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Summer Essentials

It’s mid July.

Correction: I CAN’T BELIEVE it’s mid July. 

Per usual, the summer is absolutely flying by and I am starting to realize that autumn is going to be here before we know it! How does this happen every year?

With each passing summer day, I have come to realize there are just some items I cannot live with out. This summer, my must-haves include a few absolute essentials and also items that have simply grown on me with each sweltering day.

First, I’ve fallen in love with roll-up beach hat by Scala. Adriane is sporting it below. I love how this even accommodates her top knot bun which is necessary for sticky summer nights.

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I took this baby to the Hamptons and it was the perfect beach accessory. What makes this sun hat extra useful is that it literally ROLLS UP and can be fastened with it’s attached elastic band. When it’s rolled up it is pretty compact so it fits nicely into a small beach bag. It also doesn’t wrinkle! I’ve had a problem with beach hats in the past- trying to shove them into my already overpacked beach bag- only to find they are wrinkled with absolutely no shape once I get to the beach! For $24 … you just can’t beat it.

My next two summer essentials are a package deal and I don’t think I’ve gone even ONE day without wearing them.

1. My gold Mantra Band

2. My custom made bracelet-ring-combo

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Joe had the amazing bracelet-ring-combo made for me in the diamond district in New York, so unfortunately you can’t buy this exact style – which I completely love. It’s dainty and understated, making it the perfect accessory with casual poolside outfits all the way to LBD nights on the town. You can however, buy similar versions all over the internet, including here on ETSY

The mantra band I received for my birthday from my friend Jennifer. I love how it pairs with my bracelet-ring-combo. My dad always said “follow your bliss” to me and my sis when we were growing up so the ‘mantra’ really hits home. Mantra Band has DOZENS of other saying and types. All can be found HERE

 

Another item I’ve become attached to are these Steve Madden sandals sold at Nordstrom. When I was in LA for work I realized the sandals I was wearing around Santa Monica were KILLING my back. Apparently the soles of my sandals were WAY to thin. My friend Jennifer (the same gal that gave me my Mantra Band!) suggested these Steve Madden sandals and holy moly I feel such a difference! The extra thick sole gives amazing support for walking around New York City. I went ahead and got them in black AND brown I am so happy I did! 

Summertime sunshine can be a beast. My next summer essential is (obviously) my new favorite pair of sunglasses. I’m all about saving money here and there but when it comes to every day essentials you gotta spring a lil’ for them. So dropping a hundred (and change) on sunglasses is OK. My Ray-Bans are in my bag every. single. day. I like that they are a little unique with muted purple sides.

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(Pictured in the lenses reflection- my keys, a bag from Muji, and a sweetgreen tea!)

These are the Ray-Ban New Wayfarer BioColor glasses. You can get them in a variety of mix and match colors!

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Last, but certainly not least, is my SKIN’S summer essential: Protect and Prefect by Josie Maran Cosmetics. We’re obviously lucky that Adriane works for Josie Maran and can always score a great deal on her product. However, the Protect and Perfect retails for just $36 and when you consider all that it does, it’s quite a steal!

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I apply this to my face every day. It acts as my sun screen because it’s contains SPF 47 and it ALSO acts as a light BB cream of sorts. With this, you have tinted coverage. AKA: It hinds your flaws while protecting your skin. Amaze.

As I wrote this post I realized I have so many summer essentials I just can’t live without but who has the time to write them ALL in one post? I think I smell a “Part 2” post coming soon! Happy summer!!

CK

the stunning final result!

I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

It goes without saying us Kissters are always the first in our friend group to suggest a summer party. The weather is warm, you can drink copious amounts of rosé, eat grilled meats, and veggies and dip til the sun goes down.

The stressful aspect of throwing a party is making sure all your ducks are in a row by the time guests show up. There’s the mixing of drinks, making sure you have enough ice on hand, and food is SUPER important.

We have the most delicious dip recipe below using Chobani Greek Yogurt and just 3 other fresh ingredients – and you are going to be IN LOVE with the way this turns out. The biggest bonus of all – it takes 5 minutes to whip up and tastes absolutely gourmet!

Also, if it really is an impromptu party that you’re throwing, you may not even have time for food prep! We are obsessed with the super healthy Chobani Mezé Dips they’ve come out with just in time for summer parties. I am partial to the Chili Lime Dip and Claudia can’t get enough of the Roasted Red Pepper. Just grab some pre-cut veggies and pita chips and you’re good to go.

We have some fun tips Chobani sent our way too, to throw a stress-free summer party!

SKINNY GREEK FETA & CUCUMBER DIP 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups plain non fat Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, diced small
  • 1/4 white onion, diced small
  • 1 saltless teaspon spice blend like Mrs. Dash
  • pinch of black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently. Let chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving so that flavors can develop. Serve with pita chips and veggies.

 

And now, introducing these delicious party tips from Chobani!

 

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AK

10 Summer Reads that Transport You

Sometimes I wish my summer involved more beach time and less time sitting in New York City traffic (or standing in the pedestrian traffic!) but the whole point of a good summer book is to transport you into a whole other world! I like to think that you can be on top of a majestic mountain or in an uncomfortable chair at the DMV.. and either way.. if the book is good, you get to escape!

I wanted to put together a list of new books I’m into, and some summer classics that I can’t recommend highly enough. Admittedly, the ‘classics’ on my list have all been read through multiple summers!

1.) Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

New York City and Hollywood in the 1940’s through the 60’s. Pills, stardom, falls from stardom, comebacks, infidelity, and so many more pills. It’s the very definition of a page turner.

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From the 1967 film adaptation of Valley of the Dolls

 

2.)  Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This work that Fitzgerald himself considered to be his best, takes place in the south of France in the 1930’s. Fitzgerald lived there and writes beautifully about the scenery and beaches he knew so well.

3.)  Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

I can’t describe this book any more eloquently than goodreads.com:  ‘It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village.’ Um, yes please.

4.)  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This will definitely be a side of Ernest Hemmingway you’ve never seen before! The novel explores his life, love, and career through the eyes of his first wife Hadley Richardson. Also .. Paris in the 1920’s…

5.)  Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Sure, I’m sure you’ve heard of Emily Giffin if you don’t live under a rock – but OH MY GOODNESS is this a juicy summer read. I swear you’ll finish in an afternoon and wish that you could start it all over again from the beginning.

6.)  Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I’m still working on this one so please, no spoilers! The novel begins just off the Italian Coast in 1962 – there are colorful portraits of Old Hollywood stars, there’s romance of course.. and again, Italy + Hollywood, 1962.

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Beautiful Ruins

7.)  Forever by Pete Hamill

This book will ‘forever’ change the way you look at New York City. Hell, it will even change the way you look at the world. I’ve never read something so compelling, so spell-binding in my life. I think Amazon describes it best without offering up any spoilers:  ‘This widely acclaimed bestseller is the magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains … forever.’

8.) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Oh yes, THAT classic. It really holds up to the test of time! You’ll be transported back to France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean in the 1800’s. Love, betrayal, vengeance, and everything else that makes this so great is wedged within its pages.

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The Count of Monte Cristo

9.)  Atonement by Ian McEwan

The novel begins during a sweltering summer day in 1935 in the Surrey Countryside. There is so much love, betrayal, and injustice in this book and is so beautifully written you’ll think you were experiencing all of it. Just a warning – if you don’t feel weeping openly on the beach in front of others, maybe wait ’til you’re home alone.

10.)  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

OK I haven’t read this but I am so eager to! Actually walking myself to Barnes and Noble now after I finish this post! Per the New York Times: ‘In this epic novel, set in France in World War II, two sisters who live in a small village find themselves estranged when they disagree about the imminent threat of occupation. Separated by principles and temperament, each must find her own way forward as she faces moral questions and life-or-death choices. Haunting, action-packed, and compelling.’

 

AK

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Hamptons- Home Away from Home

While Adriane spent her 4th of July weekend across the country, sipping wine and eating well- I too took trip, just a little closer to home!

Joe and I decided to be as cliché as possible this weekend by taking a trip most New Yorkers take on a long weekend.  We packed up our little convertible, and headed out to the Hamptons to celebrate the 4th of July! Joe and his business partner have a room in a house-share right in the (amazing!) town of Bridgehampton.

To my surprise, the traffic out for the 4th of July was not too horrible and we made it door-to-door in just under 3 hours!

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After touring the house and settling in, we quickly gathered ourselves and headed down the road to check out Wolffer Estate Vineyard. I had been dying to check out the Estate ever since Joe brought home THIS rosé a few weeks ago! It has become my favorite rosé. The only problem is, I drink it way too quickly!

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Day 2 we learned the hard way that Hamptons beaches (at least in Bridgehampton)  are super-duper hard to enjoy as non-residents! We packed up our car early Saturday morning and took a BEAUTIFUL drive to a small beach on Bridgehampton near Ocean Drive. Because we are non-residents we were not able to park and didn’t want to risk a ticket- or worse- getting towed!

So we headed bak to the house and came up with Plan B – a trip to Montauk for the day (and night!) Again, we packed up the car with the intention to stay out in Montauk for the rest of the evening.

At the first stop of the day, we found ourselves at The Montauk Beach House. Such a fun scene inside this quaint (yet sleek) hotel. Here, we sipped on a few (eh- several) cocktails and watched party-goers pour in, eventually creating a full-blown pool party.

After The Montauk Beach House, we met up with friends and headed over to Navy Beach. I couldn’t tell you what we drank (probably rosé), or what we ate, but I DO remember this is where I saw the most beautiful sunset of my LIFE. Hands. Down.

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Now THAT is a sunset.

The 4th of July, our last day on Long Island, we again packed up our little car and drove out to Monauk. We had made reservations to spend the whole day at Gurneys– the most picture perfect oceanfront resort!

The skies were blue and the sun was hot. Joe and I opted to start the day with Pina Coladas- somewhat of a tradition for us. Anytime we go on vacation, we always have 2 Pina Coladas as our first drink(s)! A nice cold frozen Pina Colada just ‘screams’ vacation and really puts you in the mindset to unwind and relax. Not to mention, they are damn delicious. Tip: don’t think about the calories.

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After a long day on the beach, and the afternoon at the bar, we headed up to Scarpetta Beach, a restaurant at Gurney’s overlooking the ocean. Not sure which was better- the food or the view?

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We had to rush through dinner in order to make it to fireworks on the beach, but we succeeded and made it down just in time to see the very first firework light up the sky!

It was beautiful. I also realized this was my first 4th of July watching fireworks on a BEACH, with sand beneath my toes.

I’m glad we jam-packed so much into this Hamptons trip. Now, when we go back I’ll have my favorite bars, restaurants, and places to watch sunsets (ahem – Navy Beach)!

Til’ next time, Hamptons.

CK

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When in Napa

After a glorious three days in Calistoga, California followed by a whirlwind Fourth of July in San Francisco, I’ve decided it’s imperative I find a way to make a living eating really great fresh food and tasting wine. Or at least make enough income to do this trip again, ASAP!

Our family has always had close ties to San Francisco and the Napa Valley – it has been really wonderful to be able to get back there as much as possible. We stayed with my close family friends the Gilmores. Marlys Gilmore who turned 80 this year, is by far the best cook I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining with. She also does simple so well – like fresh fruit and toast for breakfast – what more do you need?

While serving as sous-chef to Marlys, I was even able to show her a little Kisster-hack I’d read about.. Did you know that you can stop your eyes from watering while chopping a red onion by putting a piece of bread in your mouth?! You look silly (and it’s hard not to chew the good bread) but it really works!

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Of course, I needed to get in a quick run each morning in order to justify the movable feast that is Napa Valley. The scenery in the vineyards during the mornings is quite lovely. And would you believe that the temperature variance this time of year can be up to 40 degrees? That’s right, we’d hit 90F during the day and cool down to 50F at night, which gave me a lovely and refreshing morning run. The grapes love this temperature difference too.

A spot I cannot recommend highly enough is the artist’s residence of Carlo Marchiori. It’s called Villa Ca’Toga and is designed by the artist himself to look like an old Venetian Villa. He is also world-renowned for his incredible murals. The grounds too, transport you to a magical and ancient place.

After our lovely stay in Calistoga it was on to San Francisco, where I leave my heart each time I visit but it’s always there waiting for me when I get back. An Irish Coffee at the famous Buena Vista cafe has always been on my bucket list as it was a favorite spot of my mother’s in the 70’s and a fun place to take friends. Below is THE Buena Vista, and a classic San Francisco vista.

We were lucky enough too to be in San Francisco with friends for the Fourth of July celebrations. My friend Candy and her boyfriend are also excellent cooks and made us broiled salmon on the grill. I had to finish up my journey with an Uber back to the hotel – and will now sign off to campaign that New York begin installing fuzzy seatbelt covers in each taxi, amirite?

AK

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Westchester Family Weekend

I was back just a few days after my getaway to Mexico to do some laundry and re-pack my bags for a small weekend trip to Westchester, PA. Because Adriane’s hours are so crazy when she’s on air at QVC for Josie Maran Cosmetics, she rents a place in Westchester, PA. I absolutely adore her apartment there because it’s so spacious, clean, and relaxing. Compared to a small New York City apartment, it’s downright FANTASTIC, so I spend as much time here as possible. It’s just a 2 hour train ride from Penn Station so it makes for the ultimate weekend getaway.

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This past weekend Adriane and I thought would be a great time to have our dad up to relax and spend time with each other. That, we did.

Adriane’s place is just a short walk into downtown. I really love the downtown in Westchester and have always been impressed by the food, bar scene, and the overall vibes of the city.

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One of the best parts of a weekend getaways is eatin’ good. On Friday night Adriane and I took our dad out to dinner (just a week late!) for Father’s Day. We had dinner at Avalon and were pretty impressed with the menu selection and the service. We sat outside (with Jack) and enjoyed the fresh air and people watching. Adriane and I were even more pleased to find out they had gluten free options of both the pizza AND the pasta. I chose to get a gluten free Chicken Alfredo Pasta (pictured below-right) while Adriane ordered the gluten free Lamb Bolognese and dad got the Braised Veal Penne. MmmMMM good.

On Saturday we ran to the grocery store to score a few items to whip up and quick and easy dinner to enjoy at home. Adriane made the most refreshing summer salad of watermelon, tomato, and feta cheese. We paired that with potato salad (from the salad bar) on top of greens and Rotisserie chicken (meal pictured below- left). This meal was the perfect example of “assembling” a meal- my favorite thing to do! You don’t need to be a fancy chef to enjoy a healthy and semi-home cooked meal.

On Saturday around noon we jumped in the car and headed 20 minutes down the road to Grace Winery. What a property. The original farmhouse dates back to 1734 . The ambiance was so relaxing and quaint. I just know our mom would have loved it there.

The three of us split a wine tasting, which included about 7 wines and a Sangria. After the tasting, Adriane and I picked to do a glass of our favorite from the tasting. My favorite was the first white, a Pinot Gris. Adriane’s glass of choice was a red blend called the 1734.

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Excited to come back again to Grace Winery to take a tour of the whole compound… and of course to taste a few more wines!

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Tulum, Mexico- When Can We Go Back?

Viva la Mexico!

Four glorious days and 73 bug bites later, I’ve got to say our quick get-away to Tulum, Mexico was a great success. Mucho bueno.

I had never been to Mexico before, and didn’t really know what to expect. Joe and I had family and friends tell us that Tulum was the place to go because it has an excellent mixture of relaxation and mini-adventures. They were right.

We stayed at The Beach Hotel in Tulum. Staying at The Beach Hotel was the best decision we’ve ever made.  The staff was exceptional, making us feel both important and respected, but also just like one of the gang!

Drive to hotel:

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A few of my favorite hotel features…

1. Two for one drinks every day from 4-6pm.

2. SWINGS at the bar.

3. Our hotel room opened up directly to our own private patio and the BEACH.

We didn’t have a whole lot of time for excursions but we DID make sure we went to The Tulum Ruins. The ruins were so incredible and only a short 10 minute cab ride from our hotel. The earliest date found in the site is A.D. 564. The entire time I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that we were standing among buildings that were WELL over 1,000 years old. Truly remarkable.

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Not to mention, the ruins were build right on the coast, so the views from the top were breath-taking.

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Back at the hotel…. I made a LOVELY new friend!

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Between our hotel and the amazing beach strip we stayed on, there was so much life and color every where we turned.

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Above are by far two of the the best quotes I’ve seen in a while.

“We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.” – E. Galemo

Yup.

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West Coast Vibes

B Floral sure knows how to travel.

Last week we spent a solid six sunny days in Los Angels to work on the annual OCRFA Super Saturday LA event. Our owner and lead designer, Bronwen Smith, is on the Board of Directors for OCRFA (Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance) and every year B Floral has the privilege of participating in the event- providing ALL of the florals- from the VIP tent to floral crown activations!

We started off the trip settling into our hotel, Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica. I’ve gotta say, office work is much more do-able when you’re sipping lemonade pool-side.

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Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica

We split up our time working between the flower market, Mayesh at LAX, and the hotel. When we weren’t working we were at the Santa Monica Pier. I’ve always loved going to the pier when visiting Santa Monica, and this time was even more fun as we were walking distance from the hotel!

Saturday, June 11th, was event day and we decked the Santa Monica Barker Hanger with all of our florals! A few hours later, the crowds poured in!

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The event was such a success! As always, what an amazing way to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance!

And since a trip isn’t a trip without noting the FOOD – I want to highlight a couple of amazing meals I had last week!

The first was a delicious breakfast at Shoops. I got the “power scramble” which was: egg whites scrambled with chicken, spinach, mushrooms, and mozzarella topped with fresh tomato and basil. The photo below doesn’t even do it justice. It was delish!

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Another divine meal we enjoyed in LA was at One Pico at Shutters on the Beach. Our boss’s assistant, Celia (my co-worker), did a great job organizing a huge team dinner that night. Many amazing dishes and epic speeches were enjoyed as the bubbly flowed!

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Looking forward to another epic LA work trip next year!!

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Kitchen Sink Mojitos

Our family has had the most challenging last two weeks – we lost Rhoda Kiss, our mother, David’s wife, and best friend. We are trying to keep up some sense of normalcy and order to this emotional chaos, so that brought my dad up to West Chester Pennsylvania this week. (This had originally been a trip planned for the two of them.)

I rent an apartment in the cute downtown area, and have slowly moved in over the past couple of months. But the place really needed to feel ‘lived in’ (i.e., art on the walls, green plants adorning the side tables.

As dads do, mine went right to work on fixing things that needed fixing, hanging pictures with razor-sharp focus and precision, and playing with my dog Jack who needs at least two humans going at full speed to wear the little guy out.

On day two of our many projects, we were winding down the day and it was almost dinner time. As a ‘Thank You’ for all of his hard work, I wanted to make us a refreshing cocktail so I looked to the fridge. What I had leftover from the week’s cooking and QVC propping was some mint, cucumber, and citrus. That combination just spoke to me:  MOJITOS. I am calling them ‘Kitchen Sink Mojitos’ because it feels like everything is in there.. but the kitchen sink!

Recipe is below, I hope you get to try these! Feel free to alter the recipe a bit to use up what you have in your fridge – strawberries, blueberries, peach, basil, rosemary; get creative!

Kitchen Sink Mojitos

2 ounces Simple Syrup (melt equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan.)

1 fresh lime, cut into small wedges

2 sprigs mint, plus extra for garnish

1/3 of a cucumber, very thinly sliced

4 ounces light rum

Club Soda (I had Pellegrino on hand, but Sprite or Seltzer would do fine too)

Ice

In two large glasses, divide up the mint, lime wedges, and cucumber. Pour 1 ounce of the simple syrup in each. With the back of a wooden spoon, muddle all ingredients until the mint and lime start to break apart. Pour in 2 ounces each light rum, and top with Club Soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Enjoy this refreshing treat with someone you love!

Spring Festival with B Floral & Carole Radziwill

Once or twice a year B Floral knocks the socks off of everyone and throws a truly special media / editor event. This season, with the help of London Misher and JPO Concepts, we threw a Coachella-inspired party complete with flower crowns, a makeup and braid bar by Glamsquad, and flash tattoos by Tattly.

The event was BEYOND a success and the cherry on top was that Carole Radziwill (Yes! Carole from Real House Wives of New York) co-hosted the event with our boss, Bronwen! So many amazing editors came (think: US Weekly, Good Housekeeping, PopSugar to name just a few).

I also got to bring a very special guest, my SIS, to help celebrate in all of the festivities.

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I was particularly cheesing this up because it was my BIRTHDAY!

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Outfit deets: Dress- Yumi Kim. Shoes- Jessica Simpson via Poshmark. Flower Crown- B Floral, duh!

The oh-so-amazing B Floral team:B+Floral+Bronwen+Smith+Bravo+TV+Carole+Radziwill+sEYQNyDoUVOl-1

All images: Getty/ Astrid Stawiarz

XOXO