a peek inside the fishbowl

31 Mar, 2015

About that 1000th lunch

By andrea tomkins in Recipes and Food

It has been a crazy week here at Casa Fishbowl (and it’s only TUESDAY). At least I had a moment to do this:

March 31 #dailylunches - burger and rings from Pure Kitchen in Westboro

I decided to eat my 1000th dailylunches at the new Pure Kitchen in Westboro. Yesterday I edited a piece about it by Paula Roy for the Kitchissippi Times. By the end of it my mouth was watering so my decision was practically made for me. This  fulfilled a couple of different things for me. (1) The restaurant is within walking distance, in a neighbourhood I love to smithereens and (2) their focus is vegetarian food, which I think is pretty awesome.

Pure Kitchen is pretty new around these parts. Westies must be as excited as I am about it because every time I walk by it’s packed with people. Today was no exception, and it made me happy I set out at 11:30.

Pure Kitchen is in the location of the former Milagro’s. The layout is the pretty much the same as before, but it’s much brighter and cheerier and I’m already looking forward to a return visit.


For the past 100 or so lunches I’ve been thinking a lot about what this project means to me. Every once in awhile I scroll through the photos of my past lunches in the Flickr set. The images and choice of food conveys a lot of information when I think about it. I can see where I am, whether it’s a place with a pretty view, a restauranta winter wonderland, or a parking lot:

October 11 #dailylunches

The photos also show if I’m eating alone or with an opportunistic friend who is perpetually hoping that I drop something:

May 16 #dailylunches - someone is hungry

Unrelated: Piper was at the right place at the right time when Mark accidently dropped a pork tenderloin medallion on the kitchen floor during dinner last night. That dog has learned that PATIENCE PAYS.

So what DOES this collection of a thousand photos say about me? Good question. I think I’m too close to make any unbiased judgements. Perhaps I can safely say I like vegetables and sushi, and that I am good at eating leftovers and probably eat too much cheese. (?)

This is not a portfolio project, god, I hope no one is thinking that I think I’m a food photographer who is angling for work. If I wanted it to be a portfolio I wouldn’t rush through 99% of the photos I take. It is merely, a journal. Some photos are great, some are less so (the same goes for my lunch choices actually), but they’re all an honest portrayal of that tiny sliver of my day. Will I keep going? At this point I don’t see why not.

28 Mar, 2015

Weekend reading: March 28 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

27 Mar, 2015

Moment of bliss #019

By andrea tomkins in Moments of bliss

Early morning on the beach

We woke up late. My intent was to get to the beach while it was still dark and hunker down in the beach chairs to watch the sun rise but we didn’t quite make it that early. When we arrived the sand was delightfully cool on the feet, a gift in and of itself. There were still a few hours before it would collect enough sun to burn our soles and make us run for flip flops or the nearest island of shade.

The tide was in, which made the beach smaller than usual. There were very few beach walkers and the sun worshippers were yet to arrive.

I took deep breaths, and thought about this young morning and how much promise it held. We are truly in control of our own destiny, aren’t we? We have choices. What would this day bring?

23 Mar, 2015

Refresh complete

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

Twitter and Instagram followers already know that we spent our March Break in Punta Cana. I spent most of yesterday in a sleep-deprived fog and today I’m back to work, starting with the onslaught of email that filled my inbox while I was away. Our trip was my ideal holiday; the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure and trips to the buffet. I need to sort out all of my photos and thoughts and shake the rest of the sand from the bottom of my suitcase and then I’ll tell you all about it. In the meantime, here’s a couple small items I wanted to share here:

  • Ottawa bloggers might be interested to know that BOLO is still submitting admissions for the April 28 event. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go here.
  • My colleague, Mark Sutcliffe, is running to raise money for the United Way. On March 24 (TOMORROW) he’s going run 1 KM for every $1,000 dollars he receives in pledges – with the goal of raising $50,000 by running 50 KM in one day. TODAY only, he is personally matching all donations up to $2,500. Read more about that here: uwco.ca/marksrun.

22 Mar, 2015

Weekend reading: March 21 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: The Tenderness of Wolves and The Rosie Project.

p.s. I wanted to take a moment to thank the patrons who contributed a guest post to the Fishbowl this week while I was away. It was wonderful having you here at the Fishbowl!

Hello Fishies! I’m doing something new at the Fishbowl this week. I’ve asked each of my amazing Fishbowl patrons to write a post on a topic that is important to the parenting community. This one is by Mark Saunders, Director of Fun at Saunders Farm

Water fun at Saunders

What is the number one thing parents want in life?

A) More Money
B) More Patience
D) All of the ABOVE

Some of us would answer “D.”  While that rings true for so many, it’s only part of the answer. At a recent conference I attended, the keynote speaker quoted a study that had asked plenty of parents what they want in life. The overwhelming answer is…. TIME.

Yes, time. Time to get everything done. Time to relax. Me-time. Time to be present in the moment. Time to spend with the kids.

I remember so vividly when our three kids were babies and periodically one of them would fall asleep on my chest at naptime. It was the most glorious feeling. Just before they surrendered to sleep, I’d feel their little bodies take a deep breathe then exhale and sink right into me. I didn’t want to move. I couldn’t. I was paralyzed with LOVE. And peace. I would luxuriate in the moment because I couldn’t do anything else. It was as if I was given the gift of Time.

Our kids got older and the ‘sleeper hold’ didn’t work anymore. Soon came dance classes, hockey, piano, soccer and all of the usual distractions of daily life. Our schedule didn’t stop. Time was vanishing. And it was flying by…

Occasionally, when our kids were little and we were in the thick of a crazy day, we’d start to complain about the lack of family time and inevitably some wiser, more experienced soul within earshot would say: “Enjoy your kids now. Time passes quickly and before you know it, they’ll be moving out.” It was hard to imagine.

Now we’ve entered the teen and tween years. Mom and Dad are now “the rides” – the ride to work, the ride to the new best friends’ house, the ride to the trampoline park, the ride to the party. It seems as though some days, the only “family Time” we get is in the car. My wife used to laugh at her own mom’s friends who had keychains that said “Mom’s Taxi.” but now it makes total sense. We’ve learned to make those frequent car trips meaningful and fun!

As time continues to accelerate and the kids rapidly grow, it’s been increasingly important for my wife Angela and me to carve out “Family Time.” We have always been aware of the fleeting passage of time.

We run a family farm that provides Family Time for many families in the region. We are just like the families who visit; we make time for Family Time. We are grateful for the families that visit our farm and we are both inspired and humbled by these families. They help remind us to keep Family Time a priority.

One of our favourite and simple ‘Family Times’ is to cook together. Both Angela and I love to cook, and our kids have been involved in the joy of cooking from as early as they could. Our oldest, Aidan, now 15, was thrilled to get his own Jamie Oliver cookbook from a family for his birthday last year. Now, at least once a week, he’s at the helm of the meal preparations in the house. Aidan, Molly and Julia have now developed into little foodies with well-developed palates – as a big treat, all five of us love visiting great Ottawa restaurants like Murray Street, Town or The Cheshire Cat Pub.

A springtime Family Time is to visit a Maple Syrup Farm like Fulton’s Sugarbush in Pakenham or Stanley’s Maple Farm in Edwards. We stuff our faces with pancakes and fresh maple syrup, then hike off our sugar highs on the trails and woods on their farms.

Family skiing, skating and tobogganing don’t happen as often as they used to, but that makes the times when we do get out even more precious. Family Movie Night and Family Game Night may no longer be part of our weekly routine, but we jump on the chance to have one when the stars align.

We cherish the time our family takes to reconnect and to play together. It is not always easy to make it, but when we do, it seems to slow down the passage of time. And it takes me back to when I had my little baby asleep on my chest: Divine. Glorious. Perfect.


Perfect indeed. Thank you Mark!
p.s. You can read other guest posts right here!


NAC Ottawa family events

Saunders Farm annual passes for family fun!

Arctic Voices, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Sustainable shopping at terra20 - Ottawa

Visit tThe Village Quire in Westboro Ottawa!

Joan of Arc Academy in Ottawa

Picture of a boy with the Parenting in Ottawa bilingual logo. Ad links to Ottawa Public Healths Parenting in Ottawa website.

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  • Tarah: I love your #dailylunches! I am often inspired by the photos and sometimes amused (those pig dumplings were a topic of coversation with one of my bes
  • Katie: Lovely post, lovely topic. Rings true. Thanks for the reminder.
  • andrea tomkins: We were in Punta Cana!
  • Carla: Are you not in Roatan? It looks just like where im sittting...
  • coffee with julie: Oh, I think back to having a baby lying on my chest sleeping often. It really is divine, like you said. Thank you for this post. I loved it.
  • KristaR: Beautiful post Mark. My husband and I were reminiscing just the other day about those glorious and delicious hours we spent with babies sound asleep o
  • binkee: I heart Pamela Kirk !

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 – 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.


  • So I was feeling a bit ranty and wrote this post about raising children in an age of zero privacy in the hopes it will start some conversations! Please leave your two cents right here.

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  • My latest post on the MediaSmarts website is up, and it's about family social media accounts. (Yes! It's a thing! And I think it's pretty neat.) Is this something you do as a family? I'd love it if you left your two cents on the topic.

    - #
  • 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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On the nightstand

... check out past nightstand reads right here.

On this date in the archives

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