Knit Kit-ing with Wool and the Gang

posted on: April 1, 2015

(btw, if you aren’t already, Follow my blog with Bloglovin)

Folks, it has been far too long since I’ve shared any of my craftiness with the world. Now, don’t take this to mean that there hasn’t been a lot going on behind the scenes – I’ve participated in handmade markets all through the winter season, had pieces for sale in the Hayes Valley location of Amour Vert, and just recently listed several 100% wool knits in my Etsy shop. I’ve been a busy knitter bee!

The one thing I haven’t done in a while? Made something for myself. Purely for myself. Not for the shop, not as a special order, not as a gift or a pattern experiment or a way to use up spare bits of yarn, but just for me.

So when Wool and the Gang asked me to try one of their new knit kits, I jumped at the chance!

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Their Hold Tight clutch looks like a super fun knit – the woven structure of the bag makes it sturdy enough to hold your phone, keys, lipgloss, buried treasure, whatever! It’s an intermediate pattern, which means it should be easy enough (I hope) that I can finish it in a weekend… but challenging enough to teach me something new.

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I also love how Wool and the Gang packages their kits and includes everything you need! This lunchbag vibe adds a nice throwback touch that is in keeping with their cool branding scheme, and all of their materials match. The mailing box even had my name on the outside! So fun to receive in the post.

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DSC_8579Oh, and one last thing – this yarn is made from old tshirts! This jersey knit yarn is made from recycled fabric cuts in Turkey and then turned into yarn for people like me to knit up. What a cool aspect of the handmade movement, no?

I can’t wait to see how this knits up, and I can’t wait to show you the results! If you just can’t hold out for my post, head to Wool and the Gang and browse their selection of knit kits.

(This isn’t just an empty sales pitch, y’all – I’ve already purchased two more of their knit kits. I’m going to be looking so casual and cozy in my Julia sweater and Julio t-shirt this summer.)

 

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*while Wool and the Gang furnished the knit kit, all opinions expressed here are my own. 

 

A perfect day for plaid.

posted on: March 31, 2015

Y’all, I been traveling too much. That’s the only explanation for this rocker-ific outfit that reminds me of New York, Los Angeles, and Paris all rolled into one. Or, maybe it’s just what black leather reminds me of – the rock and roll of LA, the chic of NYC, and the quality of that iconic European hub.

Alright, maybe this is just wishful thinking. Either way, I am a total sucker for plaid and denim together. I know it might look a little more rough around the edges than my normal looks, but damn if these pants aren’t comfortable to boot!

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DSC_7259See what I did there? To boot? Yeah alright, moving on.

The boots I got on super sale, and they could not have been more worth it. If you have seen me in my “regular clothes” within the past three years, you know that my uniform consists of cuffed jeans, ankle boots, and some kind of shirt with a jacket thing over it. There’s something to be said for consistency! The one thing I didn’t have? Walkable black ankle boots for everyday wear – when these Rag & Bone beauties were over 50% off, I snagged them in a minute.

The leather backpack is from one of my favorite boutiques in New York: In God We Trust. I picked this up a couple of years ago while waiting for a friend to get off work and meet me. I was charging my phone in the boutique, browsing aimlessly, and just kept coming back to pick it up and handle the supple leather. I love that it takes the typical drawstring backpack style up to a whole new level.

Also, have I mentioned how much I love these cherry blossoms? This street might be making more than one appearance on the blog this summer…

 

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plaid pants | Gypsy Threads (similar)
jacket | Gap 1969 Denim
boots | Rag & Bone Durham boot
bag | In God We Trust (similar)
sunglasses | H&M (similar)

A batch of broth at Brodo

posted on: March 30, 2015

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Girl pays $5 for what is essentially bone-soup water with flavors added!

DELICIOUS bone-soup water with flavors added, that is.

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When I was planning my trip to New York, the first thing I told my friends I wanted to do was go get broth at Brodo. Hipster wannabe label be damned, I was going to partake of this most recent trend if I had to go it alone. Luckily, my friends are great, so they succumbed to my touristy whims with hardly any begging.

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Brodo (the orange awning) is an offshoot of Hearth (the black awnings), a restaurant in the East Village known for its American-Italian influenced food and its emphasis on comfort and hospitality during the dining experience.

I have to say, I don’t know if Brodo was aiming for the same goals, but regardless, mission accomplished! This little cup of broth was one of the most comforting things I took part in during my trip – especially on a twenty-something-degree day.

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You go up to the little window, make your broth choice and select any additions, and then pay the nice lady with your money firmly in hand. I chose the small Hearth broth with ginger added.

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Then, if you’re not entirely sure how this broth thing is going to go, and your friends don’t want any, you hold the tiniest cup in the world in your chilly hands and evaluate your purchase.

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It also helps to have your friend paparazzi you right in front of the window, so you get weird looks from strangers. What buzzkills! Don’t they know I’ve been waiting months for this moment?

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Watch out folks, it’s piping hot. And…gingery? And INCREDIBLE.

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I was one satisfied customer, you guys. Even my friends who, admittedly, were skeptical of this trend tried it and said it was delicious! Especially traipsing around on a cold day (we weren’t going to waste any New York time we had together), it was almost a better comfort to our frozen bones than a cup of coffee might be. Sorry coffee.

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IMG_2419Then Freyan and I stood and evaluated the other patrons while Kate took care of the photos for this blog post. Can never have too many photos of Maddy in hats, amirite?

For those who are giving a perpetual side-eye to the broth trend, I say, just try it once. If you hate it, you never have to go back – but you won’t hate it. You’ll love it, and you’ll get sucked into the movement sweeping the nation and forgo coffee forever.

Hey Brodo, can you come set up shop in San Francisco please? It gets cold here too! I swear.

 

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Brodo
1st Avenue at 12th Street
New York, NY
Open daily 12-7:30pm

Attention! Attention!

posted on: March 30, 2015

Just like Spring cleaning comes around about once a year, so does a name change! At least, here at (the old) madeleine blogs, it does.

Hey, a blog’s gotta laugh at itself once in a while, right?

DSC_8780_2We’ve spruced up (and cutes-ed up), and are moving the party over to Ginger & the Fizz. Update your RSS feeds and join us (me?) there!

Homemade pasta & Braised Onion Sauce

posted on: March 24, 2015

Who wants to get their cook on with me today? If you follow me through this incredibly winding and wandering thought stream, I promise the end result will be akin to a food-based Oprah episode. You get a pasta! And you get a pasta! And you all get pastasssss!

Or, something like that.

UntitledNeither half of this tutorial is particularly difficult, they’re both just time consuming and patience-requiring. But I swear to you, this was one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever made, simply because I created all of it out of a few basic ingredients and a lot of time to spare.

For the pasta:

– four eggs
– 3.5 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
– either a pasta making machine, or a tagliatelle roller like I have, or a ruler and a knife

For the sauce:

– 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 1.5 pounds white onions, halved and sliced 1/4″ thick
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– salt
– 1/4 cup Madeira (found at Whole Foods though I’m sure any grocery store will have some)
– 3/4 lb hot, cooked pasta (the original recipe uses papardelle, but I don’t have a papardelle roller.)

When Debbie wanted to come over and help me cook this, I said YES PLEASE! But first, we started with wine and cheese. Because who doesn’t love wine and cheese? And, also, rhyming… Read More

I left my heart in…Seattle? | WEARABLES

posted on: March 23, 2015

Good morning friends, family, internet strangers! How was your weekend? My Monday is starting off with a bang – I missed my regular bus, and everyone on this bus has the sniffles. I want to hand them all Kleenex and send them home, but sadly, I’m not in charge of team health. I should be, right?

(Says the girl who only got 8+ hours of sleep a night last week because she was sick.)

The next few posts might slightly bend the time-space continuum, since today’s outfit post is from my trip to Seattle (and I have tons of great pictures and restaurants to share from that trip), but I still have another post or two coming from my past trip to New York. You guys are smart though, you’ll figure it out! Just a heads up.

First, let’s just stop and marvel at these gorgeous cherry blossoms for a minute. These were in late February! Spring has truly sprung in Seattle. Sorry, everywhere else.

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Our foliage doesn’t even look like that in San Francisco.

You know what else we don’t have in SF? The Space Needle! Built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, it was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi (a title that now goes to the Wilshire Grand in downtown Los Angeles once its construction is complete in 2017), and can withstand winds up to 200mph and up to a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. That puppy ain’t goin nowhere.

See if you can spot it in some of these shots! This is like the easiest “Where’s Waldo?” you’ll ever play.

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We started taking shots at an adorable park near Carly’s apartment (all of the parks are adorable, let’s get real) and then moved to another outlook spot overlooking the entire sound (I think) and letting us see as far as Mt. Rainier in the distance! We could see almost all the way to Canada!

I’m going to be honest, sometimes Carly tells me which mountains are which and I just can’t keep them straight. I barely have the neighborhoods in San Francisco down pat. So, hopefully, this post is geographically accurate; apologies if it’s not.

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(That’s not Canada, Canada is to the left a little more, eh?)

This is when the outtakes started happening.

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IMG_3361You know me, just a regular California ham!

Have I mentioned how obsessed I am with these boots? These Corso Como boots are a dream – so comfortable to walk around in, they hug my calves perfectly, and they can dress up or down any outfit. I am a huge, huge fan of Corso Como as a brand, so if you’re looking for new boots I couldn’t recommend them more highly. They’re also usually on sale on Gilt so check there first!

After this little detour, we went to Pike Place Market and grabbed brunch at a restaurant overlooking the water that had bloody mary’s with oysters in them. Trés Seattle.

 

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sweater | West & Lou (similar)
jacket | Everlane Swing Trench in Tan
jeans | Gap 1969 Denim Always Skinny
boots | Corso Como Rena Boot
bag | Miu Miu Vitello Lux Large Bow bag from eBay
necklace | Gorjana from Rocksbox
sunnies | Carrera (similar)

A visit to Mast Brothers Chocolate

posted on: March 20, 2015

I’ll bet you didn’t know that just over the Williamsburg Bridge, a ten minute walk from the G train, lies a magical wonderland full of sights and smells the likes of which have never been seen before in our time!

That’s right, I’m talking about the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory and brew bar.

Actually, that’s a total lie – you’ve probably seen these sights and smelled these smells at your local Whole Foods, at the corner market, or even at a boutique in Truckee, Tahoe (where I once saw bars of Mast Brothers Chocolate for sale alongside handcrafted gold jewelry and letterpress stationery.)

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A couple of years ago, Freyan got me some Mast Brothers chocolate bars for Christmas as a sweet New York homage – and now, I can walk down the block to the Whole Foods near my apartment and pick up fifteen of them in a heartbeat. I will admit, it feels a bit like cheating the system to get this piece of New York craftsmanship in my own neighborhood, but seeing as I love the product, I wouldn’t want to stunt their growth just to fulfill my own NYC fantasies.

Besides, that’s probably how my New York friends feel about Blue Bottle – it’s supposed to be a San Francisco thing, but sometimes they’re probably really flippin happy that they don’t have to get on a plane to have a sip.

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If you’re like me, then spending even ten minutes in a whole room full of chocolate bars without taking a crateload home is a bit of a challenge. The only thing holding me off was the brunch we had just consumed at Reynard, and our stop at Blue Bottle down the block prior to our continued exploration of Williamsburg. So, note to all: if you’re going to Mast Brothers and don’t want to buy up the lot, just stuff yourself silly with duck and coffee beforehand. Easy peasy.

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While we hadn’t been able to buy tickets to their factory tour (they sell out quickly, and we were still shoring up our itinerary), you should note that they don’t allow photos anyway…so just pretend that I went and then told you all about it!

I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats!

But really, I’ve heard great things – so if you’re in the market for a fun little daytime activity in Williamsburg (or they do after work tours too, I believe) or something to do with the family, I’d highly suggest buying tickets to that. And let me know how it goes! I’d love to go sometime. Maybe when I move to New York.

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A look at their goodies for sale was enough for us for the time being. Look at these pristine packages full of colorful whimsy and fun! Who wouldn’t want to eat a chocolate bar decorated in rainbow attire?

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Even New York locals have to snap a shot or two sometimes. Glad this won’t have to change when I eventually make my move!

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I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here, but I can only assume my friends are so excited about accompanying me on this tour of Brooklyn that they couldn’t contain their energy for the shot. Obviously.

Sorry guys, it was too cute – had to post it!

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When we were done marveling at the stacks of gold (ok, chocolate) bars, we hopped into line at their brew bar for a couple of nibbles. The girls split a giant cookie, and I treated myself to a Sea Salt Truffle.

If you want to get on my good side, send me truffles. Nom nom nom.

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While we weren’t able to go backstage for the factory tour, they do have kind of an “open front” to their factory, where you can see mounds of cane sugar and cocoa powder waiting to be formed into perfect, mouth-watering plates of chocolate. You can also see the stacks of thick, artisan paper yet to be wrapped around the finished bars, and the machines that wrap them all up!

So, we still walked away feeling like we got a bit of a sense of the process. Just a taste, if you will. Har har.

 

Are you a chocolate fan? I’m partial to dark chocolate varieties, like Mast Brothers’s Brooklyn Blend or Sea Salt Chocolate. 

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Mast Brothers Chocolate
111 North 3rd Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

10 – 7 Mon – Sat
10 – 5 Sun

The Best Brunch in Brooklyn: Reynard | HOT SPOT

posted on: March 19, 2015

When your friends say they’re going to take you to an industrial-chic brunch spot housed in one of the coolest refurbished-warehouse hotels in Williamsburg, you should believe their praises. And when you get there and the decor (and the food) live up to their tales, you should be grateful for having such cool friends.

Then again, it doesn’t take more than a minute to recognize the Wythe Hotel (opened in May 2012) and its in-house restaurant, Reynard, as one of Brooklyn’s next iconic spots. Originally constructed in 1901, it has since been converted into a seventy room hotel on the waterfront, featuring spectacular views of Manhattan from its rooftop bar while maintaining some of the gritty feeling that defined Brooklyn for so many years.

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But the rooftop views aren’t all this place has going for it – one step through the revolving door downstairs, and you’re immediately transported into a warehouse fit for a king. The interior of Reynard is full of metalwork fixtures and exposed brick, with a humongous vintage mirror affixed behind the bar (with real dirt showing its age!)

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As stunned as I was by the decor, I was even more impressed by the meal offerings. Usually when I have trouble deciding what to get it’s because I have a hankering for something, but something else sounds just interesting enough that I feel like I should order it.

Here, the problem was magnified: not only did I have a craving for breakfast food (eggs, eggs, eggs!) but the various brunch combinations were each so inventive and original that I had a hard time even coming up with a food compromise.

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I ended up surprising even myself and getting the french toast with duck confit – and, of course, a cheddar scallion biscuit on the side for us all to split.

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Those little white things are a citrus fruit similar to grapefruit (I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what it is but I think it’s a Pomelo) and there were toasted hazelnuts garnishing the plate. You guys, this dish was so delicious that I almost didn’t mind the frisée! You know that means big things coming from me.

Kate opted for a delicious egg and sausage sandwich…

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…and Freyan said Yes! to the mushroom omelette of the day.

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Listen, I have to say something else about the food. Not only were the main plates we ordered delicious, but the salad was undeniably one of the winning parts of the meal. I usually prefer my salad to be an even ratio of leaves-to-other-things (cheese, egg, nuts, avocado, etc.) so for me to rave about this simple salad with vinaigrette and watermelon radish means it had to be top notch.

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Oh, you wanted another look at the duck-toast? Who am I to deny you!

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After breakfast we made a valiant attempt to go upstairs and see the view of the Manhattan Skyline (even in sub-freezing temperatures), but the bar wasn’t open yet so we were promptly stopped by a very attractive security guard. At least that gives me an excuse to go back! Not that I need an excuse.

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Lest you feel mislead by the springtime picture of the rooftop, I just wanted to let you know what it really looked like when we were there:

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Yeah. It was a bit chilly.

Luckily, we scooted our little bundled selves down the block to Blue Bottle Coffee for some warming post-brunch bevvies (yes, there’s always time for coffee) and a trip to Mast Brothers Chocolate! But more on that in another post…

What’s your favorite brunch spot?

Mostly Healthy Lentil Stew | FORK IT OVER

posted on: March 17, 2015

You’re probably wondering right now how something with lentils in it can be “mostly” healthy, since lentils are known to be one of the first crops humans cultivated and ate (dating back to before Neolithic, or pottery, times!) They also are the third-highest legume in terms of protein (after soybeans and hemp seeds) and have over half of a person’s daily iron allowance in a one cup serving.

How can something so of-the-earth be only “mostly healthy”?

Well, I’ll tell ya – we ain’t eating these puppies alone. It all depends on what you put in it!

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This version calls for some spices, a few vegetables, and some chicken stock. You could really go to town with this recipe, though – potatoes, bacon, a dollop of creme fraîche? Anything is on the table! That’s why this “recipe” is so great: you can change it to include or exclude anything you want.

First, I will admit that this recipe is pretty time intensive. There’s a lot of chopping that goes down, and then a fair amount of stirring and waiting as well. But in the end, this soup/stew combo will last you at least 5-6 meals if you’re eating solo, and for a couple of days if you’re serving more than one. Who can argue with organization like that?

Ingredients: 

1 cup lentils of your choice (make sure to note the cooking time on the bag, the ones I used took about 30 minutes to mush up); about 1 cup each of vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, celery, garlic, onion, fennel, and mushrooms); spices of your choice (I used turmeric, curry powder, and ground cumin – you can get more ideas for spices here); 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or coconut milk if desired; lemon juice, salt, pepper, parmesan.

Come on inside the rest of the post to see food pictures and read more instructions! Unless you’re a pro chef already, in which case, feel free to wing it. Who am I to tell you how to sopa?  Read More

Sunshine in San Juan | WEARABLES

posted on: March 16, 2015

Y’all, I am beat. I just spent four days and four nights in a gorgeous little place called Puerto Rico, and the girls I went with are no joke. They know how to live it up! If you’ve followed my blog for more than a minute you know my idea of a big night out is drinks, dinner, and maybe a 9pm showing of a movie.

These girls turned my homebody status on its head, and for good reason – we didn’t want to waste a minute of our trip when we could be taking in the local culture, eating regional delicacies, and drinking our faces off with spring breakers (note to self: the month of March is off limits to anywhere tropical from now on.)

Most of the time, my blogger tendencies were capped at snapshots of buildings as we walked by, without stopping the entire troupe to take more extensive photos. But when you visit the historic Old San Juan area and get a glimpse of these magnificently colorful houses, you try and resist the urge to photobomb every building you see.

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Nope, it’s impossible.

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Though this outfit definitely isn’t the most flattering on me, it made me feel very tropical and less gringa-like (though, to be fair, I don’t know if my wide-eyed-at-every-beautiful-sight appearance helped my anti-tourist cause.)

These outfit photos were snapped by Dhruvi from Stilettos & Sequins (the birthday girl, and the reason we all ventured across land and sea to the isle of PR) on our last full day in San Juan, after we all downed some carbs and coconut water at a small spot on the edge of Old San Juan. Did you know that if you order a coco in Puerto Rico, they bring you a real coconut with a straw in it? A whole coconut! Island life is the best.

We had a jam-packed itinerary, and we were on a mission to see some of Old San Juan during the daylight hours while en route to pick up a rental car for our trip to Culebra the next day, so after D and I took photos of each other’s vacation style we wandered through the streets of San Juan to meet up with our friends and pick up the car. Our friends had tired of our photo antics and moseyed on to our final location ahead of us. Sí claro.

I, obviously, had to paparazzi everything in sight:

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DSC_8380We made a small pit stop at Cafeteria Mallorca for some cafés con leche after one of Dhruvi’s readers had told her it was the place to go. The diner-feel of the cafe was the perfect vibe to end our little tourist walk – it felt authentic and welcoming, rather than glitzy and hokey.

D was really proud of herself for conducting the entire affair en Español – and I was super impressed too! All four of the ladies I traveled with were basically fluent in Spanish, and I can only speak about eight words of it. One of those words being taco, this wasn’t incredibly helpful to them. Hopefully I contributed some slight comic relief?

We eventually met up with our group and, after some frantic in-hotel-lobby planning, departed for our next adventure. And I vowed to learn Spanish.

 

What are your thoughts on visiting the historic, but usually more touristy, areas of different cities? Sí o no? 

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hibiscus top | Therapy on Valencia (similar)
jeans | Gap 1969 Denim Always Skinny
sandals | Madewell, old (similar)
bag | Cruciani from Poshmark (similar)
gold cuff bracelet | Gorjana Aldridge cuff from Rocksbox
earrings | Old Navy (similar)
sunglasses | Carrera (similar)