What I’ve Learnt Baking in an Electric Oven

I’ve always wanted to bake cakes and other goodies since i was little. And as a young child I’ve wondered how they were made, and have dreamt of doing it myself someday. Later on in life, I came to know that an oven is a must in baking. However the prices of those family-sized ovens are budget wrecker.

As a result of being a mom on a budget, hubby and I decided to purchase a single electric oven which only costs us a little over $100. This definitely is a great deal and it’s certainly within our budget. Here are things I’ve learnt baking in an electric oven.

Bought this two years back and it fits perfectly well in my tiny kitchen

+What I’ve learnt Baking in this electric oven?

  • Choose a small to medium size chicken/or any meat to roast. As hubby was also excited, the first thing he wanted to do when the oven came was to roast a chicken. And so we did. Although we chose a somewhat large chicken, it fit fine in the oven. But it took longer to roast it than what was specified in the recipe, and the browning was uneven. Maybe it would be best to opt for a small chicken-size instead.
  • Baking time oftentimes doubles and sometime triples. The first weekend after we got our oven, I baked my first moist chocolate cake. Everyone was excited! I followed the recipe to the detail since this was my first time baking in an oven, and I didn’t want to mess it up. But thirty minutes have gone by, it still wasn’t baked. And so I gave it another 15 minutes but still it wasn’t done. I was already a bit bewildered at this point and I felt disappointment slowly creeping in but I didn’t give up, and gave it another 15 minutes. And I placed a toothpick in, it came out with a bit of batter. So I gave it another 10 minutes. Then it was done!
  • Double or triple the pre-heating time. I read somewhere that in baking it is important to reach the required heat before the actual baking. So i was preheating the oven in preparation for a chocolate crinkle experiment but due to an inevitable circumstance i had to re heat the oven and had to repeat it two more times. Although I had fear the oven might explode ^_^, I did it any way thinking of that information I read from a food blog and also thinking that maybe the reason why it took a long time to bake in my previous attempts was because the oven was not hot enough to start with. Sure enough, I didn’t have to double or triple the baking time for the chocolate crinkle.
  • My oven is conventional and not convection. As it turns out this single oven we bought is conventional. Unlike convection, conventional doesn’t have a fan to circulate the heat inside the oven. This explains the uneven browning when roasting.

Having an oven no matter how tiny it is, is a dream come true for me. I’m happy to be able to bake goodies for my family. Also I’ve learned things along the way. Although it has it’s quirks, it only takes knowing how to work around it, and everything works perfectly fine.

What kind of oven do you have?

Did you have to “know it” before things ran smoothly, or was it smooth sailing right off the bat?

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Parents on a Budget Ideas: Check Out This List

Mom on a budget

I’m not offering solutions on spreadsheets or ultimate budgeting tips to solve your financial woes. Here, I’m simply sharing ideas that I have done and those that I’m planning to do as I tackle the every day strain of running a household on a budget.

Some of these are original ideas, others are taken from other parents which I have adapted and modified to suit my family’s needs. As you look into the list, feel free to choose the ones that fit your needs and adjust or improve it accordingly. And also don’t forget to comment below the changes that you have made or will be making, so that other parents could also learn from them too.

For most of us who are outside the rich and super-rich circle, budgeting is a familiar thing; parents on a budget is normal. According to Cambridge dictionary, budgeting is the process of calculating how much money you must earn or save during a particular period of time, and of planning how you will spend it. And parents as one of the most resourceful and creative people on the planet, always come up with ways and means to have ends meet. I guess the situations parents have to face on the daily basis necessitate the need to be resourceful and creative.

Without further ado, here are the list.

Save on energy, save lights. Nowadays, we are slowly branching out to vlogging and creating Youtube videos. And as you very well know good lighting is essential to have a clear, sharp, and color-rich video. So for vloggers and Youtubers, video lighting is a must. However as we’re on the budget side at the time being, well, there’s no better light source than the sun, right? So what we actually use is light from a lampshade to give the face extra illumination, and then a lot of sunlight. We’re lucky in a sense that one entire wall of our house that leads to the balcony is glass-walled, so it is totally a great, free source of light.

Natural health supplement. Health is super important, and getting sick can be so hard on the budget especially if your paying the hospital straight out of your own pocket. Giving children health supplements would certainly boost their immune system. However personally, I would go for something affordable, natural and organic, nothing synthetic. Moringa plant is a proven and tested super food with loads of health benefits which are reasons I include Moringa in my children’s diet. So we made our own Moringa powder and thought of creative ways to feed Moringa to my children.

Grow your own garden. Food takes quite a chunk of our budget especially that we love to eat. If you live in the country or has a big space that you could convert into a garden, then you are lucky. However even those of us in the urban area, we could have a garden in the city if we want to. Having our own source of food is not only healthy it is also liberating on the budget. I grow Moringa, malabar nightshade, aloe vera, lemongrass, bitter melon, and planning of growing mung beans, bougainvillea and santan flowers. I have been trying to grow onions, tomatoes, and cabbage but to no avail.

Be creative with snacks. My family is big on snacks and DIY no-churn ice cream. Instead of always buying (of course we do at times) crisp and other junkies in grocers, I recycle food leftovers. If I have leftover chicken and veggies, I make these into veggy nuggets or I make our own fruitshakes.

Toys for Mommies. If there are toys for the big boys, kitchen appliance are definitely toys for Mommies. For budget Moms like me, buying kitchen appliance can be heavy on the budget, and could be a hindrance from procurring one. For a very long time, I dreamt of having my own oven, but the real one is just way beyond my financial capacity. Thankfully though there are affordable alternatives, and that’s what I’ve got, an electric oven. It is not as powerful but it does the work just fine. And since we love cold beverages, and fruitshakes are healthier choices, I bought an affordable blender. It’s defintely on a budget new toy.

Budget bloggers assistants. Blogging is a great way to augment family income but it does not come for free. There are things that we need to spend money on to have a successful blog. Aside from yearly payment for domain and hosting, there are a number of other important essentials, and I listed 5 must haves for mom on a budget bloggers. Have you got other affordable must haves for blogging?

Travel on a budget. Part of parenting is to educate children, and traveling is a great way to teach them with a whole lot of things. Traveling need not be expensive. There are plenty of beautiful places to go to that are free of admission including temples and museums which are awesome places to explore and experience, and other kid-friendly, family drive routes which are public and admission free like parks, beaches, and zoos.

Inexpensive Outdoor Activities for Children. Another yet important parenting responsibility is to engage children in extracurricular activities. For children, physical activities and plays are essential factors especially during a child’s formative years. Creative parents know just where to go or what to do to have those muscles flexed or those imagination fired up, and empower kids without so much of a cost.

DIY whenever you can. I’m not so gifted with craftiness but wherever I could save I can always find a way, for example make your own gift wraps, christmas gifts on a budget, home-made playdough.

  • Old calendars for something educational. Every year we change calendar. Some calendars are made from really nice durable paper, and so instead of throwing them away why not re-used or recycle them into something really useful. During this time, my son who was a toddler was already showing readiness for reading. So instead of buying alphabet flashcards, I made my own, and save on a few bucks. Check them out. Aside from flashcards, we can re-used old calendars into picture frames, paper dolls, doll house, or any school projects that call for it.
  • Old School Socks Rag Rug. I have plenty of school socks rag. And because I don’t want to spend money on new rugs which sometimes costs more than $3, I made these socks rags into rugs. There are other ways, according to Amanda over at the Glorious Grape, she used mismatched socks to make chew toys for her dogs. And Chubskulit Rose use old socks to clean furniture. Old socks can also be used as stuffing for throw pillows and the likes.

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5 Must Haves for Mom on a Budget Bloggers

Juggling a full-time job and a family life is huge, and with blogging on the side, how huge do you think it could get. There are times when things get so overwhelmingly hectic that a momentary hiatus from blogging is a welcome breather. That’s right, just surface out for a bit of air before diving right in again. This gives me the needed time to relax for a little while and organize my thoughts on just about anything.

With tons of mom-work to do, office works to finish,  and blog posts to write, I’m just so grateful that there are a few great things that are actually making my life as a mom blogger easier. Whats more is that these are all affordable, and if you are super tight on the budget, some of these have free versions which are already more than good enough. Mom on a budget like me couldn’t be for more happy and grateful.

Here are some of the things that are definitely useful for mom on a budget blogger like me.

  1. Adobe Lightroom CC. Photography enthusiasts, food and travel bloggers are probably familiar with lightroom.  It is an photo editing software that could be downloaded from the internet to a PC. My husband has got this as he is into photography. He loves it! It’s easy to use and very intuitive. I, on the other hand, do not have the patience to study the intricacies no matter how easy it is. However, I also  do not like presets. What I was looking for was an editing tool that is simple, handy, and gives quality results. And yaas! I found it, the Adobe Lightroom CC. I stumble upon it while looking for an photo editing tool at the App Store. It is super simple, the terms used are easy to understand. No need for an in depth study. And because it is a mobile app, I could edit my photos anywhere, anytime, both online and offline. I could work on my photos while waiting for my kids, or in between breaks in the office. Most of my photos here as well as my travel blog pauperslens are all edited using this.
  2. Adobe Spark Post. If you are looking for graphic designs and photo collages, yet got no time to sit in front of your PC or laptop; this is the app for you. It is a mobile app that allows you to create unique, personalized graphics for your blog, social media, and other businesses anytime, anywhere. It has hundreds of different, attractive, and beautifully designed templates to choose from, and each and every one of these templates can be personalized to your liking. I have several blog posts that I could not find an appropriate photo to go with, so I always turn to Adobe Spark Post for the needed idea. For example, Diverse Outdoor Activities for Children is a list type post; I have got photos for each activity but I needed one graphic or photo to show at the beginning of the post.

    mitchryan's blog
    created using Adobe Spark Post
  3. PowerDirector is a video editing app for mobile phones. What I have is a free version, nevertheless, it does what it is made to do and it does it well. It has the usual features of video editing app and more.  Splitting or cutting video clips is what I like about it,  simply because this is often unavailable in most free video editors I have came across so far.  And with so much fuss about  copywrite infringement in Youtube,  I’m glad PowerDirector has its own line of music that are free and Youtube ready.
  4. A smartphone is a blogger’s bestfriend! Phones have indeed become smart. Its functionality has exceeded far beyond its predecessors. Nowadays aside from voice call, smartphones are capable of video conferencing and more: blog, vlog, edit photos and videos, engage in social media, pay bills, research; the list is limitless.
  5. DesignCap is an online poster and flyer maker.  The poster I’m using for this post was made using DesignCap.  Lovely,  isn’t it?  There are plenty of templates to choose from.  I designed this poster in my laptop,  so it is easier to manuever in,  out,  and around the work space.  Personally I would prefer to save my photo in my computer before sharing it in social media. DesignCap allows you to do this which I am so glad for. Also,  you could design your business posters or flyers straight away without creating an account though it would be great to have one so you could manage them better. And most importantly, it’s free!

Here are some of its  features.

  • Hundreds of poster and flyer templates available 
  • Thousands of resources including clipart images, shapes, fonts, and backgrounds
  • Fully customizable that you can make your own unique poster and flyer
  • Convenient and quick: no download or registration required

Being busy and on a tight budget are not that bad after all,  thanks to these absolutely awesome blogging help, and other blogging hacks to increase traffic.

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Mom on a Budget Strikes Again: Four-Ingredient No-Churn Avocado Moringa Powder Ice Cream

diy
Avocado Moringa Powder Ice Cream

We are a family of ice cream monsters. Yes all of us! We simply love ice cream. On special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and the Yuletide season, ice cream is a mainstay. An occasion would not be complete without ice cream.

Although commercial ice cream is affordable and can be easily bought from almost all supermarkets and convenience stores, I still want to try my hands on it. Anyways, it is possible nowadays to do it at home without any fancy machine. And of course there are hundreds of recipes available online, thanks to so many foodie bloggers out there.

I surfed the internet for a recipe that fits my finances. I found just what I need from Kirbie’s Cravings; her recipe only has three ingredients (avocado, condensed milk, and heavy cream). However, heavy cream on this part of the world is a luxury; it is so damn expensive! Since I’m a mom on a budget, I used evaporated milk together with the condensed milk instead of heavy cream. And I gave it a bit of a personal touch by putting in Moringa powder which my children did themselves. This is one creative way to feed Moringa to your child.

So here it is.

 

Avocado Moringa Powder Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 big avocado (mango)

1 can condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

Moringa powder (quantity depends on your preference)

 

Procedure

In a blender, add avocado, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and Moringa powder. Then hit that button.

Make sure everything is well blended. Freeze until solid, but give it a stir every now and then to prevent it from crystallizing. If you forget, it’s fine as long as it is well blended, it will still turn out delicioso!

 

Are you a big ice cream fan? Do you have any easy ice cream recipe I could try?

 

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Old School Socks Rag Rug: Mom on a Budget

Recycling and re-using are great ways to save money as well as contribute to a greener environment.

As a mom on a budget,  I’d recycle and re-used anything I could – old calendars,  magazines as gift wraps.  And I’ve always felt that old, loose school socks can still be made into something useful.  Whatever it is,  it couldn’t be given as pre-loved items or as thrift items.  It’s just not right.  Yet,  I still feel that it’s a waste if I just throw them away,  after all it’s cottony,  and some have these adorable prints on them.

I thought,  well,  why not make them into a rug.  So I did it,  the first try was a bit untidy.  As you can see the heels are tucked in but are not sewn in. The rug looks messy as the heels come out easily.  And notice, it’s hand-sewn because as it turned out the cordless, portable handy-stitch sewing machine I bought is a lemon.

Here it is.

diy rug
After realizing a few things from my first attempt, I made another one.  This time,  the rug looks neat than the previous one.

Here it is. 


So what I did here is,
1. Tuck the heel portion of the sock in and sew the socks together as shown in the photo (this is half of the rug,  make two). The number of socks will depend on how long you want your rug to be.
school socks rag rug
2. Sew the two halves together as shown here.

old school socks

This DIY old school socks rag rug is a pretty rough idea.  There are certainly a lot of room for improvement and creativity. If you happen to make a similar one please drop me a line about your creation.

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5 Amazing Changes to Your Living Room

Living room is the center of homeowners’ universe. It is the place where we spend most time and engage in conversation with our loved ones. Given this special purpose (both functional and emotional) it is the part of our home that matter the most.
Although people spend most of their life in this small room, they tend to neglect it awfully lot. Sometimes, you can see that interior design hasn’t been changed for decades and there is no indication it will be in near future.
Homeowners do not like addressing their living room as they often think that the costs will be too high. This isn’t always true. Sometimes, you can accomplish a lot with just a small investment. Let’s see what the best ways to do it are.

1. Adding a few mirrors
Mirror can do a lot for your space.
Due to its specific form and the fact they reflect things; you can accomplish various effects with them. In fact, mirrors are a cheap alternative to expensive paintings. Instead of decorating your whole walls with lots of paintings you can accomplish almost the same effect with one larger mirror.
Hollywood mirrors are especially neat. Besides the mirror itself, they come with lots of light bulbs that can deepen the experience for the viewer. You can start your mirror search by visiting HollywoodMirrors.co.uk where you will find a decent collection of illuminated mirrors for your home.

2.  Go for intricate wall paintings
Again, instead of getting paintings, you can paint a picture on the wall.
This form of art is really modern and artsy and it can be a good substitution to anything else you would’ve put on wall otherwise. It is something that sticks with a viewer and completely solves your problem.
However, do not do this yourself. It is much better if you get a proficient person to do the job. In the end, you wouldn’t like to repaint your walls again, wouldn’t you?

3.  Switching up things a bit
The oldest trick in the book is switching up your furniture. It might not be the best option and you can accomplish much more by simply purchasing a new set of items but it is by far the cheapest option at your disposal.
You should always try and reposition your stuff so that the room feels more homey. Try creating an oval shape with your sofas and chairs. This way, when your guests arrive, they will all be placed in a circle instead of rectangle. It is a small trick that most people neglect. However, it will have such a mental impact on your guests that they will feel as if you completely changed the whole room.

4.  Remove obstructive things from your windows
Here is a similar trick as the one with furniture.
You are not actually changing anything; instead you are simply removing excess things.
Most living rooms are exposed to the sunlight. There are likely windows or glass doors on one side of the room. Unfortunately, homeowners tend to ruin the atmosphere by adding curtains, putting plants near the windows or obstructing the view in some other way.
Natural light is great for your eyes and your psyche. Even if the light may seem overbearing at times, it definitely helps more than it makes the issue. So, make sure to introduce more of it.

5.  Buy new trinkets, refresh your photos
Everybody has small trinkets, items and photos in their living room. Although they may be important for us or remind us of something, think about changing them once in a while. If a photo is significant for you, you can simply relocate it to bedroom or some other area of your house. However, this swap as small as it may be is really significant for your living room décor.

These are certainly great ideas that work very well for living rooms.  What for other parts of the house, for instance the bathroom?

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Smartphone: Jumping on the Bandwagon on a Budget

It has been 7 years since I bought myself a decent phone.

The last decent phone I had was the Nokia N-72. After the robbery incident in our home, in which my beloved phone sadly got included, I never got myself to buy another phone in that price range and that time the Nokia N72 was around 200USD here in Thailand. And so I bought myself a call and text phone (Nokia 107) and said to myself it’s all I need.

Fast forward to the present, I was persuaded by my husband to get a new phone and keep myself abreast with the present times and also my longtime friend and companion, my trusty Nokia 107, was showing signs of conking out. As we went window shopping I was astounded by the sheer volume of choices. You got Samsung neck and neck with Apple. You got LG, Huwawei, Sony, Nokia, Oppo, and another Chinese manufacturer which I can’t remember the name. I was having difficulty choosing which one to get for myself. So I kept on calling off my purchase date.

To help me with my purchase my hubby asked me a few questions to eliminate some of the selections and narrow down the candidates.

1. How much are you willing to shell out?

2. What do you really intend it for?

3. Any particular designs, color, or quirks you like or hate?

Well, one thing is for sure, I do not want to shell out more than 300USD just for a phone. I need a phone that is big enough for me to check on my blog, Facebook, e-mails and whatnot,  without straining my eyes. It also should take very good photos (check them out here) without me trying so hard at it. LOL! A smartphone is certainly a must have for mom blogger on a budget like me.  With my budget I have ruled out any kind of i-Phone but I really do love how it looks and of course its quality. The Samsung J7 was our first candidate as it met all of the desired specifications. But after reading the online reviews giving us tons of negative feedback, we backed track a whole lot. After checking it out for ourselves it proved to be true. So we moved on to the next candidate, the “Oppo F1s” I have never used an Oppo phone before but I have heard that it is quite popular amongst the teenagers here in Thailand. They said if you can’t afford the i-Phone get an Oppo.

Now, I am a very skeptical person especially with brand names. I always ask or research about it until I am satisfied with all the information and give me an emphatic sound reassurance. Reading its users review at a very popular phone website gave us mostly positive reviews and opinions. So we checked it out and Lo and Behold. The feel of the Oppo is more premium than what you’d expect from a relatively inexpensive phone. With its metal body it gives you that heft of reassurance in your hand. It’s wide screen gives out crisp and clear images with rich colors. So there… We have narrowed down the specifications I have in mind. A phone within the 300USD price range, big enough to avoid any eye strain, takes good photos, and with the dashing looks of an i-Phone.

What things have you done or acquired recently to jump in the bandwagon?

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Ideas For A Small Bathroom

Mom on a budget

Even if you have a big house, you still might be constricted by small space in certain rooms. Usually, bathroom is the major culprit. This problem comes from the fact that we have to fit so many different items within this room. Each one of them takes a considerable amount of surface leaving us with so little space to move around. As you well know, this can pose a major problem given that bathroom is a place where we like to relax and take a nice shower after a long, hard day.

At the same time, this restriction poses a great problem if you wish to experiment and create something beautiful. Different rules apply when it comes to interior design of a small bathroom in comparison to a big one.
However, you shouldn’t be too concerned. There are some easy tricks which can help you arrange your bathroom space making it more functional.

1. Put mirror in a frame

There is a lot of clutter in small bathrooms. Because of this, we are restricted by the items which are within it. Even if you wish to decorate it, you will still have to consider various items and equipment so that you can make a sound composition. Instead of trying to make sense out of this chaos, you can try something completely different. Focus on one item and try to avert attention to it. Mirror is a logical choice. Most of us (consciously or subconsciously) look at the mirror as soon as we step into a bathroom. Use it to your advantage. Put a nice frame around it and make it the centerpiece of the room. By doing so, person will disregard all the other stuff and concentrate on this one item.

2. Organizing your make-up

Although you can keep your make-up someplace else, bathroom is the logical choice for it. However, if you don’t have enough space, it can cause all sorts of headache. Naturally, you will always put it in a cupboard or closed section in order to protect it from potential splashing. Small bathrooms can accommodate only small cupboards. Have in mind that besides make-up, you have to store various other objects inside such as clippers, spare soaps, deodorants, razors etc. Best way to get more space is to buy small plastic boxes for make-up. Now, you might argue that cases do the same job. But, there is a big difference. When make-up is in transparent boxes, you can easily see what you need and get it. This way you can avoid any mess which is caused when searching through cases. Also, it looks much nicer.

3. Rolling your towels

This practice is really common for hotels. Your probably noticed it over the years and wondered why they are doing it. When you are stacking towels one on top of another, you always have to take the one from the top regardless of which one you need. Otherwise, if you take the one from the middle or bottom, you will likely mess up the other ones. As a result, they will all look badly folded. If you wish to have a nice and cozy bathroom, you have to avoid this at all costs. After rolling your towels, you can put them vertically. This means that you can pick just the towel that you need, big ones for body, medium for hair and small for make-up. Simultaneously, by rolling them and putting them in a basket, you can make a nice arrangement. Your towels will look like a bouquet of roses which is enough of a reason to apply this trick.

4. Use boxes to your advantage

The biggest issue with small bathrooms is the way you are using ground space. In other words, your cupboards will usually be positioned under the sink or above it. In most of the cases, they will be floating around. This is a great thing as it gives you more space. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of space which can be used to store various objects. Use different boxes and place them on the ground level. Within them, you can keep spare toilet paper, detergents and other things which you seldom use. By doing this, you are accomplishing two things: you are both protecting them from water and other spills and keeping them out of visitors’ sight.

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