It’s time for another edition of The Monthly Mint – a chance for you to join in the Peppermint office chat about all the things we’re loving and living for each month.
Here at Peppermint we’re forever on the hunt for the best in sustainable reads, eats and wears to inspire you all. But have you ever wondered what we are really liking in our off-screen lives? We thought we’d open our front doors (despite how messy it might be inside) and share a few of our favourite things each month. That way you get the chance to get to know us a little better and if you’re ever in need of a recommendation next time you find yourself stuck in the “I don’t know what to watch/wear/read?!” scroll, you know where to start.
Love is in the air… or at least it is at our house most of the time, as my husband Glen is a marriage celebrant. Finding sustainable options for menswear can be tricky at the best of times, but it’s slim pickings when it comes to wedding attire. Ever since spotting Peggy and Finn at one of the Finders Keepers markets (back when we went to markets, remember that? *sob*), we’ve been kitting out Glen’s nuptial wardrobe with several of their snazzy Australian designs. Their ties – and matching pocket squares, socks and underwear – feature original hand-painted prints inspired by the flora of the coastline, created by artists from the Surf Coast of Victoria. I was quick to jump on their recent collaboration with one of my fave artists – Rachael Sarra, a contemporary Aboriginal artist from Goreng Goreng Country. We snatched up the Australian-made tie and pocket square from the ‘Physical Present’ collection, and I can see more of the collection in Glen’s future knot tying.
I sat down to write this piece with some freshly baked banana muffins. How very wholesome and sweet, hey? Except… they weren’t; my Martha Stewart moment vanished with the first unsavoury – but oh so savoury – mouthful. I had used salt instead of sugar. In my defence, we’ve been cleaning out my father-in-law’s house recently after moving him into an aged-care facility and our kitchen is now full of unidentified jars of ingredients. I have to admit, it’s been a very interesting, and exhausting, lesson in the purpose of possessions and what happens to them after we’re gone. Most of the things we accumulate and buy – and so badly ‘need’ during our lives – may wind up unceremoniously on Facebook Marketplace. On my reading list is now a book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning – How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, authored by Margareta Magnusson. Swedish-born Margareta had to downsize her home when her husband died, and the experience forced her to recognise the power of ‘death-cleaning’, known as döstädning in Sweden. The idea is that it not only allows you to revisit your lifetime of memories, but it helps keep the clutter down which is good for both reducing stress in day-to-day life and keeping your environmental footprint in check – and it’s also doing a favour to those who survive you. I can’t help but wonder if we knew we had to personally face the job of dealing with every single thing we owned, if it might curb the rampant consumerism somewhat. Acquiring food is usually welcome (just make sure you label the jars…).
After absentmindedly misplacing my much beloved former snake chain necklace, I’ve been on the hunt for a replacement. I think I’ve finally settled on my jewellery aesthetic – exhausted mum using large hoops, layered necklaces and over-the-top ear candy to distract from under-eye bags – and I’m leaning into wholeheartedly right now. Which means that when I’m onto a staple, I’m committed fully. Hence why I was especially sad that my previous necklace disappeared on me. So, when I discovered that Comune Gallery, a new ethical jewellery showroom based in Northcote, has their own version made from recycled gold-plated sterling silver, I did not hesitate. Aside from the classics, Comune also features a pared back collection of contemporary fine jewellery hand-crafted by Australian artists and makers – including ready-to-wear and bespoke designs. I’m a sucker for a shiny trinket so I’m sure I’ll be adding more to cart as I continue to build my ‘essentials’ stash…
The speed with which the various coronavirus vaccines have been developed may seem incredibly quick. But actually, despite the fact that this seriously life-altering, crown-shaped virus has only come to the collective consciousness in the last 18 months, the vaccines are an evolution of almost three centuries of scientific research. Delving into the 250-year history of modern vaccine development with a series of interviews featuring some of the world’s most prominent virologists, immunologists and epidemiologists, Long Shot – a new podcast from IHeartRadio and School of Humans – sees journalist Shaun Raviv investigate the historical milestones that have led us to the unprecedented scientific horizon we are looking at now. From ancient Chinese inoculators, to the first family of pharmaceutical innovators working in England in the eighteenth century to the most prolific vaccine inventor ever, it’s a really well-researched, engaging and science-history nerd-level take on the vaccine conversation.
Chalk it up to my desperate desire to hop on a plane and visit my family in Oakland and the Bay Area, but Blindspotting – the new comedy-drama series from co-creators Daveed Diggs (of Netflix’s Snowpiercer fame) and Rafael Casal – is filling a wanderlusty, nostalgic-childhood-memory hole in my life right now. Interspersed with poetic, fourth-wall-breaking spoken word interludes and theatrical flourishes – a silent dance troupe adds a sort of physical poeticism to the whole story, punctuating some of the most powerful scenes with brief bursts of choreographed movement to underline the emotion being conveyed – the show is another excellent example of the magical realism canon that seems undeniably Oakland. The style (in part credited to Boots Riley’s unexpected Sorry To Bother You) feels like a really effective way to tell the stories of a disenfranchised, discriminated-against America with wit and humour, but also a gut-punchy realism. As with a lot of cities in the US, Oakland’s rich cultural identity is both hyperlocal and highly idiosyncratic – something that’s translated perfectly by Rafael and Daveed, who return to their hometown to adapt the series from their 2018 film of the same name. It reminds me of the otherworldly experience of taking my regional-Australia raised husband to my dad’s house in West Oakland for the first time – so many unfamiliar cultural touchstones but with an endearing connection and warmth that leaves outsiders yearning for inclusion. Equally though, the powerful social commentary throughout the series – touching on Black identity, privilege and colourism, code-switching and the complexity of existing in such a melting pot – really strikes a chord for me as a mixed-race Black woman who spent most of my youth looking at it from afar. One particularly clever scene occurs when, concerned their young charge Sean was missing out on an appropriate cultural education in line with his “Black boy magic”, Earl and Trish debate the inherent racial attributes of 1993’s Meteor Man and Paddington 2. When recounting the situation later to the other characters as they play dominos, the ankle bracelet-tethered Earl (who is the walking embodiment of the statistical imbalance of the US’s carceral system), dissect their varying levels of privilege and the correlation to their degree of Blackness. Written by a mostly female writers room, and starring predominantly women, including Oscar-winning Helen Hunt as a pitch-perfect Birkenstock-wearing, weed-smoking, ex-hippie Berkley-type, the show is well-worth the eight ep commitment – even if you’re not pining for the down home streets of Oakland.
It’s been on my to-sew list for far too long, but I’ve been spurred on by our recent round up of one of our most beloved Peppermint patterns – the Wrap Top – and it’s currently sitting on my sewing machine waiting for sleeves and finishing. Maybe I’m upskilling or maybe it’s the design, but it’s been one of my quickest sews to date and I’m excited for all the potential spinoffs I can create from here!
DIGITAL AND ASSISTANT EDITOR
It’s me, back again with another fuzzy, feel-good recommendation for your viewing pleasure. After binging The Chair (consider me obsessed with Sandra Oh in this moreish delight) and Sweet Tooth (a strange yet warm take on a post-pandemic world), the Sundance hit Coda is an undeniable crowd pleaser. The film follows the immense Emilia Jones as Rubi Rossi, the hearing daughter of deaf parents with dreams of becoming a singer, taking a coming-of-age tale and threading it with an important political agenda. While Emilia shines, the entire cast is strong with overdue on-screen representation of the deaf community and deaf actors cast in deaf roles. The motivational quotes and musical numbers do come thick and fast, but this ain’t no episode of Glee. Yes it can be formulaic, and a more cynical version of myself might call it at-times twee, but there’s such an undeniable sense of humour and heart, I couldn’t bear to look away.
Gosh, I’m just obsessed with cults. The mentality, the weird rituals, the language. I was lucky enough to interview someone who shares this interest, the lovely Amanda Montell – linguist and author of the excellent Wordslut – for an article in Issue 51 (shameless plug, it’s out today). Chatting all things “cultish” on the back of her latest book of the same name, the book examines how language informs the communities of modern life – from SoulCyle to Scientology. It’s a fab read, a bona fide page turner and Amanda writes with such an ease you could easily be at lunch having a chat with a pal. Grab a copy of the book, then the mag to learn how advertising giants co-opt these cultish tactics to sell us things.
COMMUNITY AND PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER
In our very first Monthly Mint (all those minty months ago!), I talked about my goal to read 40 books this year. How’s it going, you ask? Oh… it is not going well! Look, I’m trying so hard but life is big and tiring and sometimes getting through a book is hard! I’m not giving up though. I’m at 14 books for the year and I have so many good ones waiting in my TBR pile. I’ve just finished the wonderful, complex, funny Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and it’s definitely reignited my love of character-driven books: books that fully invite you into the worlds, minds and hearts of the characters and that don’t hold back on how awful and amazing we humans can be. You can read more about the story in this wonderful Bookstagram review (also mentioned in my first MM… look at me coming full circle!) along with a second review by the glorious B. Both of these reviews definitely made me excited for this book… The fault lies completely with me (and partly with the siren call of TikTok) that it has taken so long to finish it. But I’m on the case now – 26 to go!
Even though I work at Peppermint, famous for its free sewing patterns, I must confess that I do not sew (gasp!). Sewing feels like magic to me, and is as far away from my skill level as conjuring a rabbit out a hat (that I sewed myself). But! We can do hard things! So in an effort to get myself into the stitchy mindset, I am taking up the gateway craft of embroidery. It still involves a needle and thread and the lovely meditative state of sewing, but the basic stitches are super easy, even for a novice like me. Plus, you can use embroidery to jazz up unloved pieces of clothing which appeals to my sustainable little heart. And wouldn’t you know it, our latest issue includes four wonderful embroidery designs from Emma Downing at Yarn Industries, designed exclusively for Peppermint. Look out old clothes, you’re going to be covered in Australia native flora!
SEWING CONTENT COORDINATOR
One of my favourite podcast genres is “being tricked into learning something.” I love bumbling along receiving light entertainment in my ear holes all the while interesting (if largely useless) pieces of information are being seeded deep in my brain, ready to be regurgitated mid-conversation letting people know I’m very smart and very, very cool. A classic in this oeuvre is You’re Dead to Me, a BBC Radio 4 production where each week Horrible Histories alum Greg Jenner brings together a professional historian and a professional comedian and they have a chat about whatever the selected historical topic of the week is – from Boudicca, to Lord Byron, to the History of Chocolate (did you know there are real people whose job is Chocolate Historian?). Funny, charming and educational, it’s always a treat to tune in.
Buying shoes is a bit of an ordeal for me. Tragically in my early twenties I accidentally bought a pair of fancy ergonomic sneakers from FrankieFour and ever since have been unable to walk unless my feetsies are comfortably cushioned in some seriously supportive soles. This makes buying shoes expensive, which makes it a rarity, which means every new shoe must be cute enough to go with every outfit I may conceivably wear until I, or the shoe, dies, which can be a little stressful. However, this year’s Dreaded Shoe Purchase was incredibly painless. I saw my much cooler friend wearing a pair of sandals so comfortable she could wear them on a city walking tour yet so stylish that she could then wear them to a garden wedding rehearsal, and I was like, “Whoa, Much Cooler Friend, where did you get those great sandals?!” She directed me to TWOOBS – an Australian owned company that is 100% carbon neutral when making their shoes, which are vegan-friendly and made using recycled materials. I have a pair of their OG Sandals in Frida Kahki-lo and they’re so cute they’ve given me the confidence to finally follow my dreams and try the socks and sandals look.
I recently relocated to Brisbane with only my trusty sewing machine as hand luggage and two suitcases – one filled entirely with sewing notions, fabric and other DIY accoutrements, and the other containing roughly 25% unused notebooks, 25% framed photos of my dog and other practical life necessities. [Editor’s Note: Welcome to the team Bonnie! We’re so happy to have you up north!] This, as the mathematically minded of you may have noticed, did not leave a lot of room for clothes. It turns out last minute packing panic is the mindset that best engenders that deep, thorough, utterly ruthless wardrobe cleanse I’ve always meant to get around to. I am now the proud owner of a very small capsule wardrobe. Very small. Maybe too small… Luckily I have a plan to repopulate it, primarily with garments made by moi. I’ve already started making my way through the Peppermint Sewing School back catalogue, and I’m so excited for our latest pattern to drop you guys don’t even know.