A s of today, I have listened to 1,034 hours and 1 minute of podcasts. I know because my Stitcher podcast app told me so when I hopped on this morning to listen to the latest interview Anne Lamott gave regarding her upcoming book Hallelujah Anyway.

Seeing as I spend a LOT of time alone most days – painting, doing mail art, cleaning, cooking, working out, walking Graham – podcasts are a constant companion for me.

(I pressed and framed this leaf for my brother as a gift last Christmas. He’s also a huge podcast fan so he obviously took it as a huge compliment because he knows that podcasts are pretty darn great. ;)

The other day, Bobby and I were at a fundraiser-type cocktail party and dinner. I found myself talking with this wonderful woman and I ended up dropping in references to podcasts no fewer than 3 times. That’s a lot for a casual chit chat. I literally can’t help myself.

Here’s a list of 11 Podcasts I simply love love love. Some of them are wildly popular – so if you’re a podcast fanatic like me, you’ve likely already tuned in (I mean, I guess there’s a reason popular things are popular). And if you’ve yet to tune into a podcast, may I suggest you give it a try with one of these?

Here are my 11 top favorites, in no particular order, with some honorable mentions at the end.

*S-Town. This new podcast is getting so much hype and for good reason. It’s a fascinating story about an eccentric man from a small town in Alabama who absolutely hates where he lives. It was produced by the same team behind Serial (which I couldn’t listen to because it struck a wrong chord with me and my anxiety) and This American Life (which I listen to religiously, along with every other American). Bobby and I binge-listened to this in two days. We literally laid in bed finishing it last night and just looked at each other and said, “WHOA” after hearing the final sentence of the final episode. The entire thing is gripping with brilliant storytelling. It has given me so much to think about.

*Happier with Gretchen Rubin. A podcast with discussions about tools and techniques for making your life a little happier. I love the rapport between Gretchen (the famed author of The Happiness Project, among other bestsellers) and her sister Elizabeth Craft.  I’m honestly tickled every time I listen and have picked up some great advice. (One of my favorite episodes: Podcast 56: Schedule a Time to Worry.)

*Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller. The entrepreneur in me gets so much out of the podcast. The interviews tend to be relatively short and sweet with lots of gems for building a successful small business. The host, Donald Miller, has this really friendly presence that makes you feel like you just joined him for a cup of coffee. (A favorite episode of mine: Episode 8: Secrets of Insanely Good Customer Service.)

*Reply All. I’m completely enamored with the two hosts of this podcast. One of them, PJ Vogt, has a laugh that is the best I’ve ever heard. (I’m not alone on this, either – there is a Reddit thread titled, “PJ Vogt’s laugh is my favorite laugh.”) If that isn’t enticing enough to make you listen though, you should definitely listen for the utterly fascinating stories they do about weird and wacky things on the internet. Their reporting is so dang good and fresh and fun. (Hard to pick a favorite episode, but if I were absolutely forced to do so it would be: #56: Zardulu.)

*Missing Richard Simmons. Another new podcast that is totally fascinating and displays brilliant storytelling about the complete disappearance of Richard Simmons from the public eye. I wasn’t aware of the drama surrounding Richard’s exodus until I started listening, which shows how out of the loop I am when it comes to celebrities. After listening to the first episode, though, I immediately texted my brother and sister and was like, “You HAVE to listen to this.” There is a good amount of controversy about this podcast and whether it’s voyeuristic/exploitive. I think we’ll continue to wrestle with those questions about the ethics of podcasts and storytelling the longer this medium is around. (Favorite episode: the entire thing.)

*Side Hustle School. Yet another newcomer to the podcast party. Side Hustle school has daily episodes that are bite-sized, highlighting stories of entrepreneurs who have developed successful side hustles. It makes me want to go out there and develop multiple streams of income. Bobby and I love listening to these episodes together and are constantly joking around about potential side hustles we could start. One of these days, we’ll come up with something that’s actually legit. (A delightful and intriguing episode: Episode 2: British Man Earns $700/Month Writing Fish Tank Reviews.)

*StartUp. Another business podcast! (Can you tell I love this genre?!) StartUp has multiple seasons out and they each focus on the realities of trying to get a business up and running. Start fresh from Season One. You won’t regret it. (The latest season about ousted American Apparel CEO Dov Charney was fascinating; it was the podcast equivalent of a page turner – but really, every season they’ve put out is incredible.)

*Heavyweight. Oh GOODNESS do I love this show. The host, Jonathan Goldstein, has done stories on This American Life so you know he’s a winner. I’ve heard this podcast described as being a sort of time machine with Goldstein as a therapist who helps people go back to certain moments of their lives and somehow change what was and what is. I realize this description might make you feel like you just imbibed some foreign substance. It’s just SO HARD to describe how unique and great this show is without you giving it a listen firsthand. (It’s near-impossible for me to choose just one favorite episode so you get two this time: Episode 2 – Gregor and Episode 4 – Tony.)

*Dear Sugar. I know, I know, Cheryl Strayed has practically become a household name at this point. Her book, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar, is a favorite of mine and I think her ability to empathize and give solid advice is off the charts. In this podcast, she joins her good friend and fellow author Steve Almond to deliver advice and “radical empathy for the lost, lonely, and heartsick.” I don’t always agree with the advice but I’m consistently impressed with Cheryl and Steve’s ability to talk through sticky, tough questions week after week and offer their best advice. (Favorite episode: My Best Friend’s Wedding. I have referenced this particular episode an abundance of times in various conversations. It gets at the heart of friendship, love, disagreeing with a friend’s decisions, how we all can fall into that category of “know it all” and wanting to control other people’s choices because we OBVIOUSLY know best…it’s just great.)

*On Being with Krista Tippett. Interviews with thoughtful, influential, thinkers about spirituality and the things that matter most. Krista Tippett has a voice like honey and makes my soul feel like it’s found a place to land. She’s a master interviewer. This podcast fills me up spiritually and intellectually. It has depth and soul. (Favorite episode: Alain de Botton – The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships. I’m making a list of podcast episodes I want to revisit periodically because they made my heart jump up and down in one way or another. This interview with Alain de Botton is definitely on that list. Read it if you’re in a relationship, want to be in one, are married, thinking about being married, are single and counsel/listen to friends who are in relationships…basically if you’re a human. It’s so good.)

*Revisionist History. Malcolm Gladwell is a genius at delving deep into concepts and finding surprising takeaways. His books have been endlessly popular and he definitely did not disappoint with his venture into podcast land. With each episode, it’s as if Gladwell does a mic drop at the end. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 about the state of education and inequalities within our system hit me right in the gut. It’s truly fearless journalism. He cares so deeply about the truth that he’s not willing to sugarcoat or be diplomatic for the sake of not ruffling feathers – which is what so many talk-radio pundits claim to do but, in my humble opinion, do poorly at as they sprinkle in tons of unsubstantiated claims. Gladwell’s conclusions are well-researched, insanely intelligent, and articulated in a thoughtful way that puts him in an entirely different solar system from those talking heads. He’s brilliant and brave and insightful. I can’t wait for whatever he releases next.

Honorable mentions:

*Any podcast where Elizabeth Gilbert is interviewed. I love her views on life, spirituality, curiosity, art. She’s just a beautiful human being with a twinkle in her eye and a wicked sense of humor. Sure, she repeats some of the same things on these podcasts but I love listening to her again and again. I badly want to have a spirit like hers. Here are a few of my favorite podcast interviews with her:  You Made it Weird: Episode 283, On Being – Choosing Curiosity Over Fear, School of Greatness: Episode 341, and The RobCast: Episode 21.

*The Liturgists episode on The Enneagram (Episode 37). A good friend recommended this introduction to the Enneagram and I was hooked after the first few minutes. The Enneagram is a fascinating and ancient personality type system. I’d learned about it in bits and pieces before listening to this episode but this introduction grabbed me in a whole new way. I’m hooked – it is oh so illuminating. Plus, this podcast is really well done in general and has a polished production quality that clearly takes hours and hours of work.

*The Tim Ferriss Show. I don’t religiously listen to Tim’s podcast, but I’m usually glad when I do. He’s willing to go into exquisite depth with his guests – sometimes I love that, sometimes it’s a bit too in depth for my taste, depending on who the guest is and how interested I am in their expertise. Sometimes episodes are truly mind blowing though and I think about them for weeks afterward. An example of this would be Episode 166: How Creatives Should Negotiate and Episode 170 with Shay Carl. So many gems in there!

*The James Altucher Show. James is SUCH a character. He one of the most honest interviewers I’ve ever listened to – he’s willing to ask uncomfortable questions and isn’t bogged down by normal social conventions. He’s honest in a way that’s shocking and endearing. It’s really refreshing to listen to him. Some conversations are more fun for me than others – I especially loved Episode 217 with Tony Robbins. If you’re in any type of funk, listen to it IMMEDIATELY.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me the podcasts you can’t get enough of! I’m always on the search for new ones. Oh – and I love you more than podcasts. :)

C hia seeds are all the rage. I can remember the first time I experienced chia – it was in a kombucha drink that Bobby bought. He LOVED it from the get go. I was skeptical. Like many things in life, though, chia has grown on me. I’m glad it has because it’s stunningly good for you. There’s a reason it get so much hype. Check out this article about all the health benefits of this little magical seed and prepare to be amazed.

Awhile ago I stumbled upon this insanely easy recipe where chia seeds take center stage. It was SO easy and SO delicious and SO nutritious that I immediately shared it with my mom and siblings. But why should they be the only ones with the insider info? You deserve this recipe, too.

We’ve been making this recipe periodically over the past 6 months. It’s delicious every time. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I just don’t feel like making a hullabaloo over breakfast. I truly enjoy cooking but when it comes to breakfast I’d rather skip the extensive prep work and just have something nutritious to dive into. This recipe fits the bill. Make it one night, cut up some fruit, and breakfast is taken care of for multiple days.

Bobby and I bought this giant 6 pound bag of chia on Amazon and it’s the best deal I’ve found (compare this to prices at Whole Foods and you’ll be doing a jig on the rooftop). It has lasted us for quite awhile. Chia for days!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe – slightly adapted from a recipe book I was glancing through at Barnes and Noble. (I failed to get the name of said recipe book. I feel badly about that because citing sources is something that every upstanding human should do regularly and consistently. Alas.)

Chia Seed Breakfast bowl
(Makes a nice tupperware full)

3 cups almond milk
1 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or to taste)
Cut up fruit of your choice (mango, blueberries, strawberries, you name it)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together almond milk, chia seeds, and maple syrup. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Whisk again.
3. Let mixture sit in fridge overnight. The seeds will hydrate and expand and turn into this wonderful gel-type pudding.
4. Scoop desired amount into a bowl, mix in a handful of chopped fruit, and breakfast is served!

As a bonus, this recipe is so dang pretty. It reminds me of a chia seed mosaic, particularly if you put it in some type of beautiful bowl.

Bon appetit!

R aise your hand if you’re a millennial and own a camcorder. Yep, that’s what I thought. Zero hands raised. If we get technical about it, almost all of us have a video recorder that we keep in our pockets at all times – the magic of smart phones, right? But gone are the days when you see people whipping out bulky video cameras and filming birthday parties or dance recitals or special picnics in the park.

A couple years ago, I started to realize this was a problem for my little documentarian heart. Some of my favorite moments of adulthood have been looking back on home videos from when my siblings and I were little.

My parents were great about lugging out the big camcorder for various holidays, special events, and just everyday life (those moments of slipping on shoes and toasting bread as Hafiz says). My mom and dad captured a lot of great moments and looking back at that footage is a treat. If there was extensive video footage of my parents when they were my age I would be crowing from the rooftops about it. There’s not, unfortunately, but it would be SO FUN to watch if it existed.

But therein lies the rub: I don’t own a camcorder that I use to capture special moments and, although I have the capability of recording video on my phone, that takes up a lot of space. Plus, I’m simply not in the habit of taking long chunks of video for various events. On top of all this, I DO think there is a fair amount of video footage my parents took that was just plain boring. You have to sift through a lot to get to the gold. I’m not complaining, I just think there’s a way of getting wonderful snippets without recording 10 minutes at a time. One solution to this has been the One Second Everyday app that I wrote about awhile back. I still love that but I wanted more.

Enter: Snapchat and Instagram Stories. I’ve come to realize that these two mediums are my generation’s version of home videos. We DO capture moments on film but just in a different way than our forefathers did.

Here’s the thing, though: if those small snippets aren’t consistently saved to the film roll on your phone, they disappear into the ether. And even if you do tend to save some of the snaps or IG stories to your phone, there’s a high chance they’re just left there or eventually saved onto a computer without a great way to sit down and watch them like you would with a home video from the 80s. (All the best home videos were filmed in the 80s, right?)

So here’s what I started doing over a year ago. I began to save literally EVERY SINGLE Snapchat or IG story that I filmed. Some people may shake their heads at that. “Isn’t the whole point of these apps that you’re just sharing throw-away little moments that aren’t that significant? They’re cool for 24 hours but then you move on to the next thing?” Not in my book.

I love the fact that my quick, 10 second videos of everyday life are just that: fun peeks into exactly what life is like right now. A glance at the insane moving process we take every 6 months or so. A peep of Bobby and I snuggled on the couch with a cocktail. A look into Graham’s total adoration of squirrel chasing (the other day in the park he whipped past the basketball court in pursuit of a squirrel and a kid said to his friend, “Dang, that dog is dedicated.”). I love that I’m able to capture these everyday shots of our lives right now and I want to preserve them for the future.

Here’s the process I’ve developed:

1) Save the video to my camera roll. For Snapchat I push on the little download, arrow button. For Instagram Stories, I changed the setting to automatically save each story to my phone.

2) Periodically, transfer these 10 second videos into the iMovie app on my iPhone. (If you have an Android, there are plenty of alternatives to iMovie if you just do a quick Google search.)

3) Mash them all together so that I have a 30-60 minute video of all these little snaps.

4) Upload to my computer and to Youtube for future viewing.

Maybe this isn’t’ revolutionary. Maybe everyone is basically doing this and I’m not some life-documenting genius. But if you haven’t been saving your snaps then I know you’re probably blown away by this idea and are sending applause my way. You’re welcome. You’re welcome.

I think I might take more snaps than the average person, so my videos tend to be hilariously long once they’re all inserted into iMovie. Like, I mashed together everything from January through September of 2016 and it was just shy of one hour and twenty minutes long. Then I created another one for October through December and that one was 50 minutes long.

Sure, there are some embarrassing/ridiculous snaps in there (which makes sense, seeing as the whole premise of these apps is that things don’t have to be polished because they disappear quickly…unless you’re saving them like me, ha). There are more than a few where I’m talking directly to the camera and I’m sure it will look like I was really vain and full of myself and trying too hard to be funny…but I don’t care. I’m not planning to shove these long montages in front of new acquintances who come over for dinner (although how hilarious would that be??) – they’re just for us and any future kids. (When I upload the videos to Youtube I set them as private so I’m the only one with access to them – they really are there for posterity’s sake and nothing else.)

Basically it comes down to this: HOW COOL WILL IT BE to sit down when we’re 80 and remember what 2016 was like for us? SO cool, that’s how cool.

If you’d like to thrill the pants of your future 80 year-old self, too, here are a few tips I’ve learned through trial and error…

  • Don’t worry about the time frame from all your snaps – ideally, it would be so nice and tidy to have a single large video for each year. However, I quickly realized that it made more sense to just wait for a large quantity of snaps, put them into iMovie, and then erase them from my phone. As I mentioned above, my first video chronicles January-September and my second video was October-December. They’re not like bookends but it really doesn’t matter in the end.
  • iMovie allows you to create a title page which is where you can denote the timespan that the snippets cover. Simply scroll to the beginning of the video snippets and click the + sign to add a photo. Then layer text on top of it. I’ve been titling them “Snippets of Life. G + B + G, (appropriate dates here).”
  • I prefer to wait until I have a large amount of snaps and IG stories saved before I import them into iMovie instead of importing them in small batches. Why? Because the very first time you go to create a video in iMovie, it allows you to easily click on all the videos or photos from your camera roll that you want mashed together. It’s a relatively painless process. However, once you’ve created your “main” movie, it gets more tedious to add additional clips. It’s still possible, but it takes more clicks. Here’s what I mean, via photo examples. Let’s say I wanted to add more clips after doing my big import. My screen looks like this:

I click the plus sign on the left to add in a new video and then click on the “Video” category. From there I can click on “All” whereupon I see all of my videos lined up like this:

Once I select the clip I want to add to the movie, it will highlight in yellow.

From there, I click the little plus sign and it will add it to the end of my movie. But in order to add additional clips, I need to repeat that process for EVERY SINGLE CLIP. It’s a huge pain. It takes so much time. So just trust me that you’ll be a happier camper if you import the vast majority of your clips in one swoop when you initially create the video in iMovie.

    • In order for your video to be chronological, you’ll want to scroll to the beginning of your camera roll and start clicking on the videos in order from earliest to most recent. iMovie will take you to the most recent clips on your phone first, but if you highlight those clips first, they will be the first ones to populate in your final iMovie compilation. So unless you want a Benjamin Button vibe going on, you’ll need to override that.
    • If you’re like me, you probably film the majority of your snaps and IG stories vertically. When you put them into the iMovie app, it will automatically crop them into a square – this may cut off some important parts of the video (and often crops off any text if you’ve added that into the snap). The first time I created a long video, I failed to catch this and all of my snippets were cropped to the square size – I had already deleted all the videos from my phone and hadn’t saved them individually to my computer so I was unable to fix the error. (Sad violin plays.)  WHOOPS. I still have the most important part of course, which is the basic video. With that said, it’s rather annoying to watch and I’ve since figured out how to prevent that automatic cropping from becoming an issue in future compilations. In a nutshell, you have to click on the individual video segment and then hit the tiny magnifying glass near the upper lefthand corner of your screen. It will then say “pinch to zoom video.” From there, you can squeeze the image with your fingers to make it smaller so that the whole frame is in the screen. Basically, it will go from looking like this…

…to this:

Scroll through each video clip and repeat this process, making sure that all your vertical videos are fitting in the frame.

  • I think it’s nice to have the finished videos saved in a couple different places. As I mentioned before, I save them both to iPhoto on my computer and to YouTube. If you have the YouTube app on your phone, it shows up as an option when you click the “upload” button on the final video. From there, decide on your privacy settings and add in a description. Then you’re in business. So slick. If this takes too long or if your video seems too lengthy to put on YouTube via your phone, just click on the download symbol within iMovie and then click “Save Video.” From there it will export into your camera roll. You can then get it onto your computer and, from your computer, put it onto YouTube. (Forgive me if this all seems so basic – I just wanna make sure our slightly tech-scared friends can figure out how to make this magic happen without pulling their hair out.)

So there you have it! In case you’d like to see an example of how this all comes together, I compiled a week-long sample of my snaps and IG stories from this past week (I mean, I could show you the two hour-long compilation from last year but let’s be real, ain’t nobody got time for that). ;)

This whole process is much easier and more painless than this lengthy post may make it appear, I promise. I just wanted to be super thorough so your learning curve isn’t as big as mine was when I was muddling my way through this the first time.

Let me know if you try this and if you have any questions that I didn’t address!