Comforting Things, Vol. 2: Heat Wave Edition

Comforting Things Heat Wave The Attic on Eighth July 2019.JPG

In our first rendition of the subject “Comforting Things” we discussed the emotional frustrations we had at the time, and suffice to say that things, unfortunately, haven't exactly gotten easier. The wonder of a community such as ours is that we find comfort in each other, sending good vibes and support and generally sharing more and more potential coping mechanisms. We’ve talked books, films, activities, and now we’re talking weather. It’s not an easy world, and as much as we’d like to do and be, it’s hard to maintain a train of thought when the temperatures rise to dangerous levels and do nothing but exhaust and give us panic about impending climate doom. Last year we shared our favorite ways to stay cool in the summer, and here we expand in a new way. Comfort shouldn’t be reserved to the cozy seasons, so here’s how we stay calm and comfortable in the heat.


Food & Drink : Stay hydrated!

Battling the heat, we ice our coffee and take meals cold, but hydration is one of the most important and easiest ways to recharge and clear our minds.

Raquel Reyes: Reminding myself to hydrate can be a struggle, but in the summer especially I can be so dim as to spend hours with a headache and suddenly realize I haven’t bothered to have a sip of water all day. Especially with my iced coffee intake, I need it. To make water interesting I’ll throw in concentrated vitamin tablets once a day; these have electrolytes, green nutrients such as spinach and spirulina, and a dash of carbonation. The rest of the time I’ll add whatever fruit I have in the refrigerator; peaches, cherries, blueberries and lemon, and snack on the leftovers once I’ve finished my glass.

Olivia Gündüz-Willemin: Like Raquel, making sure I’m hydrated is my priority in the summer. I recently found one of those glass water jugs that have a glass that closes over the top, so I’ve taken to filling that with ice water and carrying it with me wherever I go at home. If I have water on hand, I’ll drink it. If I don’t, I quickly get grumpy, headache-y, and lethargic and don’t really know why until I finally get myself a glass of water. Food-wise, I like to keep my meals cold in the summer, meaning lots of varieties of caprese and gazpacho, and of course my two favorite warm weather meals that I’ve shared in the past – cacik and kisiri.

Rachel Tay: Having lived in a tropical climate my whole life, remembering to hydrate myself sufficiently is perhaps not so much of an issue. Trying to keep myself cool, however, is a whole other problem. Thankfully, old traditions passed through generations of Chinese mothers have taught me enough to recognise “heaty” (mangos, mutton, chicken) and “cooling” (barley, chrysanthemum, citruses) foods, so I stock my fridge accordingly. Also, the freezer has never been more helpful in allowing me to make ice-popsicles out of every other fruit that I throw in there. Frozen bananas? Perfect snack. Frozen seedless grapes? Life-changing. 

Rory Mara: I second everything that has been said. I have my Chilly's bottle with me at all times, which really does keep water cool for the longest time. While back in Italy earlier this summer, however, I found sometimes that water did not feel always satisfying. Luckily, a dear friend there has a lemon tree and often gifts us the most aromatic lemons, so fresh homemade lemonade is a favourite and a must. 

Reading & Entertainment: Easy Does It

While we take different approaches, the consensus is to embrace and immerse ourselves in the familiar.

OGW: I find that summer, even more than autumn or winter, is the ultimate time for comfort reading. I forget it as soon as the season is over, but absolutely nothing compares to long days where it’s too hot to go outside and you have no energy to do anything but sit in front of a fan and read all day, hopefully with fresh cherries on hand to snack on… or summer nights where thunderstorms boom away and you can’t put down the book you started earlier in the day. It’s the best time for binge reading and for letting yourself get so immersed in a book that you come the closest to feeling the joy of childhood reading that you can as an adult. Maybe because of this, I love to visit (or revisit) classics in the summer or immerse myself in long novels, preferably ones that have wonderful family dramas to them. I’m reading Costalegre at the moment, and it captures everything I love about summer reading. 

RR: For the heat I like an immersion therapy approach; reading novels from the 20s such as Save Me The Waltz and The Glimpses of The Moon, both set in summer and lavishly descriptive of the physical, smothering sensations of the heat. They make me feel a little bit less as though I am the only one currently melting at the mercy of my thermostat, and give my vocabulary far more interesting words to use for describing said heat than the useless, fried mush my own brain comes up with. If I'm sitting down to watch something, warm climates aren't usually a requirement, but my current Grace & Frankie rewatch is certainly making me nostalgic for California sand and wishing I had a beach house. I think all those adverts for Big Little Lies are having the same effect, and may make me finally consider watching it, if only for the lush scenery and ocean views.

RT: Given the amount of reading that I usually have to do throughout the semester, I usually reserve my summers for a “brain rest”, during which I only read books which I’m certain I can finish in one sitting. After all, who has the will or the focus to peruse anything longer, when the weather threatens to make one hallucinate talking rabbits or vanish on a picnic trip? (I believe it is no coincidence that the respective trippy events of Alice in Wonderland and Picnic at Hanging Rock are set beneath the altering glare of the sun.) These summer stories aside, then, I like the snappy, funny words of Dorothy Parker and Nora Ephron – they remind me that literature can still lift one’s spirits. I also enjoy dipping in and out of author letters and diaries, since they allow me to read them without any commitment, and every encounter with them feels like another meeting with an old friend. Finally, I don’t go one summer without a reread of either The Goldfinch or The Secret History, since they are the only hefty books for which I always have the patience, regardless of climate. As for visuals, there’s nothing like summer to make you wish that you were plunged back into the snowscapes of winter or the cold light of an autumn morning, so I, oddly enough, find myself watching films set in those seasons instead. I’m thinking of the mist-saturated outdoors of Pride and Prejudice (2005), or the harsh stones of Oxford and Cambridge in The History Boys – these are my visual equivalents of submerging my entire being into a refreshing, ice-cold bath. 

RM: When it’s so hot that I can’t think, I need something relaxing and comforting. Just the other day I sat down with my dad and watch The Leopard, Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece. It’s not an easy watch if it’s your first time, but I have seen it so many times by now that I know it by heart. I also associate it to family time, when everyone is sitting in front of the tv, maybe eating ice cream. It’s a beautiful period drama, with revolution, forbidden love and, of course, a young Alain Delon.

Beauty & Aromatherapy: Keep It Light

Earthy florals and gentle, cooling products keep us grounded and fresh.

RR: Upon Olivia’s recommendation earlier this year I’ve adopted a lavender room and pillow mist for relaxing at home. On fresh sheets a good dose of this feels like my very own spa resort. I’m still burning candles when it's cooler, but instead of my usual woodsy favorites I like to burn citrus or herbal blends in the summer. If I’m going to purposely warm up my room with a flame I prefer it feel like a childhood summer, and citrus especially reminds me of orange trees and running through sprinklers on hot days in our backyard. Beauty-wise, Rory mentioned thermal water in our recent packing post and I agree on the necessity of this basic!! Aloe, Rose, or Coconut Water based facial mists are a savior when you need an uplifting splash to the face and keeping one nearby at all times means I can freshen up constantly. I also keep a paper fan on hand to double the cooling sensation by fanning myself immediately after spritzing. For a more concentrated dose, I’ve taken to a soothing eye serum with a cooling metallic roller and I apply this every morning to wake up instantly.

OGW: I’m with Raquel and Rory on this – face mists have been a lifesaver this summer, along with actual handheld fans that you can dramatically wave around. I also turn to my rose quartz roller to cool down my face massages during my usual beauty routine. Aromatherapy has become incredibly important to me this year. It’s often too hot to burn a candle here, with air-conditioning not being a thing in most European homes, so my go-to's have become a lavender mist and… an actual lavender plant that I’ve been attempting to grow on my bedside table. I don’t know if it’ll turn out to be a success, but I’m hoping it will because I absolutely love it. (And as a summer bonus, lavender keeps away mosquitoes!)

RM: Yes! Mists for the win! They are life-changers. In the summer, I also like to keep some of my skincare products in the fridge - eye cream, for example, feels so nice and also helps combat puffiness. I have recently invested in a pair of reusable cooling pads for the eyes that I also keep in the fridge for the same purpose. Like Raquel and Olivia, I also love a cooling roller, they help blood circulation and truly feel amazing on the skin.


Fashion: Natural is Key

RR: I live in loose slip dresses and easy slides at home, only bothering to get fully dressed if I have to actually leave the house. My goal is definitely to let as much breeze near my skin as possible. I've been keeping to my eyelet stash mostly as we hit record-breaking temperatures here, but I'm also currently on the lookout for more light colored linen staples; all of what I own at the moment is black and I officially cannot. The only synthetic I wear anymore is rayon, a plant-based textile that wicks away heat and of which I was lucky to collect some great fitting dresses in a few years ago.

RT: My friends often wonder how I manage to keep on wearing turtlenecks and long-sleeved tops throughout summer, and I have to confess that I do spend most of my time hidden away in air-conditioned spaces. But more than that, I tend to opt for natural plant fibres like cotton and linen, since they are lighter and more breathable than their synthetic counterparts. In this way, one gets to keep one’s skin away from direct exposure to the sun, whilst at the same time remaining perfectly ventilated. 

OGW: I’m with Rachel on this one. What I wear in the summer isn’t as important as the material or whatever it is. Natural fibers are lifesavers in the summer. I used to make exceptions for certain synthetic ones, but I wore a viscose sundress that I thought was super airy during the peak of the continental heat wave last week and I was almost steamed to death over a dinner outing. Never again. 

Escape: Favorite Place to Beat the Heat?

RR: The local bookshops have certainly seen more of me lately, and my TBR list isn’t too happy with me for it. Coffee shops are probably my most frequented at this time of year though, as the plethora of iced varieties make summer feel like peak coffee season in Savannah. The bonus of driving there or back with the windows rolled down at sunset after a storm, the wind blowing madly through my hair, feels like I’m intentionally heading for some glistening, perfectly lit adventure.

RT: The plethora of shopping malls in Singapore offer some respite from the heat, but they also do terrible damage to my wallet, so I find local museums a better – and certainly cheaper – alternative. A bonus? Museum cafes where I can often be found whiling away my afternoons catching up on my summer reading.

OGW: The ice cream shop after dark has become my favorite place to cool down these days.

A Quick Rescue! In our bag at all times:

  • Facial mist to reset makeup or tone after overheating.

  • Handheld fan, paper or electric.

  • Lip balm for heat exposure and to ward off dryness.

  • Travel deodorant or wipes.

  • Bows, scrunchies, pins for emergency up-do's.

How do you stay comfortable in a heat wave?

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