My Favorite Podcasts

What did I do before podcast came into my life? I either sat in silence at work or listened to the same current Top 20 country songs on repeat during my commutes. These days, I listen to podcasts as I get ready in the morning, while I’m driving, when I meal prep for the week, and when I’m at my office desk. I hook up to the living room’s Bluetooth speaker and turn on a podcast as I clean the house or do laundry. I laugh. I nod my head. I’ve cried once or twice. And the time flies as I learn new things with every episode that passes.

In case you may be new to podcasts or if you just want some fresh ideas, I compiled a little list of my weekly listens. I use Spotify as my main podcast listening space as I have an Android, but there are apps out there specifically for podcasting listening (such as Stitcher.) When you find a podcast you enjoy, you are able to subscribe and receive the newest episodes when they’re released. So here are some of my personal favorite podcasts:

Feel Good and Life Lessons

For the Love! with Jen Hatmaker

Jen has such an easy-listening voice, and her discussions are relevant to all areas of life. I had not heard her name prior to being recommended her podcast, but I can imagine we’d be good friends should we ever meet — I could easy talk about my love for wine with her.

Description: “For the love” of…People. Home. Stories. Shoes. Family. Jesus. Community. TV. Travel. Food. Culture. The hilarious best-selling author and star of HGTV’s “My Big Family Renovation” invites you to drop by and catch up with her friends as they laugh and chat about all the things we love

Fun Therapy with Mike Foster

A guy after my own heart, Mike focuses his podcast on imperfect guests and events and where to find hope in the darker places of life. Mike talks about depression, lost love, and painful struggles and taking radical ownership in order to transform those setbacks into personal successes. His gentle voice helps me relax, so this is not an office-listen, but oh how I love to unwind at the end of the day to this podcast!

Description: Fun Therapy with Mike Foster dives into the beautifully messy parts of our not-so-perfect lives. Each episode features a candid “therapy” session with a key leader, influencer or artist. With the kindness of Mr. Rogers and the intensity of a Navy SEAL, Mike’s unique style reveals the truth and beauty residing in all of us. With a lush musical score by Sleeping At Last, consider this your guide to turn your setbacks into super powers.

Strangers by Lea Thau

Strangers is one of my newer podcast finds, but it has been around since 2013. I have become a big proponent of talking to random people I bump into throughout my day-to-day interactions. Everyone has a story and everyone has something to share. Lea is another advocate of this movement, and takes her meetings with strangers a step further by sharing their stories through her podcast.

Description: Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were.

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

A friend recommended Annie to me a few months ago and I have fallen into quite the fan crush over her. Annie is not picky when she chooses who or what she enjoys in life, and makes beautiful connections through her interviews with her subject, listeners, and faith. On days I need a pick-me-up, I tune into Annie and always leave with a smile. My personal favorite episode of That Sounds Fun is E126 with Lysa TerKeurst — what an empowering episode for Christian women!

Description: Christian author and speaker Annie F. Downs shares with you some of her favorite things: new books, faith conversations, restaurants, travel stories, musicians not to miss, interviews with friends. Pretty much, if it sounds fun to Annie, you’re gonna hear about it.

Hustlin’ in Heels

Yes, I know I’ve mentioned HIH in previous posts. Yes, I know I’ve expressed my love for these girls and their talks numerous times. Yes, I’m going to say it again. Stacey and Angie are from my little corner of Michigan, so their guests are typically women in my area whom I know personally and highly respect. I not only love their empowering messages to women juggling responsibilities, but I enjoy learning about the bigger stories happening in my friends’ and colleagues’ lives.

Description: Every Hustler needs a Tribe, and we want to welcome you to ours. Each week we sit down with a bottle of wine (or two) and chat with a different guest about the realities of “slay all day every day” culture. We deliver real talk about business, relationships, life and the celebrations and struggles of being a Hustler.

 

True Crime/True Stories

Small Town Murder

In all honesty, I began faithfully listening to podcasts when I found my first true crime one. Like many people in the world, I am intrigued by the horrible things humans can do to one another — during one of my Netflix binges bouncing between Criminal Minds and Dexter, I decided to find some true crime podcasts to fill my workdays. There are A LOT of true crime podcasts in my library, but Small Town Murder is one of my Top Two. The hosts are comedians and, though they share tons of information on the murder and victim, they also target the suspect with their wit. They do a great job lightening the mood on some of the darker moments of mankind.

Description: Two comedians look at a small town, what makes it tick, and a murder that took place there. In depth research, horrible tragedy, and the hosts’ comedic spin on the whole thing. 

Crime Junkie

The other true crime podcast in my Top Two, Crime Junkie may be my Number One Podcast. I absolutely love the hosts and that they discuss both new and known cases. Ashley does a great job researching the cases she covers, and I love their little updates  that happen in real-time.

Description: Every Monday, Ashley Flowers will tell you about whatever crime she’s been obsessing over that week in a way that sounds like you’re sitting around talking crime with your best friends. The storytelling is straightforward and free of rabbit holes so the cases stay suspenseful and are easy to follow.

Dumb People Town

One of my newer finds, this podcast is true to its name: three comedians talk about some of the dumbest stories headlined in the country. I have gotten quite a few good laughs out of their stories, and enjoy knowing that no matter what I may be going through on a certain day, there is someone else out there having a rougher time. I’ve made note not to ever move to Florida also — lack of self-control must be in the water down there.

Description: It’s as much an exploration as it is a celebration of dumb people doing dumb things (often in Florida).

 

Literary and Fantasy

Imaginary Worlds

Ugh. I love this podcast so much. As someone who lived her childhood in imaginary worlds, Eric makes me nostalgic by talking about some of my favorite fictional worlds and the masterminds who created them. I’ve also grown my reading list by listening to this podcast, so fantasy junkies beware!

Description: Host Eric Molinsky talks with novelists, screenwriters, comic book artists, filmmakers, and game designers about their craft of creating fictional worlds. The show also looks at the fan experience, exploring what makes us suspend our disbelief, and what happens when that spell is broken. Fantasy worlds may be set in distant planets or parallel dimensions, but they are crafted here on Earth and on some level relate to our daily lives.

Bald Move’s Game of Thrones Podcast

I have been a GOT fan since day one, and though I’m not going to enter into my review of Season 8 on this blog post (redo, please?), I will say that listening to this podcast following the television episodes was a real treasure. This podcast is still relevant even though the series has ended as the guys will be reviewing all the spin-off shows in the future. Plus, if you’re like me and are planning to rewatch GOT from the beginning, this little podcast might be a fun addition during your workdays following your binging.

Description: Jim and A.Ron review each week’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones and your feedback.

Unspoiled: Harry Potter

I have attempted to listen to a few different HP podcasts, but none of them compare to Unspoiled’s version. I love hearing my beloved texts being experienced by someone who has never experienced the Wizarding World before. I can imagine Roshawn’s reactions as my own and it takes me back to my first read-through of the series as well. For any Potterhead’s out there wanting to reread the Harry Potter series, do so with these girls!

Description: Natasha and Roshawn read the Harry Potter series one chapter at a time. Natasha knows everything, Roshawn knows nothing!

 

Celebrity Talk Podcasts

David Tennant Does a Podcast With…

I have been listening to this podcast since it began because 1.) David Tennant is the host and 2.) David Tennant is the host. Tennant sits and talks with some very famous actors and celebrities, and basically just bullshits for an hour or so. I always love seeing/reading/hearing celebrities talk and discovering how completely normal they are. Plus, is there any better sound than Tennant’s voice? Rhetorical question, friends.

Description: David Tennant gets talking with the biggest names from TV, movies, comedy and elsewhere. Revealing conversation, surprise stories and lots of laughs.

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Basically, this podcast is Dax Shepard being Dax Shepard and there really isn’t anything more to say than that this needs *clap* to *clap* be *clap* in *clap* your *clap* library *clap* NOW.

Description: Hi, I’m Dax Shepard, and I love talking to people. I am endlessly fascinated by the messiness of being human, and I find people who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles and shortcomings to be incredibly sexy. I invite you to join me as I explore other people’s stories. We will celebrate, above all, the challenges and setbacks that ultimately lead to growth and betterment. What qualifies me for such an endeavor? More than a decade of sobriety, a degree in Anthropology and four years of improv training. I will attempt to discover human “truths” without any laboratory work, clinical trials or data collection. I will be, in the great tradition of 16th-century scientists, an Armchair Expert.

Life is Short with Justin Long

A very new podcast that has been shared by numerous other podcasts, Life is Short is hosted by Justin Long. You know, the awesome kid from Dodgeball and Jeepers Creepers? His first episode was with Dax Shepard, which obviously won me over right away. The podcast is another sit-down session with some famous people and Justin isn’t afraid to ask any and all questions that may be on his mind. This, along with all of the celebrity talk podcasts, are great to have in the background for a genuine laugh here and there.

Description: Is it just me or is time flying by? How do we make the most out of our short time here on Earth? That’s what we’re here to find out. I’m Justin Long and I’ve been an actor for most of my life, so I’m used to getting inside the heads of the characters I play. But now that I’m getting older (I’m 40 now, yikes), I want to peek inside the heads of real people to learn how they find meaning in life. I’m also very curious what their favorite snack food is, and what emoji they use most often — ya know, the REALLY important stuff. Every episode I’ll get personal with all kinds of people, from actors to musicians to deep thinkers who fascinate me. My brother Christian is on hand each episode to keep me honest, and occasionally remind me about some of the embarrassing things I’ve done over the years. Join us, or if you have more important things to do, that’s okay too — life is short!


Not in my library but one podcast I’d love to start listening to is Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe. I was a big Kaitlyn fan while she was on the Bachelorette, and any podcast involving comedy, taboo topics, and wine is a winning in my book.

Do you have any podcasts that are your go-to’s each week? Please share below — I’d love to grow my library!

Happy listening,

A Coffee-Inspired Bridal Shower Gift Basket

This post is made possible by the delicious chai latte from Starbucks I’m drinking. I’m at the keyboard early this morning, having a little Me Time before heading to Indiana to celebrate the beautiful bride-to-be. It’s wedding season! I love Spring because it is the mark of hitching season. And there is absolutely nothing I love more than celebrating marriages of those who have found their special One.

It is so fun to put together creative DIY gift basket ideas to give to friends and family getting married. I *clap* just *clap* LOVE *clap* it! Today I am sharing a bridal shower gift that is coffee-inspired for the couple who loves mornings together over a tasty brew.

I put together this cute coffee themed gift basket for G’s cousin Kelsey and fiance Nathan in mind. This adorable couple had engagement pictures taken centered around steaming mugs, and are all about traditional home-style delights. Seeing a request for Trader Joe’s Dark Roast on their registry and running across this set of coffee mugs while at Meijer, I put my thinking cap on and started piecing other coffee bar necessities together into the basket.

I was aiming for a visually-pleasing aesthetic to the basket apart from finding key pieces. Picking up my personal favorite Trader Jones blend as well (mmm French Roast), I decided the coffee bags themselves did not fit the look of my basket in mind. So I found some simple brown lunch bags, and made two cute labels to better fit. I apologize for the blurriness of this picture; I must be too hyped on caffeine in the final photoshot.

One label reads, “Love is Brewing” beneath the names Nathan & Kelsey. The other, “The Perfect Blend.” I found three earthy pictures to compliment the packages as well, and used Canva to create the labels. The pictures are of palm leaves, succulents, and coffee plants in rows.

Not pictured separately, this basket hides the remainder of the two Trader Joe’s coffee bags at its base, with six kitchen towels laid on top of them. A pure white sugar bowl and creamer server sit nestled between the couple’s mugs, and a Wood Wick Vanilla Bean Candle will provide a gentle back noise to those early mornings shared together. All in all, pretty much everything newlyweds would need for a bright morning rests in the basket.

The final two pieces in the basket were hand crafted by yours truly. I bought a Cricut Explore Air 2 after Christmas, and opened the box for the first time to complete this gift. Thankfully, Cricut supplies you with a few pieces of cardstock and instructions to teach you the very basics of Design Space prior to letting you go create on your own. The card created was a minimal little diddy that read “Enjoy” on the front. I couldn’t think of a better excuse to utilize that card than with this gift, and finished the message inside by writing, “Wishing your Happily Ever After begins with a good morning…”

After mastering the greeting card design, I decided to try something more difficult. I found the perfect blank chalkboard at Michael’s, and knew I wanted to add a cutesy saying to it as a decor piece for Kelsey’s home. I scoured Pinterest for ideas and fell upon this: “Good days start with coffee and you.” Could that be more perfect?! I fiddled with the fonts, liked what I saw, and decided to add a bit of color as well — a gold foil mug and coffee beans were the best additions.

I am so happy with how this basket turned out. I popped in a few fake flowers to add some texture to it (flowers from my own wedding’s arrangements.) The towels are stealthily placed so the porcelain pieces will not hit one another as I make the drive to Indiana, and my car already smells amazing after having the basket inside for only a few minutes. Oh! And the basket itself was a good find at TJ Maxx last autumn that I expected to use as a gift in the future. So the planning process all kind of fell together!

Do you have any weddings coming up? What are your favorite things to gift for the bride-to-be or to the couple at the wedding?

Good morning, friends,