a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Aug, 2009

37. Finally.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|Oh! Things!|Ottawa

I’ve been away, at my mother’s place in fact, painting her living room ceiling and a couple of walls. I learned that you CAN paint white over brown wood panelling!

It still feels pretty good to be 37 even though my neck and shoulders are rather sore right now.

My birthday was perfect in every way. It could not have been better!

I had a special breakfast of fresh bagels from the Ottawa Bagelshop and wild salmon and then it was PRESENT TIME.

The girls picked out a gorgeous necklace from Bija Bijoux and a cozy hoodie (with thumb-holes!) from Roots. I also got some some candy from The Candy Store: gummies (they are the BEST gummies I’ve ever had), assorted taffy and a square of caramel au beurre au sel de mer. Yum.

I was extra happy that everything they bought was from local shops.

And then I had to snap into high gear.

I had received an email from an Ottawa Citizen writer the day before. She told me she was planning on writing a profile of me and my blog. I met her at a neat little coffee shop in Westboro called Viva Loca (same place I took Julie’s photos) at 10:30. We gabbed for over 90 minutes. We talked about everything under the sun. I only hope I sounded like I have possession of all my marbles. I think she found it kind of odd that I haven’t been keeping track of how many times the Fishbowl has received some kind of coverage in the major media. I wasn’t able to recall how many times I’ve been on the radio – was it three or four? At one point she brought up an appearance on CTV Ottawa that I’d forgotten about. Good lord. What is HAPPENING TO MY BRAIN?  I don’t keep track of that stuff but now wonder if maybe I should. (Is it vain? Does it matter? What do you think?) 

Other than my mental lapses I had a great time. I really enjoy chatting to people who get the whole blog thing.  

Then, Mark, the girls and I had a picnic at the Arboretum (that’s the heavily treed part of the Central Experimental Farm). It was heavenly there under the trees.

Picnic at the Arborteum

The girls indulged me with some photo-taking. Sort of:

Climbing the giant tree

Picnic highlights included our new frisbee-type thing (which is thankfully easier to catch than any other flying disk we currently own):

Giant frisbee-like thing

… the feeding of a flock of shy Wood Ducks:

 Wood Ducks near Dow's Lake

… and Sarah almost stepping on group of Mallards who were camouflaged in the grass. The ducks let Mark get incredibly close with the camera. I wondered if they were sedated:


On our way back to the car we saw a field of sunflowers. I snapped a few frames because the sunny blooms reflected exactly how I was feeling:

Sunflowers at the Experimental Farm

We arrived home, feeling warm and slightly wilted, to a ringing telephone. It was the Citizen photographer. He was supposed to come at 4:15 but was asking if he could swing by RIGHT NOW. This resulted in a sudden cleaning frenzy which included my sweeping the papers off of my desk in one big swoop and chucking everything into the nearest closet.

The photographer was friendly and easygoing despite my grousing about how much I hate having my photo taken. That’s when I was asked to pretend to blog – which I did. I haven’t seen the photos but have been assured they’re “beautiful.” (Ha. I don’t believe them for a second!)

After he left we all collapsed in a big heap.

And then we ordered sushi from MHK, our favourite sushi place here in Ottawa.  And then we ate. And had cake. Mark baked me a Betty Crocker cake. It was the FIRST TIME he’s ever made one (!). What a dear. He probably won’t appreciate me telling you this, but he scraped the batter into the pans and realized he forgot to add water. (And then he scraped it back into the bowl and added the requisite amount of liquid.)  I am happy to report that despite the challenges it was still good. :)

After dinner we went to see Ponyo at AMC in Kanata. Mark had told me that Roger Ebert had given this film four stars, and so I was naturally expecting another Spirited Away (which is one of my top fave movies of all time) but I was disappointed it didn’t measure up. Oh well.

Was that a full day or what?

I had a wonderful birthday, but it’s not over yet. I have a birthday present to pick up (an umbrella/lighting kit!) and some birthday money to spend. This is going to be tough! Tell me, what would you buy if you had $200 to spend on yourself? Here’s another thing: do you think it’s better to buy one big thing or lots of little things?

13 Responses to "37. Finally."

1 | Erica

August 22nd, 2009 at 10:22 am


That sounds like a fantastic birthday! I’m amazed at how much fun you were able to cram in. Wow. I’m definitely inspired to do some more planning for my husband’s birthday in October.

Amusingly, the one time that (my) Mark tried to make me a boxed birthday cake, he forgot the eggs. It still turned out just fine. :)

2 | mrsgryphon

August 22nd, 2009 at 11:10 am


Oh, what a fantastic day! I’m glad you got to celebrate in such lovely ways!

If I had $200 to spend, I would buy one large-ish thing and then a bunch of smaller things that I probably wouldn’t normally spend money on (I have a little spending money right now, too – am thinking a nice fall jacket, and then a splurge at Sephora!) Or, go on an Etsy spree!!

Have fun shopping!

3 | Judy

August 22nd, 2009 at 12:06 pm


Sounds like you had a very lovely birthday.

If I had $200 to spend right now? Probably some clothes, maybe some of the new jewellery from the store I am pining for.

Or a message and some new makeup.

Hard to say which of the two I would do.

4 | porter

August 22nd, 2009 at 4:07 pm


nice birthday!

my birthday is fairly soon after christmas and i never want to do much until the day comes and goes and then i’m a bit sorry i didn’t celebrate it more. pls remind me to read this post the week or two before my birthday next year so i make more of the day!

as for the bday money…how would i spend it? i would love a new purse and wallet so that’s what i would buy. as far as spending it all on one item or buying several smaller items, well that would depend on what was on my wish list at that time!

5 | Lynn

August 22nd, 2009 at 6:32 pm


Such a great day! Happy birthday!

I have a huge wish list of things I would love to have but can’t justify buying. Whenever I come across something I write it on the list — so I’m prepared every Christmas when people ask me what I would like! Right now I really want a new Timbuktu bag (the smallest size tote bag), an ice cream maker, nice PJs that actually fit, and fancy sheets for our bed.

But really, I know I’d probably just blow it all at Etsy :).

6 | LO

August 22nd, 2009 at 8:57 pm


something decadent that isn’t practical-that you wouldn’ t normally buy yourself with ‘everyday money’-that is the best gift! go frivolous!

7 | julie

August 22nd, 2009 at 9:38 pm


Glad the day was perfect for you! (And I can’t wait to see your upcoming article in the Citizen too).

As for the $200, I’d probably end up blowing most of it at Chapters and then spending the last few dollars on Thai Food takeout with a great bottle of red Australian wine. Which would of course be a wasted opportunity to finally get some much needed treats and then I’d regret it! :)

8 | Alison from Ottawa

August 23rd, 2009 at 3:00 pm


Something to get my D-80 closer than 18mm, I think you can buy these screw on caps for macro work? My birthday is in 4 months (Dec 24) I should start a list soon. Also books (new A.S. Byatt?), maybe a DVD set… I want the last season of MI-5 / spooks – a BBC series.

Or a tote bag from astrosatchel in Vancouver. I like woodland print. I would put in a link but they don’t ever work for me when I comment.

9 | milkfacemama

August 23rd, 2009 at 7:00 pm


Happy Birthday! I’d buy one big splurge-y thing…I think. I’m kind of tempted by the Sephora suggestion someone made as well! Good luck deciding what to do with the $ – just don’t do what I did one year with my birthday money -I put it in my wallet, kept buying one “small thing” we needed with the cash (milk, magazine, etc) until I realized I’d spent all my money and had nothing to show for it!!

10 | Dee Campbell

August 23rd, 2009 at 10:07 pm


Andrea…what is the umbrella/lighting kit???

First-time Commenter on Your Blog,

11 | andrea

August 24th, 2009 at 7:18 am


Hi Dee!
A photography umbrella is a way of reflecting light on a particular subject. Here’s an example.

12 | J.

August 24th, 2009 at 12:57 pm


sounds like a great birthbay!

13 | Loukia

August 24th, 2009 at 7:41 pm


Happy belated birthday to you! Sounds like a perfect and busy day!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. 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.

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