a peek inside the fishbowl

24 Oct, 2014


By andrea tomkins in File under crafty


Awhile back I wrote up a wee poppy craft for the November issue of Capital Parent, and I decided to start wearing my poppy pin a little earlier than usual this year. If you’d like to make your own, you can find the DIY right here.

As for me, I don’t think I have any more words left at the moment, so I’ll just leave it here for now.

22 Oct, 2014

On this day in Ottawa history

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

The Peace Tower

Well, this day was one of the worst in recent memory. I am still in shock. I was at a coffee shop when it happened, in the middle of an interview for the Kitchissippi Times. I turned over my phone and saw the news that a shooter was on the loose in downtown Ottawa. Someone was shot at the war memorial, I said. She and I stared at each other for a moment in disbelief. And with that, I pulled out my camera, because our interview was over and I had to get moving. I focused, and asked her to smile, and snapped the photo. How strange it was.

I rushed home and witnessed the rest of the day unfold on television. I don’t think I can watch that awful footage of the thunderous shooting inside Parliament Hill anymore.

I am still trying to reconcile how it all happened, how it happened here, in Ottawa, but I am taking solace in the fact that our family is safe, and in the actions of Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons, and our emergency responders.

At the moment Mark’s office downtown is on lockdown although news staff are coming and going. He rode his bike to work and I hope he won’t have any difficulty finding his way out of the downtown core and getting home. I’m expecting the girls from school soon. They know exactly what happened today, but I truly don’t know what I’m going to say to them.

20 Oct, 2014

Apple crisp with toffee sauce

By andrea tomkins in Recipes and Food

This is the time of year I start to crave a particular combination of baked apples, butter, and sugar. And this weekend I decided to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Enter, the apple crisp:

Apple crisp time!

This recipe (mentioned at the bottom of this post) is pretty good, but if I’m really honest with myself I have to admit that it doesn’t really beat my mother-in-law’s recipe for apple crisp.

18 Oct, 2014

Weekend reading: October 18 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: My Ghosts.

We have a winner! Her name has been posted in the comments below this post. Thanks for your entries everyone. Hope to see you at Tiggy’s store wide sale!

Hoo boy. Do I have a great giveaway for Ottawa peeps today.

Many of you are already familiar with Fishbowl patron, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s. They’re a locally owned store (there are five of them in fact) that has a long history of making people happy in the Ottawa area and beyond. Three cheers for shopping local!

Honestly, the store is so full of great stuff I hardly know where to look. Here are a few standouts you may find interesting:

Grumpy cat! All this and more at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's.

I predict these will be huge this Christmas! (Find it at Tiggy's!)

Costumes that are soft AND comfortable.

Dear Santa, I want this cat popper. (Find it at Tiggy's!)

No' Pad  (Find it at Tiggy's!)

THIS GUY (Find him at Tiggy's!)

Triops are cool (Find them at Tiggy's!)

Lego Movie LEGO!  (Find it at Tiggy's!)

Lego Movie Lego close up. This cracks.me.up.  (Find it at Tiggy's!)

Playmobil advent calendars. Love these. (Find them at Tiggy's!)

Here’s the good news:

1) Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s storewide sale will be taking place Thursday October 23 to Sunday October 26. It’s a biggie: 20% OFF all regular priced in-stock items. This includes Lego and Playmobile too! (!!) Note that Melissa and Doug merch will be 20% off during the storewide sale (just not an additional 20% off the already 20% off if that makes sense) and it will be 20% off all of October.


2) They’re giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky Fishbowl reader in time for the sale. And guess what? All of the items shown above are all under $50.

You can use the gift card to make a dent in your Christmas gift list, buy an advent calendar, a Halloween costume for your kid, a surprise for your family (like a new board game or puzzle) or something for yourself! (Like the cat popper. I want a cat popper!)

Interested? Read on!

  • In order for your entry to qualify, please leave a comment below and tell me what you’d buy with your gift card. That’s it! If you need help figuring that out I recommend taking a look at the Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s website.
  • For an extra entry, comment on this Facebook post too. Just let me know you did so in a second comment below.
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to me for posting at 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 one name using Random.org at noon EST on October 23, 2014. I’ll contact the winner via email, who will have to pick up their winnings at the Tiggy’s location of their choice.

This is not a requirement of the giveaway, but if you’re a fan of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s I highly recommend you follow them on Twitter and Facebook for advance warning of sales, contests, and other great insider scoop.

Sounds good? Over to you! Good luck!



Shop The Neighbourhood

Many of you Fishies already know how passionate I am about shopping locally. It’s something I’ve written a lot about here before and try to do whenever I can. It is a perfect fit with my shopping philosophy:

Buy fewer things, that matter more.

I do what I can to be a conscious consumer, and part of that means supporting local businesses. I’m a local business too, and local businesses help pay my wage, so this topic is important to me. When I spend my money locally I am keeping dollars in our community, and ensuring that my neighbourhood stays the vibrant, fun place that I want to live.

A few months ago I was one of five bloggers across Canada who was hired to write about seven different shops in our respective neighbourhoods for a very special campaign. Shop The Neighbourhood is an initiative of Yellow Pages, a company that has a very long history of working with Canada’s small businesses. The Shop The Neighbourhood campaign encourages Canadians to support the small businesses in their communities by making a local purchase on November 29. (You can learn more about the campaign on their Facebook page.)

My job was to visit each local gem in the neighbourhood, interview the owners, and take photos at each stop along the way.

Pizza love #latergram

Cha ching! #latergram

Cardamom and Cloves

Ruffles. #latergram

It was really cool to get to know the people behind each store and hear their stories; their challenges and successes. I’m very happy to (finally!) be able to tell you that their stories are now online at the Shop The Neighbourhood website. I’d love it if you clicked over and had a peek. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new place to visit?

The other part of Shop The Neighbourhood is actually shopping, instead of just reading about shopping. :) I’d be so happy if you marked your calendars and chose an independent shop – any shop in your neighbourhood – and made a purchase on November 29. Whether it’s an early Christmas card, a stocking stuffer for the child/chef/gardener/golfer/cyclist in your life, or something bigger, your support of local merchants will make a big difference. What better way to show how much you love the city in which you live?

Tell me, what’s YOUR favourite local store? Leave a link below and let me know. I’d love to hear about it!


NAC Ottawa family events

Fall family fun fun at Saunders Farm!

Creatures of Light Nature's Bioluminescence at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Litterless lunch solutions at terra20

Zen Kitchen is open! Use code FISHBOWL for free dessert

Nepean Visual Arts Centre

Visit tThe Village Quire in Westboro Ottawa!

Click me!


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects



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  • andrea tomkins: I'm grateful too, very much so. Our day had a happy ending. Mark arrived home from work, the girls came home from school at the usual time, and it
  • Safe and Sound: To me and no doubt others out there, the thunderous gun battle video is incredible because we see law enforcement officers running towards this hell.
  • andrea tomkins: Hi Brenda, I suggest you contact PC Plus about changing your account information. You can do that right here:  https://www.pcplus.ca/loyalty-help.
  • Brenda: I always received an email saying it ws time to Load My Points for the week and it was very simple to just make one click of the mouse and my bonus po
  • andrea tomkins: The winner is commenter #52, Lynn Vandenbroeck, who wrote: "I host weekly board game nights. I would love to allow the group to enjoy some new boa
  • Elnaz S: I would splurge on board games! Apples to Apples, Pandemic, Trivial Pursuit..so many to choose from!
  • Mel: my kids love playmobil. This would help with the Christmas list. thanks for the chance!

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 – 845 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.


  • 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!

    - #
  • I have a new post up at the MediaSmarts blog this week. It's my response to a question that I'm asked quite often: What’s the best age to give a kid an iPod touch?

    - #
  • My latest post at the MediaSmarts website is about passwords. Is this something you've talked about with your kids? Given the proliferation of devices in households (often one per person now) it might be an important topic for discussion. How have you handled passwords in your household?

    - #

On the nightstand

... check out past nightstand reads right here.

Got kids in Ottawa? These posts might be worth a click too:

All hail the mighty Twitter