Simply Ari: Simply Me
The Inspired Thoughts of a Ready Writer
"My tongue is the pen of the Ready Writer"
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Matthew 2:1-2 says, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men for the east of Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."
As we sojourner through life, I imagine our journeys being like that of the Wise Men who embarked on a pilgrimage and were compelled to travel because they wanted to bear witness to something great. Something that would change their lives forever. Though perhaps they didn't know where their journey would take them, they followed a star that ultimately led them to their destination. What a magnificent event to have been a part of! If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it has reminded us to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit, our guiding light, our star. For it is He and He alone in His humility, Who points us to Jesus, our Lord and our Savior. The gift of Christmas is not the presents under the tree, it is the Presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. He, being obedient to the Father, willingly allowed His divinity to be wrapped up in humanity over 2000 years ago. It is because of that obedience, Jesus coming to earth as a baby, the Creator becoming what He created, that we as believers now have an opportunity to have a personal and intimate relationship with the Triune God, and are graphed into His family. The true joy of this Christmas season and the hope that we have as Christians comes from the understanding of Jesus' reason for coming in the first place, He came to save humanity, you and me. John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave, His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
In a recent conversation with my mom, she emphasized the first part of the passage again, "For God so loved the world that He gave---" We are the recipients of the greatest gift of all. My prayer is that we never lose sight of that. My hope is that through the word of our testimonies we too can humble ourselves, be a light for those around us and point others to Jesus too!
Wishing a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Thank you so much for following along. I hope that you enjoyed this blog series, "Carol of the Blogs."
While my family and I go out to purchase presents, and get our family Christmas tree every year, we also like to ride around our neighborhood and surrounding areas to see all of the beautiful Christmas displays! Whether you live in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area, in a neighboring state or want to venture out and take a road trip to see a Christmas town for yourself, I am here to help! Below, I have curated a list of some of the Top Christmas Towns to visit! Check them out.
Warm beverages on a cold winter's night is ALWAYS a good idea! During the Christmas season, my sisters and I love to have movie nights. Now, the movies are great, but usually the star of the evening are our piping hot mugs of hot cocoa! Hot chocolate is a staple in our house, we stalk up just before winter. I want to share with you my favorite hot cocoa recipe:
What You'll Need:
1 packet of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate
1 to 2 Lindt Lindor Dark Chocolate Truffles
1 tsp of vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon sugar
1 cup of vanilla almond milk
How to Prepare:
Pour the almond milk into a pot over medium high heat. Let the milk warm all the way through until frothy. Lower the heat slightly and whisk in the hot chocolate packet. One the hot chocolate is fully dissolved in the milk, add the chocolate truffles and whisk until fully melted. Then add and whisk the vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon sugar. Once the drink is beverage is heated all the way through and slightly frothed, take off the heat and pour into your favorite mug.
I like to top mine with whipped cream and sprinkle a half teaspoon more of cinnamon sugar.
If you do try the recipe, let me know your thoughts!
Amidst sheltering- in - place, I learned that I really enjoy interior designing and seem to have somewhat of a knack for it. This blog post installment is all about how to spruce up your space without breaking the bank. Below I have provided some low-budget wonders that are sure to make you feel festive and get you into the Christmas spirit!
I would begin by settling on a theme. Think about the elements of the Christmas holiday that bring you the most joy and go from there. Is it the colors? Is it the twinkling lights? Is it the snow? Is it the fresh smell of pine? Is it the brisk winter air? Is it the sound of a crackling fire? Is it the smell of gingerbread, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg? Is it the feeling that Christmas brings, that warm, cozy, and inviting feeling that just makes you smile?
This year, the theme for my room was "A Vintage Evergreen Christmas" I stuck with a solid color scheme: deep forest green, ivory, natural burlap and touches of gold. Then I found items around my house and online that would bring my vision to life.
Upcycling is so much fun and it's cost effective. If you are looking for a way to liven up your space, look for things that you already have in your house, chances are, you'll have a majority of what you need. In my design, I used old pinecones that my late grandmother collected and gave to my family. I used a crocheted ivory canopy to put over my bed to add a bit of texture, and I rummaged through a toy chest to find the FAO Swartz teddy bears I was gifted a few years back to bring in a vintage element.
The only things that I then ended up purchasing were candles to illuminate the space and provide a holiday inspired fragrance, some throw blankets to put around the room, a "Christmas tree" ( which is actually a rosemary bush that I named "Clooney" (White Christmas reference)) for my display table which I covered in a lace overlay, an 18x18 pillow cover with a vintage cherry red pick-up truck on it, and a throw blanket.
Overall, the room came together beautifully. To add to its ambiance and charm, I constantly have Christmas jazz playing on my Google mini nest, and a heater that keeps the temperature at a warm 82 degrees at all times.
Rules of Thumb:
There are so many things that I love about Christmas, to bring a little balance to our conversation, I thought I'd talk about the things that I am not that fond of.
What are some traditional Holiday things that people may be surprised to learn that you do not like?
There are some special moments that I think back on; some special Christmas memories that I have that bring such joy to my heart. Here are just a few:
Church Christmas Play Production:
I can remember the beautiful singing of the actors, and seeing famous Gospel Singers performing on stage with them; one of my favorite voices was Vicki Winans. The year I remember seeing her, she sang "Mary Did You Know", and after the play was over, I got a chance to meet her! She was sitting behind a long table in the lobby of church, and with her long, bright red nails, she leaned over the table (because I wasn't quite tall enough to reach it) and gave me a button with her face on it, and she had autographed a card for me!
My Acting Debut at a School Play:
In elementary school, I was cast in the school play as "The Main Angel", yep, Gabriel, the messenger Angel who told Mary that she was with the Blessed Child. My lines came straight out of the book of Luke, and even though I was young, I knew that I had a responsibility to deliver them well. My costume was beautiful too, it was white, I had wings and a gold and red halo. I recited my lines proudly and with conviction, because I knew how important Gabriel's message was, for everyone listening.
My First Choir Solo:
I got my first solo at my school's Christmas concert. We were singing "Go Tell it On The Mountain" and I was selected by my choir teacher to sing the first verse. Up to that point, I'd never felt more beautiful, I can remember my mom bought me a midnight blue dress with velvet embossed designs on the bodice and a matching velvet bolero jacket, my hair was loosely curled and I sang my heart out that night. Again, it was the delivering of the message of Jesus that was most important to me.
If you took a trip down memory lane, what were some of your favorite parts of Christmas growing up?
Over the years there have been some things that I have grown to really love about the holidays. Namely, having the opportunity to give back to my community. My family and I have donated clothes, toys, food, partnered with our church family to package meals, my sisters and I have sung for charity events and so much more! Through those acts of service, what I have discovered is how wonderful it feels to be a blessing to others. The giving of our time and our resources is such a precious gift. Every year I look forward to finding a new small business or organization with whom I can partner and spread joy, love, and the light of Christ to others. Giving back is a two way street. So often we'll find that the giver receives just as much as the recipients of whatever has been given. I believe that we are blessed to be a blessing. I hope to give back more this year to the organizations and causes that are near and dear to my heart.
Here Are Some of My Favorite Places to Donate:
Midway through November and all throughout the month of December, I really do go all out for Christmas. I rearrange my room to make if feel more Christmas-y, I purchase the presents to gift my family, friends, and loved ones, and my Christmas kick-off would not be complete without a onsie, a cup of hot chocolate, Christmas Carols in rotation, and Christmas Movies!!! My television stays between Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and my family's extensive movie collection around this time of the year especially. In Christmases past, we all sat by the fireside cozy and warm and would binge watch on all of our favorite holiday movies.
Here are my Top 5 Christmas Movies:
What are your favorite Christmas Movies?
There are certain things that just smell Christmas: a crackling fire in the fireplace, roasted chestnuts, hot wassail, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, pine and... BUTTER! Growing up, I loved watching how my mom and my grandmas gracefully went about in their kitchens creating and preparing meals for the family. It seemed so enchanted to me, they knew exactly what every part of a dish needed to make it taste delicious: a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, a pinch here, a touch there and then, Voilà! An elaborate meal would be presented to eat together. It was then when I realized that my favorite place to connect, was in the kitchen, the heart of the home. Through the rummaging of cookbooks and trial and error of perfecting recipes, I fell in love with the culinary arts; so much so that when it came time for me to choose a college, some of my first choices were culinary schools and institutes. During the holidays though, that's where my sisters take the lead and really shine! My eldest sister Rachel, bakes decadent and delicious lemon squares, gingerbread, and pecan bars, while my younger sister makes "melt-in-your-mouth" cookies and homemade ice-cream! What's not to love right? I can remember, one of the first recipes Rachel made was Russian Tea Cakes, these petite, butter cookies with a chopped nut center, cooked until light golden brown in color and then coated twice in confectioners' sugar once cooled. Those I think are my favorite. The smell of the melted butter warms your heart and comforts your insides all holiday season long!
Check out this Russian Tea Cake recipe from All Recipes and let me know in the comments what some of your favorite desserts are during the Christmas season!
Ray Charles once said, "Music is like breathing. I don't get tired of breathing, I don't get tired of music." The same sentiment is true when it comes to all things Christmas! For me, the Christmas holiday is not complete without its soundtrack. There are the catchy tunes that allow us to reminisce about our childhood like "Jingle Bells", "Frosty the Snowman", or even "Winter Wonderland"; however as a lover of words, more commonly referred to as a logophile, I am more partial to the lyrics that put us in remembrance of the true reason for the season and that is Jesus. Songs like, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" , "Away in a Manger", "O Holy Night", "Little Drummer Boy", "O Come All Ye Faithful" and others. These songs reverence the King of Kings majesty. Can you just imagine being there? How incredible it must have been to experience the glory of God Himself, the Creator of the all, becoming what He created, with a "soul mission" to unite Heaven and Earth together and allow us the opportunity to be in right standing and right relationship with Him forever? What a magnificent thing to have born witness to. Not to mention the faith and obedience it took Mary and Joseph and all those who came to worship Him that spectacular night. The wonder of it all excites me all over again, year after year.
What are some of YOUR favorite Christmas songs?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.