a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Jul, 2020

When old furniture is made new again

By andrea tomkins in Home/reno

Many moons ago, my mother gave us a china cabinet. It was in the dining room in the house that I grew up in.

Storage-wise, it’s great. It’s tall. The top half has glass doors, the bottom half has solid doors and hides all kinds of things. Dividing the top and bottom is a big wide (and deep!) drawer that holds our cloth napkins, special-occasion cutlery, and all kinds of odds and ends. (I can’t tell you how many chocolate bars I’ve stashed in there over the years.) Even the roof of the cabinet serves as storage.

Mark and I have talked about replacing it because it wasn’t our style and didn’t match anything we had going on on the main floor of the house, but I couldn’t find anything that came close its amazing storage capacity. And when I did spot something that might fit the bill, it cost a fortune. (Also, worth noting, I’ve asked around, and looked around, and these kinds of antiques aren’t in vogue or worth very much on the resale market.)

I thought maaaaaaybe there was a way to remake this cabinet so it suited our style. Enter, Malenka Originals.

I’ve been following this business for some time now. The owner, Katrina Barclay, was a neighbour of ours a few years ago. She had a cute furniture remodelling workshop and store in Britannia Beach, which moved to Hintonburg a few years ago. We wrote about the store opening in the community newspaper. I followed her on Instagram and absolutely loved how she transformed the ordinary into something extraordinary.

I wrote Katrina an email in early February and outlined an idea I had. Within a short time we had a plan and the cabinet was carted away.

Then came COVID, and as you know, the world came to a grinding halt, and so did Malenka Originals. (For the record, I was cool with this. Such is life, and it’s only a china cabinet, after all! No biggie.)

Well, we got it back the other day. If I was allowed to use only one word to describe how I felt when I saw it in person it would have to be: THRILLED. It was totally worth the wait.

Here’s are a couple of “before” pics, just so you have an idea:

China cabinet (before)

China cabinet (before)

… and here’s the after:

Read the rest of this entry »

On the nightstand: A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (THIS WAS SOooooo.GOOD.)

29 Jun, 2020

Look who I found!

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

Junior mantis

He (or she) was just hanging out on a hosta. He’s the only one I’ve seen from our brood.


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  • Yvele: Love love that piece and was hoping it was for sale. Yes, Katrina is a joy to meet and to work with too.
  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Look who I found! - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] He (or she) was just hanging out on a hosta. He’s the only one I’ve seen from our brood. […]
  • andrea tomkins: Me too! I am REALLY looking forward to it. We didn't get to go last year so I'm really counting on it this summer!
  • Ginger: I hope COVID-19 doesn't take away your camping trip!
  • andrea tomkins: It's going to be tough. The problem is that everyone seems to have a different tolerance. Some people think it's no big deal, while others haven't lef
  • Ginger: I'm that person too. I liked my personal space before this, but now...I would prefer even more than 6 feet please!
  • andrea tomkins: We have a natural gas BBQ but we bought this portable one a few years back fo camping and/or picnics. I loooove the smell of burning charcoal! And yes

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.

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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