Closet Organization DIY Idea for Shoes: Using Cardboard Boxes, in 3 Simple Steps!

As a young business woman, I have struggled to expand and improve my wardrobe at a low cost. When you finally get to the point that you've got a good collection going, it's hard to keep it all organized -especially shoes. The options out there for shoe organization were either pricey or just weren't doing it for me.

Here is a cool closet organization DIY idea I had using the iconic "You Look Gorgeous" cardboard box from LeTote! If you haven't heard of LeTote, check out my LeTote Review and prepare to fall in love with this company!

You could really do this same DIY using your own cardboard boxes as long as they're about the same size.


READ ON TO SEE THE HOW TO VIDEO! 


3 Best CHEAP OR FREE Productivity Apps



Hello lovely readers! As you know, I love to write about getting things done, and I am constantly learning about how to do things efficiently and effectively. I do all of this in the spirit of fun. I really think it's important that whatever you do, you infuse a certain spirit into it... Mary Poppins style.

So why not be a little more like Mary Poppins in an age when technology is a type of magic? Why not get the aid of these three tools that can help you to be a little more superhuman. A little more magical.

In this post, I'm going to outline the three apps that have really helped me reshape the way I do business.

3 Steps to Banishing Burnout - Based on my personal experience!

Burnout. It's something that I've had to deal with a few more times than I'd care to admit. And when I searched the topic online, I was disappointed to find that few people are offering decent solutions to burnout.

I know a lot of my readers are small business owners, or at least they're exceptionally driven to succeed. A lot of the topics I write about have to do with productivity, business leadership, marketing, and finding ways to hack into your daily life for efficiency and happiness. So, I wouldn't be too surprised if some of you have experienced a burnout as well. In fact if you have please leave me a comment in the comments below. I would love to know that this post has helped someone.

What's in My Purse? Digital Marketing Conference Edition

Hi there, women on the move! I'm writing you from a Trailways express bus on the way to NYC for the HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference! I am so pleased to be traveling to the city today to just be a sponge at this exciting conference. 

But- here's the thing. I found it so challenging to determine what to bring with me, and couldn't find by good advice online.

So, my friends, in this spare time I have on the bus I'd like to share with you the contents of my business day bag! I really hope this can help you plan what to bring for your first big business trip into any major city!

What to Wear in a Family Photo - 3 styling services that are MUST tries!

It was the ultimate style challenge - a family portrait (my very first with my husband's family) and we were to wear coordinating outfits - grey tops for girls, and colored pants... Colored pants!

With all the amazing online styling services - I'm telling you, you can have one amazingly stylish family portrait, my friend. You just need to know where to look. Scroll on down to my top 4 pics for the BEST family photo look - for all the peeps in your family. Please note that this blog post contains affiliate links!

This is one of those times I was so, so grateful for Stitch Fix. If you haven't already heard about this FABULOUS company, Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that ships boxes full of brand new clothes to you according to your size, preferences (which they get from your Pinterest page and other sites!) for a $20 fee. The best part? That $20 fee gets applied to anything you choose to buy. And trust me, you'll fall in love with something. There is also a men's equivalent of Stitch Fix , called Bespoke Pos which seems amazing. Also, if you need something for kiddos, there's FabKids 

Anyway, so there I was. Without time to shop over the very busy holiday season, I was left scrambling to find the perfect outfit for this really important photo. With a click, I was able to schedule a fix to arrive at my in-law's house in Las Vegas, where I would be visiting, packed full of options for the unique style challenge. Of course -Stitch Fix already had my sizing down to a T. With a few months of experience of styling me already under my belt, I knew I could count on them to come through, so I didn't even bring other options from home.

When the box arrived two days before the family portrait, I was excited to share my loot with my Mother in Law, Marilyn. I was so happy to get her feedback on each piece, narrow it down to just one outfit. Of course - I ended up finding the perfect thing, and while I feel it would be wrong to share my family photo right here on the blog, I will say I felt so confident and happy with how it turned out and am so grateful to Stitch Fix!


My mother in law's first fix, with her notes on what she kept!
After seeing what Stitch Fix could do for me, my Mother in Law Marilyn decided to give it a try. Yesterday, she received her very first fix, and she's so pleased that she's already scheduled her second one. 

She sent me her sheet with these notes (see left), showing us what she chose to keep and what she sent back- which is all part of the process. And one thing I've noticed is that over time, the stylists get more and more attuned to your style and sizing needs.

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix yet, I invite you to give it a shot and let me know what you think back here on the blog. Not only is it great for just a wardrobe refresh, they really do a great job at style challenges like my family photo.

Top 4 styling services I recommend:

  • Stitch Fix (for ladies sizes 0 to 14)- boxes of new clothes, keep what you like, $20 styling fee (affiliate link - thanks for your support!)
OR
  • Gwynnie Bee (for plus size ladies)- new and gently worn TRULY STYLISH clothes at ridiculously low prices, delivered on time in cute boxes with free shipping & returns. See my Mom's Gwynnie Bee review here! (affiliate link - thanks for your support!)
  • Bespoke Post (for men) - I also highly recommend Bespoke Post which is for men (heard about this via Esquire magazine)(affiliate link - thanks for your support!)
  • FabKids (for kids) - super cute clothes for boys and girls sizes 2+ that I hear about eveerrry where (affiliate link - thanks for your support!)


This post contains affiliate links as noted. That means, when you click and buy through one of the links, you support the 3 Best Of Everything blog! Thank you so much for reading, please subscribe! See you real soon.

Never stop Learning, Growing and Reaching,

~Laura


Important notes on Self Discipline and the 5 am club

I am writing this for myself just as much as for anyone else's benefit. The concept of making our bodies our slaves is really interesting to me. Having joined the 5am club at the inspiration of success coach Robin Sharma, I have since slipped up more than a few times. I understand the need to view the body as just what it is.

Our bodies will ask for more and more sleep, more and more food, and any number of things that are simply better in moderation.

Our bodies will crave what isn't right.

Our minds know what is better. Did you know that the "real" you is the mental one, not the carnal or animal you? Did you know that heaven hears every thought? Nothing escapes the mind of God. As such, the ideas in your mind are to be cultivated for good, and the body to be put to use, to be put into action in support of the highest possible aim. 

Think about what race you're running. WHY do you desire success? What is success for you? For many, success is defined as a temporary gain like wealth or acknowledgement.  For me, it's a different playing field entirely. You see, when you have your eyes fixed on God, many hardships fall by the wayside in pursuit of God's goals. It is folly to be wrapped up in what feels right. It's a mistake to wake up late every morning, to pour everything into your children, to pursue power or getting your children power.

This is a wake up call! If you're after the crown that lasts, pursue the things of God with self discipline. Whip your carnal desires into shape. Don't be a slave to your body...


1 Corinthians 9:24-27New International Version (NIV)

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
More:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+9%3A24-27&version=NIV

Gwynnie Bee Kicks Butt at Styling My Mom (Photos Inside!)

My Mom and I have created this Gwynnie Bee review together, and I really hope it helps you decide whether or not to try this awesome service for plus size women's clothing cheap!

It's so amazing that we've had to wait till the year 2015 to have a service like Gywnnie Bee, a box subscription tailored to "real" women's sizes. (Disclaimer: Being a petite woman myself, I understand women come in all sizes! There are plenty of fabulous petite women's options out there just like Gwynnie Bee: See them here!).
My Mom's first items from Gwynnie Bee!

I have been so proud of my Mom lately. She recently got back into the workforce after years of being a stay at home mom with a part-time job. But more than this, she came back with STYLE! Launching her own business specializing in NY small business tax services.

To celebrate, I went shopping with my Mom to find her a great outfit to wear in her updated headshot. Oh how naive I was to think that in a few hours I could find something at one of the largest Macy's in the world - in NYC. Nothing, friends. We. Found. Nothing.

My Mom explained that this was par for the course. Just a fact of life for women in her size range. The good news is, I have found an awesome solution.  There is a clothing subscription for plus sized women called Gwynnie Bee - and it has saved the day. Not only did Gwynnie deliver some great plus size head shot outfits, it also helped my Mom find the perfect outfit to wear to my Dad's 40th High School Reunion.
Mom is radiant in her Gwynnie Bee dress!


My Mom has been a subscriber for a little over 6 months now. She has told me she's consistently pleased with what she gets in the mail. It's rare something doesn't fit her or is unwearable because everything is sent according to her size specs, style, and taste.

I'm happy to see my Mom embracing fun patterns. You know, there is a lot of bad advice out there for what plus sized women should or should not wear. I personally think that my Mom is absolutely stunning in this dress with a patterned top. And she never would have known unless she were able to try it on. Not only was she able to try it on, she was able to wear it and wear it until she finally caved and bought it for a ridiculously low price.

The thing I want to point out in these pics is not really the clothes. It's the glow in my Mom's face, that feeling of confidence about what she's wearing and how she looks that is transformative. Do clothes matter? YES YES YES. Style has a big impact on how we feel about ourselves. Getting something in the mail that was picked out for you in your size, well- it just plain feels good. Pair that with a beautiful frock for your next occasion, and we have a formula for success!

Talk about CONFIDENCE - She's got the Gwynnie Bee glow!
I really think every woman deserves to feel this radiant and confident. If you'd like to try Gwynnie Bee for yourself- get $10 off your first month through my special link: Gwynnie Bee Coupon and now through 3/12/15, your first month subscription is on me!

Thanks for reading. And...
Never stop Learning, Growing, and Reaching.
~Laura

3 Best Gifts for Women Who Inspire You

This year - if you're a newlywed or just landed a dream job, or if you're actively networking and building your connections, you may find yourself holiday shopping for several people you don't know well but are desperate to impress. It could be a boss (check!) if you're a newlywed it may be a sister in law or mother in law (yep I've got those too!) Maybe it's a mentor. A wonderful Grandma. The list goes on.  

A Woman Who Inspires...
There is one person on my Christmas list this year who I am especially challenged to buy for that inspired this search. It's my sister in law! It really could not be any more intimidating. In my case, my sister in law is a well-known blogger and a creative business powerhouse.  She's been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, This month, she even released a book: Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed which teaches the all-important groundwork for us to make every DIY Pinterest dream come true.

What to Do?
It's too tricky to buy clothes at this stage (and it's really never appropriate to buy clothes for a boss!) and the typical gifts for women just make me cringe. 


1) Something Standard but with a Creative Twist

In my online travels to solve this challenging gifting situation, I came across something amazing. So, I have aptly named Prize Candle one of the 3 Best Gifts You Can Buy For Women Who Inspire You! The other two gifts will be unveiled within the coming weeks. I'm looking forward to sharing an in depth Prize Candle review soon, but I wanted to share in this happy discovery as soon as possible.

Light a Candle...

I believe whole-heartedly in aroma therapy – and I just love the warmth and ambiance a candle brings to a room. Candles are a popular gift especially during the holidays, and honestly you never can have too many. But a plain candle can really fall flat- that's where the candles poured by this company make up the difference. As the name suggests, the Prize Candle has hidden within it something very special - taking your gift from "sweet" into the realm of "spectacular"... it is a ring within a candle, a gift within a gift, allowing you to pass through the minefield of challenges surrounding giving something of real value, or something to wear without coworkers noticing. This is such an inventive solution - and a gift that is completely unforgettable!

Your favorite inspiring sister will be kept in anticipation as the high grade soy candle slowly burns away the wax to reveal a vintage ring worth up to $5,000. I suggest you look at the Prize Candle gallery to get a better idea of the quality and different ring styles.

For Victoria, I've got my eye on the Cozy Cabin scent, which they've described as "the perfect medley of wood, fruit, florals, and musk that harkens times enjoyed at a secluded log cabin getaway. Notes: Bergamot, citrus, wood and musk with just a kiss of spice." Take me away!


This gift is one that cultivates and rewards meditative patience. It causes us to examine our fast-paced, get-it-now, instant gratification world in which we live. That in itself is a gift. And I can't wait to ask my sister in law in a couple months about her ring, and see a pic of it.

Once I receive my Prize Candle for my amazing Sister in Law (and one for myself!!) and my lovely ring (fingers crossed for a BIG appraisal!) I’ll post an update with a full review and let you know my thoughts.   

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase a prize candle, you can use this Prize Candle promo code to save $10 off of your first purchase!










2. Give the Gift of Syle

I still don't think that clothes are necessarily a good gift for your boss. I did break this real though this Christmas and when I bought my boss a pair of awesome pajamas, but that's only because we have a fun relationship, and it's so rare to find good clothes for a small frame and both my boss and I have the same exact frame.


Styling service is a great gift because it doesn't necessarily say where this or your style is outdated – instead it says you deserve to have someone work directly with you to find things that fit your personal style. In the greeting card to your boss or mentor you could write something like:

 I've always admired your style – here's something that will help you magnify it even more! 

3. Give a gift based on something she taught you

You could say something to the effect of:

You always taught me to keep a journal. I found this one which made me think of you. You should have it!  I know you will fill it with wisdom.

4. (Bonus!) Give the gift of recognition

Maybe this person has touched many many lives. Ask people about her. Host a banquet or a party in her name,  and invite all the people whose lives she's touched. If she's not near retirement age, a simple glowing letter to her boss if she's a teacher, or a letter to her Association would be a good alternative. Look for any local awards that are giving being given out to mentors and be prepared to write an essay about her! 

Who is the most challenging person to shop for this year? Share in the comments below! Are you going to try a prize candle, styling service, or something else? I'd love to know! Thanks for reading :)

Never Stop Learning, Growing and Reaching,

~Laura

The 5 AM Club

It has been officially over one month of consistently waking up at 5 am, followed by a morning protocol that sets me up for success. If you're wondering why I'm doing this, I've written a blog post on my 3 Biggest Reasons to Wake up at 5am which I invite you to read.

Here is a picture I took on my sunrise walk with my husband. I send it to you, since you're starting this life changing journey of waking up at 5am. You get to see things like this! Don't miss the sunrise.

Let me briefly share my morning ritual, which is based off the teaching of Robin Sharma, author of The Leader Who Had No Title and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and then explain how it's been changing my life.

In this post I share with you my best tips that I've learned from the month or so doing this, which should help propel you even more. By no means has my system been perfected, but this post is to help me celebrate and track my progress, and serve you at the same time.

My Weekday Morning Ritual
I have been constantly tweaking this to get the right balance and get the most out of my mornings. Here's my current schedule:

5AM: Get out of bed, do a little dance to release endorphins
5:00-5:20 Exercise (yoga or low-noise)
5:20-5:40 Review the day ahead and goals- using my planner and notes, what do I need to accomplish, what challenges face me? Write down some things I'm thankful for in my journal.
5:40-6:00 Read the Bible if you're looking for wisdom, I highly recommend the book of Proverbs... or a paper I've wanted to read (I print out articles that interest me throughout the day so I can dig in later)
(Image from Robin Sharma on Facebook.com)


[At this point I am super charged for the next several hours and wired to make the most of my time]

6AM-7AM 
6:00-6:30 Prepare a dinner and put in the crock pot
6:30-7:00 Early morning work, read email or news

7AM-8AM
7:00-7:35 Morning "sunrise" walk with my husband
7:40-8:00 Prepare a breakfast shake, coffee, bagel, day's snacks
8:00-8:30 Shower and dressed
8:40am leave for work

[I also have a morning office ritual that I'm working on establishing, which I look forward to sharing in coming posts]

How The 5 AM Club is Working Already
I repeat to people that the 5 am club is probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life, after following Christ and marrying my husband. Here are just some of the ways this habit hack has reshaped my life and is setting me on track for tremendous future success:
  • Establishing a new routine and mindset
  • Putting my own ambitions first, developing my own compass instead of letting the world and societal norms dictate what I will do
  • I'm eating better because I'm making time in the morning to cook
  • Improving my marriage by dedicating a morning walk for conversation (this is now totally sacred time to me)

I have a few tips and tricks that I've gathered in my first month that should help set first-timers up for success!

My first and biggest tip, which I won't even put in the lineup below is:

REALIZE THAT GETTING OUT OF BED IS THE HARDEST PART.

All you really need to do is put your feet on the ground, stand up, and walk away from your bed. Everything after this comes easier.

1) Get your loved one to do it with you - or make an online accountability buddy.
This is so powerful- if you're living with your husband or wife, or have a child, make this a team effort. On the days you feel weak, the other may feel strong and coax you out of bed. My husband has been awesome about this. After being convinced that we couldn't have the life we want unless we develop habits of the truly productive and successful, he has become determined to maintain the 5am club.

2) Don't be sleep deprived- adjust your sleep schedule too!
The 5am club isn't a sleep deprivation exercise! You'll notice a lot of little things you're going to have to change to support your new operation. You'll feel tired sooner. So, don't sabotage your next morning by staying up too late. Get your full 7 hours and you'll be more energized to wake up at 5am.

3) Have an iron-clad reason.
Why are you doing this? So that you can be rich one day? No - that isn't a good enough reason. Your reason needs to be totally intrinsic. I tried and failed to do the 5AM club last year because my reason wasn't good enough. At that time when I failed, my reason was "I want to be healthier".
Can you see why that didn't work? It didn't work because, most of the time I feel like I'm healthy enough. It's a weak reason. It's easy to wriggle my way out of it- "sleep is healthy too"..."A little more sleep, and I'll feel better than if I had taken a walk this morning" - Do you see why this was a road to failure? Do you see how easy it is to fail without a good enough reason?

There are no such thing as "morning people" and "night people" - that's just a myth. One thing I've learned from Tony Robbins and other great personal development coaches is that your IDENTITY is what matters. If you consciously identify yourself as "not a morning person" you have done yourself a huge disservice and totally blocked your growth in this area. So change your story. Change how you view yourself in your mind. If you can't get over the negative self talk, you will not have progress!

Here's what DID work. I totally changed my identity. I told myself, "I know there's no way that I could ever be the person I want to be, accomplish all I want to accomplish, and feel as good as I want to feel unless I get up at 5AM every day. I am the kind of person that gets up early. So getting up at 5AM is just me being more like myself. When I don't do this, I'm not myself. I need to get up at 5AM to get what I need to do done."

4) Set up things to look forward to: A healthy reward system.
Consider the rewards of getting up early. You will see the sunrise. You will finally get to read the article you printed out for yourself yesterday to read. You will get to try a new recipe in your crock pot. You will get to review your goals.
Basically- you need to have a plan for that time between 5am forward and a fully assimilated understanding that will be greatly beneficial to you. It must seem so beneficial that missing it would come at a huge loss. Just getting up at 5am isn't good enough- you need to have a plan for your time and establish in your mind the rewards it brings.

5) Set up an accountability exercise.
A Facebook group (or any sea of strangers) is NOT an accountability group. Tweeting the #The5AMClub hashtag isn't good enough either! Every morning, on my morning walk I take a picture during this peaceful time at send it to my mother (it's about 7:30am at this time). That is a real, live person, who is now used to receiving these messages and would be sad if I missed one. She is part of the reason I never miss a walk, even on top of the beautiful time it is with my husband. The image that I send to my mother has become a lovely accountability exercise that makes her feel loved and remembered, too.

There are even more tips that I will send you in the coming weeks. I hope to see you again. If you have any feedback or suggestions, or tips of your own, please add them in the comments on this blog.

Never stop learning, growing, and reaching!
~Laura




3 Best Reasons to Get up at 5AM, and More Insights on Building a Great Morning Ritual

Dear Bed - it's not you, it's me. You are comfy, cozy, and available any time. You are extra warm, and as the weather turns colder leading to crisp mornings, that toasty warmness means a lot to me. But it's just not working anymore. You, hands down, were the gateway drug to mediocrity that has nearly destroyed all my new years resolutions. I thought I knew how to handle our relationship, getting up at 7 or 7:30 am every day, but then I started snoozing, then finding myself rushing around just to get to work on time, leaving me frazzled instead of focused and prepared. But there's still 3 months left of this year. It's time for a change. I need a little more "me" time, and I think we should spend less time together.

5am club
So, what is the solution...

Maybe you, like me, are considering joining the "5am Club". Leadership and productivity expert, Robin Sharma (author of The Leader Who Had No Title and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari) touts membership in the 5'oclock club as a key feature of top achievers. I, for one, want to win the battle of the bed! Put mind over mattress! Starting first thing tomorrow morning (I like the idea of starting on Sunday, a day earlier than expected) I will be changing my habits and work to develop a better brain, and a better life.

I have tried it before, and failed. But I made it all about working out, and it wasn't a big enough motivator for me. What I've learned since then is that preparation for your day ahead gives you a psychological edge and a "primary win", mental confidence that sets you apart from the masses.

I'm currently waking up at 7:30am, but there are so many reasons why I want to wake up at 5. If you normally get up at 7, and now get up at 5 just Monday-Friday, you gain an extra 40 hours of self-improvement per month - approx 480 hours per year, or 20 days! A tiny adjustment for a massive reward.  Here are my top three, along with tips for how you can join the "club" too.

1. No-Excuses Time for what Really Matters - Finding time for what matters is a huge challenge, and usually by the end of a workday the best I can handle is cooking. By setting aside time for things thta matter first thing in the morning, I'm able to create a clear path for success. My favorite online workout is Blogilates wth Cassie Ho, which is totally free- so fun, intense and uplifting! Getting fit is so important for success - to get the energy and stamina you need to really be of use. Also, I love my slow-cooker, it's a great way to eat healthy and you come home to a delicious smelling home.

2. Establishing and Keeping a Holy Hour to Consciously Leave the Herd - Most of what we do in life is the result of our sub-conscious minds running on auto-pilot. To have true change, you need to interrupt and gain control of your thoughts. One hour in the morning to feed your mind and nourish your soul puts you in good company with great writers, thinkers, throughout the centuries and helps your behavior and thinking reach a new level of creativity and greatness.

3. Build Willpower and Grit - The #1 factor of success is GRIT. It means you have ridiculous levels of persistence. You may have a vision, but it will be diluted by challenge unless you develop grit. When you go to your limits, your limits expand. Change is hard in the beginning, messy in the middle, and gorgeous in the end. Being able to get up at 5am will make other (much harder) things easier, because you've overcome one of the #1 things that holds people back from greatness - getting out of bed.

Need more convincing or a boost? Here is a video by Robin Sharma that convinced me!




Robin says that it takes 66 days for something to become a true habit. Not eating or using a digital device after 8pm will help you get better sleep.

If your loved one doesn't share your desire to wake up at 5am, try using the very best tools available, such as a vibrating alarm clock!

5:00 am Morning Ritual (20-20-20 Rule)

5:00 am - 5:20 am - Jump out of bed. Splash your face with cold water. Then- get exercise of some kind, even if it's just skipping in place with a jumping rope. This is just to jump-start the metabolic rate, and release endorphins.

5:20 am - 5:40 am - Review your goals and purpose, not just for your day but for your life! Make sure you are focused on service to others. Focus on excellence and mastery. Write down some things you're grateful for.

5:40 am - 6:00 am - As you learn more, you achieve more. So during this 20 min stretch, learn something new by reading, listen to an audio book, or watching a video. Here is a great quote from Robin on this: "Education is inoculation from disruption"

6:00 am - 8:30 am Morning Ritual

I am working on developing the rest of my morning ritual for something that really works. But here is what I know for sure! (PSST, I have been doing this for over a month now and have updated my schedule. Read my updated schedule and some wisdom I've attained from doing this consistently here: The 5 AM Club) At first, I thought "what am I going to do with all this extra time?" - then as I began to piece all the things I need to accomplish in the morning together I realized... maybe I need to get up at 4am!

6:00 am - 7:00 am - Full Blogilates Workout, according to the Blogilates calendar

7:00 am - 7:30 am - Prepare dinner with slow cooker, Prayer and Reading

7:30 am - 8:15 am - Shower, Dressed

8:15 am - 8:30 am - Make Healthy Breakfast, Coffee, and a Shake, hop in the car and go!

---
I will be up at 5am EST when possible with my Twitter handle @NowItsLaura and the hashtag #5amclub and #66 day challenge if you'd like to join me. There are only 15 people worldwide doing this on Twitter right now from what I can see, so get to it! Follow me and hashtag, I'd love to see if you're taking on this challenge too.