a peek inside the fishbowl

We have a winner! Thank you everyone for your entries, and thanks as well to Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s for hosting this sweet spring giveaway!

Surely I’m not the only person in Ottawa who can’t wait for spring to finally get here. I want sun! And green grass! And warm breezes! I do sense some impatience out there, and I have noticed a few Very Enthusiastic family members have already dug their scooters out of the shed and last season’s flip-flops from the basement. :) 

ANYWAY. I am very pleased that Fishbowl patron, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s, is hosting this very springy giveaway. There may be snow on the ground today, but even THINKING about spring makes me feel better. Thank you Tiggy’s!

One lucky family can win:

  • This soft, huggable, and very cuddly Jellycat Bunny.
  • Sidewalk chalk! If there’s anything that can occupy kids for long periods of time, it’s sidewalk chalk. And brand name stuff is the way to go here. This Crayola Sidewalk Chalk is awesome for hopscotch grids, practicing ABCs on the sidewalk, and drawing racetracks for your scooter or Plasma Car.
  • Squap - sounds weird, but looks pretty cool, and it’s a great way to get your kids playing outside!

Interested? Here is the nitty gritty:

  • In order for your entry to qualify, please leave a comment below and tell me what toys your child likes to play with outdoors. That’s it!
  • For an extra entry, comment on this Facebook post too. Just let me know you did so in a second comment below.
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to me for posting at andrea at quietfish dot com. Please note, I cannot be responsible if your entry is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder.
  • I will draw one name using Random.org at noon EST on April 15, 2014. I’ll contact the winner via email, who will have to pick up their winnings at the Westboro location of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s.

This is not a requirement of the giveaway, but if you’re a fan of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s I highly recommend you follow them on Twitter and Facebook for advance warning of sales, contests, and other great insider scoop.

Sounds good? Over to you! Good luck!


06 Apr, 2014

Me, and a very hairy guy

By andrea tomkins in Oh! Things!


05 Apr, 2014

Weekend reading: April 5 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

I had a sudden craving for mushroom soup and it couldn’t be from a can. So I made a version of this recipe today. It turned out pretty good; earthy and real, with a breath of woodland forest. If you like mushrooms I think you’ll like it too.

April 4 #dailylunches - mushroom soup with homemade croutons and goat cheese

True story.

My parents were born and raised in Eastern Europe, in a very different time and place from where we are today. They both spent many years with very little, under the thumb of a communist regime, and when you grow up like this you tend to approach life a little differently. I still struggle with the culture gap, and I certainly didn’t understand this when I was ten.

We were driving somewhere; lord knows where. My parents were probably dragging me to the McMichael gallery north of Toronto, which I hated. I’d walk around staring sulkily into space and/or throwing myself into those strategically placed leather benches that were intended for art lovers to sit and admire a particular piece for a long long long boring time. Or so I thought. (I actually love going to art galleries now. Go figure.)

We suddenly pulled over to the side, in the middle of Canadian Nowhere. Canadian Nowhere is different from Inner City Nowhere because the only sign of civilization – aside from our car – is a two lane highway cutting a path between heavy forest. Ahead of me, behind me, was a grey thread of highway that stretched as far as I could see. To either side was Forest, trees packed together so tightly I couldn’t make out anything beyond the first row of trunks. I KNEW what was happening, because we’d done it so many times before. We were stealing mushrooms, and I was mortified.

Cue the plaintive moan from the back seat of the silver Ford Grenada (that would be me). I was probably sprawled across the seat, or had been lying on the floor watching the telephone wires dip and swoosh as we drove. And I was loathe to participate in any criminal mushroom-related activities.

“Who’s land is this,” I asked, feeling very small and powerless, deeply afraid that we were going to get caught red-handed and face long jail sentences for fungi thievery. My parents didn’t do anything to assuage my fear. Their minds were already elsewhere, I could tell.

“It’s ok,” they said. “This is probably crown land anyway.” They laughed, which only made me feel stupid for worrying.

Grabbing plastic grocery bags out of the trunk, they started to cross the road. I had no choice but to follow them on their mission for mushrooms.

Within a few metres of that thin grey line we were swallowed by the darkness of the forest. Amid the shelter of the trees was a whole different world; cool and damp, the ground spongy under my feet. I had no idea what to look for, but they did. I started to get excited, just a little bit. The mushrooms were brown, the earthy brown of the forest in which they magically grew. They were brown like the dirt, brown like the dry pine needles and decaying leaf matter, brown like the bark of the trees. They were hard to spot, but I got better at it. It was like a game of hide and seek, and I was the seeker.

Before I knew it, those flimsy grocery bags were overflowing with meaty mushrooms and we were back in the car, continuing our journey. Later on some of those mushrooms would get fried with eggs, or add an earthy taste to stew, or dried for later use.

I stretched out on the back seat, my head touching the inside of the door, my feet propped up on the opposite window. Once again I found myself gazing out at the telephone wire and the sky beyond.

03 Apr, 2014

Something new

By andrea tomkins in - Westboro,Oh! Things!,Ottawa

If you get Ottawa Magazine delivered to your home you may have probably already seen my mugshot, grinning away on page 16 of their special “Neighbourhoods” edition. The article is by Patrick Langston (a very charming fellow) and the photos are by Ottawa photograper, Jessica Deeks. I saw them all on her blog some time ago but it’s always neat to see the final product.


This issue is officially on newstands. And speaking as someone who enjoys the inside scoop about the best places to eat and shop, I can honestly say there are lot of great finds in this issue… so check it out!


NAC Ottawa events

Christmas ideas from Saunders Farm!

Frogs - a Chorus of Colours - at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Funhaven - Ottawa's destination for birthday parties and fun

terra20 Ottawa celebrates Earth Month

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre - Westboro

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa

IMAX 3D - Journey to the South Pacific

Click me!


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Me and my pet projects



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  • Danielle: Four our second entry: we would probably use the gift certificate to splurge on cleaning products from the ecobar!
  • Danielle: We do our best to use natural products without harsh chemicals to avoid sending toxins down the drain.
  • Jenn: I think with the gift card I'd treat myself to a little something just for me: eg. http://shop.terra20.com/store/product/646/L%26T-Perfume-Gin-Blosso
  • Jenn: I try to do everything I can to help keep Mother Earth green and clean - litterless lunches, composting, recycling, 5 min. showers, eco-friendly beaut
  • Anjali: In honor of Earth day, and everyday, I recycle, pack re-usable containers, travel mug and light candles in the evening to conserve electricity. Th
  • Laura: We do the usual with lights, saving water etc... but some of the things I'm most proud of is we have a Nest thermometer which is "smart" and adjusts a
  • andrea: Thanks Jeff! I appreciate your taking the time to comment! Garbage and compost issues aren't top-of-mind for everyone, but they are important to me.

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 (14) and Sarah (12). I am the Editor of the Kitchissippi Times as well as Capital Parent Newspaper. I'm also 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!


Connect with me at these places too!

The #dailylunches project – 655 and counting!

Every day I eat lunch and take a picture. Here's my 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.


A year before

  • 2013-04-17 No articles on this date.

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