Caffeine-free Coffee Share #3

I spent yesterday juicing, grating & freezing the glut of veggies in my fridge. So today, I am drinking one of these:#cucumber #gingerbeer #ginger #mocktail #detox

Anthropologie EU posted a more elegant recipe for a veggie cocktail of delicious proportions. However, if you’re craving the caffeine, pop into the kitchen, grab yourself a mug and a delicious slice of this gluten-free chocolate goodness, and let me tell you about some thoughts running through my head this week.

Did you know that fashion & textiles account for 10% of the world’s global carbon impact and occupy more than  5% of landfill waste? The industry also uses 3 trillion gallons of freshwater, accounting for 20% of freshwater pollution. Read more about this via Marci Zaroff’s post on Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. I’m seeing this as an opportunity to do some more vintage/charity shopping and maybe even take a sewing class to improve my basic skills. My 9yo has already volunteered herself as a mannequin.

After the whole beach body uproar in the UK, and the booking of our summer holiday, I’ve been wondering where I fall on the beach body scale. Honestly, I’m not fussed about my weight; as long as anything on display isn’t wobbling TOO much, I’m good to go. Anastasia Amour’s blog is a great source of positive inspiration. Read her post You are not a work in progress.

I’ve been debating a blog refresh recently. I’ve been checking out other blogs and Finnoula at My Kitchen Notebook gave me some serious blog envy. I want to LIVE in her blog, it’s so pretty. I get the same feeling looking at her blog as I do when walking into the Anthropologie store on King’s Road. Blisssssssssss.

Also still being debated by the Petal & Mortar board: Bloglovin’, Hiive, Instagram, Crowdfire….and darn it, a Facebook page. What are your thoughts on these platforms?

So, what are you up to? What have I missed thanks to the scatty WP reader? Catch me up!

The Love-Hate Challenge

One of my favourite bloggers, Hollie de la MyBlogIsMyBoyfriend, tagged me to participate in the Love-Hate Challenge. I only know this because I get e-mail updates from my favourite blogs, rather than just relying on the randomly selective Reader. Boo, Reader! The rules are simple enough. List 10 things you love, 10 things you hate, and 10 nominees. Here goes…

10 things I love (in no particular order):

  1. A book which grips me!
  2. My best friend aka The Husband
  3. Our daughter
  4. My clean, white bedroom
  5. My really lovely white sheets – seriously!
  6. Soft, powdery sand beaches
  7. Laughing with husband and/or daughter
  8. The smell of the honeysuckle outside my bedroom window
  9. Lemon anything
  10. Cold, fizzy wine

Things I hate (again, in random order):

  1. Gluten
  2. Wasps & flies
  3. Tourists in central London during rush hour
  4. Warm wine
  5. Bad grammar
  6. The smell of salmon cooking
  7. Housework
  8. Filing documentation
  9. Grey, misty non-rain that makes you gloomy and your hair frizzy
  10. People with no sense of personal space

My nominees:

  1. Mother Mands
  2. Shy Little Pixie
  3. Fannie Frankfurter
  4. BrickHouseChick
  5. Fill Your Own Glass
  6. Shirley’s Heaven
  7. Rococo-a-gogo
  8. Waking the Wombat
  9. The Chymeera Diaries
  10. The Pickled Pastor

As always, those whom I nominated should not feel obligated to participate. Join in if you want, and if not, have a lovely weekend anyway!

Do I need some Bloglovin’?

I don’t know. Do I? Do I need to link up with Bloglovin’, too? Or is it just one more site to monitor? Lovers and haters, I need to hear from you.

Otherwise, it’s been a lazy old week. It’s half-term in the UK, which means the children are off from school, so I’ve been spending time with my all-time-favourite lady. We’ve gone out to lunch, we’ve watched movies, we’ve hung out at Camden Market, and we’ve bought all her teachers gifts in anticipation of the end-of-school-year next month. Go us!! (She’s having a bit of a sulk now because clearly, we’ve had TOO much fun, and we need some balance). We’re going to see Tomorrowland with her Breton Bestie tomorrow – I can’t wait! Oh, and I finished reading The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.

It was delicious. Heart-breaking and beautiful and so well-observed. I fell in love with Bruno, I could almost picture myself in his head. John Boyne has done an amazing job of exploring the relationships, the beliefs and the conflicts through the eyes of a young child.

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.

~John Betjeman

Some reviewers complained that the child was too naive, but remember, this young boy played on the streets with his friends, he wasn’t watching TV and being bombarded by media the way our children are today. His constant mispronunciation of certain places and names added to the charm. There was no overt violence, but enough language and expression to ensure understanding. I watched the movie, but the book is better. I was sobbing at the end. For the loss of innocence. For the sins of the father being visited upon the son. For the absolute senseless waste. 

If you haven’t already read it, go buy it now. If you have read it, what do you think? Good, bad or indifferent? Any other John Boyne books I should read?

Celebrating 100 posts, 1000 likes and 1000 tweets

It has been a crazy old weekend. The Follow Friday post resulted in so much feedback into Saturday, I had a hard time keeping up on my phone. We were out in the countryside and the only way to get a proper signal was to balance on one leg and dangle my arm out the window!

Today, I’ve logged back onto my laptop and discovered (since 19 January this year) I’ve written 100 posts, received 1000 likes, and tweeted 1000 times. So today’s post is a round-up-best-of-Petal-and-Mortar bonanza.

I suppose a good place to start is with my intro to motherhood. Then read about some setbacks on the road to recovery. Read my open letter to the Duchess of Cambridge and her new daughter. Maybe bake a batch of peanut butter cookies, or tahini cookies, before you settle down to read. Enjoy some of my attempts at photography, such as BlissConnect and Oddities. If you’re looking for books to read this summer, I can highly recommend Maine and The Lemon Grove. Laugh along at my daughter’s thoughts. Get swept up in the excitement backstage. Make some carrot cake. You’ll need a sugar rush to get you through grief, rage, panic attacks and social phobia.

If you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, follow my blog for more adventures, or come say Hæ/hej/hello on Twitter (@petalandmortar). Also, check out the fellow bloggers who like and follow my posts. They’re pretty awesome, too!


Follow Friday #FF

If you’re on Twitter, you know #FF is a fun way to give a shout out to people who are, well, worth a shout.


I’m turning that on it’s head this week. I’m on Twitter (@petalandmortar) and I’d like you to leave me your Twitter handle in the ‘Let Loose’ box below, so I can come stalk follow you.

That is all, people. I am going to be VERY good today and really focus on work. OK, maybe I’ll check comments. But that’s it. Oh, maybe I’ll check Twitter, too. But really, no more.

(Did you believe me? Did I sound convincing? 😀 )

Whelmed Wednesday

I had one bad migraine over the weekend and now I think the hayfever meds are getting me down (looking piteous). I am not feeling ‘one with the words’ today, so I’m going to do my post in the form of interpretive dance (tries to choose music, set up webcam to record…)

Sod that, you’re just getting photos today.

Anthropologie mug

My new pretty mug…in my favourite colours!

No, it's NOT too big for my face!

Does this mug make my face look smaller? Score!

I baked banana bread this morning. Recipe to follow…perhaps in the form of dance. I think the ‘peel & mash banana’ bit could be loads of fun.

Fellow bloggers, how are you feeling? How do you lift yourself out of a case of the ‘blahs’?

The Encouraging Thunder Award

Geek alert: In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god, linked to thunder, lightning, strength, the protection of mankind and healing.


E from That Anxious Mom granted me this award a few days ago so here goes…

I started blogging to get all the thoughts out of my head and onto ‘paper’. There are so many experiences that have shaped my life, good and bad, and it was time. There was no seminal moment, no reason 19 January was D-Day. I just started and everything seemed to grow very organically. The best part has been connecting with people from all over the globe, following other stories, realising that as unique as I am, my emotions and struggles are not. I try to find the humour in everything. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism, perhaps I just want to laugh. I hope Petal & Mortar brings a little fun to the serious stuff and a little bit of reality to the fun stuff. I’m grateful to everyone that has joined me over the last 100 days, and taken the time to comment and give me feedback.

My Thunderous applause goes out to: Shirley’s Heaven, Shaming the Shrew, My Blog is My Boyfriend, Joeyfully Stated and Clara at ExpatPartnerSurvival. Do with this what you will, no obligation 🙂

The Rules:

  • Post it on your blog.
  • Grant other bloggers the award.

What you cannot do:

  • Abuse or misuse the logo.
  • Claim that it is your own handmade logo.

What you should do after receiving the Encouraging Thunder Award:

  • Enjoy the award!
  • At least give thanks via comments, likes and/or mentioning the blog that you received the award from.
  • Mention your purpose in blogging.

Rage is my Superpower

Rage can work in a vicious cycle, destroying you & wearing you down, or you can turn its strength inwards, creating a virtuous cycle. Allow me to explain….

My rage is a supernova, an illogical, overwhelming roar of emotion that burns outwards, searing anything logical or calm in its path. Fighting and scratching from my emotional corner, I feel like I have little control over it.


This then sucks itself inwards into a fiery ball of heat, to burn itself out gently.


However, understanding my triggers, and turning my ‘ball of fire’ into productive energy has a two-fold effect: getting a LOT of work done, and distracting me from the initial reaction, which calms me down. The more time I spend in the blogosphere, the more I realise how many of us are battling similar demons. Waking up & showing up every day IS an actual achievement. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that doing a root-cause analysis on the cause of my rage can (& does) send me into paroxysms of panic & anxiety, with a full-blown case of hives. I just don’t want to go there. The analysis will probably be best explored in stages, at some later date, because there’s no real reason to hyperventilate noxious fumes of rage because my hand baggage which should have been waiting at the foot of the gangway is now going round on a carousel in the terminal, potentially adding another five minutes to my journey time and throwing my careful plan to exit the airport in one piece to the winds, right? Doing my Rumpelstiltskin-after-the-queen-guesses-his-name dance was all part of the routine, folks. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Or I could just accept I have chronic anxiety. I am hyper-aware of the environment I’m in at any given point, treating every situation like a potentially hostile encounter. My husband once asked me what it was like to live without a filter, to feel, see & hear everything, to notice every detail. It is sensory overload. It is absolutely exhausting. It’s why something small can completely tip the fragile balance I establish every day.

But I still say I’m lucky & blessed. I have a husband and child who try to understand, and accept my fragility. Who respect my triggers. Who give me space when I need it. They let me cry. Storm around a bit doing the Rumpelstiltskin dance. And then gently remind me, in order of priority, it’s just a bag. And we have insurance.

Great balls of fire, baby!

Quintessential Quinoa

Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein – containing all eight of the essential amino acids, and recognised by the UN as a super-crop for its health benefits. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest. Thrive Cuisine have a useful guide on the differences between quinoa and couscous, and more recipes! Use these easy instructions from The Kitchn if you’ve never tried making quinoa from scratch before.

I have to be honest: on a work day, I use Merchant Gourmet Red & White Ready Quinoa, or supermarket own-brand variants, to save on time & sanity. I don’t have a microwave (cue horrified gasps) so I open the pack and heat the quinoa on a tray on the bottom shelf of the oven, while the veggies are roasting on the top shelf. This makes the quinoa slightly crunchy, a good balance to the softened veggies.

Jewelled Quinoa with Roasted Carrots & Beetroot


  • Peel & cube 3 beetroot and 4 carrots
  • Toss them in olive oil, salt & pepper and some cumin powder
  • Pop them in the oven at 200C/400F, on the top shelf.
  • Set your timer for 20 minutes.
  • Heat the quinoa on another tray on the bottom shelf at the same time, or follow the instructions on the packet.
  • Toss them all together at the end with some mixed salad leaves and voila, easy lunch or dinner! You could also add some leftover chicken or sausage on the top for a more substantial meal.

Got a quinoa recipe to share? Join the discussion below!