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You may have seen on my previous post, that my Mum got me a Santa Claus Jewel Candle for Christmas, so I just wanted to share with you how amazing the surprise was inside. Just to recap, the price of the scented Jewel candle was £25 and inside every one is a jewel worth £10-£250. The candles are handmade and when you burn the candle there is a little foil parcel hidden in the wax which contains the jewel.




My candle was the Santa Claus (Ring) Classic Edition which smelled sweet but not too overbearing like some scented candles can be. The idea was to smell like a stocking filled to the brim with candy to keep the Christmas memories burning even after Christmas has come to an end.



My jewel was near the top of the wax so only took about 10 hours burning time before it was revealed and boy was it amazing! My ring was 925 Sterling Silver with a black stone and diamonds around it. By law, Jewel Candle aren't allowed to share the value of each ring but if you go to a jewellers they can value it for you. I'm quite happy keeping mine a secret as to me it's priceless anyway (but it does look super expensive!) I've seen very similar ones on Wowcher on sale for £299 so I can remain hopeful that I might have just secured myself a little treasure.


I would recommend a Jewel Candle as a gift for any lady in your life! As far as I am aware the rings and earrings are all quite feminine but that's not to exclude any men that would enjoy this product. A Jewel Candle will be a permanent fixture on any of my future wish lists as both the jewel and the journey to retrieving it are exciting and it will be a new adventure every time.



Top marks Mum and Jewel Candle 10/10.

x
2014 has been a jam packed year. Selfies took the world by storm shortly followed by the ALS ice bucket challenge. Renee Zellweger set the rumour mill alight with the biggest celebrity transformation of the year and if you weren't feeling old already, 2014 was the 20th anniversary of Friends and the 10 year anniversary of Mean Girls. 

It's been a huge year and with 2015 right around the corner it was about time that I reflect on my top 10 highlights of 2014.

 The moment that cinched the number one slot

10. Halloween
9. SheWearsSeashells
8. Amsterdam
7. Mum's Visa Approved
6. Winter Wonderland
5. We Are Festival
4. Berlin
3. Anniversary
2. Family
1. My 23rd Birthday. 



10. Halloween









































We don't usually make a fuss of halloween but I do love choosing a fancy dress costume and dressing up. This year I was a skeleton and went out in Manchester with some friends. A brilliant night but I'm not sure I can top this costume next year?

9. She Wears Seashells 


I started this blog a while ago and as life took over it sort of dwindled away. I've always loved writing and studied Media at university in a hope that I could make writing a career. I love blogging because you can choose when you write, what you write and you can interact with other people based on your content. I'm so happy I started blogging again because it allows me to connect with other bloggers and be inspired by their writing, in turn this keeps me motivated to write. 

8. Valentine's Day in Amsterdam



February saw our first holiday of the year by returning to the first place we ever travelled together, Amsterdam. In our first visit we did all of the touristy things so this time we went for nice meals, went to the zoo, visited the cat sanctuary and just lived as a local would. It was a nice holiday to look forward to during the January blues and a really special Valentine's Day. 




7. Mum’s Visa Being approved for America


Number 7 is a bittersweet moment for 2014, my little mom is moving to Texas, USA! Her visa has been granted and she's setting off to follow her dreams in Spring. We are all so happy for her being so brave and finally focusing on herself and her happiness but we are going to miss her terribly. Luckily, my two favourite boys and I will be embarking on our own adventure over to Texas for her wedding in 2015. 

6. Winter Wonderland



Last month we went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. I've already blogged the details but this has secured spot number six because of how magical the atmosphere was which made life really begin to look a lot like Christmas. Winter Wonderland, I'll see you next year. 



5. We Are Festival 


Every year since I was 17 I have spent the Summer camping in a muddy field and waiting for my favourite musicians to arrive. I've been to Leeds Festival, Creamfields and Parklife so this year I wanted to venture further afield and headed to We Are Festival. I got to see some of my favourite DJ's such as Amine Edge, Ricardo Villalobos, MK, Solomon, Sven Väth and more. If we can fit it into our schedules we are 100% going back again in 2015. 





4. Berlin 


For Alex's 24th Birthday we went to Berlin, Germany. It was a super busy and very cultural trip, we visited historic sights and took the alternative tour of the graffiti and gentrification of Berlin. Berlin is absolutely massive and we only really had time to visit the East side so I would love to go back in the future and explore a little more.




3. Anniversary 



For our two year anniversary we went to Rhodes, Greece for a week. It was so nice to get away for some September sun and just spend some time together away from the hustle and bustle of Manchester. Rhodes was the first place I travelled abroad when I was little so it brought back loads of memories; the water park, the golden sandy beaches, the mini golf and Rhodes old town markets. It was the most relaxing week of the year so hopefully we can go back in 2015. 




2. Family




This year I have had more time to spend with my family because I no longer have to work on weekends (wahoo!) We have been out for fancy meals, girly spa days and out for afternoon tea. We've celebrated bonfire night, birthdays, Halloween, Christmas and Boxing Day and I've enjoyed every second. Thank you all for being so incredible, roll on 2015! 

1. My 23rd Birthday


    
The number one spot was without a doubt my birthday where Alex treated me with a trip to London. Over three days we climbed over the 02 arena, had breakfast at Duck and Waffle, met up with friends for burgers at Hache in Camden and went to Harry Potter Studios in Watford. Not only was this number one for 2014 but this was one of my favourite birthdays EVER! 













That's my top ten moments for 2014 so now I want to challenge all readers to blog or just think about yours too. It's a really nice way to focus on the positives and remember what a brilliant year 2014 was. After having looked at my top ten moments now I can make a list of some goals for 2015 based on what I enjoyed this year.

Once you have done your 2014 Highlights link them in the comments below so I can take some inspiration for my 2015 goals.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments,

Em x






Merry Christmas to all of you, my lovely readers and subscribers. I hope that your Christmas day was as magical as mine and your feast as delicious.

Some of my favourite bloggers posts are hauls and room tours so I have combined the two so you can have a peek into Christmas with She Wears Seashells. I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family and friends who I am able to spend Christmas with which is what makes the atmosphere so magical. This year I was well and truly spoiled by my loved ones and I wanted to share a selection of my gifts with you, as everyone loves a good haul, don't they?

If anyone has any Christmas haul's to share, post the link in the comments below for inspiration on what to spend my Christmas cash on. 

1. 365 Handwritten Notes in a jar, one for every day of the year.



I'm quite emotional most of the year but this present brought me to floods of tears on Christmas morning. My boyfriend wrote 365 messages on different coloured card and folded them up inside a jar so I could open one a day, for a year. This is the most thoughtful gift and I am so grateful for the time and effort that went into this. This is in my all time favourite gifts and I feel so lucky that someone would spend so much time making this. Top marks to you, Alex! The gift that money can't buy. 


Christmas shopping is stressful enough without the impending doom of the busy high-street and last minute dash around the empty shelves. This year I uncharacteristically left most of my shopping until the weekend before Christmas and was faced with hundreds of shoppers who seemed to have lost all of their manners amongst their hefty pile of receipts. Below is a SOS guide of stocking fillers to grand gesture gifts which you can order online and still get delivered to your door in time for Christmas Day. 


A few weeks ago I decided that I was going to make festive goodie bags for my friends as a cost-effective way to tackle the ever-growing Christmas list. I sourced cute, thoughtful, quirky and tasty goodies to be spread amongst the gift bags and ensure that each of my friends received a Christmas surprise. This got me thinking that it isn't the price of the presents but the thought and effort that goes into the surprise and selection of the gift that counts. I managed to get quite thrifty and improve my bartering skills over the past few weeks, so I wanted to challenge you lot to do the same. How many stocking fillers can you buy for just £10?

     
The title of the challenge does suggest that quantity is the definitive measure of success but I opted for quality gifts, so it depends which ever you prefer. I chose items which I would love to receive in my stocking.


It's December! Which means it's finally acceptable to play Christmas songs, decorate your house, wrap presents and just bask in the festive atmosphere brewing across the globe. I absolutely LOVE the build up to Christmas. We have a lot of family traditions in the few weeks leading up to the big day, which signal that Christmas is near. This year, a new tradition was integrated into the normal routine, which is something that will be staying for years to come. I visited Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, for the first time.


If you caught my recent post about the Manchester Christmas Markets then you can only imagine how excited I was to head down to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Using this guide, you can make the most of your trip to Winter Wonderland, which will make your Christmas magical.


Whilst Christmas focuses primarily on gifts for others, sometimes you have to give in and treat yourself to a little something. For my first beauty post, I am sharing with you an amazing Max Factor offer which I picked up today at Boots. You can treat yourself to £80* worth of Max Factor products for less than 50% of the price.



The foundation which I use on a regular basis is Max Factor: Miracle Touch Liquid Illusion Foundation in Warm Almond 45. The creamy texture is perfect for my skin which can be quite dry, it comes with a little sponge which is concealed in the lid and a twist open circle container. Usually, I pick up 3 of these at Boots as they are part of the 3 for 2 offer which is on throughout the year. I went to pick up one today but noticed if you spend over £15 then you are eligible for a free gift worth £31. Each Miracle Touch is £12.99 (11.5g) so I bought two of these for £25.98.


In 12 hours time, thousands of shoppers will be descending on the UK high street to try and bag themselves a Black Friday bargain. Stay smart and use these exclusive discount codes to grab your deals before shops open. 






When it comes to Christmas, there's nowhere quite like Manchester. With its magical charm and dozens of festive attractions, it's the perfect destination for a winter weekend away. At the heart of the Christmas atmosphere is the Manchester Christmas markets. This year the stalls have taken new unprescedented locations across the city centre and the markets are bigger than ever. With 200,000 people attending on the opening weekend, they show no signs of slowing down.


The heart of Manchester - Albert Square 

Albert Square is the largest of the Christmas market locations. With multiple rows of stalls to browse through, you have time to soak up the atmosphere under the autumn leaves and fairy lights. The stalls have a huge choice of gifts including toys, crafts, jewellery, clothes and a whole array of mouthwatering delicacies from across Europe. Once you have finished looking around or fancy a refuel, you have to get a drink from the two-storey bar beneath the windmill.




The bar offers a whole host of Christmas favourites including mulled wine, hot chocolate with amaretto or irish cream, German beer, cherry punch and more. If a liquid based pit stop isn't your cup of hot chocolate, then the food on offer it sure to satisfy your hunger. You can get pulled pork sandwiches, hog roast, paella, hot dogs, pancakes, profiteroles, burgers, curry, chicken, potatoes and more all fresh, hot and ready to eat. 


Top gift ideas

1 - Chocolates

One of the most popular gift ideas for any occasion because who doesn't love chocolate? Handmade slabs of chocolate or a chocolate Santa are a nice alternative to the mass produced chocolate on the high street. I tried a 200g slab of white chocolate with milk chocolate buttons and Malteasers in and it was delicious. A lovely little extra for anyone's Christmas stocking.


2. Handmade wooden puzzles

As a family tradition we get stocking fillers which are puzzles or mind games, such as a Rubik's cube or a 3D puzzle. We came across this little stall which sold dozens of intricate little designs to test patience and logic. Any of these puzzles would be perfect for my brother or boyfriend so the only question left is; who will complete theirs first? A timeless family tradition. 


3. European delicacies

Whilst the Christmas markets have become a Mancunian Christmas staple, it's the European culture which makes the markets what they are. We source the produce for our homemade Christmas hampers from the markets including Chorizo, cheeses, jams, fudge, chocolates, gingerbread and trinkets for the christmas tree. Good quality food which the grandparents love. 


4. Gifts for yours truly.

Sometimes when you are taking a stroll around the markets and get caught up in the festive atmosphere you find the perfect present, for yourself. On Exchange Street I found these gorgeous lanterns which I absolutely adore! They have a really Moroccan vibe and I love cultural home-ware. I have a small elephant from India which I got when I was about nine and it is one of my favourite possessions. Despite not knowing where I'm going to be allowed to present this gorgeous lamp in my house, I think it's a must. To me, from me x



The other Christmas market locations:



Whilst Albert Square is the most popular of the market locations it's important not to overlook the other areas. St Ann's Square is the original market site, which is primarily German and if you head over to King Street you will find the traditional French markets. Exchange Street and New Cathedral Street are both firm favourites with a warmer atmosphere than Albert Square, due to the live music woven throughout. The new additions this year are Cathedral Gardens and Market Street which allow the independent stalls to welcome passing trade from the high street. 


The Manchester markets are a wonderful Christmas tradition and attract visitors from Europe and beyond. The markets can be very expensive and you don't need to spend loads of money to have a good time. Just being amongst the crowds can make you feel festive and a great souvenir to take home are the famous christmas mugs which you can keep by sacrificing your £2 mug deposit. 

It's important to keep your wits about you and ensure you keep your belongings close as you would at any large event. On a number of occasions the staff on the stalls tried to short change family and friends, so count your change before you move along to another stand. Whether this is because they have made an innocent mistake or are trying to pocket a few extra pounds remains unseen, but if you remain cautious this won't happen to you. 

I know that I'll be visiting the markets numerous times before they close on Sunday 21st December, so make sure you grab all your goodies before they are gone for another year. 

*Opening times*
European Christmas Market, Albert Square
10.00am - 9.00pm daily
All other markets 
November 10.00am - 7.30pm
December 10.00am - 8.00pm
All bar and food areas open until 9:00pm
On a related note, I have a VERY exciting blog post for next Sunday so watch this space! Eeee.

Love Em x











In Manchester, with the busy high-street at the heart of the city centre, a unique christmas jumper can be hard to come by.  Primark alone sells enough Christmas jumpers to accommodate the whole office and then you have the other retail giants regurgitating the same christmas slogans and designs. This year, I set myself the challenge of making my own unique christmas jumper for under £10. I got creative with a plain Primark jumper and added some felt for the Christmas details. Check out how I did it below and how you can use the process to create your own festive ideas.




Materials:

- plain navy jumper
- red felt
- white felt
- gold ribbon
- card

Tools:

- sewing needle/ sewing machine
- thread
- pins to hold the design in place
- scissors


I got all of the materials that I needed for the design for 79p from Quality Save. The design was to create your own Christmas stocking but I cut up the pieces into the design I wanted. I chose to create a candy cane Christmas jumper. The cost for all my materials including the plain jumper was £6.79.



Step One
Draw your candy cane design onto some card and cut out to shape.


Step Two
Cut the candy cane design out on the red felt. You will need to do this twice so that you have two candy canes.




Step Three
Cut out white strips to go onto your red candy cane, this will create the stripes.

Step Four 
Pin the white strips down the candy cane leaving equal gaps between each space. I chose to leave two holes between each stripe as they were already on the felt from the Quality Save stocking design.



Step Five
Sew the white stripes onto the red candy cane using white thread.

Step Six
Choose how you want to lay out the design onto the jumper. I chose design number 3.





Step Seven
Sew the design onto the jumper. You can do this using a sewing machine or by hand. I did it by hand as I used white thread on the white felt and red thread on the red felt.

Step Eight
Use the gold ribbon to create a bow as though it is holding the candy canes together.

Step Nine
Sew the gold ribbon in place to finish off your design.


I had so much fun designing my Christmas jumper that I would like to challenge four people to do the same. I challenge Karen GoodyearLeanne CoppockKatie Hayward and Lucy Edge, you have until Christmas Eve and it must cost less than £10.

Good luck!

Love Em x