Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wordless Wednesday...

Women's March

 Photo Credit: Lydia Young 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gift Ideas for Your Host Family...

Hello All! In about one week my daughter will be leaving to study abroad in Spain for the Spring semester. This is an exciting time for her. I will miss her dearly but I am so happy that she is stepping outside of her comfort zone and taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

It is customary to bring your homestay family or in my daughter's case, her Madre, a gift to say thank you for opening up your home to me for 89 days. The gift doesn't have to be expensive, but should be thoughtful, creative.  Keep in mind portability issues. Below are some suggestions I have for host family gifts.


1. Something made in your home state: Ah you thought Texas Pete was made in Texas? Me too until I moved to North Carolina. Look for locally produced items such as honey, hot sauce, jam, or spices.

2. Writing pad/Journal and pretty pen: A great way for you to leave your host family a note or vice versa.

3. Beautiful mug: Anthropologie and etsy has beautiful mugs or check out a local potter. The mug above was handmade by a local potter in North Carolina. Unique and beautiful.

4. Guest napkins or kitchen towels: Another favorite of mine. I love pretty guest bathroom napkins.

5. Bracelet: If you just have a Madre, a pretty charm bracelet will be nice. Add a charm that represents you. Perhaps you play tennis, add a tennis racket charm. Or maybe you love to read, add a book charm. She will think about you every time she wears it. The above bracelet was made by Sydney Austin Designs

6. Enamel Pin: These are unisex. Small collectible item. Can be worn or a denim jacket, scarf, tote bag or like I do on my backpack.

7. Canvas Tote Bag: (not shown) Buy a plain canvas tote bag and paint a design on it. Your host family can use it as a grocery bag, travel bag, etc.

My daughter purchased a pretty journal and pens for her Madre.

I hope your find these suggestions helpful. If you have anymore ideas for host family gifts, please post in comments.

Monday, January 9, 2017

13 Books I Read In 2016...

Happy New Year All! How are those resolutions going? I've accomplished one of my 2016 goals and that was to read 1 book a month. It may not be a lot to some, but I'm a slow reader and I'm easily distracted. Last year, I read 13 books! Some were for book club and others for enjoyment. This year my goal is to read 24 books. Check out the books I read.


 1//  Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley { Easy Rawlings is back with his sidekick Mouse}
 2//  The Woman in Cabin 10  by Ruth Ware { Suspenseful, not as good as Girl on the Train }
 3//  The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena { Quick read, get it from your local library }
 4//  Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead { Book club book, great discussion }
 5//  The Girls by Emma Cline { Summer read, loosely based on Charles Manson, recommend }
 6//  The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft { Quick read, predictable }
 7//  Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith { Book club book, loved it needs to be a Part 2 }
 8//  Dead Wake by Erik Larson { Great for History buffs, I loved his novel Devil In the White City }
 9//  Men of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor { Book club book, first time reading this gem }
10// Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins { Book club book }
11// Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi { Favorite book I read in 2016!! Highly recommend }
12// Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim { Book club book, Author will Skype for book club meetings }
13// Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche { Started in 2104, finished in 2016, Recommend }

There are so many books I want to read this year. A few are:

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Mourning Calm by Frances Frost. Buy her book here 
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

If there are any books you recommend that aren't listed, do tell!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Small Business Sale...

Hello All! Hope you are having a fabulous holiday weekend! Today is the first day to take 25% off all jewelry in my Etsy shop. Enter code THANKS25 at checkout. Go here to take advantage of this great sale! I put a lot of passion in my designs and work. Thank you all for supporting Sydney Austin Designs and other small business owners. Please shop small and local this holiday season.

Below are some of my latest earring designs. Handmade earrings are a great gift to pick up for yourself, BFF, sister, daughter, or co-worker.

Hammered Brass Earrings with Agate gemstones.

Gorgeous Copper earrings with Red Aventurine gemstones. 

Make your own rules! Mismatched earrings. Amethyst gemstones and sterling.

Copper hammered discs and copper chain with Botswana agate gemstones

Copper handcut, filed, and polished components with Turquoise gemstones. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

March Essence Beauty Box...

Hey All! I'm very pleased with this month's Essence Beauty Box. If you follow me on Snapchat (sadesigns) you saw that I did an unboxing two days ago. I got a chance to try out some of the products. Check it out the products in this month's box.

Love the box top design. 

The beauty products. Great sample sizes. Theme is: Transform Her Everyday.

For the hair: Creme of Nature Perfect Edges and Uncle Funky's Curly Magic. 

Skincare: LaBelle Femme Body Butter and Biossance The Revitalizer which is a light face oil.

Makeup: BITE Beauty Opal Lipgloss

I'm giving this month's box a B. The hair products every month is overkill. Every month there has been 2 haircare products. One is enough. I would like to see more makeup samples or sunscreen, perfume, bronzer or a highlighter.

The La Belle body butter was amazing. Melts into your skin. I also love the opal lipgloss.  I'm excited to try Uncle Funky's Curly magic. I've been wanting to try something from their line.  I have not tried the Biossance revitalizer, but online reviews are 5 star.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Hello All!

Over the weekend I did my first gemstone haul of the year. I'm like a kid in a candy store when it comes to gemstone shopping. It's my retail therapy. I came across so many gorgeous gems at the GTS Bead Show. Take a look at some of the strands of beads I purchased. I can't wait to turn these gemstones into hip jewels!

Gorgeous colors for Spring

Bad picture but I'm loving these pink and green jasper beads. 

Simply stunning agate and mother of pearls beads are perfect for a bohemian or tribal inspired pair of earrings.