Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
I found them because I was seeing empty green pods on the ground near the mango tree for the past few days so I searched around for them. I guess an animal has been pulling them off the tree and opening and eating the unripe fruit down on the ground.
Our House has metal framed doors throughout the interior of the house (and a couple wood frames in our Home Office). I've seen this same type of metal door in the middle east as well. The metal is painted a glossy forest green, we suppose that the previous owner chose green because it goes with the green metal window frames. But the dark green around the doors is ugly and since the doors and frames aren't always perfect and the paint job isn't perfect, the green stands out like a sore thumb. So we plan to re-paint the frames a neutral and somewhat light grey color.
Right now we are thinking about going with Venus 1406 a pre-mixed Nippon 9000 Gloss Finish color which is 102 RM for 5 liters which works on both metal and wood. The one room this won't look that good with is the Guest Bedroom, pictured above which is a medium grey color. Although I think the light grey trim will look good with the white walls throughout the rest of the house as well as the dark brown in our Master Bedroom. As the green is really getting annoying, we can at least paint the doors of the rooms that the walls have already been painted and finish the rest once the walls are all complete.
I persuaded R to go to Pertubuhan Penganut Dewa Seremban with me to check out the kick off of the Chinese New Year celebrations. By time we arrived, the place was already full. It is beautiful at the Chinese Temple at night, the temple lit in the background with gold lights seeping out of the doors and the smoke coming from various places giving the temple a foggy red atmosphere. Here is a video of a dragon dance performed by a number of young men.
As I wrote before, Pertubuhan Penganut Dewa Seremban is just a few blocks from my house. Perched at the top of the hill in the Blossom section of Seremban (off Jalan Tok Ungku).
Friday, January 21, 2011
I have been looking for sofa sets for this room but really can't find anything. I am liking the ads that I am seeing in international magazines that are showing cushions or low-type couches with lots of pillows. Someplace to just lounge around. So I brought up one of the living room cushions and a couple pillows to see if a low cushion formation might work. It seems to work fine and looks good as this room leads to our Home Office. I have taken measurements and am going to go back to Ikea because I saw some long grey cushions that were about the size of twin beds (not that I want more grey, but will take it if it is all they have and then use some kind of bright big pillows to accentuate). I think we will need 4 of these big couch cushions (which are actually longer than the couch cushion I brought from the living room) placing two along the wall under the air conditioner and two under the long window.
I also brought out a large piece of brown laminate that I had to mark the floor path to see if a coffee table in the middle of the room would work or if it would block the traffic pattern into the home office. No, it doesn't but it should be bigger and still it wouldn't be useful really because it is too far from the cushions to set your glass on or use it. Often times in home magazines especially contemporary homes I see these big spaces with two sofas and a coffee table in between them and there is so much space, it seems useless to me. So maybe two very long 8 foot by 18 inch very low coffee tables running in front both sofa cushions might look nice, be something different and actually useable to set books on, your drink, laptop, etc. They could be made out of wood/laminate or maybe glass. From what I can tell, there would still be enough walking space in the center of the room to get to the office. OK it all depends on finding the cushions.
The man in the office told me that they will be having celebrations every night between now and the New Year so I will try to get R to come with me at night when they will have dragon and tiger dances!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Dental is usually not covered on your insurance plan here in Malaysia. And in our case it is not, so we have to pay out of pocket.
I just went through the experience of having a ceramic crown put on one of my upper back teeth recently. The experience was like this.... in October we were referred by an expat living in Seremban to go to a certain dentist in Seremban who is known here to be the ‘best’ and also most expensive (don’t want to cut costs here). The two dentist office (a father and son) were schooled overseas. The dentist we went to graduated from a California dental school and is currently a member of the American Dental Association and Calfornia State Licensed Dental Surgeon (many dentists here are trained outside of Malaysia but it is less common for them to continue to hold licenses overseas, I think). The office reception room looked like it was still in the 70s but the work rooms had new equipment and it was extremely clean. R and I went for our teeth cleaning which was 125 RM per person. The job was fine, no pain and, well, good enough. Better than the experiences I had in the middle east. The dentist also took an xray of my bad tooth which cost 85 RM.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
So I went back to Family Store looking for Large eggs and couldn't find any carton that were marked "Large". Although this Happy Egg brand lists CLASS A on the package so I thought they might be bigger, and they are "lower cholesterol". This is up a step from LH's marketing of "No Harmful Residues"! But the price is higher at 4.20 RM.
First one more stop before I made this post to a storefront within walking distance of my house.... Yoong Sing Trading Shop selling fresh eggs. The guy there was very nice and told me these eggs come from Melacca.
He has them all Graded and the Grade A eggs cost 3.40 RM for 10. So I bought 10 of them.
He also talked me into testing 2 of these white eggs at .50 RM each as he said they are, "The best!" I asked why but he couldn't give me an answer. I asked him if they were chicken eggs and he nodded, but I'm not sure he understood me for sure. Their slightly elongated length makes me wonder if they are some other type of egg. And I wonder, are they costing more because they are white in color? In the states, the brown cost more as white are the common stock. Here, brown are the common eggs. I will have to try them for taste and report back.
Monday, January 10, 2011
I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s 2008 book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) right now about how she and her family left Arizona and moved to their farm in Virginia to try and grow their own foods and buy the remaining items only from local sources. The book reminds me that when we made an offer on this house our plan was to turn the narrow backyard space into a vegetable, herb and fruit garden so that we could grow some of our own foods and to live a somehow sustainable lifestyle in Malaysia for the two of us. While we waited for the sale of the house to go through I read all about Permaculture and read up on Tropical Gardening as best I could; I spent nights laying awake planning out the garden! And in the end, Gardening along with all the environmental green products we wanted to put in the house- wind power, solar energy, recycling, composting have all had to be re-thought/adapted for different reasons.
Well, immediately after moving in, we found out that the back right area of the house, exactly where the vegetable garden was going to go was right above where the sewage pipes flowed out of the house. So that idea was shot down. Yeah we thought maybe we could make planters above ground for the vegetables, but my experience is that vegetables never grow as well in above ground containers... maybe we will revisit this idea in the future because after scoping out the entire property during the landscaping process, we determined that there really is no good place for a vegetable garden on the property (due to our our neighbor’s tanks, sewage lines and our own spectic tank which is in the front corner of the property near the Bamboo plant). The sewage tank was another after-moving-in surprise we thought the house had sewage lines that ran to the main sewage pipes of Seremban town this is what the real estate agents confirmed when we asked. Maybe they didn't understand our question because here bungalows have septic tanks in the ground as there are no city sewage pipelines. The only viable spot for a vegetable garden on our property is in the center of the front yard!!!!
A shot of our backyard. V= where the Vegetables were to be planted near the back door to the Kitchen and all the way to the side of the property, H= where the Herbs were to be planted alongside the Wet Kitchen, F= where the Fruit Trees and plants were to be planted. The Tree to the right is was an existing young Mango Tree.
So we remain gardenless at this point in time. Well, it is OK for a couple reasons, firstly we totally underestimated how hot it can get in the yard and gardening would be an exhausting job. Secondly, there is an abundant supply of vegetables sold at Family Store and the Seremban Wet Market at a very low cost.
I am enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and there is still a lot to be taken from the book. For example, I’m not really sure where most of the vegetables come from around here. I bet that most of the vegetables in the Wet Market are locally grown and many of the growers even set up inside or outside the wet market. But, I’m not as sure about Family Store and Jusco. I’ve seen USA labeled plums in Family Store and seen US Potatoes in Jusco; I’ve actually bought ‘Red Delicious’ Apples from Jusco which were shipped from Washington State in the US. How do I know, because I tasted the apples and they tasted horrible, like sawdust and I checked where they came from. I’ve tried other red apples here in Seremban only to find that the imported ones are not good (at least the ones coming all the way from the US). I think the apples I eat which are large light redish/yellow in color come from China. But, I should check. I really should be more aware of where these things are coming from. Even before picking up Kingsolver’s book R and I have been trying over the past year to wean ourselves off of the bottled/packaged Western food products that we buy. They cost as much as they do in the US or more making these products account for a good portion of our monthly food cost. The products I am talking about are things like- Heinz Ketchup instead of local ketchup (let’s face it Heinz does taste better, but we can get a bottle of Malaysian ketchup for under 2 RM where Heinz costs over 9 RM for a very small bottle.). The same goes for Western cosmetic products. Some things we still use because there isn’t an adequate substitute, but where we can buy a local product or from Asia we do try.
It seems that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has its own website here for more information on the book.
Friday, January 7, 2011
It is an underestimate to say I am dying (me not R) for some Patio Furniture for the house. Even our cat T would love at least something to lounge on out on the patio. But you can see by the photo that the patio remains furniture-less. Since we made an offer on the house I have been looking for the perfect patio set. But there are a couple issues here... Firstly, the patio furniture in Malaysia is expensive... and I’m not sure why when everyone has patios to fill. Secondly, my idea initially was to do some very cushiony comfortable sofa and chairs to lounge in; but the overhang on the roof doesn't go out that far so in bad weather, the rain comes crashing into the space at times all the way over to the sliding glass doors. Therefore, buying cushion furniture that is not at least trying to be outdoor fabric (mold resistant and in a neutral color where dirt wont show up easily) I write 'trying' because brands made here or china might imply they are water resistant, but that doesn't mean they will weather Malaysian storms over time. Some of the options are the plastic type rattan patio furniture like what is offered at Houz Depot which are expensive and I don’t really care for the sets. Houz Depot is like the Home Depot of Malaysia. The company boasts that they are the largest home improvement wholesale hyperstore in Malaysia with 120,000 square feet of shopping space. But, it is no Home Depot (we did get our Rubine Microwave from Houz Depot at a great price, so they do have some things). See a few images of Houz Depot’s Patio Furniture below or check their website here (the prices I pulled from their ad catalog I picked up at the store awhile ago):
HOUZ DEPOT POSHZ Rattan Outdoor Furniture Set GCV802V-4A Regular Price 5,528 RM Sale Price: 3,888 RM
HOUZ DEPOT POSHZ PVC Rattan Outdoor Lying Bed MJ-08SL018 Regular Price 3,868 RM Sale Price: 2,699 RM
HOUZ DEPOT POSHZ PVC Rattan Outdoor Furniture c/w Cushions MJ-08S006 Regular Price 8,498 RM Sale Price: 5,988 RM
But even the cushions on these outside sets we can't be sure are mold resistant.... so I am forced to reconsider the cushion issue unless I can find cushions that I think will at least last a couple years. I have been looking at books of houses especially in Central and South America and see that they use some Rattan and it looks pretty cool. So I think to myself, maybe we can do something special in Rattan that is made locally and has a Malaysian feel that you can't find elsewhere. But the problem with this idea is that most Malaysian Rattan is pretty traditional (in a bad way) and often the furniture does use cushions which are not mold resistant. There is a Rattan place near our house where the guy makes the furniture right on site and there is a chair called a Coil Chair that I thought looked neat and I can't find online outside of Malaysia. This is not a Papasan chair (one of those big round rattan chairs with a cushion that they sell at Pier 1 in the US). This chair doesn't use a cushion.
I don’t usually by Chicken with bones, but I wanted to try Malaysian Curry Chicken which uses this type of chicken, so I bought ½ a chicken (cost 7.84 RM or about $2.55 US Dollars). Yes, the chicken doesn’t look that great does it? Well, much of the chicken even the boneless chicken isn’t the most fantastic stuff. But, well, TIM (This is Malaysia), the cost is low and it tastes ok. The recipe I used for the Malaysian Curry Chicken on www.malaysianfood.net is here. It called for Baba’s Meat Curry Powder (http://www.babas.com.my/index.htm) which is what I had on hand. I bought this packet from a stall in the Seremban Wet Market awhile ago, the woman said it was the most popular Malaysian Curry. The curry powder (forgot to take a photo of it) was almost an orange-ish color more orange than yellow curry and I read online that Malaysian Curry has more Turmeric in it so it makes since because Turmeric is more of this color.
I have a great example of Turmeric that I picked up at Family Store. Reading the label on the package of Santhas it said “Crow Brand Curry Powder” so I thought I was buying a big package of Curry packaged in Seremban! But No, when I came home and searched the words “Serbuk Kunyit” I found out it means Turmeric Powder. So now I have a lifetime supply of Turmeric except that the bag expires in 2011!
Anyway, the Malaysian Curry Chicken first attempt wasn’t good. The recipe called for one cup of oil (lots of oil is used here in Malaysia for wok cooking, etc. so that wasn’t a surprise, and I use ½ cup oil for my fantastic Jamaican Curry recipe). Well, if you look at the Malaysian Curry Chicken recipe I used at the end it says “Turn off heat, skim off excess oil on the surface” and it wasn’t joking, there was tons of oil on the surface, and who really has time to get it off? What a gross mess. Next time, I’ll try this recipe with less oil. I think I should give Baba’s Curry another try at least and try to master this popular Malaysia dish albeit my own version. This post has given me an idea, I should really try and get a better handle on different kinds of CURRY... I should do some research and make a post on it.