a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Feb, 2019

Family Day 2019

By andrea tomkins in parenting

Family Day is a lot different when you are the parent of a 17 and 19-year-old.

Mark never got the day off, but I’m fortunate that I worked from home and made my own schedule for the most part. This was what our Family Day weekend looked like a mere four years ago. We’ve also gone XC skiing and walked in the woods and fed the chickadees. I remember making maple taffy, building snow forts (and making ice cream out of snow too!), and binge-watching Veronica Mars in our PJs. It’s a bit different now. First of all, it requires a lot less effort.

It’s reading week for the eldest and she brought two friends home with her, one of whom has never been to Ottawa before. Over the past couple of days they’ve skated on the canal, eaten BeaverTails, taken in the sights of Winterlude, shopped in the Byward Market, and gone skiing on the SJAM Winter Trail. Today, our youngest took the bus downtown with a friend. Afterward, she and I had a driving lesson. I spent most of the day writing and editing. I did my 30 minutes on the treadmill and prepped a batch of pizza dough for dinner. (I may also make bacon-wrapped water chestnuts! Yum.) I took my laptop into the family room and watched the birds flit back and forth from our feeder.

It’s a very different kind of Family Day for us now. I remember those old days fondly, when the girls were small and looked forward to whatever adventures came their way. Today it’s a bit less frantic, a bit less “oh my god, everything is closed including the LCBO,” and I’m fine with this. We made maple taffy last night and enjoyed it very much.

16 Feb, 2019

Weekend reading: February 16 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

14 Feb, 2019

This is what our winter looks like right now

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

First, Mark started on the front walk:

Deep snow on the front walk

I joined him to help, as did our youngest. The drifts were waist-high in some parts.

Mark was late for work. The youngest stayed home because the school were closed.

After breakfast, I set out to clear the back porch. Thankfully, Piper was available to provide adequate scale for this photo op:

Dog for scale

It wasn’t heavy, but there was so much of it that I ran out of steam after about 30 minutes.

Shovelling fatigue

Thankfully, the worst of it has been cleared from the streets but we have no where left to move the snow from our driveway, walkways, and back porch if it snows again. They’re calling for warmer weather tomorrow. What is this all going to look like when it’s slushy?

This past weekend Mark and I had the opportunity to stay overnight at Chalet Buckingham, a four-season chalet in Quyon, Quebec with a handful of other bloggy types.*

A quick getaway in a gorgeous setting less than an hour from Ottawa? I’m in.

It’s a very pretty drive from Ottawa and we were there before we knew it. Chalet Buckingham is right on the Ottawa River; a very short drive from Highway 148. As we turned off the highway I was moderately worried that our Prius might not fare well on this narrow road through the woods but I needn’t have worried.

One of my favourite times during a holiday or getaway is the arrival. When you round that last corner and you finally see where it is that you’re going to be staying. It’s like being presented with a beautifully wrapped chocolate. Ta da! You’re full of excitement and anticipation because you know something excellent is coming to you.

So this was is the beautifully wrapped chocolate that greeted us when we arrived: sunshine, a splendid view of nature, and a gorgeous home away from home tucked perfectly into the forest. BLISS.

This is where my eyes fell as soon as I stepped out of the car:

The road to Chalet Buckingham

… and this is what lay ahead:

Chalet Buckingham

We were the first of our group to arrive. We lugged in our stuff (er, Mark did, because I was too busy being totally AGOG to carry luggage) and explored our new surroundings. I really liked the look and feel of this place. It’s nice without being prissy or fancypants; comfortable without being shabby or sloppy. This is a fine balance, my friends.

The first level consists of one big living area with TV and fireplace, a full bathroom (with laundry), and bedrooms. That sofa converts to a bed but I would only put kids to sleep here, FYI. They’d deal with the lack of privacy a bit better. :)

Chalet Buckingham: first floor

Upstairs is the master bedroom (which has its own bathroom), living area #2, the kitchen, and another 2pc. bathroom.

I wish I had better photos of the kitchen, because it’s really nice.

Chalet Buckingham- main living area

Chalet Buckingham: main living area

Chalet Buckingham- master bedroom

There’s a fire pit out back and a gorgeous balcony overlooking the river out front. I imagine this place is quite beautiful in the summer. (Honestly, why do the owners want to share this place with anyone!?! It boggles my mind.) I was just happy to sit with my book and stare out the windows.

Chalet Buckingham- balcony river view

Chalet Buckingham - can’t take my eyes off that view!

Chalet Buckingham by the Ottawa River

Of course, a home away from home is more than just nice furniture, art on the walls, and beds to sleep in. I really appreciated the smaller touches here too: sharp knives for dinner prep, a place to sit when you take off your boots, extra linens, and lots of clothes hangers. There’s a Google Home system too, which, although I wouldn’t have it in my own home, was fun to play with and listen to music on demand whenever we wanted.

The next morning we went for a walk on the river. I normally wouldn’t have ventured out but we saw many snowmobilers zipping by and figured it was safe enough to walk on the ice.

Chalet Buckingham- frozen Ottawa River

It was so crisp and peaceful. If it wasn’t so cold I could have just kept on walking.

Did I mention it was absolutely freezing outside? A few people in our group decided to boil water and fling it in the air. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen this pic:

It’s a neat effect, isn’t it? Someone on Twitter called it Canadian fireworks. Hilarious!

I hope the owner of Chalet Buckingham knows that no pots or pans were harmed during this photo shoot. :)

All too soon it was time to pack up and go home.

If you’re shopping around for a high-end cottage or chalet rental, I recommend you take a look at Chalet Buckingham. Check out the website! It’s worth a closer look and the details I’m sharing here are really just skimming the surface.

As I’m writing this it occurs to me that this is the ideal place for:

– multi-family events
– family reunions (kids downstairs, parents upstairs!)
– work-related retreats
– pre-wedding parties

I’m betting it’s a tranquil and scenic getaway any time of year. Maybe a return visit in the summer is in order to make sure? :)

*The cost of our accommodation was covered by our hosts but opinions are my own. Thank you Roland Bast for coordinating this little getaway!

09 Feb, 2019

Weekend reading: February 9 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: The Outsider: A Novel


Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


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