Cold Brewing Coffee and Tea

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

The other day, as Aidan and I were preparing a couple of mason jars full of Morning Blossom iced tea (an herbal blend I’d purchased at a fiber festival and brewed this week in the refrigerator), I handed him a half empty bottle of agave nectar and said, “we should go to the farmer’s market and get some local honey for our cold brewed tea this summer.”

I heard it as soon as I said it. The kid was right: I am a hipster.

I guess I need to own it at this point, and what better way to start than by sharing my cold brewing methods with you?

I’ve been doing coffee like this for a few years. In fact, I blogged about it a while back, but I’ve since gotten my method down to a science, and it’s time to re-share. Plus, reader Peggy asked me for my iced coffee recipe the other day and got me in the mood to talk about it 😜

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

New to me this year is tea. I’ve tried to make my own refrigerator iced tea in the past, and have not been a fan. I’m glad I tried again recently, though, because now it seems my palate is ready for it.

I should say: this is how I make these drinks to satisfy my own taste buds. Your mileage may vary. Please consider these recipes a starting point. Feel free to vary the brewing times and the ratios of coffee or tea to water until you find your own sweet spot.

The Basic Recipe

  1. Add tea leaves or coffee grounds to water.
  2. Place in the refrigerator for several hours.
  3. Strain and enjoy.

Iced Coffee

I nearly always use decaffeinated coffee when I make cold-brew, since it is often after 7pm when I drink it, and I don’t want to find myself staring at the ceiling at 3 in the morning 😉

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

The Recipe

  1. Fill a mason jar (or coffee press) with coffee grounds and water, using 2 TB of coffee for every 8 ounces of water.
  2. Stir well, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Pour mixture through a coffee filter into a fresh jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To Serve

  1. Fill a glass halfway with ice.
  2. Fill 3/4 full with cold brewed coffee.
  3. Fill the rest of the way with milk.
  4. Add sweetener, if desired.

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot CottageCold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

I have used several different kinds of milks with this method, my current favorite being cashew milk.

Our sweet syrups of choice are made by Dave’s Coffee. I like the mocha flavor and my kids like the vanilla. They’re pricey, but they tend to last all year for us (and we really, really love them) so I splurge.

I put just a dribble in my glass, while both of my kids pour about half of the bottle in theirs. (I kid, but they do go kind of overboard, using a tablespoon or two of the stuff, which is why we always run out of vanilla long before the mocha is used up.)

You can use all kinds of sweeteners in here, although the liquid kinds blend in much more easily than granulated sugars (since there’s no heat to help it along). Honey, agave nectar, and Starbucks flavored syrups are all good choices.

Iced Tea

Right now, iced tea is a real novelty for me. I have never liked the stuff, and I only recently realized why – the iced teas I’ve tried in the past have all been super sweet. I’m not a big fan of super sweet.

Now that I know, I’ve started making iced tea myself, and sweetening it minimally or not at all.

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

The Recipe

  1. Fill a mason jar with tea leaves and water, using 1 tea bag (or 2 tsp of loose tea) for every 8 ounces of water.
  2. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
  3. Remove tea bags and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To Serve

  1. Fill a glass halfway with ice.
  2. Fill the rest of the way with cold-brewed tea.
  3. Add sweetener, if desired.

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

I started out using a splash of agave nectar to sweeten my teas, but I’ve since transitioned to no sweetener at all. I like it better that way, plus it makes it zero-impact in terms of carbs (which, according to my doctor, matters [being over 40 is such fun]).

Recently, in the name of marital harmony, I attempted to convince myself that I could exchange my morning coffee habit for a morning tea habit. (I live with a husband who detests the smell of coffee).

My attempt to brainwash myself has been less than successful, but it has left me with a nice little selection of teas with which to cold brew. So far, I’ve liked almost all of them, and the ones that I haven’t liked as much have been flavors Aidan enjoys, so they are not going to waste.

Here are the ones we’ve tried so far:

As you can see, I like to use low/no caffeine options for the teas, too, since I never know when I’ll be sipping a glass before bed.

Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage Cold brewed coffee and tea at Polka Dot Cottage

Do you cold-brew your Summer drinks? Have any methods/flavors/recipes to share?

TWiP: Domesticity

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

Wow, have I been chatty on the blog this week, or what? In what can only be described as “not a coincidence,” I have a much smaller number of photos to share with you today than I have in recent weeks. Yes, it does appear that time spent writing blog posts is time not spent Instagramming.

In other news, it’s been oddly cold here at night lately. We’ve been waking up to 50-degree mornings, and the kids have had to go back to wearing their sweatshirts on the way to school. It’s June, folks. I really thought it was safe to put the sweatshirts in the closet for the next 3 months. I guess I was wrong.

The afternoons, though, have been gorgeous, breezy, 70 and 80 degree days. And the smell of honeysuckle, oh! Every time I walk out in to the yard, I stop and breathe deeply for a few moments before going about my business. I love that scent (a fact to which the several bottles of honeysuckle perfume in my bathroom can attest).

I was busy with back-to-back parties last weekend, which is enjoyable but draining for an introvert like me. This weekend has nothing whatsoever on the calendar, and I feel relaxed and happy just thinking about it!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

📷 = taken with my Canon DSLR
📱 = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365 📷: 2016 156/366 – One of my favorite little people had a birthday today 🌞 [Taken at my niece’s birthday party.]


Instagram 📱: I started knitting this little gift sweater waaaaaay in advance. How like me, then, to be sitting on my bed in my pajamas, sewing on the buttons the day of the baby shower. Procrastinate much? 😄 #pdc

365 📱: 2016 157/366 – Baby shower for Neil’s cousin’s wife today. We each decorated onesies. This one on the end is my favorite. [Taken at a family baby shower.]


Instagram 📱: For my second cup, I hereby pretend that I am still on the boardwalk. #oceancitycoffeecompany .😊☕

365 📷: 2016 158/366 – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that peony season is over…


Instagram 📱: Good morning, Instagram☕ I’ve found myself a sunny spot to enjoy my coffee and a little light reading. I hope your day is starting out equally as pleasantly!

365 📷: 2016 159/366 – Tis the season to brew stuff in the fridge. I made a double batch of the coffee this time because my kids keep drinking it on me! I’m hoping they’ll develop a taste for the tea, since it’s quicker and easier to make.

Instagram 📱: Doing one’s civic duty, FTW! #njprimary [Taken at the Stirling firehouse.]


365 📷: 2016 160/366 – Oh, laundry. It just never ends, does it?

Instagram 📱: I haven’t been in much of a #knitting mood lately, but tonight I am. Time to get back to this WIP I abandoned a few months ago. #knitbot #junesfavoritecardigan


365 📷: 2016 161/366 – Snack time! Iced coffee with cashew milk and a tiny dribble of Dave’s Coffee Mocha Sauce for a drink. Pretzel nuggets and a few squares of King’s Sea Salt and Almond Milk Chocolate bar for a snack. Mmmmmm.


365 📷: 2016 162/366 – So, it was totally necessary for me to make a new Summer playlist for the car… Blogged:

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!


23-2008 This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

Hashtag Summer Swag

#summerswag a new playlist at Polka Dot Cottage
I feel like I’m constantly sharing new playlists with you lately. I’m on a streak, I guess. The last two were specialty playlists (oldies, and sleepy tunes) while this one is just your average run-of-the-mill seasonal thing I like to do every couple of months.

#summerswag has a selection of mostly new-ish, mostly indie, mostly pop kinds of tunes, with a handful of older favorites thrown in for good measure. Many of the songs have Summer themes, or summer-compatible themes, while others are just there because I like them.

You can listen via the widget below, or visit 8tracks and listen to it on their site/app.

#summerswag from lclarke522 on 8tracks Radio.

Here’s a track listing, for those who hate surprises 😜

1: Bruce Springsteen – Girls in Their Summer Clothes
2: Ingrid Michaelson – Girls Chase Boys
3: Darlingside – My Gal, My Guy
4: Sooner The Sunset – All Because of You (feat. Graham Colton, Lindsey Ray)
5: The Folk Implosion – Free To Go
6: The Mutton Birds – Dominion Road
7: Black Prairie – The 84
8: Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls
9: Matt Costa – Sunshine
10: The Guggenheim Grotto – Portmarnock Beach Boy Blue
11: The Weepies – Wild Boy
12: Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians – Me By The Sea
13: DNCE – Cake By The Ocean
14: Smallpools – Dreaming
15: The Kooks – Mr. Maker
16: The Middle East – Land of the Bloody Unknown
17: The Innocence Mission – Keeping Awake
18: Broken Bells – Lazy Wonderland
19: Pajama Club – These Are Conditions
20: Chad & Jeremy – A Summer Song
21: Turin Brakes – Painkiller
22: Sean Bones – Here Now

#summerswag a new playlist at Polka Dot Cottage

About the cover: that’s me at my grandparents’ house in upstate NY in the summer of 1973 (I think?). I was quite the fashion plate back then, between my mini football, red cowboy hat, and striped overalls. I wouldn’t be surprised if my Mom made those overalls, either. Yep, I was totally hip. Summer Swag, baby 😎


How to add Polka Dot Cottage to your phone

The Polka Dot Cottage Android app stopped working last month, and I didn’t think anything of it. As of February 2015, the website looks nice and works well on mobile devices, and I assumed most people were just coming here directly in their browsers and weren’t bothering with the app. The website works a lot better than that app did.

Well, I found out this week that there are still app users out there (thanks, Melissa, for letting me know) and since I don’t want to continue maintaining the app, I thought it might be helpful to give you another option that you can use with any device, mobile or otherwise.

There are two options, actually, and you can use whichever works better for your reading habits and your devices:

  1. Add a PDC shortcut to your home screen so you can easily visit PDC whenever you want to. It will look like an app icon, even though it opens a web page in your device’s browser.
  2. Subscribe to push notifications so that you are instantly notified when a new post appears.

Add a PDC shortcut to your home screen

You can do this in any browser, as far as I know, whether you are on an Android phone, a Windows PC, an iPad, or a million other devices.

The screenshots and instructions are for an Android phone running the Chrome browser. Different browsers and devices may use other terminology, but the functionality should be there.

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Visit in your device’s browser. Tap on the 3-dot menu in the upper right corner.

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Tap “Add to Home screen.”

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Change the name, if you like (I removed all of the extra stuff after Polka Dot Cottage on mine), and tap “ADD.”

And that is it! You should see the little flower icon on your home screen. Tap it like you would any app, the browser will open, and go straight to Polka Dot Cottage.

This process, by the way, works on any website you’d like to put on your home screen.

Subscribe to push notifications

First, make sure you are reading this directly on my website (not in a reader, or in email).

If you use Chrome (Desktop & Android), Safari (Mac OS X), or Firefox (Desktop), you might have noticed that new little red bell icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. The bell icon allows you to subscribe to notifications.

Don’t see the bell in the corner? Click the icon below:

Tap the bell icon (or click/tap above) on whatever device you are using, and you will be asked if you want to subscribe to notifications. If you accept, you’ll get a push notification (if you’re on a phone/tablet) or a desktop notification (if you’re on a computer) next time a new blog post is published.

Here’s how the subscription process looks on an Android phone using Chrome (it’s similar on other browsers and devices).

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Tap the bell icon.

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You will be shown a sample notification. Tap “CONTINUE” to subscribe. (I am considering changing the wording on this button, so it may actually say “YES PLEASE” when you see it).

If you change your mind, tap “NO THANKS” instead.

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Now your browser wants to make sure you meant to do that, so tap “ALLOW” if you’re sure.

Note that the website serving the notifications is “” and not “” This is intentional. OneSignal is the service I am using to create these notifications. There are technical reasons why it is set up this way, but I don’t want to bore you to tears. Just know that it’s all legit and that every notification points back here to

And that’s it!

Now you have all of the functionality of the Polka Dot Cottage app (and then some), without having to actually install a new app.


If later you decide you don’t want the shortcut on your home screen, just drag and drop it into the trash.

If you decide to unsubscribe from notifications, that’s a bit trickier, but still do-able:

  • Each notification has a small gear icon on it. Tap (or click) the gear.
  • This part is handled differently depending on your browser and your device. You will see a link that begins “https://polkadotcottage…”  Tap “CLEAR & RESET” in Chrome on Android, or click the “X” next to “Allow” in Chrome for Windows. Firefox and Safari might have different terminology, but it should be something along these lines.
  • Confused? Try a Google search (i.e. “Disabling Push Notifications in Safari” or whatever your browser/device combination may be.)

Boardwalk, Sand, and Rain. So much rain.

So yesterday I shared with you my muddy forest adventure. How about today we take a look at the Jersey Shore in the rain?

Settle in, folks, because this is a photo-heavy post! I did put them into a couple of galleries, so you don’t have to sit through 50 full-size photos loading. (You can click on anything you want to see in more detail.)

A few weekends ago, we spent a handful of (not enough) days in Ocean City, as we do every mid-May. It rained at least a little bit every day, and a lot for two of them. I used my phone for the majority of my photography because it was easier, the phone is more waterproof than my DSLR, and the phone camera is actually pretty good, especially in the daylight.

Where I did take the fancy camera out was on our one beach day. I like using the 250mm lens so I can plop myself down on the blanket, and zoom in on everything from my comfy spot.

I did get up and walk around, too. I’m not that lazy 😜

And no trip to OC is complete without shots down the boardwalk from the hotel balcony… Our last night there was actually sunny and lovely, so the camera came out on our evening walk down the boardwalk, too.

So that’s our 10th Ocean City trip, in the bag. As always, we spend a lot of it daydreaming about someday being able to spend more time there. We did, in fact, tack an extra day onto our long weekend when the sun we had barely seen made an appearance as we were packing to leave. Sometimes you just have to blow off everything else for the sake of family togetherness on a sunny day!

BTW, I left my Instagram photos out of this because I already posted them as part of this TWiP and that TWiP 😃