Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Year At A Glance: 2016

Happy New Year Everyone!

In 2016 I set out to focus on things that I love, build new relationships, and take on some of my biggest fears! Setting that intention really attracted amazingness in my life. 
I could really feel God’s anointing!

It was also cool to see many of you taking leaps in your life as well. The amount of new businesses, engagements, and travel imagery I seen floating across my time lines was quite impressive. I SEE YOU.

Toronto Coconut Fest 2016

I thank all my family and friends for the love and support!

I thank the Carnival Spice and #SSFlashMob team for your time and talent. We have definitely created memorable moments.

I thank all my clients for trusting me it has been an honour to be apart of your journey.

Lovin' up on Jully Black at the SheROto SheEO Conference

Huge shout out to my followers!! All your likes, kind words, referrals, jokes, and over all vibes are so appreciated. Plus a huge XO to my CWS, AOS, and HSC family!

On stage with High Society Cabaret

Monday, 21 November 2016

Bring On The Food & Wine #GFWE2016

If you normally read my posts, I am sure you can identify that I LOVE food! Particularly shrimp, cheese, and Randy’s patties - lol. I definitely found a new happy place at Toronto's Gourmet Food and Wine Expo (#GWFE2016). 

SMILE - You're a rockstar!

The 3 - day expo is held annually in November at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and offers as much as 45,000 guests an opportunity to sample a variety of gourmet food and snacks. You have access to over 1,500 alcoholic beverages from around the globe. Plus you get a souvenir wine glass upon entry.

Check out footage from when I did event coverage back in 2013!

If video above does not work please visit link here: https://youtu.be/OXwjuBED_Rg

This year the expo served as a perfect GNO for me and my bestie. It was a reason to get dolled up and enjoy some grub. The show also offers cooking shows as well as cheese and wine tasting seminars from different experts. The event D.J. event started bumpin' soca as I entered the room! Ha. I wonder if that was planned?

Say Hi to Danielle - we go back to GRADE 4!

I get full pretty easily so I was very particular when it came to my final food and beverage picks! Strangely, the best thing I ate was from the booth below!

The booth was super sketchy but this goes to show you that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Their DILL-CITRUS- FETA POTATOES (with Tzatziki and oregano) were EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING. I resisted ordering two plates ONLY because I wanted to give others a chance. I will try and see if I can recreate this dish on my own.

I was very happy to see a bit of Caribbean flair at the event once again. Check out some of the vendors that showcased some Carnival Spice (see what I did there):

King Catering

This company I remembered from the Toronto Coconut Festival (back in August). I had fallen in love with their "King Fish tacos" and "Jerk Chicken tacos"! At the GWFE, the booth was in a prime location and their food options were awesome. 

I wished the servers were much friendlier this time around. I tried to remain patient considering their serving conditions were not ideal and they were super busy.  I ordered a very delicious "Jerk Chicken poutine"!

Cool Runnings 

You may recognize this brand’s spices and sauces. They allowed attendees to sample their sauces and marinades with a tortilla chip.

Liko’s Hawaiian Barbecue

I love this company. Every time I visit their booth, they provide excellent service and delicious food making for an awesome Hawaiian experience. I also loved that they had hot sauces from neighbouring booth "Cool Runnings"  available to their customers... That's what I like to see community collaborations!

Danielle ordered the "Spam Musubi" and LOVED IT… she then went back hours later and got the "Kalua Pork on a bun". I supported her with this decision because I had it once before and it was soooooo good.

Robinson’s Cakery Inc.

Home the “Island Pleasure Jamaican Rum Cake” - yesssssss!!!!

Hot Mamas 

Adding a little spice to our life” 😉

Caribbean Vacation Anyone?

Aruba Tourism Board

Barbados Tourism Board serving Mount Gay Rum Punch

Planning To Attend Next Year?

  • Dress semi - casual! The vibe is grown and sexy.
  • Travel light! Too many items in your hand will become cumbersome. If you  have a wine glass holder that would come in handy. They  also have a coat & bag check.
  • Attend before 5pm!! You will have less lines, space to breathe, and the grounds are much cleaner. Oh and admission will be slightly cheaper too.
  • Food and wine does not come with your ticket. "Sample" tickets are sold in groups of 20 for $20. These are the tickets that you must give to booth vendors for tastings. 
  • Makes for a great bachelorette or birthday party idea. I saw a lot of crews floating around. 

In The News

If you like to eat and enjoy Caribbean vibes then I invite you all to the Carnival Spice: "A Reason For The Season Holiday Lime”

Mix & Mingle. 
Enjoy a Carnival Spice dance workshop, parang, light refreshments and more.
Dress cute and comfy ("athleisure"). Prepare to sweat***

Entry is $15 but you can get $5 off when you bring a canned good as we will be donating to a local food bank

Event Info:
Friday, November 25th, 2016
2065 Midland Avenue #2 (South Side Muai Thai)
7pm - 10pm
Grab tickets HERE

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Twitter: @SimplyShakera
Facebook: SimplyShakera
Instagram:  @SimplyShakera
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Thursday, 3 November 2016

So I Met The Happiest Man Alive

Dontcha just love you this photo? It screams fan girl! ha! It was actually snapped mid laugh when my uncle had a hard time finding the flash on my camera! Lawd!
Can we say awkward?! hahah! This would happen to me though 😃 I envisioned my first conversation with Machel to be go a lot differently but the universe usually has other plans.

Everyone meet Soca Superstar Machel Montano. If you are not familiar with who he is then google “soca king” after reading this post ;)

While Machel was in town a few days ago to perform at WE Day 2016 his Toronto fans excited to see a surprise post on his Instagram page. He announced that he would be attending a screening of his new movie “Bazodee” at the Scotiabank Theatre downtown. 

How cool is that? Word spread like wild fire through the soca/fete/carnival community. He also made sure to note that the screening was on a Tuesday so tickets would be cheaper (LOL!)  I bought a ticket to the movie screening and notified my Carnival Spice family about the event.

This was actually pretty exciting. I had not seen the movie yet and although I have seen Machel perform numerous times, I had yet to meet him in person… PLUS
lol @ this photo!
  • the first time I seen Machel perform was when I fell in love soca. This was during Last Lap 2006 at Markham Fair Grounds. Teenaged Shakera was not really into soca. She knew maybe 4 or 5 songs at the time and had only played mas twice as a child. A group of her friends from school encouraged her to attend a fete allllll the wayyyy in Markham. Her life was changed forever.

  •  “Water Flowing” (https://youtu.be/Q9f4En2JtNI) is my favourite soca song of all time
  • his manager is Canadian change maker  Che Kothari! #bigup
  • he is a great live performer
  • ...and, consistently throughout his career he has shared some amazing music with the world that embodies the essence caribbean culture.
Needless to say, I am a huge supporter of him as an artist.

That particular Tuesday evening was pretty unique. After I finished teaching the Carnival Spice North York class my uncle from England showed up to surprise me! It was pretty awesome considering we just spent time together while I was traveling in the U.K.

Thankfully my uncle can hang (lol) so I invited him to the movie and we headed downtown. We arrive, check in, find our seats and wait to see what happens next. At this point - I am HUNGRY (not surprising!) so my uncle and I head to the concession for some snacks. I see a small mob of people and can only assume that mistah Montano is in di place. Luckily I brought my camera and had a “photographer” with me. Little did I know that my uncle DID NOT know how to operate a point and shoot camera! lolololol #mylife

My turn is up to snap a photo with mistah “H.M.A”, mistah “Like ah boss” - AND I WAS READY! Carnival Spice shirt and all!!!

BUT MY UNCLE WAS NOT!!!! lololol. Poor guy.

What made matters worse was the movie was about to start so Machel needed to bounce! Instead of having a philosophical conversation with Machel about how soca is evolving or recommending he host dance auditions in Toronto, our brief moment together had us both shouting “push the button” to my uncle! hahaha - PRICELESS.

The Outcome Was This Photo. 

It is not ideal but it holds a great story. The fact that everyone else is laughing too makes it even more special.

So the movie ends and just when you think the night is over it only reboots!

We walk out the theatre to the sounds of a live “parang” band playin’ Machel hit songs INCLUDING "Water flowing".
FOLLOW @mrmaestre on instagram for video.

Machel hung around to take some more fan photos. There were way more people this time so kudos to him for being patient.
#spotted - Carnival Spice lady Chattrisse

#spotted - Carnival Spice lady SULAIRE

AGAIN just when you think the night is over there is woman playing the ukulele outside of the theatre too. As Machel leaves HE STARTS TO SING WITH HER! Then everyone crowds around and starts singing as well. THIS MOMENT is another amazing example of how amazing and unifying Caribbean culture is. It is also a reminder how lucky we are to live in Toronto; a city with so much talent and vibes.

"I see you Shak"- LOL! 

Machel we shall meet again soon. Stay healthy, continue to evolve, and keep “pumpin" through your journey as the happiest man alive!

View link here as well: https://youtu.be/na5eNkT21Ds


Stay Connected With Me Via:

Twitter: @SimplyShakera
Facebook: SimplyShakera
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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Miami Carnival 2016 Recap with Generation X

Miami Carnival 2016 you were definitely good to me. You provided a fun and festive environment for my crew and I to sprinkle some Carnival Spice in the US. I am always happy to be in Miami. The atmosphere gives me the tropical feel of my native Jamaica with the modernity of Toronto. Plus, I have lots of family and work contacts there. Residents are also very fitness and nutrition focused. Simply being in the Miami environment encourages me to stay active and monitor what I eat! Oh, and Miami is where DJ Khaled lives… MAJOR key (HA!).

The beginning of the trip was super scary though. When I arrived to the Miami airport, I was greeted by a notice board that showed ALL flights expected to arrive or depart after mine were CANCELLED!?! It was like a scene from a movie. All my plans from this point forward were at risk because Hurricane Matthew was forecasted to directly hit the Miami coast!

What does one do now? First, you fill your brain with happy thoughts. Then, you say a prayer and head to your hotel to find some food. Seems easy right? Well it was not. Tropical storms hit the city so driving conditions were atrocious and all businesses were on lock down.
 I ended grabbing some food in the hotel and going to sleep. Hopefully everything would blow over by time I woke up… and by the grace of God, it did. The weather was perfect for the remainder of the trip. I even caught a likkle tan.

I do want to give my condolences to all the families that were affected by Hurricane Matthew’s wrath. I cannot possibly imagine what they are going through. It was such an eerie feeling just  being so close to this natural disaster at the time of it happening. Canadians, we are blessed.

By Friday morning, carnival officials gave the thumbs up that Jouvert and Carnival were to run as scheduled. Now before I could get excited, I would first need my costume in hand. This year I played with Generation X; they are one of the more popular bands in Miami. Their 2016 theme was “Erotica” - no explanation needed. My section name was Pleasure hosted by “Island Fantasy Mas”. My section leaders handled costume pick up quite smoothly considering all the Hurricane chaos and fears that were prominent around town. The costume was well made, fit well, and I was surprised to learn that it was designed by one of my fave costume designers out of Trinidad @caribeboi.

Now, let us discuss DI ROAD!

I have attended Miami Carnival a total of three times and each experience has been different because the venue continues to change. This year’s route was HUGE; so much that “security” personnel and carnival marshals had no idea where masqueraders were assembled. My band did provide a map however of course I did not bring it with me (lol). My crew and I spent almost an hour in the hot sun, sweating our make-up off, while walking back and forth looking for our band. We were misdirected by so many people. It was a shame! What made conditions worse for me was that I never ate breakfast. Due to food availability where I was staying and timing, I took a risk and decided not to eat. HORRIBLE DECISION.

I became super nauseous and later learned the food truck was serving options that I do not eat. Bruh - my hungry ass was brought to tears! If you know me, then you KNOW I LOVE my belly. I was devastated. SO for breakfast/ lunch I had a rum freeze  and two doubles shells. YUH CYAN IMAGINE?  Ps: Did I ever mention I hate doubles. Stomach is not a fan.

Not letting this bring me down I was determined to enjoy the rest of my day. I did not have to try too hard though since the sun was shining and the vibes were sweet. My stamina was low but my spirits were high.

Shout out to all the "Pleasure" ladies!

Waitin’ Fuh Di Stage

My section crossed the stage to a mash up of  “In We Blood” by Machel Montano and “Touch The Stage” by Bunji Garlin. WE SHUT IT DOWN! 

With a great performance comes casualties. Mine were:
  • My fave sunglasses of all time. They fell out my hand right as I ran onto the stage; could not turn back as I feared being trampled! R.I.P.
  • My iPhone screen! Great excuse for an upgrade I guess.
  • My very expensive fish nets! (lawd) hoping I can fix um!
  • My shellac manicure …even broke a nail (lol)
  • My left knee cap - oh man! haha.

Sign Reads: "Caribbean Americans For Hillary" #USPoli

The road was awesome and had nice surprises such as performances from Spiffy and Marville (BAM BIM), a DJ set by Private Ryan, and a mobile bar offering cold alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. (Food update: I was served dinner once we finished the route! It was tasty.) The stage was definitely a highlight! In my opinion, Genx definitely earned a spot in the TOP 3 based on their performance alone. Their costumes as a collective had great design, fit the theme, and were super sexay. Plus the band attracted a whole lot of good looking’ people. Case in point below:
GEN X: Kamasutra
GEN X: My Section Leader aka BAE - Miss Kimone  

GEN X: Temptation
GEN X: Bondage
Not Gen X but SO pretty!
Kym E Karnival
Carnival Isn't The Same Without Him
GEN X: Pleasure
GEN X: Desire

GEN X: Leather & Lace
GEN X: Pleasure

But in the end there can only be one winner. 
Congratulations to the Band of the Year finalists:

1st - One Island Band
2nd - Generation X
3rd - Mascot International

Why would someone (ie. a Torontonian) want to attend Miami Carnival?
(1) They have a real JOUVERT. With the paint, power, water trucks, and parade route! Getting splashed by the water truck was honestly the best moment on my trip. Ps: Most bands offer food and unlimited alcohol with your registration.

(2) Without considering the current US exchange rate, Miami Carnival is the most cost effective carnival option. You get bang for your buck!

(3) Less people in attendance therefore more space to free up yourself.

(4) Once your band finishes the parade route, all the music trucks park up for a blocko. The event runs from 11am to 11pmish.

(5) You are the first to hear new soca! 
Get familiar with MY road anthem: “Freaky Girls” by Ricky T.

(6) The Parties! I am not much of a partier anymore but Miami parties are nice and many of them are on the beach. I do recommend researching event locations before you purchase event tickets. All Carnival events and parties are SO far from each other. Travel costs WILL add up if you are not mindful.

To all my Carnivalians and Carnival Chasers out there, where we headed next? I think JAMAICA CARNIVAL is  must for me.

Link Here: https://youtu.be/IvkHhfsvkLU ******

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