a peek inside the fishbowl

We have a lot of devices on the go here at Casa Fishbowl, and they all come together very nicely to drain our monthly bandwidth allowance.** Endless YouTube videos, transfer of large files to and from work (for me, mostly), and Apple TV and Netflix have a lot to do with the fact that we have been coming very close to going over our max every month.

Awhile back we declared that Tuesdays were NO NETFLIX TUESDAYS from now on. No watching after school or at night with the family. No shows, no movies. As it turns out, turning off the bandwidth hogs one day a week does makes a difference to the overall amount we use and keeps us from going over. And happily, as a result, we find ourselves reading more, going out more, and playing board games. This can only be a good thing.

Mark knew something about Netflix that I didn’t know about. You can change your settings so you’re not using as much data. (Did you know this??) Depending on the setting you choose it does affect picture quality, but honestly, sometimes it really doesn’t matter. (Especially when the kids are watching Buffy reruns.) It’s easy to do:

1) Log in to Netflix.
2) Find your account, and select “playback settings.”

I recommend experimenting to see what kind of difference it makes. Most of the shows we watch are on the “medium” setting but we’ll switch to “high” if we’re gearing up to watch a good film. (Also, Mark is a total TV snob and has very high standards as it pertains to his Overall Viewing Experience.)

We were talking about this to someone the other day and the guy realized his default setting had been on “high” forever, which is the best video quality and equates to up to 3GB per hour of HD and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD. And if your kid is watches How to Train Your Dragon on Netflix ten times in a row, well, that is going to add up.

Here’s the thing, at this point you can only change your settings from your computer, not from your mobile device. So you’ll have to put down your bowl of popcorn and saunter over to your desktop to change it before the movie starts.

** I hear some of you asking, why not just opt for an unlimited bandwidth package? The way I see it, that is akin to bringing the kids to an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner every night. Just because we CAN have unlimited bandwidth, doesn’t mean we should. Also, I don’t want to be the mother of two child zombies.

Agree? Disagree? How do you control bandwidth in your house? Or maybe this isn’t an issue?

11 Nov, 2014

My day today

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

November 11 #dailylunches - at home with a big cold and little appetite

Send me your healing vibes and throat lozenges, because I sure could use them right now!

10 Nov, 2014

Monday morning earworm

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

This song and video has permanently embedded itself into my brain, LIKE A PARASITE. Perhaps if I infect others it will let go of mine? :)

(Here’s a link for mobile users.)



08 Nov, 2014

Weekend reading: November 8 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

Awhile back I had an hamburger-related epiphany. I asked myself, self, do you like hamburgers or not? I decided I liked sharing a great dinner with friends and family. And I liked the act of eating a burger: something hot and delicious that doesn’t need a knife and fork. I liked the toppings too. But when I REALLY thought about it, I realized I didn’t love the beef patty part of this scenario. So if I was just in it for the routine and preferred the taste of a veggie patty, why not just eat that instead?

This epiphany also applies to lasagna, chilli, and now tacos. I tried a fish taco for the first time not too long ago, and was a total convert. Now I’m moving on to vegetarian soft taco options. Here’s one I tried the other day:

November 6 #dailylunches - black bean & sweet potato tacos

These were pretty good, but you know what was missing? CILANTRO. I will not make these again without it. Otherwise I have to say that this combination of sweet potato, black beans, and jalapeños is a real winner. (I riffed on this recipe, in case you’re wondering!)

What about you? What’s your favourite taco?

05 Nov, 2014

Mitey dog

By andrea tomkins in dog stuff

Piper didn't have a good day

Piper’s had some health issues lately, poor thing, but she’s on the mend.

It’s a long story, so I will share the short version. Piper has a ragweed allergy. For the past three years she’s been on medication called Vanectyl-P that we give to her during summer/fall season. A few weeks ago we started winding her down, lowering the dose until she was off of it completely. Last week we noticed she had these little scabby pimply things on her back. They didn’t seem itchy, but they didn’t look great, so we brought her to the vet’s.

He wasn’t sure what it was at first. He suggested a round of antibiotics and a skin scratch test just in case she had mites. The test came back, and guess what, she had mites! (As an added bonus I got to see what they look like under the microscope and I can say with certainty that it is truly a repulsive parasite. Do yourself a favour and do not do a google image search.)

Some mites are a normal kind of thing, but Piper was hosting her own Demodex population explosion. We think that the Vanectyl-P was the cause of this, but the vet can’t confirm this. Anyway, all this to say, she is on two different medications, a special shampoo, and will be going back for another scratch test in the month. And then another one the month after that.

You can only imagine how much money we’ve had to shell out so far, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s this: the mites are not contagious, nor can they be transferred to people, and Piper doesn’t seem to be overly bothered.

I wonder if she’s been enjoying the extra attention lately?

Want your dog to take a pill? Wrap it in cheese.

Piper snoozes


NAC Ottawa family events

Fall family fun fun at Saunders Farm!

Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Holiday shopping at terra20 - Ottawa

Nepean Visual Arts Centre

Visit tThe Village Quire in Westboro Ottawa!

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  • Shan: That was my goal for the year, but I really lost my way. Not sure why, but why not start today? Thanks for the reminder!
  • guest: pro tip: use the android app (or iOS) pcplus app to get your points adjusted, its really easy, just goto your receipt transactions and follow the prom
  • andrea tomkins: Laurel: We are too! So much of what I do is bandwidth heavy too. I guess what I neglected to say is that from a parenting perspective, it's easier
  • Laurel: I love this post even though I don't agree that having unlimited bandwidth turns children into zombies although some days I wish it would-giggle:) We
  • Susan: Like Chantal, I am also unemployed and have made some changes as a result. Namely: * Get properly dressed every day. No pajama or yoga pants. It do
  • Chantal: This post couldn't come at a better time for me. I have been off work since June and the first 3 months were amazing but I have been struggling since
  • shirley Darrington: I loaded my polnts this morning and went shopping at No Frills. I handed the cashier my PC Plus card and she scanned the card but it failed to give

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 – 875 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.


  • My latest post on the MediaSmarts website is up, and it's about family social media accounts. (Yes! It's a thing! And I think it's pretty neat.) Is this something you do as a family? I'd love it if you left your two cents on the topic.

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  • 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?

    - #

On the nightstand

... check out past nightstand reads right here.

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

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