A Pop of Red

As you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (@kellydonlin) I went to a black tie gala last week.  Treking in the snow was not going to be ideal for any of the 400+ attendees but since we had bought tickets, dresses, tuxes, and marked the date on our calendar we were going to make it to the gala!  Thinking about the weather did lead me to a pair of shoes I don’t wear often, red suede pumps with lacquered heels. I do not know when or where I got these but I have a funny feeling my mom picked them up for me a few years ago. 

Red Suede Shoes

From all of the photographs I have seen from Friday evening it does not seem that any of them capture my red shoes but trust me, they were there!  And since a few people had asked, I got dressed up for the Third Annual Emerald-Tie Gala which was hosted at Capitale. The Emerald Tie Gala benefits Hark Society’s Passion Project – a grant program providing kids the opportunity to pursue their passions – and will help grow Hark Society’s volunteer programs. The non-profit was started by two of my Georgetown classmates and I never turn down a chance to party for a great cause! 

Hark Society Gold and RedHark Soceity GalaRed and Gold

The party was so much fun and me and my red shoes danced the night away. And because there is no better way to illustrate just how crazy the evening got, this video from my Snapchat story should sum it up, a 360 degree view of the middle of the dance floor at 12:30am: 

So while no photographs captured the pop of red in my shoes I knew they were there and in the dark room that is all that matters.  PS. Today is my half birthday and I will keep up my childhood tradition will get an ice cream to celebrate. 

Happy Friday! 

Tips for Throwing a Party in a Small Apartment

A few days ago I was speaking with my mom and I told her that my 6th Annual Classy Cocktail party is coming up in a few weeks.  She immediately asked me what I was planning on serving and she seemed a bit surprised that I had not even thought about that yet.  With the busy lives my friends lead, especially going into wedding season, picking a day that everyone would be able to attend was much tricker than nailing down what to make. While I am thinking a sparkly cocktail and definitely a melted brie appetizer one thing I do have down is how to throw a party in a small apartment.

Small Apartment Party

Even if your home is a little bit cramped, it does not mean that you cannot host a fun party with your friends and family. Whether you live in a studio or 1-bedroom apartment, you can definitely throw a Thanksgiving gathering or, even a formal dinner party, as long as you organize your belongings and create a proper plan. Here are four useful tips on how to host a great party in a small space.

1. Remove the Clutter

The good thing about hosting a special gathering in a tight apartment is that you do not need have to clean a large area. However, this can also be quite problematic because you do not have a ton of storage space for tucking away all your personal belongings. If you have a bath tub, consider yourself lucky. You can actually use your tub to store your magazines, extra shoes, and other trinkets or decorations that will consume too much space.  When I lived in a two-bedroom apartment we would move furniture into the bedrooms to create more space in the living room and also store coats on the beds. In a studio, thought, it can be tricky because there is nowhere to hide.  Friends who had not yet been to my apartment were surprised at how much room I had – truth be told I took my oversized coffee table, flipped it on it’s side, and put it in the back of my closet so all of my friends would have room to mingle. 

2. Set the Temperature 

In the summer in New York City that means jacking the air conditioning to the coolest setting it will allow hours before the party to give the room time to cool down but I haven’t thought of the a/c in months.  Oftentimes, the party season begins once the holiday season kicks in and even with a small apartment, you will be amazed at how cold your place can be once the snow starts to fall. Make sure that you have a handy space heater so that your guests will feel cozy and toasty warm throughout the night, I have two! These electric heating systems are ideal for cramped small spaces because they efficiently spread warmth. 

Sparkles and Shoes 2nd Birthday - Funfetti Dip with Animal Crackers

3. Make Snacks Accessible 

As a rule of thumb, avoid serving “messy” food, especially with my baby blue carpet.  I have found it is best to opt for snacks that do not require a large plate like chips, cheese & crackers, sliced fruit, and other finger food.  From years of hosting parties I have learned more people will enjoy the food if it not just in one corner of the kitchen - make the food accessible by placing a plate of snacks on the side table, tv stand, or some other flat surfaces available. That way, guests will always have something to eat, no matter where they are. For my blog’s 2nd Birthday Party in August I made Funfetti dip and placed it on my dresser – it was a great hit! 

4. Vary the Drink Selection  

Because I like white wine, bubbly, and vodka based cocktails I have a tendency to think my friends all like the same but when planning parties it is important to consider the attendees. I know all of my girl friends will not turn down a glass of champagne or Prosecco but that after that most will switch to Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio in the summer and Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon in the winter.  The guys, at least my friends, are easy the want a choice of craft beer and usually some type of whisky. I always like to have mixers that double as non-alcoholic options, Coke, Diet Coke, tonic, and seltzer along with a signature cocktail for the party. 

5. Create the Playlist 

Of course, no party will be fun without some background music. Make sure that you create a playlist that is in-line with the theme of the party. For my blog’s birthday I had a mix of the summer’s hottest songs, a few 90′s favorites, and a little bit of hip-hop but every get together is different!  A small dinner party needs light and cozy tunes, while large gatherings may require a more upbeat playlist. 

 What are your tips for throwing a party in small apartment? 

Tortoise Shell Sunglasses

Tortoise Shell Sunglasses 01

First off? How stunning is that first photo?  Can someone please take me there right now?  Second, it is officially Spring.  I feel odd typing those words because this winter has honestly seemed like it was never going to end and truth be told, it hasn’t.  When you still need thermal gloves for your morning commute it is not Spring, I do not care what the calendar says.  And to make it worse one of my friends mentioned that this winter has been the warmest global winter in history, well New York City did not get the memo. 

Let’s ignore that for a moment and dive right into my favorite trend right now, tortoise shell sunglasses and how these effortlessly chic girls styled theirs: 

Tortoise Shell Sunglasses 05 Tortoise Shell Sunglasses 02 Tortoise Shell Sunglasses - Olivia PalermoTortoise Shell Sunglasses Grace WainwrightTortoise Shell Sunaglasses 03Tortoise Shell Sunglasses 04 Tortoise Shell Sunglasses - Miranda Kerr

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

If you saw in my wine and paint photos yesterday the sunglasses on top of my head, they are tortoise shell.  They are one of my favorite pairs and now that the sun is actually showing a chance of re-emerging for good I am excited to wear them much more frequently. These are my favorite tortoise shell sunglasses in a variety of shapes and at every price range. 

Sparkles and Shoes Tortoise Shell Sunglasses

Tortoiseshell Cat Eye Sunglasses  $8 | Dorothy Perkins Tortoise Clapham Sunglasses  $14

Banana Republic Hannah in Tortoise  $98 | Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer in Light Tortoise  $123

Jack Purcell Classic Sunglasses  $128 | Kate Spade Darryl Camel Tortoise Sunglasses  $145

Michael Kors Key West Square $205 | Michael Kors Miranda Panama Square  $245 


What do you think of tortoise shell sunglasses? 

Wine and Paint

This past weekend I crossed another item off my 101 in 1001 list, #45 Take a wine and painting class, and it was so much fun!  I had mentioned to one of my coworkers a few weeks ago that there were quite a few things I wanted to cross off my list and she said she would like to take a wine and painting class too!   

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 07

In case you are not familiar there are evenings events hosted all over New York City (and I would guess other cities too) where you learn how to paint the featured canvas over a course of two hours while drinking copious amounts of wine.  Instead of a week night we decided to go at noon on Sunday so it would fit everyone’s schedule.

The tag line of Paint Nite is to Drink Creatively, which coming from someone who works in advertising, is quite a catchy tag line. I think if we had chosen an evening session we would have had a few glasses of wine but instead I enjoyed one glass of champagne over the course of our three hour class.  

The title of the piece of work we created was “Under the Red Tree” and was rated easy and I do have to say that was a bit of an understatement, I would definitely rate it medium skill level.  I had not painted since introduction to art my freshman year of high school so I had quite a bit of re-learning to do.  This is what we were supposed to be painting: 

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 03

One we saw the featured canvas we found our seats at Room 53, a piano bar and restaurant in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen.  We donned our green smocks and sat down to very blank  16”x20” canvases.  Armed with three brushes, which the instructor called papa, mama, and baby bear, and squirts of black, white, red, yellow, and blue acrylic paint we went to work.

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 01Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 02Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 04

I called the above step “Easter Egg” and the instructor got a good laugh. An hour into the class we took a break to let our colors dry before we started the next step and I decided I needed to switch from water to a glass of bubbly. 

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 05

And then back to painting. 

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 06Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 07Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 08Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 09

 The instructor mentioned that each person’s version of the tree would turn out differently but it was amazing to walk around the room and see 30 different variations of the same painting.  I did not realize until we were done that the hill the tree was supposed to be on and the green rolling hills in the background were left out on my painting and as one of my coworkers said, it looks like it is hanging out in the Ocean. Here is an example of the three of ours:

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 10

And finally me, with my finished painting: 

Wine and Paint - Paint Night - Under the Red Tree 11

Wine and paint was so much fun, I highly recommend it!