Thursday, February 28, 2013

Do you know what your community association is up to?

Photo by David R. Carroll courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

Ottawa and the surrounding areas have dozens and dozens of community associations.  Many of these grassroots groups operate web sites (see the list of CA's at the bottom of the blogroll that is located to your right), and while some may quibble about whether these are technically blogs, they do provide regular updates on what is happening in the community.  As such, I plan to highlight what community groups in the region are doing.

Upcoming Events in Ottawa

The Centretown Citizens Community Association is organizing a dinner on Tuesday, March 5 at 6 p.m. to raise funds for games tables in Minto Park.  The fundraiser will take place at the East India Company at 210 Somerset St. West, where for $50 will allow you to eat a buffet dinner. Thirty dollars of each ticket sold will be directed to the games tables project and qualify for a tax receipt from the City of Ottawa.

The Heron Park Community Association is hosting a Quiz Night at O’Brien’s Pub, 1145 Heron Road, on Sunday, April 14 at 7 pm.  The event is as a fundraiser for a new Community Centre in Heron Park.

The Old Ottawa South Community Association is advising that the Hopewell children's book sale will take place on March 1 and 2.  Opening times are 4pm to 8pm on Friday, and 9:30am to 3pm on Saturday.  Prices will range between $1 for paper backs, $3 for hard covers and up to $6 for special books.  All sale proceeds will go towards school library renovations.

Restaurant Reviews and an Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Bar

Levante at 180 Rideau Street
(Photo by Alejandro Bustos)

As noted in a post this past Tuesday, the number of food-related blogs in Ottawa is immense.  At times, one can be forgiven for thinking that there is a small army of foodies savouring, chronicling and photographing the city's culinary scene.  In order to keep up with this immense body of work, here is a sampling of some recent reviews.

Peter Hum, the new food critic at the Ottawa Citizen, pens a positive review of the Thai Flame in Bell's Corners at 1902 Robertson Road.  Ottawa Magazine, on the other hand, gives the thumbs down to the Hintonburger's breakfast burger.  As for the blog Pickles, it only has positive things to say about breakfast at Stone Face Dolly's.

For those who like soup, Anne DesBrisay of Capital Dining raves about the Dal Shorba, a yellow lentil soup, at Mia located at 917 Richmond Road.  Chef Samsu Mia was the former cook at the Bangladeshi High Commission when he asked for refugee status in Canada after criticizing a government official in his home country.  After receiving ministerial assurance that he would not be deported, Mia started working in area restaurants before opening Mia.  For more details see this CBC story.

Finally, Cool Food Dude pens an interesting write up on The Unrefined Olive, located at 151 A Second Avenue, on the corner of Bank Street and Second Avenue.  Ottawa's first olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar, the business carries olive from such places as Tunisia, Chile, Australia, Italy and California.  (Apt613 also published a recent article on this olive oil-focused establishment).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Man, are there a lot of blogs in Ottawa!

Photo by The hills are alive courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

The National Capital Region has thousands of blogs.  As one can imagine, building a blogroll of all these active bloggers is a large and difficult undertaking.  That is why the list of links on the right-hand side will be a work in progress for a very, very long time.  While I am aware of many more blogs that I currently link to, and I know of people with multiple blogs that I don't yet have on my blogroll, I will not link to a site until I have reviewed them.  To make this process easier for me,  I will tackle blogs by subject matter, so I can concentrate on one specific area rather than trying to track down blogs that cover completely different topics.  As such, I will add blogs in chunks that are united by category, e.g. in the near future I plan to link to many blogs that are run by local artists.

In short, please be patient with me as I build the blogroll.  My aim is to eventually have a large list of links that will contain the thousands (tens of thousands?) of blogs that are in Ottawa and the surrounding area.

Tour de bloggosphere: Photo-blogs and photographers

Photo courtesy of Paul Wisenberg

The following post first appeared on Apartment 613 on January February 9.

Greetings fellow blogophiles as we take another look at the impressive array of local bloggers. This week we focus on the visual arts, as we surf the numerous photo-blogs in our city.

One excellent site is Ottawa Seen 365 Ways in 365 Days, where amateur photographer Christophe Ledent posts a different photo of the national capital region each day. (See Local Tourist Ottawa for more details on Christophe’s work). Another impressive blog is Singing Moon, which contains gorgeous snapshots of our region.

If you enjoy live bands, Ottawa-based photographer and music lover Ming runs PhotogMusic, which has portraits of numerous musicians. Then there is Alexandre Laquerre’s Ottawa Past & Present that compares present-day images with past photos of the same locations.

Other photographers with photo-blogs include Tony Fouhse, Harry Nowell, Rob Huntley and Danielle Donders. The Camera Club of Ottawa also has a blog.

If you are looking to hire a photographer, then you can pick from a huge selection of local talent. While the following list of photo-blogs is by no means exhaustive, it will help you start your search for photographers in the following areas:

* Note: Some photographers specialize in more than one category

Weddings: Laura Kelly, Union Eleven, Sam and Mary, Anne-Marie Bouchard, Melissa Johnston, Bella Stella, Melissa Kew

Family History: Mike Dickson

Newborns, Toddlers, Children: Jennifer Bailey, Elizabeth Fulton

Pets: Elizabeth and Jane

Lifestyle and Food: Christian Lee

Commercial: Couvrette

Anna Jones can take shots for a wide range of clients (e.g. commercial, newborns, boudoir, engagement), as does Lisa Mounteer, who can take photos ranging from fitness to engagements to newborns. Danielle Lynn’s blog, meanwhile, contains photographs in such categories as teens, food and fine art.

The good folks at Byfield Pitman, Justin Van Leuween and Younes Bounhar are some of the most talented photographers in the city. So are younger guys Jamie Kronick and Rémi Thériault.

Have a favourite local photographer whose site is not listed above? Want to recommend a blog by a local blogger in English, French and/or another language that we have not noted? Let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

... and kudos to my amiga Joanna

Photo by Joanna Rees (copyright)

I met Joanna when we were both university students in Ottawa. Her skills with a camera lens always impressed me, which is why I am thrilled that she has given me permission to showcase her work on this blog. While she no longer lives in Ottawa, (she is currently pursuing PhD studies in Art Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), I will never forget the great times we had hanging out in our nation's capital.

Saludos to my friend Peter ...

Photo by Peter George Gordon
(Creative Commons)

I have known my friend Peter for more than 20 years.  We went to high school together in Nepean, where we got into our fair bit of mischief.  Many years later we are still hanging out, albeit as oldish men these days!  While not working as a chemical wizard, aka holding a PhD in chemistry, he is an excellent photographer.  I have always admired his work, and it is my privilege that  Peter has kindly agreed to lend his photos for future posts on this site.  So muchas gracias Pete.

Celebrating Ottawa's love of food

Photo by Alejandro Bustos

Ottawa  is overflowing with foodie blogs.  Kudos to foodiePrints for producing this fantastic list of almost 150 blogs.  While some of these sites are no longer active, the majority are, so I highly encourage others to go through this impressive list to find what local foodies are cooking up. For those who do not know where to start, or who are worried that their Google reader will freak out if they add that many sites, here is a summary of some local food-related posts.

If you are looking for recipes there are many, many options.  The blog Handmade has recipes for spicy cheddar breadsticks and lime-lemon meringue cupcakes. Culinaryinclined offers tips on how to make cinnamon roll cookiescarrot ginger soup and a two minute brownie.  Double Trouble: Kitchen Edition explains how to make basil chicken in coconut curry sauce, while Eaten Up offers instructions for baking surprise cornbread muffins.

The blog Dude, COOK! offers some interesting thoughts on the popularity of Pho, a delicious soup that is Vietnam's signature dish.  After commenting on how many Pho restaurants there are in Ottawa, the reader is offered a recipe for preparing Pho at home.  Noochi, meanwhile, describes how to make sweet a sour pineapple shrimpgarlic edamame, and spicy friend chicken.  Sybaritica can tell you how to make smoked mussel appetizers with cream cheese, while Tea For Two Sisters have instructions for butternut squash soup.

If you are looking for foodie-related news, Ottawa Magazine profiles up and coming baker Natali Harea, whose clients include such top-quality restaurant as Gezellig, Play and Navarra.  La Cuisine Helene notes that Starbucks is having a "name that blend" contest, as well as describing Carrotlines, a new free app that allows shoppers to make healthier choices when at the grocery store.

New Blogs: Athletes, Sports and Fitness

Photo by Joanna Rees (copyright)

I have added links to blogs by Ottawa-area athletes, blogs by fitness instructors, and several blogs dedicated to hockey in general and the Ottawa Senators in particular.  I also added Musician on Skis to the Photo-blogs section.  According to the site description, this blog contains, "daily photos of scenery, birds, wildlife or outdoor activities, mainly in Gatineau Park."  The site has numerous photographs of Nordic skiing that are gorgeous, which is why I am including it in this sports-related post.

In the near future I plan to write a column that focusses on sports and recreation. Before doing so, however, I first need to do a fair bit of research, so I won't be writing about these newly found sites in depth until I have done some further reading.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tour de Blogosphere: Food and foodies

Photo courtesty of blurasis from the apt613 flickr group

The following post first appeared on Apartment 613 on February 16.

The kitchen is arguably the most important room in a home. True, you may have more fun in the bedroom, and the living room is often the entertainment hub, but it’s in the kitchen where delicious magic is created to soothe the stomach and caress one’s taste buds.Numerous Ottawa bloggers agree that cooking is a wonderful thing to do, which is why this week’s round-up of local blogs focuses on recipes and the city’s culinary scene.

To start things off, Barrhaven Bites offers an ode to the pistachio that contains an interesting history of this tasty nut, along with recipes for salmon and baklava. The fine folks at Foodie Prints also provide online instructions for numerous interesting dishes, with their most recent suggestions being milk chocolate almond nutella mousse with a touch of banana, a Chinese happy meal, and Vietnamese beef stew. For her part, Kelly from The Gouda Life can teach you how to make Chorizo and White Bean Stew, which serves two to four people, as well as beef shoulder and black bean chili stuffed baked potatoes, which you can make for a dinner party with four to six guests.

If you are looking for something simpler, Andrea from a peek inside the fishbowl offers her recipe for a BLT sandwich, as well as providing a link to a recipe for candied bacon. Elsewhere on her blog you can find directions for preparing caramelized onion mac and cheese, as well as meatballs. Completing our recipe list is the site If Music be the Food of Love, Play On, which explains how to boil quail eggs.

Turning to non-recipe but still foodie news, new Ottawa Citizen food critic Peter Hum notes on his blog that a casting call has gone out for a new TV show called Chopped Canada. In each episode of the show, which is still in development, four chefs will, “turn baskets of mystery ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. Course by course, the chefs will be ‘chopped” from the competition until only one remains and takes home the prize of $10,000.” Will an Ottawa chef take the big prize? Elsewhere on his blog, Hum’s most recent restaurant review is of Annie & Clyde’s at 895 Bank St., which serves Mexican and southern BBQ, while his previous review is of Golden Restaurant at 1-130 Riocan Ave. in Barrhaven.

Readers of 365 Days of Ottawa Food will be happy to know that the site is back, after taking almost a year hiatus. The latest post offers a great review of what has happened in the Ottawa restaurant scene in the past year. Jodi Lariviere at the excellent foodie blog Simply Fresh, meanwhile, defines seven culinary words, while blogger Dennis Van Staalduinen reports on the strangest (or is it the raddest?) one-man coffee shop that made a recent appearance at Tunney’s Pasture OC Transpo bus station.

Do you read any local foodie blogs that are not listed above? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reviews, Ottawa Poetry Hall of Honour and a Book Club

Photo by Alejandro Bustos

Ottawa has numerous blogging bookworms.  As an avid bibliophile myself, I intend to highlight on a regular basis local blogs with a literary bent.  On that note, Emilie's Book World reviews Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, a novel for young adults that was released earlier this month.  The novel tells the story of 17-year-old Josie Moraine, the daughter of a local prostitute.  Planning on leaving New Orleans, she ends up getting involved in an investigation following a mysterious death. The book description and review got me intrigued, so I will put this on my reading list.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, local wordsmith Amanda Earl dreams of a regular fiction series in Ottawa, while Ciara from Lost at Midnight Reviews announces plans for a book club focussed on young adult fiction.  The Ottawa Poetry Newsletter, meanwhile, notes that VERSeOttawa is creating a Hall of Honour to celebrate those people who have made an important contribution to the city's poetry scene.  The inaugural induction will take place on March 17th as part of VERSeFest.  Elsewhere in the newsletter are reviews on The Art of Plumbing by Brecken Hancock, a history on the conception and evolution of the bathtub, and the poetry book A Note on the Text by Seth Landman.

Finally, local poet Rob Mclennan interviews Anne Fleming, writer of the collection of short stories, Gay Dwarves of America.  According to Fleming's web site, "There are no gay dwarves in Gay Dwarves of America, but there’s a mother of a teen with dwarfism who worries he might be gay, and there’s a parasitologist named Edna who’d rather not hear the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ but longs for the love of a certain young woman, and a boy on a unicycle — there is always a boy on a unicycle — and a hockey mom in Toronto who pretends to be Swiss."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tour de blogosphere: tattoos, poutine, self-parking cars and more!

Photo from the Toronto Public Library via GlebeSite 

The following post first appeared on Apartment 613 on February 5.

Welcome back to Apt613’s round-up of local blogs! Thanks to reader feedback from last week’s inaugural post, we’ve added a couple more web sites to our growing list of bloggers. This week’s highlights include entries on tattoos, poutine, self-parking cars and century-old images of the Glebe.

Have tattoos become too popular? And will kids in the future reject tats in rebellion against their painted parents? Quebec City native turned Ottawa blogger Brenda, who self-describes as a belly-dancing accordion-playing librarian, shares some insightful thoughts on whether to ink … or not.

Looking for French-language blogs? Well, veuillez cliquer ici and read La Gargamelle’s review of Smoke’s Poutinerie at 407 Dalhousie. For those don’t eat gluten but still want to eat out, recent posts on Gluten Free Ghetto provide suggestions on where to find GF cupcakes and pizza.

If you enjoy interesting consumer products, then Ottawa’s tech-savvy Spydergrrl can tell you all about self-parking cars, while the Ottawa Dog Blog has tips on snow boots for your dog. For parents who like to keep things neat, the Kids in the Capital has great tips for keeping your children’s closet organized.

If you like Ottawa history, then check out these images of the Glebe circa 1910, or these photographs of Shilly Shally lodge on Trail 1 in Gatineau Park from the mid-20th century.

Finally, if you are looking for ways to enjoy winter, Green Living Ottawa has some useful tips.

If you have a favourite local blog in English ou en français, (heck, let us know if you know of local blogs in other languages), please tell us by emailing or leaving a comment below.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Meditations on Ottawa and Glow-in-the-Dark Dino-Coins

Photo by Peter George Gordon
(Creative Commons)

Former City Councillor Clive Doucet recently posted some thoughtful reflections on how Ottawa has changed since 1950.  This excellent piece describes how Ottawa has transformed its landscape over the past six decades to accommodate the car, and the heavy price that the city has paid for this.

Turning to other bloggers, recent posts by Spydergrrl include the cool news that the Royal Canadian Mint has produced 25 cents coins of dinosaurs that glow-in-the-dark, while another post from earlier this month notes that Bill Nye the Science Guy is coming to Ottawa on March 14 (although tickets may already be sold out).

One blogger that I recently discovered is Brenda, who pens the site Bjutie.  I have found her posts to be quite smart and engaging, with her most recent one being no exception.  Comparing the TV show Girls with Sex and the City, Brenda offers a very interesting comparison of generations between the 20-something ladies in Girls, with their 30-something counterparts in Sex and the City.

For some neighbourhood news, Childfree notes that the Flying Banzini restaurant is moving into the old location of the Collected Works on Wellington Street, while Urbsite provides updates on the changes that are taking place at the corner of Frank and Bank streets in Centretown.

Local Tourist Ottawa links to a video that asks people to describe Ottawa in a word, while Ottawa Valley Moms note that the next Nature Nocturne event at the Museum of Nature takes place today.  Finally, Mike young from Raven's View pens a shorty story as part of the Flash Fiction Friday challenge.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Apt613 tours the local blogosphere: An introduction

Photo courtesy of Geekgirly on Flickr

The following post first appeared on Apartment 613 on January 26.

Ottawa has an incredibly large blogging community. To help publicize this amazing body of work, Apt613 will provide a weekly round-up of some of the best posts in the city. To get things rolling, here are some websites worth reading.

With our recent Arctic-like weather, it’s easy to be overcome with January blues. Andrea from a peak inside the fishbowl, however, has some positive thoughts on our recent deep freeze, as well as revealing that Westboro Beach is a great place to go sledding. If you want to find some humour in the current freezing temperatures, blogger Gordon Dewis has some fun playing with hot water while out on his cold apartment balcony. Speaking about things to do outside in the cold, Citizens for Safe Cycling have details on Ottawa’s 2nd annual Family Winter Bike Parade that takes place this Sunday, January 27.

If you would rather stay indoors during the cold months, you can pass the time by gathering cooking tips. Recent posts include recipes for Mexican polenta, Greek salad and Portered French Onion Soup with Île-aux-Grues Cheddar. If you are more interested in rearranging your apartment, the Domicile Blog has some suggestions on how to make your condo seem larger.

With the ridiculously cold weather, it can be difficult to drag yourself outside. But if you are brave enough to venture outdoors, you should note that several bloggers have penned restaurant and café reviews. A pre-Christmas post on If Music be the Food of Love, Play On raves about Illume Espresso Bar at 1433 Wellington Street West, Unit 111. According to the review, the Illume latte is, “probably the best I have had in Ottawa.” Beer lovers looking for up-coming-coming microbreweries can head to Sheltered Girl Meets World where a post in early-January talked about Broadhead Brewing Company at 81 Auriga Drive. More recently, Jodi Lariviere, creator of the excellent foodie blog Simply Fresh, praised the Back Lane Cafe at 1087 Wellington West. (I would concur with her review; in my opinion, this café has the best brunch in Ottawa). Finally, burger lovers can read Mike Likes Burgers to find great local hamburger spots; the latest post reviews the Mediterranean Burger at Moxie’s on Riverside and Hunt Club.

Interested in what is going on in local neighbourhoods? Child Free has some recent neighbourhood gossip from Wellington Village and Hintonburg. Parents of young children, meanwhile, can read this post from Kids in the Capital which talks about Global Care Child Services, an organization that has information for drop in centres in Orleans, Blackburn Hamlet, Riverside South, Gloucester, Manotick and Ogilvie. If you want to know Vanier residents better, this profile of Gavin Lynch, a former Vancouverite-turned-Vanier resident, is worth a read.

This inaugural round-up offers only a small taste of the truly mindboggling number of blogs in this city. In the coming weeks, we hope to shed light on our city’s blogging community, as we jointly discover the amazing work being done by our neighbours, colleagues, family and friends. In the meantime, if you want to become familiar with area bloggers, this comprehensive list at Ottawa Startis an indispensable resource.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Welcome to The Ottawa Blogging Library!

Photo by Alejandro Bustos

Surfing the blogosphere is like searching for new planets.  In the beginning you start one with one blog, i.e. your "earth", before building a list of sites that you regularly read (you can think of this as your personal blogging solar system).  If you delve beyond the confines of your Google Reader, however, you will discover that there are countless people busily blogging on a wide range of subjects.  From poetry to hockey to cooking to technology to fashion to urban development to politics to babies, the blogosphere is truly enormous.

The sheer volume of blogs in the ether is mind boggling, and it is unrealistic for one site to track all of the world's bloggers.  So I decided to do something much more modest, namely, document the blogging community in Ottawa where I live.  Although Ottawa is a medium-sized city, the number of blogs here is truly remarkable.  My educated guess is that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of blogs swirling in Canada's national capital region.

So where do you start?  With the vast number of blogs it can be overwhelming to know what sites to visit and which ones to skip.  This is where The Ottawa Blogging Library comes in.  The goal of this site is to build a blogroll of as many blogs in the National Capital Region as possible, and then write about them in different posts so readers can have a sense of what area bloggers are saying.  I hope to accomplish these objectives in two main ways.  First, by linking to my weekly bloggers column that I pen for Apartment 613, and second, by highlighting local bloggers in additional posts that are specifically written for this blog.  I hope that you enjoy this experiment in mapping out the Ottawa blogosphere.