a peek inside the fishbowl

29 Sep, 2014

Happy weekends = Happy Mondays

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

Dear Fishies,
I have so much to write about but I need to attend to a few pressing deadlines at the moment. In the meantime, let us take a moment to reflect upon the wonderful weekend we just had, and what a gift it was.

Unique items in the pannier


Autumn skies

Geese in Kanata made this tranquil sunset quite loud.

p.s. don’t forget to enter the latest giveaway!

27 Sep, 2014

Weekend reading: September 27 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: Defending Jacob: A Novel

I have two words for you: buffet brunch.

I really enjoying taking my family out to a good buffet brunch, don’t you? Sadly, we don’t seem to do it very often as I would like. I do love it though. It gives us a chance to reconnect over a good meal, AND it means that I’m not the one doing the cooking. Also, the buffet setting guarantees that everyone will find something they like to eat, and dare I say, even TRY NEW FOODS.

The Canadian Museum of Nature (a Fishbowl patron FYI), recently launched a series of special seasonal Sunday brunches that I’m really looking forward to checking out with the kids. And here’s something that’s good to know: brunch includes admission to the Museum, which means we can happily burn off our meal afterwards and learn cool stuff about the world around us. (Do check out Creatures of Light if you haven’t already seen it. It ends November 9!)

The 2014-2015 brunches are all linked to special occasions, with specific dates/themes as follows:

  • October 12 (Thanksgiving)
  • December 14 (Multicultural holiday)
  • February 15 (Valentine’s)
  • March 22 (Canadian “sugarbush”)
  • April 26 (Arctic country foods)
  • May 10 (Mother’s Day)
  • June 21 (Father’s Day)

The menus are being developed by Executive Chef William Carter of Gourmet Cuisine and include assorted meats, salads, cheeses, pastries, desserts, local harvests and, during the holidays, specialties from different cultures.

And here’s the good news, I have two adult brunch packages (a value of $80) to give to one lucky winner.

Interested? Please read the nitty gritty:

  • This giveaway is for two (2) adult brunch packages to the Thanksgiving edition on October 12. (Anticipate a cornucopia of foodstuffs, much of it seasonal and harvest-themed!)
  • Please make sure you can attend before entering. It’s up to you if you want to bring the kids or leave them at home. :)
  • In order for your entry to qualify, please leave a comment below. That’s it! If you feeling keen, I’d love it if you told me what you and your family enjoy the most when you visit the Museum of Nature.
  • 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 lost or gets stuck in my Spam folder.

That’s it! (I like easy giveaways, don’t you?)

I will draw the winning name using Random.org at noon EST on October 3, 2014. I’ll contact the winner via email at that time and post the name here as well.

For more information about the Canadian Museum of Nature Sunday brunch series check out the website right here.

I will be writing more about our lovely weekend away soon. In the meantime I will say this: if you’re looking for a place to relax and disconnect and isn’t far from Ottawa, THIS IS IT.


One of my favourite features in Capital Parent Newspaper is my Editor’s Faves column. Basically, I pick three things I love and share them with our readers in the print edition of the paper. It’s short and sweet and fun. In the October issue I mentioned Printstagram, an online service that makes cool stuff out of Instagram photos: books, magnets, memory boxes, and posters. I tell ya, it was hard to pick just one thing, but I did. I decided to GO BIG OR GO HOME with a poster. The posters come in two sizes, big or bigger, and I went with the bigger. (What can I say, I like to make an impression.)

Me and my new poster!

It was really easy. I granted the website access to my Instagram account and they copied all of my photos from there. Then I just chose which ones I wanted on the poster and switch them around for perfect placement. The poster was delivered a short time later. I was not disappointed. The overall effect is pretty awesome. After all, there are 200 moments collected in one place. (!)

At the moment it’s covering a large blank wall and is being held up with poster putty. The only not-so-great thing is that finding a frame may not be easy. It’s 20″x38″! I’ve already checked Michael’s and I don’t want to spring for custom framing. Sigh.

I do love my Instagram poster. There are 200 pics here.

Now that I’m thinking about it, the spirit behind this project totally reminds me of this past post about preserving our family stories. From a parenting perspective, there truly is a benefit to keeping those memories alive and talking about them, don’t you think? And the fact that you can make a cool poster is a huge bonus if you ask me.

Watch for a new post over on MediaSmarts.ca about this soon! :)

p.s. if you want to follow me on Instagram you can find me under “quietfish.”


NAC Ottawa family events

Summertime fun at Saunders Farm!

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

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre - Westboro

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Litterless lunch solutions at terra20

Zen Kitchen is open! Use code FISHBOWL for free dessert

Click me!


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects



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  • Kelly Hutchings: This is an awesome idea, I hope you pull my name cuz I need a 'break'... I do daycare, need I say more??
  • Jacquie Poitras: I love the giant inflated whale and the staircases.
  • Rob: Count me in for snacks!
  • joanne: I've lost my card and have some points on it can i have another card to redeem my pounts,i try to register another card but it wont work because of th
  • melissa fowers: Would love to take my Husband and kids to the brunch. My son who is 5 really wants to check out the Dinosaur section.
  • Karen: I had never heard about brunches at the museum! Our favourite part of the museum is the dinosaur section. Oh! My daughter just told me to say she a
  • Joy M.: Thanks for the chance - sounds wonderful!!

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 – 819 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!

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  • 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