a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Jul, 2016

Weekend reading: July 23 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

Movies on the Beach (a.k.a. Friday Night Flicks) has turned into a great Ottawa summer tradition. And it’s free! We’ve had great fun in past years.

Check out the lineup! There’s probably a movie playing near you at some point this summer:

July 22 at Westboro Beach: Zootopia
August 5 at Heritage Orleans Park: Minions
August 19 at Mooney’s Bay: Finding Nemo
September 2 at Larkin House Park in Barrhaven: Jungle Book

These are all perfect films for families, although I’m wondering if Jungle Book might be a little frightening for kids under 7 or 8. (As always, this depends on the kid!)

Visitors to Westboro Beach are in for a little treat. If you haven’t been there for awhile you’ll see that the underpass is (finally!) being painted. I think you’ll like what you see once you get there:

The path to Westboro Beach

I have some tips for you, in case it’s your first time out:

  • The movies start at sundown. Make sure you arrive early to nab a good spot.
  • The movies start at sundown! This is worth repeating because the sun sets fairly late this time of year, which makes it a late night for the kiddos.
  • Since you’re arriving early, keep the kids occupied with outdoor toys (buckets and shovels are perfect for Westboro Beach!) or spread out a blanket and bring a picnic.
  • Grab blankets AND lawn chairs. You can watch the movie on a blanket (squirmy kids might enjoy lying on the ground) but most folks bring lawn chairs.
  • Don’t forget the popcorn and snacks!
  • Share the love and level it up by making it a date with another family and meeting there.
  • Also, it might be an idea to tuck a flashlight and bug spray into your purse, just in case.

Do note that the event is weather-dependent! It’s always a good idea to make sure it’s still a go before you pack up and head out. Friday Night Flicks is sponsored by Majic 100 and CTV-Ottawa, so check their respective Facebook and Twitter pages beforehand! Apparently there’s also an event hashtag you can follow too: #MAJICFLICKS.

21 Jul, 2016

A nice surprise in my Inbox

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

The email subject line read: Moms who are killing it in Instagram. So I had to open it. Of course I want to read about Moms who are rocking Instagram! The link lead to this:

Ottawa Instagram accounts to follow

As I clicked through the gallery I was all like, yes, yes, I know that person, that person is awesome, yes I love her photos, wow that’s a great photo and then I did a spit take and saw that I was included.

The women who are featured here are incredibly creative and talented. Please, if you’re on Instagram, do follow them! Heck, you don’t even need Instagram to take a peek at what they’re up to:

People use Instagram for all kinds of things, and for all kinds of reasons, but my personal account is a simple way for me to reflect upon the beauty of the world and to remind myself to stop and admire it every once in awhile. So to be recognized and included with such great company, well, let’s just say it made my day. Thank you Savvymom… and Savvy Mom Rebecca Stanisic!

You can read the article right here. :)

19 Jul, 2016

Holding pattern

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

I don’t know why, but I get the feeling that I’m waiting for something even though I’m not really waiting for anything. Does that sound strange or what? I have things to do but I am restless.

First, an update in regards to my previous post. I fell off the wagon this weekend when confronted with homemade SHORTBREAD COOKIES and … AND … HOMEMADE LEMON MERINGUE PIE WITH HOMEMADE CRUST. Did I mention it was all homemade? You can’t say no to that! Other than those treats I’ve been doing ok and feeling pretty good. I ate this today to help nullify the effects:

July 19 #dailylunches - kale, beet, goat cheese salad

What else is new? Well, this is what the last few days have looked like around here.


1) Mark and I went on a wee hike near Wesley Clover Parks (a.k.a The Nepean Equestrian Centre). If you’re the type who’s afraid to get lost in the woods (er, like me), I recommend you bring a compass. The trails are so poorly marked you’ll be amazed you ever found your way back to the parking lot. I will admit, it was pretty though.

Piper on the tracks

Toad in a hole


2) I met a member of the Canadian Olympic team, Michael Tayler this morning. He’ll be on the cover of the next issue of Kitchissippi Times. (Local peeps can look for it on July 21!) His event is whitewater kayak. He was at Dovercourt Recreation Centre as a surprise guest for kids attending summer camp and there were all sorts of shenanigans. I will say this, he’s a very nice fellow and a very good sport:

Olympian Michael Tayler gets "slimed"

… you can see a few more photos right here.

3) A mystery plant has taken over one of our large planters in a big way. It just showed up, and it’s been growing like crazy ever since. We think it’s probably a pumpkin although I welcome your thoughts on the matter:

mystery plant takes over the planter!

Baby pumpkin plant?


Also, we’ve entered the world of Pokemon Go. Have you? I feel a big post coming on about it…

17 Jul, 2016

Reframing treats

By andrea tomkins in Recipes and Food

Although I don’t like to use the word diet, sometimes it’s the only way to describe the actions that follow when someone realizes her pants are a little snug and she’s feeling kinda bloated and yucky. It means that it’s time pull back on a few things for a little while, so if we need to call it a diet, let’s call it that. So, for the next couple of weeks, I’m seriously limiting sugar and processed flour products (read: bread, pasta, crackers) and eliminating beer. This might seem like a big deal, but I’ve been at it almost a week and it’s been manageable… pleasurable, even.

I was sitting on the back steps snacking on some fresh peas when I got thinking about how utterly delicious these little things were. Part of it, perhaps, is the act of cracking that pea pod open and seeing what’s inside (big peas? little peas? no peas?) and then popping the contents in my mouth. It’s childhood ritual being revisited. It certainly helped that the sun was shining and I wasn’t in a rush to shell a few hundred peas for dinner. It was a peaceful and reflective moment, but truly, those peas were delicious.

My, I thought. Isn’t this a treat.

Bag o' fresh peas

And then I got thinking about the other things I would normally consider a treat: ice cream, cookies, one of my mother-in-law’s butter tarts (there is no other!), a cold glass of beer, toasted sourdough with butter and a sprinkle of salt. Couldn’t I replace some of these things for the next while with other treats – healthier ones – so I don’t feel so deprived? The answer is a no-brainer. OF COURSE I CAN DO THIS.

So I’ve been eating well these past few days. I treated myself to pre-peeled beets and a fabulous goat cheese so I could make this salad:

Beet salad

I bought some Farm Boy gazpacho and have been enjoying it at various times of the day, mostly as a pre-dinner snack. Seriously, I never even liked gazpacho before this (cold soup? what’s the point?!?) but this stuff is a PARTY IN MY MOUTH. I have also been dipping tortilla chips in it. (I have decided this is allowed.)

I bought cheese and guacamole and fresh salsa and arugula for a lovely salad at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I treated myself to a salmon steak and had it for dinner with more of that arugula. I treated myself to ripe tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I bought some sparkly water to replace the beer (it’s sadly gone now, I will replenish!) and have been adding black raspberries to my granola.

Morning ritual

Whenever I’ve eaten any of these things it’s brought me happiness. So many of my treats (er, maybe not the cheese) are grown and produced with care on a local farm. I’m eating SUNSHINE, PEOPLE. It’s a geedee miracle when you think about it.

More often than not – say after an afternoon snack of gazpacho with a side of tortilla chips – I realize that I’m full and that I’ve forgotten about this thing called a diet.

What’s it called when you’re bingeing on seasonal produce? ;)

I’ve drastically reduced sugar in my daily diet but haven’t eliminated it altogether. I still choose the pub mustard and the goat cheese that is lightly sweetened with honey because they are both so delicious, but I’ve been skipping desserts and saying “see ya later” to those amazing ginger cookies at Bridgehead when I’m buying my coffee beans.

Interestingly, I have learned that when I remove the most heavily sugared foods from my life, the sweetness will reassert itself in other places. Those blackberries in my cereal, those fresh peas, even the foam on my latte, have a degree of sweetness that often went unnoticed in the past.

For the next while I will continue being more mindful of the things I eat, choosing delicious and healthy over the alternative. It doesn’t feel like a diet to me, but I suppose it is.


Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

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  • andrea tomkins: I love it too! Thanks Becky! :)
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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 (17) and Sarah (15). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times, 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!


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The #dailylunches project – 1000 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.


On the nightstand

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