One Step Life Hack, DIY Smocks

One Step Life Hack DIY Smocks
Last night I had planned to put the finishing touches on my post about Sparkles & Shoes’ transition to WordPress; the good, the bad, and unanticipated but I got way too caught up in the DIY party decor for Sparkles and Shoes second birthday tomorrow! Yes, in case you missed it on social media, my blog turns two tomorrow.  Eek!  While the DIYs for the celebration were not particularly messy it did remind me of these smocks.  
Over the past year BuzzFeed has published a variety of lists on life-hacks that have gone viral including 37 Essential Life Hacks Every Human Should Know, 22 Impossibly Practical Life Hacks Everyone Should Try, and 16 Absurdly Simple Life Hacks That You Can Use Right Now.  You can find them here, here, and here
Well before BuzzFeed and before things went viral my my mom came up with a life hack that 20 plus years later I still use – a DIY smock. It is almost so simple I am hesitant to call it a DIY but it does, in fact, have one step.Mom would take my dad’s old button down dress shirts when they got a stain or were ready to be replaced and would put them in our craft pile. Before Kev or I went crazy with our project we would take one of Daddy’s shirts, put it on backwards, and roll the sleeves up. These shirts became the perfect smock. My brother and I loved these, for years and years!
 Granted, my art projects now a bit more advanced, like my wine cork “K” or these Pinterest projects but these dress shirt DIY smocks are still the way to go if you know you might be making a mess! 
 One Step Life Hack DIY Smocks - Kelly and Kevin
Do you have any one step DIYs? 

Do You Know Nick Brandt?

On one of my many Pinterest afternoons I came across an absolutely stunning sepia photograph of elephants.  Usually I would pin the shot to my photography board and continue on, but the image was so arresting that stopped and did some research on the photographer. That is when I learned about Nick Brandt.   The British photographer has been capturing the, “disappearing natural world of Africa” since 2000 and I am in awe.  

In the digital age I think it is refreshing that he takes all of his photos on medium format film, not digital “captures.  Having taken formal “old school” photography courses with a wind up camera and 35mm film and having gone through the painstaking process of developing my own shots in a dark room, which used to take days with acid baths and red light exposure, it makes me appreciate this method even more.  In Nick’s own words, ” The photos are my elegy to these beautiful creatures, to this wrenchingly beautiful world that is steadily, tragically vanishing before our eyes.” 

Looking through the hundreds of photos he has taken over the past 14 years I was reminded of my trip to Africa (here) and the photos I took, but they are no where near as breathtaking!   I tried to pick only ten but could not eliminate one from my eleven favorites so these are my top picks from his website, all images copyright of Nick Brandt:  

Elephant Train, Amboseli,  2008Nick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - RhinosNick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - elephants-walking-through-grass

 “To me, every creature, human or nonhuman, has an equal right to live, and this feeling,
this belief that every animal and I are equal, affects me every time I frame an animal in my camera.” – NB

Nick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - lionesses-readying-to-hunt-masai-mara-2008-photo-by-nick-brandtNick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - Elephants and RockNick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - Lioness with Cub

“I want to get a real sense of intimate connection with each of the animals – with that particular lion or elephant in front of me. I believe that being that close to the animal makes a huge difference in the photographers ability to reveal its personality. You wouldn’t take a portrait of a human being from a hundred feet away and expect to capture their spirit; you’d move in close.” – NB

Nick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - Zebra with GrassNick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - LionsNick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - ElephantsNick Brandt - Wildlife Photographer - Male and Female LionjpgNick-Brandt-Wildlife-Photographer-zebras-turning-heads He had an exhibit of his work in New York City in September 2013, seen here, and I am so sad I did not know of Nick sooner or I would have absolutely gone.  I really hope he and his beautiful photographs come back again soon as I would love to see them in person!

Now my big decision, which of his four books should be
the latest acquisition for my coffee table? 

Apartment Sneak Peek

At the end of June I moved in to a new apartment and for the past month have been ecstatic about my new place.  My friend Chris pointed out that this is the third apartment I have had since graduating and my friends Kyle asked if I was done moving around New York City yet.  Hopefully the answer is yes, to both.  I am in love with my studio apartment and while I am slowly buying things, doing DIY projects, and decorating here are five shots of my New York City studio!

Before the photos though, I feel like I need to preface them with the post that Nadine, from East & ,wrote  in March about the lies TV tells us about living rooms.  Her first point was about the size of the apartments usingThe New Girl and Friends as examples – based on the characters jobs the size of their apartments in the locations is utter ridiculousness.  If I have to hear one more time that my rent is more expensive then your mortgage in the suburbs – well, that is your choice and this is mine.  For the first time since high school I have a place all to myself and it is glorious.  I have had requests from blogging friends, family, and real life friends to see my apartment.  Well, it is a work and progress and even though it is not done yet, here is a sneak peek: 

Apartment Sneak Peak - Wine Cork K - Etsy Print - ShoesApartment Sneak Peak - Window BenchApartment Sneak Peak - Art Apartment Sneak Peak - ShoesApartment Sneak Peak - Keurig   

I promise to post more about my New York City studio shortly,
but until then, I hope you like it! 

My Favorite Easy Salmon Recipe

Sparkles and Shoes - Easy Salmon Reciepe - Six ingredients

This Easy Salmon Recipe is all three things I look for when trying a new reciepe – easy, delicious, and is sure to impress. Like the Peppermint Oreo Balls I made for my friends cookie party in the fall I tried this one out a home a few times before I made it for friends.

Living in New York City there are so many amazing things to do all of the time sometimes I need to remember making diner at home is okay and this is my new favorite way to cook my favorite fish. I usually have about 30 minutes after I get home to when I am absolutely starving and this salmon is always in its last few minutes of baked goodness by the time this hits. 

While salt and pepper may be the easiest way to prepare salmon this takes up a notch, a little notch, but hey, give me credit! I adapted this recipe from the original that I found here.  This most recent dish was the seventh or eight time I made it – you saw it two weeks ago when I served it with quinoa and Brussels sprouts and I also enjoy this easy salmon recipe with balsamic glazed asparagus. 

Sparkles and Shoes - Easy Salmon Reciepe - 6 IngredeintsSparkles and Shoes - Easy Salmon Reciepe - Drizzle Olive Oil_edited-1Sparkles and Shoes - Easy Salmon Reciepe _edited-1  


Easy Salmon Recipe
Serves 3
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 16 oz. filet of salmon
  2. 2 leek stalks
  3. 1/2 cup of parsley
  4. 3 tbs olive oil
  5. 1 lemon
  6. Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place in the salmon in a glass baking dish lined with tinfoil, skin down
  3. Lightly salt and pepper
  4. Chop the parsley and sprinkle the fish
  5. Wash both stalks of leeks and thinly chop them
  6. Drizzle with olive oil
  7. Squeeze juice of 1/2 of the lemon
  8. Bake for 20 minutes for medium rare, 23 minutes for medium*
  9. The leeks on top should be soft and nicely browned
  10. Serve with fresh lemon wedges
  1. * Time varies depending on cut of fish
Sparkles and Shoes

I love this easy salmon recipe and I hope you try it and let me know what you think!

An Afternoon at The Guggenheim

Fifth Ave View - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

Yesterday afternoon I spent two hours at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on a blate with Caroline of Perpetually Caroline.   Visiting the museum is on my 101 in 1001 list and I was excited I was able to do so  on a blogging date. We started off the date at brunch at 83 1/2 on the Upper East Side where we each enjoyed the Salmone Affumicato alla Benndiect, which I highly recommend, yum! 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York OutisdeTickets Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

While I love museums I really appreciated Caroline was  go-with the flow from the moment we walked in the door. As a rising senior at Stamford she was able to use her university ID and did not mind that I did as well, even though I have long since graduated.  We planned brunch and our afternoon to arrive at the Guggenheim for the 2pm tour.   Well, little did I know the “highlights” tour was actually the architecture tour. We listened to the first five minutes in the rotunda and when the tour guide brought the group outside into the 86°F  humid afternoon we simply did not follow.  

Before we bailed though we learned aew interesting facts about the Frank Lloyd Wright designed building:  the building is 100 feet high, 1/4 of a mile and exactly the same height as Westminster Abby, you can not see any art from the lobby, and the circular design is meant to symbolize a spiritual, zen journey. 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York Spirals

After we politely skipped out we took the museum up on their offer  and got free headsets, which were actually iPods in a protective case with the Guggenheim’s app.  We took the elevator to the seventh floor,  started at the top of the ramp, and wound down the six loops. 

Audio Guide - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

We were not able to take photographs of the art so instead I have taken direct files from the museums website here, which actually are better then the photos I would have taken . My three favorite pieces in the museum were all from of the Thannhauser Collection on the second floor: 

Claude Monet - The Palazzo Ducale Seen from San Giorgio Maggiore - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York Thannhauser Collection

 The Palazzo Ducale, seen from San Giorgio Maggiore, by Claude Monet

Landscape with Snow - Vincent van Gogh - - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York Thannhauser Collection

Landscape with Snow by Vincent van Gogh

Before the Mirror by Édouard Manet  - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York Thannhauser Collection

Before the Mirror by Édouard Manet  

Those three works of art?  Those are my types of paintings, as were most of the items in the Thannhauser Collection,  but I tried to go into the museum with an open mind. During our exploration there were two other works of art that I appreciated.  I would not necessarily want them in my house but they were visually pleasing: 

Benedetta  - Speeding Motorboat - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York - Futurism

Speeding Motorboat by Benedetta (Benedetta Cappa Marinetti) 

Street Light by  Giacomo Balla - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

Street Light by Giacomo Balla

The exhibit that is going on right now is Italian Futurism and besides the two works above most works of art did not get more than a ten second, once-over.  Most of the pieces; paintings, drawings, sculptures, and installations I just looked at and shook my head.  Then when I got to this plant growing in a wheelbarrow I gave up.  This is art?  My mom has a hydrangea growing in wheel barrel at their house in Cape Cod and I think it is much prettier than this one. 

Wheelbarrel Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

Overall, I had a great time exploring the museum with Caroline! 

Kelly and Caroline - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

To finish off our trip we had some delicious gelato from the famous cart right outside the museum.  On the ridiculously hot day it was a much needed treat, plus it served as a reward for all of our hard work looking at art, of course. 

LAnte del Gelato - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York

The Guggenheim Museum was interesting, I crossed it off my list, but I do not think I need to return any time soon.  

Thanks Caroline, what a fun blate!