My 10 paths to CHILL in a heat wave

Spoiler alert: This post contains NO home decor information. Because when I’m hot, the last thing I want to think about is decorating. I know that’s not in keeping with the letter of this blog, but it works with the boho spirit.

What can I say? The heat makes this boho gal push boundaries!

That’s why I thought that with a big chunk of the US suffering from a heat wave and drought–and with human-caused global warming making it all so much worse–it makes boho sense to draft and share a personal strategy for feeling chill.

Here’s mine…

1. Sun tea over ice and plenty of it

I rotate two-liter batches set outside in pitchers with tight lids for 1-2 days. I use six tea bags in each batch, sweeten with 1/8-cup stevia when I bring it in, and chill. If, in the morning, I bring in my pitcher from the day before, it will chill in the fridge by mid-afternoon when I like to drink it.

My favorite teas are flavored rooibos (ROY-boss) from The Republic of Tea. Rooibos is a red tea that is naturally decaffeinated–because heaven knows I don’t need caffeine in the afternoon– and The Republic of Tea has some of coolest flavors of rooibos, whether hot- or cold-brewed.

My favorite flavor over ice is Ginger Peach, with Cinnamon Orange and Chocolate Chai tied for second. But Peppermint Chocolate is also yummy, and I like the spiciness of Chai Red sometimes. I’m also partial to Celestial Seasonings’ Sweet Coconut Thai Chai.

2. Read a good book on my shady porch

The iced sun tea, of course, goes hand-in-hand with this activity (see it chillin’ in the Yeti cup on the table). I try to kick off work around 3 p.m. everyday because that’s the time my favorite porch chair is completely in the shade and breezes peak.

Last book I finished was Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House. It and I Know Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens tie for first place in the more than half-dozen books I’ve read so far this summer. Patchett is a master of form, and Owen’s prose is poetry. I recommend both. I have a couple more Patchett books, as well as two by Elizabeth Strout, on order.

Though I’m partial to fiction, while I wait for the newbies to arrive, I’m reading Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. Former President Obama wrote this memoir in his thirties while attending Harvard Law School, and the beauty of his narrative pulls you in immediately to a singular and personal story.

If you’d like to share some of my summer reads, click on the (affiliate) links…



3. Sleeveless tops

There’s no better way to stay cool in 90s-plus temps than in a sleeveless top or shift. Opt for a coordinating sport bra that sticks out a little at the neck or underarms, or go for a nude-colored one when you want to hide what the top doesn’t cover.

You’d think this would be a chill tip I’d carried over from childhood, but I spent so many years in between then and now worrying about my sagging upper arms and covering them up. Last vacation I had–two years ago to Cocoa Beach, FL–I realized the ONLY way to remain reasonably comfortable in high heat and humidity was to go exclusively sleeveless. So…

Batwings be damned! That’s my new motto. Y’all can just be satisified you’ll never see me in a swimsuit.

4. A summer handbag

I broke this Nautica one in on that Cocoa Beach trip, and it’s held up pretty well. I look forward to getting it out every Memorial Day and organizing all my stuff in the many pockets. It’s washable plus big enough that there’s always room for a bottle of water and a book!

5. Beer:30

Well, that’s what my husband Chris and I call it. It rolls around between 5 and 5:30 p.m. most hot summer afternoons and continues until we decide to fix dinner. We both work from home, in separate rooms though, so it’s a good way to reconnect to talk about our day and discuss what we want to prepare for din-din.

Favorite beer? It’s a local craft beer: Oaken Barrel‘s Alabaster Ale (hubs likes the hoppier Indiana Amber). Because Alabaster is an ale, it’s not as carbonated so not as filling. Plus it has wonderful overtones of orange and coriander. It’s great with an orange slice on the side of the glass, which I always squeeze into then immerse in the glass. I eat the pulp of it when I finish the beer–it’s soooo chill.

Oaken Barrel Brewery is less than a mile from our condo, and I can drink it there, socially distanced on their patio, or bring home a pre-chilled six-pack. But if I’m not nearby (which is seldom these pandemic days!), Blue Moon gives me a similar taste.

6. Speaking of dinner…

Certain foods make me chill just thinking of them:

  • Watermelon, for one.
  • Fresh peaches over vanilla ice cream.
  • Ice cream of ANY kind, but I like fresh fruit flavors (nothing artificial tasting or candied) for ultimate chill.
  • And potato salad.

Okay, that seemed a little weird following all those dessert-y things, but it is more in keeping with dinner. I LOVE potato salad. It’s the ultimate summer food for me, and I make The. Best. Damned. Potato. Salad. Bar none.

No kidding. Ask my peeps.

I use red skin potatoes and leave the skins on, which adds color and nutrition. Other ingredients include hard-boiled eggs, chopped onions and celery, and sometimes chopped bell peppers and/or fresh chives. Salt, pepper and celery seed to season, with a sprinkling of paprika on top for color. My short-cut is to cook the potatoes in the microwave and allow them to chill in the fridge for easier cutting.

But add whatever you like to the “salad” part of this story because the REAL secret is in the dressing. This one came straight from my paternal grandmother:


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


  • With a whisk, beat eggs until foamy.
  • Whisk in vinegar and sugar until dissolved.
  • Cook in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until thickened.
  • Cool completely, then thin with a couple big dollops of mayonnaise. Whisk until smooth.

That’s right, NO mustard. And believe me, even if you’re a mustard-lover, you won’t miss it.

But you will, however, be chill. I guarantee it.

7. And speaking of salads…

My other summer go-to is this tomato, avocado and onion salad–the ultimate chill. Use red onions for kick or subsitute Vidalias for a milder taste. Season with fresh basil, salt and pepper, and toss in olive oil mixed with lemon juice.

Some variations substitute lime for lemon and add corn sheared fresh from the cob. SOOO CHILL!! Just remember to eat it all up in one sitting because it doesn’t store well. Luckily, that won’t be hard. In fact, you won’t even want to share it!

8. Gardening

To make sure gardening is chill during a heat wave, I stick to mornings–the earlier the better. Wow! When the world is quiet and I work in my garden, I’m in an alternate reality. Everything slows down, and I forget about all the aggravating people out there who won’t wear masks. I can even find it in me to be cautiously friendly with the crazy neighbor lady down the lane who butts into everyone’s business.

Those are my caladiums, which are especially beautiful this year in their shady spot behind the herb pot. I love the leaves and colors on caladium leaves. They don’t flower, but then, they don’t need to with leaves like that! They aren’t hardy where I live in zone 6, but I dig up the tubers at the end of the season, store in some peat moss, and replant in spring.

9. Feeding the birds

What’s a porch with a garden, and what’s a garden without birds? I love listening to the birds, and my favorite bird sound is the beedy-beedy-beep of the chickadee. Next up is the gossiping that does on amongst a group of house and weaver’s finches. We also get cardinals, wrens, goldfinches, downy woodpeckers, and wrens at our feeders, along with an occasional redwing blackbird, nuthatch and bluebird.

In the feeder near my porch, I use a patio blend of waste-free seeds that will not germinate if they fall into the flowerbed below. Then in my neighbor’s tree out in the yard I use a blend of sunflower and safflower seeds. As long as I avoid seed mixes with millet, I can mostly keep the grackles, cowbirds and starlings at bay, since their ravenous feeding habits are anti-chill.

For me, anyway. Though all god’s bird chillun’ gotta live, I suppose.

10. Taking an outdoor nap

Cats have the right idea. I can’t think of anything more chill than dozing off outdoors with the sounds of the wind blowing the big cottonwood trees in the thicket beyond my neighbor’s unit.

It’s the PENultimate chill.

If you want more…

YOU contribute it! This is a fun post for comments. Share what makes YOU chill out when you’re caught in a heat wave.

And, like my door sign says, “May all your weeds be wildflowers.” Chilled, of course. ;->

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