15 June 2017

Fresh Coats DIY: Updating Old Spaces Easy & Affordable

So I've been doing a lot of updating to my home over the past two years and it's quickly become more than just a hobby for me. It's been fun to see the drastic changes and even more exciting to be able to see my own vision come to life. It's an antique home built in the 1920's and I will say that the decision to keep it vs buying a newer home has been rewarding but not without it's challenges. I had a full bathroom and kitchen remodel about 2 years ago and I still get mesmerized walking through both rooms reminiscing on how far this little house has come. I'll share a few before & after photos of that in another post but today I wanted to share a glimpse of a smaller project I'm currently working on.

I recently cleared out a bonus bedroom in my attic. I initially was unsure of what I wanted to do with the space but now I've decided to turn the room into a cozy little dressing/sitting area. All of the walls in the attic are paneled wood except for the main bedroom which I had drywall and insulation put in a few months ago. I painted over the paneled walls in the smaller room (that's become my current project) several years ago. Although my initial paint job wasn't perfect, it still looked way better than those ugly brown panels that had been scraped up over the years. I really wanted to tear down all of the paneling in the attic but the one room (my bedroom) that I did do was quite expensive.

So I figured why not just save some coins and slap a fresh coat of paint in the bonus room. Besides the surface imperfections the walls were still in pretty good shape. Only this time I decided to go the professional route and just hire someone. My little paint job held up over the years but I painted that entire room yellow...from the ceiling to the trim to the doors. I don't know what I was thinking lol. I wanted to brighten it up a bit and make it girly so I chose a pretty rose pink for the walls. I couldn't be more happier with the color.

Here are a few before & after pics. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do!

In my bedroom I also had some unfinished closet doors I had installed last year. I'd been meaning to paint it forever but finally got around to it. I wanted to do something a little different than basic white doors so I decided to go with a metallic silver. I absolutely love how it came out!

A few before & after photos. The camera truly doesn't do the beauty of this color justice but it's really pretty!

That's it for now but I'll be sure to post some updates once I get the room finished.


12 May 2017

The Makings of Me: Discovering my Heritage + AncestryDNA Results

For as long as I can remember I've always been quite intrigued about my family's history but the attempts to dig deeper into our roots always seemed to end with a concrete wall. I mean, I could only verbally trace back so far, only about 2 generations to be exact. Which included my maternal & paternal grandparents on my mother and father's sides and my great-grandparents whom they only had vague memories of. I remember my grandfather telling me stories of fighting in WWII and the Korean wars. I could listen to him for hours and I wish I had documented the memories before he passed.

My grandfather, Korea 1950

Being African American the loss of our family history is just the reality for most of us. Of course, I know the painful truth of the less than pleasant voyage of how we got here but I also feel like I deserve to know who I am beyond just the descendant of a people who were stripped from their culture. Thankfully, through science and forever progressive technology I am finally able to tap more into my long awaited journey of self discovery.  Although there are so many options, choosing the right DNA test for me was pretty simple. I wanted something that had a confident probability rate, that was straightforward and specific in terms of possible trace regions. AncestryDNA had all of that and more. In an effort to not make this sound overly complicated here's the simply put version of how Ancestry's DNA testing works. You send them a saliva sample and they run it through their labs. The process can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks or more depending on the demand. My test took exactly 9 weeks, it was received on February 14th and my results were ready on April 15th. In your sample, Ancestry looks at what's called your Autosomal DNA which has the ability to look at both your maternal and paternal lines and discover your genomes (chromosomes that are present in a living cell) in over 700,000 locations where genetics markers appear in your DNA. To my understanding this is how they also identify specific regions and countries that you are likely from. They basically take their findings and compare it to other DNA with similar traits.

Going into this I recognize that this science isn't exact but more so an estimate of my possible lineage. With centuries of lost generations it's impossible to know all the specific details of your family history but for me, this DNA test at least gives me a structured understanding of where I came from and what makes me individually me. Which brings me to my results. In the midst of waiting I became more obsessed by the day with watching people's DNA results on YouTube. I couldn't wait to see how mine compared. Honestly, to say I was shocked about some of the findings is an understatement, lol I was SHOOK. Check out my video below for a few details on my family history and my initial reactions to my results.

 Ethnicity Estimates and Percentages: 

So here's how I summed up. Below are my estimates from AncestryDNA. The continents tested were Africa, Asia, Europe and  America. Other regions tested were West Asia and the Pacific Islands. There are only 2 continents that share 100% of my DNA. Africa and Europe. All the other regions tested were 0% which dispels all the family related tales and random stranger observations of "wow you look *insert random ethnicity here* LOL! I must admit that I am still sorta shocked. Not at being from Africa and Europe but shocked at the percentages. I already had a general idea of what to expect based on history. If you're African American there really should be no shock in having a majority of DNA from Africa and some traces from Europe. European DNA isn't a shock because of the slave trade. Many slaves were raped and conceived children by their owners. I think the shock factor for me is solely on the percentages. Being 64% African was a shock as I expected that number to be much higher. Most of the result videos I watched, African American's were in the 75-95 African percentile with only small percentages of European. So, yes, having nearly 40% European DNA seemed pretty wild to me.


I learned that there are other websites that allow you to upload your raw DNA data files. Some of these sites offer more insight about your results as well as calculate their own geographical percentages based on their findings in your DNA.  I used DNA.Land and GEDmatch which are both completely free and only take about 24hrs to complete.

Below are my GEDmatch results. The site is a little more complex to figure out because they have so many comparison options. I found that the best option for me was the EthioHelix K10 + French Admixture Proportions. This specific comparison is best used by people who are mixed with African and European which is ideal in my scenario. With this one the percentages varied slightly and more African trace regions were found.


Next are my DNA.Land results. This site was a lot more user friendly and easier to understand. They give a detailed ancestry report which consisted of similar percentages to my AncestryDNA. With this one my African & European percentages were nearly split evenly. It also picked up a small percentage of East African which I'm curious about. A tiny percentage of Gujarati which is actually the term for the language spoken in Gujart which is a state in Western India. That's fascinating, I guess it wasn't significant enough to be picked up by Ancestry's test.


What does all this mean for me?

I am still kinda processing everything. In the grand scheme of things these percentages don't have a significant influence as to who I am today. I am black, I have always identified as black and always will. I'm very proud of that. I am proud of all the pieces that make me, me. I am proud of the big chunk of African blood that runs through me. Being someone who's extremely conscious and slightly militant (lol) I'd be lying if I said that knowing my bloodline has been significantly diluted with Euro DNA doesn't make me feel kinda emotional. My highest Euro percentage was in Great Britain which was known to have dispatched over 10,000 voyages to Africa for slaves. And coincidentally my highest African percentage is in Ghana, in earlier years referred to as the "Gold Coast". Ghana was once the center of the British slave trade. Although it happened in many parts of West Africa, Ghana was also notoriously known for having slave dungeons along the coast which allowed them to easily sell their own people into slavery. This is what makes me uneasy on both sides of the spectrum. I kinda get this triggering sadness with the question of where did my ancestors and myself ever really belong? What could I genuinely call my homeland? Aside from the ugly history, knowing these results have given me a deeper feeling of connection so to speak.

It would be a dream to one day experience the culture of both Continents. Until then, I plan to continue my research and learn more about all of my trace regions. I would love to visit parts of Europe. Right now I feel the most passionate about connecting to my African roots. Ghana and Cameroon are my highest region percentages so I'm very interested in visiting and consuming everything I can about both countries.

If you're at all curious about your personal family history and ancestry I would highly recommend taking one of these tests. I also plan on having my parents tested as well, just to kinda get an idea of what side specific percentages come from. It's truly been an awakening experience for me and I look forward to digging deeper into my journey.


28 March 2017

Taco Tuesday: Spicy Shrimp Tacos

I mean who doesn't love tacos? I love cooking and trying new recipes but I loathe spending hours in the kitchen and cleaning up a big mess.  So to remedy that I'm always on board for a good quick and easy meal. I'd never made them before and wanted to try my hand at shrimp tacos. I found an amazing recipe for them over at Gimme Delicious. If you're into clean & healthy eating then check them out they have tons of great options.

What I love most about these tacos is that they are so fresh, light and satisfying! Almost hard to believe something so easy to make could also be packed with so much flavor. The possibilities are endless with these. I definitely plan to try new combinations of this recipe in the future.

The avocado salsa is delicious on its own but I threw in a little chopped mango and a dash of  mozzarella. You can always add whatever fixings you like to the salsa, pineapples would be yummy. 

Tomatoes, fresh jalapenos, avocados, cilantro and a dash of lime - yum!   

Trust me, these are just as delicious as they look. You can top them with a little sour cream or ready made salsa if you like. Don't forget to grill or toast your flour tortillas, enjoy! 


27 March 2017

High Museum of Art Atlanta

I've been trying to get in the spirit of doing more things around my city. It's crazy that although I've lived here all my life there are still tons of places I've never been to yet. Lots of new places and lots of old places that I'm almost ashamed of admitting to never visiting. (i.e. the historic Coca Cola Company). I don't know, I guess when you've lived in a place so long you always kinda figure you have all the time in the world to go but sometimes that just never happens. I'm working on changing that.

I love the arts, all mediums.  I've probably visited The High only a handful of times - usually intrigued by specific exhibits which sparked my recent trip. I left inspired as always and just wanted to share a few photos. If you're in the Atlanta area you should definitely check it out. Enjoy!

Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College
Depiction of the rise of blacks from slavery to freedom

Daniel Arsham "Hourglass" Exhibit

"Hourglass" by Daniel Arsham
The display features a dim room full of basketballs

A cute little house structure outside of the museum

A small unbound Qur'an written in Arabic script Maghrbi. Which was used in North Africa, Spain and Sicily in 1600.


31 December 2016

Farewell, 2016

I always have these big plans to do a full round-up post that summarizes some of my favorite things from the year but that never seems to happen as planned. I know everyone is beyond ready to throw up a big middle finger to this past year which seemed like a nonstop whirlwind of devastating losses in the entertainment world and on a personal level. But, even in the midst of all that, for me, there were still some highlights and good memories made.

2016, for me was all about appreciation, preparation, realizing my gifts, and living in the moment. This year I've learned to have a deeper appreciation for the people in my life whom I truly love and who truly love me. I don't talk about my personal life often but the past 3 years have rocked me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually to my core. I've been through so much during that 3 year process but 2016 has been a revelation period for me. With the support of genuine friendships and personal faith, this year I learned how to not allow inevitable circumstances to define the person I want to always be. The biggest and toughest lesson I gained this year is realizing that I have to meet people I love where they are in life and to not have expectations beyond their capacity. I've also learned that if there is anything dimming my light then it must go. My peace of mind and sanity comes first, always. So today in the wise words of Iyanla Vanzant,  I am detaching myself from every person, every circumstance and every situation that no longer serves a divine purpose in my life.

This year was also about rekindling my gifts. I'm very private when it comes to those but I'm learning to be more open with sharing my gifts. I've loved art since the moment I could hold a pencil in my hand. The beginning of 2016 I made a promise to myself that I would draw more. I fulfilled that promise and I'm so glad I did because so much growth and inspiration followed. I plan to do much more with my art this upcoming year and I will surely keep you up to date.

A drawing I did a few days ago

It was also such an incredible year in music. So many new projects and albums. I feel like everyone in the history of music literally toured this year. I went to SO many shows! I don't have the opportunity to go out a whole lot but when I do it's usually a concert. Music is my happy place. There is something so nurturing and therapeutic about experiencing one of your favorite musicians live and in their element.

A few clips from the concerts I attended in 2016

I don't dig too deeply into to yearly resolutions but I think 2017 will be about putting things into fruition for me. Overall, I've been blessed and look forward to what the new year has in store.


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