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.
Conjuring Olivia Newton John and Jane Fonda vibes is the lycra-laden Physical, currently on Apple TV+. Rose Byrne is brilliant as Sheila, the tortured but super polite, ‘everything’s fine’ housewife secretly battling a crippling eating disorder – which then morphs into an aerobic obsession. The music, set design and costumes are an aesthetically pleasing romp through the early 80s, with a lingering tinge of 70s, and despite its hefty topic, it’s still a darkly humorous show. But that’s where it gets messy; it’s an uncomfortable, ‘I shouldn’t be laughing’ minefield, and I admit that it doesn’t delve too seriously into Sheila’s eating disorder, among a few other criticisms that I (and it seems, several movie critics) have of the show. But still, Sheila’s blistering internal dialogue that is the scathing, self (-and-everyone-in-her-path) loathing backdrop to her life and the show, will feel painfully familiar to many. The continuous derisive comments that consume Sheila’s thoughts – “You’re too fat, too ugly, too old, too this, too that…” – evoke many ‘how did the writers get inside my head’ moments. A timely reminder to go easy on myself.
While our own vaccine rollout leaves a lot to be desired, (hello lowest country in the world vaccinated per population), the one thing we benefit from here in Australia is free vaccinations. Many others are not so privileged, and the new initiative, Vaccine Forward, is working to rectify this. According to the non-profit group founded in Sweden, more than two billion people live in countries that can’t afford to vaccinate their population – not even their healthcare workers. You may not be eligible to get your own jab here right now (I’m happy to say I’ve joined the First Shot Pfizer Club), but for $10 you can help someone else get one. As their tagline says, no one is safe until everyone is safe.
It just so happens that I finished listening to the Chasing Cosby podcast last week, only to hear the devastating news that Bill Cosby has just been released from jail – on a technicality it needs to be pointed out, not because he was exonerated or proven innocent. The harrowing LA Times podcast, from reporter and journalist Nicki Weisensee Egan who followed the case(s) for decades, brings together the voices of the many, many women who alleged they were drugged and assaulted by ‘America’s dad’. My heart goes out these women who endured these attacks and who have bravely shared their stories – his freedom is a shocking injustice for them all, and for any survivors of sexual assault. Tune in to the podcast (or read Nicki’s book by the same name) and hear their voices. I believe them.
Since I have heaps of time on my hands (narrator voice: “She did not, in fact, have heaps of time”), and I’ve mastered crocheting already (also not really true), I thought I’d turn my crafting intentions to knitting. I’ve had knitting needles hiding away in my sewing stash for a while but when the presser from the lovely crew at Cardigang hit my inbox, it reminded me of how much I’d love my own forever chunky knit. I’ve been using my leftover wool to attempt to upskill before tackling one of their handy DIY knit kits but newsflash: it is not going well. Perhaps it’s my awkwardly chunky fingers, or maybe it’s that I’ve realised the true amount of work that will be involved in knitting a cardi from start to finish – either way, at this rate, I’ll have a snuggly, oh-so-chunky knit in approximately seven-and-a-half years. As much as I’d love the deep satisfaction of creating it myself, I think I’ll be opting for the path of least resistance here and choosing one of the ready-made knits. The scrooge in me is always looking for a way to save a buck or two, but, quite frankly, the cost of yarn plus the time taken will far exceed the ready-made price tag.
As a former vegetarian, I’ve been trying to cut back on meat for a while now (purely a personal taste thing though I’m increasingly uncomfortable with certain farming methods) but I find that since I’m low on time, my passion for the fun of cooking has been dimmed by the functionality of getting something on the table quickly. For our Mum’s 70th birthday, my sister Safa and I executed an extravagant Middle Eastern-inspired vegetarian feast, which reignited my love of cooking with veg. Locked away on an island (Moreton to be exact), we sprinkled an earthy line-up of star veg – like whole roasted cauliflower and burnt aubergine – with fragrant (and pretty) accoutrements including rose petals, pomegranate seeds and za’atar – and I was reminded of how delicious and fun to cook with vegetables can be. Although it feels harder to make in a hurry (and admittedly, our sumptuous meal was not a ‘done in a flash’ affair in the slightest), with the right prep, it’s possible to have veg-led food any night of the week. In the research for our birthday menu, I also rediscovered Ottolenghi’s Instagram account, which is just one stunning and creative dish after another. Even if you aren’t a fan of the legendary veg champion’s cookbooks, it’s the kind of digital feed that will make you hungry for a real life feed within a few quick scrolls. Drool-worthy, indeed.
For my baby shower three-and-a-bit years ago, I had a pom pom making station. And while it was very fun and popular, I also have a ridiculous amount of wool leftover (ergo, the knitting projects). I’ve been wondering how to use it up without creating more pom poms to gather dust, and then one of our writers, Leeyong Soo, wrote us a super quick and simple DIY for creating tassels from upcycled thread or yarn. It was just the nudge I needed, so now I’m planning a wall hanging to display my, so far theoretical, tassels. I’m also working towards these indoor plant covers as I continue my journey to full #plantqueen status.
ASSISTANT AND DIGITAL EDITOR
The second season of Canadian comic Mae Martin’s semi-autobiographical series Feel Good will not have you feeling good. OK, that’s not entirely true – it’s laugh-out-loud funny with whip-smart writing and entirely human characters you can’t help but fall in love with. (Charlotte Ritchie is a real standout as George, Mae’s previously straight love interest, as is Lisa Kudrow as Mae’s mother who will have you proper snort-laughing.) But as the show navigates addiction and relationships with just the right amount of grit, it’s as much a triggering exploration of trauma, and its lingering effects, as it is an exercise in empathy and love. Add it to your list, pronto.
This edition of The Monthly Mint is brought to you by Queensland lockdown which makes this next watch fairly fitting. It seems like every person on the internet and their dog has watched Bo Burnham’s latest comedy special, Inside, so it may seem like a superfluous recommendation. Still, I’m adding my voice to the cacophony of those telling you to stop what you’re doing and watch it immediately. Even if you’re not one for musical comedy, the almost claustrophobic, intensely self-aware watch detailing Bo’s lockdown is universal in its appeal – diving deep into his subconscious to turn a mirror back on society and internet culture. At times it can feel all too real and hit a bit close to home (“How we feeling out there tonight?/ Hahaha, yeah/I am not feeling good!”) but it’s funny as hell and the songs will dance in your head long after you’re done watching.
This month I was tasked to #WearTheChange as part of The Social Outfit’s ethical fashion challenge for Refugee Week (20-26 June). Shining a light on the problems of fast fashion, all while supporting women from refugee and new migrant backgrounds with training and employment pathways, the challenge saw participants style one garment five ways over five days. I’m already a serial outfit repeater (and proud of it) but the challenge was a fun way to shop my wardrobe and style items I normally overlook in a fresh, new way. I also had to travel quite the way out of my comfort zone and plaster my face on the internet so there’s that. May my endeavours inspire you to go out and wear that outfit again… and again… and again. And then once more for good measure.
COMMUNITY AND PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER
If the last 18 months has done nothing else, it’s alerted me (and I hope, many others) to the heights of my privilege and protections as a middle-class white woman in a developed country. And while it’s been easy to feel apathetic and helpless (a global pandemic will do that to you), I also know that I can use some of my privilege to financially support causes I believe in. This month I have made payments to Pay the Rent network (a grassroots collective supporting and protecting the rights of First Nations people), the ASRC (a charity that provides support to refugees in Australia) and Community Friends (a local charity in my suburb that provides free food to those in need). I’ve also set these up to be ongoing monthly payments. The contributions I make are not huge, but they are an important way for me to use my money to sustain charities and causes I wholeheartedly believe are trying to make the world a better place.
June marks the birthday of my lovely second child, Mack, and also my nephew (they are only 10 days apart). This means June is also the time when I wrack my brains to find the right balance between buying presents that two little people will love, that we as their parents can tolerate (people who give whistles as presents, I am looking at you), that are useful and lovely and also do not contribute to the overwhelming plastic toy problem the world already has. Enter these very cute mats from HeyDoodle. Made from food-grade silicone, they come with colourful non-toxic pens and each mat can be washed and reused over and over. The designs are super cute and I loved that the options felt quite gender neutral. Happy birthday little people!
I’m sorry that this one is mostly for folks in Brisbane and surrounds, but while we can’t travel too far afield we’ve been trying to take day trips, enjoy the gorgeous Queensland winter weather and basically give our children some memories that don’t involve the iPad. Cue a drive up to Mt Tambourine and an impromptu stop at Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation. I love a garden cafe and this one delivered in spades, with enough safe space for the kids to run around, climb trees and play in autumn leaves while we drank coffee and ate a really incredible, locally sourced breakfast. It isn’t just a name either – the cafe offers tours of its plantation and insights into its chemical-free growing and processing methods. We can’t wait to get back there!
As an obsessive composter – yes I ask nicely if my children will bring home the banana peels and apple cores from school – I was pleased to learn that I owned every composting receptacle and gadget that was on show at the recent Green Heart sustainability event in Brisbane. Missing from their range, though, was my new fave, the Tumbleweed Compost Mate Tool which is a metal spiral rod that has confirmed for me that the best compost can be made from a simple hole in the ground. It’s very satisfying to see what is actually going on at the bottom of the pile and to check the progress of the Pod & Parcel compostable coffee pods I’ve added.