Not just for Kate Middleton : Seraphine – Leeds, Review

is it your first?

I was lucky enough to be invited to a new maternity store opening in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds. But to be entirely honest with you I had never heard of the name ‘Seraphine‘.

Now in Leeds!

None the less, I accepted the invite, stroked my huge 33 week pregnant stomach and decided we should go – if only to get out of the house for the first time in weeks. I had a look at their website and it became glaringly obvious that there was a reason I had not heard of this brand – it was a brand worn by goddesses such as Kate Winslet, Gwen Stefani, Benedict Cumberbatch’s lucky wife and The Duchess of Cambridge herself. They had clearly made a mistake inviting me.

My main concern was that this was not a brand for the ‘normal woman‘ (yes, I’m talking about me there). If these amazingly perfect pregnant celebrities and royalty wore these clothes –

1. Would they be able to dress me? A curvy woman.

2. Will they have even seen a bump this big before? I am quite unlike these celebrities who look like they’ve had a bit of bread when they’re pregnant; my bump is in a different league.

3. Will it be affordable? I’m not rich or famous – I’m just a normal mum.

4. Will this place be pretentious? The store is located in the Victoria Quarter, near Harvey Nichols – a shop I need to spend a week dressing up to visit. We all know that horrible feeling of wondering into a small boutique and being stared at with one look and one look only “You can’t afford anything in here, and you’re the wrong size, you don’t belong here…” The Pretty Woman effect, if you will (though I rarely wear my thigh high boots anymore).

I SO want that dress in the middle! (especially as my back is now my best asset).

A few days later I waddled off to the Victoria Quarter in my high street maternity dress, slightly nervous to see Seraphine for myself.

The shop is not at all as I expected. It is larger than most in that arcade and spacious – you are not nose to nose with any retail assistants. Upon walking in I felt immediately at ease – there was not the pretentious air or snootiness I was concerned about. The retails assistants were polite and friendly – more personable than most and chatty – without being invasive.

support tights

I was lucky enough to meet and chat to the founder of Seraphine: Cecile Reinaud – which you would think would be quite daunting, considering her success – but she was exceedingly warm and engaging and a joy to talk to.

I quickly asked about their sizes and prices (on behalf of the ‘normal woman‘). Their sizes range from a 6 to an 18 which I was impressed with and their prices are from as low as in their twenties to a higher end  –The Luxe range’ that boasts wedding dresses and occasion dresses in their collection.

tops designed for ease when nursing

Something I was really impressed with was that the vast majority of their clothes are designed for ease during nursing they had discreet poppers at the side, or straps with stretch. They had beautiful summer tops, a vast collection of jeans, support tights and an essential maternity set – The Bump Kit – that would keep you satisfied throughout your nine months if you adapted it with different accessories.

All of their staff are trained in bra fittings and they stock a range of underwear. They also have beautiful changing bags by StorkSak , specially designed shoes for pregnancy by shoe therapy and skincare by mama mio and Bloom and Blossom.  The changing rooms are very spacious too and not as daunting as changing rooms can be.

their range of jeans

Something I have found with many maternity clothes is that they seem to just over inflate their normal clothes (just today I am sending back several size 14 items from a shop that are absolutely enormous – marquee like pieces). 

designed with buttons for nursing – this top comes in an array of colours and designs and was my personal fave!

When I chose a top at Seraphine I had been eyeing up on their website they had my size (14) and I was thrilled that it fitted me just right. It wasn’t too big and I can honestly say I would wear it (and a lot of their clothes) after my pregnancy. It makes me feel very feminine and very pretty – and this is coming from a pregnant woman who has wallowed in her house for a few months weeping over how whale like she appears.

I was incredibly impressed with the store – and with the clothes – and it was a relief to see that Seraphine is not just for the likes of Kate Middleton – it is for the everyday pregnant woman too.

My only complaint is that I didn’t know about this brand sooner and my pregnancy is nearing its end (I will be going this weekend again as it just so happens to be my birthday!).

Seraphine is now open in Leeds Victoria Quarter* – go and have a look for yourself.

And afterwards I recommend going just around the corner to the Harvey Nichols cafe and having one of their non-alcoholic fruit cocktails. Or indulging in their afternoon tea – make a day of it. You deserve it; It’s what The Duchess would do!

*Victoria Foundry, Marshall Street, Leeds, LS11 9EH

Update 

After visiting the store again I purchased this dress. Absolutely love it.

  

SaveSave

Charlotte Tilbury – the mummy make over edition

Mummy's Writing Darling

So picture me (me!) sat in Harvey Nichols, Leeds after closing time, a glass of prosecco in my hand, watching a professional make up artist equipped with the Charlotte Tilbury make up collection, making a goddess like model even more beautiful than she started off.

Well that’s all very well … but I’m not Kate Moss – I’m a mum. I’m thirty five and I have had four years now of uninterrupted sleep.

Any questions? She asks.

YES! I say, pumped up by my Prosecco and my empty stomach.

“Say you’re a mum, a new mum even… and you have about three minutes in the morning – and you can only afford three products, what would you recommend?”

She didn’t skip a beat:

Mummy make over
Charlotte Tilbury – Just three products

I then gave her an option of two more products, she chose:

Now – for me I would add just two more essentials (because I have so many Charlotte Tilbury products I basically believe I know more than the professionals) : the brow pencil (without brows I look pretty ridiculous. Once I have my brows drawn on I can face the outside world.

Lastly – the Film star bronze and glow. If you’re going to buy one thing – just one – I would go for this. I have actual make up savvy teenagers asking me “Gurrrlll …. where you get that highlighter?”

It’s a bronzer and highlighter pallet – simple to use and makes your dead face resurrect from the dark side.

 

Mummy's Writing Darling
Just five products – Charlotte Tilbury Make over

I have been obsessed with Charlotte Tilbury make up and skin care since this time last year when I booked myself in for a make over with Leanne at Harvey Nichols, Leeds. I can honestly say I have never looked better.

Since then I have bought most of their collection – I don’t spend much on clothes, shoes, but my face – I have spent a small fortune.

I prefer Charlotte Tilbury to brands like MAC for example because it’s so subtle, so classy and I genuinely feel like it makes me look my best. I think it makes any woman look her best – without changing them or hiding their face in layers and layers on caked on make up.

And trust me – I know it’s super pricey compared to some, but my magic cream lasted a year, I still have half my foundation left, half my wonder glow left and my film star bronze and highlighter is still going!

Maybe you can’t bear to part with your money over the products – but it is definitely one for your christmas list.

Now ….. here is a sneak peak at their Christmas collection. Husband… Mum – I hope you’re reading.

Harvey Nichols Leeds
Charlotte Tilbury make over on a goddess model

 

Charlotte Tilbury
Clay mask and prosecco – plus my goodie bag

 

Charlotte Tilbury Christmas
The new eye pallet with four looks, Day eye, desk eye, disco eye, date eye …. they are yet to introduce a mum eye ….

 

Harvey Nichols, Leeds
A selection of Charlotte Tilbury Christmas gifts

 

Charlotte Tilbury Christmas gifts
The Charlotte Tilbury Advent Calendar

If you pop to Harvey Nichols in Leeds have a browse … even one product can transform your mornings.

Ask for Lauren and say Stephanie sent you – she will sort you out!

I was gifted a goodie bag for this post.

Oh the fun we’ll have this Easter : Hoppy Easter with Matalan

I might have considered Easter fun for our family as solely involving chocolate eggs and desperately trying to fashion garish bonnets and then forcing my son’s to wear them … but that was before Matalan kindly sent our family a huge bumper box of fun; Easter style – no chocolate in sight (but I won’t hold that against them).

12896204_662714800533390_887275222_o

I have grouped the Matalan Easter Package into three categories that I’m excited to share with my three year old son over Easter.

Category 1: In the kitchen

The first two products that caught my eye were the Hoppy Easter cake accessories kit which includes cute cup cake bases and miniature flags to place on the top with carrots, bunnies and chicks on them.

As well as this there is a set of Hoppy Easter Cookie cutters with bunny, chick and egg shapes. I have done barely any baking with my son since his birth (Alas – I’m not one of those pinterest mums with immaculate shots of flour covered children grinning behind a gluten free Victoria sponge) but this has inspired me to give it a go this Easter. How hard can it be to make biscuits? And cup cakes? I’m sure there must be ready made packets – and I am sure my three year old would love12422340_662714813866722_21320537_o it – and we would all love eating them, that’s for sure!

Category 2: Arts and crafts, Easter style.

The Matalan Easter fun package also includes a set of decorate your own’ easter eggs with paints and stickers and a handy leaflet of how you can decorate the eggs – A wonderful idea for messy play.

12873558_662714637200073_2135844299_o

As well as this was a set of kids colouring pencils and a colour therapy colouring book. I have become hooked on colouring in to relieve stress over the last few weeks thanks to this book. So it’s not just the three year old having all the fun.

12887281_662714820533388_724070924_o

Category 3: In the garden (spring has sprung)

Perhaps the most eggciting (I apologise) part of this Matalan Easter fun package has been the possibilities for fun in the garden now that spring is on its way and the weather is picking up.

Firstly it contained a gorgeous picnic blanket and cooler bag. We are in the process of moving house and will have a garden for the first time in years. The package also included a frisbee and a bubble set conjuring images of my boys having lots of fun in our new garden. The baby (eight months) will love the bubbles – I can’t wait.

12874210_662714823866721_24959269_o

Even more exciting (and my favourite part of the set) was the garden magnifier and a bug keeper. Thanks to ‘what the ladybird heard’ and ‘superworm’ by Julia Donaldson, my three year old is quite taken with insects and tiny creatures. I can’t wait to explore our new garden with him and study the nature in it.

12499591_662714803866723_230696020_o

Finally the Matalan Easter package has a large Easter Egg Hunt kit that includes bunnies with flags, four eggs, assorted flags and wooden sticks for setting up a super eggstravaganza of Easter egg hunt fun (apologies).

12874380_662714787200058_483239727_o

Our house has been in turmoil over the last couple of weeks with illness and our impending house move – this package has given me lots of ideas to spend quality time with both my boys over the weekend, do things we have not done, and really enjoy Easter as a family – something which I am pretty sure I would not have thought about doing before.

That’s my Easter weekend sorted – Now I just need to go and buy some chocolate eggs and some cake mix for dummies! Thanks Matalan

12443634_662714643866739_585890966_o

 

 

Brows on fleek at Brows by Fran – Review

Brows by Fran

I first met Fran in Leeds when she worked at a well known make up brand’s brow bar. I braced myself for the lottery you get when you go for a wax and tint. I have been left in the past with lop sided brows, brows that resemble Noel Gallagher’s, a true Scouse brow – and worse than all of these; brows that looked exactly the same as they did when I went in.

Brows by Fran
The amazing Fran

Fran is the sort of person you meet and within two minutes you feel like you’ve known her for ten years and you get through your entire life story in the consultation. As well as her cracking personality I can whole heartedly swear that my eyebrows have never ever looked as fantastic as when she had got her hands on them.

I am naturally fair haired and have barely there eyebrows. If I have been in the sun they get bleached and basically disappear. I was also an over-plucker in my teens so my eyebrows have never been my strong point.

For the first time in my life people were complimenting me on my brows.

As a busy mum I don’t get much time to do my make (or my hair, or to wash) so having good eyebrows make all the difference. And when I say they make all the difference – I am not exaggerating. I think they frame your face and are the most important part of your make up routine.

I continued to go to Fran and only Fran for years. I made the mistake of going to an extremely expensive local salon on one occasion and had to go back to Fran the day afterwards to correct their mistakes.

I genuinely won’t trust anyone else with my eyebrows now. It’s just like when you find an amazing hairdresser and you won’t go anywhere else.

So when she said she was setting up on her own in Bradford I had to follow her there. She has set up her own brow bar in Bradford in a hair salon about three minutes walk from the train station : Brows by Fran!

She did my eyebrows for my wedding a month ago – as well as my lip hair (well, my moustache – I’m not fooling anyone). She is also offering make overs.

Top left: original brows top right: after tint and wax bottom two: styling them out with make up
Top left: original brows top right: after tint and wax
bottom two: styling them out with make up

Fran says about her background

“I qualified as a beautician four years ago and even in college I just seemed to have a knack for eyebrows. After a stint on cruise ships I found my home at one of the leading brow bar cosmetic company’s in the UK; a perfect job. I worked there for two and half years becoming a brow ambassador for the brand and training new “browticians”, and managers in all things eyebrow, and

“I think I have genuinely just found my niche.”

And about going it alone:

“I felt like I needed a challenge and I wanted to combine both eyebrows and make overs, besides, who wouldn’t love an opportunity at being their own boss? I genuinely love my job, it’s fills me with joy when I see the look on a customer’s face when I’ve finished their eyebrows or make up, smiling from ear to ear.”

And her philosophy:

“It’s not just ‘doing eyebrows’, it’s tailoring those eyebrows to each individual person, it’s listening to what that person wants to achieve.”

“It’s making sure that the customer knows what’s going to happen and isn’t scared or worried. It’s reassuring that customer and making them feel comfortable with me.”

“Eyebrows are a huge part of fashion and are so important and personal to every individual. To me, It’s not just a job it’s a passion.

If you are in the Yorkshire area I highly recommend Brows by Fran; to get your eyebrows on fleek and to make a new friend.

 

You can find Brows by Fran and all her details on Facebook! Hop on over and give her a ‘like’.

Brows by Fran, Bradford
I need a make over like this – by this lady

 

If you have a business in Yorkshire you would like me to review please get in contact at mummyswritingdarling@yahoo.co.uk

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review.

 

SaveSave

The Rainbow Factory, Leeds Review

Let me tell you a bit about me. I’m a few months away from turning three and I’m a rebel. I don’t like to follow the crowd. You can’t call me a sheep! I’m more like the wolf. I have a short attention span. I was also a latecomer to the English language.

12312370_618353831636154_961432503_n
The Rainbow Factory, leeds review

Last week my mum took me out, and not to a soft play or to bound about the park like a labrador. She seemed a little anxious, I don’t know why she always looks so stressed on our outings. We took my little baby brother too.

The Rainbow Factory, Leeds
The rainbow Factory, leeds

The place was unlike anywhere I’ve been before. It was called ‘The Rainbow Factory’. I like rainbows. A kind woman read a story about Christmas – something I don’t understand yet but I liked watching the other children describe ‘Reindeers’ – one has a red nose apparently. I also sat on the floor listening very well for five minutes. My mum said this is a personal best.

We walked around this magical place with dragons and wizards and trolls. I don’t know what these are yet but I loved looking at them – they felt like magic. We got to collect these special jewels and things in a special cone. I presume these were for protection from the dragon.

Mummy's Writing Darling, Leeds
The Rainbow Factory, Leeds, Review

Afterwards we sat down at a table and got to use our special jewels and string to make our very own christmas tree. It was fun and colourful.

But all of that was nothing compared to what I found next. I found the best things in the world. Mummy said they were called “bean bags”. I ran around and jumped up and down on every bean bag until I could barely breathe. I made friends who joined me … I’m so influential – because I’m so cool. Mummy looked stressed again and went off for a coffee. Really don’t know what she worries about.

The Rainbow Factory, Leeds
The Rainbow Factory, Leeds

I ran around and around and found a huge dressing up box. I dressed up like my favourite character in my favourite book – The Tiger who came to tea.

The rainbow factory, leeds
The Rainbow Factory, Leeds

I found a load of books and had a good flick through them and ran around in a large room no one else had even bothered to go in!

I started to feel quite wet. I had some apple juice and a bit of cake to replenish my energy reserves.

Mummy seemed to relax and even dressed up too!

The Rainbow Factory, Leeds, Review
Mummy’s Writing, Darling

We stayed for ages and I didn’t want to leave. I slept all the way home in the car. I dreamt of the dragons and wizards and trolls… I’d like to know more about them.

Mummy’s side of the story

The Rainbow Factory was a nostalgic walk down traditional story-time memory lane.

The feel of the exhibition had all the magic of The Brother’s Grimm and John Hurts’ Storyteller. Though the characters and themes were new to my son – this didn’t negatively affect his experience. His attention was retained throughout.

But the best thing for a stressed out mum of a toddler rebel was that he was able to express himself in his own unique way – and we weren’t made to feel out of place or like we were the outsiders (which can sometimes happen).

I could see other children on our tour, who are not like mine, who have better language, or who are older, who connected with the place in a different way. But my son was able to be physical and explore and be himself with no judgement.

I think, in that way – any child can take something from The Rainbow Factory. Mine took a taste of magic, an interest in dragons and a top up to his self esteem.

I also got to have a lovely cup of coffee and a bit of time to myself (and baby [toddler rebel two in the making])

The Rainbow Factory, Leeds
Mummy’s Writing Darling

Click here for more information about The Rainbow Factory

SaveSave