This week we asked ourselves what’s going to get us through the next few months, and here’s what we came up with. It’s Best of the West, summer essentials edition.

Organic Chai Latte
Thomas J. Story

We only recommend things we love. If you buy something through our site, we might earn a commission.

Secret Breakfast

If there’s one thing I consider a summer essential, it’s ice cream. Whether the problem is hunger, heat, sadness, calcium deficiency, or just about anything else, ice cream is always the right answer. A local favorite in the San Francisco Bay Area (and starting to be available more widely) is Humphry Slocombe. And my very favorite of all of their offerings is Secret Breakfast.  What’s the big secret? Bourbon. Sweet, magically crisp (how?) cornflakes are suspended in a spirit-forward vanilla base. It’s crunchy and creamy and has a boozy kick that certainly opens your eyes in the morning. Allegedly. This is one secret that I’m glad to have out in the open. (One more not-so-secret secret: They ship.) —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Summer Reading

Klara and the Sun

Courtesy of Knopf Publishing Group

Aperol spritzes? Reef-safe sunscreen? Rosé? My favorite Turkish pool towels? A solid child-free month while my kids are away at summer camp? Every single thing I considered THE singular item I couldn’t survive summer without made me feel shallow, and maybe just a teeny bit too dependent on alcohol. When I dug deeper, I realized that READING is the thing that has made every single summer of my life bearable, starting way back when my mom would drop me off at the local library and I’d spend hours beating the heat with a stack of books next to me. While I wait for libraries to re-open, there’s always Libbey, and Audible, and my very favorite book store, Chevalier’s on Larchmont Boulevard in L.A. I’m a little behind on new releases, but I’m excited to dive into Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the stack of books on my nightstand that may topple at any second. Happy reading! —Christine Lennon, home and design editor

Portable Air Conditioner

Commercial Cool Portable Air Conditioner

Courtesy of Amazon

Oh, I thought of another thing: my air conditioner. Bay-Area summers are foggy and cool enough that you don’t usually need air conditioning, and few houses have it built-in. But heat waves do happen. Last summer we had one so intense that the temperature hit 100 in the house. Not at my house—in it. My Commercial Cool unit almost literally saved my life, and the lives of our (very furry) fur babies, too. It’s the size of a two-drawer filing cabinet, and it’s on wheels so we can move it from room to room throughout the day. Like any air conditioner, it’s noisy, and the duct that fits in a window for exhaust is no thing of beauty, but for a handful of nights each summer, I can’t imagine living without it. —N.C.

My Milkshake Brings All the Joys to My Heart

I was just a carefree 23-year-old when, stepping optimistically inside the front door of my cousin’s house one sunny afternoon, I was unexpectedly confronted by a circle of forlorn-faced friends and family. 

“Have a seat here,” my dejected sister said, her hand motioning to an empty chair at the center of the ring of despair. 

“What’s this about?” I cagily responded. 

But I knew what it was about. My habit was being perceived as a financial burden. It was taking precedence over responsibilities. It was taking away from relationships. I was consumed. 

That obsession, of course, was an unshakable hankering for peanut butter-chocolate brownie milkshakes. Sure, dietary diversity has its place in the lives of most, but subsistence on that rapturous, blended delicacy will, for me, forever satisfy. 

And now here I find myself, the warming days of summer once more summoning an impassioned longing for that ol’ familiar treat for which my enthusiasm the aforementioned friends and family finally, and rightfully, acquiesced.

Gone are the days of weight training and food groups, replaced instead by cardio-heavy mornings employed strictly to compensate for evenings of walking hand-in-cup on a wind-swept beach, the fading sun casting a warm glow on my steadily bloating stomach. 

Life’s problems and stresses remain abuzz, but in those flickering summertime moments, the ingredients of a flavor haven like Carlsbad’s Handel’s Ice Cream transcend all.  

“Was that a brownie chunk!?” I’ll scream, elated, at no one in particular, the surge of gustatory euphoria erasing the moments-earlier symphony of expletives I’d dispensed in traffic. 

I have found my center. 

And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into a peanut butter-chocolate brownie flavored past. —J.D. Simkins, WildLands editor

Get Buff This Summer

Nothing like two days in the desert with the sun pummeling your face mid-day to realize you need—drumroll here—a face mask. Yes, even though I’m across the vaccination finish line, I won’t be storing my face coverings. In fact I stocked up on more! But instead of medical grade masks, I targeted ones with built-in sun protection. Specifically UPF 50+ Buff headwear. Buff has a 30% Memorial Day Sale going on right now through June 1. You can wear their headwear a whopping 12 different ways from headband to balaclava. Buff is the go-to in this category with a multitude of shades, prints, and technical offerings—from reflective to bug-repelling. The next time I’m in the desert or out and about and not reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours, my Buff will have my back. And my face. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor