Cleaning Routine

I tried to complete Money Saving Mom’s 30-Day House Cleaning Challenge in April, but slacked off after two weeks.  I think part of the struggle for me is that it was hard to want to “deep clean bathrooms” or “clean out refrigerator” after work.  The tasks that were surface cleaning or vacuuming were easy to do after a full day of teaching, but some of the others were a bit daunting at the end of the day.  Plus, it is finally golf season and there is time to play 9 holes after work before darkness sets in!

I know that I need to have a plan for keeping the house clean, and I think I may have figured it out… I took the 31 Day House Cleaning Routine from Fresh and Organized (lots of great ideas on this blog!!) and adapted it to work for me. Instead of a 31 Day Check List, I set my chart up for the days of the week.  I scheduled the “easier” tasks Monday-Friday and the “harder” tasks on either Saturday or Sunday.  The tasks for Monday through Friday will be done every week; however, the tasks for Saturday and Sunday are once-a-month tasks.  For example, on the first Saturday of the month I am going to clean all interior windows. The second Saturday of the month will be deep-cleaning the living room and den.

I think that this schedule will work better for me — only time will tell…

Cleaning Schedule PDF: Cleaning Schedule

Skinnier Mint Julep Poke Cake

Skinnier Mint Julep Poke Cake

Skinnier Mint Julep Poke Cake

The first Saturday in May usually means two things around our house – the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte and the Kentucky Derby.  The best part about the Kentucky Derby is Mint Juleps.  Mint Juleps are a favorite cocktail of mine, but I only indulge in them for the Kentucky Derby; however, I may indulge a little more often since I have a bumper crop of mint in the garden…

In addition to drinking Mint Juleps, I also wanted to find a way to incorporate the essential elements of this cocktail into baked goods.  So, I went to my favorite online place – Pinterest – to find some inspiration.  I found this recipe for Mint Julep Cookies from Shrimp Salad Circus, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for cookies.  I did like sound of the glaze recipe and thought it would be perfect in a cake! Plus, I had a box of white cake mix begging to be baked!

When it comes to baking, I have become fascinated and a little obsessed with “diet soda cakes.” If you’re not familiar with these, they are awesome!!  You simply replace the eggs and oil in a cake mix with a can of diet soda – huge calorie saver! I’m still not sure how or why it works, but I am so glad it does – it makes me feel a little less guilty about eating a piece (or two).

To start this process, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees.  Next, I gathered up my cake mix and diet soda (diet ginger ale for this one).

Cake Mix & Zevia Ginger Ale

Cake Mix & Zevia Ginger Ale

If you’re not familiar with Zevia, it is diet soda made with Stevia (a natural calorie-free sweetener) instead of artificial sweeteners.  I mixed the cake mix and soda until it was well-combined and poured it into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Bake the cake according to the box directions. I have found with diet soda cakes that they are usually done at the lower time in the given time range.  You just need to know your oven and start watching it towards the end of cooking.

While the cake was baking, I gathered the essential elements to make this a Mint Julep Cake: Bourbon, mint, and powdered sugar.

Woodsford Reserve Bourbon, Fresh Mint & Powdered Sugar

Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fresh Mint & Powdered Sugar

I love this year’s Kentucky Derby bottle from Woodford Reserve.  For each running of the Derby, they release a special edition bottle.

After combining the glaze ingredients, you will have a very thin glaze that is ready to be poured onto your hot cake.

Mint Julep Glaze

Mint Julep Glaze

Once the cake is done cooking, you will need to poke slits in the cake so that the glaze can sink into it. In most poke cakes, you use a wooden spoon; however, I opted for a paring knife this time.  The wooden spoon is good if you are pouring a pudding or topping with that consistency.  Since the Mint Julep Glaze is thinner than pudding, small slits worked better.

Cake just after I poked slits into it

Cake just after I poked slits into it

Cake with the Mint Julep Glaze

Cake with the Mint Julep Glaze

Once you’ve poured the glaze on the cake, allow it to cool completely before adding the whipped topping layer.

You’ll notice I said whipped topping instead of “Cool Whip.” I have finally found a whipped topping with the same texture as Cool Whip, but it has one major difference – NO high fructose corn syrup!!  It is called “Truwhip” and I found it at Earthfare.

truwhip - Whipped Topping without High Fructose Corn Syrup

Truwhip – Whipped Topping without High Fructose Corn Syrup

Once the cake is cooled, you will spread a tub of Truwhip on top.  If serving right away, mint leaves make a great garnish!   If you are not serving right away, the cake needs to be stored in the refrigerator due to the whipped topping layer.

I had a slice last night and it was delicious! The Mint Julep flavor was in every bite and the whipped topping was the perfect frosting for this cake! An even better part – only 190 calories a slice (cake divided into 16 servings)!

Perfect Slice of Skinnier Mint Julep Cake

Perfect Slice of Skinnier Mint Julep Cake

I think this is just about a perfect slice of cake! You can see the mint poking out under the layer of Truwhip. Plus, you can see where the Mint Julep Glaze seeped down into the cake in the middle of the cake.

All in all, I have to say that this was a successful kitchen experiment and it will be one of my annual Kentucky Derby traditions!

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Recipe

1 box white cake mix

1 can of diet ginger ale

10-20 mint leaves, finely chopped

3 oz. quality bourbon

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tub whipped topping

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pan (I used a 9 x 13 pan for this cake).
  2. Mix the cake mix and diet ginger ale until well-combined. Pour into prepared baking pan.
  3. Cook according to cake box directions.
  4. While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Combine the chopped mint, bourbon, and powdered sugar. You will want to stir it again just before you pour it on the cake.
  5. When the cake is done baking, immediately poke slits into the cake with a paring knife. Pour the glaze over the cake and make sure it sinks into the cake.
  6. Allow the cake to cool completely (about 2 hours).
  7. Spread the tub of whipped topping over the cake and garnish with mint leaves (optional).
  8. Enjoy the yummy cake you created!

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Nutrition Information

Whole Cake: 3035 Calories, 57.5 g Fat, 624 g Carbohydrates, and 20 g Protein

Serving (16 servings): 189.7 Calories, 3.6 g Fat, 39 g Carbohydrates, and 1.3 g Protein

Earthbound Farm: “We’ll Buy Your Groceries Sweepstakes”

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My Lettuce and Prizes from the Earthbound Farms Grocery Cart Contest

You never know what’s going to happen when you head to the grocery store…

I drove up to Harris Teeter to pick up some groceries for the week.  While I was getting my lettuce, there were a couple of women wearing Earthbound Farms t-shirts in the produce section.  I thought they were there to check on product placement or product demand.  I continued shopping and didn’t think about them again. (If I had followed Earthbound Farms on Twitter before today, I would have known they’d be at the store today…)

When I arrived at the check-out line, they came up to me and asked if they could buy my groceries. Needless to say, I said “yes!” They explained that they were holding a sweepstakes and looking for shoppers who had “earth-friendly” products in their shopping carts.  Some of my items that caught their attention were the Earthbound Farms Lettuce, Annie’s salad dressing, organic pizza, and my reusable shopping bags.  In addition to buying my groceries, they gave me some coupons for free Earthbound Farms products and 2 Earthbound Farms reusable shopping bags.

In the end, I’m happier that I didn’t know about the Sweepstakes before going to the store.  It made being selected more fun and completely unexpected.

What a great way to start off the week – free groceries, coupons, and new reusable shopping bags!

More information about the We’ll Buy Your Groceries Sweepstakes

30-Day Cleaning Challenge: Days 12-14

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I have to admit that I have been slacking on the 30-Day Cleaning Challenge.  Life, work, family, and golf have gotten in the way the past few days… The tasks that I need to complete are:

Day 12: Clean out Closets

Day 13: Surface Clean Extra Rooms

Day 14: Deep Clean Bedrooms

Once I am caught up and back on track, I will post pictures and updates.

30-Day Cleaning Challenge: Day 11

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The cleaning task for Day 11 was to clean the bathrooms. This task was pretty easy since both Jarrett and I have been making a conscious effort to keep the house tidy.  Here are the before pictures:

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Upstairs Bathroom: BeforeImage

The After Pictures:

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Upstairs Bathroom: After

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Upstairs Bathroom: After 2

I also cleaned the downstairs powder room, but the “before” and “after” pictures aren’t too different from each other.

30-Day Cleaning Challenge: Day 10

30-Day House Cleaning Challenge from Money Saving Mom

30-Day House Cleaning Challenge from Money Saving Mom

The task of the day was to “Deep-Clean the Living Room.” Well, since I did a deep cleaning last week, today was more of a surface cleaning.  If you compare the before and after pictures, you really can’t tell a difference (that’s my way of saying no pictures today 😉). I dusted the surfaces, the artwork, and baseboards. I also “Febreezed” the sofa and cloth chair (Febreeze and leather don’t mix well together).

The living room is nice and clean! I think it’s time to either go play golf or do a workout DVD! 😄⛳

Update: Golf won out over the workout DVD! Best part of the round: spending time w/ Jarrett and getting a par on the hardest hole on the course!

The Masters

This week is one of our favorite events in our house: The Masters.  As a golfer and a Southerner (I’ve adopted the South as my home),  I feel it is a unique and special tournament.  Jarrett and I both get into all of the Majors, but there is something special about Augusta National and The Masters.

My toes are ready for the week as well – every year I paint my toenails green for the week.  This year’s shade is from Wet-n-Wild and it’s called “Sagreena the Teenage Witch.” Although, if I were naming the polish I would call it “Green Jacket” for the prize at the Masters.

We’re already planning our menu for Sunday’s Final Round: Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches, Egg Salad Sandwiches (both of which are sold at The Masters) and “adult” Arnold Palmers.  They’re “adult” because we substitute Firefly Skinny Tea Vodka for regular Sweet Tea.  I’m still coming up with a few more goodies for Sunday’s viewing… stay tuned.