a peek inside the fishbowl

30 Oct, 2018

A Halloween question

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life,parenting

Outdoor ornament

There are a lot of conversations about Halloween happening in the Interwebs right now, especially as it pertains to age: how old is too old etc. For the record, I have no problem giving candy to teenagers. I figure if they want to be a kid a little while longer, it’s ok in my books. But how do you feel about adults coming to your door? Like, alone? Without kids?

As much as I enjoy seeing everyone’s costumes, I don’t feel… how should I put this… charitable when I’m dishing out the candy.

One year a woman – very much a grown up – came to our door and held out her bag. (If memory serves, it may have even been a handbag.) We were handing out full-size candy bars that year. She waved down the street vaguely and said, “My kids are over there.” I felt like saying: “lady, go buy your own candy or raid your kid’s stash.” But of course, I didn’t. I dropped the candy in her bag without a word.

Candy isn’t cheap and we get a couple hundred kids to our door every year. I’d rather reserve it for the kids.

I believe Halloween is for everyone but that the trick or treating part should remain the domain of the younger set. Or maybe I’m just a grumpy old Scrooge. I’d love to hear what you think. Should adults be asking for candy at the door?


27 Oct, 2018

Weekend reading: October 27 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

25 Oct, 2018

Lighting up grey days again

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

It’s almost like clockwork now, this feeling that sets in this time of year. And the beauty of blogging is that there’s actual proof that I can review:

As you see, I used the word mojo in two of those posts. It’s a good way to describe my head space; my fatigue.

I realized that this time of year had rolled around again when Mark asked me a gentle question this morning: “Are you using your Lite Book?”

I am not, not today, anyway. I haven’t plugged it in yet. His question made me think about the date on the calendar and that’s when I remembered. Ah yes. This again.

The light book is charging as I type.

I have to remember to pay special attention to my operating instructions this time of year. This week my body and brain need a blast of light therapy every day, but in addition to this I know I need to stick to my fitness regimen, remember to take my vitamins and iron pill, eat well, and get some decent shuteye. I know I should be kind to myself. I know I need to be patient. I know that this too, shall pass.

24 Oct, 2018

About those new veggie hot dogs at IKEA

By andrea tomkins in Recipes and Food

I was feeling down in the dumps today and around lunchtime I decided that I needed to get myself out of the house and cheer myself up in the process. The exact reason WHY I hit upon IKEA hot dogs as the solution, well, who knows why. I will say that their new veggie hot dogs were launched October 3 and I’ve been meaning to try them for awhile. THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE DAY.

My Twitter followers had front-row seats to the experience as it unfolded earlier today, but I can summarize by saying the IKEA veggie dogs are good but there were a few surprises along the way.

First, an important point. The veggie hot dogs are located in the area of the store called the “bistro,” which is just past the cash registers and where one might normally nab a cinnamon bun before heading back to the car. The veggie dogs are not available at the IKEA restaurant. This small detail might save you a 30-minute walk.

IKEA veggie dogs are cheap. Very cheap. And I’m not sure if this is a permanent thing, but right now they’re even less expensive than their regular meaty counterparts. At 75 cents the veggie dogs are a steal and I hope that IKEA always keeps the price of the veggie dog lower than the regular dog. IKEA says they’re concerned about the environment, well, this sends a great message. I’m tired of veggie burgers costing more than meat burgers at other restaurants, aren’t you? Related: why is there always an upcharge if you order a side salad with a meal instead of fries?

I ordered two dogs. I’m glad I did, because they are on the small side.

This was surprise #1:

They weren’t dressed! Here’s surprise #2.

I was directed to the condiment station, which looked like this:

As you can see, the condiment station could have used some attention. Only mildly discouraged (and quite hungry at this point) I forged ahead and applied my toppings: mustard, pickled cabbage, and roasted onions. I sat down at the counter and had my first bite.

I really liked them, and would definitely get one (or two) again. The combination of toppings really worked for me. The hot dog itself is fairly mild. According to this article in the National Post they’re made with kale, red lentils, carrots, ginger, quinoa, onion, potatoes and spices.

My only complaint is that they could have been hotter, but what other food items can be bought for under a buck nowadays? It was also a little messy, but I only have myself to blame (and those crispy onion bits).

I wish they served them in the restaurant upstairs! I’d enjoy it even more with a glass of white wine.

Interestingly, on the official IKEA marketing poster, the onion I loved so much is referred to as “roasted” onion, which sounds a lot better – not to mention, healthier – than if they had used the word “fried,” which I think it is. Packages of onion bits, named ROSTAD LOK in proper IKEA tradition, are available in the grocery area. I was pretty excited to see it there, that is, until I read the ingredients. The second ingredient after onions is palm oil, which I avoid because of the damaging impact it can have on the environment. I looked it up when I got home and found some reassuring news. Apparently, by the end of 2017, 98.5% of the palm oil they use “is certified sustainable palm oil from segregated RSPO [Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil] sources. Thus, palm oil is physically separated from non-sustainable oil during the whole supply chain from mill to manufacturing of the final product.” (Here’s the source document if you’d like to read it.)

IKEA uses approximately 40,000 tonnes of palm oil annually. About 94% of the total volume is used in home furnishing products, mainly in candles. Around 6% can be referred to food.

I hope that IKEA continues to be vigilant as it pertains to the use of palm oil, and that they continue to promote vegetarian foods in the stores. IKEA is, after all, one of the biggest businesses in the world and is in a great position to nudge people in the right direction and normalize a veggie lifestyle. Many people don’t seem to understand that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy a veggie dog.

What do you think? Will you try it? Or maybe you have already?

20 Oct, 2018

Weekend reading: October 20 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: The House at Riverton: A Novel


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.

  • Horse Racing Tips: Very interesting subject, thank you for putting up.
  • Alison in Ottawa: I was disappointed to find out the minimum age is 16. While it makes sense, we will have to wait for a while before we go.
  • andrea tomkins: Claudette: I left it for a few months and am actually just giving in another read through now and making a few more changes before a friend reads it o
  • joy: does Piper ever get ticks? I hate those little b*st*rds. we are forever finding them on our dog. in fact, the vet says one of ours has Lyme disease
  • Claudette: ya. ;) Are you still writing your embargo book?
  • andrea tomkins: Thanks Claudette! Some short thoughts in return: - The eldest daughter and I have virtually eliminated beef from our diet, although I can't say t
  • Claudette: I really enjoy these weekend reading posts, I'm glad you keep doing them! Here's my view on some of the articles: I like meat and won't be giving i

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... 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!


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