If you’re wilting in the hot summer weather, here are some time-tested ways to keep your cool. Visit http://www.sparklingvintagelife.com/podcast for show notes and other information.
If you prefer to read rather than listen, scroll down for a transcript.
Here’s a link to Episode 17 about porch life.
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Transcript #19: Heat Wave! 31 Vintage Ways to Beat the Heat
Welcome to A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we talk about all things vintage and celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. I’m your host, Jennifer Leo, and this is Episode number nineteen.
I’m sorry I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. I’ve been fighting quite a bad summer cold. You might still hear it in my voice, but I’m well on my way to being mended. Summer colds always feel like a bit of an insult. We sort of expect to get colds in the depths of winter, but in summer when the sun’s out and the weather’s warm and we want to be out doing things, getting a cold seems particularly out of place.
It’s been an extra-hot summer in many parts of the United States and the northern hemisphere, so today I thought we’d talk about some good old-fashioned methods for keeping cool. Of course we have air-conditioning now, but did you know that widespread air-conditioning has been available for less than 100 years? In some areas, considerably less. And some of us don’t like to depend on air conditioning if we can help it. So here are some tips I’ve found in my research of old books and magazines of ways our ancestors beat the heat.
You get a head start if you’ve designed your home to help you stay cool. This is understandably more common in the steamy South than elsewhere.
Traditional southern porches are shady and cool. We talked about porches a couple of episodes ago. If you want your porch to be a refuge in hot weather, you want a deep eave or roof, and preferably near shady trees. You also want high ceilings in your home, because heat rises, and you want to ventilate with tall windows and wide, airy hallways.
Of course few of us can actually design our homes to stay cool, nor would we want to if we live in a climate that’s only hot a few weeks out of the year. There are plenty of temporary things you can do to cool down your home.
- Turn off lights and electric appliances you aren’t using
- Roll up heavy rugs and replace heavy curtains with lighter ones, maybe muslin or cotton.
- Close blinds to darken the room. You can also dampen the curtains to cool the breeze as it passes through.
- Cover dark, heavy furniture with lightweight slipcovers
- Put away decorative objects and clutter. Clear, smooth surfaces feel cooler than busy ones.
- Plants and ferns that cast shadow and shade
- Bowl of ice in front of an electric fan.
- Replace sheets with cotton sheets. On really hot nights, put the sheets in the freezer before putting them on the bed.
- Use linen rinse water or linen spray, esp. lavender or orange blossom.
For cooling down yourself:
- Cool shower or bath
- Hot shower or bath
- Include Epsom salts, herbs, dried flowers, milk, essential oils in your bath water.
- Run wrists under cold water, cold wet cloth on back of neck
- Witch hazel or other toner.
- Don’t use talcum powder for health reasons, but use cornstarch or arrowroot powder instead.
- Blotter paper.
- Whether to use moisturizer or not: Humid? Skip it, or maybe just use in areas that really need it.
Dry? Definitely use it.
- Put skin-care products in the fridge.
- Also put metal jewelry in the fridge.
- Pin up hair to get it off your neck.
- Avoid blow-drying or curling irons, or use them at night.
Dressing to Stay Cool:
- Skirts are cooler than pants, and loose-legged pants are cooler than tight ones.
- Loose clothing in general is cooler than tight clothing.
- Lighter colors, and natural fabrics that breathe.
- Sandals and strappy shoes rather than heavy ones.
- Accessories: brimmed hats, sunglasses, paper fans
- Hydrate regularly, and water is best. Fruit in water.
- Avoid salt, alcohol, caffeine, and fatty foods
- Eat lightly: salads, fruits, vegetables.
- Read “cold” books: Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher, Dr. Zhivago, Call of the Wild, favorite Christmas stories.
- Serene vs. frenetic schedule. Move slowly and gracefully rather than dart around.
How about you? What are some of your favorite time-tested ways to beat the heat? You can let me know in the comments at sparklingvintagelife.com/podcast under Episode 19.
Today’s Grace Note is Sea Breeze Astringent. I was addicted to this stuff when I was a teenager and had terribly oily and acne-prone skin. But as an adult I’d moved on to different products as my skin became less oily. I still liked to use it as an after-bath splash, though. It worked the same as witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, but smelled nicer. It was heavy on the menthol, which is a fragrance I happen to like. What I didn’t know was that the original Sea Breeze formula I’d known and loved, which had been around since 1908 as a remedy for cuts and scrapes, had been discontinued. Apparently it was considered TOO strong. It actually stung people. Wimps. Well, the good news, for me anyway, is that the original formula is back on the market. So if you shop for Sea Breeze now, you’ll have your choice of Original Formula or Sensitive Skin formula. Sea Breeze is not a sponsor of this show and I don’t get anything for recommending it, and I am not a dermatologist, nor a medical professional of any type. So be forewarned. I just remember liking it a lot, especially in summer, and thought you might, too, since we’re talking about ways to beat the heat. Just keep in mind that it is very strong, and if your skin tends to react badly to alcohol-based products, you’ll probably want to steer clear and stick with good old witch hazel.
And that’s our show for today. Tune in again next time when I’ll be discussing another aspect of A Sparkling Vintage Life.
When I was a teenager, with typical oil-gushing teenage skin, I loved an astringent called Sea Breeze. Year round I wiped it over my face with a cotton ball after washing. I loved the scent and the zing-y way it made my skin feel. In hot weather I’d not only use it on my face but splash it all over my body after a bath or shower, and it restored me to the land of the cheerful and not-quite-so-hard-to-live-with. I thought that I was a very modern and sophisticated girl and didn’t realize that Sea Breeze had been around since 1906! (I even remember seeing the ad pictured above–that’s Mary McDonough, the actress who played Erin on The Waltons).
Then I got older, and Sea Breeze blew away. One day I looked for it and found Sea Breeze “Naturals” and Sea Breeze “Actives” but not the plain old Sea Breeze I’d known and loved.
Hallelujah, now I see that Sea Breeze “Original” is back, and it’s available at Walmart for an incredibly reasonable price. So on some super-steamy August day, pick up a bottle and start splashing. You’ll be glad you did!