We Bought a Farmhouse

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What I Packed For Summer Vacation

Packing for vacation can always be a little stressful, especially when you're gone for longer than a week. I'm a serial over-packer (while getting ready for this trip, I told Josh I packed 25 pairs of underwear), so I tend to get even more stressed about it than I should. Thankfully, I've gotten it down to a science for our Cape vacations, despite the fact that I still tend to overpack the things I fear running out of the most (hence, you know, the underwear). And this year I felt like I had the perfect mix of old standby favorites and a few new discoveries that will quickly become staples.

So, I'm fair-skinned, and I hate applying sunscreen. Mostly because these days, I'm acne-prone (at the age of 34 - yay!), so every sunscreen out there either breaks me out, or feels gross on my skin, and I'm itching to wash it off in the shower. I've heard of the brand Coola, which is supposedly a sunscreen that's all natural, but doesn't break you out, and blends into your skin rather well, not leaving the white cast of a zinc oxide sunscreen. But, Coola products are pretty pricey, so when I saw that Target carried Bare Republic, a brand "powered by" Coola at a lower price point, I was sold. I used these products this year and last, and loved them both times. I especially love the face one, which feels very silky to apply and doesn't break me out at all. The body one doesn't feel as silky (has a thicker texture like the traditional zinc oxide product) but does blend in much better than most (there can be hints of white on your skin, especially in the creases of elbows and such). Josh loves the Badger brand sunscreens, but after he applies them, he's literally white because it creates a physical barrier between your skin and the sun, so these two products are perfect for me.

One of my least favorite things to pack for vacation are soaps and facial cleansers. Basically, all toiletries. I have a facial cleanser for acne-prone skin that I've been using consistently for almost two years now, and the biggest downfall of it is that it's horrible to travel with. Every bottle I've ever had always leaks, and I have to keep it in it's own little plastic bag and when I take it out to use, it's all over the bottle. Generally, it's just a pain. I still had to bring it with me this year because you know, pimples. But before leaving for vacation, I placed a decent-sized order with Erin's Faces, which makes some lovely all-natural body care products, among other things. She released quite a few travel sizes of a bunch of her products for the summer, and I purchased almost all of them (oops!). The two that got the most use during our vacation were the Monoi Tiare shower gel, and the Soothing Aloe cleanser. After a few days of being at the beaches, my face was definitely sunkissed, and my acne cleanser was too harsh. So really, I ended up using this aloe cleanser more than my standard one, and I loved it. It was definitely soothing, as its name proclaims, and my skin felt clean without being attacked. It was lovely. The shower gel has an amazing tropical fragrance to it, and also felt so nice on our sunkissed skin in the shower. And since they were minis, they both fit into one ziplock bag, making them easy to travel with, and they never leaked. Yay!

Another thing I hate to pack? Makeup remover. I don't really wear a lot of makeup on vacation, but on the occasion I feel like being a little more put together for a dinner out, I need makeup remover to take everything off. Erin's Faces sells these wipes from Beekman 1802, and to be honest, it took a lot of convincing for me to buy these because many of the Beekman products contain some nasty chemicals, despite looking all-natural. I'm rather particular about makeup removers and for the past four years, I've only used the Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil or the Farmacy Clear Bloom Makeup Cleansing Oil because these both remove stubborn, waterproof makeup, never irritate my eyes or my skin and have really good ingredients. Every single other makeup remover, including micellar waters, has made my eyes sting or just isn't very good at removing makeup. But, the cleansing oils don't travel well, so I was on the hunt for something that would work on vacations. While the Beekman wipes aren't quite as good as my cleansing oils, they're probably the best ones I've found that actually stand up against my usual standbys. I got the Honeyed Grapefruit ones, and oh my gosh, they smell divine. It's not at all an artificial or synthetic fragrance. It legit smells like you're wiping fresh grapefruits all over your face. They don't quite remove every spec of waterproof mascara, and if I get them in my eye by accident, they will sting. But other than that, they work so well, and I'm happy to have found these for traveling. I used them exclusively while on vacation and I found the ingredients to be pretty good compared to their other products.

This past Spring, after years of trying to switch to natural deodorants, I finally did with La Vanila. In the past, natural deodorants always gave me horrible rashes. I tried to stick with them knowing the formulas were better for my health, but the rashes and irritation were unbearable. Even Josh would tell me to stop using them because my armpits were bright red and bumpy. I figured out after a while it was probably the baking soda, so after a search for natural, baking soda-free deodorants, I decided to give this brand a try because I can easily find them at Sephora (with free 2-day shipping for me because I spend too much money there). My favorite scent is the Lemon Vanilla, but I needed a new one right before vacation and decided to get the limited edition Vanilla Summer one, and I love it. It's a little fruity and tropical, but still fresh and clean smelling.

After being in the sun all day, no matter how much sunscreen I put on, I usually end up a little pink on my chest and shoulders. I bought this After Sun spray from Herbivore last year at Follain in Boston before leaving for he Cape, and it's been a lifesaver. The sales associate at the store recommended I keep in the fridge for an even more intense cooling affect, and she was right. Right after being in the sun all day, I apply this all over my skin after I shower, and it feels so good. It's infused with aloe for soothing and hydration, lavender essential oil as an anti-inflammatory agent and to reduce redness, and peppermint essential oil to help promote cooling down the skin. I feel so much better after using it and it provides peace of mind that I'm doing a little something extra to help heal my skin after exposure to sun.

I'm a bit of a lipstick junkie and it's always temping for me to pack about 15 lipsticks each time I travel anywhere. I mean, they're so small, right? What does it really hurt to pack a few more? :) Except I never wear them. I've learned to edit it down to these two little guys right here for summer vacation. The YSL Glossy Stain to the left is in shade No. 7 Corail Aquatique, and while the formula isn't for everyone, I adore it. It's exactly like it's described: a stain that has almost a water-like texture when applied, and leaves behind lovely, long-lasting color that has a glossy finish. On me, it has a beautiful peachy hue that's natural enough for an easy beachy look, but also bright enough to give life to my face. The Ilia Lip Conditioner in Bombora to the right has SPF 15 and provides a light application of color that leaves lips feeling hydrated. The color is hard to describe, but it's kind of like a burnt peach, red, orange that's still pretty muted and natural looking (but also kind of bright, too). It's easy to wear and the fact that it's housed in a pretty, white tube doesn't hurt.

As previously mentioned, makeup application isn't a regular thing for me on vacation. At most, for a dinner out, or for non-beach days when we're strolling through cute little boutiques, I like to do a little something to my face, but keep it pretty natural. First and most importantly, I need SPF, and the It Cosmetics CC Cream has been a favorite for years. It protects my face all day long, and provides amazing coverage. I would actually prefer it to have less coverage with a more natural finish, but because I get so oily in the summer anyway, it starts to blend in more with my skin as the day goes on, looking like actual skin. Plus, it has a primer built in, making it super long-lasting. It kind of ticks all the boxes, so it's a vacation essential for me.

I rely a lot on RMS products to get a natural look in the summer since many of her products are cream-based. One of my favorites is the Buriti Bronzer. It seems a little intense in the pot, but once it's blended it gives my skin an amazing just-been-in-the-sun color. It has enough brown in it to work with the extra bit of pink I usually get on the high points of my face, so once this is blended with my natural sunkissed color, it makes my whole face look balanced. I use a duo-fiber brush to blend it across any areas of my face that have already gotten sun, and I love the look it gives me.

Kjaer Weis cream blushes are a pricey investment, but this color is called Sun Touched (I mean, come on), and once applied to the apples of my cheeks, and blended into the Buriti Bronzer, it gives my face life and brightens everything up a bit, while still looking incredibly natural.

If we're going out to dinner in the evening and I've gone through the effort of putting stuff on my face, I usually add a touch of the RMS Living Luminizer to the tops of my cheek bones so I can feel extra glowy. I have a few favorite highlighters, but I somehow always end up bringing this one with me on vacation. It almost just makes my skin look wet, which I kind of like, and doesn't have any sort of undertone to it, so the other cream products aren't really affected by it.

Lastly for make-up, I bought this Aloe Setting Powder from Erin's Faces before vacation, and I love it. I had used up my usual Ambient Light Powder from Hourglass about a month and a half ago, and being that this was infused with aloe, I thought it would be kind of perfect for vacation. I use it to set all the cream products in place (because, you know, oily skin and all), and it looks lovely on the skin - very natural and blends in seamlessly. I still ended up re-buying my trusty Hourglass powder because, well, old habits and everything, but I like having both in rotation.

The first two swatches above are in indoor light, swatched heavily, and the third are the colors blended to show you the affect if gives my skin. It's all very subtle once blended, which is why I like it. To me, it doesn't even look like I'm wearing anything, but somehow I've just magically managed to look perfectly glowy and radiant.

I don't actually bring nail polish on vacation with me, but the day before I leave, I paint my nails with the same color - Holiday by Chanel. It's been discontinued for a while, but it continues to be my signature summer color. I couldn't get the photos to accurately display the color, but they came pretty close. It's a bright orange-red, and the reason I love it is because of the strong orange undertones. It makes it a little more original than the standard firely red color, and whenever I wear it, I always get compliments on it. I have yet to find anything that matches it.

I bought this linen lace-up sweater from J.Crew during their July Fourth sale, and I'm kind of obsessed with it. When I pack clothes for vacation, I've gotten it down to a pretty strict science. I pack all nautical colors (reds, navys, blues, oranges, etc.) with neutrals (whites, beiges and tans) so everything goes perfectly together and I don't really have to think about it. I was on the hunt for a neutral, light-weight sweater, and when I saw this one online, I snatched it right up. And I loved it on vacation. I put it on while walking on the beach at sunset, and it provided the perfect amount of warmth to combat the slightly chilly breeze, while not being overly hot, and it paired wonderfully with all the colors I had already packed. I also loved the lace-up detail at the front giving it a unique edge, and it's also slightly longer in the back. Sadly, it's been sold out for a week or so, but if it ever comes back, get it. I cannot recommend it enough.

We always read while on vacation, probably because at home we're often distracted by house projects. When we left for vacation, Josh was half-way through Big Little Lies because I had just finished it and then made him watch the HBO miniseries (which he loved, and then wanted to read the book). I had just started What Alice Forgot, by the same author, Liane Moriarty, so those were obviously going to come with us. As a side note, I adore the three books from Moriarty that I've read - the two mentioned above and The Husband's Secret were all wonderful. I bought them all as cheesy beach reads, and ended up being so impressed as how well she writes about women. They're stories that stick with you and can easily connect with, and while they're not pulitzer material or anything, they're lovely books that I highly, highly recommend. Even Josh enjoyed them.

The other books, we bought while on the Cape. Josh finished the Outer Cape, which he loved, but it was a lot more intense than he expected (it's about a dysfunctional family). I started The Book of Summer about three days before we came home, and I'm still reading it at the moment. I bought this one in Nantucket, and it takes place on Nantucket, so I love the fact that I can imagine the characters on the island that I love so much while I read it from my little farmhouse here in Upstate NY. It's actually a really good book so far! We always try to read happy, entertaining books while on vacation because it's an escape from the craziness of our world right now, and I'm excited to read the others we purchased pictured above during the rest of our summer season.

New Bedroom Windows

You guys, our new bedroom windows are in. And containing my excitement has been nearly impossible.

We got a little bit of a later start than we planned with this project. We were thinking it would take place the first week of June, but our windows took a little longer to come in, so we were a few weeks behind. But, as usual, it was worth the wait.

When we first moved in, we had this patio door that led to nothing. It was foggy with condensation, and it couldn't be cleaned or fixed to see more clearly out of it. It was also just old and outdated and didn't offer a lot of weather-proofing in the colder winter months. Basically, it needed to go. We think that someone had installed a balcony off our bedroom at some point, and it was taken down, but the door was demo-ed out along with it. We thought about putting a balcony back in, but it just wasn't something we really wanted. Symmetrical windows to let in more light were way more important to us.

Before: A bad photo showing the terrible patio slider window (complete with an unmade bed).
We hired a contractor to do this job. With trying to wrap up the bathroom, start/complete the guest room, finish off the mudroom, and more or less just wanting to get this project over with, it was just the best decision for us. Our contractor was here for about three days or so, and honestly, it was kind of nice to just have someone else do the work for a change. Not that we weren't doing anything while this was going on, but it was nice to have a project in-process that we didn't have to worry about. It was in someone else's hands.

We talked about what we wanted to do as far as windows, and at first, we thought we'd do one big window above our bed. Looking at it from the outside of our house, though, we decided two tall windows on either side of our bed would be better and look more appealing from inside and outside. The great thing about this room is that when you look out the windows from this wall, you can see the sun rising, so in the mornings, our room fills up with the most beautiful warm light. It's amazing. So we worked with our contractor and he made it happen.

This project required us to re-side that entire side of our house, though, which worried me a bit. I wondered if it would make re-siding the rest of the house down the line more complicated, and our contractor said, "Nope." He actually re-sided his own house piecemeal, and said it's fine. It also allowed for more flexibility with finances, too, which you know, is always nice.

The first day he was here, he took measurements and ripped out the siding, which was super fast. I feel like he was only out there for an hour. It my head, I thought it would be like a half day's worth of work. Nope again!

The next day, he came back to actually cut the new holes for the windows, and fill in our old doorway. I was at work this day, but Josh texted me pictures of the progress, and it was kind of scary to see big holes in your house. But the nice part was, when I got home, it was just done.

Side of the house after the siding was taken down.

Re-sided house with new windows.
The last day, he came back to re-side our house, and once that was done, Josh stepped in to finish the project (because apparently, we don't like to relinquish control too much).

It was a little scary having a hole in our house!
We saved a few bucks by finishing the project ourselves. Josh put in the insulation, sealed the framing of the windows and re-drywalled the hole from the old doorway. Once the wall looked like nothing had ever been there, we cut, painted and caulked the window trim, and we were done.

Josh putting in the insulation to finish off the big hole the patio door left.

I went back and forth on adding drapes to the windows. We like waking up to the sunlight every morning. Josh is literally that person that gets sleepy when the sun goes down, and wakes up when it rises. It's his alarm clock. And I just enjoy the pretty colors it makes in our bedroom. In the end, though, we actually can't hang any, so the back and forth conversations about it were a moot point. The slant in the ceiling wouldn't allow for drapery rod installation, and I'm not a huge fan of hanging drapes inside the framing of the window. So, naked they stay. And I actually kind of prefer it.

Once we finally get around to installing quarter-round trim along the ceiling/wall seams, this room will be 100% done. But for now, the new windows are totally doin' it for me. So far, it hasn't gotten old watching the sunrise from the windows while I get ready in the mornings.

Not the greatest picture, but our room floods with yummy, golden light every morning now. Yay!