a peek inside the fishbowl

When I was a teenager I wanted a tattoo of an ankh. It looks like a cross but it’s looped at the top, a symbol used in ancient Egypt to mean eternal life. (Here’s the Wikipedia entry about it if you’re not sure what I mean.) At one point I even tossed around the idea of having it branded into my arm, thinking a white scar would be more subtle than the typical “tat blue” colour that aged tattoos somehow all achieve over time. 

I was so sure I wanted an ankh at the time, but looking back, I’m glad I didn’t do it. I’m a different person now than I was 20+ years ago, and the things that were meaningful to me then, haven’t been for a long time. (Plus, do I want a wrinkly old tattoo on my body? It’s just not for me.)

Sidebar: when I was in journalism school I spent a day hanging out at a tattoo parlour here in town for a story I was working on. The number of awful mistakes, regrets, and saggy misshapen Tweety birds I saw that needed fixing was a real eye opener.

Awhile back I stumbled upon Tattly, an online store that designs and sells temporary tattoos. There are hundreds of different designs and many of them are excellent. The girls and I poured over the options (it was very hard to choose) placed our order, and waited. It’s worth noting that we also ordered a skateboarding sandpiper for Mark and a couple of radishes. I chose this set, among others.

Which one shall it be today? (Blog post coming up!)

They didn’t take long to arrive, and we were thrilled with our purchases, This is why I ended up choosing one of their newest designs, the science set, for my Editor’s Faves column for the September issue of Capital Parent Newspaper. (Which you can see right here.)

I’m also thinking these would make really great loot bag gifties.

The Tattly tattoos are easy to apply and last a few days, they come off with a cotton ball and a bit of baby oil, and they’re FUN. I wore a blue VW van around the house for awhile and then washed it off before going to a meeting at the office. I wore that “Oh hello” bird in the photo above on the outside of my upper arm for the better part of a week and then got rid of it. I will be applying popsicles to my ankle before the summer ends. I can change them with the seasons!

Why bother with permanent ink when you can have so much fun choosing designs that mirror your feelings that very moment? Today, I think I might feel like a watermelon…

Looking for a new recipe to try? This one is a keeper, and I’m actually looking forward to the leftovers!

August 25 #dailylunches - Thai tofu quinoa bowl

This is a Thai Tofu Quinoa Bowl from Chatelaine. You can grab the recipe right here.

I used slightly less quinoa, and I didn’t have quite enough ginger, but WHOA nelly… is it ever good. It’s light, it’s spicy, it’s got my number. The next time I make it I will make sure I have enough fresh ginger on hand and crank up the heat.

I like the idea of ending summer on a high note, with an extra special day trip or family activity. At the very least the kids will go back to school with something good to write for their “what I did this summer” essays. :)

This past weekend Mark’s parents took the four of us on a Thousand Islands boat tour, and I have to say, everyone needs to hop aboard at least once in their lifetime.

We decided to do the five hour tour (“THE FIVE HOUR TOOOUUUUURRRR”:)

Note: the cruise was nothing like the video above. (Here’s a direct link for mobile users by the way.)

There are a number of different companies that organize boat tours in the 1000 Islands area but we went with Gananoque Boat Line. It’s a pretty easy drive from Ottawa and although the parking/ticket buying/boarding was painless, I do recommend arriving a little early. Seating is first come first served, so if you have a preference in terms of where you’d like to sit you’d be smart to send someone to buy the tickets while you stand in line to get on board.

Once you nab your seats you’re set. We were impatient to get this party started.

Thousand Islands tour in Gananoque

My tip to you: make sure you bring a sweater or a windbreaker. It’s all about layering people! It’s a few degrees cooler out on the water and you’ll appreciate it if you happen to find yourself sitting in an open area. (And bring a hairbrush, if your coiffure easily veers towards the Unintentional Windblown Look.)

I found the pace of the tour worked well for me. Five hours may seem daunting, but it actually passes very quickly. There are snacks available for purchase on board (I think I even spied someone with a beer, and yes, there are bathrooms too) and the tour narrative was pretty interesting (there’s talk about shipwrecks and rum runners and such). We further broke up the time taking photos, exploring the three levels of the boat, and just watching the sights pass us by.

There's a lot to see on the water

An island of cormorants. And a few osprey.

There is no shortage of things to see. This is, after all, a 1000 islands tour. I bet you won’t be able to get through this tour without pointing out the window and asking your seat mate, “Can you imagine living there?”

Thousand Island living (and tiny lighthouse!)

Cutest island home, ever.

Of course, the grandaddy of all is Boldt Castle, located on one of the U.S. islands. (This is why you need to bring your passport with you.) The story of Boldt Castle is beautiful and sad. Wealthy hotelier George Boldt built the castle for his wife Louise and their two children. She passed away before it was completed and he never returned. The island and the buildings are full of his love for her.

Louise Boldt

Front foyer at Boldt Castle. Note the heart and the B.

The Arch, at Boldt Castle

A view of Boldt Castle from the grounds

A receiving room, Boldt Castle.

The dove cote, Boldt Castle.

The unfinished castle was abandoned, and sold, and abandoned again, and everything was damaged by weather, time, and vandals. A lot of money has been spent restoring it, although restoring is the wrong word to use here since much it wasn’t even finished in the first place.

One of the most interesting things was seeing the unfinished and damaged parts of the building. These were to be the servants’ quarters on the fourth floor:

The servants' quarters, Boldt Castle

A turret with a view, Boldt Castle

The whole thing is hauntingly beautiful. And don’t miss the view from the fourth floor!

Soon it was time to find our kids and grab a bite to eat. We had a surprisingly good fried lunch at the concession stand (although in hindsight, bringing a picnic to eat on the grounds would have been amazing) and then it was time to board again.

Our boat for the Gananoque Boat Lines 1000 Islands tour

The return ride seemed a little quicker, although there was just as much to see on the route back. We were pretty pooped from our exploration of the castle and we swapped notes about the things we saw; the dove cote, and the bowling alley in a MINI CASTLE for the kids (!), the power station, and the underground tunnel. It’s all so fascinating. They seem to have thought of everything, but the story of Boldt has stuck with me. George Boldt thought he had it all, and then he lost the one thing that really mattered. A home is only a home if the people you love are there with you, isn’t it?

For years, we’ve been driving past Silver Springs Farm, which is right on the edge of Bell’s Corners in Ottawa about five minutes from Bayshore Shopping Centre.

I’ve always been intrigued by their roadside signs promising fresh garlic, but every year we somehow missed the small window of opportunity to check it out for ourselves. Well, this is a good news/bad news post because although I am happy to report that THIS WAS THE YEAR we made it there at the right time, but today, Sunday, is the last day of garlic sales.

This is the sight that greets visitors when they turn off the main road:

Silver Springs farm #latergram

There's something about old barns... Silver Spring #latergram

Here’s why this place is so important.

Silver Springs falls under the domain of the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD), and the garlic harvest is one of the fundraising efforts that supports persons with developmental disabilities. You can read more about Silver Springs history here (it’s actually pretty interesting).

I didn’t mind shelling out a few extra dollars for some fresh garlic ($3.00 for a medium head, $4.00 for a larger one), and if I’d had extra cash I would have bought a raffle ticket or a pretty braid too:

Garlic is pretty!

Fresh garlic for a good cause, Silver Spring farm #shoplocal #latergram

Silver Springs Farm is located at 1701 Robertson Rd. at the corner of Baseline Road and Robertson Road. It might be too late for you to check it out, but if you can, do make the effort to pay a visit next year!


NAC Ottawa family events

Summertime fun at Saunders Farm!

Creatures of Light Nature's Bioluminescence at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre - Westboro

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Litterless lunch solutions at terra20

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  • Molly: Well, you know how much I love Tattly!! Big believer in temporary ink...
  • Brenda A: These are super cute and I am off to check out the site. I am tattoo free and happy with that, but temp cuties like these will be great!
  • andrea tomkins: I really liked the tofu in this recipe, but yes, you could totally add shredded chicken!
  • Javamom: I saw that recipe and thought I'd make it myself too although I'd probably leave out the tofu. Not a fan....but it sounds so versatile. If I wanted I
  • Lynn: Also wanted to add: am enjoying your weekend link posts - keep them coming!
  • Lynn: Ooooh...just finished Bellweather Rhapsody myself! I adored it :).
  • andrea tomkins: Lori, You can't earn points just for buying anything at the store, that's kind of the point. You earn points by (1) selecting the groceries that hav

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (15) and Sarah (13). I am the editor of the Kitchissippi Times, Capital Parent Newspaper, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! 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!


My right hand is actually a camera

Connect with me at these places too!

The #dailylunches project – 790 lunches and counting!

Every day I eat lunch and take a picture. Here's the latest:

Created with flickr badge.

Click the photo for details: what it is, where I ate it (if it's worth a mention!) and how to cook it (if there happens to be a recipe). You can also read more about this project right here.


  • I'm sharing some of my favourite lunch-related items over on the terra20 blog today. Whether you're packing a lunch for work, for your kids, or just eating at your desk at home, I bet there is something there for you. Check it out!

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  • I have a new post up at the MediaSmarts blog this week. It's my response to a question that I'm asked quite often: What’s the best age to give a kid an iPod touch?

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  • My latest post at the MediaSmarts website is about passwords. Is this something you've talked about with your kids? Given the proliferation of devices in households (often one per person now) it might be an important topic for discussion. How have you handled passwords in your household?

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On the nightstand

On this date in the archives

Got kids in Ottawa? These posts might be worth a click too:

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