a peek inside the fishbowl

17 Feb, 2018

Weekend reading: February 17 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

Last week I decided to mark Valentine’s Day with an appointment to give blood and today is the day. I’m writing about it here because I’ve decided that Valentine’s Day should be associated with more than just chocolate, flowers, and cards. Why not add blood donation to the list?

Here’s the thing: A lot of blood and blood products are needed and this is the perfect time to remind people.

According to the Canadian Blood Services website, a car crash victim might need blood from 50 donors. A cancer patient needs up to five. They need an endless supply and donating is something that many of us can easily do.

Although I don’t LOVE the process of donating blood – it freaks me out a little bit but I do my best to play it cool – CBS has certainly made it easier for me to do so. Awhile back I created a personal account on the CBS website. It’s handy. I use it to make and change appointments; see a history of my donations, my hemoglobin level, and bleed time (*shiver* – would it surprise you to know it took me six minutes last time?); and receive the donor questionnaire ahead of time.

The best part of donating blood, other than the fact that you’re doing someone a great service, of course, are the cookies and juice at the end. It’s nice to be fussed over a little bit, isn’t it?

Anyway, there it is! I’m donating blood today. Wish me luck! If this post inspires one person to make an appointment to give blood this week, I’ll be happy. In fact, if you DO make an appointment, let me know in the comments below.

Let’s make blood donations at Valentine’s into a new tradition! (Although I vote for keeping the chocolate part of it too.)

If it’s been awhile since you donated? You may want to check changes in donor criteria.

Edited to add: I would like to give ONE Ottawa person who makes a blood donation a 340g bag of Me to We coffee! It’s medium roast, single origin ground coffee from Equador. Just make your appointment and leave your name below. I’ll pick a random name at the end of the month.


10 Feb, 2018

Weekend reading: February 10 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading


On the nightstand: People of the Book: A Novel

09 Feb, 2018

Winterlude: On a wintery weekday night in Ottawa

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

David Reevely’s column about embracing the weather and creating a winter strategy for Ottawa has been percolating in my brain ever since I read it back in December. He’s on to something. I think if we, as a city, had a winter strategy we’d see a huge boost in tourism and in the number of local outings that residents undertake as well. What does a winter strategy look like? Well, you’ll have to read David’s column first. I don’t think this requires a huge investment, after all, we’ve already got the base layer. We just need to build on it. We already get six months of winter here in Ottawa, give or take, and a big skating surface, so why not create a municipal plan AND a marketing plan to go with it and make this city truly winter-friendly? Ottawa can be known around the world as the winter capital. Besides, the droves of people who came out to see La Machine proves that locals are eager to participate and consume cultural activities. (I wonder what percentage were Ottawa residents? Any guesses?) PLUS, we are proud of robotic creatures that roam our streets, the giant spider in front of our National Gallery, eating fried pastry while teetering on two thin blades of metal. These things have become part of our identity as a city. And shouldn’t we have more of that if we can?

I thought about this a lot the other night as we tromped around Confederation Park. It was Tuesday. After dinner we drove downtown to see the ice sculptures and maybe get a Beavertail. We parked the car on a side street (parking at the World Exchange Plaza was suddenly closed for some reason) and walked over. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I sure wasn’t expecting most of the Winterlude zone there to be closed at 7:30 p.m.

Did I mention this year is the 40th anniversary of this favourite Ottawa event?

The sculptures were there, and most were lit, but otherwise there was nothing going on. Except for the Beavertail stand, the rest of the food trucks were shut down. There was no one in the info booth. No fire in the fire pit. The audio speakers around the venue were hissing. (Were they supposed to be playing music?) That big “face” interactive art sculpture, which I really wanted to see, was turned off. To be fair, I don’t expect fireworks and a blazing concert every night – I know there are budgets to be considered – but I felt like I was walking around a mall just after closing time. I had money to spend, and I wanted to spend it, but there was nothing to buy! I get that it was only Tuesday. Yes, the fun stuff happens on the weekend, but why? This does a disservice to anyone who can’t make it out on a weekend. I’m willing to bet if there was activity on the site until 9 p.m. every night the people would come out, and not just visitors to Ottawa, but the residents. People went to see the Red Bull Crashed Ice competition and it was minus 30 that night! At a minimum, why couldn’t we have that blazing fire pit, all the lights turned on, music in the speakers, and pizza from a food truck on weeknights?

We were not alone on Tuesday night. There were other snowpant-clad families who were squinting at ice sculptures in the dark, trying to read placards explaining what they are. It was definitely quieter than a sunny wintry Saturday afternoon at the park, but there were plenty of people in the area that night. Also worth noting, almost everyone we passed was munching on a Beavertail. So yes! People eat things at night!

Related to this: have you seen the official Winterlude website? What do you think of it? Is it just me, or is it underwhelming? Perhaps the uninspired web design is hampered by government web standards. It should be a gorgeous marketing piece that screams how awesome Ottawa is far and wide, shouldn’t it? It reads: “Come and celebrate the 40th edition of Winterlude, which runs from February 2 to 19. Canada’s favourite winter activities await you at this annual event.” Well, we were there. Where were you?

Some of you are already familiar with Fishbowl patron, Lice Services Canada – Ottawa Head Lice Treatment and Removal. They offer lice removal services to families at their Westboro location, travel to schools all across Ottawa AND treat lice at home! What I really appreciate is that Lice Services Canada offers frazzled parents practical help. For example, did you know that you can email them a photo of a suspected louse for identification? They’re happy to answer your questions by phone or email too. Good news for us, they’ve taken it to the next level.

If you:

  • Think your child might have lice but aren’t sure because you’ve never seen a case of headlice before.
  • Have been through a lice infestation and want to make sure they’re all gone.
  • Have lice in your household but want to make sure YOU don’t have them.
  • Have lice going through your child’s classroom and want to sleep peacefully at night knowing your family is lice-free…

… you can drop by the Lice Services Westboro location on Sunday mornings between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for a free head check. Did I mention it’s free? If any of the above applied to me right now I would (a) call Lice Services and let them know I’m coming on Sunday — calling ahead is not strictly necessary but helpful for Lice Service staffers (b) grab an extra large hot beverage at any number of Westboro coffee and tea shops and (c) bring myself, my husband, AND my kids. If we got the green light we’d stay for lunch in the village and make a day of it. :)

It’s very important to know that this free service is NOT the five-minute peek that parent volunteers do at school once a term. This is a wet hair, laser-focused, high beam head investigation by one of their pros and it takes about 15 minutes (hence my need to bring a hot beverage). The best part: if you get the green light, you’re free to go. If they find something, you have options. You can stay for treatment (check the Lice Service website for pricing), or go home and take care of it yourself with or without the Lice Services comb and treatment. No pressure! Regardless of which option you choose, the pros at Lice Services Canada – Ottawa Head Lice Treatment and Removal are happy to answer any questions you might have.


Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Expert lice removal services in Ottawa with Lice Services Canada

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  • andrea tomkins: Awesome! Glad to hear! You may be the only one I've managed to convince, Festina. If so, the coffee is yours at the end of the month! If other Ottawa
  • Festina Lente: Fantastic idea. Something we should all do on Heart Day. I'm in !
  • andrea tomkins: It's crazy to think that IS the *real* website! How is this selling Winterlude to millions of potential visitors from all over the world? How is it se
  • Splake: Totally agree. And ditto on the lousy website. I actually kept searching for while to find the *real* website. Come on Ottawa. It's time to st
  • Wynne: We've really enjoyed participating in escape rooms too. We've only been to two in Ottawa & can't wait to try out more. If your family is into boar
  • andrea tomkins: Yes it was! It was a really nice treat. I'm definitely bringing the kids next time. :)
  • Judy: Is this what you indulged in after we chatted? I have yet to try the hot chocolate....

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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