a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Oct, 2017

Weekend reading: October 21 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

17 Oct, 2017

Things that are making me happy right now

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

Sometimes it helps to focus on good things in our lives. This is especially true when the world seems more than a little crazy. So with that in mind, here’s a short list of things that are making me happy right now.

My chives:

Outdoor chives are now indoor chives

Chives are a vastly underrated herb, as far as herbs go. They are forgiving, practically indestructible, and come back every year. PLUS, they’re great on eggs, and anything else that requires a mild boost of oniony goodness. We have a decent-sized clump in our backyard so I thought it might be a good idea to shave off a small part of it and move it indoors for the winter so I can have a FRESH HARVEST OF CHIVES all year long. They seem to be doing okay!

After-lunch walks with the dog:

Post lunch stroll with Piper

I’m not always able to take Piper around the block for a stroll, but when I do, and when I am able to let go of how slow she can be sometimes (she’s a sniffer, this one) it’s quite nice. I get to stretch my legs and decompress and we both get fresh air in our snoots. It’s a win-win for all involved.

My new shoes:

New shoes and a nice dog

I bought them at Ardene’s, which is the last place I generally look for shoes, but I was tagging along with one of the girls when I saw these PINK velvety ruffled slip-on shoes and I realized I just had to have them. The sad part of this story is that I had to buy those tiny sockettes to go with them and have already lost one somewhere between the bedroom and the laundry room. THEY ARE PRACTICALLY INVISIBLE. Oh well.

A new mini-library that is right down the street from our place:

new mini library!

I am VERY excited about this. Reading makes me very happy. (By the way, that Bill Bryson book is gone now. Sorry neighbours but I was there first.) Speaking of reading. Let’s connect on Goodreads! I’m tracking everything I read over there.

And this will sound very strange, but brushing my teeth has been making me happy lately:

Yes, that is toothpaste.

I know. So weird, right? I had a bit of an epiphany. I started brushing my teeth after lunch with some toothpaste I picked up at terra20 awhile back. (Disclosure alert: terra20 is a longtime Fishbowl patron but hey, I like this toothpaste and it’s worth talking about!) I also bought a new toothbrush. I normally use an electric OralB that has a built-in, two-minute timer, but our hygienist recommended switching things up sometimes to reach spots that one misses as a result of deeply ingrained toothbrushing patterns. At first, I was only brushing after lunch when I remembered to so but before long I was doing it every day. And you know what? A switch flipped in my head. I stopped seeing toothbrushing as an annoying task we have to do twice a day and started seeing it as a treat. It’s a nice little break during the day. Just me and my nice toothbrush and toothpaste! It’s like a mini-meditation that ends with minty breath. What a luxury. I wonder, what else in my life could use a slight shift of perspective? Probably lots of things.

What is making YOU happy right now? I’d love to hear what’s on your list.


Edited to add: I meant to mention that I am enjoying your comments on this giveaway post. Another thing that makes me happy: promoting a great local business and hosting giveaways I know you will love. xo

14 Oct, 2017

Weekend reading: October 14 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: March, by Geraldine Brooks

It’s Friday the 13th! Are you the superstitious type? I’m not EXACTLY superstitious but I would not like to break a mirror today. I’m also extra mindful of black cats and will avoid walking under ladders at the moment. ;)

I figure this is the best day to let you know about Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s* upcoming WICKED WEEKEND SALE:

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's wicked weekend sale is coming!

It’s a biggie: 20% off in stock, regular priced items, in-store and online. You are probably thinking that this sale is perfectly timed to get a jump on Christmas shopping, and you are right about that, but MY main goal next weekend will be to stock up on fun little items to send in care packages for the eldest at Queen’s for the rest of the school year. (But please don’t tell her that!!) I love how Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter how old you are! Fun-lovin’ types will always find something new here.

I have other news to share too. If you follow Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s on Facebook you may have already heard that they’ve relaunched their website. It’s better than ever. They’re adding new products to it every day and now offer FREE IN-STORE pick up. (As much as I love shopping there in person, I can’t deny the convenience factor here.)

This leads me to the giveaway. I have one $100 gift card for one lucky person to spend at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s in time for their big wicked weekend sale. Interested? Please read the following carefully:

  • This giveaway is for one $100 gift card and will be given to one individual. It can be used during the sale or anytime afterward.
  • In order for your entry to qualify, take a browse through Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s website and leave a comment below with a link to at least one item you’d like buy with your winnings. Also, are you buying it for yourself or for someone else? :) (Me, I am eyeballing this cool retro pin, for starters!)
  • One entry per email address, please.
  • A BONUS second entry goes to folks who leave a comment on this Facebook post as well. Just make sure you come back and let me know in a second, separate, comment that you did so.
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason, you can email it to 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 the winning name using Random.org at noon EST on October 20, 2017. I’ll contact the winner via email at that time and post the name here as well. If I don’t hear back within 24 hours of emailing I will pick another name.
  • The winner will need to pick up the gift card at a Tiggy’s location of their choice in a timely manner. In the Glebe, Rideau Centre, or Westboro store.

Good luck!

*Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s is a longtime patron of the Fishbowl and my go-to place to shop for fun stuff. If you haven’t been yet, you definitely need to check it out. :)

I’ve been driving up and down Highway 7 on a regular basis for many years. My mother lives down that way, in a small blink-and-you’ll-miss it kind of town. I’ve been in Ottawa since the mid-90s so I’ve gotten to know this stretch of road quite well over the years. It’s a quietly scenic drive in its own understated kind of way. Much of it is forest and farmland, with parts of the road cut through rock and within view of lakes, rivers, obvious beaver-shaped geography. There are roadside death memorials, blueberry stands in the summer, and the odd historical marker.

I have a driving routine that includes a stop in Perth for coffee and gas. Amid a handful of the usual fast food options, it’s comforting to know there’s a shwarma place in Carleton Place that never disappoints.

As I drive I watch the scenery go by (safely, out of my peripheral vision of course) and I always think how cool it would be to ride this stretch of Highway 7 on a bike so I can answer some of the questions I have. Like, what’s in Arden? And what’s with that taxidermy place? Maybe someday I’ll figure out the logistics and make a multi-day wander out of it.

(Sidebar: Speaking of Arden, I recently learned about the documentary mentioned in this older article. And it’s available for viewing online! So now I know what’s in Arden.)

A few weeks ago, Mark and I stopped by the studio of an Ottawa photographer named Paul Wing. It was during the West End Studio Tour and since both Mark and I know Paul, we lingered and had a wee chat. At one point Mark spotted a photo of a strange looking building that was on display. Paul told us it was taken at the Lester B. Pearson Peace Park along Highway 7 between Madoc and Tweed.

Coincidentally, Lester B. Pearson Peace Park was one of the many things we have driven by a thousand times and had questions about, so Mark and I decided to check it out while en route to my mother’s place last weekend.

For some backstory, you can read more about this park on this site, which shows a map of what it looked like in its heyday. Let me say right off the bat that I disagree with the statement that is is a “welcoming site for those who wish to stop, relax and nourish their own inner peace.” I am certain there are other places where our inner peace can be nourished, even though we ARE talking about Highway 7 here.

Lester B. Pearson Peace Park is located right off Highway 7. The address is 108087 ON-7, Tweed, ON. (Here’s a link to a Google Map.) I wish I had thought to grab a photo of the entrance, but it kind of sneaks up on ya. We turned on to a very narrow country road:

Turn off to Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

I have to say, I was already a little bit creeped out at this point, which is weird, because I tend to embrace these kinds of wild spaces and rush into them headfirst, with no fear and without much concern. You know me, I love a good nature trail and picnic in the park!

As we pulled in, it occurred to me that NO ONE knew where we were so I posted a Facebook update regarding our whereabouts. (I could see the headlines: “MARRIED COUPLE DISAPPEARS WITHOUT A TRACE ALONG HIGHWAY SEVEN”)

Read the rest of this entry »


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  • andrea tomkins: We have a winner! It's commenter #3, Sarah, who wrote: My daughter’s (6 and 3) love the My Generation dolls and accessories! I would use the gift
  • andrea tomkins: Comments are closed to new entries. Stay tuned for the winner!
  • Angela Emerson: I'm eyeing the B.Hellophone & B.Fun Keys ... those are necessary items sooner than later for our 20mth old who's obsessed with hitting all the ala
  • Sonia: I commented on Facebook as well:)
  • Sonia: If I won I would purchase a family board game-Things In a Box looks like a fun game:)
  • Donna Hynes: Love the Melissa and Doug hangman game !! Getting it even if I don't win !!
  • Kimberley Graham: First thing I would buy with the GC would be https://mrs.tiggywinkles.ca/collections/4th-birthday/products/snoopy-sno-cone-machine. I have been lookin

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 (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. 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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