a peek inside the fishbowl

16 Feb, 2019

Weekend reading: February 16 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

14 Feb, 2019

This is what our winter looks like right now

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

First, Mark started on the front walk:

Deep snow on the front walk

I joined him to help, as did our youngest. The drifts were waist-high in some parts.

Mark was late for work. The youngest stayed home because the school were closed.

After breakfast, I set out to clear the back porch. Thankfully, Piper was available to provide adequate scale for this photo op:

Dog for scale

It wasn’t heavy, but there was so much of it that I ran out of steam after about 30 minutes.

Shovelling fatigue

Thankfully, the worst of it has been cleared from the streets but we have no where left to move the snow from our driveway, walkways, and back porch if it snows again. They’re calling for warmer weather tomorrow. What is this all going to look like when it’s slushy?

This past weekend Mark and I had the opportunity to stay overnight at Chalet Buckingham, a four-season chalet in Quyon, Quebec with a handful of other bloggy types.*

A quick getaway in a gorgeous setting less than an hour from Ottawa? I’m in.

It’s a very pretty drive from Ottawa and we were there before we knew it. Chalet Buckingham is right on the Ottawa River; a very short drive from Highway 148. As we turned off the highway I was moderately worried that our Prius might not fare well on this narrow road through the woods but I needn’t have worried.

One of my favourite times during a holiday or getaway is the arrival. When you round that last corner and you finally see where it is that you’re going to be staying. It’s like being presented with a beautifully wrapped chocolate. Ta da! You’re full of excitement and anticipation because you know something excellent is coming to you.

So this was is the beautifully wrapped chocolate that greeted us when we arrived: sunshine, a splendid view of nature, and a gorgeous home away from home tucked perfectly into the forest. BLISS.

This is where my eyes fell as soon as I stepped out of the car:

The road to Chalet Buckingham

… and this is what lay ahead:

Chalet Buckingham

We were the first of our group to arrive. We lugged in our stuff (er, Mark did, because I was too busy being totally AGOG to carry luggage) and explored our new surroundings. I really liked the look and feel of this place. It’s nice without being prissy or fancypants; comfortable without being shabby or sloppy. This is a fine balance, my friends.

The first level consists of one big living area with TV and fireplace, a full bathroom (with laundry), and bedrooms. That sofa converts to a bed but I would only put kids to sleep here, FYI. They’d deal with the lack of privacy a bit better. :)

Chalet Buckingham: first floor

Upstairs is the master bedroom (which has its own bathroom), living area #2, the kitchen, and another 2pc. bathroom.

I wish I had better photos of the kitchen, because it’s really nice.

Chalet Buckingham- main living area

Chalet Buckingham: main living area

Chalet Buckingham- master bedroom

There’s a fire pit out back and a gorgeous balcony overlooking the river out front. I imagine this place is quite beautiful in the summer. (Honestly, why do the owners want to share this place with anyone!?! It boggles my mind.) I was just happy to sit with my book and stare out the windows.

Chalet Buckingham- balcony river view

Chalet Buckingham - can’t take my eyes off that view!

Chalet Buckingham by the Ottawa River

Of course, a home away from home is more than just nice furniture, art on the walls, and beds to sleep in. I really appreciated the smaller touches here too: sharp knives for dinner prep, a place to sit when you take off your boots, extra linens, and lots of clothes hangers. There’s a Google Home system too, which, although I wouldn’t have it in my own home, was fun to play with and listen to music on demand whenever we wanted.

The next morning we went for a walk on the river. I normally wouldn’t have ventured out but we saw many snowmobilers zipping by and figured it was safe enough to walk on the ice.

Chalet Buckingham- frozen Ottawa River

It was so crisp and peaceful. If it wasn’t so cold I could have just kept on walking.

Did I mention it was absolutely freezing outside? A few people in our group decided to boil water and fling it in the air. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen this pic:

It’s a neat effect, isn’t it? Someone on Twitter called it Canadian fireworks. Hilarious!

I hope the owner of Chalet Buckingham knows that no pots or pans were harmed during this photo shoot. :)

All too soon it was time to pack up and go home.

If you’re shopping around for a high-end cottage or chalet rental, I recommend you take a look at Chalet Buckingham. Check out the website! It’s worth a closer look and the details I’m sharing here are really just skimming the surface.

As I’m writing this it occurs to me that this is the ideal place for:

– multi-family events
– family reunions (kids downstairs, parents upstairs!)
– work-related retreats
– pre-wedding parties

I’m betting it’s a tranquil and scenic getaway any time of year. Maybe a return visit in the summer is in order to make sure? :)

*The cost of our accommodation was covered by our hosts but opinions are my own. Thank you Roland Bast for coordinating this little getaway!

09 Feb, 2019

Weekend reading: February 9 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: The Outsider: A Novel

Confession: sometimes when I need to pick something up at Ikea I time my visit to coincide with lunch. Last time I was there I tried their new vegetarian hot dog, but usually I order their Swedish Gravadlax. I know it’s always ALL ABOUT THE MEATBALLS at Ikea, but at $5.99 this cold salmon plate is a great deal. And it’s so good. And healthy!

January 15 #dailylunches - quickie lunch at Ikea turns into 5km wander through the store

As you can see, there’s the cold-smoked salmon, baby greens, a wedge of lemon, some Swedish crisps, and a small container of mustard-dill sauce.

The smoked salmon is very good but if I’m truly honest with myself, it’s the sauce that got me hook, line, and sinker. I LOVE THIS SAUCE. I have to physically restrain myself from licking the plate afterward, which is funny, because I always thought I hated dill. Oh, I like dill pickles and dill-flavoured potato chips well enough, but I haven’t eaten fresh dill since I was a kid. I have a vivid recollection of the meal that did it for me: a dill sauce that was so thick with dill it was like eating grass. And that was it for me and dill until IKEA came along and patched up our relationship.

At Christmas, I was the lucky recipient of an AeroGarden countertop hydroponic gardening unit, which came with six pods: two different kinds of basil, parsley, thyme, mint (the mint never germinated), and DILL. I can easily incorporate all of the other herbs into my cuisine, but dill is a little more challenging. And of all the herbs, dill is the one that is doing the best. In fact, “best” might be an understatement. It’s the schoolyard bully of the herb garden:

AeroGarden Elite indoor herb garden

You are already seeing my dilemma here. What can a gal do with so much dill? I could freeze it, I suppose, or dry it, but I’ve read that dill loses a lot of flavour when it’s dried so I had to find a recipe that uses a bunch of dill and doesn’t taste like grass sauce. And that, my friends, is when I remembered Ikea’s delicious and dare I say, addictive, mustard dill sauce. So I did a bit of searching and found this recipe. It is very very close to the one they serve at Ikea.

I have made it twice so far. The second time I used half as much olive oil, which I preferred.

I made myself a giant plate of mixed greens and smoked salmon for lunch today and drizzled the mustard dill sauce over the whole thing. It was, in a word, delicious. This one is a keeper for sure. Let me know if you try it!

Smoked salmon with copycat Ikea mustard dill sauce.

Tags: ,


Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Click me!


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.

  • Patrick McMasters: Not sure about that recipe, but if you try "6-3-3-13 Artisan bread dough" recipe, the dough will last up to 2 weeks in fridge. With this in mind, i wo
  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Copycat recipe for Ikea's mustard & dill sauce - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] sometimes when I need to pick something up at Ikea I time my visit to coincide with lunch. Last time I was there I tried their new vegetaria
  • Brenda: I made this dough made pineapple and ham it was really good and the time you take to make the dough is worth it.
  • Tamar: Seedlip makes great spirit replacement with herbal/fruit distillations. they taste great! and go really well with tonic/soda water. https://seedlipdri
  • Tudor Robins: I stopped drinking when I was pregnant with my first son. He'll be 17 in the spring. I really wish I could go back and do university with no drinking.
  • andrea tomkins: Thank you! I really recommend "going dry" for a stretch. I did it as a bit of a reset but it was actually very enlightening!
  • Claudette: This was a lovely, introspective post. ;) Also perhaps I should look into mocktails...?

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). 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. 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!


E-book alert!

Shopping Embargo e-book promo

My right hand is actually a camera

Connect with me at these places too!

Piper is on Instagram

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter