a peek inside the fishbowl


On the nightstand: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel), by Suzanne Collins

I’ve been pondering this New York Times article since I first read it. I really like the idea of breakfast serving as an opportunity for a mini-mediation. Of course, you can do this in the car, or while walking the dog, or brushing your teeth, but somehow, doing it in the morning like this seems to be a fitting way to start a day.

I don’t have silent breakfasts because this is the time that I catch up with the news of the day, but I do have a silent coffee.

This part of the article is soooo relatable. I feel like this person has looked inside my brain:

I couldn’t concentrate, so I let my mind run wild through its litany of worries and reminders. Then, like a toddler wearing herself out after a tantrum, my thoughts quieted down. After several days of silent breakfast, I started to hear myself. My concerns and thoughts, happy with their time at the soapbox, stepped back and stopped plaguing me first thing in the morning. I could focus on what was in front of me, without guilt, without obligation, without stress. It was an unusual feeling of freedom.

When I get up it’s still dark. What motivates me to do things I don’t want to do is TREATS. (Seriously.) I leave the warmth of my duvet knowing there is coffee. Mark bought me a very good conical burr grinder awhile back and we buy good beans to fill it with. I grind the coffee fresh every morning and make myself a double espresso with a dash of cream. I drink it on the couch while looking at a candle that I light when I first come downstairs. This ritual is free of devices and interruptions. I am alone with my thoughts. It is my luxurious, silent, coffee. It is so calming. I think about how delicious my coffee is, and how grateful I am to be drinking such delicious coffee. Of course, my mind wanders, but it’s only doing what it’s supposed to do. When unwanted thoughts intrude – as they do – I acknowledge them and set them aside… because what’s more important than this coffee right now? (The answer is nothing. Nothing is more important.)

I know it sounds very woo-woo but the candle actually helps me focus on all of this. (Also, it makes me happy to use my candles. What have I been saving them for all this time?)

I used to use my desktop SAD lamp every morning this time of year, but I don’t seem to need it anymore. Maybe this coffee/yoga/treadmill ritual is a substitute for that on some biological level? I don’t know.

Of course, the huge disclaimer here is that I wasn’t able to enjoy a silent coffee until much later in life. When there are kids in the house, a silent breakfast or coffee might seem downright impossible. I think about that all the time.

On the nightstand: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins

13 Nov, 2020

Warming up to winter, under the covers

By andrea tomkins in Oh! Things!

In a previous post I wondered out loud about things we can do to prepare for the long winter ahead. Well, I am pleased to report that did one of the things on that list: I bought a new duvet from Ikea. But first, some backstory.

I don’t rightly know how old our old feather duvet was but I figure that if I can’t remember, it must have been OLD. I spent the every night last winter with a hot water bottle, wearing head-to-toe fleece pyjamas, and sometimes even socks. A second blanket thrown over the duvet helped a bit, as did any residual body warmth that I stole from Mark. I chalked up all this body temperature to my advancing  age. Maybe my body simply wasn’t retaining heat anymore? Who knows.

Anyway, fast forward to present time. I chose this duvet because it was the warmest one in the store. Friends, it is a gamechanger, a CHANGER OF GAMES. It’s warm, but it’s also heavy. It’s like sleeping in a big hug, or a nest. My gods, have I slept well. I’m not waking up during the night nearly as much. There’s no need for heavy jammies. Hot water bottles and cold feet are ancient history. It is an absolute treat to slide into bed with my book every night.

That being said, our new duvet is definitely not an all-season affair. It’s winter weight, for sure, so we’ll need to buy a second one** when the time comes. In the meantime I am enjoying every moment under the covers.

**Why buy a second duvet when you can just revert back to your old duvet in the summer? Fishies, that is an excellent question. I will confess, after I read the laundering instructions for the NEW duvet (did I mention it is WASHABLE??) I felt inspired to launder our old one. After all, WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Well, I’ll tell you. It ripped open and exploded inside the washing machine. Once we realized what had happened (imagine, dear readers, Mark and I watching the clear front of the washing machine with layers of feathers sticking to it, with an increasing amount with each rotation of the drum), it went directly into the garbage, but not before shedding feathery bits all over the laundry room. I couldn’t help but laugh. Poor Mark had to scoop handfuls of wet feathers out of the washing machine, and ran it on a clean cycle a few times to flush everything out. I should also mention that the duvet wasn’t the only thing in the wash at the time. Friends, I had had the notion to wash our black fleece car blanket. I tried shaking it out but the white bits were embedded so deeply into the fabric they couldn’t even be dislodged by one of those sticky lint brushes.

So I think our new duvet is the FJÄLLHAVRE but I’m not 100% sure because for some reason every duvet in their inventory is FJÄLLsomething. I also looked for a new pillow for myself (feather, for a side sleeper) but they were sold out. So if you’re looking to upgrade your bed linens, you might want to act fast.

I would like to note that I also picked up this rechargeable decoration for our mantle:

I’ve also been burning all our candles and have enjoyed a bubble bath or two. I know it’s early days, but so far so good.


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. 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!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter