important nothings blog

"which of all my important nothings should i tell you first?" – jane austen


November 2013

Imbibe on some Kahlua — mmmmm

One of my favorite things about the days before Thanksgiving is traditionally I make a few batches of my own version of Kahlua – a yummy treat for me and gift that has become beloved by some friends…so much so, I get reminders about when they should be planning to start their holiday imbibing…

This year I messed around a bit trying to be a teensy bit fancier by making a coffee reduction.  Each year, I would put on sunglasses and a large brimmed hat and slide into the local market late at night to buy (gasp) instant coffee for this recipe.  I just haven’t exactly figured out the best way to do this – so this year, it’s back to the old reliable…

So this year, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.  Here’s the recipe.  For years I’ve said it was a family secret and I couldn’t share the precise measurements…but this year, I’m deciding share.  With you.  The loyal My Nothings readers.


It’s honestly so simple it’s a little embarrassing.

4 cups of water
3 cups of sugar
4 TBSP instant coffee
A Fifth of Vodka (either plain or vanilla)
1 TBSP good vanilla.

Bring the water, sugar and coffee to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 90 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Add in the vodka and vanilla and voila!  Kahlua.  White Russians.  Kahlua and coffee.  Kicked up hot chocolate.  Mudslides.  Whatever you like.  Find a cool bottle (best bets? TJ Maxx, Ross, World Market), put a ribbon around it and you have a very cool gift that I guarantee will be appreciated.

Oops!  Started making White Russians before I took the picture!
Oops! Started making White Russians before I took the picture!

But please, let me stress this – don’t go cheap on the vodka or the vanilla.  From what I can tell, instant coffee is instant coffee and so brands aren’t really important.  Plus, your cooking the crap out of it and adding a bunch of sugar, so the coffee brand becomes a non-issue.

But the vodka and the vanilla are a different story.  Just like you use wine you want to drink in cooking, you want to use vodka that you’d actually want to drink straight in this.  Vanilla vodkas add a little more sweetness – you can cut down on the actual vanilla a bit if you use that.

And all vanillas are not created equal!  There is no declaration of independence in the land of spices.  Cheap vanilla is just that.  Cough up the extra cash – go to a decent grocery or spice shop and get some quality vanilla.  It will be worth it.  Trust me.

Remembering CS Lewis –

Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the death of CS Lewis…Since November 22, 1963 is also the day that JFK was assassinated as well as the passing of Aldous Huxley,  I thought I’d post a few of my favorite quotes from Lewis today…


“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen — not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – from Is Theology Poetry

“It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.” – from The Problem of Pain

“When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.” – from Mere Christianity

“We are mirrors whose brightness is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us.” – from The 4 Loves

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – from Mere Christianity

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” –  from The Problem of Pain

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” – from The Magician’s Nephew

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”-  from Mere Christianity

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” – from The Four Loves

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” from Mere Christianity

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you do, and you will presently come to love him.” from Mere Christianity

“Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” –  from Mere Christianity

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – from Mere Christianity

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” from Mere Christianity

“Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.” – from The Screwtape Letters

“Of all the bad men, religious bad men are the worst.” – from Reflections on the Psalms

“Though our feelings come and go, his love for us does not.” – from Mere Christianity

“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”- from The Last Battle

Americans can disappear…

I love to travel and I completely believe in mission trips.  I have barely explored the world – but am so glad that the little traveling that I have done typically involves local people who live in completely different situations that my ridiculously blessed, western world allows.  Often when I complain about something ridiculous – I remember orphaned teens in Ukraine or street kids in the Bahamas or the man who offered to give me his daughter to take back to the United States in Honduras

My father traveled heavily doing mission work.  A friend is getting prepared to go overseas for a year to work with an NGO that rescues trafficking victims.  I don’t believe that my life right now is built to be a missionary or a relief worker, but I have an incredible respect for anyone who works hard and selflessly for widows and orphans, specifically.

That said –  I’m at a loss for why Saeed Abedini isn’t a household name.

I’m at a loss for why our State Department and President aren’t putting insane pressure on the Iranian government.  I’m hurting for a family in Idaho who are missing their husband and father.  And my heart is broken for the kids in Iran that would have been served and protected by the orphanage that Saeed was there to build.images

Cliff notes – Over a year ago, Saeed, a US Citizen traveled to his home country to visit family and work on the orphanage that he was building.  He was arrested, imprisoned, as been denied medication.  He has been beaten.  And now he has been transferred to a prison where people are often murdered…or just disappear.

Now, this isn’t about Saeed.  This is about America.  We are a country that opens our arms to hurting people.  We open our wallets to help relief in other countries…and we pay our way to go and help orphans in other countries who desperately need food, shelter, clothing…and love.   Iran needs to let Saeed go.

And our Government needs to have our back when our citizens are overseas doing incredible charity work — and when our right are taken away.

Please read about Saeed and sign the petition.  Call the President, your Representatives and the State Department. Beg them to end this nightmare – and to stand for Americans who are doing incredible work overseas.

Conversing like it’s 1995

Last week – I talked my husband into watching a film – Before Sunrise.  I figure any trilogy that took nearly 20 years to finish had to be worth watching.

I was sort of right.  It was a nice look at young love.  I don’t plan to watch the other two…but this isn’t about a movie review.

I found myself longing for that time – 1995.  Not because I want to be that age again, but because I missed an element of life in the mid 90s.

968full-before-sunrise-screenshotIn the movie a young man and woman meet on a train.  He is flying back to the US the next day and convinces the young french girl to get off the train in Vienna and simply walk around the city for a 24 hours with him.   Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wander around the city, sit in cafes, learn about each others lives, steal wine glasses and generally have conversation that isn’t really too deep or life changing.

At one point, Julie Delpy’s character makes a comment about how no one knows she’s there….

What I loved about I?t  They had no distractions.

There were no cell phones. No checking Facebook.  No photographing food or checking in at restaurants.  No looking up ideas online of where to go, what the weather would be like, or if the cute café had a great rating on Yelp.  They talked.  They walked.  They had no expectations…

…and I tried to remember the last time I had 24 hours of time without expectation. Without filling my moments with needless information about what other people are doing with their moments.  When did I just enjoy my dinner without thinking about if I should document it for some unknown reason?

When did I start thinking that a smart use of my life was spending precious moments looking at pictures of what other people are having for dinner?

Am I so lonely that I need to fill every moment with information on what other people are doing, so much so that I miss the people I’m with?

My pact is, the next date night I get to enjoy with my husband, I don’t want to look at my phone.  Or have comedy central radio on in the car.  Or feel the need to leave an indelible social media footprint proving that our date night happened.  I just want to enjoy the moment for what it is – and share it only with the man sitting across the table from me.

Make your own cleaning wipes. Pinterest. Fail.

I love Pinterest.  I do.  I waste more time on there than anywhere else on the web.  It makes me think that I have endless time, talent and resources…

Often I’m reminded that I have none of those.

I am starting a new series of Pinterest Fails – where I think I’m awesome and domestic and crafty and get some idea from Pinterest…and then somehow my version doesn’t look quite as photogenic as the fun little picture that I pinned on my board.

One thing – I typically don’t photograph all elements in my life.  So there probably won’t be pics of how the saga begins – only it’s painful ending.

This will be my first post.  Make your own cleaning wipes.


So – I did what the lovely mommy-blogger said.  Save money.  Save the environment.

Simply take paper towels – cut roll in half (which created a small mountain of little pieces of paper towel all over the countertop)– put half of roll in an old cleaning wipes container –  pour a basic vinegar mix over the top – take out the cardboard roll.  SHAZAM!  You have your own, affordable cleaning wipes.

Reuse your old container! Save the planet!
Reuse your old container! Save the planet!

Ok – so this works…IF you use the entire thing in a few days.  What they don’t tell you is there is something more to it.  Those wipey things have a coating on them, making the wipes actually hold up in a liquid mixture.

After a week or so, the wipes had sunk to the bottom of the container.  I had to use tongs to pull out the wipes.  Not quite as handy as I had hoped.

Can you see the wipes?  They are in there...somewhere...
Can you see the wipes? They are in there…somewhere…

This is what my wipes looked like:

A glob of vinegar and viva. MMMM.
A glob of vinegar and viva. MMMM.

A glob of VIVA.  A bunch of vinegar in the bottom of a container.  My kitchen smells like a small village worth of children all decided to color easter eggs in our kitchen.

The other day, Kroger had cleaning wipes for about $2.00.  I have a 50 cent coupon. It will be doubled.  It will be money well spent.

Pinterest Fail.

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