a peek inside the fishbowl

21 Apr, 2018

Weekend reading: April 21 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

17 Apr, 2018

The stories of our stuff

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

We did something a little different this past weekend. Mark and I went to an estate sale down the street from us.

I have walked past this place a million times but I never knew the owner. All I really knew about the occupant was that it was an older gentleman who was fastidious about his yard and driveway. When we saw him he was almost always using a leaf blower to clean the dust off his driveway or snow off his car. He wasn’t close enough to our house to be considered a neighbour, but if I loosen my definition of “neighbour” a bit, I have to admit he was one and that I should have gotten to know him.

When we saw the for sale sign pop up we realized we hadn’t seen him around for a while. The cars were still parked beside his house but the driveway wasn’t cleared, which was unusual.

I wasn’t sure happened to William, known as Bill to his friends, but I overheard someone at the estate sale mention downsizing. Well, I decided to look it up, and this is what I found:

Larwill, William “Bill”
Dec. 16, 1927 – Jan. 26, 2015

Passed quietly at the Civic Hospital on Monday, January 26, 2015, moving on to join his wife Rejeanne who passed January 29, 2009. He will be remembered by his four children Ernie, Jim, Anita and Allan as well as his three grandsons and partners Kent, Alastair (Georgia), Mackenzie (Lyndsay) including his 2 great-grandchildren Carmyn-Rejeanne and Ronan. Special thanks to his longtime friend Dr. Barrett Adams for being there at the end. Friends may call at the Westboro Chapel of Tubman Funeral Homes, 403 Richmond Rd. (at Roosevelt) on Sunday, February 1, 2015 from 2 to 5 p.m. Interment Beechwood Cemetery.

William passed away in 2015, but someone had definitely been living there, albeit quietly.

For this post I decided to flip through the house history that we commissioned Dave Allston, a local historian, to compile for us awhile back. (I wrote about it here, if you’re curious.) I was fairly certain that I’d read something about the house at some point. I had! According to Dave’s research, the home was built in 1915 by Ernest G. Larwill, a 38-year-old carpenter and farm machinery dealer. This would have been William’s father. I can only presume that William lived there his entire life and that until very recently, at least one of his children did too. Whoever it was, they barely changed a thing inside. In fact, stepping into the home on that windy Saturday morning was not unlike stepping into a time machine.

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14 Apr, 2018

Weekend reading: April 14 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

12 Apr, 2018

Things I am loving: our new bed!

By andrea tomkins in Oh! Things!

This post is about how we went for a walk and bought a bed (!) but I thought it needed a bit of backstory first.

When I first moved in with Mark (keeping in mind this was 20+ years ago) he had a terrible terrible bed. It was a double, with a mattress that sunk in the middle so no matter how you started out sleeping you somehow both ended up in a hollow in the centre. A new bed was our first purchase as a couple, although now that I think about it, it may have been the second. I recall that Mark’s sofa was about as comfortable as a park bench, so that had to go as well.

Anyway, buying a bed was a big deal. We ended up at Van Leeuwen’s in the Byward Market. This was my dream bed: a queen-sized wrought iron four-poster like something out of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. We had the option of customizing the colour of the frame so we chose dark green, which was a popular colour at the time. In hindsight, I wish we’d chosen black or white, but, whatever.

Friends, we’ve had that bed ever since. It travelled with us to Westboro when we moved from that one bedroom apartment in Hintonburg, and when we renovated it moved with us into our rental apartment and then back again.

We’ve been looking for a new bed for a while now but never really committed to the idea. I think this is partly due to the fact that it took us several years (!) to buy a new couch for the family room.

Not too long ago I found myself in a neighbourhood furniture shop called Suede and I spotted a bed frame that I actually liked. It was solidly built with a cushioned headboard and no footboard. And it was on clearance because it was a floor model. SCORE.

I texted Mark a few photos and for some reason, we dropped the idea until a couple of weeks ago when the two of us decided to walk to a bank appointment and window shop in Westboro Village along the way. As an added bonus, it was further reduced in price.

Long story short, we bought the bed! Here it is:

New bed !

I wasn’t sure if our nightstands would be a good match at first, but I think we’ll keep them for now. As I look at this photo I realize that our bedroom isn’t a glamorous lair that’s worthy of a home decor magazine – and maybe not much to brag about – but it’s comfortable and I like it.

In the interest of keeping it real, here are a few things you may be interested in knowing as you look at that photo:

  • The wooden chest at the bed is full of teddy bears and stuffed animals but it’s a handy place to toss my gym clothes and/or PJs. (Usually both.)
  • The bed is NOT perfectly centred under the windows. Would this bug you? We can’t centre it because of a heating grate on Mark’s side of the bed that interferes with the nightstand there. This was poor reno planning on our part, as was the placement of some light switches for the side lamps. (Don’t ask.)
  • Speaking of which, I would like a new reading lamp because I hate the one of my side of the bed.
  • Mark has one of those “light up” alarms on his side. The idea is that the light goes off before the alarm sound so make your awakening a little less jarring. Mark is not a morning person and has had mixed success with this. (At least the alarm sound is gentle.)
  • That busted laundry basket is full of mismatched socks and I really wish the sock pairing and mending fairies would just come over already and take it off my hands.
  • I’m thinking of adding a big area rug in this room that would go under the bed and stretch out the sides.

Also worth noting, Mark hates piles of pillows but I kind of love them and would like to have an abundance of pillows but I don’t think he’d tolerate this idea. There are already two on each side, plus one decorative one in the middle, which is MORE THAN ENOUGH by his standards, I’m sure. That big one on top of the laundry basket actually needs a pillow cover. It’s down-filled and can be pokey at times! I use it when I need an extra big pillow for reading.

Well, considering that I’ve written about almost every other one of our youngest daughter’s birthdays, I couldn’t help but share a few details here…. keeping in mind, of course, that I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s privacy TOO much. :)

In the past, we’ve hosted parties at home, sleepovers, pool parties, parties at Funhaven (TWICE), parties at restaurants, at an art studio for children, at the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre. And I’m sure there are some I am missing!

This baby turned one in 2002 with a party at home with friends and family:

When Sarah turned one

… and today she turns 17.

Birthdays are different when you hit the teen years. This year it’s about birthday cash, a couple small gifties and a card, a manicure with a BFF, and sushi dinner with the family and the BF. Although to be fair, sushi has been part of the birthday narrative since very early on:

Sarah likes sushi

Seems we ordered way too much sushi for the birthday girl!

Naked Fish Sushi in Westboro

Sushi for dinner (what else?)

Dinner by request: sushi at MHK

Not that I’m complaining, of course. :)

How is it that my baby is 17 already? Honestly, it boggles my mind.

Edited to add the most recent birthday sushi photo:

Birthday sushi, obv


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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 two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). 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!


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