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Monday, July 24, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Our Summer Vacation: Cape Cod 2017

Beach hair, don't care.
And we're back from 10 glorious oceanside days on Cape Cod, aka the week I live for in the Summer season. While we were driving home, it clicked with me why we both so look forward to this trip so much every year (you know, besides just being on vacation near the ocean): We don't really have any good beaches near us. I love where we live so much. We're able to access so many different areas very easily and have endless options for day trips, and so many perfectly New England destinations to choose from for long weekend getaways. But, we lack beaches in our general area that are a decent, drivable distance for an easy day trip. So, being able to go to the beach every day for vacation is just amazing because it's pretty much the only time we go swimming all Summer. And this year, we decided to extend our trip by a few days by camping in Truro before heading to our week-long cottage rental in Dennis Port. I may have cried on our last night when I knew I had to say goodbye to the ocean (I wish I were kidding, but I'm not).

Finding a campsite that allowed shorter stays during peak season was a little challenging, but we landed on Adventure Bound in North Truro. We both wanted to stay on this part of the Cape since we very rarely make the hike that way during our stay in Dennis Port. Reviews of every single campsite we looked into on the Cape were iffy. Half the people said they loved it, and half the people said it was terrible. I'm happy to report that our experience was wonderful, with some very minor flaws. Flaw No. 1 being we're inexperienced campers and realized we seriously need to invest in an air mattress so we don't wake up every morning feeling like 90-year-olds who threw out their backs. Flaw No. 2 (also related to our camping inexperience) was that the shower situation wasn't ideal (no benches inside the changing portion of the shower stall - lesson learned). But other than that, our campsite was clean, organized, friendly, centrally-located and near a beach, so we had a wonderful time, and were kind of sad to leave.

When that $19 iPhone tripod from Amazon finally comes in handy.
These signs in our campground totally made us laugh for no apparent reason.
The rest of our trip, we kept saying, "drive slow, walk slow, like this."

But, I will say, I probably had the best night's sleep of my entire life the first night in our cottage when we slept in a normal bed. It was glorious.

Anyhoo.

The first two days we were camping it threatened rain, and even sprinkled on and off. It could have been worse, though, in the form of torrential downpours, so we considered ourselves lucky. Our first day, we acclimated ourselves to our campsite and the beach that was a short walk away through a marked path in the woods, and had dinner at Moby Dick's in Wellfleet.

Coast Guard Beach in Truro, which was a short walk from our campsite.



Moby Dick's Restaurant in Wellfleet. I kind of loved the casual/nautical decor.

Fish 'n chips from Moby Dick's.



While in Truro, we both wanted to explore the local sites. Josh just finished the Tesla biography, and was super excited to see the sites of the Marconi towers, so we did that. It offered incredible views of the water, so I was happy. We also went to see Highland Light, which is the oldest and tallest lighthouse on the Cape.

Highland Light behind us. We're obviously more excited than we should be for a lighthouse.



View from one of the Marconi station sites.




I wanted to get some nature walks in, so we found a blog that detailed a few lovely trails in Truro that we decided to follow. One trail led to an old cranberry bog house, and I thought it was kind of funny that the front door was on the second floor. The other path led to an amazing beach that had almost no one on it. We got to walk for a while with the beach to ourselves for the most part, and it was spectacular.

The old cranberry bog house with the door of the second floor.

Part of a nature trail in Truro that led to an amazing beach.

And we made it to said beach.


We also did some of the walking trails in the Wellfleet Wildlife Santucary, which was also incredibly scenic and relaxing.

Lily pond in the Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary.

This amazing boardwalk in the Santucary led to beautiful views.


iPhone Pano view of the same view.


Later that night we had dinner at Mac's on the Pier in Wellfleet overlooking the water.


Fried clam strips at Mac's were to die for. 
On our last night camping, we did a beach fire. I've always wanted to do a beach fire on an ocean beach, but we just never made it happen. Mostly, because it takes a lot of planning and coordination with the weather and local fire department. Beach fires on the Cape are only allowed on specific beaches, and fire permits are required. Some towns allow you to request the permit a few days in advance online, and some require you to be present at the fire department building the day you want the permit for, and they usually only allow a certain number of permits each day on each beach. It's a lot to plan when you're on vacation, and we just kind of lucked out this year. We applied for a permit on Coast Guard Beach in North Truro the day before, and we got the last available permit. You then have to call the fire department at 4 p.m. the day of the permit to make sure they're allowing beach fires (based on weather conditions), and then, my friends, you can go ahead with your beach fire if they give you the okay. All day that day, it was cloudy, windy and threatening rain, so I didn't have my hopes up. But by the afternoon, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out for a perfect evening. I'm so glad we got a chance to do this, and it was beyond fun. I kind of want to do it every year now, even though it's a lot of work. It was such a great way to end the camping portion of the trip.







iPhone Pano of our scenery.







And then, we were off to Dennis Port to check-in to our cottage for the week, and do all our usual things. We stopped in Ptown before heading to Dennis Port, went to our usual restaurants, visited the Bass Hole Boardwalk, walked around Chatham, swam at our favorite beaches, ate way too much ice cream, wandered bookstores, stocked up on beach reads (I finished 1.5 books, Josh finished 2), shopped at the boutiques in the different towns and also, tried to squeeze in some time to be lazy at the cottage. We were so incredibly lucky this trip because as rainy and chilly as this summer has been so far, every single day on vacation this year, with the exception of the first two days at the campground, it was bright, sunny and warm. We couldn't have had better weather. Here are some photos from the cottage portion of our trip.

Benches in Ptown that I thought were really cool.

When your wife tells you to get in the giant chair.





Baked scrod and vegetable pasta at The Skipper in Yarmouth. It.was.so.good.





Sunset at Bass Hole Boardwalk in Yarmouth.

iPhone Pano view of the sunset at Bass Hole Boardwalk.

Beach Day! Coast Guard Beach in Eastham (not to be confused with Coast Guard Beach in Truro).


Sunset walk at Bank Street Beach in Harwich Port.


When your husband doesn't know where to look while taking a selfie.



I loved this little display in front of a store in Chatham.


I always go to this store in Chatham (which I can't remember the name of to save my life)
because they have such lovely displays. I always pretend I have a beach house,
and start to decorate it in my head while here.


Don't forget to stop and smell the hydrangeas.






Lobstah roll from Sesuit Harbor Cafe. Hands down the best on on the Cape (that I've had, anyway).



"This boat is called Sea Pup! Let's take pictures in front of it!"

Hot fudge sundae at Sundae School.

Josh loved this make your own chocolate chip cookiewich from Ice Cream Cafe in Orleans.
He got red velvet ice cream (with real red velvet cake chunks in it!)

Our view for my birthday dinner at Ocean House. The server totally sweet talked me into this strawberry, rose &
elderberry sangria drink, and I have zero regrets.

Seafood bruschetta from the Ocean House in Dennis. Uh-mazing. No words. 

When it's the last day of vacation, and you want a picture on your birthday,
but your husband still doesn't know where to look while taking selfies.

We did have one morning where it was super foggy for our run to the ocean, which I kind of love. Who doesn't love a beautiful, foggy New England morning before the day starts? So I kind of loved these photos and plan to use some of them them in our master bath (you can read about the inspiration here).








We also, of course, visited Nantucket for a day. This was our fourth time visiting the island. The first two years we went, we explored en foot. Last year, we rented a moped. This year, we decided to rent bicycles. This was my idea, actually. I really wanted to see more of the island, and Madaket was on my list, which is only about 6 miles from town. I had these glorious, very New England, visions in my head of peddling around the island in a cute outfit, a charming little basket on my bike, having a lovely time casually viewing the picturesque scenery on our trek out to Madaket, daydreaming about what it would be like to live there.

Wrong.

I've concluded I'm not a biker. My butt hurt the whole time, I was drenched in sweat, my thighs were killing me, and I was out of breath getting up the hills. Yes, the little basket on my bike was super cute, but it was hardly the experience I had pictured in my head. I told Josh to remind me to never rent bikes around an island again. He agreed it was the best decision for everyone.

The day was still lovely, though. On our way to Madaket, we stopped at Cisco Brewery, which now also has a winery and distillery, and the cutest little beer garden. It was pretty crowded when we went, though, so we only stayed for one beer and a few bourbon tastings (Josh, not me, obviously). He actually ended up buying some bourbon after tasting it, saying it was amazing. He was hesitant, though, because we still had a lot of biking to do, but I was like, "I'll put it in my little basket!" That bike basket was probably my favorite part of the whole freakin' day, I kid you not. So, off we went, bourbon in my bike basket, and explored Madaket Beach, which was - incredible. I'm determined to make it to Nantucket for a longer stay, and swim at this beach someday. It was wavy and not very crowded at all. We ended Madaket by eating at Millie's, which was wonderful. I got lobster quesadillas, and they were almost as awesome as my bike basket.

We took the 7:15 ferry back to Harwich Port, and as we departed, we got to see the sunset from the top deck of the ferry. It was perfection.

I was apparently really feelin' the stripes that day. 

Our foggy morning ferry ride to Nantucket.

Whenever I see this as our ferry docks, my heart grows three sizes.

When I wasn't yet disillusioned about the whole biking around the island thing.



Lunch at Something Natural is still the best for sandwiches.

They're literally bigger than our heads. I couldn't even finish mine, and I always finish sandwiches.

I was googley-eyed for this display, and pillow, at the Lion's Den boutique.

If this hadn't been almost $200, I probably would have bought it.








The only picture I took at Cisco Brewery. It was a really cool place, and they had different buildings for their beer,
distillery and winery. And then they had an outdoor seating area with picnic tables and food trucks.

Madaket Beach.

I so wish I had brought my swimsuit so I could have gone for a quick dip in the huge waves.
Instead, I just let my pants get soaked, and I didn't care a single bit.













Lastly, after a few years of contemplating, I decided it was time. I'm now the proud owner of a Cape Cod Screwball Bracelet. And of course, I purchased it from the original designer, Eden Hand Arts in Dennis. So many stores sell replicas and knock-offs of this now-famous bracelet design, but Eden is the place where it originated from. It's a long story, and you can read all about it on their website, but I've wanted one of these for a long time, and I've been on the fence about it. They're a bit pricey, although, not exorbitant, and it was Josh who finally convinced me to just do it. So off we went to Eden, where I was fitted for the bracelet that I will probably never take off because it reminds me of my happy place.


We're home now, and what I will say is that having a home we love makes leaving the Cape so much easier. Once we're in the car with everything packed back up, looking a little more sunkissed than when we first arrived and with sand all over our shoes and car, I'm actually excited to get back home. I always take so many pictures on vacations because it makes it easier to leave knowing that I've captured all our happy moments. It's a lot of photos, but I can honestly say, I go back and look at every single picture we've ever taken on any vacation several times a year to remember all these wonderful memories.

Helpful links to past posts:
Our 2016 Cape Cod Vacation Recap - includes any advice, information  and recommendations I have about visiting the Cape.
My Love Letter to Nantucket - I recapped what we've done on the island, and our preferred way to get there.
Our 2016 Martha's Vineyard Vacation Recap - I also recapped which we prefer: Nantucket or MV.
 
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