Anytime my best friend Brooke is in town, she and I like to hit up differnent spots in Old Town, Virginia. Yesterday, we casually strolled through Alexandria. Our first stop was a rustic Italian restaurant called Landini Brothers. Old Town is beautiful during the holidays as are the restaurants. Landini Brothers' decor was very festive: lights, garland, and wreaths were strategically placed around the stair hand rail and above the chandeliers. The low lighting and Christmas carols, created a nice ambiance for dining guests. I appreciated the authenticity of the dishes that the chefs created and used, fresh, homemade pasta, fresh herbs, and fresh bread (yum!) After lunch we boutique hopped and picked up a few trinkets along the way from one of our favorites, 3 Sisters. The store is so adorable! It's along a tree-lined brick sidewalk; you can't miss it because their bright fuchsia sign swings high above the boutique. 3 Sisters is two levels of girly goodness! The store associates are very kind and attentive and the accessories and clothing are unique, quality items. You know that you're going to come away with something special.
It has become a tradition for us to end our outings with a good cup of coffee. In light of that, we stopped at a corner gelato and coffee shop called, Dolci Gelati. Normally, I'm a black coffee (sugar, no cream) or caramel macchiato kind of girl, and Brooke is more of the Vanilla Latte or White Chocolate Mocha type, but we decided to venture out and try the coffeehouse's specialty blend called a "Salty & Dirty Caramel Chai Latte." It starts off with salted caramel gelato and is mixed with espresso, steamed milk and chai. It is a perfect blend of sweet and spice and the caffeine kick is really nice. This is not the type of drink that you want to guzzle. It is one that should be gently nursed and enjoyed. Drink it slowly. I promise you, it will be an experience. Dolci Gelati is a true artisanal Italian treasure in Alexandria.
213 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
Dolci Gelati Gelato Shop
107 N Fairfax St
Alexandria, VA 22314
Today was perfect. I love when I get a chance to catch up with my bestie, Jasmine one-on-one. It was a good old fashioned girls day out. It was our time to check in with one another and hear what's going on in each of our lives (things that we had not already shared) over a meal. Our motto has become, "A get together, is not a get together, unless we break bread." This time around our restaurant of choice was a fairly new spot down at the National Harbor called Succotash. The ambiance was warm and inviting. From top to bottom the space is filled with mahogany wood accents, giving it a nice rustic feel. The furniture upholstery, wood chairs and leather booths added a level of sophistication to the already beautiful space. The seating was strategically placed under black iron chandeliers, and the restaurant's clientel ranged from mid twenties to seasoned seniors. The restaurant was decked out in colorful red, green and gold decor, perfect for the Christmas season! Due to the highly anticipated opening of the MGM National Harbor, the wait was understandably longer, but Jasmine and I were assured by the restaurant's pleasant hostesses at the front, that we would be text when seats in the dining area became available (I loved that idea). After about 15 minutes or so, we were escorted to a cozy private dining area, and immediately greeted by our waiter, David; who was very kind and attentive. We had some time to look over the menu prior to being seated, so we were prepared to order when he came to our table. We started with Pecan Sticky Buns to kick our brunch off right and put in our orders for Chicken and Waffles (Jasmine) and Biscuits and Gravy (me), two downhome Southern classics.
In between our appetizer and our entrees, Jasmine sipped on her lemonade which she said tasted "like the homemade lemonade that Grandma gives you on the porch on a hot summer's day." While I enjoyed refreshing and frequently replenished glasses of water. The pecan sticky buns were golden and flaky on the outside while the inside was soft, gooey. They certainly lived up to the menu's description of them "Deliciousness". We then moved on to our main courses, which came shortly thereafter, and were presented beautifully. My biscuits and gravy came out piping hot in a small cast-iron pan. The black-peppered pork sausage gravy covered the two buttermilk biscuits and the dish was garnished with fresh, vibrant green scallions. Jasmine's Chicken and Waffels were presented on an oriental-designed plate. The belgian waffel was cut into quarters and crispy golden brown chicken thighs and legs graced the top of it. Freshly shaved Manchego cheese melted neatly on top of the chicken parts and the meal was finished with a fresh bourbon dark maple syrup.
My meal was a harmonious blend of rich, creamy, flavorful and savory. While Jasmine described her entree as "succlent seduction; the perfect balance of sweet and savory." Succotash's menu is far more than just Southern cuisine, it's an experience, a wonderful experience!
We will not be strangers to this fine establishement, it is truly a gem; and has been deemed our "local brunch spot." #SimplyAriApproved
Succotash186 Waterfront Street
A couple of weeks ago I got invited to attend a relaunch party for sister duo, Nicole and Chelsea Santa more commonly referred to as "The District Darlings"; whom I befriended this summer at a blogger event. Yesterday, I, along with my friend Jasmine helped celebrate the girls, relaunching of their website and their brand at Malmaison Café in DC. The event space was warm and inviting, and a nice escape from the wind chill that came from across the water in Georgetown. The guests in attendance were all accomplished in their own right and very kind. The conversations that were exchanged throughout the evening were enjoyable and surprisingly insightful. Perhaps even more enjoyable than the celebration itself, the company, the cuisine, and the beverages was the fashion of the District Darlings guests: furs, designer bags and shoes, flowing skirts, and statement jewelry, it was like a fashion show! There was so much for the eyes to take in. The evening seemingly went off without a hitch and it was a lovely affair. I want to formally congratulate both Nicole and Chelsea on a very exciting endeavor: the expanding of their business and a continuingly bright future in the blogosphere, I wish you both well. It is my sincerest hope that our friendship will continue to grow with better acquaintance.
Be sure to visit their website here
It has become somewhat of a tradition to attend the For Sisters Only event at the Walter E. Convention Center with my sister Rachel, and this year was no exception. Unlike in years past, I was there on a mission: to promote the brand, network, and build lasting friendships with people in and around the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up and hangout with WPGC's own "Mr. 24/7" DJ Tony Redz, and thoroughly enjoyed performances from Lloyd, Mario, Jidenna, Tank, and The Backyard Band throughout the afternoon. What made this FSO special was that this time DJs, Social Media and Marketing professionals alike, approached me, and inquired about Simply Ari (I think it was largely because of the S.A.M. jacket I was proudly rocking, LOL). That experience in and of itself was both humbling and exciting. The highlight however, came later on, when my sister and I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting a mutual Instagram friend, Trevor Reckling along with his business partner Michael at one of the many booths present at the event. God's favor was evident throughout the afternoon.
This year's FSO was definitely one for the books. Thanks WPGC! God-willing , we'll see you next year!
I am a girl with a pen who fell in love with the field of journalism. There is something so special about being able to help tell the stories of the world. That's what I have learned and grown to believe journalism to be: an avenue to get to know the people of the world, and give truth a voice and a platform. My very first Communications professor in undergrad once said, "Everybody has a story; it is the job of the journalist to find that story and to tell it well." That simple, yet profound statement has served as a guide, and I continue to discover the ways in which it shapes me as a journalist.
Now that my circle is expanding professionally, I am finding that there are those who still share the appreciation, and have a respect for the ethical practices on which journalism was founded: to seek truth and report it, to minimize harm, to act independently, and to be accountable and transparent (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp). l believe that as truth seekers, we as journalists, are held to a standard of integrity and morality that is irrefutable. Moreover, I am of the opinion that in any story that is covered, it is far more important to get the story right, than it is to get the story out first.
Yesterday (10/28/16), I finally got to visit the NEWSEUM in Washington DC. I leisurely walked through each level, taking in the moments along the way. I read the information on the plaques in different exhibits, listened to the stories of journalists in the documentaries that played in different sections of the museum, paid homage to the fallen journalists at the NEWSEUM's Journalists Memorial, and marveled at the unique artifacts that the museum had collected.
There was so much to see, so much to take in. In light of the day's event and upon reflection, I'd say that yesterday way one of rediscovery and a confirmation of purpose. In an unexpected way, I rediscovered why I am passionate about this field: it's because of the opportunity it provides. Henry Luce said it best, "I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world." Having studied under some of the best teachers, given opportunities to intern and learn about this field (the good and the bad), and continuing to be led by the Holy Spirit, I am convinced that this is what I am called to, this is where I am called to be. Journalism invites people to be a part of something bigger: a global perspective. It offers the chance to get a glimpse into the lives of those we encounter every day, and it gives a voice to those who are still trying to find their own.
If you have not yet made a trip to the NEWSEUM, I would encourage you to do so next time you're in or around Washington DC. For more information visit their website, http://newseum.org .
Yesterday (9/16/16) started off like any other, but I knew that the evening was going to be really special. I along with members of my family had the unique opportunity to get a preview of the District's newest and most anticipated addition, The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The night began with us standing in a line that was wrapped around the outskirts of the building. We were then led inside of the Museum into its foyer where we were greeted by waiters who served decadent hors d'oeuvres and lively music, courtesy of the disc jockey for the night. There was an overwhelming sense of excitement, emotion and pride as the evening unfolded. The construction, the exhibits, the amount of history collected, and the detail that went into creating a space that would provide an invaluable experience for Washingtonians and non-Washingtonians alike. I saw first hand the impact that the artifacts had on those in attendance at the event: it sparked conversations, some brought back memories, and some brought tears. The rich history of African-Americans in this country is truly something to be celebrated and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture captures it in a beautiful, respectable and innovative way. Washington DC has a treasure here. I am so grateful to have experienced such a historic moment with close friends and loved ones. Yesterday was truly one for the books!
My journal entries from the past week will give you a unique behind the scenes view of the NABJ Convention.
Day One: 8/3/16
How to Land Your Dream Arts and Entertainment Gig Before 30
Innovative Journalism: How Real Journalists Can Use Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, and Instagram to Break News
I've met some really wonderful people already and have even found some kindred spirits among them. One thing that I've found interesting about the workshops that I have attended thus far is that though the panelists "still aren't where they want to be" they have learned the value of hustling (taking odd jobs, internships, etc.) that open doors to give you a bigger platform.
I am surrounded by articulate, confident, passionate journalists with vision and determination who look like me! Based on conversations that I've had with seasoned news makers, what was most common among them was that the vets are ready and willing to begin passing the torch down to this next generation. It would behoove us, the millennials to listen intently and adhere to and glean from their wisdom.
I'm excited to learn more.
Day Two: 8/4/16
Newsmaker Plenary Race: A Conversation
I got to the hotel early in the morning and found a nice quiet spot near the main lobby to charge my phone for the day. In the process of doing so I saw a familiar face, none other than journalist Shaun King! He has a low-key demeanor, but a very powerful voice in the African-American Community.
I have yet to meet a journalist here who combines their love of news making and faith; really embracing the philosophy of bridging that gap between faith and life. When I share with attendees that I am a Christian journalist at heart and give them a glimpse of my vision, they are intrigued by the idea and admire my efforts, but their pleasant smiles are accompanied by a perplexed look hinting at the fact that they have to "see to believe" that these worlds can be blended.
What an exciting feat and challenge for me through my words, experience and unique perspective to share Jesus in a new way to people.
I very much look forward to meeting the challenge as I believe it is and will be a large part of my purpose: to bring light, hope and perspective to this generation.
Though I only attended one event today, I learned so much! I gained a deeper understanding of what is going on in the our community and the disparity on how our news and our stories are being reported and perhaps by whom our stories are being told in mainstream media. There was such an insightful group of panelists too: U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, U.S. Education Secretary John King, Blogger, Luvvie Ajayi, Black Lives Matter Activist, DeRay McKesson, and Journalist Roland Martin just to name a few.
Toward the end of my day, I saw my Twitter friend, journalist Shomari Stone in the hotel's main lobby. Such a cool moment! He actually sought me out and we had a pleasant conversation about how the Convention was going, what I aspire to do and what new stories he is working on. Then we took a few pictures and blasted them all over Twitter!
Day Three: 8/5/16
Putting a Hard Edge in Your Entertainment Reporting
My first encounter of the day was with one of my favorite people from NABJ, Founder and my mentor Ms. Norma-Adams Wade. I came into the hotel to check into my room and saw her sitting in the hotel foyer. I made it a point to greet her with a smile and she recognized me right off the bat. We exchanged pleasantries and then she invited me to sit and talk saying, "so tell me everything. The beginning is always a good place to start." I had an AMAZING conversation about life, faith and journalism with her. We discussed what she's doing now that she is retired and she mentioned that her family is her focus. We talked about what's going on in Dallas and she said, "I'm still trying to make sense of it all, but my take on it is that we aren't listening to one another. THEN she gave me her personal contact information so that we can stay in touch.
God's favor is abounding!!!
Later on in the evening, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Lola Ogunnaike, a Features and Entertainment Journalist after my workshop. After having a trying afternoon, God really met me. The encounter that I had with Lola was such a blessing. She listened to me, and really listened and gave me some great advice about how I should move forward in this awkward stage in which I am currently finding myself.
We exchanged information and promised to keep in touch. As if that wasn't enough, she is making herself available to me as a mentor of sorts and I really appreciated that.
Day Four: 8/6/16
NABJ Day of Service
Salute To Excellence
I needed a day like today. Having the opportunity to speak with the youth (high school students) in a mentor-mentee format is always an enjoyable experience. I had the privilege of speaking with four audacious young ladies, all with different hopes and aspirations but they shared a passion for life and were not afraid to ask questions. Speaking with them, hearing their stories and being able to share my experiences with them revitalized something in me. My heart is so full. All I can do is hope that something I said stays with them.
I am a strong believer that we must invest in people and dreams, because doing so, will help us build a stronger generation. For me, ministry and journalism go hand in hand and today I got another chance to experience that with my girls!
What a wonderful opportunity to hear the accomplishments of so many journalists and have the chance to honor them at such an extravagant event (Salute To Excellence). I heard that the Gala is the most anticipated and most well attended event of the whole convention every year! I was so glad to be counted in the number of those in attendance. I was accompanied by some very nice people, we shared laughs and conversation and exchanged business cards with one another. One thing that I learned is that there are always opportunities to network at events like this. With that in mind, I do my best to stay ready.
Day Five: 8/7/16
NABJ Gospel Brunch
I was one of the first in the Gospel Brunch event space and found a vacant table in the center of the room (perfect for taking pictures!) Shortly after sitting down, I was greeted with such kindness by Gospel Recording Artist (and my Facebook Friend), Kevin Levar and his wife, Shondale Levar.
Mrs. Levar and I had a lovely conversation prior to the start of the program. Within five minutes or so of conversing with her, she shared with me that wanted to keep in touch with me and that she wanted to keep me in mind for some events that she and Kevin were going to be doing in the near future (Simply Ari may be covering some more events soon! How exciting!!!)
The performances by Kevin Levar, Jarmel Evans, and Lisa Page Brooks were wonderful and the food was delicious! It was a pleasant surprise to also hear the testimony of journalist Jarrett Hill, who is most notably recognized for detecting that 22 words from the RNC speech given by Melania Trump were in fact, copied verbatim from First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama's speech from years prior (2008).
It was neat to be able to get some face time with him at the end of the event, speak with him briefly about how much his testimony blessed me, take a few photos to commemorate the moment, and connect over Instagram and Twitter shortly there after.
This event was the perfect way to end my NABJ Convention Experience!!! I am really looking forward to keeping in touch with the people that I met and following up with the contacts that I made while there. I hope very much to attend the next year's Convention in New Orleans!!!
The District is a semi-posh area with scenic landscapes, a rich history, and nooks around every corner with interesting stories. It is truly a place like no other; where adventures find you and experiences are what you make them.
This summer, my younger sister and I decided that we would get out of the house as much as possible and one of our favorite places to go is into Washington DC. It’s a short trip, but we always have big fun! As coffee enthusiasts, we like to explore the coffee shop circuit in the District and discover which places tickle our fancy.
We happened upon a coffee house on a non-hectic corner of Northwest called Le Pain Quotidien. This adorable shop has a rustic look and organic feel. The ambiance: chic minimalistic light fixtures, distressed wooden walls, communal sized tables and chairs, and large windows allowing for natural sunlight to stream in, adds to the overall tranquility of the space.
What keeps my sister and me coming back is the variety of hot and cold beverages on the menu and the kind nature of the people who work there. The price range for any drink on Le Pain Quotidien’s menu is two (2) to five (5) dollars depending on whether or not you get a small or a large. The coffee is superb. Whether it’s hot or iced it will definitely put pep in your step. Want something a little more mild? Try their Chai Latte. It is the perfect blend of spice and sweetness (sweetened with organic agave nectar).
If you’re looking for some sustenance to go with your morning or afternoon coffee, keep in mind that you can spend anywhere from $3.95 for a pastry to just under $15 for a breakfast omelet or salad. I suspect that is because everything here is organic. Le Pain Quotidien prides itself on being 100% Botanical/Vegan and this year the café is celebrating 25 years of successful business! They are certainly doing something right!
Be sure to stop in!
Le Pain Quotidien Carroll Square
975 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
We couldn’t leave DC without having another coffee shop excursion, so we headed up to 18th St. NW to check out Tryst which is a Coffeehouse, Bar and Lounge. Tryst is a unique space, perfect for hipsters in the DMV. There is such an eclectic mix of people who come through the establishment: from young professionals to a more seasoned group of men and women. Those who choose to dine in are either sitting on colorful couches or by windows with their faces nestled in front of their Apple laptops.
Tryst’s menu is just as unique as the people who work there and prices for food are reasonably priced from nine (9) dollars to twelve (12) dollars. They have ALL Day brunch with yummy options to satisfy the pallet of any breakfast connoisseur, salads,sharable nachos and quesadillas and for those with a sweet tooth, they also have decadent desserts.
Tryst has a wide variety of drinks as well; with non-alcoholic drinks ranging between $2.75 to $5 and cocktails, wines and beers that are priced anywhere from eight (8) to twelve (12) dollars by the glass.
My sister got an Americano and I sipped on an Iced Mexican coffee, both were an acquired taste, not bad, just different.
For a DC spot, Tryst has a vibe all its own.
Next time you’re near Dupont Circle, make Tryst one of your stops and see what you think.
2459 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Bloggers and Cocktails and Giveways oh my!
My goal for 2016 has been to attend and cover more events and continue working toward making Simply Ari a household name in the field of Journalism. Part of my strategy is to put myself in front of other journalists, news makers and bloggers and in part, share my vision with them.
Last night, I had the esteemed pleasure of attending my first Blogger Scene event hosted by DC area bloggers Natalie Pinto (The Fashionably Broke), Julien Garman (It’s Julien) and Alicia Chew (Alicia Tenise) located on the rooftop of the beautiful Embassy Row Hotel in Washington DC. There I met and conversed with lifestyle bloggers, fashion bloggers, entrepreneurs and the like. I listened to a panel of blogging experts: Sara Azani (Style MBA), Diana (MissLustLocal) and Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga (Diego Downtown) who gave great advice to the attendants. Some of the main points that the panel touched on were how to stand out as a blogger and how they as full-time bloggers are adjusting to Instagram's recent algorithm change.
To be a true stand out in the blogosphere they advised the following:
Diego brought up an interesting additional point saying to "go through your own feed and figure out what your theme is."
Guests also had the opportunity to hear from a client of a few of the hosts of the event too. She offered a unique perspective and shared what clients are looking for from bloggers: personal/face to face interaction, having clean images across websites and social media platforms, inspiring content, sharing your “youness” with the world in a unique way; “it’s about lifestyle, real life; your internal journey and authenticity.”
To me, the greatest take away was being surrounded by and conversing with passionate people who have a clear vision, are working toward making their dreams a reality and building their businesses. As I sipped my PeachE Punch Mocktail and watched the sunset over the District, I snapped pictures with new friends, exchanged information with potential collaborators and processed all that I learned and I’m looking forward to applying them in the near future.
Thank you Blogger Scene!
As an introvert, I am typically the “Wall Flower” at social functions; you know, the person that stands on the wall and observes her surroundings? The Lord however is stretching me in this area. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend my first journalism event at The National Press Club in Washington DC. It was a “Diverse Social Media Editors and Digital Journalists Facebook Meet Up”. I had prepared myself a few days before the event, reading up on the speakers who were going to be in attendance; Sarah Glover, NBC Television Networks Social Media Editor, and Gene Demby, the Lead Blogger of “Code Switch” at NPR (National Public Radio). The night before, I printed off a few of my resumes (you can never be too prepared), I opened my fresh new pack of business cards and took a moment to pray about what I should wear to this event. As I rummaged through my closet, I happened upon a hot pink dress that I had recently purchased from H&M a few months ago, and I felt confirmation in my spirit that that was what I was supposed to wear. So I laid out the outfit with the necessary accessories and went to bed excited and a bit nervous about the next morning.
When it was time to leave yesterday, I checked and double checked to make sure I had everything I needed to make a good impression. When I arrived and stood outside of the National Press Club, I had butterflies in my stomach. I realized in that moment that this was the first step toward getting my name out to influential people in the field. Unlike others who may have been in the room, I wasn’t going to be promoting someone else’s business, I was going to be promoting me, Simply Ari. I took a deep breath and swung opened the building’s big, beautiful glass doors and walked inside. As my heels clacked on the marble floors toward the gold elevators, I rehearsed my 60 second sell in my head over and over again. In the elevator, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would bring peace to my spirit, order my steps and guide each conversation that I had with individuals in the room.
When I arrived on the 13th floor, I said to myself, “OK Ari, this is it. You’ve got this.” Nervous to enter an area with about 100 people, maybe a few more; I found a quiet corner of the room and observed the them. I saw young professionals and seasoned men and women and tried to assess where I fit in. Like a turtle in its shell, I began to poke my head out and walk around the event space, and as I was scanning the room, a young woman stopped me and complimented me on my dress. That conversation helped break the ice. She and I spoke up until the speakers took their places on the platform to get started. She went back to her seat and I found another spot toward the back of the room and awaited the hosts discussion.
Ms. Glover lead the discussion and Mr. Demby enthusiastically gave his perspective on the topics being discussed. They talked about the importance of mentorship, having people in your corner who can vouch for you, being an advocate for news and the stories that are being overlooked by mainstream media, the power of Social Media in our society, the importance of “Black Twitter”, the importance of credibility, establishing trust between a publication and its readers, and as journalists, verifying your facts. As Demby, went into depth about what “Code Switch” is, what it discusses and why it is relevant today, his face illuminated and the passion that he has for his work was evident. I was left so inspired. Shortly thereafter, the discussion part of the event was over, guests were invited to mix and mingle with each other. I began to scan the room again and got a glass of water, before venturing out to speak with anyone else. My goal was to speak with the two keynote speakers and let them know how much I enjoyed the discussion. But God took me in a different direction, I met another young woman who was in a pretty yellow dress and she and I conversed for awhile exchanging thoughts about the event, and eventually exchanged information as well. Then I got in line to speak to Ms. Glover. I took a deep breath, and extended my hand to introduce myself and share with her how much I enjoyed hearing her speak. She was kind to me, so kind in fact that she took me around the room and introduced me to other professionals that she knew, the Director of Membership for The National Press Club, along with a few others including the Digital Lead at NBC. I could hardly believe what was happening. The Lord was providing opportunities, and opening doors left and right. My heart was so full, and the more I got to talk about Simply Ari and my plans after graduation (May of 2016), the more comfortable I became. I then had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Demby and he too was kind and seemed genuinely interested in my pursuits. The icing on the cake for me was the willingness of both Sarah and Gene to take pictures with me to commemorate this exciting milestone in my life. It was a perfect end to a perfect evening, I honestly don’t think that I could have prayed for anything more. And to think it all started with a little pink dress!
It is my sincerest hope that I will be able to attend more events like this in the future. I want to surround myself with people who are passionate about the work that they do, build confidence when speaking to professionals in my field about the work that I do, and build a strong network around me of individuals who will challenge me, teach me, believe in me and who can mentor me in new and exciting ways.
I am so grateful to the Lord for meeting me, and I look forward to walking out my purpose as the Holy Spirit leads!
When Ari isn't out covering events, she's working on bettering herself as a journalist, attending writer-related events, or enjoying spontaneous excursions in and around the Washington DC Metropolitan area.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.