This is my view at the moment, when I look up from my computer screen: our little friend Napoleon trying to cool himself down on our old wood floors. I feel his pain — it’s too hot here in Maryland already! I’m usually prepared to wilt during July and August, but here we are at the end of May and it’s already barely tolerable outside. It looks like I’ll need to pull out my cool-down tricks a little sooner than I thought. Here are some of the things I’ll be turning to over the next few months when temps are raging:
Really, is there any substitute when you need a fast cool-down? When my toes won’t curl because the humidity has blown them up beyond recognition, the only solution is to throw myself into a cold shower. Funny thing is, half the time it doesn’t end up being super cold, because the ground water is so warm. But it’s enough to return me to some degree of normalcy.
Just last night, I grabbed a lemon, squeezed it, and added some ice, water, and honey — voila, a quick lemonade! For an extra yummy version, however, I’m definitely turning to Ann’s lemonade with a twist as soon as I can get my hands on a big bunch of basil. Have you tried it? You must.
Do you remember Mags’ post last summer about the perfect iced coffee? I’m not even a coffee drinker, but it’s the best treat in the summer. For the dummy version, I stick a cup of brewed coffee (Counter Culture roasts my favorite beans) in the fridge to cool down. Then I simple pour it over ice, add cream and agave nectar, and I’m all set. Not as special as Mags’ version, but in a pinch, it definitely works.
I love white clothes, but they don’t like me — mainly because I stain every white thing that I wear, no matter how hard I try not to. But in hot weather, I break out the white anyway — white tanks, tees, blouses, and flowy linen skirts. Actually, I don’t own a flowy white skirt; that sounds way too dangerous. But I might have to make an exception if things get crazy hot around here.
Counter-intuitive, right? It’s basically the homeopathic principle that like cures like. In many warm-weather countries, spicy foods are served because they make you perspire — and perspiration, when it evaporates, causes the body to cool. Although hot weather makes me crave simple, fresh meals, I do sometimes like to order (or make) some spicy Thai, Mexican, Indian, or Ethiopian and see if I can sweat out some of the heat.
Crisp cotton sheets
High-quality, crisp, cotton sheets can really make you feel cool at night. For some reason, they also have to be light-colored; dark sheets make me feel warm. That may be psychological, but we know that color — or at least our perception of it — affects our emotional state. When I see white or light-colored sheets, I feel cooler. Now, if I could just pay someone to regularly iron our sheets, that would make them extra awesome.
There are various herbs that have a reputation for being cooling — mint, lemon verbena, cilantro, and parsley, to name a few. They are great additions to salads, drinks, and side dishes in hot-weather months. One of my favorite things to make is salsa with all the gorgeous tomatoes that come into season and plenty of fresh cilantro. I’ve also been adding a lot of mint and parsley to my green shakes lately.
Gin & tonic
I love a good cocktail on a steamy summer night, but a gin and tonic made with Hendrick’s (or a small-batch artisanal gin) is the quintessential hot weather drink. I’ve been using Q tonic water, which is not cheap, but if you only treat yourself every now and then, it’s worth it. A little bit of fresh lime juice with a lime wedge on the glass is the necessary touch.
And last but not least:
Spend the next three months in Nova Scotia
This is my dream — to spend summers in Nova Scotia at our cottage, where typical summer temps are mid-high 70s and I can swim at our own private beach in the warm Northumberland Strait and eat fresh veggies from my mum’s garden. Sadly, I’m not sure I’ll get there this year, but I’ll be living vicariously through all of my siblings and their kids — and dreaming about my next visit.
You know, I think I just got a bit cooler writing all of this down. What are your favorite ways to beat the heat?
Images: Zoe Saint-Paul. For the record, no brands listed above paid me to mention them here — I just like these products and wanted to share them with you.