My Current Favorite Podcasts

I almost never listen to music anymore… I am ADDICTED to podcasts! I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to listen to podcasts occasionally and it makes the day so. much. better. I listen to a lot of different podcasts and it’s almost comical how different the genres are.

I love a good business podcast run by a #girlboss, financial podcasts (to help keep me in check), arts and entertainment podcasts and my guilty pleasure… true crime podcasts! Since they are all so different it was hard to just pick a few, so I’ve listed my favorite out by genre.

 

Arts and Entertainment & Financial 

  1. Whine Down with Jana Kramer and Michael Caussin – I LOVE how open, honest and vulnerable Jana and Mike are. They talk about everything from marriage, parenting, moving, therapy… literally everything that comes up in normal day life. They offer great advice and are so open with all of their own struggles and triumphs!
  2. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard – I have to admit… this podcast has made me develop a DEEP love of Dax Shepard. I’ve always liked him but now I LOVE him. Listening to him and Monica (his minny-mouse sidekick) during their fact check is my favorite thing. They interview some really interesting people and Dax just has a way of making you feel like you’re in the room talking with them too.
  3. The Dave Ramsey Show – Dave is a no BS kind of guy… seriously some of the people that call in just make me CRINGE because I know what Dave is going to say, but he always tells it how it is. He’s not going to make you feel better about your poor money choices, he’s going to tell you what’s what so that you get it together! When I’m feeling that I’ve derailed from my financial plan he’s the “dad” I need to hear to kick my butt into gear!
  4. The Rachel Cruze Show – Rachel Cruze is Dave’s daughter and has the same great mind for financial planning. I love listening to Rachel’s show because she relates her topics to the typical girl just living life, trying to save some money. She has guests on that talk about how to save money grocery shopping, cheap recipes, how to be frugal when shopping and so much more!
  5. How I Built This with Guy Raz – This is just a plain, entertaining podcast! Guy interviews such a wide array of guests, all who have built a major business. It is so interesting to hear the stories behind the brands you know and love. I would have never guessed that some of the companies I thought were just popular overnight came from NOTHING. Also, I just love Guy’s voice… it’s so soothing!

Business – #GIRLBOSS

  1. The Influencer Podcast – If you’ve ever wondered how to become an influencer, what an influencer does or how to grow your following… Julie Solomn is your girl! She is a wealth of knowledge who is always giving out freebies and little nuggets of gold for you and your business! (Funny fact: Julie is married to Johnathon Schaech who is Jana Kramer’s ex-husband… and they’re all best friends!)
  2. The Goal Digger Podcast – Jenna Kutcher is a wedding photographer turned self-made millionaire and is now teaching everyone just how she did it! I love Jenna’s down-to-earth spirit and her genuine willingness to help everyone better themselves. She not only hosts a great podcast but teaches so many great courses on her website as well.
  3. RISE Podcast – You have definitely heard about her New York Times Best Sellers, Girl Was Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing, but have you heard of her amazing podcast – RISE? Rachel Hollis is breaking it down to get to the center of it all. She is so real and vulnerable about everything she goes through and then relates it to her audience and how we can get through it to. She’s also another boss babe that made her own empire!

True Crime Podcasts

  1. My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark – I feel like you live under a rock if you haven’t hear about MFM… but if by some chance you haven’t, go listen now! They paved the way for true crime podcasts with a comedic twist. They are hilarious and their banter is the best!
  2. Crime Junkie – I love Ash and Brit! They have really well researched episodes and I feel like I’m getting the whole story when I’m with them. They have good banter but keep it to a minimum which I appreciate! You can really find yourself getting lost in the story.
  3. Sinisterhood – One of the reasons Sinisterhood is a true fav is because they’re based out of my hometown, Dallas, TX! Sinisterhood is a refreshing twist on true crime because they sprinkle in some mythology, cults and just other creepy things.
  4. Morbid: A True Crime Podcast – I just started listening to Morbid and I have been BINGING! They have a good mix of true crime stories and I’ve noticed that I haven’t heard a lot of the crimes they’re talking about – which is SO nice because when you’re as obsessed with true crime podcasts as I am, you start to hear a lot of the some crimes over and over again.

 

Although I clearly have A LOT of favorites… I am always looking for more recommendations! What are some of your favorites?

 

XO, Natalie Alexandra

How to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

Earlier this week I talked about how Kirby and I are trying to stay cool in this summer heat (mainly by escaping to Flagstaff) but I thought it was just as important to share how we are keeping Phillip cool this summer! The summer heat can be so dangerous to our four-legged, furry friends. To help keep Phillip cool (and also have some fun) we came up with a few, budget-friendly ideas for her!

 

  1. BOOTIES!

This is by far Phillip’s least favorite of her summer-hacks… BUT it is the best for her! The cement in Phoenix (and really anywhere where it get’s toasty in the summer) can get SO hot. We have been talking about getting her some booties for a while but just kept putting it off. We finally bit the bullet while we were in Flagstaff. We saw the cutest little dog shop called Bow Wow Boutique and decided to stop in. They had some little boots that fit Phil perfectly so we decided to grab some, and honestly I don’t know why it took us so long.

 

2. A PUPPY POOL

This is probably Phillip’s favorite activity in the world. She’s such a weirdo because she hates swimming but LOVES splashing in the shallow end of the dog park pond. As well as the dog park pond, we also found out about her love of hoses last summer. That was an easy summer go-to when it was too hot for the dog park but it just wasn’t the same. We thought about what else we could do with Phil this summer and thought this little kid pool would be perfect for her!

After about an hour of playing with the hose, Kirby and I went inside. We looked out the window to the backyard and saw Phillip was having the time of her life splashing in the backyard all by herself. She continued splashing for at least an hour and would have kept going all day if we let her.

Do your dog (and yourself) a favor and make this $7 investment that will provide you with hours of entertainment.

 

3. PUPSICLES

I’ve done pupsicles for Phil a few times before and this has been her favorite recipe! It is the easiest thing to whip together and is such a fun, cold treat for a warm day. Honestly, these “dog treats” are so good that I would eat them (minus the dog biscuit of course, haha!).

There are only 4 ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • Dog treats (for handle)

Even though this is a super simple recipe, I do have a few recommendations to make it even easier/better. The first trick is to spray the ice trays with pam or any cooking spray so that the treats will come out easier without crumbling. The second trick is to use dog treats or another edible dog snack as the “handle”. I’ve made pupsicles before with regular popsicle molds (with the plastic handles) and Phillip ate/ruined the plastic handles… so lesson learned, haha!

Mix all ingredients together, top with dog biscuits and freeze for 6 hours-overnight, viola! Easy as that!

 

How are you keeping your pups cool this summer?

 

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XO, Natalie Alexandra

Weekend Getaway: Flagstaff Favorites

This past weekend Kirby and I went on a mini weekend getaway to one of our favorite places, Flagstaff, AZ! It’s only about a 2 hour drive from where we live in Mesa which makes it such an easy, quick trip. We decided to go on a whim to try and escape the heat that’s settled in here in Mesa.

One of our favorite things about going up North is the chance to actually hike outside in the summer! In Mesa/Phoenix in June it is just not an option starting around May (and sometimes lasting all the way through October/November). We wanted to take full advantage of the weather so we decided to stop in Sedona, AZ on our trip up North for a GORGEOUS hike.

^^Phillip was a such a good sport! She got a little tired towards the end but did such a great job on our 4 mile hike for such a small dog.

We use the app All Trails to find most of our hikes, It’s great because you can see reviews, photos,  distances, if it’s pet friendly and how difficult it is. We chose Chapel Trail to Broken Arrow Trail to Mystic Trail loop. Sedona has some of the most beautiful hikes. The red rocks are stunning and I love the mix of true dessert and mountain scenery that blend together.

At the very end of our hike we ended up right underneath the Chapel of the Holy Cross and it was such a sunning view! After our hike in Sedona we rewarded ourselves, and Phillip, with an ice cream cone and set off for Flagstaff. We checked into our hotel, took a quick shower and nap, and got ready to hit up some of our tried and true favorites!

There is nothing better in this world than sitting on a patio in 65 degree weather with a Mother Road beer and Fratelli’s pizza. I kid you not, if you have not done this YOU ARE MISSING OUT. Do yourself a favor (whether you’re an AZ local or not) and take a trip down to Flagstaff, if for nothing else at least for this magical moment.

We enjoyed some beers and our classic fav, a sausage and ricotta pizza. What makes this patio even better is the fact that they’re not only dog friendly, but all of the staff absolutely adore the pups there! Phillip got so many pets and treats, she was just as happy as us.

We ended the night at a new spot for us, Vino Loco. It was such a cute, intimate and cool little place! They had a great selection of games, beer, wine and bottles to take home. We had so much fun relaxing on the patio with Phillip, playing a little Yahtzee (and yes, I won!). We called it a night and took a bottle of their wine home with us!

The next morning we did a small nature walk, also found on All Trails, to take in the cool morning weather. The walk we chose was called the Little America Loop. It was only 2 miles and was pretty flat the whole time, but it was a nice easy walk with some beautiful trees and flowers.

After our walk we went to breakfast at the Toasted Owl (highly recommend!!). Once again, they have a great pet friendly patio (are you seeing a theme here in Flagstaff?) and killer food. I got the chorizo and black bean breakfast tacos and they were so good!

After breakfast we spent a little time walking around downtown and checking out all of the little shops that Flagstaff has to offer.  A few of our favorites were the Bright Side Book Shop and the Bow Wow Boutique (where we bought Phillip her new booties, which are so funny to watch her walk around in)!

We had such a great trip, it was so hard to come back to the 100 degree heat in Mesa! Flagstaff will always be one of our favorite little escapes. We are counting down the days until were able to make it out there again!

Have you ever been to Flagstaff? What other places do we have to try out?? We would love any and all recommendations!

 

XO, Natalie Alexandra

 

Blueberry Cucumber Moscow Mules

I mentioned recently on my Instagram my new found love (well really a rediscovered love) of Moscow Mules. I am a long time lover, but this was one of Kirby’s first Moscow Mules! I’ve been trying to stay away from wine recently and have switched to being a vodka soda type of gal.

I love a good vodka and La Croix but this past weekend I wanted something with a little POW. I decided to give Moscow Mules a try because they are the easiest cocktail to make at home. Kirby (to my surprise) told me that he had NEVER had a Moscow Mule so I made him a classic Mule.

That got me thinking… what would make a great twist on a a classic Moscow Mule? I LOVE blueberries and cucumbers, so I decided to give it a try. Let me tell you… it’s delicious and so refreshing on these hot Arizona summer days!

STEP ONE: Add cucumbers and blueberries to the bottom of a copper mug and muddle.

STEP TWO: Add one shot of vodka of your choice (I recommend Tito’s but this time around we used the ol’ faithful Kirkland brand).

STEP THREE: Fill the mug up almost to the top with ice.

STEP FOUR: Top the ice with your choice of ginger beer. Trader Joe’s has a great (and affordable) option that is pretty good!

STEP FIVE: Squeeze the juice of one half lime on top and give it a good stir!

STEP SIX: Top with blueberries, cucumbers, sit back and ENJOY!

Let me know if you make this recipe and what you think about it! There are a TON of different variations or fruit combos that you can try here so pick some of your favorites and get creative!

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XO, Natalie Alexandra

A Fresh New Summer Tablescape

Summer is in full effect in Arizona with temps already in the 110’s (sigh)… with the weather almost being too hot even for a pool day I wanted a light, bright and airy tablescape for Summer! Our breakfast nook is the first thing you see when you walk in from the garage door, which is where we come in from everyday after work. Since this is the first thing we see after a long day of work I wanted to embody something that was refreshing and light. I think that I got pretty close to my idea through this tabelscape!

 

I found pretty much everything that I needed from HomeGoods, Trader Joe’s and some other items I had just lying around the house. The entire refresh cost me just around $50 which I don’t think is too bad. I scoured the sale endcaps at HomeGoods to find the wooden and marble cake stand, white bowl and white plates. I did pay full price for the place matts and napkins, but for a set of 4 for each was only $6.99!

The lemons and flowers are from Trader Joe’s (and yes I will actually use the lemons). Kirby complained that he didn’t want to spend $6 on lemons “for show”… *insert eye roll emoji here*! Does anybody else have a boyfriend/fiance/husband who just doesn’t understand?! Well I will resue the lemons… I like to use lemons a lot in cooking and in my vodka soda’s with some La Croix!

I don’t know why but summer is always such a hard time for me decor wise. I never quite know what “summer decor” is supposed to look like (because all you see are cheesy beach decor at every store). So tell me, how are you updating your home decor for  a summer refresh?

Since you can’t link product form HomeGoods online I’ve linked a few similar product below. Click the image to shop this post!

XO, Natalie Alexandra

Magic Light Trick

GUYS! I found the most genius hack ever (thanks to Brooke). For this addition to our master bedroom we are going to explore the Magic Light Trick, and I swear this will be life changing for you too.

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The great thing about the Magic Light Trick is that you can literally use it for ANYTHING. You could use it under your kitchen cabinets, in closets, in deep drawers and my favorite, in sconces.

If you’re renting your space you are constantly looking for a way to update the drab wall colors and floors that you’re stuck with. These no-wiring required sconces are the perfect addition (and I mean even if you own your home who really wants to pay all that money to get your wiring done for a few sconces).

I got these sconces from Amazon for $12 a piece!! They are strong and sturdy and are made of really nice material, you would never guess that they were only $12! Now the “magic” part comes from these puck lights! They were $10 for a set of 3 that also came with a remote and command strips.

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It was SO easy to install these! First I just put the sconces together from the instructions in the package. I did save all of the extra hardware and wires incase we decide to every hard-install them when we buy a house, but since I’m not hard-wiring these now I just tucked the wires behind the black hardware and screwed them into wall (you would never know they’re not hard-wired based off of how they look). Then you literally just stick the command strip onto the back of the light and pop them into the sconces!

Go follow along on my instagram (@nataliealexandrablog) where you can see in my stories how I describe the Magic Light Trick and you can see how they look in person!

You can’t tell that you’re using a puck light unless you are right up underneath them, they are so great! My remote also came with a dimmer and timer setting which is SO nice!

If you decide to try this out tag me in and let me know, I want to see where you decide to use your Magic Light Trick!

Friendsmas + A Dining Room Table Makeover

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year! The only thing that can make Christmas even better is hosting a Friendsmas! If it’s even possible, hosting would be one of my love languages. I love the prep, the rush, the cleaning, the cooking, the organizing and of course the staging and designing. Everything about hosting close friends makes me so, so happy!

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Christmas this year will be a little different for us so we are making the most of the season while we can! Kirby will be going home to Houston and I’ll be in Phoenix still for work so we decided we needed to have our nice Christmas dinner before Kirby left, and the only way we could make that any better would be by inviting two of our very best friends over to enjoy it with us.

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On the menu for Friendsmas I tried a lot of new recipes, and a few that I’ve really come to love around the Holidays. First up, the appetizer! Now, I have to give my friends Brie & Tyler the props here because they found this recipe and made the appetizer for us. Man oh man was it delicious! This is going to become one of my new go-to appetizers for dinner parties. This appetizer is a Roasted Brussel Sprout and 3 Cheese Crostini (click on any photo below to see where I got the recipe).

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For the main course we did a Garlic Rosemary Pork Loin, Slow Cooker Buttery Herbed Mashed Potatoes (this actually was a mashup of two recipes, find one here and the other here), Oven Roasted Vegetables with a Maple Glaze and of course my family’s favorite, some good old fashioned Sister Schubert Rolls.

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Lastly, the most important part of a Friendsmas, the dessert!! A pretty well known fact about me is my love for Hallmark Chanel, but what people don’t typically know is that even more than the Christmas movies, I LOVE their program Home & Family. If you’re not familiar, it’s similar to a talk show but it’s everything Christmas! They have crafts, decor, recipes and tips and tricks for the season. Well, I got this amazing recipe for a Red Velvet Hot Chocolate Cake while watching Home & Family.

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Now, the funny thing is that we almost didn’t have a table to eat our dinner on at all… Kirby and I got this kitchen table (for free!) about 6 months ago with the intent to redo it. Well, life got in the way and we kept putting it off until I randomly got the urge to get started about a week ago. I moved it into the garage and got to sanding. It was a slow project that we would work on for a day and then not touch for a few days, until it was two days before Friendsmas and we realized that we HAD to get it done or we would all be eating on the floor. I guess that was the nudge that we needed because we finally finished the table the morning of Friendsmas! Granted, we don’t have the seat cushions reupholstered yet but at least we had somewhere to eat!

Take a look at it now and keep scrolling down to see the before!

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Before Table

I am by no means a DIY expert, actually I’m very far from that. One of my favorite bloggers, Nesting with Grace, always says that the goal isn’t to be perfect but to be better than before and that is exactly what I wanted to do here!

I hope this inspired you to get out there and host your friends or remake something in your home, but more importantly not to strive for perfection but to make your home better than before for YOU!