December 3, 2013 at 8:30 am , by Ladies' Lounge
Fun fact: Walt Disney and his animators personally designed the original Toys for Tots train logo that’s still used today. You can check it out while you’re participating in our Virtual Toy Drive, which is running this week on behalf of Toys for Tots.
All you have to do is click “LIKE” on our Facebook feature of Disney’s awesome Planes Dusty Crophopper toy and Disney will contribute – up to $5,000 in value – toys to kids this holiday season through the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation!
Disney has supported the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation since 1947, helping to bring joy to kids during the holiday season. Click here to learn more about their efforts to promote the happiness and wellbeing of kids and families!
October 30, 2013 at 11:59 am , by Ladies' Lounge
The team at LHJ recently hosted nearly 100 top bloggers for our first-annual LHJ Get Social event in New York City. We spent the day hearing from amazing speakers, learning lots of great tactics to boost our personal brands and businesses, and getting so inspired by the creative, talented, amazing women who joined us for the day. (And we can’t forget that our sponsors and partners shared some great info—and let’s be honest, fun swag—too.) We had such a great day we just had to share some highlights.
Our Editor-in-Chief Sally Lee kicked off the day.
Joy from Joy the Baker shared her secret recipe for blog success. (The not-so-secret ingredient truly was tons of hard work and persistence.)
Then after a delicious lunch we heard from our book panel, Lisa Cain aka Snack Girl (whose first book comes out in April), book agent Susanna Einstein and book editor Whitney Frick. They gave us some real behind-the-scenes info on how to get noticed by agents and publishers and the process of translating a blog to a book.
To end our day, Gabrielle Bernstein shared her inspiring story and some excellent advice for taking a blog business to the next level by building deep relationships with fans and followers.
And then we got to chat, share ideas, and swap business cards over wine and snacks!
It was such an inspiring day, we’re already thinking about ways to make it even better for next year. If you missed our live tweets and posts, check out all the social action at #LHJgetsocial on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And stay tuned for information on next year’s event.
September 30, 2013 at 2:30 am , by Ladies' Lounge
Today Melissa Chapman from Married My Sugar Daddy is dishing her secrets to keeping the spark alive even after years of marriage.
Those of us who’ve passed the 7-year itch portion of our marriages can probably all agree on one fact: Marriage is not a sprint it is a marathon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also rife with the kind of intimacy and familiarity that is impossible to comprehend unless you’re fully immersed in the thick of it. And sure familiarity can be great for keeping your marriage running like a tight ship (you have pizza night every Friday, your husband knows to buy that special toilet paper you love, and before bed you never forget to say I love you before retreating to your respective sides of the bed). But it doesn’t exactly lead to excitement or great sexual chemistry.
So if your sex life is feeling familiar and — dare I say — lackluster, you are not alone! And while I would love to regale you with my tales of attempting acrobatic double-jointed sex stunts to keep our married sex life fresh, that would be a complete disservice to you. To be perfectly honest though, I actually did buy a pair of fur-lined handcuffs once and they gave my wrists a rash. And then we couldn’t find the key (true story!). I think true intimacy requires more than props or frilly lingerie (although if those do it for you, more power to ya!). So how can you keep it fresh in the bedroom (or kitchen or back seat of the car) after years of marriage if you’re not really into crazy Cosmo-style stunt stuff? It’s possible! But just a warning: You are going to have to work at it. Every single day. But it’s worth it, I promise.
Touch each other as often as possible. Sexual attraction and the urge to get it on all begins in the mind. Touch is such a powerful tool that we often forget to exercise, especially when we’re in the throes of our daily routines and not tuned into our partners. So while you’re jotting down your grocery list or texting your friend, you still have one hand free to massage your partner’s neck, hold his hand, or brush his cheek, for instance. These seemingly-small physical gestures can connect the two of you in ways that are hard to articulate. It’s a primal connection, and a way to remind your partner that you still desire him.
Find a shared activity that you love both love. Whether it’s watching a movie on the couch, taking a cooking class, going for a bike ride, or skydiving, find something that appeals to both of you that doesn’t involve the kids (if you have ‘em). The energy and excitement you’ll get from this mutual interest will spill over into every other aspect of your life — including your sex life.
Carpe Diem kiss. Seize the moment! I know it’s 11 p.m. and the only thing you really want to do is kiss each other on the cheek and go to sleep. But if you can muster the energy, instead of kissing your husband on the cheek, give him one of those long lingering kisses (you know, the kind from before you got married). Just kiss each other. Don’t think about anything else or put any pressure on it. And if it’s just one kiss, that’s great. It’s a first step to connecting and making sure that this person you share your bed and life with is more than a comfortable roommate.
So what’s the bottom line? Intimacy in the bedroom is so much more than having sex. Remind yourself every day to check in with your spouse in small and big ways. (Maybe email him these tips so he can get in on the action too!) And of course if all else fails, there’s always a bottle of red wine…
September 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Whew! What a week it’s been. Last Monday was our premiere and there were so many changes to the format we were all spinning, but that was just the beginning of last week. Next I had a crazy week of prepping for the Emmy Awards on Sunday. (Shout out to Derek Hough—he won for Outstanding Choreography!) The next day I was up early for my workout and had to head to the Dancing with the Stars set for our second and most action packed episode this season. It’s been a busy week so I’m happy to be sipping my coffee at home as I write my Ladies’ Home Journal blog. Let’s get to it.
Season 17 is a whole new Dancing with the Stars and I am truly enjoying the energy of it all. It wasn’t our choice to go to one day a week—it was the network’s decision—but we’re making it the best it can be. I know some of our fans are quite upset that the show is on only one night a week now, but change happens and the best option is to go with it. We will all miss what it was, but it’s time to embrace what it is. What I love most about the new season is that the pace moves so quickly! Sure, last night in particular felt like a speed race to the end with all 12 couples dancing and the elimination, but we knew it was going to be our “tightest” show. We have a few kinks to work out to make it a bit smoother but overall, I’m impressed with our producers for finding a really fun and action-packed way to make the necessary changes. I didn’t write a blog last week because it was such a crazy week, but I want to touch on our big opening number of the season. It was choreographed by my dear friend Mandy Jo Moore, who was my assistant for many years and is an now Emmy-nominated choreographer. For the first time in DWTS history, the judges got to dance. It was barely a count of eight, but it was so much fun to be dancing again. I thank Mandy once again for making that happen, and also Ashley Edens, who puts those fantastic numbers together week after week.
Okay, now on to my thoughts about the show. I got a lot of tweets about the lift rule so I want to take the time to explain it again. On our show, there are certain dances like the traditional ballroom and Latin dances that do not allow lifts. The rule was put in place in the beginning to keep the playing field even. We made the rule for those who are not as young or as agile so that everyone could play at the same level. However, after many seasons, we’ve added dances outside of the traditional dances to keep our fans excited and the show fresh. Argentine Tango, Salsa, Lindy Hop, Swing, Jazz and Contemporary all allow lifts. Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble, Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba and Jive do not. I realize we don’t have time to refresh everyone’s memory about lifts each season but I do hope this explains it.
So, who did you love most last night? Do you agree with who went home? (Spoiler alert for those of you who DVR the show!) The first to go was Keyshawn Johnson, and I wish he’d shown the audience more of his personality in the first week where their vote could’ve kept him in. It wouldn’t have changed his scores, but I do think the audience may not have connected with him last week. He seemed to be a bit “lost in the crowd” and with 12 couples competing, you need to find a way to stand out so that people remember you when they vote. You have to touch their hearts if you want them to root for you when your scores aren’t so great. Take Bill Nye, the Science Guy for example. Who would’ve thought he had so many fans? Wow! There were over three million YouTube hits for his “Weird Science” routine. He certainly touched some people and made an impact. I personally didn’t find the dance very creative, but he’s the type of contestant that makes our show special and gives it so much heart. From a judging perspective though, it seemed like we’d seen that dance before. I know Bill’s partner Tyne is a newbie to our show, but it’s her duty to research and come up with new and exciting ways to impress the judges. It’s no easy task, but it is an element to consider when creating these routines. It gives impact. And with a competition as tight as this one looks like it’s going to get, they need to have impact.
Last night, Bill’s Beethoven performance had impact. Tyne did a fantastic job of creating a great number—I loved it and it helped raise their scores. He was confident and focused and he delivered a performance that was complete. He needs to add more content and his footwork and placement need a lot of work, but the performance was definitely memorable. Others who stood out last night were Leah Remini, Christina Milian and Elizabeth Berkley for their new found confidence. Elizabeth stood out to me Val choreographed their dance so that they were right in front of us; he didn’t hide her behind him and block our view from the judging panel like so may others do. He faced us and showcased her beautifully. She’s a powerhouse of a dancer with a special languid strength to her movements. Christina blew me away with her new found confidence. People tend to harass me when I give constructive criticism to the ladies, as if I’m trying to put them down, but the goal is exactly what Christina produced last night. She listened and raised her confidence and as a result, she blossomed! She was fantastic. That’s the whole point of constructive criticism—so they can improve their performances. Kudos to Christina! Another woman who gained confidence this week was Leah Remini. Her story is pretty deep; I didn’t know about the Scientology and them wanting her to fail. That’s too bad, to feel that there are people out there who want you to fail. It can overwhelm even the best and most confident people. So once again, I celebrate a strong woman who is a survivor and is not giving up. She raised her game and she did it with a feisty vengeance. Go Samba Girl!
This season looks like it’s going to be fun, but if you blink you’ll miss it, so tune in on Monday nights! For you fashionistas, last night I was wearing an Aiden mattox gold beaded geo mini dress, Steve Madden Dipsiee gold spike pumps, and rings from XIV Karats LTD (to answer a Twitter question, the pear-shaped white diamond ring is 6.34 carats).
Stay tuned and let’s chat again soon. Love to you and remember to hug your animals! They make the world a better place. Just for fun, here’s a photo of my dog, Buddy, in a tree. Animal photos always make people smile, so smile!
August 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
What’s not to love about summer? There’s weekends spent at the beach, vacation time with the entire family and don’t get me started on all that BBQ food. But there’s one thing you can’t ignore: the elements. You may slather on sunscreen, but protecting your hair from the sun and heat is important too! Here are 5 summer hair essentials you need to stock up on for this summer and beyond.
Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Crème: I know you’ve heard of BB creams, but did you know they exist for hair now too? Pantene’s new version is the multitasking product we’ve all been waiting for. You can use the cream on either dry or wet hair (which I love) and you’ll repair, protect again damage, and get lots of shine, softness and frizz control.
Suave Dry Shampoo: You know how the computer changed civilization as we know it? Well, dry shampoo changed my life just as significantly. A little spray saves a hair style, extends a blowout, or eliminates the need to wash my hair every single day. You don’t have to spend a lot either. Suave’s version is great — and available in travel size too so you never have to go without.
Kerastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique Leave-In Conditioner: Using leave-in conditioners is a must when you spend the day at the pool or beach. Kerastase’s leave-in treatment nourishes dry hair while simultaneously adding back in smoothness and shine. Love it!
Redken Color Extend Sun After-Sun Mask: During the summer, consider using an after-sun mask once a week. Redken has a great one geared towards replenishing lost moisture and restoring your hair’s natural shine. To apply, just use a wide-tooth comb to spread the product in your hair and leave it in for about 10 minutes.
Moroccanoil Glimmer Shine Spray: I love using this shine spray because not only does it manage my frizz, but it also reflects light to give my hair a gorgeous gloss. Thanks to the argan oil foundation, your hair will be protected against the elements, including salt water.
Vera Sweeney, mom, blogger, social media influencer and New York resident, is the founder of LadyAndTheBlog.com. Her lifestyle and parenting brand helps busy women stay on top of the latest trends in fashion, food, family and travel. Vera is also the Co-Founder of the Fashion Forward Conference, a one-day blogging event for women who want to use style as a means to build a business, harness social media and connect with other women. Click here for more information on the September 11th event in NYC
May 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Season 16 has come to a close. I have to admit I had no idea who would take the mirror ball trophy home this season. The race was the tightest its been in a long time. I thought with Zendaya’s 2.7 million twitter followers, she was a shoo-in for the title. But Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough worked some magic on their freestyle routine and created a very profound moment of television. I ran into Derek backstage right after they won and he told me that he was inspired by my call to Kellie to find more expression and connect more to the emotions of the dance. I think he said it haunted him as he was putting the freestyle routine together. I’m so glad that he understood what I was going for when I made those comments. That’s what makes a winner to me—someone who can take on the challenges we give them instead of taking offense to them. Dancing With the Stars is a challenge that takes stamina, strategy and a willingness to face parts of yourself that you don’t want to. In order to win you have to find a way to incorporate our critiques and comments into your dances. When I gave Kellie feedback about the emotional quality of her dance, I was trying to help her grow.
I had a feeling that this season was going to be a tight race to the finish line. I know that the key to winning this competition is having breakthroughs and growth on top of the fantastic dances we expect in the finals. But magic is made when you push yourself to do something that’s really not a “sure thing.” When you accomplish that goal, there’s nothing like it.
A lot of shows out there will fake moments to create dramatic television, but I think the audience has become savvy to that and our audience is smarter than that. Kellie and Derek’s win is proof. I’m not saying that Zendaya and Val did anything fake or anything like that. Not at all. She is a phenomenal performer and Val’s choreography showcased her beautifully. She’s been outstanding the whole way and she has a special quality when she performs that will take her career very far. But Kellie hadn’t been completely connecting on an emotional level to her dances. She hadn’t really let go until that moment. She made progress, but in her final freestyle she discovered something new about herself and we all witnessed it. Derek created a piece of choreography that allowed her this discovery; in fact, it pushed her right into it. There was nowhere to hide. The movements lent themselves to vulnerability and heart connection. Kellie stepped right up to the plate and swung a home run.
I’m so happy for her success. As a dancer it is this heart-centered and honest type of performance that touches your audience’s core and creates loyal fans and supporters. I’ve been in this business for a long time. I’ve seen talent come and go and I’ve seen amazingly talented people never find themselves in their performances and get lost in the shuffle of the entertainment industry. Eventually they fade out, but every once in a while someone is able to push themselves past their own limits and dig so deep that they find a whole new layer. But this applies to anyone. You have to continue to push yourself. Just when you get comfortable, I think it is imperative that you push and see what else there is and what else you have to offer this world. This courage is what creates a satisfying life and that’s something we all crave.
This was a big season for all of us at DWTS. We hit our 300th episode and it was the end of our two-episodes-a-week run. That part is bittersweet. I love having all of the production numbers and I think we did some amazing work with the DWTS Troupe. They were brilliant and truly a highlight of the season. They gave our show a fresh energy and I think it’s a good time to give thanks. Who knows what will happen in the future for the show, but I know our talented producers will come up with some great ideas to ensure that the show is even better. Now we’re pushing ourselves out of our own comfort zone. We’re heading into the unknown with courage and excitement, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Change can be a bit scary, but it’s good and a very important part of life. I know I speak for everyone when I say we’re so grateful to all of our viewers and fans that have tuned in for our 300+ episodes and we look forward the next 300.
What’s next for me? I’ll be busy producing my gala for The CAI Animal Project which is on October 18th, 2013 at the Century Plaza Hotel Ballroom in Los Angeles. There will be dancing, and everyone asks me when I’ll dance; well I’ll be dancing in this show for sure! And so will a lot of familiar faces. It’s going to be exciting. Raising money for animals in need is going to be my focus for the next few months and if you’d like to help, please check out our website, www.caiap.org, or if you’d like to help with our fundraising by buying some of the looks I’ve worn on the show, go to www.fashionproject.com. I have a closet there and I’ll be adding even more clothes so check back often. You can have a part of DWTS fashion history and do something good for the animals. It’s a win-win!
Congratulations to our Season 16 winners, Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough! And congratulations to our runners-up, Zendaya Coleman and Val Chermkovskiy. Both duos were fantastic and really wowed us with their talent and fortitude. I thought this was our best season ever and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Now it’s time for a mini-staycation! I’ll see you soon, and if you miss me, just follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/carrieanninaba.
Take care and God bless.
May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Three hundred episodes! Wow. It’s an incredible feeling to celebrate our 300th episode. Back in the day, Mash was a very popular show that went on for quite a while. It felt like it was on the air my whole life, and they made 251 episodes. It was a breakthrough. I remember how America tuned in when it went off the air. It was such a big moment in my television history and now, to be a part of a show that has completed 300 episodes completed is an honor to say the least. I want to point out that there are three people who have been on every single episode since day one: myself, Tom Bergeron, and Bruno Tonioli.
It’s been a wonderful ride with extraordinary choreography, beautiful costumes and incredible production value. I’m really proud of our team. It takes so many people to make a show happen.
Here’s a list (in chronological order) of my top 10 dance performances on Dancing with the Stars in honor of our 300th episode.
1. Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke
Freestyle (Season 2)
This piece was such an inventive and entertaining way to approach the finale. Cheryl really created a great number here and their performance brought the house down. It was so exciting. Magic!
2. Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough
Quickstep (Season 5)
This performance was vibrant and lively, and it showcased Helio at his best.
3. Mel B. and Maksim Chermkovskiy
Paso Doble (Season 6)
It was powerful, and her costume was brilliant and very aggressive. She set a whole new standard for costumes and performance in this showstopper!
4. Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke
Argentine Tango (Season 8)
Wow. This was such a work of art and passion. Their partnership was such a sensual one. They just had chemistry that wouldn’t quit. Gilles had this wonderful way of adding a suave debonair touch to all the dances he did. He was like a character from a romance novel that’s come to life. This was smoldering at it’s best.
5. Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Quickstep (Season 10)
This one was such a classic. It was a tribute to the musicals that inspired so many of us to be where we are today. They danced in harmony and really made all of us feel good!
6. Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Bollywood (Season 15)
I loved this dance. We’d never had a Bollywood performance on the show before and it was just so energetic and lively. It really showcased the vibrancy of the Bollywood cultural phenomenon.
7. Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess
Vienesse Waltz (Season 16)
This was one of the most emotionally charged moments we’ve ever had on the show. He dedicated this dance to his daughter, Meg, and it touched our hearts in a very special way. He made an impact on all of us. He was celebrating his sobriety and his love for his daughter. It was a moment that had us all in tears.
8. Derek Hough
Macy’s Stars of Dance (Season 16)
Wow—this was such a great tribute to Fred Astaire’s Dancing on the Ceiling number but with a cool and modern twist. It was really innovative and pushed all understanding of gravity. But I think if you really want to appreciate the number and choreography and performances by Jaimie Goodwin and Derek, you have to see it while the “box” is moving. It was really something to behold.
9. Zendaya and Val Chermkovskiy
Samba (Season 16)
While it may not have gotten the best scores, I just loved this cool fusion samba. Her Beyonce-like presence on the dance floor blew us all away. The stylings of her movements and the way her body sung the dance made this a cool number not to be forgotten.
10. Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
Argentine Tango (Season 16)
They started the dance in silhouette showcasing her beautiful lines, and her lines were perfection. Kellie delivered an impeccable and passionate performance.
Truly, there are too many great memories to mention. Being a part of the dance revival on television has been a great honor and achievement. I’ve been fortunate enough to see two generations of dance—back in the early 90s when the Fly Girls brought hip hop to mainstream television, and now again, as we see ballroom and Latin dances in our living rooms. I celebrate the great mind that really championed our show when we were just a pitch for a pilot. I have to give credit to Andrea Wong who really gave DWTS a shot in America. Here’s to you Andrea, and to the BBC and ABC for all you’ve done for dance in television. We’ve seen so many boundaries broken down and creative visions actualized; we are a lucky generation to have so much dance on the tube. It wasn’t always like this, but I’m sure glad it is now and I’m happy to be a part of all of it.
Until next week, keep dancing!