OUR FALL PLANS
I always make a point of walking through the astonishingly beautiful Elizabeth Street Gardens when I am walking to our Soho store. If the timing works and I can sit there with a coffee, that’s automatically a good day.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve (in Westchester County) - It is an amazing trail where you can see beautiful foliage and I get to bring my fur babies.
The Met Cloisters when the leaves change have such pretty fall foliage views!
My birthday is in September and it’s my favorite tradition to go to Jacob Riis to celebrate. A half-empty beach is so serene.
ALICE, ART DEPARTMENT
I love going to Achilles Heel in Greenpoint to cozy up by their small fireplace with a cocktail and a snack. (Their bread and butter is extraordinary — something not often said about bread and butter)
Renaissance Festival in Fort Tryon Park (right near the Cloisters) that's fun for all ages.
Mud in the East Village is my favorite fall cafe! They have the best dirty chai, it tastes like fall in a cup - plus their mugs are the best!
My four year old just started big kid school — every morning we are going to ride on the subway together while we hold hands and whisper through our masks (she is shy) and watch the city we love, and let our lives get a little bigger after a year closer to home.
LEIGH, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
We are so excited to announce the international debut of CECE JEWELLERY. A collection of 18k gold necklaces and rings featuring the finest enameling, as if painted by a single kitten whisker.
We chatted a bit with Cecelia Hughes aka Cece, an art historian turned jeweler, to find out more about her process and inspiration behind her pieces - including a very special Catbird exclusive.
What is your first jewelry memory?
Travelling around India with my family and becoming obsessed with all the jewellery sold in the markets - packs and packs of gold and multicoloured sparkly bangles… a little girls heaven!
What does jewelry mean to you?
It's my form of expression. Being a jeweller who works from home, means 90% of the time I'm wearing comfy leggings and an oversized T-shirt, jewellery is my way of making me feel fabulous (even in PJs).
What originally sparked your interest in pursuing jewelry design?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness after leaving university, which meant I couldn’t live life at the same pace as other 20-something year olds! This also put a lot of pressure on my mental health. After taking a year to slow down and soul search, I found jewellery making! Being able to create with my hands was so therapeutic that I fell in love instantly… I have now recovered fully from my illness, but wouldn’t have changed it for the world, as it led me to where I am today.
What historical jewelry / art are you inspired by?
Both Byzantine & traditional Indian jewellery!
What has been your favorite design to make from this selection?
I would say the Catbird exclusive The Swan & Reed. It was my first time creating an enamel design based on someone else’s idea and it was so exciting to be able to bring it to life!
Can you describe the process of making these pieces?
There are 5 crucial steps to the making of each piece, all meticulously thought through and carefully executed…
Design. All my pieces start at my kitchen table surrounded by books such as ‘V&A Jewels & Jewellery’ and the ‘Grimm Brothers’ fairy-tales, a colourful array of pencils & watercolours, my laptop of course, and a candle or two to get me in the zone.
Make. All the signet rings and pendants are handmade from my jewellery bench at home, forged from the deep and rich recycled 18ct yellow gold.
Enamel. I then send the pieces to my enameller who engraves and hand paints each design in miniature. As every different layer of enamel paint is applied, the piece must be fired in a kiln. This process is repeated until the finished painting comes to life!
Diamonds. I then pass the jewellery on to my wonderful stone setters in Hatton Garden, the diamond district of London, where they star-set teeny tiny glittery diamonds to complete each miniature scene…
Finish. Finally, the pieces are back with me, where I give the overall surface a matte finish. This results in a buttery, frosted surface - bringing out the beautiful deep colours of the enamel paintings.
Describe a perfect day in London.
It would start off with a long Saturday morning sitting in bed with my boyfriend Dan and our sweet little fur baby, Lucky. A tray of croissants, jam, butter and coffee from our local bakery in the middle of it all…
An afternoon spent in Notting Hill visiting my all-time favourite haberdashery called The Cloth Shop, I could spend hours sifting through their various striped French linens, or Indian block print cottons. Always an inspiration.
The evening would be spent with friends in a cosy, fairy-lit pub garden. Somewhere local, sharing bottles of wine until I decide it’s way past my bedtime and jump in an uber home. Ready for a sleepy Sunday!
How did you begin your journey with enamel?
In some ways, my journey has just begun! While researching ancient jewellery in the treasure trove that is the Victoria & Albert Museum archives, I fell in love with an old Victorian wedding band, enamelled with pink flowers all the way around. I decided to begin experimenting with my own designs, and through lots of (expensive!) trial and error, I finally created a collection I am happy with! I can’t wait for the journey to continue…
Can you tell us a bit about the enameller you work with?
My London enameller is wonderful and works effortlessly on each design I send his way! He is a Master Enameller and a member of the Goldsmith Company, Freeman to the City of London – which is a prestigious title that has been given to those with excellent goldsmithing craftsmanship for over 700 years.
Did you face any challenges in getting the collection going? And, have you encountered any obstacles that you have learned from?
Yes!! I came across quite a few hiccups along the way. Enamel is a very particular material to work with. In order to bring out the richness in colour you must choose 18ct gold as your metal (75% pure gold), which you can imagine becomes expensive when you get a design wrong…
The Shark & Anchor (my favourite design) was one of the hardest to create, as it was imperative to get the expression right. One tiny dot for an eye in the wrong place and we have to do it all over again!
Have you been to New York? If so, what do you think of it?
Yes – I LOVE New York. I think I love it so much because it feels very similar to London. (I’m a bit of a home bunny). The energy, the pace of life, the culture, the weather (!!)… I can’t wait for the world to open up again so I can come and visit once more.
Shop Cece's Collection
We have always admired the way Morgan stacks and styles her Catbird pieces to be so quintessentially her! She is a longtime customer and we have enjoyed connecting with her (via Instagram!) over the years. We asked her to show us how she styles her Catbird for three different looks in her day-to-day life down in Florida!
Getting ready for lunch after a long swim at the beach.
SHOP THE LOOK
After lunch and a nap, walking with my little gal Amelia. She loves looking at flowers on the island.
SHOP THE LOOK
Getting ready for date night, after walking and more swimming at the beach.
SHOP THE LOOK
"The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into autumn - the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change." — Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
It's that time, swans — the time it always is (oh! change) but sometimes, like a frog in a pond, that time is clearer to see.
Shells, strawberries, snakes, spiders — a gathering in bandana form to celebrate the soft swirling skies of summer's end. Like the sweetness of summer, this offer won't last forever. But (always a but), after every end comes a new beginning.
This limited edition bandana is 100% cotton, produced in the US and printed in Brooklyn, New York. The custom illustration is by Jasmine from our design team.
The bandanas are 100% cotton and we recommend washing on cold water and to hang dry.
Natasha Pickowicz is a pastry chef & writer based in Brooklyn. We spent the day with Natasha and her cat Tini in their fuzzy-lawned Greenpoint backyard, as she prepared dinner for dinner with friends. Read on, reader, for a delightful bursting-with-summer interview complete with Natasha's favorite spots for martinis and french fries, and her ice cream dreams.
Describe your perfect day in Brooklyn.
Every morning, before the sun is too direct and the air is still cool, I’ll make a cup of coffee (pour over, Parlor) and go out back with my mug and check in on my garden. It’s my favorite part of the day, to see how everything grew a little bit more while I was sleeping. I’m growing some familiar-to-me-plants like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, kale, lettuces, arugula and herbs, and lots of more cheffy plants like Thai chiles, golden amaranth, tulsi, bronze fennel, and lemongrass. I take my time weeding and pruning and watching the bees and butterflies. If this is a perfect day we’re talking about, then I’ll have a book with me. I’ve been reading poetry by Li-Young Lee and Walt Whitman, poems about peaches and summer and “nature without check with original energy.”
I’ll cook something simple for myself for breakfast, like steamed rice and ponzu or buttered toast, wilted greens, braised beans and a big salad, and eat outside before the sun gets too strong. I always have a few quarts of iced mujicha (barley tea) ready to go. This to me is the flavor of summer. I eat and drink whatever I want at night, but for breakfast and lunch I try to keep things reasonable so I don’t get sluggish when I try to write. My weekly exception is the ipad-sized Darren Vito, this insane, crispy panino from Archestratus, my favorite bookstore in the world that is also an Italian cafe and market. This sandwich squishes together mortadella, roasted red peppers, caciocavallo, and a breadcrumb spread (what is a breadcrumb spread!). It’s divine. Half of one is a full meal for sure. On a perfect day in Brooklyn I am definitely eating that sandwich.
Then I am going for a walk, really taking my time, at least 6 or 7 miles but hopefully more like 9 or 11. Greenpoint to Roosevelt Island is only 3 miles, and I love walking up to Hunters Point, up the East river, cross over to Roosevelt Island, and then wind my way around the island, from the lighthouse to the Louis Kahn memorial, and then home. That’s a pretty perfect walk for a perfect day, the breezes and ocean spray coming off the river always feels so good. Then I’ll come home, or maybe stop first at Achilles Heel, Amber Steakhouse, or Chez Ma Tante for a few vodka martinis and french fries. Then, home, rub the soft grey belly of my kitty Tini, put on a few Simpsons episodes, catch up with my parents. That’s a perfect day for sure.
We chatted A LOT about ice cream while we were at your house - what is your favorite flavor to make?
Making ice cream is the number one pastry project that I miss the most from working in restaurants. I don’t have an ice cream machine at home so whenever I have a Never Ending Taste pop-up I look forward to writing the ice cream part of the menu the most.
In the summer, I’ll steep dairy with the fresh, bright flavors of herbs like lemon verbena, anise hyssop, and Thai basil. Lately, I’ve been playing around a lot with using the leaves from fruit trees, which have their own, subtle flavors and, depending on the time of the year, are easy to score in abundance. The fresh, new leaves from peach and fig trees impart a subtle tropical, coconutty, almondy essence to dairy, fat and sweets in general. I also love super rich ice cream flavors, like black sesame, Adzuki bean, and hazelnut, and very bright, tart sorbet flavors, like roasted plum, unstrained strawberry, and bracing citrus like Yuzu. And also nothing is really better than vanilla bean.
My “unicorn” ice cream flavors are coffee (I can never get it as intense or rich or as coffee as I want) and melon (fruit like cantaloupe and honeydew are often so subtle that adding sugar and serving them cold ruins their delicate notes). Someday I will figure these flavors out and be proud of them.
How has your approach to baking changed since you started Never Ending Taste?
Because it’s so ephemeral and comes together so quickly, with very little money, staffing, space, and any other resources, Never Ending Taste really makes me appreciate being in the moment with my work—I’m still learning to relax my own expectations for everything to be “perfect” and “dialed in,” which was something that was always drilled into me when I was working in fancy restaurants, and lean into the side of me that wants to be bigger and bolder and more messy and lush. The pop-ups allow me to be more playful with plating and presentation and to also take advantage of hyper-seasonal ingredients like red currants and donut peaches. In a restaurant setting, often the recipe testing process for developing a new dish can take so long, an ingredient will be available and then disappear before I have a chance to even sell the dish!
The customers who buy pastries from me are the sweetest, coolest, best people, and I think their positivity reinforces that I should keep going. It’s just a slice of cake, in a paper boat, maybe a little lopsided, but totally made from scratch and with love. In that sense, doing the pop-up helped me revisit why I love pastry so much. It’s a chance to connect with other people.
What is your first baking memory?
As my parents LOVE to remind me, when I was little I was obsessed with baking the cornbread from the Jiffy box (I think you just add milk and an egg!) for our Thanksgiving feast every year. I think it was my way of “contributing” to the meal so I always felt super proud. I love those box mixes—they still give you the sense of accomplishment that only baking can do! My boyfriend has a good brownie box mix hack—he adds mezcal and fernet to the batter, which adds smokiness and big flavor.
Many of your bake sales have a giving component! Can you tell us a little bit about the organizations you work with and how your partnerships came to be?
Organizing the bake sales really revealed a lot to me about the role pastry plays in my life and the kind of person I want to be. The bake sale is full of joy and connection and ease. They’re so FUN. It’s people coming together over sweets after all. There’s something very approachable about cookies on a paper plate. Everyone can participate. It felt really important to me to have a way to connect with people in a pastry context without relying on the fancy, old-school models of “fine dining” which I actually think can be really alienating and exclusive.
I have been building my relationships with local organizations for years. For me, that means getting to know the people that work there. Being a part of their programming in some way. Spending time on their property. Tying in their mission into my pop-ups. In this way, I’m on the Culinary Council at God’s Love We Deliver, and the Industry Advisory Board at the Food Education Fund. I also have a really special relationship with the amazing team at the Teaching Kitchen at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, which I first encountered when I was working at the Met Breuer and was trying to see what was on the Upper East Side outside of fancy fashion boutiques and mansions. And of course, it was such an honor to fundraise over $125,000 for the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York via the bake sales I organized from 2017 to 2019. Allying with these organizations gives my work meaning and reaffirms my love of pastry. I don’t think I’d still be in pastry if it weren’t for these kind of relationships.
What is always in your fridge / kitchen?
Fizzy water, barley tea, oolong tea, Parlor coffee. Hummus, cheese, eggs, tortillas, cabbage, and about 10-12 jars of jam from different places at any given time (right now my favorites are from June Taylor and Camilla Wynne, probably the two best jam makers in North America if you ask me!). Natural wine from my boyfriend’s wine shop, Radicle Wine. Ketchup. Peas, Vodka, bread scraps, roti, butter in the freezer.
I also keep a lot of my baking staples in the freezer so they don’t spoil, like nuts, flours, leaveners, and yeast. I buy most of my “everyday” groceries from Archestratus, which is amazing because Archestratus is really a bookstore. I buy ground pork, whole chickens, Parmesan, ricotta, flawless vegetables (the cucumbers! The basil! If you know, you know) from Bodhitree Farm, the sesame sourdough from She Wolf. Archestratus also sells a great range of Gustiamo imports, so I stock up on Iasa hot peppers, dried beans, Italian rice and barley, and liter cans of olive oil. When I was working full-time in restaurants, I rarely ate any meals at home, let alone three meals a day. Building out my pantry and refrigerator to be full and ready to go at all times has been one of the more satisfying developments of my 2021 life.
Can you please tell us about your excellent eye makeup!
I have naturally very short, fine, and straight Chinese eyelashes, and I’ve probably been doing the same winged eyeliner shape for at least 15 years now, which is crazy. I should mix it up! I’ll do a few pumps with an eyelash curler, then black pencil, then I paint in the wing tip with liquid eyeliner so the point looks crisp, then a few coats of mascara. I think all the products I have right now are L’Oreal, but I love Chanel mascara too. And that’s it, no other makeup. Lots of moisturizer and sunscreen, of course.
Who would you love most to bake for (living or otherwise) and what would you bake for them?
I’ve already baked for Ina Garten, so I can cross that one off my list, haha. I love to bake a big, weird layer cake festooned with flowers and plants for Kate Bush.
Natasha's Guide to Brooklyn (& beyond)
295 Grand Street
Chez Ma Tante
90 Calyer St
(Long Island City) 5-48 49th Ave
(Manhattan) 430 E. 9th St
119 Nassau Ave
Giando on the Water
400 Kent Ave
80 Wythe Ave
732 Manhattan Ave
180 West St
Markets & Grocery
160 Huron St
(Manhattan) 123 Lexington Ave
(Manhattan) 104 Avenue B
(Manhattan) 163 W. 10th St
(Manhattan) 102 3rd Ave
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Diana, atop Madison Square Garden
"For a short while the highest point of the New York skyline was marked by a girl standing on tiptoe. At night she was also the brightest point, the focus of 66 incandescent lamps and ten spotlights, at a time when there was little electric light in the city. During the day, the sun detonated her gilded surface and she ‘flashed against a green-blue sky’, as Willa Cather described it in My Mortal Enemy." — Diana of the Upper Air, Lavinia Greenlaw
Reader, read it! So very, very good. Like a gust of cool breeze, the sort that would have sent Diana spinning.
The Catbird Giving Fund is so proud to support Kurandza in honor of our new collection with artist Cassi Namoda. Kurandza is a grassroots nonprofit based in Mozambique that provides holistic schooling for over 200 girls and counting! When you give a girl an education, she’s more likely to earn a higher income, provide healthcare and opportunities for her family, and send her own daughters to school someday, breaking the cycle of poverty. This is why empowering girls within their own community has always been one of Catbird Giving Fund's primary areas of focus. Below is the story of Kurandza through founder Elisabetta Colabianchi.
What originally brought you to Mozambique?
In 2014 I joined the Peace Corps and my first assignment brought me to a rural village in Mozambique where I volunteered in the maternal and infant health department at the hospital, Centro de Saúde of Guijá. My work there included counseling HIV+ women on the prevention and transmission to their babies. While I was there I fell in love with the people, the lifestyle and honestly everything about the country and from there I became very integrated into the community. In addition to learning the national language of Portuguese, I loved learning the local language (Changana) and building strong friendships with many of the women in the community, which then inspired me to continue working and living there.
Kurandza originally started as a sewing cooperative in Mozambique. Can you elaborate on how its focus has evolved over time?
We started as a sewing cooperative, but because of our grassroots approach, we’re able to shift with the community needs. In 2016, the drought and hunger crisis hit Mozambique. This propelled us to bring our first campaign to life, raising enough funds to give food aid to a select group of HIV+ women and their families as well as all the women in the sewing cooperative. From this we started envisioning the real possibilities of bringing the community together. Over the years, we assessed the differences between short-term fixes and long-term impact, and we began to recognize that the earlier a girl receives support in her life, the more sustainable her growth, development, and community impact will likely be. And so, we shifted our focus to education. We began with the sponsorship of Lindsey Brianna, and in just three months, she was counting in English, reciting poetry in Portuguese, and had a newfound curiosity about the world around her. In the fall of 2017, we launched the first #IStandForGirls campaign with the goal of sending 100 girls to school. This was the start of Kurandza as we know it today. Since then, we have witnessed the transformative power of education and focused our efforts on providing scholarships, resources, and psychosocial support to all of our students.
How many students does the program sponsor currently and across what education levels does the program span?
Currently we have 200 girls and 5 boys enrolled in our program spanning from preschool through high school. Next month we will launch our partnerships with students at local universities who will come on as interns with Kurandza--serving as “mentor leaders” for the girls in our new mentorship program.
Kurandza takes a holistic approach to each student’s education. Can you talk a bit about what that entails?
Since the start of our girls education program, we’ve come to realize that education involves much more than just school attendance. It’s about access to all of the tools that allow and support someone to actually become educated. To be at the same level as the other students begins with a uniform, but it also includes reliable and safe transportation, proper school supplies like rulers and protractor sets, art materials, textbooks, notebooks, and pencils. Additionally, it involves holistic care, which means helping with the social aspects of their lives, too, since social and home situations are often strongly correlated with academic performance. We take special care with the most at risk girls who are HIV+, pregnant, or dealing with abuse or malnutrition, and offer counseling, mentorship, and social support for all 200 girls in our program, with the long-term goal of supporting the girls through high school, and going on to reach their full potential.
How has the pandemic affected Kurandza’s efforts and the student’s education?
The pandemic has widened the literacy gap globally, especially in the rural villages where we do most of our work. With the schools closed for over a year, we have seen a decline in the girls’ literacy, but now that the lockdown is over, we are finally able to implement our literacy workshops to get the girls back up to the national standard level pre-Covid. A year out of the classroom has also caused a significant increase in the dropout and teen pregnancy rates. In an effort to provide extra support and counseling to these girls, we’ve brought on additional team members who also serve as the impetus to start our waterfall-model mentorship program. Our newest Kurandza team members are part of the 1% of Mozambican women to graduate college, and will be working alongside local college students, acting as mentor leaders for the high school mentors, who will then be placed in groups of 10 younger girls (mentees)-- with each generation guiding the next.
What are you envisioning for the future of Kurandza?
I’m excited about the future of Kurandza! This year has been a year of renewal and transformation, growing our leadership team in Mozambique, and strengthening our programs. I’m looking forward to continuing to build out our mentorship program by involving more women leaders and together creating the next generation of female leaders in Mozambique. Heading towards 300 girls, this year we want to support even more girls in the community, and in the long-term we have dreams of developing a leadership academy and curriculum.
On the US side, we’re looking forward to cultivating community and building relationships with aligned individuals and companies, so that we can work together towards this shared vision. Together is always better!
What is one of your favorite success stories?
The first story that came to mind is 10-year-old Ayanda. She was one of the first babies I met after arriving in Mozambique 10 years ago. When we started our girls education program in 2017, Ayanda was in the founding group of girls as a first grader. Her mother, Gelar, like many of the women in the village, never had access to education like Ayanda does, and knew her daughter deserved to have more opportunities in life. Ayanda was initially so apprehensive about going to school 4 years ago. She was afraid and wasn’t used to seeing other people in her family or her sphere of influence attending school. But once she received her very own uniform and backpack full of school supplies, she gained confidence and purpose in attending school. She is now one of the girls who is always excited and happy to attend school, and she has one of the best attendance records of all the girls in our program. Seeing her flourish has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me.
Where do you look for motivation and inspiration?
I get motivated to push through the difficulties when I see how much this work means to our team in Mozambique (and the US). Our team works day and night to help empower girls to have a say in their future, and they constantly encourage me to keep on working towards our shared vision. Talking with the girls and hearing about their progress also empowers me, because it shows me that we are making a tangible difference and that this work matters. I’m also constantly inspired by the creative community of women I’ve met on Instagram :)
Shop our collection with Cassi Namoda
I'm a longtime admirer of Stacey Nishimoto and her emphasis on elegance, ease, open and quixotic specificity, vulnerability, and the beauty of every day. I've been screenshotting her posts on Instagram for as long as I can remember using Instagram (a mixed blessing, that IG, but oh the glory of peeking into lives!), and I'm so thrilled to work with her and say that Catbird is her first retail account.
What is your first jewelry memory?
My first jewelry memory was watching Dynasty. Jewels that matched the actual dresses worn seared through my tiny brain.
What does jewelry mean to you?
Jewelry means everything to me. Although I own a few key pieces, I wear them carefully daily. Jewelry holds energy. When I slip on a large stone on my finger or a delicate gold chain on my neck, it literally elevates my soul. I feel like jewelry acts like an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence, it does the same thing to my outfit no matter how casual the outfit is.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I find divine inspiration in music, vintage interior books, random people who I come across in my life that become my muses, my city, Los Angeles.
How do you like to wear your jewelry?
I am a minimalist and a maximalist. I switch back and forth with moods. I like to wear one giant ring. Other days I layer with delicate sensual yellow gold. I also like to wear jewelry unexpectedly, for example I like to wear my pearl choker casually like with an old oversized t-shirt.
Can you share with us a challenge in bringing your (very singular) vision to life?
Honestly the biggest challenge is that I am self-funded so I have to carefully release pieces that are without time. Pieces that you could wear easily three years later. My brain is bursting with ideas that I wish I could pour out into the world. I don’t want to clutter the world with a bunch of products regardless, everything I put out will always be practical and forever. Hopefully one day I will be a full on fashion house representing the raw beauty of my world in Los Angeles, the city of angels.
Do you take your jewelry off at night? Leave it on? We know that you are a bather (oh, Instagram!), do you wear jewels in the tub?
I bathe with gold. But anything that has a stone I take off :)
Take us through a perfect day in LA.
A perfect day in LA starts with an iced espresso and a chorizo and potato burrito with a side of pickled carrots and jalapenos. Then heading to the beach with a bottle of chilled amber wine and poké and basking under the beautiful California sun. Night capping at a crazy friend's house in Echo Park.
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Writer, vintage lover, strawberry admirer: meet Lauren! We met Lauren at our inaugural book club meeting, held last year at our Soho shop. More book clubs, more of our Soho shop to come, but until then, let's join Lauren as she wears Catbird (and some excellent dresses) with great aplomb and joie de vivre.
A passion we share with Lauren: baskets. Oh, and stacks, so many fine and good ring stacks!
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A Full Heart a Baby Pearl Collar, rings rings and more rings, and a boyfriend are Lauren's boon companions for a walk to get some matcha at Secret Garden.
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Before heading out to dinner with a friend (the delight of doing this again!) Lauren has a little moment with a Gumball Ring, the Portraiture Pearl Earrings, a sprig of goldenrod, and an expertly-applied cat eye.
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