a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Apr, 2014

Weekend reading: April 19 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

15 Apr, 2014

A waterless car wash? Yes, it can be done!

By andrea tomkins in Oh! Things!

Awhile back I received an email from Canadian Tire about the goclean waterless car wash, asking me if I wanted to try out a sample. I am often on the lookout for useful/new/cool things for my editor’s faves column in Capital Parent Newspaper, and this seemed like a good candidate. (I’d also seen goclean on Dragon’s Den awhile back and was intrigued!)

I don’t find it very easy to fork over money to go through a car wash, do you? I find it overpriced and more often than not we come out the other side with a sub-par scrubbing. The alternative is a DIY car wash in the driveway. Generally speaking, I don’t really care how dirty the exterior of our car gets. Mostly because I know (a) there’s always a rain shower just around the corner and (b) Mark is more likely to break down and do something about the car sooner than I do.

Why is it a good idea to opt for a waterless car wash? It’s simple really. First, it saves water. Washing the car uses hundreds of litres of water – DRINKING WATER. It’s a little crazy when you think about it, especially given how many people don’t have access to clean water… including people in our own country. Second, going waterless saves harmful chemicals from being flushed into the water system. Did you know that some municipalities have banned driveway car washing for this reason? Storm water does not get treated before it goes into the river. It’s worth noting that the City of Ottawa – although they haven’t gone so far as to ban the practice of home car washes – suggests washing vehicles at a commercial car wash instead.

I think the waterless option is better.

So my package of waterless car wash stuff finally arrived. Inside was a bottle of the waterless car wash, a package of four cleaning cloths, and some simple instructions that I can summarize thusly: spray, wipe, buff.

I asked Mark to help me out with our moderately dirty car. He was skeptical to say the least. Armed with a bottle of the stuff, along with two micro fibre cloths each, we went to work.


It took very little effort on our part. The whole car was done in about 20 minutes and did not require an extraordinary amount of scrubbing action. The instructions didn’t lie. We sprayed a section of the car, wiped the dirt off with one cloth, and buffed with another one. There were no buckets and sponges to lug outside, no need to drag out the hose or get elbow deep in dirty water. (I should mention we did not wash the windows or the tires with this stuff, but everything else got cleaned.)

Mark was quietly impressed with the whole deal. He didn’t think it would work, but it did. I think we’ll invest in their spot remover (ideal for dried bird poop and bug corpses!) and maybe their interior cleaner too. And then I’ll hire my kids to clean the car. ;)

It’s worth noting:

  • This stuff is not made of harsh chemicals that are damaging your skin/car/eco-system. It’s plant-based and biodegradable. (You can read more about it on their official website.)
  • It didn’t take very much of the spray to wash our car. I suspect we will be able to get at least 5-6 car washes out of one bottle.
  • You can find goclean at Canadian Tire for $15.29, and at terra20 for $10. (!) Regardless of where you buy the stuff, it’s cheaper than running the car through a commercial car wash.
  • I washed the cloths with the rest of our laundry and hung them on the line to dry. Now we’re ready for next time. That’s all there was to it!

For what it’s worth, the goclean waterless car wash did make the cut and appeared in the May issue of Capital Parent Newspaper, which you can grab at various locations across Ottawa or online right here.

Edited to add: want to try this stuff out for yourself? Enter this giveaway hosted by terra20!


Our backyard compost bin

We are a little bit compost crazy here at Casa Fishbowl. We have a city-issued green bin, a backyard composter (it’s big and black with two hinged flaps on top) as well as two big “cages” for leaf compost in the back corner of our lot.

We’ve been using the big green bin all winter for all of our compost (in partnership with our Kitchen Cone, which I still love), but now that it’s warmed up a little I’m starting to divert scraps into our covered backyard bin again. Why am I starting now? (a) The sun is high and warm enough to start melting the frozen interior and (b) because I like the rich and gorgeous soil that I get from it.

Every few days I’ve been adding a bowl full of what I consider to be the “best” scraps to our backyard compost:

  • egg shells
  • coffee grounds
  • orange and banana peels
  • carrot tops and peels
  • apple cores

Today I also tossed in a couple handfuls of dry leaves in there (it’s important to get the right mix!). It felt really good to do so too. I don’t even consider it to be extra work… this is how much I love Compost Harvest Time. In a week or two so I’ll pour in a bucket of water and give the whole thing a good turn with a pitchfork. Poking holes in it will help speed up the process.

Are you compost crazy like me? You might also be coveting this compost thermometer from Lee Valley. (I am. Seriously.) And related to all this blue bin/black bin/garbage talk, I just noticed that terra20 carries these special brackets to keep the bins off the garage/shed floor. Yay spring!

p.s. speaking of spring, don’t miss the terra20 and Tiggy Winkle’s giveaway going on right now!

12 Apr, 2014

Weekend reading: April 12 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

I’m very excited to be posting this giveaway from Fishbowl patron, terra20!

I’ve written about terra20 before, it’s an eco-friendly retailer here in Ottawa. They have two locations in Ottawa – Pinecrest near the Ikea and Wellington West – and have an online store as well. Have you been? If not, there is no better time to check it out because (a) you could win $$ and (b) Earth Day is coming up and terra20 has planned all kinds of things to help celebrate.

On Saturday, April 19, terra20 will host a family-oriented pre-Earth Day event from noon-4:00 p.m. at the Pinecrest store. Everyone is invited to come and take part in the festivities.

Kids will love the fun activities that will teach them a few small ways that we can all make a difference. Special activity stations include colouring on locally produced plantable seed paper (plant it later and watch it grow!), composting demos, non-toxic mini manicures, healthy snack preparation demos and snacks, and an upcycling education station where guests will learn the stories behind some of terra20′s most innovative and waste-reducing brands and products.

And here’s something really cool: terra20 is also collecting previously loved sweaters throughout the month of April, and sending them to Toronto company Cate + Levi to make adorable upcycled puppets. Anyone who brings in a sweater will receive a coupon to redeem on the special batch of puppets that will be created from the terra20-collected sweaters. (And if they’re anything like the ones they have in the store now I can tell you THEY WILL BE ADORABLE.)

To help YOU try something new and become better acquainted with all the great products terra20 has on the shelf, they’ve given me one $100 gift card to give to one lucky recipient.

Interested? Please read the following carefully:

  • In order for your entry to qualify, tell us, in honour of Earth Day, what you do to tread a little lighter on the planet. Do you pack litterless lunches? Bring your own mug to the coffee shop? Collect water in a rain barrel? Let us know in the comments below!
  • For a second entry, take a look through the terra20 website. If you want, you can leave a second comment telling us what you might buy with your gift card. Leave a link so we can see what it is!
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • The winner of this giveaway must pick up their gift card at terra20 in a timely manner at the location of their choice (Pinecrest or West Wellington).
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to me for posting at andrea at quietfish dot com. Please note, I cannot be responsible if your entry is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder.

I will draw one name using Random.org at noon EST on April 17, 2014. I’ll contact the winner via email at that time. That’s it! Over to you!


NAC Ottawa events

Christmas ideas from Saunders Farm!

Frogs - a Chorus of Colours - at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Funhaven - Ottawa's destination for birthday parties and fun

terra20 Ottawa celebrates Earth Month

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre - Westboro

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

IMAX 3D - Journey to the South Pacific

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  • Lisa from Iroquois: Love the Yellowberry story.
  • Michelle: Yeah I got a rude awakening about the loading the offer stuff to your phone and it was for spending over $100 for 10000 points . The customer service
  • andrea tomkins: I don't this has ever happened before... but the winner according to random.org is commenter #87 - Nicola - the VERY last person to enter. :) Congr
  • andrea tomkins: Comments are officially closed to new entries! Stay tuned for the winner!
  • Nicola: For my second entry: I'd love some extra metal lunch containers, as I'm trying to phase out the plastics wherever possible...
  • Nicola: I turn the furnace down a lot when we are out and at night, and have been explaining the "lights off as you leave the room" thing to my son. I am als
  • Barb Sohn: We have a rain barrel in the front yard, two composters in the back yard. Our gargage is down to one small bag every week. We buy shampoos, cleaners

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 (14) and Sarah (12). I am the Editor of the Kitchissippi Times as well as Capital Parent Newspaper. I'm also 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!


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The #dailylunches project – 660 and counting!

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


A year before

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