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Sheila's Posts

Check out all the posts by Sheila ~ (Owner/Author)

About Sheila Thomas

Hi, My name is Sheila and I am the Living Smart Girl. My goal is to bring everyone the latest and greatest tips and advice on fitness, healthy choices, recipes, shopping, beauty, home and garden, family and parenting, daily deals, travel, and so much more. I love fitness, but life is more than just exercise and when you visit Living Smart Girl you can connect the dots and live a well rounded life ~ the Living Smart way :)

I love working online and spend most of my day blogging, and researching new topics and tips to bring my readers.

Join me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LivingSmartGirl

Sheila Thomas

Love Yoga? Get a Surprise Monthly with Yogi Surprise

It seems like just yesterday that I was making my new years resolutions and vowing that 2016 would be my year. I’d finish projects that had been collecting dust, I’d start being more active, eat healthier and make more time for myself. Well, I haven’t been doing so bad with being more active or eating healthier because those are two aspects of my life that I do pretty regularly anyways but as for making more time for myself or finishing old projects, I haven’t even put a dent in those resolutions. With my busy schedule and running the blog, it’s a wonder I can get my regular day to day “chores” done without having to carve out personal time for myself or take up a hobby.

It seems like being too busy to color outside of the lines of my day to day is the soundtrack of my life. I used to love being spontaneous. Taking time off of work to enjoy the outdoors, booking a random trip or trying out new restaurants in the evening used to be balm to my soul but in recent years I’ve just become far too busy to stray from my schedule too much. Oh, how I often miss free time and the ability I used to have to soothe my soul with the things I long to do and incorporate into my busy lifestyle.

At Yogi Surprise they know that people just like you long to take hold of your life and transform it into everything they’ve been dreaming of. They formed their company around the belief that every moment of every day is a chance to open up to the life you’ve always imagined for yourself. A life filled with love, health, connection and joy is something that many of us have been longing for yet haven’t been able to obtain no matter how hard we’ve tried to make it happen. Yogi Surprise believes that by continuously choosing a path of wellness, you’ve already stepped into the current of your existence and all you have to do is ride the wave. Knowing that many of their potential customers strive to choose this path to wellness but have trouble getting themselves on the right path, Yogi Surprise has made it their mission to make this goal more obtainable.

How are they going about doing this? Yogi Surprise is a monthly care package designed to compliment your way of being. It’s like a retreat being delivered right to your doorstep, something that us busy folks will appreciate since we’ve become so desperate to free our souls from the confines of our stifling daily lives and often can’t find the time to attend retreats elsewhere. One way that Yogi Surprise can help you on your journey to obtaining wellness is to provide you with wholesome foods, holistic products and empowering accessories. Each month the company will send you 6-8 full sized products from either their Lifestyle or Jewelry Box. Each included item is designed to complement the active lifestyle and vitality that you’re trying to achieve.

Yogi Surprise is aware that you can’t always get away from the retreat you’ve been longing for so they’ve designed these special boxes to bring the retreat right to your doorstep. The goodies that come in your Yogi Surprise Subscription are designed to stimulate your senses, clear your mind and cleanse your soul.

To learn more about Yogi Surprise you can follow them on Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest|Instagram.


Hotdish and Hops Festival Fun at Valleyfair

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“Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.”
#VFFirstTimer, #VF40 #VFBestDayEver #Ad

 

This past weekend my family and I had the opportunity to visit Valleyfair for the Hotdish and Hops Festival. It was a hot one but a good one. We loved our time at the theme park and all it had to offer, including the special festival.

Because it was 90 degrees when we arrived at Valleyfair, we knew we needed to cool off right in the gate so we did what anyone else in our position would have done and that was ride The Wave.
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My poor husband. Our 15 year old told him that he wouldn’t get “that” wet.
I think that his sneakers might still be damp.
We don’t get to Valleyfair very often. In fact, the last time we did was nearly four years ago. Every time we’re there I realize how much it has changed and new things have been added but it still has some of our favorites.
New to us this visit was:
Dinosaurs Alive!
I also was again so impressed by Planet Snoopy. It was there when we visited four years ago but it was just perfect for our three year old, barely any wait for any of the rides and just such a fun part of the theme park so that she felt as though she had her own exciting rides to ride.
Of course, the older kids loved Mouse Trap, Wild Thing, Power Tower, Thunder Canyon and Monster.
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We tried to time our visit to the Hotdish and Hops Festival around lunchtime so we’d have worked up an appetite to sample a few different hot dishes.
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My favorite: the good ol’ tator tot hot dish.
Our 17 year old loved the Chicken Wild Rice hot dish.
My husband loved the spaghetti hot dish.
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There were a lot of options and each sample was good sized. Sample cards were available for purchase or if you had a meal plan, included.
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We timed it perfectly because as we arrived, the Chris Hawkey band was just getting ready to head on stage.
What a performer. Chris Hawkey was walking around with the audience, letting audience members snap selfies and thoroughly enjoying the show. It’s always so entertaining to see an entertainer really enjoying their performance versus just performing.
Once we had a chance to sit in the shade enjoying some music and food, we decided it was time to get wet in Soak City Waterpark.
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Isn’t it awesome that there is a full size water park INSIDE Valleyfair?
My girls and I enjoyed several runs around the lazy river and the wave pool. My fearless 7 year old also enjoyed a few slides.
It was busy but not too busy and there were plenty of places to seek shade and cool air too.
Of course, for me, no trip to Valleyfair is complete without some Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream, which we enjoyed before we hit up a few more rides on the way out.
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There are a lot of other festivals happening this summer at Valleyfair that you can take advantage of right here. https://www.valleyfair.com/things-to-do/special-events
 Have you been to Valleyfair? What’s your must do, ride, eat?
Living Smart Girl (Sheila) was not able to attend this great event so we sent an awesome blogger to cover it for us.  Her name is Samara and she lives in the Twin Cities and blogs about life as a family of seven.  You can find her at ~ simplicityinthesuburbs.com
samara

Common Injuries Due To Running

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Usually, if you are an avid runner at one time or another you will develop an injury of some sort. There are many different techniques and treatments you can use to avoid injury when running. Using holistic treatments like acupuncture Richmond Hill can be very effective when trying to fix these injuries. If you are looking for a great deal on this type of treatment, be sure to research to see if there are any Special Massage Packages offered in your area. The following are a few of the most common types of running injuries.

 

Runner’s Knee

 

If you are experiencing a pain near your knee cap when you’re running, then you are probably suffering from this injury. The repetitive motion of your foot hitting the pavement cause your muscles to become unbalanced and due to weak hips you will put too much stress on your knees causing this condition. Many experts recommend taping or bracing your knee when running to decrease the pain caused by runner’s knee. You may also want to consider taking some anti inflammatory medication or just cut back the amount of miles you are running on a regular basis.

 

Achilles Tendinitis

 

Achilles Tendonitis is a swelling in your lower leg muscles connective tissue that can cause a lot of pain in your calf muscles and other parts of your lower legs. Generally, this condition is caused by improper footwear or in some cases, the condition known as flat foot. The best way to help this condition is by stretching before you run and after you run to reduce the amount of cramping caused by running. You should also avoid running in hilly areas, due to the amount of stress it puts on your lower legs. Try taking anti inflammatories for this condition, to see if you have any results.

 

Plantar Fasciitis

 

Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition that is due to the tearing of the tissue on the bottom of your foot. This condition can be caused by many factors such as wearing footwear with no support when you are running. Also the use of excess force when you hit the pavement while running is also a major cause of this condition. By wearing shoes with extra cushioning you may be able to avoid the pain commonly associated with this condition. You should also get ample rest in between runs, this will give your feet a rest, which should reduce the pain.

 

By using some of the suggestions given, you will be able to continue running without pain. The shoes you wear on your run can make a big difference in the way your body responds to the effects of running. You can consult a running professional to decide what kind of shoes you should be wearing when running.

Save Money Shopping Online with Coupons

Save Money Shopping Online with Coupons

When I think of coupon clipping I think back to about 5 years ago, sitting with a stack of Sunday paper inserts and searching through them to find the coupons I needed for my weeks grocery shopping.  Or, looking to see what local stores had great deals or coupons on things I needed or wanted.  Seemed the things I wanted or needed, never had coupons for or they just were never on sale.   That was always the frustrating part of trying to paper coupon.  Thank goodness I don’t have to rely on that anymore.  Now I can Save Money Shopping Online with Coupons. I just pull up sites like PromoPro and find the coupons or deals I need and want.

PromoPro is packed with deals/coupons for thousands of merchants so there is no reason you can’t snag a great deal when you use this site.   I can’t believe I didn’t know about this site before!  Well, now I will be a shopping fiend and am sure when the packages start arriving it will be just like Christmas here.   There are many things I want to get for my yard, and my home and now I can save money doing so.

I love doing most my shopping online these days.  I belong to sites where I earn money for shopping, sites where I find great deals for shopping, and other sites where I can just earn money for whatever I want.  The internet is so awesome that way, and I can’t even imagine not being able to do things like this.  To turn back time, no thanks.

In today’s financial world saving money is a big deal.  I know for me, the money I save at stores buying things I need to live, helps me put money away for things I want, like travel, fitness products, clothing, etc.   Last year at one of my favorite sites to earn money back, I earned over $800 by shopping online.   Now, that is shopping for things we need and use daily.  Not bad huh 😉

What do you shop for online that you use coupons for?  Do you print off coupons to take in stores, or do you have an app for rewards and such?  Tell me.. I want to know your tricks too.

Join us at the Valleyfair Hotdish & Hops Festival June 18 & 19

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 “Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand,
and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.”
#VFFirstTimer, #VF40

Are you a lover of hotdishes and coasters?  Well what a better way to enjoy them both, than by visiting Valleyfair on June 18th or 19th, or both.  Maybe you are also a lover of great music?  You can do so much at Valleyfair, like go on coasters, eat till you burst, and catch Kat Perkins or Chris Hawkey.

Kat Perkins will be performing during the event on Saturday at 3:00, 4:30, and 6:00 and Chris Hawkey will be performing during the event on Sunday at 2:00, 3:30, and 5:00.

You can RSVP to the event on the Facebook Event page here.

While you are there you can ride all the fun Roller Coaster Rides too.  My favorite, Wild Thing.  What is your’s?

Grab your tickets before going to the park, and check out all the fun things you can do while you are there.

Follow Valleyfair on social media ~
Facebook: www.facebook.com/valleyfair/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valleyfairmn/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ValleyfairMN

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Living Smart Girl (Sheila) is not able to attend this great event so we are sending an awesome blogger to cover it for us.  Her name is Samara and she lives in the Twin Cities and blogs about life as a family of seven.  You can find her at ~ simplicityinthesuburbs.com

samara

Father’s Day Gifting Made Easy with Samsung

Samsung Mobile Gear VR
The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.
@BestBuy    @SamsungMobileUS     #GearVR
 

 

When it comes to technology, I’m still waiting for the hover boards and flying cars that were promised decades ago. That being said, Samsung has recently made some serious technological advances in mobile virtual reality. Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus looks like the coolest new gadget on the market. Imagine getting dropped right into the action of an epic space battle such as EVE: Gunjack. Picture being immersed in your favorite film or walking through a prehistoric forest, watching as you’re approached by a dinosaur with Jurassic World Apatosaurus. Use Samsung Gear VR to live stream your favorite games, short films, and video clips. The possibilities are endless!

 

So how do you enter this mobile virtual reality? Using Samsung Gear VR, coming soon to Best Buy. It looks a lot like you would expect, a headset that resembles goggles that fit over your eyes. The headset was designed to be light and ergonomic with soft, flexible padding. It includes a wide facial interface and fit over most eyeglasses. With the headset and select Samsung compatible device, you’ll be able to experience virtual reality with the press of an easy-to-use touchpad.

 

Easily customize your virtual and experience with the Oculus Video app. Create your own virtual environment with choices such as a home theater or even the surface of the moon! With full access to over 1 million Vimeo videos, there’s always something new to check out. Twitch, a leading video platform and community for gamers, is also available. Speaking of gamers, you can take yours to the next level with the Steelseries Stratus XL Wireless controller.  Of course, there are hundreds of full-length Hollywood movies and TV shows available for purchase.

Samsung Mobile June 2

 

Other options include:

 

Samsung Milk VR puts you in the middle of amazing 360 degree virtual adventures such as the world’s fastest cars, live music performances, exciting documentaries, and more.

 

Discovery VR brings the world to life from a redwood forest to swimming with sharks in a cage.

 

My 360 puts you into the mix with celebrities, pro athletes, and supermodels.

 

Father’s Day is fast approaching and I think it’s safe to say gifting them the Samsung Gear VR and giving them their own virtual world would rack up some serious cool points. I’m positive it would make an excellent graduation gift as well. Best Buy has an amazing deal from 6/5 through 6/18 both online and in stores. With the purchase or lease and activation of select Samsung smartphones you can receive a free Samsung Gear VR, plus $50 of virtual reality content.

 

Eating Healthy on Vacation

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Vacations are a great way to relax and unwind, and leave our everyday stresses behind for awhile. However, escaping from our everyday routine may lead to our diet and exercise routines getting a bit off-track. Traveling often means dining out more often than usual, and indulging in foods we might normally avoid. Luckily, you can stick to a healthy diet without having to avoid your favorite foods.

 

Here are some of my favorite tips for eating healthy while still enjoying your vacation (yes, you can still have dessert!):

 

Keep an eye on portion sizes.

All too often, it’s not what we eat but how much we eat that can sabotage a diet. Typical restaurant portion sizes are often far more than one serving, so if you clean your plate you’re sometimes consuming far more calories than you really need. If your hotel room isn’t equipped with a refrigerator, it’s even more tempting to finish every morsel so it doesn’t go to waste. When dining out, don’t be afraid to ask your server about portion sizes. Consider ordering a few a la carte menu items, which often come in more reasonable quantities, or split an entree with a friend or family member.

 

Savor the local cuisine.

Eating at local restaurants isn’t just a great way to experience the culture! It can also help you stick to a healthier diet. Many small, local establishments offer dishes that are made with fresh and seasonal ingredients that are locally-grown. While you’re out enjoying yourself, ask some of the locals about their favorite places to get authentic, local cuisine.

 

Find ways to indulge.

Healthy eating isn’t just about rules and restrictions. There’s nothing wrong with indulging every so often. In fact, one key to sticking to a healthy diet long-term is finding ways to still enjoy some of your favorite foods. As with most things in life, it’s all about finding the right balance. A few small treats, enjoyed in moderation, can make a healthy diet and lifestyle easier and more enjoyable to follow. Wrap up an especially fun day by splitting a dessert with your travel companions!
Whether your vacation plans involve lots of activity, or just relaxing and soaking up the sun, it can actually be quite simple to stick to your healthy diet. Try some of these simple tips so you can stay fit but still enjoy your vacation to the fullest!

Quick hacks for packing like a pro

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Packing…it’s something we all need to do if we’ve booked a trip, but dread doing. If you’re looking for some quick hacks to turn your packing nightmare into a very simple task, then look no further.

Check Out What You Can Check-In

You’ve made it to the airport, case full to the brim with all your travel “essentials”. Just as you’re finally about to relax, you’re told that your bag is over the weight limit or there are banned items inside it. Disaster, right? Avoid any unnecessary, last minute, embarrassing airport repacking, or expensive airline charges, by checking the airline restrictions ahead of time. It’s a small amount of effort that will make your check-in experience much less stressful.

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Forget Folding

Ladies, let’s face it, we don’t do ‘light packing’. This year, save yourself some room and ditch your folding ways. Roll your clothes individually and you’ll find that you can fit almost double into your suitcase.

If you’re worried about creasing, then try bundle wrapping, which involves combining your clothes into neat packages using tactical folding methods. Our final space-saving packing tip is: invest in travel vacuum bags, which help keep everything as compact as possible. Be sure to make use of all the empty spaces too, and that includes inside your shoes – the perfect spot for storing socks, jewellery, or phone chargers. Et voila, you’re a suitcase-space-maximising expert – time to play Tetris with that extra room in your stylish carry on luggage with legs (just be careful not to add too much extra weight inside that trendy travel accessory)!

Is It Really Necessary?

A lighter case makes travelling so much easier, so try to minimise the number of unnecessary items you pack into your case. Try making a list ahead of packing and plan out your outfits for each day, so that you avoid packing too many clothes. Those ‘just in case’ items normally end up returning from your travels unworn or unused, so save yourself some backache by packing only the necessities.

Wear the Weight

Walking boots, thick jumpers and big coats will all add considerable weight to your case, and if you’re packing with a restricted weight limit, then the kilos are super valuable. Opt to wear your heaviest or bulkiest items on the plane and this problem will be no more. Don’t worry about being too warm, as once you’re on the plane, you will be able to remove your layers and store them in the overhead compartment while you travel.

Pack the Scales

If you’re planning on a spot of retail therapy while you travel, or maybe just buying gifts to take home for friends and family, don’t forget that this will increase the weight of your luggage when you return home. Pack a luggage scale and you’ll be able to keep track of whether your souvenirs will tip the scale when you make it to the airport, or whether those extra shoes will make it back to your house. Happy shopping!

If you still need more inspiration, check out what these travel experts have to say about packing light.

As your escape from reality draws ever nearer your packing worries will no longer hold you down. Room for one more in that suitcase?

 

Images by City Caucus and Joel Kramer used under Creative Commons license.

Low Cost Summer Fun Ideas for Single Parents

Summer is little more than a month away and no one is more excited than the children. Single parenting is no walk in the park for anyone, but summertime can be especially challenging. That being said, it isn’t the end of the world and doesn’t have to be a frustrating nightmare every step of the way, especially during the time of year kids are expecting the most fun. As a working parent or sole provider it can be difficult, to say the least to find the time or money to give your children the fun-filled summers they deserve, but here are a few low-cost ideas to ensure you are putting smiles on their faces.

 

Free or low cost summer programs

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Summer camps, often a dream of every child who longs for adventure (as well as parent longing for freedom). They tend to be on the expensive side, and are rarely an option for single-parent low income households. However, there are many options that offer cheap or completely free summer camp options. The YMCA is probably the largest provider of low cost camping, both overnight and day camps, and offer financial assistance for low income families. They have camps for all ages from preschoolers to teenagers and various themes as well. The Salvation Army also offers similar camping programs for low-income families. The Boys and Girls club of America also offers summer camps and programs for kids of all ages and just like YMCA, offers scholarships to pay for needy families.

 

Parks and Recreation

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No, not the TV show, the actual outdoors. It is worth noting that while many theme parks have absurd expenses for a single visit or paid in full season pass, many allow season pass purchases over time. Knott’s Berry Farm is a great example, 16 dollars per month for the season. It is worth checking out your nearby theme parks prices. As for other low cost adventures in the outdoors, try fishing. Fishing is extremely cheap source of recreation. Bait can be dug up or purchased for a few bucks and the purchase of poles will last several years. A fishing license is usually not required for anyone under 16, and even then it lasts the entire year. Mini golf, swimming, bowling are all low-cost options to keep a frugal summer from being a bummer. Beyond those options, work off of your child’s interests.
As a parent you of course aim to make every summer your child’s “best” summer ever. For 3 months a year they get to be carefree, silly and out of a stuffy classroom. There are more to smiles then doing things and going places. Kids pick up on everything so try to keep life’s frustrations, like arguments and messy divorce proceedings, at a minimum. If you’re in or around the Oakland area, Liaise Solutions can make the latter go much smoother. They specialize in divorce mediation and other dispute resolutions without the need for travel or expensive attorneys. Mediation can be performed online, including all document prep and transfer. It takes the headache out of otherwise costly litigation and can keep you from having to appear in court for contested cases. But I digress, regardless of your choice in summer fun for your children, it is never too early to prepare. On one final note, if low cost or free summer camp ends up being something you are interested in, research and book as soon as possible. The majority of them start early June and fill up quite quickly, as do the financial programs.

Six Tips for Earning a Little Extra Online

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Whether we are stay at home moms or we are not able to get out, we usually have access to the internet, and we use it for keeping touch or for our entertainment. Whatever the reason staying at home also gives us the opportunity to earn a little extra which is always welcome in this day and age and once more we can put in as much or as little time as we choose.

So if you have any spare time and would like to boost your bankroll then take a look at the list below, there might be something there that appeals to you.  Remember that anything you do over the internet should be legitimate and that includes telling the tax man if needed.  One other tip is to set up an email addy that is specifically for your work so your regular one stays clear from work issues, oh and while you are at it make sure you have a valid PayPal account as many online companies pay their workers using PayPal.

  • If you love browsing the web you might be interested in Qmee.com who rewards you for searching in Yahoo, Bing or Google.  You are required to install a simple add-on to your own browser.  Each of the Qmee results has a cash reward attached and if you are interested you just click on it and collect your cash. With no minimum to cash out you also have the option to donate the reward to charity.
  • If you are a student and you do not mind sharing your notes with others it’s a good way to earn a little more cash and there are sites that you can use where you can upload your notes, along with how much you are charging and if someone else downloads them, you will get paid. You will have to upload PDF’s and sites like Notesale are free to use, but they do tend to take a share of your profits.
  • You can also earn extra by browsing websites that pays folk to review all different manner of websites. Each review will take you around 20 minutes to complete and gets you $10 dollars each time. UserTesting.com is a good example of this type of site.
  • Many people love to bet and if you fancy trying your luck without putting down any of your own cash, you could try one of the many legal online casinos like Fruity King by taking advantage of the free bets that are offered.  This is a risk free, tax free way of potentially earning quite a lot of money and well worth your consideration. Games of chance appeal to many and lots match the bets they make at a betting exchange which means you are betting both for and against an outcome.
  • Trading online can also be quite profitable.  Buying and selling items online on sites like Gumtree, Etsy and eBay can actually be run as a business.  You can also find a ton of local sites on social media, Facebook is one of the best for selling locally and once more there are no fees to pay.
  • Statistics show that we watch more videos on YouTube than searches on Google and you can now turn that to your own advantage with the recently introduced YouTube Partner Program.  This will turn you a profit for making and uploading videos.  Payment is in the form of a percentage of the advertising revenue collected per thousand views and there is potentially the chance to make a lot of money depending how popular the video is.
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