Why I took a break from TV and my career

KAREN JOHNSON

In 2014, I decided to take a much needed break from the television broadcast industry.  I started my career in the early 90’s and I didn’t stop!  I had my sons late in life because I wanted to establish my career.

On the set of Canada AM

Soon life caught up with me and I needed to slow down and realized my sons needed me.  Soon the television make up and designer suits were replaced with Lulu Lemons and a baseball cap. I was officially in mommy mode.

My Boys

I worked part time at CTV and CHCH in Hamilton.  The work was just enough to ease me through the transition.  Twelve months later, gears switched quickly to full time mom.  It wasn’t easy but I didn’t miss my alarm clock going off at 3am.  I enjoyed waking up before my boys, drinking my first cup of coffee in the kitchen alone and soaking up the silence that fell upon my sleepy household before all HELL broke out. Making breakfast for the family was a hoot, I was literally  a short order cook, pancakes for my youngest, toasted western omelette sandwiches for my husband and french toast for my eldest. This is all for one breakfast.

Breakfast of Champions

 

 

On the way to school the boys had their playlist set up for the drive, these were the moments I missed and craved when I was at work i the early mornings. Now I am able to cherish every single moment.  During the time my boys opened up to me I heard about all the playground shenanigans and grievances.

During the few years I took off I was able to attend various field trips with the kids. My eldest started participating in Track and Field meets. It was a joy to see him compete and to be on the sidelines to cheer him on.  I juggled weekly hockey and soccer practices like a pro!

Travel is something our family truly enjoys.  Last December we were able to travel with my parents back to their home country of Sri Lanka and India.  They had not been back since their departure in 1966.

Family dinners are a big thing in our household.  Friday night everyone had to be home that was our family night.  No guests, no cell phone, no iPads and no interruptions. Just the four of us and my parents.

During this time I had ample opportunity to catch up and reconnect with some very special ladies in my life.  

In 2016, I decided it was time for me to head back to work.  Even though I truly enjoyed spending time with my boys I felt like I was missing something from my life.   I needed to go back to work.  It was easier said then done.

The industry had changed drastically, employment was scarce and the rejection letters came in all forms.  Just when I thought I may have to hang up my weather clicker and expertise a friend sent me a post for a position at CBC.  At first, I dismissed the post, then my friend asked if I had applied yet.  I was feeling beaten down and rejected from an industry I loved.  I honestly didn’t know if I could handle another rejection letter.

Just before we left for our summer holidays my eldest son sat me down with a very serious face.  He told me that I was the greatest mom in the world and that I shouldn’t give up so easily on finding my dream job.  He assured me that he and his brother would be fine if I went back to work and if I didn’t apply I would never know if this was the dream job I missed out on.  So with my son’s blessing and a prayer I applied to the CBC.

The Interview process was fast.  We were still out west when I received an email regarding a pending interview.  I think I reread that email ten times.  I flew back two days earlier then my family to attend the interview.  I passed by the CBC offices on many occasions but never in my wildest dreams entertained the thought of ever working there.  It’s an institution for goodness sake.  I don’t belong there.

On Friday, August 27th I walked in with my head held high and butterflies in my stomach.   I was the first candidate to interview for the position and I was nervous.  It was a panel of three.  I actually lost my nerves quickly during the interview and truly enjoyed myself.   Even though I thought I did well I knew it was a long shot.  A week went by and we were continuing our vacation down south.  I received a call from the CBC recruiting officer, they wanted to meet with me again.  I flew back and went through another round of interviews , phone calls and emails. The rest is history.  I will not lie , I was so overjoyed I cried, tears streamed down my face as I listened to the voice on the other end of the phone welcoming me to the CBC.  I was in disbelief. It took all of my strength not to let on the joy my whole body was overcome with.  Once the call was over , I put the phone down and melted into my parents arms.  The dream has finally come true.

I truly landed my DREAM JOB!  I’m working with an incredible journalist Dwight Drummond on the CBC Toronto 6pm news. I am working with Mike Wise for CBC Toronto at 11pm.   I’m the weather specialist for CBC Windsor at 6pm and I’m part of the Here and Now Crew on CBC Radio from 3-5pm.  In addition, I also get to do some reporting.

My first day on the air with this amazing journalist and friend Dwight Drummond. Sept 5, 2017
On the Air CBC Radio Here and Now. 3PM-5PM.

The best part: I am able to continue my morning routine with my boys including the drive to school. (I do experience mommy guilt from time to time)

So what have I learned from this experience.  Don’t give up no matter how many doors are closed . Have faith in yourself , Everything happens for a reason.

I’m BACK and it FEELS SO GOOD!

Lemon Chicken and Spaghetti Squash

KAREN JOHNSON

I’m continuing my journey in the kitchen during this long cold winter.  The troops have requested some new additions to the family menu.  Last week I introduced you to a hearty bowl of Cauliflower Chowder with Bacon.

This week I tried out Spaghetti Squash.  I have never heard of this vegetable.  I have been passing this delightful veggie in the produce section for years.  My girlfriend Suzannah Handscombe Trudeau an amazing mom and teacher,  introduced me to the vegetable last year.  I saw her preparing it and asked her what the vegetable was.  She told be it was a great way to replace pasta that is high in carbs. She adds tomato sauce to her dish.

I myself have been fumbling with recipes for months.  I finally found one with some fine tuning to serve at our dinner table.  Here you go! I would love to hear what you think.  My family had no idea they were eating squash and loved it!

 

RECIPE

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS

1 Spaghetti Squash

Olive Oil

Sea Salt to taste

Black Pepper, to taste

2 Chicken Breast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

 

FOR THE SAUCE

1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced

4 Cloves Garlic, Minced

3 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 Lemon, Juiced

1 Cup Chicken Broth

8 Ounces Baby Spinach

 

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 375F/200C.
  2. Poke several holes into the spaghetti squash.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes .
  3. Cut squash in half along the holes. Remove seeds with a spoon. Drizzle squash with olive oil. and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place squash upside down on baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until soft. Let cool.
  5. Using a skillet, cook the chicken  breast on medium-high heat with a little olive oil for 6-8 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.  Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  6. Sauté onions for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Cook until onions are translucent. 
  7. Add lemon juice and chicken broth, and cook until the liquid partially reduces, about 20 minutes. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes. 
  8. Using fork, shred the inside of the squash.
  9. Pour sauce over the squash. Serve Immediately

 

Cauliflower Chowder with Bacon

KAREN JOHNSON

The cold weather has sparked conversations in our household about changing up the dinner menu.  My boys were requesting that mommy try out some new recipes to add to the weekday and weekend menus.

I had to agree with my little guys things were starting to get a tad boring and stale.  So, I promised to stir things up and they promised to try the new menu items.

The first recipe I tried was a new soup.  CAULIFLOWER CHOWDER WITH BACON.

It was low in carbs, hearty, filled with veggies and easy to make.

It was a huge hit! Even with my hubby who turns his nose up to most veggie dishes.

Give it a try it won’t be a disappointment I promise!

RECIPE: 

Cauliflower Chowder with Bacon

TIP: If you want to go full veg with this hearty chowder, skip the bacon and replace with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
TOTAL TIME: 0:35
PREP: 0:10
COOK: 0:25
LEVEL: EASY
SERVES: 6-8

4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. flour
2 sprigs thyme, stripped and chopped
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 qt. vegetable broth
1 c. whole milk

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Transfer to paper towels and drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat.

To pot, add onion, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Sprinkle in flour and cook 2 minutes.

Add thyme and cauliflower.

Pour in broth and milk and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and let go until cauliflower is fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Garnish with bacon

TIP: Once cauliflower is soft take a fork or mashing utensil and break up cauliflower pieces. You may use a hand mixer as well if you don’t want the chowder like pieces. 

 

 

EUROPEAN-STYLE RESORT COUPLES ONLY.

KAREN JOHNSON
Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort
Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort

Nestled on one of the Southern Caribbean’s best beaches (Eagle Beach) sits the Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort an oasis found on the beautiful island of Aruba.

Upon your arrival it won’t take long to find out why this resort is a favourite retreat for stylish couples and honeymooners of all ages. It is a four star and four diamond property.

The Resort is a non-smoking resort, except in 3 designated areas.  The adult only, resort boasts some of the most amazing facilities for you to enjoy.  From the beautiful fresh water pool with salt filter, fitness centre, Beach front restaurant, beach bars and lounges.

IMG_5613

Beachfront dining

Candle light dinners are a speciality for the dining staff at Bucuti not to mention the culinary delights that tempt the palate by merely glancing over the menu or a choice of restaurants located throughout the island paradise.  The resort doesn’t have an ALL-INCLUSIVE PLAN because they want their guests to enjoy the islands various restaurants and explore. Breakfast is included. The resort doesn’t allow for big groups.  Tables are grouped in 2’s or 4’s for a more intimate setting.   The resort is very secure with cameras and 24/7 security.

Dining
Dining

The Resorts new addition called the “Tara Wing” is specially designed for romantic getaways, each of the 39 ( which include four penthouse suites) Tara suite boasts a breath taking view of the beach, an oversized King bed, state of the art amenities including wi-fi broadband which is accessible throughout the resort and suites, wet bar, fully stacked mini bar, as well as all the amenities you would expect in an up scale  suite. Honeymooners are treated to a bottle of champagne and four champagne glasses etched with their names upon entering their suite.

The Tara Wing
The Tara Wing

Even the Standard and Superior Rooms are quite luxurious and inviting.

Bungalows are also available on the resort.

The Tara wing offers a private reception and concierge lounge as well as a European Spa that offers pampering treatments with elements that celebrate Aruba’s history and flora.

 

The resort itself is an ideal venue for a dream beach wedding/renewing of vows. The resort’s wedding planner and staff are available to assist couples in organizing one of a kind events.

Weddings and Honeymoons

The Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort boasts a variety of Honeymoon packages.

For more information about the Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort you can visit their website www.bucuti.com.

Additional photos of the Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort Suites and Spa can be viewed.

The Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort is truly a Honeymooners dream paradise…………

 

 

 

Bugaboo & Diesel The Rock Collection

KAREN JOHNSON

Last week I was invited  to view the latest collaboration between Bugaboo and Diesel.  This is the third collaboration between the two companies.  The first was Bugaboo By Diesel Military was the  partnership, the military-inspired  Bugaboo Cameleon³ by Diesel comes in a dark green anodized chassis and is complemented by an all-over green canvas and great details and made famous by one Kim Kardashian !

The second, Bugaboo By Diesel Denim it represented Diesel’s denim heritage. The Bugaboo Buffalo by Diesel  and the tailored fabric set for The Bugaboo Donkey feature a washed and specially treated denim that is effortlessly stylish like your favourite pair of  Diesel jeans.

Bugaboo Strollers have always knocked it out of the ball park when it comes to practicality and functionality. I was a fan even before I had my two boys. The strollers were designed for day to day use in all sorts of terrain and integrated into our crazy lifestyles and outdoor activities.   Believe me we truly tested their durability on every family vacation with baggage handlers.

Bugaboo didn’t plaster their collections with cute animals their strollers were made with the fashionista in mind.  The ladies who didn’t want to loose their fashion edge just because they were becoming moms.

In 2007, I was expecting my first child and that is when I purchased my Bugaboo Cameleon stroller.  It was bright red and had all the bells and whistle that go with it.  I loved the easy movement,the one hand steering  and how the stroller grew with our baby from different ages thanks to their versatile accessories. It was a MUST have for me and really I’m 8 months pregnant hormonal and huge was my husband really going to challenge me on this decision? I think not!

The limited Bugaboo by Diesel Rock Collection takes fashionable baby gear to the next level and worth every penny.  At first glance I can’t help but notice how edgy yet stylish the stroller was even dad’s would fancy it!

The Special Edition Stroller comes in a black anodized chassis, Diesel wheel caps and grey/silver coloured functional buttons.
The Special Edition Stroller comes in a black anodized chassis, Diesel wheel caps and grey/silver coloured functional buttons.

Following in authentic Diesel Style adorned with rock-inspired studs and laser-cut tattoos. bugaboo-by-diesel-rock-collection-sun-canopy

The wax coated fabric and leather look completes the trendy look that makes this stroller stand out in any crowd!  It will bring out the rocker in you (all you need is your leather jacket and shades).  The fabric is easy to clean with a baby wipe or wet wash cloth.

Diesel’s Rebellious touch: Tattoo Slogan Diesel art work on the backrest featured the famous Diesel slogan“ONLY THE BRAVE”.  Diesel completes the look with wheel caps and grey/silver coloured function buttons.

Diesel's famous Slogan " Only the Brave" placed on the back of the backrest
Diesel’s famous Slogan
” Only the Brave” was laser-cut into the top layer of the back rest.

The stroller also has  a rock inspired Foot muff .

Diesel's Rebellious touch: Tattoo Slogan and Foot Muff.
 Foot Muff fits ANY STROLLER NOT JUST THE BUGABOO!

The five point harness is even easier to access and use with one touch snap. Another feature I liked was the new and improved extendable sun canopy.  It gives much more coverage to baby and the built in cut out vents on either side give a nice air flow within the stroller.

 

 

Extended Sun Canopy
Extended Sun Canopy

There is no shortage of accessories that you can purchase for your Bugaboo stroller…..

If you plan to travel with your Bugaboo Stroller they have made it really easy with the newly designed travel case. An assortment of  cozy blankets to snuggle up with and a fashionable diaper bag even dad wouldn’t mind toting around town with.   It is made out of faded wash denim with leather contrasting black patches and it also features functional inner and outer pockets and copper zippers in contrast.  (Looks so good I might just pick one up!)

If you have a toddler you may be interested in the wheel board that clips onto your stroller either on the left or right side and NOW comes with a seat for the tired sibling. I can’t forget the new born pram body that is easy to carry and very light weight.  My babies slept in this for the first month.

BugabooTravel Bag
BugabooTravel Bag
Cozy blankets
Cozy blankets
Styling Diaper Bag
Styling Diaper Bag
Bassinet
Pram Body

 

Skateboard with Seat
Wheel board with New Seat

Not to be out done Bugaboo Cameleon Classic + Collection has launched an upscale version.   This was my stroller, it combines elegance and sophistication for a timeless look. We used it for seven years and it still looks brand new.

Bugaboo is launching a year long initiative  called “The One” to celebrate the Bugaboo Cameleon.  Bugaboo will share milestone brand stories, exclusive content on the brand’s online lifestyle magazine, The Journal, and feature families and friends who have all loved the Bugaboo Cameleon.

They have also added two new colours,  a contemporary touch with Grey Melange ( they plan to have a full line of accessories in 2016 ) and Navy Blue.  A “faux leather” handlebar and an off-white quilted interior lining on the extendable sun canopy, bassinet mattress and apron.

The Bugaboo Cameleon Classic +Collection featured in Grey Melange

If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing I would continue with the Bugaboo brand.  Remember when choosing a stroller it is no longer just a transportation device to carry your infant.  It is an extension of your own personality and style. If you want more information on Bugaboo and their products please visit their website at: www.bugaboo.com 

Happy Strolling Fashionistas 

KJ

A Ride on the Wild Side With The New Chevy Malibu 2016

KAREN JOHNSON

A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE WITH CHEVY MALIBU

The perks I enjoy as a journalist are the ones that require me to fly across the country with all expenses paid to cover MEDIA RIDES. Translated a press junkets for the auto industry. Journalists from all over the country test-drive new vehicles in various cities etc…

That’s exactly what my friend and partner Anjum Choudhry-Nayyar of MASALAMOMMAS.COM requested me to do as I covered the story for her on-line magazine.

Victoria Airport

How could I resist travelling to the west coast and landing on one of the most beautiful places on earth. Victoria Island. A perfect venue to test-drive the new CHEVY MALIBU with its curvy roads, picture perfect boat lined harbour, lush vegetation and beautiful gardens.

My introduction to the new CHEVY MALIBU was upon my arrival at our host hotel for the weekend “THE OAK BAY BEACH HOTEL”. Greeting the journalists were two red shiny CHEVY MALIBU CARS, flanking the main entrance of the hotel.

The New Chevy Malibu Flanking the entrance of the hotel.

It’s definitely not the car your folks drove back in the day. This front wheel drive has sleek lines, plush leather sport seats, 18 inch rims and an interior that would make you look for the luxury car logo twice! Without the grill it can be mistaken for a Tesla!

New Chevy Malibu Rims available in "16 x 7.5" steel or aluminum or "17 x 8" aluminum.
New Chevy Malibu Rims available in “16 x 7.5” steel or aluminum or “17 x 8” aluminum.
one of the many colours the Malibu is available in
one of the many colours the Malibu is available in

Chevrolet Canada PR and Marketing group pulled out all the stops on this MEDIA RIDE. An impressive line up of CHEVY MALIBU cars awaited the journalists outside the hotel after are media presentation fromBruce Logan Director of Communications and his team.

The CHEVY MALIBU Is a Midsize Sedan. It has a longer wheelbase for a more comfortable ride and the ride is smooth and effortless.
Fuel tank holds about 49 Litres, Highway driving you can expect about 6.3L/100km) and fuel economy 8.7 within the city.

Here are a few more highlights that impressed me:
Visually the cockpit had a wow factor to it with sleek lines, easy access, clutter free from dials and buttons. It also provided a big enough screen to view your navigation map and Phone integration System.

The phone integration: it displays content including messages, music, maps and more, on the MyLINK screen. It was very user friendly and compatible with your I-phone and Android. The On Star 4G LTE connectivity with Wi-Fi hotspot is a definite hit.

I-Phone integration display including messaging , music,maps & more
I-Phone integration display including messaging , music,maps & more

If you have a new driver in the house this next feature is going to be of interest to you, the TEEN DRIVER option. It allows parents to review the teens driving habits with a touch of a button to review a report. It’s the first feature of its kind in the industry to offer a “report card”, which is designed as a teaching tool. The Parent registers the teen’s key fob by programming it through the Chevrolet MyLink screen.
TEEN DRIVER is activated whenever the car is started with a TEEN DRIVER key

TEEN DRIVER MENUE
TEEN DRIVER MENU

The report card shows you:
• Distance driven
• Maximum Speed Reached
• Stability Control Events
• Antilock Brake Events
• Forward Collision Alerts (if equipped)
• Forward Collision Avoidance Braking events (if equipped)

There are several other ways TEEN DRIVER helps protect young drivers behind the wheel:

• Radio or the audio features of any devices paired with the radio are muted until front seat occupants are wearing safety belts
• Overall maximum volume limit for the radio
• A speed warning set between 65 and 120km/hr gives a visual warning and audible chime, if exceeded
• When the TEEN DRIVER system is on, all of the vehicle’s active safety features are on and cannot be turned off.

Children’s car seats are a pain to install but Chevy Malibu has made it very easy to locate and clip in.

Let’s chat about the room in this car. You will have no problem storing a large size stroller in the trunk, let alone hockey and ski equipment and a set or two of golf clubs.

There are plenty of outlets to charge phones and i-pads in both front and back passenger areas. Not to mention wireless charging on the driver’s side.

Passenger comfort is key and Chevy didn’t skimp here either, there is tons of room in the front and back seat. Just to give you an example we had a male passenger who was a height of 6”3. He sat in the front seat with his chair set back all the way and I still had room in the back seat.

In order to fully enjoy the Chevy Malibu experience, Chevrolet Canada set up activities in and around Victoria, each journalist was assigned their very own Chevy Malibu to drive.

Fleet of Chevy Malibu awaiting the arrival of journalists.
Fleet of Chevy Malibu awaiting the arrival of journalists.

I slipped into the driver’s seat with ease. It literally took a matter of seconds to get comfy adjust my seat and mirrors and be on my way. I couldn’t believe how smooth the ride was it was if I was driving a sports car not a family sedan. I could easily see my passengers in the back seat.

My first stop was The Butchart Gardens, nestled in Saanich Inlet a 40minute drive from my Hotel. This historical garden sits on 55 acres and has one million visitors a year with a million bedding plants in 700 varieties, including 300,000 tulips. 50 Gardeners tend to these beds and an additional 20 during the peak season. A Victoria must–see. http://www.butchartgardens.com

A must see in Victoria the Butchart Gardens.
A must see in Victoria the Butchart Gardens.

My next stop was taking me a tad out of my comfort zone to say the least. Zip lining a first for me was my next destination. The location for this adventure had me driving about 30km from Victoria. I zipped along the forest canopy on 8 zip lines and 2 suspension bridges. A great way to spend an exhilarating afternoon outdoors!
http://adrenalinezip.com

out of my comfort zone zip lining
out of my comfort zone zip lining
with my new friends enjoying our new outdoor adventures together
with my new friends enjoying our new outdoor adventures together

During my drive back to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria I was truly able to enjoy my time in the Chevy Malibu. I navigated through the roads of Victoria very easily with the use of the navigation system. Checked my messages via the phone integration system and managed to sing along with some of my favourite tunes from my playlist.

Journalists: Karen Johnson @karenjohnsontv and Emily Chung of @autonicheInc enjoying our ride
Journalists: Karen Johnson @karenjohnsontv and Emily Chung of @autonicheInc enjoying our ride

Final Note:
Chevy Canada has redesigned this vehicle and invested in today’s technology that consumer’s use on a daily basis and implanted it into the design. You would think that the base price of the auto would have gone up as well but it hasn’t.

In fact, it has been reduced by $3000.00.

Canadian Pricing for the Malibu is as follows:
· Malibu L – $21, 745
· Malibu LS – $24, 245
· Malibu LT – $25, 242
· Malibu Hybrid – $28,850
· Malibu Premier – $32, 045

2016 Chevy Malibu
2016 Chevy Malibu

If you are in the market for a New Mid Size Sedan with lots of bank for your buck, I would recommend checking out the New Chevy Malibu.

Luxury Branding with the Cadillac CTS 2013!

KAREN JOHNSON

Cadillac CTS Sedan Event- Life in the Fast Lane

As an on air personality I have been invited to make appearances at various events. I must say that attending Cadillac’s CTS 2013 Launch was definitely something I hugely enjoyed.

I don’t know if you know this about me but I’m a huge car fan. I love all the details that go into building a car starting from the concept. It’s always so exciting to see the innovations and how the industry is pushing the boundaries with designs and ingenuity.

I actually met my husband at the 1993 Auto Show in Toronto over 15 years ago, so I knew when I got the invite from GM that I not only had to go, but I had to take him with me.

Last night at the Shangri La Hotel I attended the Cadillac launch party of their new CTS Sedan. Everything about this event associated itself with the Cadillac brand,high end, luxury and dramatic flair.

After registering at the front of the room, I walked into the dimly blue lit ballroom to be greeted by delicious smells from the food stations featuring sushi, cheeses, roast beef (carved on the spot) and oysters.

After nibbling on a couple of plates of the palate pleasing appetizers, hubby and I headed over to the “on the spot” custom bow tie station provided by Philip Sparks. There, we chose our fabric as the sewing team began creating our custom pieces. I picked up 2 adorable bow ties for my boys and while their reactions were minimal, I am absolutely thrilled to have a great new accessory for them to wear to our next family function.

After a quick detour back to the Oyster Station (I told you I love to eat), I headed over to the mixology station where Bar Chef was creating an array of drinks that I sipped and sampled.

Now came the big moment when they revealed the new Cadillac CTS Sedan. Screens around the room suddenly featured an elegant violinist in a black dress and we headed to the terrace as the cover was drawn back to reveal a beautiful black Cadillac. This car is the new generation of the CTS and the lightest vehicle to date of the segment. The Cadillac CTS is more energy efficient and let me tell you it has a beautiful interior finish a perfect fit for a luxury sports car. The new branding of Cadillac is working the guests demographic was younger, savvy and brand conscious. They are educated about the finer things in life.

Overall the night was a huge success! Fun fact, they used a crane to put the Cadillac CTS on the terrace of the Shangri La and reroute downtown traffic for a day, and yes it was worth it…so dramatic!

Thank you Cadillac for a wonderful evening!

Media Savy
Cadillac CTS 2013 Launch

Marki Costello Mega Agent and Casting Director

Her last name may sound very familiar to you…. as it should!

She is HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY at its finest. The Granddaughter of Lou Costello (of famous comedy duo Abbot and Costello, daughter of a Beach Boys record producer, step granddaughter of Dean Martin and goddaughter of musician Terry Melcher.

Marki Costello  was born and raised in HOLLYWOOD and she has made a name for herself , she is a Talent Manager and Celebrity Coach.   Her mother tried to steer her away from the Entertainment Industry and stressed education was the tool for success.   Shortly after the sudden death of her mother,  Marki dropped out of school. After a brief stint of finding herself she got a job with Chuck Barris.  For those of you who are old enough to remember CHUCK BARRIS was the host of  the popular TV show “THE GONG SHOW”.  Marki has said in many interviews that Barris gave her some sound advice.

“I remember him saying, ‘Look kid, you can sit back and you can watch the wheel go round and round and round and say, Hmmm, should I get on? Is it going too fast? It looks slippery. It looks scary…Or, you just hop on the f–king wheel,'” Marki reminisced. “Literally, that saying, that moment, that statement from Chuck Barris made me go, ‘I want to jump on the wheel. I want to jump on this opportunity in life.'” (clip from ENews)

From there ,Marki took a job with Barris’s  company and  learned everything about the industry from production to casting shows. The hard work paid off as she  opened up her own company, Casting Entertainment Group.

Marki Costello has cast shows like the original “The Bachelor” and “Temptation Island”.  Marki’s  next step was to get into talent management.  Creative Management Entertainment Group (CMEG) was born. Now 20 years later she has 14 employees working for her, a client roster of whose who in the industry.  She also has an in house studio for workshops and mentoring.  Marki coaches about 100 students a month that go through her media training.  She has worked with some big talent like Jason Kennedy of E! News, 2012 Emmy Award winner, Todd Newton and Debbie Matenopoulos of The View and The Insider, Whitney Cummings, CeeLo Green, Kelly Osbourne and Stacy Keibler to name a few.

“Show business is like the lottery.” says Marki, “It’s not based on who works the hardest, even though hard work pays off, it’s about timing,” Marki explains. “Timing. Luck. Talent. All of these things have to line up for you to walk through the gates of showbiz.” ( clip Enews)

Marki,also puts her talents to work by teaching one of the most prestigious on-camera host seminars in the country. Based on referrals from networks, top Hollywood agents, casting directors and production companies, her monthly “boot camps” have been consistently booked full for over 14 years based on word of mouth. Marki is also a published author. She wrote the very first book on television hosting called “The Inside Secrets Used by Every Successful TV Host” which sold 10,000 copies in the first quarter after its release in 2012.

This past summer when I had the opportunity of meeting this lady I jumped at the chance!  Wouldn’t YOU?KJ and Marki Costello

KJ and Marki Costello

Some of the participants from the Fort Lauderdale , Florida Boot camp with Marki Costello
Some of the participants from the Fort Lauderdale , Florida Boot camp with Marki Costello

Its no surprise  her boot camp in Fort Lauderdale was sold out.    I was the only Canadian in the bunch.  We wanted to  hear her speak about the industry and teach us some new tricks about the changing industry we call television.  The television industry had changed and changed drastically.  “Gone are the days you have Ken and Barbie as your hosts reading off a teleprompter” says Marki.  Its more off the cuff, reality driven  and  based on “ISMS”.  Yes, thats a real word “ISMS”. (ad-libbing in between a scripted script)

Over the weekend Marki taught us how to BRAND ourselves in an over saturated market.  Find our niche.  It was a little unnerving for me to think out of the box after so many years in the TELEVISION NEWS INDUSTRY.   But thanks to Marki I was able to ad-lib and think out of the box.  A sort of break thru for me a little exhilarating if you want to label the emotion.

Marki has an incredible talent of drawing you out of your comfort zone and revealing skills you never thought you had.  If your an actor,model, reporter, anchor, host or just in need of some public speaking skills I would highly recommend taking one of Mark’s weekend courses.

Marki Costello has been named to “Who’s Who of American Women” by W and Los Angeles Times Magazines and is well known and respected by a diverse cross-section of entertainment and industry executives from coast to coast.  We are trying to get Marki up to Canada to share her wisdom.

I learned a lot that weekend and now I am putting those new skills to work.

Thanks Marki! Your one in a million XOXO

If you would like more information on Marki Costello  visit her

website: http://www.cmeg.com

Twitter: @markicostello 

Celebrating A “Golden Anniversary”

KAREN JOHNSON
My parents Bryan and Thelma celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary On September 26, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Katherine Holland)
My parents Bryan and Thelma celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary On September 26, 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Katherine Holland)

On September 26, 1964 my parents wed in Ceylon.  It was a big celebration with two families becoming one.   My dad’s parents had passed away earlier on in my dad’s life.   I couldn’t even imagine not having my parents attending my wedding. But he hit the jackpot marrying my mother who came from a family of nine.

My parents moved to Canada in 1966 to embark on a new life and opportunities.  My mother prospered first with a job in the government  soon after my father followed being employed as an accountant for a car dealership.  ( maybe that’s where my love of cars stems from )

It wasn’t very long until both my parents moved into full time positions in the Ontario Provincial Government.   In, 1989 my father opened up his own accounting firm and quit the government.  It was a risk looking back but 30 something years in business with only referrals to keep the family business going says a lot!

Eventually I came along.

My Mom and me styling as always
My Mom and me styling as always

Through the years my parents sponsored many of our relatives over to Canada.   My parents worked hard and long hours always wanting to excel in their new country.  I recall a story my dad told me about how they bought there first house.  They were saving up for a vacation that summer.  A road trip to Nova Scotia he recalls .  They had gone for a drive that Sunday and saw the house of their dreams at that time ( we moved a lot)   So, they threw caution to the wind and cancelled their trip to buy their first house.

I am very proud of my parents for reaching this milestone of 50 years of marriage.  We all know marriage is not easy at any given time.  So what was the secret to their success.  My dad says” its all your mother, she has a sixth sense or as you call it a woman’s intuition about everything.”  ” I just learned to listen to her more and more each year she was right” he chuckles knowingly.   He is correct my mother has a knack for sensing things .

 She is calm, practical, sensible  and cautious and well let’s just say my folks are opposite.

Growing up my folks were very strict with my, they made it clear we weren’t friends and there were rules to be followed under their roof.  Our bond has always been a close one.  It has always been just the three of us.  I am an only child ( insert the comments here lol!)    Companionship was never an issue.  We had the family cat Tabitha, a Siamese Chocolate Point with an attitude followed by Bailey who was like a bull in a china shop.

As a child I remember a lot of road trips as part of our family vacations.  The eight track blaring and me in the back seat taking it all in .  We shared many laughs through the years as we do now.

Karen Johnson's Family - Sept 2014 (Katherine Holland)

Laughter always filled our home
Laughter always filled our home

 As the years passed I have never lost that connection with my parents.  So in honour of their Golden Anniversary my parents, husband and boys where Europe bound.  ( you can read about the ports of call in my previous blogs).

We had no plans to mark the occasion with a big party partly at my parents request.  But one Sunday at Mass another couple was celebrating their 50th Anniversary with a blessing from our parish priest.  It brought tears to my mother’s eyes and a pondering moment to my father.  At that moment I decided to throw caution to the wind (mostly my parent’s wishes) and the party planning unfolded.

On the actual day of their anniversary I booked an incredibly team, a  talented photographer by the name of Katherine Holland.  (Katherine Holland Photography) and Make up artist Suzanne Mckay. We had worked together before and I truly adored them both.  They were the  perfect team to shoot our family photo.

I had my sons and hubby all dressed up in their tuxedos ( we rented the boys tuxedos) .   Needless to say there was a lot of grumbling.   But once the camera started shooting it was a magical scene.

After the shoot my parents renewed their wedding vows in a private ceremony held in their home.  My good and long time friend Father Xavier De Pinto ( we went to High School together).  Preformed the intimate ceremony .  They exchanged rings and completed the evening at the Keg.  ( we were all starving we had to eat)

private ceremony
private ceremony

The next day we had a full blown party.  The 110 guests who attended the BLACK TIE EVENT, where treated to an incredible evening filled with great food, good people and memorable stories.  My parents opened the dance floor that night to

Anne Murray’s ,”Could I Have this Dance For The Rest of My Life”

It was truly beautiful as my parents dazzled their guests with a beautiful waltz.

Fab from FABULOUS CAKES, did a beautiful job creating a miniature version of their original wedding cake.  Kari Sardella, a family friend and client also contributed with a chocolate TOP HAT, to celebrate my father’s birthday milestone being celebrated that evening.

Posing for the family portrait on their Anniversary My Dad "Bryan" Mom "Thelma" and Karen in the middle photo courtesy of (Katherine Holland)
Family portrait on their Anniversary
 Dad “Bryan” Mom “Thelma” and Karen in the middle
photo courtesy of (Katherine Holland)

Even though the magical night  is over the celebrations continue within our family.  We are grateful to have each other.

Happy, Healthy & together forever!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad love you both forever and a day…….xoxoxo

KJ

Europe Here We Come Part 4 “Pisa, Florence, Amalfi Coast, Italy”

KAREN JOHNSON

Have you ever been fascinated by a country?  Either by  its food, art, people,architecture or culture….

 ITALY is the country that has me on all fronts.   I can’t put my finger on just one thing about this captivating country.  It seems to have something for everyone.  During our trip we were able to stop in a few Italian ports.  We disembarked in Venice then continued via car to Rome.  The journey was not to be forgotten.

Livorno, in the Tuscan region of Italy, is ideally located for exploring some of the most beautiful cities in Italy, including Florence and Pisa.  Tuscany is made up of hills, valleys and sandy beaches that follow along the West Coast of Italy.

If you are a gourmet food  and wine buff this is the place you descend upon to enjoy the wonderful Italian cuisine and vino.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa is located in central Italy on the Arno River, about 19km  from Livorno.  It is most famous for the Leaning Tower of  Pisa which is also known as the bell tower. It is located next to the Cathedral of Pisa, in Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of miracles).  Construction of the tower began in  1174, however, when the builders realized that the  foundation would be inadequate in the area’s soft soil, construction was suspended.  It was resumed and completed in the later part of the 14th century and is cylindrical in shape with eight eroded stories.

My husband, mom and eldest son made it to the top
My husband, mom and eldest son made it to the top

There are 297 steps attached to a spiral staircase inside the tower leading to the top. It takes about 30 min or so to get right to the top.  My husband, mom and eldest son made it all the way to the top.  I have to say I was very impressed! We stayed in Pisa for about an hour or so or next stop was Florence.  We had hired a private tour guide we found the cruise ship tours were very pricey and limiting.

my folks and moi
My folks (the Anniversary couple) and Moi

 FLORENCE, ITLAY  was mesmerizing to me as a “shopoholic”.  When I was her during my honeymoon I managed to spend four hours in one store to only purchase two items. My poor hubby!  I still have and wear those items today!

In Florence the streets were lined with beautiful boutiques and quaint hotels.  Not to mention the abundance of pastry  shops and cafes. Heading to the best Gelato Parlour was at the top of our to do list!

IMG_6011

SALERNO, ITALY,  is a small city in Campania (south-western party of Italy) and is the capital  of the province of the same name.  It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Salerno’s neighbour is Italy’s cherished Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast), which includes the famous towns of Amalfi and Positano.

We took a short boat ride and took in the beautiful sites.

Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast
artwork displayed on walls
artwork displayed on walls
IMG_6019
I must have climbed those stairs four times trying to get the perfect shot!

I can understand why so many people flock here to soak up the culture and scenery.  Next week we will continue the journey to Venice and Rome!

Ciao!