Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Setting up home - days 1 to 4 (including new food purchases)

Do you remember those maths problems involving a river, a boat, and an odd assortment of animals?

Something like, if you have 4 chickens and 3 rabbits, and you have to transport them to the other side of a river in a boat that only carries 2 animals, how many trips will it take if there can never be more rabbits than chickens in one place? That sort of thing.

I've decided that setting up home after an overseas move is a bit like that, but more fun. If you have one empty flat, how many trips will it take to buy furniture, linen, kitchen utensils and food, working with the constraints of no car, an extra set of hands if you shop with your husband, but time-limited trips if you shop with said husband? And the twist of certain things you need now also coming from Australia by ship (like crockery), meaning that any immediate purchases should be on a small scale?

I'm not sure of the answer yet, but my rough estimate is "a lot".

My new kettle. When the food processor arrives, it will match.
(And yes, that is me reflected in the side!)

The other challenge, of course, is what order you do things in. You can't buy everything in one day. Being spreadsheet minded, I had planned a lot of things in advance. Aided by the internet and Homestyler.com (which allows you to put in the dimensions of your house / rooms and see where furniture will fit - try it!), I even drafted our furniture shortlist from Australia. Nonetheless, some things need to be seen in person and lots we couldn't do until actually here.

My first lunch in our flat - Irish potato flatbread, spinach leaves,
some cereal, and lots of British berries. All on plastic crockery!

I'm not sure how other people do it, but our first 4 days involved the following:
- Ordering a mattress and arranging next day delivery.
- Buying linen, although not all of it yet.
- Buying an internet dongle and a UK sim card.
- Ordering home internet.
- Visiting five supermarkets (!) in six trips.
- Placing an online food order after realising that stocking up the kitchen on foot would take a very long time. Even after six trips, we have no spices, no sauces, no flours, and not enough of everything else!
- Buying towels, a kettle, a saucepan and other kitchen odds and ends. 
- Buying a small selection of plates and cups.
- Ordering a vacuum cleaner (now delivered).
- Ordering an iron and non-stick fry pan (not yet delivered, so we're functioning with a single saucepan).
- Visiting Ikea, checking planned furniture items will work as intended, and arranging home delivery.
- Pondering dining tables but not yet choosing one - so we will be eating on odd surfaces for a while yet!

New kitchen additions.

Being a food-focused blog, I'm sure many of you are most interested in the food purchases. To highlight a few...

I have a new milk brand, or at least a brand-for-now.

I was intrigued by, and am enjoying, instant ginger bread infused coffee (and a new mug). The flavour addition is really just ginger, but I like ginger.

I am loving English berries, and summer fruit more generally.

Marks and Spencer's ready meals were an easy food solution in the first couple of days.

I thought these 'Free From' vegan Millionare's shortbread slices would be like vegan caramel slices, but they weren't. There isn't enough chocolate and caramel to biscuit base, and they are very rich (although that is to be expected).

Provamel plain soy yoghurt is the closest thing I've found to tart non-dairy yoghurt. It's not really tart, but it is unsweetened.

I'm figuring out bulk buy options (UK readers - advice?) but for now, have a small bag of dry aduki beans and quinoa.

Lest you think I've forgotten vegetables - I haven't! We've been enjoying carrots, spinach and potatoes as well as these items.

All in all, our food cupboard is filling up. After our delivery, I suspect it will be packed very full.

What would be the first item/s you'd buy if starting a house from scratch?


  1. Love it! If you forget you are spending so much money, it can definitely be a fun time. We had a similar approach: 1) bed; 2) internet; 3) food for now; 4) food for later. We had no chairs for a few days after we moved and it isn't until then that you realize how awesome chairs are.... ;)

    1. I know! I have just today made a 'desk' from the box our vacuum cleaner came in, and sitting with that is like luxury just because I'm not bent over to the laptop ;) As for cost...can't bear to think about that!

  2. It sounds like a serious mission starting from scratch but you seem to be tackling it head on!

    I'm eating SO many berries at the moment too. Got to make the most of them while they're here.

    You seem to be doing fine navigating the food scene but let me know if you have any qs. I order bulk nuts/beans/grains etc. online from Goodness Direct http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk/cgi-local/frameset/script/home.html. They have a good range of products and great customer service.

    If you can find it, I recommend Sojade soy yogurt. It's mostly available in independent health food shops and then bigger places like Planet Organic and Whole Foods.

    1. Thank you so much for that link and the suggestions Emma! Goodness Direct sounds fantastic and I can see myself losing an hour on the website ;)

  3. Yay for the move! I'm sure it's all super crazy hectic right now but I also bet you'll settle in soon!

  4. It is fun seeing you set up house. Love all of those wonderful berries.

  5. Sorry Kari I got distracted by your book. I'm reading it at the moment and oh my gosh I LOVE IT. I don't want it to end...and I'm also intrigued by Iceland now, perhaps a visit one day.
    Hope the set up of the new home hasn't been too stressful. xx

    1. Isn't it wonderful? I finished it last night and want to go back and re-read bits just to stay in the book. I too am intrigued by Iceland now as well and it isn't so far from me these days!

  6. Heya Kari! Totally know the feeling although we started off with a little bit more as our place here in the UK was furnished and with the essentials (although dubious quality). For organic veggies and fruits you can try http://abelandcole.co.uk which deliver all around the UK (we have local farms here that I get mine from but other friends use this and love them).

    Borough Market is a total foodies market if you ever get the chance to go there as well :D There's a Whole Foods at High St Kensignton too which is great, but sigh, expensive. Get the special stuff there :)

    Good luck!

    1. Hello! Thanks so much for the recommendations. I have seen Borough Market and had to pull myself away as it was not on a shopping outing that I saw it :p I think I better keep myself away from Whole Foods for a while too - but can't wait to explore it eventually!

  7. Berries and Burial Rites sound like the perfect way to relax. (Fantastic book) Funnily enough after settling into a few new cities (well Edinburgh twice) I have been lucky enough to have moved in with people who had lots of stuff so it was never that hard - esp with rental places in the UK being furnished. Sounds like a big task but a fun one. Though challenging without a car - it was hard enough just doing the regular grocery shopping without a car when we lived in Scotland - I think these days I might buy a trolley.

    And I know this is a silly question but did you know that millionaire's shortbread and caramel slice are different because ours has lots of coconut in it - I prefer caramel slice but E loves millionaire's shorbread.

    Good luck with getting your home in order - sounds like you are doing a great job

    1. I mentioned a trolley to Mr Bite and he made disapproving sounds, but that was before we had made a few loads on foot - I should try again now ;) Backpacks are proving useful!

      I am now flummoxed that caramel slice has coconut?! Or is it millionaire's shortbread that has coconut? I can believe the latter - that might be why we weren't such a fan. Good for a sugar hit though!

    2. definitely caramet slice has coconut in the base - took me a while to realise that millionaire's shortbread is just shortbread with a fancy topping whereas our caramel slice has a lot more texture in the base - just look at millionaires shortbread in greggs if you are passing (I am sure they sell it). I think you can get some fancy trolleys these days that don't make you look like an old lady - I can also recommend having children because prams are great for carrying groceries but that is a bit extreme and probably not a good reason to have kids :-)

    3. There you go - goes to show I have never made caramel slice the traditional way! Greggs seems like the place to stock millionaire's shortbread, and as Mr Bite has fallen for one of their sandwiches, I'm sure I'll have a chance to investigate it.

      I have actually seen a few women with loaded prams and thought they looked useful, but also reached the same conclusion that children as a shopping aid was probably not a sensible stance on the topic ;)

  8. Hi Kari! I hope that you & Mr Bite are settling well into your new life in the big smoke. It must be so much fun setting up a new home, though I don't envy your trips to Ikea. That place is like a maze!
    I do all my grocery shops online, and tend to use Tesco as I find they have everything I need. I love their world food aisle as the products are much cheaper than else where. A 5kg bag of chapatti flour (which I use in all my baking - cakes, cookies, pancakes, etc) costs just £3! Their Indian-branded bags of cashews and raw almonds (Aasani / Natco) are also great value. I find they have a good selection of organic fruit and veg and, to date, it's always arrived with me in pristine condition.
    For bulk buying organic store cupboard staples (including dried fruits) I love Suma Wholefoods - http://www.sumawholesale.coop/

    1. Thanks so much for those recommendations Sharon :D They're very much appreciated, and as I'm still with only plain wheat flour, the Tesco flour advice is particularly useful!

  9. I can imagine that starting from scratch all over again would be exciting and yet hard/frustrating at the same time.
    I think I'd have to buy a blender first! :-)
    Oh, and some coffee to get me through it all ;-)

    1. Coffee was definitely bought on the first shopping trip ;)

      I am hoping to get a nutri bullet blender! Just biding a bit of time to compare models though.

  10. I find setting up in a new place pretty exciting when it comes to food. All those new pantries and shelves! When I moved overseas I had to try all the new foods. If I had an overseas move now I don't know what I'd get first, I'd hope I could get a furnished (or partially so!) place and my blender would go in my luggage, I love it so much. I'd definitely get new bedding (pillows, sheets). And some pretty tea stuff like teapots and cups-saucers from op shops.

    1. I was actually a little glad to abandon my Australian blender, as it was pretty poor, and am very excited to get a new one here :) I'd been making smoothies in my food processor, which was definitely too big to get into my case! I love the idea of op shops for pretty crockery - thanks for that suggestion!

    2. You're welcome! I'll change my comment to "op shop for everything" then :) Aprons, ice cube trays, serving dishes, vases, daggy knick knacks and royal family trinkets :P

    3. I wouldn't want to forget the last one ;)


I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bitesizedthoughts) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bitesizethought).