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.
I’m going to keep this short, because I’m knee-deep in the middle of moving house. Or as it has become apparent, neck-deep, as it’s come to light that I ashamedly have waaaay too many possessions. Who owns who though, exactly? I’ve always wanted to downsize and live with a lighter footprint, I just wasn’t expecting to do it so suddenly. We had only just finished cleaning out my father-in-law’s house, as I wrote about in a very recent Monthly Mint, and now having an unexpected move thrust upon us in a very short time (after being in our house for 11 years) has meant the torch has been turned back on ourselves.
We’re moving from a very large house to a much smaller townhouse, where I can walk to work, shops and markets, and utilise shared resources (ok fine, I’m talking about a pool). But the question remains: why do I have so much stuff? What has it brought to my life, other than loss of time, money and space and, most importantly, what has it taken from others – socially, ethically and environmentally? It’s been interesting noticing the odd and unwarranted emotional connection I seem to have to certain objects and belongings (whoever ends up with my dining table, please know I will forever mourn its loss). I guess joy has been sparked on its lovely wooden surfaces over the years (all those treasured memories of begging a toddler to eat his broccoli…). There’s also a bigger conversation to be had about amassing too many things that are deemed ok to accumulate simply because they are ‘sustainable’ or preloved (spoiler: stuff is still stuff). I’ll write more about the lessons I learned along the way at a later date once I come out the other side and am relaxing poolside, but for now, it’s back to wading through years of broken pens and sad thoughts (mainly of why I never did regular spring cleans…).
As a child, Christmas was a bit of a challenging time emotionally. As hard as my mum – a single mother of four – tried to make it super special and family focused, the fact that our dad didn’t live with us (and most of our extended family was either interstate or overseas) weighed heavy on the joyful part. I think as some kind of coping mechanism, and probably a bit of a learned response, I grew up wholeheartedly rejecting the abject commercialisation of the holiday. Which, over the years, morphed into a certain kind of Grinchiness around the hype and rampant commercial fuss over a single day in December.
Before I get too far down a ranty rabbit hole of ancient history covering how pagan rituals and Christianity melded long, long, long ago gathering other legends and lore along the way to create the festive holiday we know and not-so-love, suffice to say, we are approaching the time when I usually enter full Grinch mode. But, and I’m certainly not the first parent to experience this (my life is now just one long series of taking back all the shit I said and thought pre-parenthood), I’m now finding myself unable to resist all the most cheesy, chintzy, glitter-filled, tinsel-wrapped charm of Christmas.
The sheer joy that my four-year-old, twinkle-eyed child finds in all of the most Christmassy things is just too hard to fight. I want to see the world how he sees it… and that, my friends, is how they get you. It’s completely infectious. And it’s left me questioning my rigidity and the real source of my anti-Christmas stance. But also, it makes me ponder traditions and how we create them with our family (while trying to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma). How can we leave the bad stuff behind but still make meaningful, balanced and beautiful moments with our families? Especially in the face of growing inequality and disparity, it’s something I think about a lot. I came from a family that didn’t always have much (in the way of material things), so while I feel a deep responsibility to create an abundant environment for my child, as the pressure to buy presents and create the most extravagant feast and celebration builds, I’m left thinking about how I can embrace the beauty of Christmas time, while still having (and instilling) a conscious approach to the silly season. To be quite honest, I’ve recently discovered the freedom that actually comes with giving in to it a little bit; not being too hard on myself, relaxing my expectations and just leaning in to the cheese. And by that I mean I’ve absolutely already put up the Christmas tree and started playing the Mariah Carey Christmas album on repeat… And I won’t feel one ounce of damn shame for my blatant reversal (but I’m also not buying presents for the adults in our extended families so there’s still a bit of Grinch down there somewhere…).
If you haven’t already heard of or watched Sex Education, then do yourself a favour and get on it. Starring the inimitable Gillian Anderson (who, as far as I’m concerned, can do no wrong and is just the best) and a young relatively unknown cast – who are all really the stars of the show – it’s a beautifully written and very entertaining British drama-comedy set at the fictional Moordale High. Asa Butterfield plays Otis Milburn, a sexually frustrated and self-styled sex therapist (the son of Gillian’s Dr Jean Milburn, herself an actual sex therapist) who sets up a school clinic with his best friend/love interest, Maeve. Both hilarity and realness ensue throughout the three-season series. Drawing on all the most notable high school drama-centred tropes, it’s a really refreshing and, dare I say it, self-aware take on teen sexuality and angst, which actually inspires me and leaves me questioning so many of the stereotypes and stigmas around sexuality and sex that I grew up with.
My husband and I have just completed season three and, my gosh, I was laughing and crying in equal measure the whole way through. It’s so sensitive and clever and educational without being lecturey, dealing with big themes like gender and identity politics, feminism, ageism, sexual harassment and the breaking down of generational patterns of repression and social norms. It also helps that the styling and wardrobes are amazing – a mash of eras but clearly set in the modern day. This is probably rose-tinted optimism at its best (because let’s face it, this is a fictional show) but it gives me the good feels to see teens represented on screen in such a positive and uplifting way, all navigating the messiness of life with vulnerability and maturity, while the adults also seem to (mostly) behave like adults – and they are swiftly called out if they aren’t. Hooray for thought-provoking and entertaining television.
DIGITAL AND ASSISTANT EDITOR
So, I’m not entirely sure what a metaverse is. Nor what it actually means for humanity. Something about virtual and augmented reality and “living” within a digital universe? Sounds straight out of Black Mirror.
However, I did get to have a pretty insane virtual reality experience recently – namely, I put on a headset and backpack, and wandered around a small room killing zombies for the better part of an hour. And it felt… real? Not to the point where I cried in a corner terrified a zombie was going to eat me or anything, but it honestly felt like my body was really doing things – like the sensation of travelling in an elevator or walking along the edge of a building. Clearly I’m no VR expert but my experience really put into perspective just how valuable this technology could be in the future. From training and simulations to exposure therapy and disability support, virtual reality is so often pigeonholed as purely a tool for gamers when in, well, reality, its applications are endless. So long as it’s not solely Zuckerberg’s metaverse, I’m pretty excited about watching this tech come of age.
In a former life, I earned my crust as a music journalist so not to be a pretentious twat but the news that Spotify has hidden the shuffle button from albums (thanks Adele) was, ahem, music to my ears.
“We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason,” the ‘Go Easy On Me’ singer said in a Tweet thanking Spotify. “Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended.” Hear, hear.
It also comes as my girl Taylor Swift broke the nearly half-a-century-old record for longest #1 hit of all time with ‘All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)’. Turns out it serves to not accept the narrative that ‘people have no attention spans’ – something I think the Peppermint audience would agree with. Long live long form!
COMMUNITY AND PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER
We’ve had a Worm Cafe from Bunnings for the past couple of years and I must admit, besides dropping our scraps in there every week and doing a quick mix around, we have not really paid it much attention. This obviously makes me a bad worm parent but with two children and three cats, I put my attention on the squeakiest wheels. Forgive me little worms, but you seem so self-sufficient!
However, inspired by an article in our latest issue from worm expert Hannah Churton, I decided to do a proper deep dig to see how our 2000 wriggly roommates were doing. The bad news? The top level of the cafe has become home to a few – emphasis on the “ew” – too many other little bugs. On the whole, Hannah’s website tells me that other bugs aren’t really bad news, but I will certainly keep my eye on them. The good news is that the lower levels of the cafe are filled with lush castings (that’s worm poo) and happy worms galore! Now that we all know where we stand (or lie), I think we’ll now add a Composta system to our worm village to allow us to process some more of our food waste and prevent overfeeding our current worms. The clever Composta design will allow us to process our huge number of food scraps (see: two children), feed our worms and grow herbs or flowers all in one! Coles is actually now stocking these wonderful systems, which is a pretty exciting step for the little Gold Coast brand. Food waste begone, the worm is turning!
It’s late November, which means it’s basically December, which means it’s basically Christmas. Which means… I must get a wriggle on (will the worm puns ever stop!) and create our picture book advent calendar. I cannot take any credit for this idea as I saw it on Instagram years ago, but here’s how I do it. Every year I wrap up 24 Christmas books, one for each day of December, that we then unwrap before bedtime and read. To make up numbers and keep it a bit fresh every year, I borrow new Christmas books from the library, try to thrift a couple and also head to our wonderful local bookstore and buy two new books to add to our own bookshelf. The kids get all the joy of unwrapping things throughout December, I get a reprieve from reading 101 Spooky Bums every night and it gets us all in the Christmas spirit. Add in some twinkly fairy lights and you’ve got yourself some cosy festive feelings!
SEWING CONTENT COORDINATOR
This month I am going to go see the Queensland Ballet (in collaboration with West Australian Ballet)’s production of Dracula and I couldn’t be more excited! As much as I love a traditional ballet, there are only so many ways choreographers can put a ‘unique spin’ on Swan Lake so I’m always excited to see a company take a chance on something completely new. But as ballet storytelling is confined to the power of mime and dance I like it even more when I already have a pretty good handle on what’s going on. And as a huge enthusiast of both vampires and the public domain I love to see people playing around with the Dracula mythos in new and interesting ways. So this production is to me as a pale brunette in an insubstantial night gown is to Dracula – a delightfully tasty treat!
Recently my friends and I had a weekend hang so pleasant and idyllic you’d think we staged it for internet clout – we tie-dyed some of our clothes in the backyard and then hand-made some gnocchi pasta to eat for dinner. Of course in reality our tie dye was supposed to be sun powered and despite nearly 30 degree heat, the sun stayed stubbornly behind a cloud and our clothes turned out a little faded and blotchy. And I personally was so bad at the trick of rolling gnocchi off the back of a fork to shape it that I was dishonourably demoted to dough rolling duty. So what I’m advocating for here is neither pasta nor tie dye but the experience of trying new things with your pals – even if it turns out you’re terrible at them, you can still have an absolutely lovely time.
In the words of Tom Cardy it’s ‘Not Quite Almost Christmas Time‘, which means we are inching ever closer to that beloved national holiday that falls on 21 December – Gravy Day, baby! As the resident Paul Kelly fanatic it is my pleasure to announce that 25 years after the release of his seminal anti-Christmas carol, Paul has finally given into the holiday spirit and released his very first Christmas album, Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train, a 22-song double album that brings Paul’s offbeat intellectualism to its selection of songs, from Latin hymns, traditional carols, Irish folk ballads, a Māori language rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ (Tapu Te Pō) by Marlon Williams, and a shiny new re-recording of the unbeatable ‘How to Make Gravy’ itself. If you’re in the mood for some Christmas tunes a bit less sonically omnipresent than Bublé and Mariah, your moment is now.