Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Case of the Curious Coconut

I was out at the back of the house and found the strangest thing. There is a coconut (I think that is what it is) sitting on the water drain grill.

What is weird is that there are no palm trees or trees with this kind of nut anywhere around the area. No trees up on my neighbor's property where it might just fall down on to mine. And what else is strange is the odd location it has been neatly placed. R and I figure someone or something (an animal?) must have brought the coconut here.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Truth be told, I always wanted a greenhouse. One of those fancy greenhouses that they have in the UK... where they are separate buildings or attached to the house. Well, I now kind of realized that dream with my makeshift greenhouse.

The idea came to me when I was out in the Wet Kitchen (more info about Malaysian wet kitchens in an older post here.) pictured above. This wet kitchen serves mainly for washing big pans and other cleaning activities. Although the Malaysians use it to cook in. See in the photo above the yellow gas tank under the counter. It is the gas tank that connects to my stove in my kitchen. But, the wet kitchens usually have a countertop hob burner placed on the lower counter in the photo above (where the water bottle is sitting). Anyway, one day I was potting some seeds out on that countertop and looked over to the empty covered patio to the right of the wet kitchen.

When we first moved in I thought we would put some furniture back here and would sit back here. But that didn't really materialize one because the space is just behind the bathroom on the first floor and two because there are upper floor bathroom pipes running above it to the second floor master bedroom bathroom. Third because the neighbor's house in the back backs ours so there is no real view except the wall. So it just isn't the kind of place I want to lounge around, I'd rather go to the front patio.

So I had this idea while potting plants that the space could be a pseudo-greenhouse because the roof on that part is clear not tile. I thought it would be a good place to grow seeds and cuttings for the garden. I made some concrete and glass platforms with glass that was in the house when we moved in and now I have my own greenhouse! It is hot and humid enough here that having a fully enclosed greenhouse in Malaysia, I'm not even sure if that would work it might be too hot. So this clear cover roof with open sides, I think allows for air circulation. It's been working pretty well so far, the space gets good sun but not too much.

I have planted some seeds and some are starting to sprout. I've also taken some cuttings and have them in water bottles some have started to root as well. My thought on that is everything here in Malaysia grows so fast, so some of these plants should root. The greenhouse is more of an experiment to see what I can grow from seed and cuttings. For example, I took some cuttings from the hedge around the front of the house as I'd like to fill it in with some more plants. But I don't think those are going to root. If not, oh well. I've also taken cuttings from the passion fruit vine and some other orange plant vine which grows on my neighbors property. I've got Thai basil attempting to root as well as some Christmas palm seeds, the bunga kantan experiments, chili peppers and peacock tree seeds. There's more I'm forgetting too. I'd like to have an herb garden around this space with herbs I can't get in the stores easily here like tomatillo which I have never seen. Also grow herbs we use a lot of like Thai basil. But it will all be very slow to start.

The clear plastic??? roof

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bathroom Mirrors

The Bathroom mirror is up in the Office Bathroom! We didn't have B make a wood framed one as we didn't want to add another element in there. After looking at all the mirror places we could find in Seremban, where they make mirrors and also windows and window frames, we found one place that would put up a mirror without the standard gold or silver tacky poster frame that all the companies suggested. The compromise is that it has 4 silver round top screws on the outside of the mirror. No one is doing this anymore for large mirror, but well, in Seremban it's all we could find and it looks ok. I'm just concerned the screws will rust over time as everything here does.

We also had the company install a round bevel mirror we bought at Ikea in what is now our Master Bathroom. You can see that there are two doors in the bathroom. One connects to our Master Bedroom and the other to what used to be a slightly smaller bedroom that we are now using as a big walk-in closet (will eventually have B make custom wood closet shelves around the whole room...). Anyway, the bathroom wall tiles are ok in beige. The special tiles are greyish green tint and have a bit of elegant design (or try to be) of course we would have gone plainer, but here we are. The floor tiles are a green color. So what I thought we would do would be try to go a bit more elegant here. You can see that the counter is pretty big for only one sink. I would have put two, but then again when both doors are open (they open into the bathroom), the one sink in the center looks good. The ikea mirror is kind of elegant and I found a small pendant light with little crystal chandelier pieces dangling in it, somehow glamorous but still minimal and modern that we will have put up when we get a few more light fixtures for around the house. That and add an orchid plant on the side of the countertop and some nice spa towels and we should be done.

Not sure we want to add glass around the shower, but might do someday. For now, I was thinking about buying some of that teakwood flooring (something like this) and put it in there with some asian pebbles around the outer parts of it all inside the existing edged parts of the tile floor. Just some thoughts, but not sure yet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Malaysian Flowering Herb

At the back of the house this herb? which is flowering is starting to grow over the back wall from my neighbors yard. I saw their maid picking some and then cleaning it in their wet kitchen. At first I thought it was basil from a ways away, but now I'm not so sure looking at the photo. Does anyone know what this herb might be? I wonder if it is something used in Malaysian cooking. Please let me know if you have any ideas so I can pick some and try it out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Electric Boxes

There are two electric boxes in the house, one in the entryway and one on the second floor off on the side of the family room. Both locations are out in the open. The entryway is especially problematic because it hangs directly above where we plan to put a big entry mirror. So how to hide these ugly boxes in a way that we can still easily get at them (because with lots of storms the surge protectors go off once in awhile).

When were were living in the rental apartment the electric box was covered in a white laminate box which didn't look as bad as the boxes in our place. The painters told us they couldn't be painted so we will have B build simple white boxes around them with doors (no handles). It's the only thing we can think of to make them less noticeable.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Passion Fruit

Remember that Mystery Vine growing in my backyard here that blog readers helped determine was a Passion Fruit Vine? Well, above was my first ever sampling of passion fruit. Apparently we have the darker fruit growing in the backyard opposed to the yellow fruit because the fruits continued getting darker on the vine for quite some time.

It took me awhile to actually try this because the long vine I initially photographed with all the fruits went missing one day, just as the fruits were nearly ready. I had to wait for another vine to grow down for me to cut.

The fruit inside the pod shell is soft with seeds. It tastes very nice and the juice is especially tasty.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Back to On Sweet Thai Cuisine in Seremban

I've wrote about our favorite Thai Restaurant On Sweet Thai Cuisine before here. But I didn't post photos. Well, here are a few shots. This place is always good. We've had different things, but our favorite is the Phat Instant Noodle (Maggie) with Chicken and cooked extra spicy.

The ingredients vary but on our recent visit I spotted chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, egg, instant noodle, greens, red chili peppers and carrot. How can you bet a great lunch like this for 4.50 RM (approximately $1.50 USD)?

Oh, and I love that they serve me my noodles in the pretty plastic floral plate and R merely gets a yellow one.

On Sweet Thai Cuisine
1978, Gorund Floor, Bukit Blossom
70100 Seremban

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Inspiration for Under Stairway

So after we finished painting the Entryway, my mind immediately started thinking about the useless space under the stairway (okay I was thinking about this before painting too). I don't know who designed this house, but they could have done a better job with the layout in places. The entryway near the stairs is a good example. The space is totally wasted. You can't really put furniture in there because of the angle or hang art. You wouldn't want to close it up as a closet either. So what to do?

Awhile ago, I saw a photo online of a staircase with Asian pebbles near it and thought this might be an option. So I researched online and was initally thinking about adding some plants in the space too. But it doesn't get that much natural light there and plants would require upkeep. Since we are going for contemporary minimalist, and since we are in Asia, R and I thought why not put some asian pebbles in the space? Just simply the stones.

So I get my box of unused pebbles leftover from the landscape design stage (the pebbles I placed in the photo above are not the same darker blueish grey we used outside the house. These are a lighter grey). But after putting them down, R thinks that the pebbles look too small and I think they look too much like the pebbles we have outside the house. I'm going to go to the Rock Garden in Seremban sometime soon and see what else they have. I'd like to get the entryway moving along.

Inspiration photos I found: