Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Iced Coffee Perfection

Iced coffee perfection

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to replace my soda habit with a coffee habit. I figure if I have to have a caffeine habit (and I really do *need* my caffeine habit, at least for now), coffee would be preferable to the chemical cola concoctions I’ve become reliant on. I’m not a huge hot coffee fan — I sip far too slowly, and my drink gets cold and weird before I’m done. In the winter, I like a good café au lait or latte, but here in Texas, it’s often too hot for regular coffee anyway, so iced coffee is the way to go. A friend sent me the link to The Pioneer Woman’s website, where Ree posted her perfect iced coffee recipe, and I’m here to tell you it is both perfect and simple.

I had always found iced coffee to be complicated to make. Most people think you could simply pour hot brewed coffee over ice, but the reality is that that method leads to melted ice cubes and watered-down, luke-warm coffee. Another method is to put brewed hot coffee in the fridge and wait for it to cool, then pour over ice, but I’ve always found the result to be bitter, and it takes too long to get your beverage. The following cold brew method gives you a smooth, rich coffee concentrate that you can store in the fridge tightly sealed for up to 3 weeks and is ready to be poured over ice at a moment’s notice.

How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee

Pour one pound of ground coffee (the richer, the better) into a large, 2-gallon pitcher or container. Pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) of cold water, and stir it to make sure all the coffee grounds are fully saturated. Cover the container and let it steep for at least 8 hours. When the time is up, use a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or chlorine-free paper towels to slowly strain the liquid from the grounds into a fresh container. Use a spoon to gently press the last of the liquid through the cheesecloth. You can store the liquid in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

To serve, pour over ice with your favorite iced coffee mixers. I like a splash of half-n-half or a little liquid cinnamon creamer. You can also use milk, sugar, a little chocolate syrup to make a mocha, or flavored creamers or coffee syrups. To avoid watered-down iced coffee, freeze some of your coffee concentrate in an ice cube tray and add coffee cubes to your drink instead of regular ice.

To make less coffee concentrate (2 gallons is a bit too much for me!), try 2 ounces of ground coffee for each 32 ounces (4 cups) of water.

Less is the New More

This is a guest post from Nancy Bouwens. You can find Nancy at “The Intentional Life” at or on Twitter.

Less is the New More

Photo courtesy of Unsplash: Marat Gilyadzinov

Simplicity and minimalism have made a resurgence over the past several years. A search done on the web using those two words will bring up a colorful collection of writers and resources to help you reshape and refocus toward living a life of less.

Many advocate downsizing to fewer clothing items, less square feet of living space, and buying only local produce. We are encouraged to declutter and decorate with clean lines and tidy baskets neatly labeled with contents tucked inside.

Some have chosen to live from a suitcase and travel the world experiencing all of the smells, sites and culture they can gather. Others have embraced the tiny house movement with room for only the barest of possessions.

What does it mean to live with less?

If you are like me, a recovering perfectionist, you want to do it “right.” But, I have found over the past few years having connected with many who share my desire to live a “less complicated room to breathe existence” that there is no right way.

A life of simplicity and intention for me will be different from yours, and this is good. But, each of us will find making the choice to bring less into our lives opens the door to having more: more experiences, margin, creativity, and greater peace. You will have space for richer relationships and the possibility for greater impact in your area of influence.

At the heart of this lifestyle is a longing to live in such a way where our lives count for something. The over-accumulation of material goods leaves us empty. We have large homes, but empty hearts. Our calendars are full, but our souls are parched. We have “friends” on social media, but no time for a real live coffee date with a friend. Deep in our hearts, we know we were created for more than this.

Living a lifestyle of less requires change.

If we want to live differently, we must choose a different path. As I have made deliberate choices to focus more on what feeds my soul and creates margin for more of what matters most, I am inspired by a beautiful poem written by Porita Nelson.

“There’s a Hole In My Sidewalk”

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.

What street must you walk down? What changes are right for you? How will living with less look for you and your family? Whether you are new to this way of living or are ready to embrace intentional living at a deeper level, there is no better time than today to begin. Each journey begins with a single step. Some bring greater impact, but all matter.

Some steps of your process might be down right uncomfortable, but I can attest, that which remains will be fuller, richer and more life giving!

“I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He lops off every branch that doesn’t produce. And he prunes those branches that bear fruit for even larger crops. John 15:1-2 (TLB)

Steps towards a more intentional lifestyle may be uncomfortable, but what remains will be rich! Click To Tweet

What does simplicity mean to you? What emotions bubble below the surface when you consider living with less? What step can you take today to create a little more margin in your life? I would love to hear about your simplicity journey — the good, the tough and the glorious! Leave a comment below with a bit of your story towards intentional living!

Nancy Bouwens is a Simplicity Coach, writer & Wonder Seeker. Her family is lifelong residents of the “Mitten,” near the incredible beaches of West Michigan. Nancy is passionate about beautiful things, human beings and encouraging others to live a life that matters. She writes about faith, family, friendships and great food. Nancy believes people matter more than things and what we choose to do matters more than we know. She also believes you are braver than you think. Most of all she believes God is faithful- even when He is silent. You can find Nancy at “The Intentional Life” at or on Twitter.