Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

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Our Family Outdoor Shoot with The Nice Photo Man!

A Memoirs of a Budget Mum Review 

We recently had the pleasure of doing a family outdoor shoot –like finally! This has been a long overdue affair …like waaaay overdue I would say! Our last official photo shoot was from our wedding, gasp. However, I’m glad we all finally found the right occasion to do it –on my fifth child’s first birthday celebration!!

We started sourcing around for a good photographer we would be comfortable to work with: aka good with kids, reasonable budget etc. We were glad to find him in Asher Ong, the young and budding lensman behind 6 Kids and a Pop Up Camper

As some of you might have read in the media, Asher, only 17 years of age, is the eldest of six siblings, who manned the camera throughout his family’s epic six month family road trip in the USA. 

Covering 43 out of 50 states, the trip  yielded some stunning photography, now published in their family travelogue “Six Kids and a Pop Up Camper”. The book was a storybook adventure for the family of eight and more remarkably, a fantastic testbed for the keen photographic direction of their eldest child, capturing some breathtaking moments of their adventure there. 

We love supporting local talent and as a homeschooling family, local homeschool  talent particularly! Asher is a wonderful example of how passion can be pursued at a young age when given time to blossom. 

Now a freelance photographer, Asher, also known on Instagram as @thenicephotoman, is really a nice photo man (boy). During our shoot, Asher was cheerful, totally at ease directing the shots with our large family and particularly nifty and friendly with the kids. 

These are some of our favourite shots of our family shoot; humorously titled 5 Kids and a Photoshoot, with credits to Asher?.

We caught up with Asher recently in an interview: 

1. What or who first kickstarted your interest in photography? 

It all started when I was 12 and given a small compact camera as a gift. During that same year, my family of 8 (2 parents + 3 Boys + 3 Girls) flew to Australia on a holiday. I shot a lots of photos, and my Mom showed it to her photographer friend when we got back. He was extremely encouraging, commending me for being one with an eye for composition. Together with my mom’s encouragement I continued to shoot with that little camera, always  bringing it with me to wherever I went.

Before we embarked on our U.S. road trip in 6 Kids and a Pop Up Camper, my parents purchased a mid-pro DSLR to capture our adventures. After finding out about our buy, our Straits Times photo journalist church friend offered me lessons on how to use the camera. He is an amazing sensei- I only had two lessons and it was enough to get me started on my journey. Six months of shooting on the road, saw my skill level advanced at a phenomenal rate! 

2. Do you foresee yourself pursuing photography as a career? 

I never want to come to the point where I find myself saying, “sigh… have to take pictures again…” Hence, Lord willing, I hope to make my photography a “weekend job”, so as not to suck all the love out of my passion. 

3. Who or what are your favorite photographic subjects and why? 

My creative direction is still rather broad.  Each picture communicates a unique story. However, I do have an inclination toward architecture – and it is heavily published on my Instagram. You may say that I have a love for organised and mathematically constructed visuals! 

I also love portraiture. People are so amazingly fun to work with to make beautiful moments. As I continue to grow as a “people photographer”, I always am delighted to see the intricate story that I am able to capture! 

4. What is, by far, your favorite photo(s) from your portfolio? Tell us it’s backstory.

One of my favourite pictures features my friend’s family in a park that they love to hang out at. It is significant to me because it was one of the first portrait shoots that I did. Besides that, I love how organically the whole scene plays out. 
Being the eldest of 6, there has always been a baby / kid in the house. Hence, I work well with children as they can sometimes be nervous or overly excited when the camera is pointed at them. This photograph shows the loving and crazy side of a fun family with 4 kids, 3 of them being boys…

5. Three things most people don’t know about you: 

1. My age! I believe it is due to my friendships with adults that have matured me, such that many people take me for a 20 plus year old. You know those people at the MRT handing out pamphlets? I normally expect them to attempt to sell to me insurance, and other adult stuff… 

2. I cut and style hair- my brother’s hair to be specific. 

3. I play the cello and guitar and sing the Bass section in choir. I love music. 

6. The edge you possess as a young homeschooled entrepreneur: 

I have the opportunity to invest time to hone my skill, giving me an edge above others. I get to choose how I want to allocate and section out my time, be it to prioritise education or projects and work.

7. Three things on your Bucketlist for 2017

1. I hope to get a strong network of companies and services to enable our family to go on a second trip. Be it to finish the last 7 states of America, or to explore other countries like New Zealand or Iceland! 

2. Lord willing, to get into Temasek Polytechnic, Communication Design.

3. Run a Half Marathon. 

Photography Services by Asher Ong, thenicephotoman


Use the special promo code “BUDGETMUM” to get 10% off a family photo shoot only valid for BOOKINGS during the Month of June! 

For enquiries, contact: 

Asher Ong

+65 9787 6527

Instagram -> @thenicephotoman

BASF Kid’s Lab 2017 is back! -Explore the Wonders of Chemistry with hands-on experiments!

Media Invite

Over the years, the BASF Kids’ Lab program has been reaching out to children all over the world and this year is no exception- this will be their 20th year in fact! 

Our family has always looked forward to Kids Lab sessions! 

Little scientists ready to rock and roll!

It checks all our boxes for good family fun: free activity (check), educational (check), fun (check) and hands-on and engaging (check)! 
I mean how often do the kids get a chance to get all decked out in lab gear and goggles, and mess around like it’s their job to!!

Our session was conducted at BASF’s new and very swanky learning campus near One North. The learning campus, formerly a series of old colonial houses, is now a quaint precinct oozing with old-new world charm and flanked by lush greenery all round! Very nice. 

Pano view of the grounds


BASF Kid’s Lab adopts a family-friendly approach with its signature hands-on learning of simple chemistry experiments pitched at an easily-digestible level to young children and suiting multiple learning styles! 

This year the highlight will centre on  two experiments: 

  1.  Poly Lab: children will discover the properties of plastics, and design a kit to separate and recycle plastics, and find out more about the amazing “corn starch” solution! Through hands-on experiments, they will find out how we can use and make plastics in a more environmentally friendly manner
  2. Colorful Butterfly: making use of materials available at home and applying simple science theories, children will be designing their own colorful butterfly.

Here’s what we love: 

  1. Clear and Simple Steps: We love it that for all experiments, instructions are laid out clearly and simply enough for children to follow with laminated instructions. It’s truly the kids that take ownership for what they are doing and adults can take a step back and let the kids play scientist. 
  2. Recording Observations: Each table is manned by friendly lab assistants who guide the children to record their predictions and observations before and after the experiments and direct the children to uncover key learning points at every stage of exploration! 


Experiment 1: Polylab

In the first experiment, Poly Lab, the children were briefed on the different types of plastics (plastic bags, cups, bottles) in our immediate environment: 

They were then led to separate different coloured plastic beads. 

After adding some salt, the black beads floated to the surface of the water. Kids found out through this that different plastics have different properties! 

Little scientists recording her observations

Next, the kids dabbled in the “amazing corn starch” experiment which hopes to point them to future renewable substitutes for plastic.  

The corn starch solution feels very dense yet malleable…a future plastic substitute!

Experiment 2: Colourful Butterfly

This colorful experiment involves red cabbage and is wonderful for younger kids. The kids were instructed to rub the cabbage dye onto the paper butterfly and see the effect of water, lemon juice and soap solution on it! 

Different liquids yielded different colours! I won’t burst the bubble here to tell you what the result was because you really have to get your child a slot in to find out! 

BASF 2017: Sign up Now! 

BASF Kids Lab 2017 is now open for registration. 

These are the details: 

Who: Kids 7-12year olds 

When: June 6-11 2017(Tuesday to Sunday)

Time: 10.15am, 11.45am, 2.15pm, 3.45pm (1 hr 15min per session) 

Where: Programme zone, Jurong Regional Library 

To register:

 1. Go to NLB website 

 2. Search for event: BASF Kids Lab

Good things must share!!! 

10 Quotes on the Importance of Play

This afternoon’s play transported us into an imaginary Lilliputian small-land and my little inhabitant, on a Gulliver’s travelogue. Together, the children added to their fantasy world unplugging their ideas from the rims of their most fertile imaginations. The finale creations were limited edition lego duplo “sushi bento sets” nearing dinner time…

The way a child wants to play is often very different from the way his parents want him to. Most times, our children know there are no limits to how they can express themselves through play…if we let them.

This evening, we share some of our favourite quotes on the importance of play. May it inspire each parent here to schedule in purposeful playtime everyday for the children.

1. “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” – Abraham Maslow

2. “You don’t remember the time your dad held the handlebars, you remember the time he let go.” – Lenore Skenazy

3. “Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori

4. “Give childhood back to our children: If we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less.” – Peter Grey

5. “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” – Mr. Rogers

7. “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson

8. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”-George Bernard Shaw

9. “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato

10. “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

Easy DIY Cupcake Stand!

This DIY Cupcake Stand on a budget can be done up in 15 minutes with simple materials you have in your kitchen at home. 

Initially, I was entertaining fancy ideas on heading out into the stores to look for a pretty cupcake stand to go with my daughter’s birthday cupcakes and maybe a dozen helium balloons. It would be pretty, pink and perfect. 

Well, Budget mum won and kicked perfectionism to the curb. Saving the earth takes priority as opposed to creating Pinterest worthy snaps of our unreal life. 

We chose to save our time, money and use whatever we could scavage from our kitchen drawers. 

Best decision ever. 

The five year old was more than squealing to help put this together: 2 IKEA cups-check. 2 paper plates, recycle a cake base with contact paper or wrapping paper and a steaming rack.

It wasn’t super pretty nor perfect looking. I reckon I could’ve added a ribbon or two but am happy with the outcome!

It’s functional and can be put together AND dismantled in quick time!

Here’s sharing our 15 minute DIY Cupcake Stand Tutorial for the budget conscious! Read more here on what we actually did to make birthday memories! 

DIY Cupcake Stand 15mins max

Here’s all you need

:1. A cake base (we used a recycled one)
2. Wrapping paper (pretty ones!…we used contact paper as I only had was easy to stick on too.)
3. Two plastic Ikea cups
4. 1 paper plate
5. Round steamer rack
5. Glue, scissors, blue tack


1. Cut contact paper, wrapping paper to fit cake board and paper plate. Stick and glue on. Add trimmings, stickers,ribbons if you like on the borders.

2. Position some blue tack on the rim of the cup, invert and stick on to big cake base. Position some blue tack on base of cup and stick on paper plate.

3. Use a steaming rack to raise the height beneath the big cake base. Arrange cupcakes to balance.


Last week, at a whim, I brought four intrepid little explorers out on a relatively cool morning to a simple nature walk around our neighborhood. It was the best thing I did that day, tho it meant struggling to balance baby in the shawl while trying not to keel over peering at tiny insects having a field day. Pardon the pun. That was my Nat Geo best for you!

Nonetheless, we were not disappointed…look at these spoils! The kids were obsessed with their fly catcher and measured out some insect-swatting killer moves and our best armament to date: a magnifying glass. The younger girls got home to their journals and began sketching leaves. The older one completed his examination of a cross-section of a flower.


Over the weekend, if your kids are in need of an eye break, just seriously get out. I know the weather has been absolutely unforgiving but just two streets and we discovered a huge cluster of mushrooms, a neighbour’s secret tree house with mystery trap door (we’ll be back to spy) and the awareness of so much life teeming around us that it made our daily worries look minuscule.
Think about it: there’s this absolutely amazing universe of an eco system that’s drumming to its own beat…completely unfazed by geo-political affairs and accelerating parking prices. We can all take a leaf or two from that, can’t we? ‪#‎budgetmumactivities‬ ‪#‎homeschooling‬‪#‎theoutdoorhour‬

Nature study ideas:…/nature-study-ideas/


Pictured here, the kids in the belly of a whale, having a blubber of a time! As a homeschooling budget mum, I dig museums. First, they are FREE with loads of activities and programmes specially curated for Children’s Season. They are also repositories of life in the fullness of its expression. It’s never a dull school day out!

In the belly of a whale

Imaginarium, Over the Ocean and Under the Sea at 8Q has been one of our annual faves and we spent some time staking out in there and soaking in the aquatic-themed line-up last week. Here’s sharing our favourite bits of our visit along with tips on how to engage the children in the installations:

Highlights of our trip:
1. “Plastic Ocean” by Tan Zi Xi
Children and adults are invited to “swim” through cartons of used bottles, wrappers meant to recreate a sea of plastic. The message is obvious. Are we using and discarding more than our oceans can handle? Our children ran through the blue-hued maze identifying some of their favourite chocolate biscuit wrappers and the brand of detergent we use. We also enjoyed the mini art gallery of illustrations by Tan, a Singaporean illustrator turned artist.

2. “ADA” by Karina Smigla-Bobinski
My 6yo was particularly enamoured by ADA …a huge helium ball with charcoal studs on it bobbing it’s way around a large white space. It’s actually intended to resemble a bioluminescent underwater organism and children are encouraged to guide ADA around. With every push, they leave irreversible charcoal marks across the surface of the wall, symbolic of how we too, in interacting with the oceans through our actions, affect the oceanic and natural habitats around us and leave irreparable damage. Deep stuff!
Tips: just don’t wear white or your favourite new dress if your child is likely to spend lots of time here. Could end up looking black and scruffy.

3. “Where is Mogus?” By Mulyana
Spot Mogus, an imaginary octopus and his beautiful crocheted friends. This is tactile wonderland and one of the favourites for the children. Plush whales and great photo moments along with “I spy” games that can keep one another on their toes!
Get the children to spot and spy out the different octopus friends and have them looking into the detail of each hanging octopus!

4. We also enjoyed the theaterette with a full list of international and local short films. Awesome long sofa benches all the way inside and fully carpeted. Perfect way to rest your tired feet. “The Sea is Blue” just won the Webby awards for best animation!

Imaginarium runs now through to 28 August 2016.…/Immaginarium_brochure_F…


Crafting with Kids

Our Happiness project for the week: the daughter’s bubble-wrap printed green boa constrictor. Of all the animals of the rainforest, this creature fascinated her and we’re just happy that she was happy working at it and stamping the body with paint…and yes, I resisted the temptation to tell her I didn’t like snakes! Here are some things we learnt when crafting: it’s all about the process not the product!

Our Rainforest snake

Things to avoid when crafting:

1. Never force kids to complete a project they simply aren’t interested in – all you will do is alienate them from ever trying craft again. Simply encourage them and reward them when they do finish something.

2. Don’t get too complex
It’s easy to overestimate your own ability (and your child’s) when you see something you like in a picture, but there’s nothing more discouraging than getting part-way through a project and finding you don’t have to skills to complete it. Determine how much you and your child can actually do.

3. Start simple
If you’re learning a craft for the first time, start with something extra-simple to get the feel of the tools, materials, and techniques. Practice the techniques on something that doesn’t count first before actually beginning a project. If the project is relatively easy, your child will gain confidence and quickly want to try something more challenging.

4. Allow enough time and space
You need time to do things right, and that’s true of any activity, no matter how seemingly uncomplicated it is. Give yourself and your child time — to think, to enjoy what you’re doing, to be creative, to experiment, and to enjoy each other.


Crazy Banana Cake Review

So yes, I finally baked the crazy banana cake. The one that stays on low heat in the oven and then “boom” into the freezer to cool with a cloth: the trade secret to this wonderfully moist cake.

The thing is, the waiting for my cake to fully cook through at 135 degrees Celsius was what drove me bananas. The cake did not cook after 70 minutes and neither did it the 10minute mark after. Think I waited at least 1.5 hours before my pick came out clean. It was an exercise of patience on all counts–truly a crazy cake in that respect!

Crazy Banana Cake!!!

Crazy Banana Cake!!!

Nevertheless, the cake did not disappoint: it’s lovely, dense and moist texture is locked into the cake, yielding an elegantly tall slice. The moistness is truly defining of this recipe. My cake sat in the fridge a day or two after and it did not dry out like most cakes would. The cake itself was not too sweet and with the cream cheese topping, fashioned itself after a classic carrot cake, without carrot of course. I would suggest reducing the icing in the cream by at least 0.5 cup to reduce some calories and guilt!

Crazy Banana Cake Slice

Crazy Banana Cake Slice

Please feel welcome to post your experiences with this crazy recipe & if it worked for u!


Budget Friendly Kid’s Play- Sorting Buttons

Sorting buttons

Buttons are a mom’s best friend and so are cool random recyclables for this budget mom 🙂! In this present culture of overabundance where little ones could possibly get whatever they want, whenever they wanted, it’s a challenge not to be swept headlong into buying the next popular gadget, toy, newfangled product on the market.

We very rarely buy toys though we’ve been blessed with many but somehow, its always a little more exciting and so much more personal for me, when we invent and create ways of playing which are customized to our child’s needs, whether it’s for a week or two before he/she puts it away and attention shifts towards a new skill or development—the comforting fact of us facilitating ways of playing with ordinary things we have on hand is that it is so much easier on the wallet and creative to boot. Kids really just enjoy simple things with a punch of imagination!

Hence, it was love at first sight with this electric blue compartment carton box which used to house milk puddings from Paris baguette cafe, now fashionably repurposed as a button sorter for downtime pursuits for my near-3yo. Had earlier made a mental note to head down to Daiso to get some compartment trays but these fit the bill more than perfectly. Stuck the buttons over each compartment with tack and off she went exploring. Never mind if she didn’t “get” the classification at first, but learning is exploring and discovering and that’s the new fun of it! The little one ended up counting and treating the buttons as coins! Must have been her imaginary “bank”, saving up stash for the future!;)

Thinking of new ways to repurpose this box when she’s done! Drop a comment if you have an idea! ?

Family Fun with Fondant!

This is a throwback post to a few months back when we were preparing for the littlest’s two year birthday celebration. I confess I haven’t been up to date with posts but I’ve been in no hurry, really. The bits and pieces of life can be dug up, strung together, relived, savoured as opposed to archived, anytime we choose to enjoy them again and again as we wish, don’t you agree?

Anyway, this post puts a smile on my face as it was truly a family cake for our favourite family member – the baby in the house!

Family Workshop with

Family Workshop with “Fun”dant

All the kids wanted to chip in and we bravely decided on Faith’s Fantastic Fondant Peppa Pig cake. It was our first foray into fondant and Peppa Pig was the “flavour” of the month.

Why did it take so long to be “initiated” into the fondant factory? The truth was none of the kids liked to eat the “too sweet” icing. Even then, the kids unanimously decided that we would not eat the fondant but use it anyway to indulge the likes of their baby sister.

We don’t do fancy birthday parties in our household unlike the common trend these days, but we believe in giving a collective effort, however simple or “unprofessional” as its the memories and process of doing things together that we value- we want to build family memories and gift ourselves with them in the years to come!

Fun with Fondant

Assembling our family cakes with the gifts of our time and efforts

It is also fitting to give the kids some time and space to practice giving gifts of time and service while mummy practices on being hands off and allowing room for creativity and imagination to bloom. Thus, the children went on their way with a simple cake mix, and conceptualised the scene and setting of how the figurines would be placed. They also tried their hand at making “oddballs” of the colourful balls presented before them: experimented on how to mix colours, how to mould shapes and things to look realistic and how to support Peppa’s big head and prevent it from rolling off! Of course, we are thankful for YouTube!

Fun with Fondant

Do you spot a picnic basket and an apple?

Fun with Fondant

A radio and a big beach ball?

The little one also relished dipping her hands into the fondant bowl- I would like to think it was a nice change from playdough! It was also hilarious and heartwarming at the same time seeing the little gifts the kids made, lest their fondant fantasies were “foiled”, there were momentos to fall back on. Handrawn cards, our improvised chopstick banner with coloured twine, Lego Peppa and Paperdoll Peppa!

Fun with Fondant

Can’t go wrong with a Lego Peppa and Paperdoll Peppa. The little one is getting dolled up by eldest sister

Fun with Fondant

Oops, the cake is split, but the bday girl ain’t bothered so we aren’t too!!

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