9 March 2012, by Mandy Loh

Officially a SAHM! And my culinary skills are a-budding!

I’m proud to announce that I’m officially a Stay-at-Home Mom now! My employment with my previous organisation ended as of yesterday, 8 March 2012!

As a quick aside: It was a pity my work-from-home arrangement did not turn out as well as I had hoped. I shan’t go into the details, but suffice to say, bosses have the upper hand when they grant flexible work arrangements, because it’s not the norm, and as such, they can choose to terminate the arrangement at their whim. Perhaps the Singapore government should think about firstly, encouraging more companies to provide flexible work arrangements for women, and secondly, protecting the rights of those who are offered such arrangements. This is especially since it’s in the national interest to increase our country’s fertility rate, and to retain women in the workforce even after childbirth.  Anyway, it’s just a thought…

I’m exhilarated to be able to stay home full-time to care for Cristan, yet at the same time its a little unsettling to be unemployed. Truthfully, I’m not too sure how things will pan out, but as a Christian, I believe that God will provide all our needs according to His riches in glory!

Anyway, we celebrated this milestone by having a big feast, which I prepared! As I had mentioned before, I’m a total kitchen klutz, so I recently borrowed 2 useful books from the library:

This book sure sounds PERFECT for me...

Yep, for kitchen idiots like me!

Flipping through these recipe books, I got somewhat comforted by how simple certain recipes really could be, and the “I Hate to Cook Book” was especially hilarious with their instructions, including “stare sullenly at the sink for 5 minutes while waiting for the water to boil”.

So I finally braved the unthinkable, and stepped into the kitchen to cook an entire dinner…ON MY OWN! (Ok, Tim helped a bit here and there when he got home from work). And this evening, I’m extremely delighted to have produced a full western meal of meatballs, pasta and 2 side dishes: veggies and oven-baked fries! Applause is appropriate at this point, thank you very much!

What I’m most proud of, is that this meal was fully Cristan-friendly, meaning he could enjoy all the same dishes that Tim and I were having, because most of them were salt-free!

Check out Cristan's dinner tonight! Isn't it totally awesome?

And if anyone out there is a kitchen klutz just like me, I’m sure you’ll appreciate me sharing the simple recipes I used. So here they are!



(From allrecipes.com, by AnastasiaJane)

I wanted to make salt-free and healthy home-made meatballs for Cristan, and to my surprise, the original recipe didn’t even call for any salt! Recipe results in approximately 18-20 meatballs, which was served with pasta and baked fries, sufficient for 2 adults and 1 baby.


A generous drizzle of olive oil (to grease baking tray)

200g minced beef

1 egg, beaten

½ cup bread crumbs

Italian herb mix


Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Cover a baking tray with aluminium foil (for easier clean-up) and grease thoroughly with olive oil, then place it in the oven while preheating.

In a medium bowl, mix together the minced beef, egg, and bread crumbs using your hands.

Form the meat into golf ball sized meatballs. Place about 1 finger’s width apart on the hot baking tray. Press down to flatten the bottom just slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn them over, and continue baking for about 5 more minutes, or until somewhat crispy on the outside.

Served with


(From EatingWell.com)

This was extremely simple as I just threw these fries into the oven together with the meatballs.


2 potatoes, cut into wedges/ strips

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

dash of Italian herb mix

pinch of All-Purpose Seasoning (Ok so I snuck in a little salt here)


Preheat oven to 175°C.

Mix olive oil, Italian herbs and All-Purpose Seasoning in a bowl.

Toss potato wedges/strips in the seasoned olive oil mix.

Spread wedges/ strips out on a baking tray.

Bake until browned and tender (turning once after 15 minutes), and take them out of the oven after another 5 min.

(Same amount of baking time as the meatballs! How much simpler could things get?)

And also served with


(From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Low-Sodium Cooking)

Extremely simple no-cook pasta sauce! I used pasta twists as they are easier for Cristan to handle.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Italian herb mix

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 cups pasta twists


Lightly fry garlic in a bit of olive oil until golden brown. (Original recipe called for minced raw garlic, but I did not have a mincer and I don’t like raw garlic)

In a large serving bowl, combine extra-virgin olive oil, Italian herb mix, pepper, garlic, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Toss ingredients well. That’s it! Pasta sauce is done!

Boil pasta twists for about 10 minutes until desired softness. Drain and add to pasta sauce, toss and serve.


To complete the meal, I also stir-fried some broccoli for veggies, and gave Cristan his all-time favourite dessert, strawberries, to end off on a sweet note. And that’s it!

The best part of cooking (despite the fact that I’m freaking tired and greasy at the end of it all), is watching Cristan enjoying his meal! Bliss all around!

Gimme those meatballs!!!

Aha! Finally got one of them meatballs! Yum!

The pasta's pretty good too!

Hey mama, I'm trying to enjoy my dinner. Could you please stop pointing that camera at me??

Tags : , , ,

Posted on : March 9, 2012

Filed under : New Mums & Dads


Mandy Loh


March 29th, 2012 at 9:13 am    

Hi Bern, I bought a bottle of Premium Mixed Herbs from Cold Storage, Whittingtons brand. But I suppose you could use any brand of italian mixed herbs! Mine is a mix including thyme, sage, basil, marjoram, oregano and rosemary. It makes dishes taste so much better! 🙂

Mandy Loh


March 29th, 2012 at 9:10 am    

Hi Shino, sorry for late reply! Been really busy the last 2 weeks! Glad to hear you’re keen to try BLW, and yes, the older generation would need some convincing before they’re comfortable with this idea…

Anyway, you might wish to start with soft fruits like bananas and ripe pears, or steamed carrot sticks. Cut them in chunks so that your son can grab the food in his hand and still have enough peeking out of his fist to gnaw at. For an easy gauge, this means you should cut each piece around the length of your index finger.

Your baby might gag, but that’s just because he is not used to handling solids yet. Don’t panic, give him time to work through it and he will be fine. Just make sure he’s seated upright in a high chair or on your lap, and watch him closely the first few times you give him solids to handle.

I would highly encourage that you read the Baby-led Weaning book, or google it online to find out more tips on how to introduce solids to your baby. And have lots of messy fun! 🙂


March 26th, 2012 at 10:18 am    

Which type of Italian Herb Mix do you use?


March 18th, 2012 at 10:47 am    

I worked completely from home for a small local organization for 3.5 years. It worked as there was mutual trust between employer and employee. I wish more companies would take the step to encourage more flexible working arrangements in their workplaces.


March 16th, 2012 at 9:26 am    

Totally love the way Cristan handles his food so confidently. Sadly, my mum (main care-taker when I go to work)who is very traditional, prefers to feed him his semi every spoonful.

Really would love to try giving my Son (who is currenly 7 months) try out feeding himself. Any wise advise for me? Thanks!

Mandy Loh


March 15th, 2012 at 8:35 am    

Hi Zihwye, I understand your point of view. But look at it this way. If you were a boss, and you had a good, competent female employee that just gave birth and wanted to stay home, but you wanted to keep her on your team, wouldn’t you consider offering her flexible work arrangements? At least you can still retain her, even if it is part-time, rather than lose her completely!

In addition, it also depends on what type of jobs you’re talking about. There are jobs which require staff to be at their desk, but more and more jobs nowadays do allow certain flexibility. I know MNCs like P&G and IBM have lots of flexible work arrangements for their staff.

Lastly, it’s really not that tough having kids! Things will work out somehow, you’ll just have to figure it out along the way, I guess! 🙂


March 10th, 2012 at 2:22 pm    

from a completely capitalist perspective, it would be really hard to expect organizations to support their staff in working from home so they can take care of their kids.

if i were to one day own a company, i wouldn’t be too comfortable knowing my staff have their priorities elsewhere (even if in truth, thats the way things work).

at least if i have my staff in the office, i can be assured (hopefully) that distractions are less than if they were at home. at least if they dont reply emails or pick up calls, i can walk right to their desk/office and expect to have my questions answered.

which is why i maintain that, a lot of things in life, including having kids and a beautiful family, is limited to people who can afford the luxuries of it. its between being able to stay unemployed, or being able to afford a stay-in maid (and being ok with the idea of your kid bonding with a complete stranger).

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