4 Projects for 2015: Renovations With Return

interracial couple, DIY, home improvement, homeowners, S.C Rhyne

If you and your partner have been thinking about ways to boost the property value of your home, now’s the time. The Wisconsin housing market took a hit a few years back, but after seeing the market results for 2014, particularly in the southeastern region, there’s anticipation of a major bounce back in 2015. According to predictions by BizTimes, the metro Milwaukee area may end up leading the nation in home sale prices this year with an estimated 4.9 percent increase. To jump in on this action, here’s a list of four manageable projects to improve the value of your home this year.

Garage door replacement

Replacing the garage door is one of the easiest, inexpensive improvements you can make. Plus, you can do it yourself. If you have a standard 16×7-foot door and tracks, the only thing you have to do is remove the old door and tracks and install a new four-section door, one with updated, galvanized steel tracks. Most of the time, you can reuse the existing motorized opener. With some new nylon rollers and galvanized steel hinges, you’re in business.

A new garage door adds curb appeal and a certain level of security in the eyes of potential buyers, plus a 10-year limited warranty never hurts.

Adding a deck

Another DIY project with a high return-on-investment (ROI) is building a new deck. The average 16×20-foot deck is composed of pressure-treated joists propped by 4×4 posts, and can be completed in as little as a weekend. Using a simple linear pattern, and including a decorative built-in planter or bench offers an artistic flare and visual appeal to any interested buyers.

Although this is a project you can do yourself, you’ll still need heavy machinery. Don’t underestimate the time and money you can save by renting the proper equipment, as having to re-do your work or hire someone to fix mistakes will have you kicking yourself later. Rule of thumb: commit to quality the first time to avoid any issues later.

Adding a garage

Adding a garage is a bit of a craps shot in renovation because individual buyers have individual needs and desires, but in the northeastern U.S., with its inclement rain and snow, a garage can make or break a deal. On average, a two-door garage should be between 20 and 24 feet wide and between 22 to 25 feet deep. If you plan to use the garage as a selling point, you may need the help of professionals for this. Adding electrical, plumbing and air ducts for heating and cooling would definitely increase construction costs, but but buyers will see the potential of converting the space into an additional habitable room should they have no need for a garage.

Repaving the driveway

Like the garage door, the driveway is also one of the first impressions your home will make on any interested viewers. And while it can be a DIY project, it’s not an easy job by any means. The old driveway will need to be removed in order to lay the new materials. Once again, having the right equipment is crucial.

The majority of driveways are concrete. It is not the most stunning of materials but it is durable, inexpensive and requires little maintenance. Plus, concrete is simple to lay. The average cost of a concrete driveway is around $3,540. Hiring pavers will naturally drive up the cost, but they can add detail to the laying, like stamped or colored concrete, if you want a more customized look.

This year is full of housing market promise, so when opportunity comes knocking, make sure it’s on a new door.

A Winning Wednesday

winning, inspiration, quotes, S.C Rhyne

I apologize for the delay, but I finally heard back from the winners of the #SpaGiveAway and the #BookGiveAway from a couple of weeks ago!

Thus, I want to formally congratulate Cyndi Barber (@CNeverenufshoes). She will receive a copy of The Reporter and The Girl! For the next prize, the spa gift certificate to La’Alegria will go to Lee Ann Howlett (@lah_ann)!

So if you meet either of these wonderful ladies on twitter, please send tweets of congratulations!

I’m still currently running the $100 shopping spree of Necessary Clothing’s online store.

This giveaway is only open to U.S Residents and to enter all you have to do is follow and tweet me or post on my Facebook fan page the phrase:

Take me on a #ShoppingSpree @ReporterandGirl for 100 bucks! #BlogContest

So remember to follow me on twitter or like my fan page and post that phrase! You can visit the trendy retailer’s website at http://necessaryclothing.com/

Blog contest will end March 31st.

And even if you have not yet won a prize from one of my blog contests; today we are all winners! As the biggest goal is not getting a free book or some clothes, but rather to make a change in your life or someone you care about for the better. So what happened to you today that made you a winner?

Today, I drove 150 miles outside of New York City, at the crack of dawn, to reconnect with old mentors from my college. I also got a couple a of good leads, in terms of networking and professional development. #WinningWednesday! So share me your #WinningWednesday story.

@ReporterandGirl or Facebook: TheReporterandTheGirl

The Three Types of People

walking away, difficult times, s.c rhyne, interracial blog, author

I was having a difficult time figuring out what I would write this week. I seem to rant a lot, whether its about work or my personal life; but truth is — everyone goes through some kind of crap. Thus, I didn’t want this post to be all about wallowing in it.

Especially on a Saturday night!

Between the blog, my job, and everything else; I have met a lot of people, many of whom I couldn’t guess their names and some who will stay in my memory.

Thus, there are three kinds of people in our lives. These are the people whom we will never forget because they impacted us during our most trying times.

The One Who Helped You in a Difficult Time

We’ve all had a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year.  But the one who has helped you through this, is the one you will remember. They are the ones you will want in your life but unfortunately there will be very few of them around. I have been fortunate to have those very few around me, and I have also been ungrateful enough to let a few of those folks walk out of my life.

I took a trip to Mexico with my best friend (since elementary school) about 8 years ago, and this was the last time I saw her. Long story short, my wallet was stolen by some European tourists, and through the police reports, an overnight at the precinct, and scouring the beaches to find the bastards– I really gave her a hard time. Especially afterwards when we came back to the United States I suggested that we should not hang out as much.

I completely regret my actions. To this day I haven’t apologized to her, although I want to. I just don’t know how.

So that was one down for me, and I went quite a while without having another one.

The One Who Left You in a Difficult Time

Well, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Someone with 3 thousand Facebook friends or half a million twitter followers may not even have a friend to call and chat with on a Friday night.

Hell, I even think that the more followers and profiles that one has may actually show how lonely and even unpopular they are in real life; because, it takes a lot of time and mobile technology to constantly maintain social media.

So how many of the people in your life would give you a ride if you were stranded? Loan money in a pinch? Even give you an encouraging word when you feel down or things just aren’t going your way? That seems like a short list, and for those that only stay when times are good– are the folks you need to clear out ASAP!

I still remember the hurt the night I came home after I lost my job. My coworkers were like my family – we gave gifts, ate lunch together nearly everyday, I had even met their families; but that night only one person called me. He is the only one I still talk to, to this day.

And here’s the irony — almost a year later the bosses let everyone I knew go.

The One Who Put You Through a Difficult Time

So this last person is very important. There are not many people who will put you through a tough time. Yes, bosses can be over-demanding, teachers can be unfair, the cop that pulled you over is a jerk. But nonetheless, the one that has put you through hell, was only able to do so because you let that person in…so close.

You were vulnerable, maybe for a time you thought that this was the person who would be there — always. This is the person that dragged you through hell, only for you to come out the other side stronger because you survived the darkness and malevolence. This is the one that tried to break you but only ended up hurting him/herself.

This one is *Jon*, who ultimately inspired me to start writing, kickboxing, and anything the hell else I wanted because I had nothing to lose except for trying.

Everyone should know at least one person who is this; because this is the person that changed you.

Tell me about him or her.


Facebook: TheReporterandTheGirl

Give Aways!

I notified the winners for the book and spa give aways and will announce it as soon as they permit me to.

I am doing another give away, this time with Necessary Clothing, the lucky winner will receive $100 to shop from their store! This giveaway is only open to U.S Residents and to enter all you have to do is follow and tweet me or post on my Facebook fan page the phrase:

Take me on a #ShoppingSpree @ReporterandGirl for 100 bucks! #BlogContest

So remember, follow me on twitter or like my fan page and post that phrase! You can visit the trendy retailer’s website at http://necessaryclothing.com/

Let The Good Times Roll!


And the bad ones….drop?

Wow, another crazy last few weeks for me, and I don’t even know where to begin…I guess the beginning.

I have been working for the city government for the past year in a small office of 3 employees which has slowly grown to 7. However that is not to say there hasn’t been turn-overs. We rely heavily on volunteers/interns and since I started, about 4 permanent staff have came and left; and in terms of time, I have the most seniority.

I apparently have a knack for sticking out tough situations (see Chapter 16. Frenemies) and workload juggling. Alas, it seemed like I may have had a budding romance; a gentleman, whom we will call Dave (in no way similar to his real, unique name) is also public servant but works in a different division, and since day one has been flirtatious.

According to my male coworkers, he was very flirty — I didn’t notice. And for the last few months, Dave has been taking great strides to be available for our small office…whether its calling in to check if an order arrived, or making a visit to try and fix technical problems we may have. I always thought he was a hardworking individual who paid attention to all offices like this….

Anyway, I got to know him and he seemed cool– he had mentioned he liked working out, and did I mention I like working out? So on one Sunday, a couple of weekends ago, he met me at my house at 11 a.m sharp and we drove in his SUV to the gym.

Problem #1 Off the bat, I noticed that it was taking us quite a while to drive down the main road before turning off to another main road. “Oh, you’re gonna keep going straight” I tell him. And he replies, “alright, I didn’t know where I was going.” This led to a whopping increase of 20 miles per hour (mph) to 25 (that is 33 kilometers per hour to 40). So, this is really fucking slow.

There’s no traffic. Its Sunday morning. And a drive that I can do in 25 minutes, has now taken almost 10 minutes just to get to the off ramp of the expressway that’s like a mile from my house.

So…..45 minutes later we get to the gym. And no…even when we had gotten to the off ramp of the expressway, where the speed limit is 40 and people are going 50– because they don’t want to be rammed from behind– he faithfully followed the speed limit of the residential zones.

Problem #2 No motivation. Guys, no girl likes a quitter. Now I know folks have different interests and hobbies etc…and one thing may motivate you more than something else. But when you’re out with a fellow or gal you like, you better put in some decent amount of effort to show an interest in their interests.

Now this ain’t no yoga class: its boot camp. This means jump roping for a minute straight, followed by 20 push-ups, followed by chair jumps, followed by 2 sets of jump squats, followed by sprints…etc you get the point. There are breaks during class, and anyone is more than welcome to sit out and take an extra break. Dave sat out and down after the first 20 minutes — for the rest of class.

At first he complained of dizziness and of course he should sit and I offered him water. I had introduced him around earlier, so other classmates went up to him from time to time and asked how he was doing and offered him anything; but he sat down for most of the remainder 40 minutes. At one point, he got up to do chair jumps, but that’s a waste. After starting exercise, once you sit down for that long and let your heart rate drop so low, it’s hard to do even one set.

Problem #3 He didn’t shower afterwards. Dude, I know you only worked out for 20 minutes, but you still poured sweat. You were told to bring a towel and a change of clothes and shower slippers.

Problem #4 THE SLOW FUCKING DRIVE ON THE WAY BACK! He admitted it was so he can spend more time talking to me. Well, had we gotten to gym earlier, we could have talked while we warmed up on the treadmill or did some partner stretching.

Partner Stretching:

From injuryfix.com Exercise is Fun!
partner stretching
From yogini.net.ru Assume the Position!

Problem #5 He’s lonely. We did talk and I fed him some soup. But when he told me about himself…living alone, and spending most of his time online, on computer games, at work, and not having any real friends. I summed up that he’s trying to fill a void somewhere. I live alone, and spend alot of time at work, and on the computer too, with my lovely blog family. But I also try to make time to socialize (I hang out alot at the gym) and get drunk with friends after work and few weekends drink responsibly with friends after work and on a few weekends. I’m also looking to pursue other hobbies that will take me out there, but time and money are constraining me now.

Problem #6 RED FLAG! I did call him the day after and he complained of soreness, and asked for a nurse to come over (me). We talked here and there over the few weeks and ironically, on Friday, I called to see how he was doing. Turns out that he injured his foot and had been home on bed rest for the last couple days. He started out the conversation stating, “I need a nurse, will you be my nurse?” Now, honestly when he told me that he wasn’t feeling well, I thought it was a cold or something because his voice sounded off. Now in hindsight, I’m pretty sure he was drunk. After I had redirected the conversation to talk about other things like work and the hectic week, he came back to say, “so what time are you coming over?”

Me: “I didn’t say I was coming over tonight.”

Dave: “Oh you didn’t? I thought you said you were coming over tonight, I need a nurse, are you coming over?”

Me: “Dave, I think you need doctor, you seem like you need more help than a nurse can provide.”

Dave: ” No, I already took one of those Oxycontin pills for the swelling, but I need a nurse, what time will you come over? I need you to be my nurse.”

And after three minutes of asking for a wet nurse I finally (politely) hung up.

Problem #7 This guy has too many problems. Obviously, the last thing I need is one more.

So, no budding office romance for me. But I kept an open mind until I ran the other way after Friday night’s call. So, with everything that happened in the last two years I can say I learned something. Ladies, pay attention to those Red Flags!

The Book and Spa Gift Certificate #GiveAway is ending this Tuesday March 10th. So you have until Tuesday night EST at 11:59pm to follow and tweet me either phrase for a chance to win!


Like Your Wedding Day, Plan An Unforgettable Anniversary

couple boating, boating, riding off into the sunset, the reporter and the girl, Jon Sudbury

The day you and your spouse exchanged vows was the most perfect, memorable and exciting day of your lives up until then. Now you’re looking forward to another one of those amazing, memorable days…but once you’re married, what day is that? For some, it’s the day you become a parent, but not every couple wants kids. Does that mean, if you decide not to have kids, you’ll never have another perfect, memorable best-day-of-your-life day?

Of course not. Who says you can’t have at least one of those every year? Kids or no kids, your wedding was the first of the perfect-memorables, so it makes sense to celebrate every anniversary as though it’s your wedding day; except without the white dress and guest list of 100. So go above-and-beyond for anniversaries to pay respect to the day that changed everything forever.

Treasure Hunt

This can be an exciting way to not only have some fun with each other, but help build the suspense and anticipation for what comes after. If you are going to do a scavenger hunt, make sure you take some time a few days in advance and plan everything out. Determine how large you want the hunt to be. Is it going to just involve areas of your house or will you be venturing all over the neighborhood?

Set everything up a day or two in advance. You can write the clues and hide them at any time, just make sure they are places that your spouse won’t come across on accident before the hunt starts. You can do this as a surprise to him or her or you can both plan a scavenger hunt for the other, ending at the same place. You can even change things up and do scavenger hunts where the hints include items like candles or chocolates or toys that have to be collected and possibly even be used later in the evening.

Boating Adventure

Sometimes the perfect day is simply getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, even if it’s just for a few hours. If this is what you are thinking, consider taking a cruise out on the lake. The peaceful waters and beautiful scenery are often the ideal setting for a romantic day or evening with your husband or wife. Just make sure you cover all your bases, as most states in the U.S. and Canada require a boat operator’s license. The last thing you want is for your evening to be ruined because of a legal snafu.

Picnic Under the Stars

As long as the weather permits, a nighttime picnic is one of the most romantic ways to celebrate another year of marriage. Find the perfect spot and set everything up earlier in the day: a large comfortable blanket, flowers and rose petals strewn about, champagne and desserts waiting in a cooler. You can even bring along a portable speaker to add some ambiance with both light and music.

Remember, your wedding anniversary only comes around once a year; although you’ll never forget the day you said “I do,” by taking that extra little step to make your husband or wife feel special and appreciated, you can relive that beautiful day every year and keep your marriage brimming with love and romance.


The book and spa give away is still active! Follow and tweet me @ReporterandGirl these phrases:

Book GiveAway

But love is another world altogether…& this is not a love story @ReporterandGirl #DebutNovel http://ow.ly/JmeFC #BookGiveAway

Spa Gift Certificate

The Wonders of Italian Beauty (Free Giveaways Inside!) http://wp.me/p2MqP7-nb via @reporterandgirl #SpaGiveAway

The Wonders of Italian Beauty (Free Giveaways Inside!)

erbe, beauty salon, italian beauty, dancers, La'Alegria

Wow, these last two weeks have been crunch time for me!

I attended a spa launching in the SoHo district of Manhattan; the salon, La’Alegria, has been in business for over two decades providing “warm and intimate” services to their clients with authentic all-natural Italian products.

So first thing I noticed is that the salon was full of folks from the neighborhood, even those that were not regular customers. You don’t usually get that with many salons, so after talking with people who came to support the new launching– I was impressed. This business has made a positive impact.

Another important factor to me is diversity.

Beauty salons, sadly in my experience, have not always been competent to work with clients of color. Even though I have not used Erbe products nor have been a client of theirs; the crowd had men and women of different races and ages. One African American woman had even flown in for the weekend to attend the launch. She has been using their skin care products for ten years, and even though she lives out-of-state, she still orders them and have them shipped to her.

So with products that are all-natural and not tested on animals, it seems that a cream or cleanser from this line may end up in my bathroom cabinet soon enough.

Every attendee was given a $30 gift certificate to use at the spa; thus, as a gift to my dear readers I am giving away the gift certificate. It expires in February 2016, so if you are in New York, or planning to take a trip here within the next year, why not treat yourself at La’ Alegria Spa?

So I will choose one random winner who follows me on twitter here and tweets out the link of this post (you can do this via the sharing button below). Make sure my handle @ReporterandGirl is included in the tweet and the hashtag #SpaGiveAway

But that’s not all!

This past Valentine’s/Singles’ Awareness Day I also did a swanky event at Bed Vyne Brew in Brooklyn, where I sold autograph copies of my debut novel. It was very exciting and we even ended up staying longer than originally planned; folks also responded positively to the brief readings I did.

book table, books, pink cane, the reporter and the girl, love you up
Is that what I think it is?

I had brought some props that were featured in the book (as you can see to your left). But most importantly, everyone had fun and a good time. The band was awesome and the wine was flowing, so I really want to give a shout-out to Bed Vyne Brew for hosting me and the lovely ladies to feature my book and their wonderful body oils.

Thus, I will also give away a signed paperback copy of The Reporter and The Girl! Just follow me on twitter and tweet the phrase:

But love is another world altogether…& this is not a love story @ReporterandGirl #DebutNovel http://ow.ly/JmeFC #BookGiveAway

So happy tweeting, following, and hastagging folks! I’ll see you on the horizon!

Buy the eBook! It is now .99 Cents! Get it while it’s hot!

Aromatherapy: Scents For The Soul

oils, body oil, essential oil, aromatherapy, S.C Rhyne

***This Saturday, at Bed-Vyne Brew in Brooklyn, will be my book signing, scented oils release, and wine!***

Got a case of the winter blues? A lot of people get sad this time of year — the days are short and dark, it’s cold and dreary and we spend most of our time shut away indoors. You’re listless, don’t have much enthusiasm and generally just feel blah.

If you’re also experiencing changes in your eating or sleeping habits, feeling hopeless or worthless or thinking about suicide, you could be suffering from a serious form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In this case, seek medical attention as soon as possible. But if you’re symptoms are less dire and more doldrum-y, you may benefit from aromatherapy.

What’s Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils and plant extracts to maintain and promote physical, mental and spiritual well-being. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse coined the term his 1937 book, “Aromatherapie.”

Inhaling these aromatic essential oils stimulates the sniffer’s olfactory system, which sends a signal to his or her limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions and retrieves learned memories. This signal causes a release of chemicals that can make the subject feel calm and relaxed or alert and stimulated, depending on the scent and the individual’s emotional response to it.

The scientific community has no hard proof that aromatherapy can directly heal you from a physical ailment, but there is ample evidence that it can make you feel good and boost your mood. This study found a link between aromatherapy and mood enhancement, and as William Malarkey, professor of internal medicine and one of the study’s researchers pointed out, “If an individual patient uses these oils and feels better, there’s no way we can prove it doesn’t improve that person’s health.”

Using Aromatherapy to Boost Your Mood

Aromatherapy is practiced by rubbing the essential oil on the skin or inhaling the scent. These oils can also be included in massage oils, lotions and candles. Here’s a guide to get you started:

  • As an air freshener. Citrus (particularly lemon) oils are a great way to stimulate the senses and help you feel energized. Add a few drops of the essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water and spray the room a few times.
  • In the bath or hot tub. Geranium, lavender and bergamot reduce anxiety and stress. Add 6-8 drops of these to your bath, or add crystal beads and elixirs scented with these oils to your bath or hot tub.
  • As you relax. Essential oils of juniper, rosemary, lavender, fennel, carrot, grapefruit, lemon and cedar wood are all said to increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Add a few drops to a warm, wet wash cloth and place it on your forehead as you relax.
  • In lotion and massage oil. Add several drops of chamomile, sage or clove oil to your favorite unscented lotion or to jojoba oil.
  • In a plain, unscented candle. Light an unscented candle and add a few drops of jasmine, juniper berry, peppermint or ylang ylang oil to the melted wax as it burns.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match your oils. Keep trying combinations and delivery methods until you find the combination that works for you. You can find essential oils at health food stores, alternative/New Age shops and, of course, online.

**I hope to see you all at Bed Vyne, we will also perform sensual massages demos with the new body oils. Share with me your favorite scent!**


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