork lettuce wrap dinner. Pork has a reputation of being bland but this tangy and spicy dish was anything but. Like the other two recipes, Thai Larb was easy to make and provided the added benefit of modifications if you’re sensitive to spicy foods or cilantro. My favorite thing about this recipe was the crunch. I love a good crunch and between the bean sprouts and fresh lettuce leaves, I was in heaven with this lip-smacking dish.

thai larb

Courtesy of Just Add Cooking

I loved the convenience that Just Add Cooking offers to busy professionals and it seems like I’m not the only one—the company was recently voted Boston’s Best by the Improper Bostonian! If you’re looking for a way to simplify your busy life, I highly recommend Just Add Cooking.

To add to the awesomeness,  Just Add Cooking is offering a great deal for new customers. Sign up with code SASSY and you can get your first no-commitment Just Add Cooking box for just $39. Click here to sign up for a free account and pick your recipes!

Note: I received this box free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Couples Resort Tower Isle Review | Ocho Rios, Jamaica

If there’s ever an excuse to go to Jamaica, it’s in February. Boston in February is cold and dark and the winter seems to drag on forever. Seeking sunshine and warmth, my boyfriend and I spent the last week of February in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. After a spectacular stay at the Couples Resort in Negril in June, we decided to try another one of their properties and spent 5 nights at Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios.

Arrival at Couples Tower Isle

To get to Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios, we flew into Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. Like many Jamaican resorts, Couples Resorts has an airport lounge for its guests where we were able to use the restroom, change, and relax with a Red Stripe beer before being whisked off to our resort in Ocho Rios.

couples resorts airport lounge

Couples Resorts provides a roomy air conditioned mini bus to transport guests from the airport to the resorts. There’s one mini bus for the Negril resorts and another for the Ocho Rios resorts. The 1 hour 45 minute drive was long but comfortable and included a pit stop along the way for a bathroom break.

Upon arrival, the friendly resort staff greeted us with cold towels and tropical drinks as our luggage was hauled off the mini bus. After a quick check-in in the open air lobby, we were whisked away to our room by Byron, one of the resorts many porters. Throughout our stay, Byron checked in on us, making sure we had everything we needed for ultimate relaxation—the kind of special treatment that makes you feel part of the Couples Resorts family.

The Grounds

Situated on the east side of Jamaica, the property of Couples Tower Isle is long and narrow. Built in 1949, Couples Tower Isle is the oldest of the Couples Resorts properties and still has the old school resort feel of the 50s and 60s. The resort features 218 rooms and suites, 6 restaurants, 5 bars, 4 jacuzzis, 4 pools, and a private island reserved for Au Naturel sunbathing.

couple tower isle beach

The resort grounds are manageable in size, a nice contrast to some of the larger resorts I’ve visited. There’s nothing more annoying than getting to the beach only to realize you left something a half mile away in your room! Walking from one end of the resort to the other takes just a few minutes, giving Couples Tower Isle an intimate experience.couples tower isle beach

The view from the hotel is of the beach, the brilliant blue water of the Caribbean Sea, the private Au Naturel island, and an outcropping of hut-like structures that make up the Bayside restaurant.

Beach

The beach at Couples Tower Isle is private and beautiful with gorgeous views and plenty of chairs for sunbathing. Unlike other resorts, including Couples Negril, the beach at Couples Tower Isle is secluded from other resorts. Looking out at the Caribbean Sea, you feel like you’re the only ones for miles because of the rocky  shoreline.

Resort staff keep the beach well groomed and maintained between guests. There are plenty of beach chairs—we never encountered a need to put towels down early. Beach chairs come equipped with Couples Resorts branded cushions that double as floats for the water. The beach is far enough away from the outdoor restaurants to be peaceful but close enough that you don’t have to walk far to get a snack or use the facilities. If you’re too lazy to walk to the bar, don’t worry! Simply stick a flag in the sand for drink service!

couples tower isle drinks

The beach is windy and had limited direct sunlight after about 3pm while we were there. This may vary based on the time of the year. During the day there was a slight breeze which kept us from getting too hot in the sun.

A swimming area is roped off for safe swimming although the only boats in the area are those used by the resort. The water is clear and blue and mostly calm, with soft sand underfoot. The swimming area includes two large tethered rafts for ultimate relaxation on the Caribbean Sea.

If you’re into adventure, there were plenty of watersports activities including snorkeling, windsurfing, and stand up paddle boarding. Unfortunately, we waited until our last day to do these activities and due to winds and choppy seas, were unable to participate.

Au Naturel Island

My boyfriend and I are big believers in experiencing life, including embracing the nudist experience on the Au Naturel island. We had been on a nude beach at Couples Negril so we knew what to expect but were a bit intimidated by having to physically get to the island by boat. We quickly got over our fears and delighted in nude sun bathing and swimming so much so that I ended up with a sunburned booty!

au naturel island nude bathing

I’ll spare you from more naked photos and write more about the Au Naturel island in another post.

Pools

Couples Tower Isle has 4 pools—one on each end of the property, one at the spa, and one on the Au Naturel Island. There are two swim up bars, one at the main property and a second at the pool on the nude island. My boyfriend and I are more beach than pool people and although the pools were beautiful, we spent most of our time with our toes in the sand.

couples tower isle pool

Activities and Excursions

If you’re into activities and excursions, Couples Resorts leaves no room for boredom. Water sports, beach volleyball, salsa lessons, Jamaican trivia, arts and crafts, catamaran cruises, day trips—this resort has it all! We went to Dunns River Falls, a 3 hour excursion that is included with the resort. Having planned outside excursions in the past, it was nice not to have to worry about reservations and payment; we showed up in the lobby at 9am and headed out on buses with the group.

Entertainment

Couples Tower Isle seemingly never lost it’s old school resort charm. What the older resort lacks in modernity, it more than makes up for in entertainment. My favorite entertainment of the week included the lively piano bar, the  Silver Birds Steel Drum Band, and the smoky-voiced Shyam Moses who serenaded us on the beach under the stars.

Drinks

It’s safe to say that I drank my weight in piña coladas during our stay at Couples Tower Isle. I typically don’t imbibe sugary drinks because the sugars make me feel sluggish, but the piña coladas here were the exception to the rule. Unlike the heavy ones I’ve had in the past, the piña coladas were more like a coconut flavored rum slushie.

pina colada

Other favorites boozy drinks included Bob Marley shots and Dirty Bananas.

The Bob Marley shot is a daring combination of Bacardi 151, creme de menthe, and grenadine. The shot tastes like cough syrup but will take you from stressed out tourist to Jamaican beach bum in 2 minutes flat—perfect to put you in vacation mode.

We also loved the Dirty Banana,  a frozen drink made with bananas, Tia Maria, dark rum, rum cream, and milk. This resort favorite tastes like a milkshake but packs a strong punch. I’m not usually a banana fan but these blew me away!

Food

I’ve been to several all inclusive resorts and the food at Couples Tower Isle was some of the best I’ve had. Every meal was delicious, including flavors of both local and international cuisine.

What stood out to me most was the Veggie Bar, a healthy outside lunch spot serving up vegetable chips and dips, grilled fish paninis, and freshly cut coconuts.  A huge fan of anything made from coconut, the coconut water at the Veggie Bar was my go-to drink in between piña coladas.

Spa

My boyfriend and I got two couples massages at the Spa at Couples Tower Isle. We arrived for our treatments about 45 minutes early so that we could relax in the spa’s pool and use the jacuzzi and steam room.

The pool at the spa is a small and peaceful water sanctuary for use by spa guests only. This beautiful pool was one of the highlights of the trip, providing us with a pre-massage cool down that focused and zenned our spirits.

couple tower isle spa

couples tower isle spa jacuzzi

couples tower isle spa

Room for Improvement

While our vacation at Couples Tower Isle was great, there’s always room for some improvement. The main issue that I had with the resort was the quality of the rooms. We stayed in a Deluxe Garden room with a large balcony that provided a lush view of the mountains in the distance. Our room was on the third floor, almost directly over reception, which meant less privacy and quiet on the balcony than I would have liked. The room was okay but could definitely use a facelift.

Would I recommend Couples Tower Isle?

Absolutely! If you’re looking for an adult-only couples resort, I highly recommend Couples Tower Isle. The resort is perfect for any couple, whether you’re 21 or 71—there was even a group of octogenarians partying it up during our stay! My boyfriend and I both loved Couples Tower Isle. Our only question is, when can we go back?

Silk Therapeutics Silk Renewing Peel Review

I’ve somehow reached the age of 31 without starting any sort of skincare anti-aging regimen. A combination of denial that I’m getting older and acne prone skin has resulted in me trying something new and breaking out before ditching it a few weeks later.

A few months ago I noticed that my skin was looking more pallid and dull than normal despite eating right, sleeping well, and drinking enough water. Since I’m not getting any younger, I decided to get serious about my skincare for the new year. So when Silk Therapeutics reached out to me with an offer to test out their Silk Renewing Peel, I was excited to give it a shot.

silk therapeutics silk peel

I’ve been using the Silk Renewing Peel once a week as part of my new skin care regimen. A big believer in controlled experiments, I left the rest of my skin routine the same. The mantra of Silk Therapeutics is “authentically clean” meaning that all of their products are made with minimal ingredients and free of harsh chemicals. Each product in Silk Therapeutics’s line of clean skincare is formulated to contain only what is necessary and effective, including pure liquid silk, which provides anti-aging benefits.

Silk Therapeutics Silk Renewing Peel

What it Does: Silk Renewing Peel is designed to transform the skin by gently yet effectively exfoliating the outermost layer to reveal a brighter, more vibrant complexion.

Skin Types: The formula is hypoallergenic and designed to be used for all skin types.

Ingredients: Water, Silk, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Lemongrass Essential Oil.

Look and Feel: Lightweight, gel-like consistency that spreads evenly.

Smell: Lemongrass aroma but not overly scented. I’m very sensitive to smells so this was a huge plus for me.

Packaging: Two sizes,  1.0 oz and 1.7 oz, containing a small applicator to scoop the product out of the container.

Treatment and Use: Use a dime sized amount on my face and neck once a week, leaving it on for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. There are approximately 90-120 treatment applications in the jar.

silk therapeutics silk renewing peel

Silk Renewing Peel Results

I first tried the Silk Renewing Peel on New Year’s Eve Day in an almost metamorphic way of leaving 2015 behind. The application was simple—spread a small amount over makeup free face, wait 10 mins, and rinse off. The cool gel slid on with a fresh, light lemongrass scent. I’m sensitive to smells and was not at all bothered by the scent.

Nervous about my sensitive skin, I left the peel on only for 5 minutes during the first use. The peel tingled slightly but did not irritate my skin. I’ve used products with glycolic acid before and knew that a slight tingling was normal during the first use. Immediately after rinsing the Silk Renewing Peel, I noticed that my skin was softer and smoother.

Caught up in New Year’s Eve celebrations, I completely forgot that I had used the peel. When I saw a photo of myself the next day, I was amazed (see photo below). My skin looked bright and radiant, better than it had looked in years! My formerly dull and dry skin was glowing, not just in that photo but in every picture.

Photo of my glowing skin

Photo of my glowing skin

Since that day I’ve been using the Silk Renewing Peel once a week for the past 3 months. I can honestly say that my skin has never looked better. Despite a lack of sun and dry winter air, my skin has remained bright and soft. I was so impressed with the Skin Renewing Peel that I brought some for my mom to try when I went to visit her. Needless to say, she loves it too!

Not only is the Silk Renewing Peel amazing, but Silk Therapeutics is too. The company is a Boston based startup, founded by Dr. Greg Altman (CEO) and Dr. Rebecca Horan (COO). The mission of the Silk Therapeutics is to create a line of safe, effective silk-based products that reimagine the ways we treat and enhance skin, without any added risks. All of the Silk Therapeutic products are chemical-free and are safe for those that are pregnant or undergoing medical treatments for cancer (few skincare products are). If you’re looking for a gentle yet effective anti-aging treatment that will brighten your complexion, I highly recommend Silk Renewing Peel by Silk Therapeutics.

Note: I received the Silk Renewing Peel for free in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.