Global TV’s Sophie Lui: On Life On and Off Camera

Sophie Lui


By Carol Crenna

Global BC Morning News anchor Sophie Lui gets outside before sunrise  — to tackle her morning commute.  Here she talks with me about looking on the bright side even when it’s not bright outside.

CAROL: You don’t need to worry about gridlock during your morning commute.

SOPHIE LUI: No. I get up at 2:30 a.m. to be at the Global TV newsroom for 4:00 a.m. I like that there’s no traffic. It only takes me 17 minutes to get from Yaletown to the station in Burnaby. And darkness at 3:30 in the morning is really no different than darkness at 7:30 a.m.

CAROL: Do you get enough sleep?

SOPHIE LUI: My alarm clock goes off at 2:30, but I hit the snooze button several times. I usually don’t get to bed before 9:00 p.m. Lately I have been trying harder to go to sleep between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m., which gives me 5 hours. Last night I didn’t get home until 11:00 p.m. since I was dining out with some girlfriends; I can’t do that often because it meant I got three hours of sleep before work. So the answer is no, not always.

CAROL: You have to live, too.

SOPHIE LUI: Yes, and there is part of me that doesn’t want to go to bed that early. It’s not normal to have to. I sometimes get caught up in reading magazines or surfing the net so stay up later anyway. I am single, and have a boyfriend, but I don’t have kids. I try to accommodate my boyfriend’s hours because he obviously stays up later. He wakes up when my alarm clock goes off, too, so it can be difficult for him. 

I get used to sleeping in different blocks of time throughout the day. I nap from five to 90 minutes during these times to catch up, and when I’m awake, I muster enough energy to be productive whenever I really need to be. For example, I’m leaving the newsroom now, and going straight to the gym, running on adrenaline to get me there. My personal trainer helps to push me from there. And if I have a few minutes before his appointment, I nap in my car. 

CAROL: You can sleep in your car? 

SOPHIE LUI: If I’m tired enough, I can sleep anywhere, and it’s rare that I can’t fall asleep when I need to. However, Sunday nights, after a normal weekend schedule, can be challenging to get to bed early enough. I can’t take a sedative because it would make me groggy for work. So when I can’t sleep, I just wait out the night. And instead of worrying about it, which doesn’t make the situation any better, I schedule time to make up the difference later. 

CAROL: Can’t you take a mild sedative that wouldn’t make you groggy? 

SOPHIE LUI: Generally, it would be too late to take anything by the time I realize there is an issue – like if I’ve been tossing and turning and I notice that it’s midnight – so I have to wake up in a couple of hours anyway. I used to drink Sleepytime (chamomile) tea, which helped, but I usually don’t have to anymore. 

CAROL: Don’t you worry about not looking bright and refreshed on TV? 

Sophie Lui on cameraSOPHIE LUI: Having a good makeup artist does wonders! And I get used to being productive at work without much sleep. A good cup of coffee also helps. 

CAROL: Many people are driven indoors by rainy weather, but you go outside.  How do you put yourself in that mindset? 

SOPHIE LUI: Lack of sunshine affects me, but exercise really helps my state of mind. I was not active most of my life; I was never good at athletics, and I wasn’t a kid that grew up with group sports, so it didn’t occur to me until three years ago that I should try exercising. But at 39, I am fitter now than I ever have been before. I don’t run or cycle well, but I find it motivating to have a goal to train for.

I completed the Ride to Conquer Cancer and Vancouver First Half ½ Marathon this year; I have done the Sun Run twice, and the Tough Mudder, a hard-core 18-kilometre obstacle course, three times in Seattle and Whistler. I wrote a blog on my last experience with it called “Playing the mud.”

CAROL: And you only started exercising three years ago?

SOPHIE LUI: Yes. I wish I had begun a lot earlier. I feel so much better now. If I don’t work out, I’m more irritable and less optimistic. 

CAROL: How do you train? 

Sophie Lui: CasualSOPHIE LUI: I run or walk on the seawall, which is very close to where I live, and I do it rain or shine.  If you wear the proper gear, it’s not difficult to cycle or run outdoors in any weather. Once you’re going, it gets easier, especially if you train with friends who motivate you along the way. Whether it’s a workout buddy or the personal trainer that I have twice a week, I find that if I’ve committed to a certain time, I don’t want to keep them waiting so I show up. 

CAROL: Do you do any other activities? 

SOPHIE LUI: I’m finally learning how to swim. I’m taking private lessons with a swimming coach.

CAROL: Maybe you have innate athletic ability that you didn’t know about.

SOPHIE LUI: I don’t think so. Eleven years ago, I weighed 15 pounds more than now after I quit smoking. 

CAROL: You must have a flexible meal plan for your work schedule and activities.

SOPHIE LUI: Breakfast can be a logistical nightmare. I make a smoothie the night before and store it in the fridge for morning — made with banana, frozen mango, plain yogurt or almond milk, hemp or Vega (pea and rice) protein powder, and ginger.

Since I am usually cooking for one, I make no-fuss one-pot or one-pan meals with lots of vegetables. I make up recipes: this week it was a pan of broccolini, chickpeas and Italian sausage, and I made enough for lots of leftovers. It takes five minutes to chop everything and throw it together. 

CAROL: What is your downfall food?

SOPHIE LUI: I don’t have a sweet tooth. But I love anything that has potatoes, including chips and French fries. It’s comfort food. I try not to have them at home because I’ll eat them all.

CAROL: You are turning 40 soon. Does it worry you?

SOPHIE LUI: I am happy with my age. That’s implying happy right now — meaning I don’t want to be any older! I am okay with aging as long as I’m healthy, and able to do the things I can do now. I am lucky that my heritage hides my age. I don’t have a lot of wrinkles. But I have seen changes since I started this Global time slot; sleep deprivation shows on skin. Also, I have been on camera since 1999, and wearing a lot of makeup five days a week affects skin, too. 

CAROL: You don’t have kids. Does that bother you at 40? 

SOPHIE LUI: It is on my mind. We do run out of time. I don’t know for sure that I want kids, but I’ll have to make up my mind very soon.



A portion of this interview by Carol Crenna was published on Canada Wide Media’s website.





Artist Roy Henry Vickers: On His Home, His History and His Heritage


vickers 7
























Canadian Artist Roy Henry Vickers: On His Home, His History and His Heritage 

Roy Henry Vickers is a renowned painter and carver who combines images of his West Coast native ancestry with his British heritage. In addition to being an internationally known artist, Roy is also an author, and also recently illustrated a First Nations storybook, published this year, called Raven Brings the Light that was an immediate bestseller. 

Roy Henry Vickers is also a gifted speaker and storyteller, and recently gave an inspiring lecture about mindfulness at the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace in Vancouver. Here he talks about his home, his personal history and his heritage.

CAROL: You like to collect books.

ROY HENRY VICKERS: I have a massive collection. When I was a young artist, I would walk into the Haunted Book Shop in Victoria with long hair, headband and bare feet. with a percentage of the money I made with my art, I would buy the oldest books –expensive reference books dating back to the early 1900s – on the North West Coast peoples. I have some of the first books ever published in Canada. 

CAROL: What intrigued you about them? 

ROY HENRY VICKERS: When I moved to Victoria, BC, I came across discrimination. I don’t call it “racism” because I believe that we all come from one race, but the word discrimination refers to that given by ignorant well-educated people. 

I took it upon myself to learn about and become a teacher of the beautiful people, culture and art of my father’s people. The books gave much history about the First Nations people that many people didn’t, and still don’t, know.

CAROL: You weren’t discriminated against before you came to Victoria?

ROY HENRY VICKERS: It never was a thought in my mind that I had a white mother and Indian father until I was 17 years old. But this new discovery sent me on a journey to discover who the people were where I grew up. Those people didn’t live on welfare; there were no drunks in the village (there was a law against alcohol).

They were hard workers within a closely knit community who built their own homes and their own boats. My mother was the only “white” person in the village, in addition to the priest. But the chief of the village viewed her simply as “a person who, for some reason, was born without heritage crests.” So she was adopted by the chief, and her children were also adopted as part of the tribe.

Later, my mother Grace Vickers became the first non-Indian to be chief of a council in the country.

Roy Vickers imageCAROL: You recently gave a lecture and quoted an ancient “centering exercise” from American First Nations that you recite every day. Would you state it now?

ROY HENRY VICKERS: I look to the east where the sun rises and ask that my eyes and my ears be open to the lessons that I need to learn, for I am a teacher, as we all are, and without those, I have nothing to teach. I look to the south, the way of the healer, and I ask that my heart be open to my healing journey and to whatever and whomever it encounters, because healing is important for me, and since we are all healers, our hearts must be open to bring the knowledge of the teacher out and allow what must enter. I look to the west where the sun goes down and see that we are all visionaries, and I ask that I have a clear vision to see myself and watch myself as I walk through this world and speak to others. I look to the north, the way of the leader, and I realize that without the lessons, without the healing and without the clear vision, I would be like the blind leading the blind.

CAROL: Thank you! Although your work is displayed in museums and private collections worldwide, one masterpiece that perhaps took you the longest to create will never be seen outside of your tiny community — your own home. Tell me about it.

ROY HENRY VICKERS: We bought a house on 87 acres of Skeena River Valley paradise, close to the town of Hazelton, six years ago and immediately began extensive renovations. I designed the spaces to suit a lifestyle surrounded by horses, family, garden, and creativity.

We love our home — when standing on the sundeck we can toss a pebble into the Skeena River. I’ve been an artist for 38 years, and drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, so it influences everything I do.

I tore the house apart, had a post and beam barn and stables that I sketched constructed, and landscaped the property all at the same time. Although I‘m 67, it’s my young wife, seven children, and the country life I now live that keep me energetic.

CAROL: How did you improve upon it?

ROY HENRY VICKERS: The house used to have a dramatic vaulted ceiling and large pointed windows. But it was impractical — every word spoken bounced off of it. So we extended the front of the house, adding a living room and a beautiful bedroom overtop of it as a second floor; the windows that were part of the vaulted ceiling now reach the rafters in our bedroom.

My favourite room is the bedroom because that’s where I spend a lot of time with my wife. It has heated slate floors and a king-sized bed surrounded by birch walls and built-in drawers that replace closets. For the bed, I designed a large headboard to look like a tiny longhouse, with my wife’s eagle and whale crest carved in it. The four-poster bed has adzed posts shaped like killer whale fins.

The room has a sundeck overlooking the river, and a six-foot square shower with river rock floor using wide, very flat rocks we picked from the river.

CAROL: Where do you also spend time?

ROY HENRY VICKERS: On the first level, the living room has a wraparound sundeck, leather sofas and comfortable chairs in either corner where we sit to have morning coffee and look out to the river. A massive river rock fireplace reaches from floor to ceiling in the centre of the open plan house, just off of the kitchen and living room, which heats the entire home.

The dining room table is 12 feet long in edge-grained cedar – I harvested the cedar and designed it – and everyone who enters the room comments on it. We use it; last night 40 people were here for dinner.

CAROL: What is your philosophy about creating art?

HalibutROY HENRY VICKERS: I work only from inspiration. I learned at a young age to remember all of the ideas that come to me before I actually create them. Inspiration comes from the Greek word inspiritus which means “the breath of the creator that provides inspiration,” like inhalation or respiration, within us. And when that happens, it doesn’t go away, and sooner or later you feel you must act on it.

Oftentimes the longer it takes to create something, the more layers there are to the pieces — as you’re creating it you get sent other messages. My adopted name within the Haida nation is translated to mean “he paints within his spirit.” I don’t think that all artists work from spirit.

My art teacher said to me, “Don’t study art in school or you will have to learn a lot of things that are required to get a degree that mean nothing to you. You already have the passion to learn whatever interests you for your creativity.” The world’s great artists have learned to create from the uniqueness of who they are.

If you study only what you love, you may have the chance of creating a style that people will come to know as your own. Otherwise you’ll end up being a teacher, or take 20 years to unlearn and find the place where you should be. We’re all unique as human beings and no matter what others think of your style, it can be your own.

CAROL: Your native art collection is enviable.

ROY HENRY VICKERS: The main level of my house resembles a gallery, showcasing my paintings, screen prints and carvings. Two eight-foot totem poles are carved in the shape of eagles, one wrapping itself around a pole that holds a massive fir beam extending along the ceiling. 

I have pieces by Hokusai and Hiroshige, Japanese woodblock printers from two centuries ago who inspired the way I view the world and my art. I’m a hereditary chief so display a chief’s rattle and headdress by Glen Tallio (when I’m not wearing them as a peace dancer). I have heritage family photographs from First Nations and the British Isles, a “copper,” and a collection of antique baskets given to my wife’s grandfather, the first doctor in the Comox Valley. (People paid him for his services with artifacts.) 

CAROL: With such history, don’t you worry about displayed artifacts getting broken?

Roy Vickers artROY HENRY VICKERS: Everything is displayed in places where all can touch them; my children know their value. I especially like a carved door leading to the sunroom was originally the door of my Tofino gallery and studio. When the gallery became too busy to work in, I moved out and took the door with me.

CAROL: Do you need private space to work?

ROY HENRY VICKERS: I have a home studio in the original master bedroom… and a more private space in Kispiox village that I call The Hiding Place.



Rick Hansen: On His Home, His Health and His Foundation

 Rick Hansen on Tour

Rick Hansen: On His Home, His Health and His Foundation

By Carol Crenna 

In 1987, Rick Hansen captured the world’s attention, and their hearts, when he wheeled 40,000 kilometers, circling the world in bitter cold and grueling sun through 34 countries in four continents. He completed his Man in Motion World Tour through numbing pain because he had a purpose, and a passion that compels him to continue his mission even today.  

He changed people’s perceptions about the potential of the disabled, and today, has raised over $200 million for spinal cord injury research, rehabilitation and prevention. His latest vision is also to see all cities become wheelchair accessible. 

In 1973, Rick was an athletic 15-year-old who had a tragic automobile crash that left him a paraplegic. Yet Rick was determined to fulfill his dreams to become a world class athlete and went on to win 19 international wheelchair marathons and competed for Canada in the 1984 Paralympic Games before embarking on his tour. Here he talks to me about life at home.

 CAROL: Your lifestyle must have changed considerably since your years as an athlete.

RICK HANSEN: There was a dramatic transition. In my athletic years, health was a requirement to reach my goals. I was eating well, managing stress, being very physically active. As I shifted commitments to professional and family life, time became a precious commodity and I didn’t have balance. 

I was gaining weight and succumbing to flu that I never got as an athlete. I had to readjust my attitude to make health an investment unto itself and a lifetime commitment. My original health goals no longer served me because my needs changed. 

I no longer needed intense workouts for heavy muscle mass, but I focused on core stability, posture and breathing. Now I need strength for getting in and out of my chair but not wheeling a marathon in under two hours. 

CAROL: You were a world class medal winner in basketball, tennis and racketball. What pursuits do you enjoy now? 

RICK HANSEN: Since I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and three daughters, I now stay in shape with a personal trainer, swimming, a hand tricycle and crutch walking rather than those types of sports. 

CAROL: Has your diet changed? 

RICK HANSEN: When I was wheeling around the world, it was literally measured to the calorie. It had to be incredibly structured, especially with discrepancies in each country, trying to balance carbs, fat and protein of international foods. Meals couldn’t be too exotic or too much of a transition from one country to the next or I would end up with significant (digestive) challenges. 

I also had to be careful of raw foods. In Central Portugal, for example, I picked some bug (bacteria) up from lettuce and paid the price for about three months afterward while I “processed” it. 

We managed to stabilize my diet while wheeling around the world for two years and two months. But then I moved to an unstructured environment where I was on the run with appointments, skipping meals and having family responsibilities. I wasn’t eating properly, influenced by the kids’ fast foods. 

However, I am now very aware of what I eat and realize that I don’t need large portions like I used to or as much protein. My body image had changed. It was the difference between being large for power and being lean for endurance. I had to readjust my body image and expectations. With any differences in training, your body will change. 

CAROL: You wrote a book called Going the Distance: Seven Steps to Personal Change in 1994. What was it about? 

RICK HANSEN: It included stories about people who have experienced dramatic change, from accidents to abuse, then felt trapped and powerless. They all struggled to get past circumstances to take back control of their lives. But to be able to do this you also have to be willing to surrender to what is, and what you can’t control.

The ability to see hope, love and goodness, and strive toward goals in spite of pain and future uncertainty is a vital life trait. My challenge was physical, yet the real battle was with the emotional handicap. It isn’t easy — nothing like flipping a switch and making everything right. It is hard work to face fears and move forward in spite of trials and tribulations. 

rick hansen 25th anniversaryCAROL: What is your motivation?

RICK HANSEN: I’m in an adventurous journey in life and my rehabilitation helped me realize that I’m interested in new experiences and am willing to grow. I’m motivated by wanting to make a difference — to family, work, the community and the Foundation. If you stay close to your heart and your passions, it can fuel significant motivation.

Fishing was an early memory with my family that helped form my values. I was returning from fishing when I had the car accident and it became part of my rehabilitation because I realized that my life could still continue, and I could still fish, in spite of my disability. 

I now feel blessed in the outdoors surrounded by wildlife. This is my time to touch base, reconnect and just “be.” I recognized that to sustain a healthy balance you can’t always take, you also have to give and put investment back into what you believe in. 

CAROL: Like fish preservation? You established the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society.

RICK HANSEN: I found out that even though sturgeon had outlived dinosaurs and survived two Ice Ages, now, due to over-fishing, they’re on the edge of extinction. I decided to do something about it. I work with others to inspire people to understand that everyone needs to work together for conservation first. The use of wildlife is more a privilege than a right.

CAROL: In your 50’s, do you have advice for boomers to remain agile?

RICK HANSEN: Our work lives are oriented to sitting, although the body isn’t meant to sustain that position for long periods. As someone in a wheelchair, I find it a challenge to counteract gravity. When sitting, your pelvis is rotated; and your posture loads pressure upon your back and neck. Chronic back, spine and disc issues, and shoulder and elbow stability are some of the greatest challenges that our generation is going to face. 

Cardiovascular exercise is mandatory, particularly activities that support posture to help deal with the imbalance. Due to our incessant “time crunch,” we only address these problems casually. If you don’t invest in health as a priority, it doesn’t happen on its own. It’s not a selfish indulgence because that investment comes back in spades. You can’t lead if you don’t nurture your wellness. 

If you have beliefs about the aging process, and that it will mean inevitable health changes, then your body will probably follow these beliefs. Look at role models who have maintained health, vitality and contribution and you will always see an investment of time and energy corresponding to their beliefs and values. 

I have also seen people who are programmed for failure because they have been structured into a regime that hadn’t been customized for their needs; for example, if they are passionate about the outdoors but ended up in a structured gym. It’s critical to understand what drives you. 

rick hansen 2CAROL: You have significantly impacted thousands of people with your Foundation, you made it into the Guinness Book of Records, you were an Olympic athlete, you were Secretary to the Queen on one of her visits, and you were voted one of the Greatest Canadians on CBC’s poll. What else would you like to achieve? 

RICK HANSEN: I want to encourage communities across Canada and eventually the world to become involved, not only to help build accessible communities but to increase awareness so that people will strive to enhance the quality of life of those with disabilities, developing a more inclusive society.  

I apply the lessons learned from spinal cord injury to leadership, health, youth and the environment, wanting to send this message to those with disabilities so that some may not feel that they need to be “cured” in order to be whole. I have been lucky to have people come into my life to show me the way. 

CAROL: Will you tell me about your home life? 

RICK HANSEN: We have lived in Richmond, BC, for over 25 years, where our rancher-style house and neighbourhood are perfect for us. It is a cozy, casual and functional home, shaped like a horseshoe with two wings. We’ve renovated the house to maximum capacity, accommodating our family’s growing needs – first one bedroom, then two and then finally three bedrooms for three daughters. 

CAROL: What’s your favourite place? 

RICK HANSEN: My favourite room is the kitchen. We updated and opened the space to make it the home’s centre. It’s an appealing place with lots of light from windows and skylights. It’s where we convene each morning, with everyone coming and going during the day — if I camp out in the kitchen, eventually I will be able to run into my kids! 

It is the transition place from one wing for sleeping to the other living and entertainment wing. This is also where we eat in a dinette with bay window that extends to the backyard. We changed the cabinetry in the all-white kitchen to accommodate the “next generation” of appliances. I help out with cooking by doing everything that I’m instructed to do…and do clean-up.

CAROL: And your favourite piece of furniture?

RICK HANSEN: My favourite is an antique chair in the living room that was my wife Amanda’s grandmother’s. It is very comfortably cushioned. But I have competition for it because our dog likes to sit there, too. He and the cat are the two boys that we didn’t have; but I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet to have three girls that are interested in sports! 

CAROL: Do you display mementos? 

RICK HANSEN: Mementos are important in our home. We have family photos displayed in several places including the fridge plastered with images of important moments. Though I am forbidden to display large fish on the wall that I have caught – fishing and conservation of salmon and sturgeon still being passions of mine  – I do display them in photos used to retell the tales of how “all the big ones got away.”

Important mementos include an artist’s rendering of my close friend Terry Fox on his journey; we played on the same basketball team together after he lost his leg to cancer. Some gifts received during the Man In Motion Tour are displayed although most are at the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

We also have a collection of First Nations art. I brought Amanda a talking stick (which, in aboriginal culture, is passed from one person to the other as they have their turn to speak) because, as the CEO of our home and the glue that keeps us together, she has the authority to tell us what we need to do to make the house run.

CAROL: Where do you spend time?

 RICK HANSEN: I like to be outdoors. We have a covered porch, and a backyard that is a private sanctuary with a swimming pool. When it has been a very busy time for me, that is where I go to relax and “chill out.”

Also, we converted the garage into an office for Amanda and me. I am there when I’m not at the Foundation or using my (parked) car with cell phone as office. We have a good team that I count on at the different organizations, which allows me this flexibility.


By Carol Crenna, originally featured partly in VISTA Magazine, and partly from Canada Wide Media’s BC Home Magazine.



The Grocery Bags: Anna and Kristina On Healthy Eating and Happy Shopping Part 1

SB Press Photos Dec 2005 007THE GROCERY BAGS: Anna and Kristina On Healthy Eating and Happy Shopping  Part 1

By Carol Crenna

Anna Wallner and Kristina Matisic were former TV reporters who quit to follow their passion…to the mall! Their signature TV shows offer light-hearted lessons in how to shop, as they use their investigative reporting skills to distinguish deals from duds.

Originally launching the hit TV program The Shopping Bags, they have had the long-running Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag on the Oprah Winfrey Network that now airs in 60 countries including the US, Italy, Poland, Israel, Mexico, and Singapore.

Anna and Kristina have recently been successful producing a show called Get Stuffed airing on OLN. Their website has also become a popular spot for product reviews and lifestyle and travel tips.  

In the interview here, Anna and Kristina offer advice on where to spend and where to use a little self-restraint on both health-related items and shopping for their own homes.

CAROL: Do you consider yourselves healthy eaters?

ANNA WALLNER: We both make a conscious effort to be healthy. I stay away from processed and fast food. Some of what I eat is high fat, like cheese and avocados, but I believe in natural food.

KRISTINA MATISIC: I’m not as successful as Anna, but I do eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean, but not red, meat. I do fall down with French fries and potato chips but I try to limit them as treats…But I can tell you that Anna loves chocolate. 

ANNA WALLNER: I’m not saying I don’t eat anything I shouldn’t! I believe if you want the chocolate, eat the chocolate, but just eat one piece. It just takes practise to get used to not gorging or having all of it. I put it away, out of sight, and I have even been known to throw out chocolate. 

KRISTINA MATISIC: (Gasp!) I can’t have it in the house. And if it’s not in the house, I invent sweet things. I’ll grab some yogurt and heat jam and pour it over top when I have a craving.

ANNA WALLNER: That’s better than chocolate. I think it’s best to have a treat, like a cookie, when you’re out, so at least you don’t have (and eat) the whole box of cookies at home. Actually, Kristina likes chocolate more than I do! 

KRISTINA MATISIC: I do. I like milk chocolate, but I’ve been trying to eat more dark chocolate. We recommend at least 70 percent cocoa.

ANNA WALLNER: Start at 55 percent and work your way up if it’s easier. I find I can eat less and be more satisfied because more cocoa satiates the cravings.

CAROL: How do you buy produce? 

ANNA WALLNER: We recommend buying from a store that has a high turnover so it’s fresh. If it’s busy, it has to keep restocking. We both shop stores like this, and we might whine about the long lineups but there is an upside.

 We also like to eat what’s in season. Think back to your forefathers and what they ate each season. Seriously consider whether you’re getting the same nutrients from artificially ripened imported strawberries in February than when they’re in season and locally grown. I eat more fruit in summer, and more root vegetables in winter, like parsnips. 

Anna and Kristina 1KRISTINA MATISIC: I hate parsnips.

ANNA WALLNER: They can be good if you cook them right… with brown sugar!

 CAROL: What other food shopping tips would you like to talk about?

ANNA WALLNER: Always read labels, even in health food stores. 

Health food store cereals, for example, often have lots of sugar and not much fiber. And just because a natural ingredient is listed, it doesn’t mean it will give you much benefit, or the results you’re looking for. Is kiwi extract in shampoo really going to make that much difference to your hair?

CAROL: What do you think about energy/sports/protein bars? 

KRISTINA MATISIC: They have lots of hidden bad fats and sugar. You should decide what you’re going to use it for before buying. If it’s for eating post intense workout, buy the ones with more protein. 

If you don’t work out intensely, you don’t need an energy bar. Nutritionists don’t recommend using them as a meal replacement because there is too much sugar and too little of what you need to sustain you, meaning too few quality-food calories. 

ANNA WALLNER: And if you do eat one, drink a lot of water afterward because many have added vitamins and minerals that need water to be absorbed, and they have lots of fiber that needs water to go through your system. And, unless you’re a hard core athlete, you also don’t need to quench your thirst with power drinks with electrolytes. Drink water without sugar. 

CAROL: You had interesting help to research the best water purifiers and food processors. 

ANNA WALLNER: We went to the experts at a pizza parlour and asked them to try out food processors. They chopped the toppings and even made the dough, which some of the machines couldn’t do since they have to be heavy duty to be able to mix and knead it. 

The best were Kitchenaid and Cuisinart, and the ones with the motor on the base rather than the side were more powerful. The steel blade was the most important attachment needed. 

KRISTINA MATISIC: We went to a wine club and asked them to taste water from different filters because they have a refined sense of taste. We had a Kenmore counter unit, Purultimate on-tap system, Brita jug, and tap water. 

Purultimate was the favourite, yet some people picked the tap water. I bought the wrong kind of system for my tap head at home — and it didn’t fit.  

CAROL: Your balsamic vinegar research sounded interesting. 

ANNA WALLNER: Yes. It must come from Modena or Reggio to be true balsamic, with grades varying from commercial to traditional to imitations. It should say “made with grape must” or “balsamic”, not red wine, and the age should be printed on the bottle.

KRISTINA MATISIC: We did taste tests at a high end restaurant and learned that the older the balsamic, the sweeter and thicker it gets. When buying, swish the vinegar around in the bottle because a good one will “have legs,” meaning coat the sides, like a good wine.

CAROL: Can you offer advice on shopping for fitness equipment? 

KRISTINA MATISIC: If a gizmo on TV seems like it’s too good to be true, it is. We tried them all and even measured our thighs before and afterwards and didn’t get the results promised.

For larger equipment like a treadmill, try it at a gym first to see what type and features you like, and wear your runners to try models in the store. You don’t need industrial grade for home, so don’t waste money on the top model. As long as it offers two (continuous) horsepower for strength and one inch deck surface for shock absorbency, it will be good enough. 

CAROL: Any surprising results when testing products? 

Anna and Kristina 2KRISTINA MATISIC: Anna got a bad rash from shaving cream that she had to see her doctor about. It was heavily fragranced so caused the reaction on her sensitive skin.

ANNA WALLNER: It was just on my leg! I got eczema. We should get danger pay. 

CAROL: You both used to be Global TV health reporters. Was it difficult weeding through the enormous amount of conflicting health information?

ANNA WALLNER: We researched many products and treatments and would feature ones depending on the source – obviously a study sponsored by Pfizer tells you something – and the relevance, and what opposing information there was on it. Just like any news story, health information has to be balanced.

Article by Carol Crenna originally featured in VISTA Magazine

Sarah Chalke: The Comedy TV Actress Takes Health Seriously


man on a ledge premiere 2 240112 Actress Sarah Chalke: The TV Comedian Takes Health Seriously

TV actress Sarah Chalke may be best known as the self-conscious Dr. Reid on Scrubs, or perhaps Stella on How I Met Your Mother, or perhaps Kate in Mad Love, but she is also now known as Polly in How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life). 

Sarah keeps reinventing herself within each TV series. But there are a few priorities in her own life that don’t change — health and wellness, for example, were important to her long before she began playing a doctor’s character on Scrubs. 

I spoke with Sarah Chalke about her lifestyle. 

CAROL: You were Dr. Elliot Reid on Scrubs for eight years. Did you learn about medical science from being on the show? 

SARAH CHALKE: I’ve always been a hypochondriac; I think I got what some medical students have — they diagnose themselves having everything that they study. I was convinced that I had half a dozen diseases over the years.

The medical jargon was more like speaking another language; I just memorized it. We had a doctor on set to make sure we pronounced terms correctly, and that surgery procedures were done accurately. That said, we still got calls because the opening credits show backward x-rays. 

CAROL: Are you vegetarian? 

SARAH CHALKE: I was, but not now. I read Diet for a New America when I was 12 years old and it was so painful to read that, though I loved meat at the time, I became vegetarian overnight. I grew up in a household that half of the people were vegetarian anyway – my sister, my grandmother, and my father after he was diagnosed with arthritis. 

But I gave up all protein at that age, not knowing what to substitute meat with, and I think it stunted my growth. I was the shortest person in my class until I started eating fish again. When Scrubs started I began eating chicken and now I also eat red meat once in a while.


SARAH CHALKE: My diet has evolved; I think you have to go with what you feel your body needs. For me it was difficult working on a set for 12 to 14 hours a day and still get enough energy from the right foods. I also only had access to what was available. At first I tried to prepare my own and bring it, but trying to make something at 4 a.m. for the next day became ridiculous. 

CAROL: You’re still a healthy eater. 

ScrubsSARAH CHALKE: We grew up eating healthy food finished with decadent dessert so that’s still what I crave — it’s all about balance. I eat lots of veggies and fruit… and dark chocolate. I read Fit for Life 10 years ago and began proper food combining, which I found very helpful, and following it gave me a lot of energy.

Eventually at work, we found a healthy caterer that allowed me to specifically order what I wanted to get all of the nutrients that I need. They deliver three meals and two snacks per day which keeps my energy high. Of course it’s difficult to eat five times a day if you’re busy and don’t have someone delivering it! 

CAROL: Do you take any supplements or do alternative therapies? 

SARAH CHALKE: I get acupuncture on a weekly basis, and take traditional Chinese herbs. It’s been for great for stress relief since I had been working very long hours. My mother and a couple of friends had incredible results with acupuncture, and I have noticed such a difference; you go in for one ailment and it ends up curing three others. 

Sometimes I’m so relaxed afterwards I feel like I shouldn’t be driving home. I take supplements including an omega-3, -6 and -9 combination, and a multivitamin every day, and I pour flax oil right onto grainy artisan toast instead of butter; it tastes great!

CAROL: You were very active when you lived in Canada: you skied, snowboarded and kayaked. What do you do now to keep in shape?

 SARAH CHALKE: I take my dog hiking at least four times a week. I love yoga and do it when I can squeeze it in, and a class that combines yoga, kickboxing, rope jumping and other cardio. I got very spoiled growing up in Vancouver close to hiking trails and ski hills. 

CAROL: What do you do to unwind?

SARAH CHALKE: Going for hike or having friends over and cooking dinner are my favourite ways. After completing each series, I have had some time off to do those things. The time in between has made me appreciate balance; it’s as important to not do work as it is to do work.

In order to really unwind you have to take a substantial amount of time physically getting away with cell phone turned off. 

CAROL: You have been on talk shows including David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O’Brien. Do you get nervous? 

SARAH CHALKE: It’s different than acting, and a very unique experience. I do get nervous. It has to do with loss of control; the interview can go in any direction that the interviewer wants to take it. It’s becoming easier, but I still get that feeling in my stomach before I walk on set and think, “Why am I doing this? Was this a good idea?” 

They brief you beforehand, but sometimes they spontaneously steer you in a completely different direction. I think interviews are the most fun for people to watch on TV when not pre-determined or rehearsed.

CAROL: Do you think about aging, living in LA as a TV celebrity?

sarah chalke 1SARAH CHALKE: Yes, of course. It’s an industry that keeps a lot of pressure on women. I feel lucky that I’ve been on Scrubs for all of these years but I look back on the first episodes and say, “We were babies! What happened?!”

It’s important to keep it in perspective, enjoy the ride while it’s happening, and try not to get too attached, though I would be lying if I said aging never crosses my mind. I don’t know whether I will ever get facial surgery, but I do know that my grandmother was the most beautiful looking woman until the day she died and did nothing but put a little cream on her face.

Aging is part of life so we shouldn’t fight it too much.

CAROL: You played Becky on Roseanne for a long time. Was it difficult breaking free from the teen image in TV roles? 

SARAH CHALKE: I was on it when I was 17, and it was an incredible learning experience, but I didn’t have enough of a part to become well identified with that.

CAROL: Before that you played an environmental reporter on Kids Zone at age 12. Does environmental preservation still interest you? 

SARAH CHALKE: Absolutely. It’s important to my entire family. My parents wanted us to grow up aware and eco-conscious so we recycled and had a compost system. 

CAROL: Why do you focus on giving to children’s charities? 

SARAH CHALKE: My parents own an adoption agency in Vancouver and I’ve traveled around the world to orphanages with them, the first time when I was three. I accompanied them to China to coordinate the adoption of several orphans there.

You learn firsthand how the majority of the world lives so it has become a huge priority to help. I work with a charity called Half the Sky that helps orphans in China and with a charity in South Africa. 

CAROL: You played a self-conscious, slightly clumsy character on Scrubs, and in real life you have sprained your ankle four times…

SARAH CHALKE: I’ve actually sprained my ankle seven times. I did it four times while working on Scrubs, for example. I’ve sprained it doing everything from walking my dog to getting up from a chair — my foot fell asleep and I fell flat on my face when I tried to get up. 

CAROL: Do you believe that your body is trying to tell you something? It’s thought to spiritually mean “not knowing confidently which direction to turn in your life.”  

SARAH CHALKE: That is very interesting.



Sarah Richardson: TV’s Renovating Expert on Life At Her Home

 Sarah Richardson 1

Sarah Richardson: TV’s Renovating Expert on Life At Her Home          

By Carol Crenna

Sarah Richardson started her career 18 years ago and within a year, was on screen, sharing her practical approach to interior design. With her shows on HGTV Canada and US: Sarah’s House, Room Service, Design Inc., Sarah’s Cottage, her new show launching in Fall 2013, and her furniture and paint lines, her consulting firm, and her family, she doesn’t stay still for long.

During our interview, she was also baking, serving snacks, and supervising four children who played with caterpillars and frogs at her cottage. Here, Sarah talks about life at home. 

CAROL: Why do you live off-the-grid at your cottage? 

SARAH RICHARDSON: My husband built it, and being off the grid was a necessity more than a choice. It would have cost $100,000 to receive hydro electricity on the island. But by embracing it, it became a fantastic way to live. The island’s views are spectacular with its rugged, natural beauty, rocks and water and sky.

The lifestyle offers everything that you need and nothing that you don’t. It’s not about accessibility to manufactured entertainment; it’s about enjoying the company of family and friends, and truly enjoying the weather, whatever it brings. 

CAROL:  How do you generate energy in the house?

SARAH RICHARDSON: Solar electricity powers the stereo, phones and computers, and propane runs the stove, fridge and lights. We renovated and updated the solar panels two years ago for Sarah’s Cottage HGTV show. We did that because our shared office in downtown Toronto also has solar panels, generating enough energy to run all of its technology.

My husband is very interested in environmental conservation. We had the best intentions in composting, but it attracted foreign animals to the island including raccoons and bears. We decided that we didn’t want to share it so stopped. 

CAROL:  How do you make time for husband, kids, friends? 

sarah_richardson 3SARAH RICHARDSON: By prioritizing and focusing. When at work, I’m intently working, and when at home, I focus on kids and husband, and don’t mix the two. I have easy hair so don’t spend weekends getting beauty treatments like others — I’m with the kids! 

I‘ve learned to delegate, and have realized that the only successful way to delegate is to not worry about whether I could have done something better myself — just let it go and be happy with the results. 

CAROL: How do you relax?

SARAH RICHARDSON: I love cooking. I come home and cook with my kids I’m immediately able to focus on what’s most important in my world. It was my husband’s birthday recently, and so I had 37 people for lunch and 19 for dinner and I cooked both meals. And after a nice dinner and glass of wine, all things are good! 

CAROL: You enjoy entertaining then? 

SARAH RICHARDSON: Yes. My advice to others is to not even hesitate about your decision to have a party — just do it! Don’t worry whether everything will be perfect. Do what you can do, even if it means buying store bought pre-made appetizers. People come to a party to spend time with you and your guests so don’t be so worried about food or decor. The most important things: a good group of people, good wine, and to relax and enjoy yourself.

CAROL: Are your kids picky eaters? 

SARAH RICHARDSON: There are lots of things that they won’t eat, but I don’t find that surprising because most kids don’t have adventurous tastes. I sneak in good, healthy stuff by hiding it in the recipe. 

CAROL: Do you have a healthy diet? Do you worry about weight gain? 

Sarah Richardson 4SARAH RICHARDSON: My job is very active; I often carry around my two little kids; and I have a fast metabolism so don’t have to worry about it. There is a lot of ice cream in my life. One of our favourite destinations while at the cottage is to go for a boat ride to another little island for an ice cream run. 

That said, I‘ve had two children during my time on a camera so had to be okay with major weight fluctuations! I eat very healthily and take care of myself. But I don’t go overboard. 

CAROL: Do you get much exercise?

SARAH RICHARDSON: I downhill ski and I water ski.

CAROL: Why did you choose the house where you live in Toronto? 

SARAH RICHARDSON: I was drawn to it as soon as I walked in the door. Built in 1966, it has giant window walls on two sides, one rising from the basement to the top of the first floor ceiling. It was a cold February day when I first saw it but the sun was beaming in. It has incredible light, and its open-plan flows with no wasted space — we don’t have hallways. 

We gutted most rooms and I’ve experimented a lot, but now its needs the basics that cost, like new windows and a new roof. I like soulful objects so choose my furniture carefully, including my favourite daybed in the living room. Daybeds are underappreciated. When entertaining, they provide extra seating since guests can perch themselves on both sides; they’re great on a Saturday afternoon when you can steal 20 minutes to put your feet up with a magazine; they’re comfortable for kids to hang onto as you sit to read books; and they have sculptural beauty.

CAROL: Do you take your decorating advice when renovating your own home?

SARAH RICHARDSON: Yes, 100 percent. My home is my laboratory where I test and experiment with every idea to make sure it works to avoid having to try hard to convince a client or redo a job. 

CAROL: Don’t you find renovating stressful?

SARAH RICHARDSON: No, because I focus on the transformation itself. It only becomes stressful if you worry about whether you’ve made or are making the right decisions. I go with my gut, and if I make a mistake, so be it. 

I’ve made lots of mistakes, but you can only do your best, and appreciate that everyone working on a project is doing their best. Renovating is a product of human time and creative effort, not done by robots, so it must take as long as it takes and cost as much as it costs. 

CAROL: How long does it take to transform a home from fixer-upper to TV camera-perfect?

SARAH RICHARDSON: My timelines are shorter than most: five months from breaking ground to completion. To shoot Sarah 101, a new show launching in January 2011, we completed 13 rooms in 13 different homes over five months.

CAROL: Do you always test a decorating look in your own home? 

Sarah at HomeSARAH RICHARDSON: Yes. It’s my laboratory where I experiment with 100 percent of what is eventually done to see if it works. This is so I don’t have to try hard to convince a client or redo something. 

CAROL: What was your dumbest furniture buy? 

SARAH RICHARDSON: I’ve had my share of furniture that had to be rebuilt because it didn’t fit. For a spacious, open loft, I chose a nine-foot sofa, but we couldn’t get it in the door – access in most condos is for six-foot sofas – so I cut it into two pieces. I had to cut a two-piece sectional into three pieces for the same reason… and I’ve blocked from memory all other instances.



Ian Hanomansing: About Life at His House

Ian Hanomansing

Ian Hanomansing: About Life at Home 

By Carol Crenna

Ian Hanomansing is busy at CBC TV. He is CBC The Nationals correspondent, Hemispheres host, Foreign Assignment host, askCBC host, and Feeling The Heat host, and he will be the anchor of CBC News in Vancouver beginning in September 2013. He has undertaken a wide variety of high profile assignments in his career, but one he leaves to his wife is decorating their home. 

CAROL: Why do you live where you do?

IAN HANOMANSING: We chose Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood in 1991 just after we got married because it was where we could afford, and we hoped to someday move to the West Side. It has charming streets lined with big trees and refurbished heritage-style houses, and it has a small-town feeling similar to where I grew up in Sackville, New Brunswick. 

Plans for the future changed when neighbourhood friends decided to sell their house that we’d told them we loved — it’s over a hundred years old with a wraparound porch, four bedrooms on three floors, and near a park. We bought it privately and quickly, which left a few would-be buyers a little put-out. 

CAROL: Did you renovate it? 

IAN HANOMANSING: We’ve completed extensive renovations. We first refurbished the living room, and had such a positive experience with the contractor that we finished everything else we wanted to in one fell swoop three years ago. We did the kitchen, upstairs bedrooms, basement and garage.

We lived in half of the house, divided by a temporary a wall, during five months of construction. It was the right time in our lives because we’d learned from past experiences and had the financial means. But it also came at a time when my route to work (Cambie Street) was under massive construction and my workplace (the CBC building) was undergoing arduous renovations so everywhere I went felt restricted.

When the dividing wall was taken down and we walked into the new area, we were awe-struck, particularly by the kitchen. 

CAROL: Do you cook?

IAN HANOMANSING: I’m not a cook. My wife, Nancy had the vision to build a utilitarian but dazzling kitchen that’s not only great for cooking but is the family focal point. She directed the process with the architect, interior designer and contractor. We have two ovens because she knew she would use them during large family get-togethers, and an induction stove top which we really like.

It’s large; we expanded it by incorporating a small bedroom into the kitchen, adding a computer/TV/music centre. When our two sons work on that computer, we can see what they’re doing, and they can still engage with the family. 

CAROL: You’re a TV celeb — so it’s natural to have a TV in the kitchen… 


IAN HANOMANSING: Nancy was tricked into having a TV there. When she agreed to the computer, she didn’t know I’d lead her down the slippery slope, installing cable for TV. She was first horrified, but now we watch it while dinner is cooking.

Two large windows were added, which gives a view and sunlight that we didn’t have before. We carefully saved beautiful stained glass windows from the living room renovation that are now inset above the new kitchen windows — the room’s design and colour scheme were inspired by them. We have lots of counter and cupboard space – because life ends up encroaching on the counter space – but we even have more than needed since we pared-down.

I finally discarded things like some jam bought in Atlanta when I covered the 2006 Olympics… Since then, we’ve been reluctant to “collect” more things, and so we don’t buy nearly as much as we used to. 

CAROL: Did you have to get rid of much stuff to prepare for renos? 

IAN HANOMANSING: Partly due to wanting to simplify and partly just to prepare for the reno, we did end up giving away a lot just before we renovated. 

CAROL: Where do you like to spend the most time? 

IAN HANOMANSING: Our living room is a daily gathering place for activity, like many living rooms today, but unlike those that were off limits when I was growing up. It has a grand piano; I played piano as a child and now my son plays very well.

Ian and GeorgeCAROL: You like sports. How did you incorporate that into the house?

IAN HANOMANSING: I play ball hockey and both sons play ice hockey so we have three sets of smelly equipment in the house. We wanted somewhere to put it, and thought first to have it in the garage, but the contractor said a mudroom would be more practical. He installed a board with long stylish hooks – similar ones I’ve seen at in The Gap store that hang products – but ours are close to the heat vent to dry the gear out. That’s where they all go now, and it’s a case where good design makes life easier.

CAROL: What’s your favourite piece of furniture?

IAN HANOMANSING: We have a nice leather recliner bought with the intention that it would become my favourite chair, used like the dads on TV sitcoms, but I end up on the comfy couch.

CAROL: You said you did renos on the back of the house. Why? 

IAN HANOMANSING: I find that on some old houses the builder didn’t consider what they look like from behind, and ours didn’t look very interesting on the back side. After renovating the back, it now looks authentic, complementing the style and time period of the rest of the house, and with stucco that matches the original material, recreating the look. It also looks far more interesting with new windows, both stained and not, and gables.

CAROL: Do you have anything on display that you found while abroad?

IAN HANOMANSING: I tried adding collectibles. I really like the idea of displaying art pieces I‘d found on each trip abroad. I would search for just the right souvenir when travelling to cover stories in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, but the thing I’d buy would still end up tucked away out of sight somewhere; Nancy has a much better eye for art and design than I do.


This is an extended version of original article by Carol Crenna featured in Canada Wide Media’s BC Home Magazine