The Adventures of Barb Cat

In case you missed it, we are now back down to a one pet household; Poppy passed away after a long and lovely life (really though, hedgies are supposed to live 2-5 years, she was 7.) Barb and Poppy never really interacted, but I imagine Barb is happy being a single child again. ALL the attention, and ALL the toys and treats.

We got her a new toy a bit ago, and she loved it to death within 48 hours. Poor monarch butterfly. BUT LOOK HOW CUTE SHE IS. And how much fun she’s having. I definitely took way too many videos, but seriously it’s so amusing.

Anyway. Long intro short, we love Barb. So when I was given the opportunity to try out a cat backpack from Pet Magasin, I was more than thrilled. Barb loves being outside, but would totally bolt and disappear forever if we let her out on her own. Now, I’d be lying if I said anything along the lines of “BARB LOVES THE BACKPACK AND WE GO ON HIKES ALL THE TIME” much as I’d love for that to be the case, Barb isn’t a fan of being confined in tight spaces.

Photo taken from Amazon

That said, we have gone on a few backyard backpack adventures, plus a trip to the vet where everyone in the office was loving Barb’s fancy new mode of transportation. So much better than a little cat carrier. The backpack has pop-out windows on the side (you can see them in the photo below) plus a few pockets to carry whatever you may need (mine has cat treats and a couple of toys) and can be carried on it’s side if necessary too. It also has a collar clip-in to avoid escapees, and while Barb is anti-collar, I imagine it’s a super useful thing for many other people.

Did you know that taking photos of a cat that doesn’t stay still is just about impossible? #Lambothecarrier

The backpack is pretty large – great for the animals, but a bit cumbersome on my small frame. My only real complaint about the bag is that the zippers aren’t as smooth as I’d like them to be, but just a minor detail when I have a carrier Barb doesn’t hate 🙂

Thanks so much to Pet Magasin for the opportunity to take Barb on more adventures! You can find the backpack on Pet Magasin’s website, or on Amazon.

Review: Vanity Planet Contour Pallet + Brushes

Wowowow. Hey blogo-o-verse. It’s been a minute, eh? Crazy how easily designing packaging for bottles and nipples and pacifiers can consume your life. I am VERY behind on reviews – so so sorry to the brands I’ve been neglecting! (And food recipes I’ve neglected to share out! And lack of general life updates.) Sheesh.

Waaay back when, I was lucky enough to be selected by Vanity Planet to try out a few of their products, and while I totally failed to write about them in a timely manner, I’ve been using them every day! (Seriously!) Absolutely no part of me is makeup-inclined, so when I decided to choose the contour pallet and makeup brush set, I knew I was in for a challenge – or at least something that would have a bit of a learning curve.

Vanity Planet is a boutique marketplace, focused on beauty, grooming, and wellness. They source, curate, and design products that benefit their customers’ daily lives. And holy moley – fast-forward a couple of months, and while I am still all about keeping my makeup v. natural, I actually kind of know what I’m doing now! I don’t need the cheat sheet included in the pallet to give myself a slightly contoured face anymore! (That cheat sheet though – it was a god-send. It’s like VP knew who they were sending the product to.) I’ve been able to incorporate the pallet into my daily routine without much adjustment on my (admittedly makeup-challenged) part.

I absolutely love the brushes – they’re so much softer than the randos I had previously – and the fact that I have a full matching set helps me feel like I have my life together a bit more than I probably do. AND I have separate brushes for my blush and bronzer now. IIIIII know. Moving up in the world over here. Is this an appropriate place to use #adulting? I think so.

Just lookit that contour.

VP was generous enough to share a discount code for any readers that also want to upgrade their makeup brush collection and/or feel like they have their lives together a bit more. Use code BBPalette70 at checkout for 70% (yes, SEVENTY) – thanks so much, Vanity Planet!

Review: Derma E Skin Detox!

Uhh wow, hello there, middle (ish) of March. o_O 2017 is FLYING.

After all the traveling we’ve been doing, my skin has been in dire need of some epic TLC. So much flying dries a person out, who knew? It also probably doesn’t help that I hadn’t been drinking nearly as much water as a person is supposed to. I’m working on that though. So far for the month of March I’ve consumed at least 96oz of water a day (with 1 exception.) I can’t say I’ve noticed much of a difference 9 days in other than going to the restroom way more often than I’m used to, but I’m sure my body is appreciating the hydration.

dryer than a desert! 😉

Anyway. My skin. Not the happiest it’s ever been. Enter: 2 new charcoal-based products from Derma E; a detox scrub, and a purifying mask. The star ingredient, Activated Charcoal, known for absorbing 100 to 200 times its weight in impurities, helping to remove toxins from the skin’s surface. And lemme tell ya, my skin hasn’t been happier in a long time! Although my face has never been acne-prone,  I haven’t had any super annoying surprise pimples pop up either, so that’s a definite win. I’ve been using the scrub and the mask a couple of times a week, and despite the tubes being fairly small, they’ve lasted a surprisingly long time! (That said, they’re sadly almost empty now, but I plan on repurchasing.) Time to get into the nitty gritty. (Heh, gritty. Like the charcoal in the mask. Get it?) Oy, it’s been a long week.

Mask: I still put a moisturizer on after using the mask, but it doesn’t dry my face out nearly as much as other (similar) masks I’ve tried in the past. It has little exfoliate bits, doesn’t smell weird, and I’m pretty sure I’m able to see where the mask pulled out impurities on the dried mask. Maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself, the world will never know. It definitely seems to be helping my skin balance out though, especially after all of the traveling we did at the beginning of the year. The only real negative I can come up with is that the mask seemed to dry up a bit in the tube – but not to the point of being unusable.

Scrub: I love exfoliating face washes, especially when the exfoliate bits aren’t too harsh.  I’m looking at you, St. Ives. This scrub is gentle enough to use every day, but also scrubby enough that I can actually feel it doing its job. I love that the scrub doesn’t dry out my face, and that my skin looks and feels bright and fresh after using it. I’ve also been using it on my back and chest for a little extra detox action. My only real (non-complaint) complaint is that the cap is hard to open, but I’ve just been unscrewing the entire thing which is good enough for me!

I really can’t say enough about the charcoal detox line from Derma E.  Both products haven’t caused my semi-sensitive skin any problems, and the products have been allergy-tested – so if skin sensitivity has been an issue for you in the past, it might be worth giving these products a whirl! Derma E is also 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free. It really doesn’t get much better than that. (Actually yes, it does. The mask is only 1.7oz, which meant I was able to bring it to Disney World! Everything is better in Disney, even masks.)

You can find Derma E’s detox line on their website and at Ulta; let me know what you think if you try them out!!

Morocco: Day 9

Our entire group would have loved to stay in Essaouira for the rest of our trip (all 28 hours of it,) but unfortunately a driver would be waiting to take us back to Marrakech at 11am. Before we left, I knew I wanted to wander through Essaouira’s port and see the beach once more before starting the journey back to grey Michigan. It was totally a coincidence that we walked through the Medina once more too, as we all figured out the maximum we could spend on souvenirs while 1) having enough money left for lunch and dinner, and 2) not needing to take more money out of the ATM.

Bare feet for the first (and only) time on the trip!

Unfortunately, 11am came rather quickly, and we were on our way back to Hotel Akabar in Marrakech. (Well, it was actually closer to 11:30 because Joe and I decided to walk back from the Medina instead of taking a taxi. Oops.)

First thing we did upon returning to Marrakech? Ordered burgers from the restaurant across the street. 5/6 of us. All of the Tagine and Cous Cous we had been eating over the last 8 days was so yummy – don’t get me wrong, but we were excited for something a bit more Westernized. After a late lunch, we spent some time relaxing in our room (orange this time instead of green,) while Jenna went to the airport to pick up the luggage she’d been surviving without for 8.5 days.

(I gave Joe the egg..)

Once Jenna returned, we went down into the square for the last time, each with a few ‘musts’ to check off before dinner. One of the ‘musts’? Henna in the square! As hokey and touristy as it seemed, we figured we might as well; it couldn’t be that expensive, right?

As soon as we got to the square, we saw a group of older women basically chomping at the bit to get to work on our hands. We figured there was no harm in asking about pricing – but as soon as we approached them we were barraged with requests to take a seat and discuss, rather than giving us a straightforward price. That should have been the first and only hint we needed to walk away and find another group of henna artists. But no, I decided to fulfill their request of sitting down to discuss a design, price, and henna color. Unfortunately instead of trying to discuss the details, the woman took my hand and went to work; with runny, black henna. I didn’t set a price or choose a design, and she was using black henna instead of brown as I requested. Not only were they charging more for the black henna (“it lasts longer!”) but black henna can be really bad for your skin. Cherry on top? She told me my henna would be 350 Dirhams ($35.) I’m pretty sure I straight up laughed in her face. Darn inconsiderate Americans, am I right?

While I haggled on and off with the woman that did my henna, two of the other girls in our group were able to talk the women down to 100 Dirhams for a specific design and brown henna. They paid ahead of time – smart. As they were finishing up, I got 50 Dirhams out of my bag and told the henna woman that she was either taking 50 or I was walking away. I didn’t say she could start, I didn’t get to choose a design, and I sure as heck didn’t want black henna – so I thought it was more than a fair price. They…didn’t agree. Names were called, there was some shouting, but just as I was about to walk away, they reluctantly accepted my 50 Dirhams. (And we avoided that side of the square for the rest of the night.)

Oh – AND they freaking sprinkled glitter all over my hand. I hate glitter.

After stopping at a cafe for some mint tea and doing a bit of last-minute shopping (made much more perilous thanks to the ultra-staining capabilities of the wet henna on my hand/arm,) we had our last group dinner where they served PEPSI! My first and only Pepsi of the trip, and my goodness it tasted delish. We did decide to go with Moroccan food for our last meal – Moroccan soup, with lamb cous cous to share. 10/10 would recommend. And would it really be a Moroccan meal if we didn’t end with mint tea? (Hint: the answer is no.)

Eventually it was time to say goodbye to our guide, get some dessert, and retire to our respective rooms to finish packing up. Goodbyes are weird, but I’m pretty sure Ibrahim used up the ‘goodbye weirdness’ quota for the rest of us – plus I think social media makes things a little less “it was nice hanging out with you for 10 days straight, peace out!”

-okay I’ve been starting at this for way too long trying to figure out a way to end it, but I’m just going to type this instead!-

Morocco: Day 1

Running on very little sleep and not a ton of food (I chose sleep over lunch on our Frankfurt to Marrakech flight) we finally landed in Marrakech around 1:30pm! We boarded the FRA>RAK flight from the tarmac, after a bus ride through at least half a mile of airport land. We just kept going and going and going. Anyway. I think I’ve only ever boarded a plane from the tarmac once before, so that was kind of fun. We also de-planed directly onto the tarmac in Marrakech, and walked into probably the most beautiful airport I’ve ever seen! So much woodwork and patterning. ?

Passport control and customs were a breeze (though I wish my passport stamp was darker…) but then…our Topdeck driver was nowhere to be found. Eventually Joe found him, but he was just holding what seemed like a xeroxed copy of the Topdeck logo. Now, I will fully admit that I have an overactive imagination when it comes to things going wrong, but between this trip and our honeymoon (where the same thoughts ran through my head during airport pickup,) as we walked to his (unmarked) car, I had fully convinced myself that our driver wasn’t legit and was going to sell us into the local sex trade. And of course had already started working out escape plans. Do you know how easy it would be to print off a copy of the Topdeck logo and impersonate a driver!? Like I said. Overactive imagination. And maybe a little bit of anxiety. In any case, we DID make it to our hotel! All potential crises averted. 

Oh – on our drive I noticed that almost everyone was in puffy jackets. It was almost 70 degrees out, and I was sweating in my jean jacket. I guess when it gets up to 120 degrees or more in the summer, 70 seems a little chilly. 

Anyway.  Our room was ready upon our arrival, and despite a few dark hairs in each of our beds (eh, what’re you gonna do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯A little icky, but no biggie) we promptly rested our eyes for a while! In separate twin beds. Might have missed putting a “we’re married” memo somewhere, but it’s all good. 

Fast forward: we met up with our guide for the next 10 days – Ibrahim if I’m remembering correctly – along with two of the 4 other people on our trip! Joe is the only male. Ibrahim lives in the Atlas Mountains. 

The 4 of us and Ibrahim walked to the newer section of Marrakech for dinner, where we people watched and stray kitties came up to our table begging for food. It took a lot of self control to not give the kitties lots of snuggles. I promptly informed the table that I have 3 old phones set up in our house to allow me to check in on Barb. Resident weirdo, checking in! ?

Joe and I ended up paying the equivalent of $9 (90 Dirham) for a very filling dinner of pita, meat (beef) tagine, chicken tagine, a bottle of water, a bottle of coke (sorry, dad!) and some after dinner tea. Can’t beat that!

Now I’m laying in bed watching The Dark Knight Rises – its in English – with lots of vehicle noise, drumming, and the occasional clip-clopping of horses pulling a carriage. Doesn’t get better than that! (Well, one one bed instead of two would be nice, and I’m not quite as sleepy as I’d like to be, but you get the idea.) 

Tomorrow is  New Year’s Eve! We have an early start on Jan 1, so I’m not sure we’ll do anything too crazy, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it is celebrated in Morocco! Ibrahim said the Berbers won’t be celebrating the new year for 13 more days – not sure why that is. Maybe we’ll find out!

Goodnight! (Somehow it is already 11pm. Oops.)

Ps. Sorry for any weird formatting. Doing this from my phone 🙂

xx Claire

Packaging Review: Derma E Rebrand

Yes! You read that right! I actually get to review the new packaging for Derma e, rather than the product this time around! It’s not often that I get to bring my graphic design background into the blog-osphere! I always get super excited when I notice a brand has re-vamped their image (Swiffer, I’m lookin’ at you,) and this is no exception 🙂


You may remember a while back I wrote a review for some Derma e products to help with Joe’s dry skin, and another reviewing their hydrating night creme. Sooo I’m pretty familiar with the products – they’re great! That said…their branding left something to be desired. It didn’t necessarily look like the premium, all natural product I know they are, and with all sorts of creams, washes, and masks on the market, it’s become even more important to differentiate from everything else out there! Good packaging makes a difference, even if you don’t think it’s something you take into consideration when making a decision.

Let’s say I’m trying to decide between two bottles of wine. One bottle is $7.99, the other $10.99 (sorry y’all, we just bought a roof. Cheap wine is where it’s at.) They’re basically exactly the same but I’m drawn to the label of the $10.99 bottle just a bit more! Maybe it’s screen printed on, or maybe it has a cat on it; either way, I’m more likely to buy the one with nicer packaging.


Luckily for derma e, their products are at the same (affordable!!) price point as their competitors, are still ‘eco-ethical’, and now they have SUCH nice packaging to go along with the great products inside the box.


Derma e’s new packaging has already begun to roll-out, and will be in full swing by March 2017. You can find Derma e products at Ulta, Whole Foods, and of course online!