Kellie Pickler: A “100 Proof” Love of Cats

January 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm , by

Photo: Russ Harrington

Are you a cat lover who’s tired of the host of feline fashion faux paws … er, pas … that you see in the stores? Well, you’ve got a friend in country music’s Kellie Pickler, who recently teamed up with Fresh Step litter and the ASPCA for a great cause that’ll benefit both cats in need and your wardrobe.

Now through March 15, in honor of February being Cat Appreciation Month, Fresh Step litter will donate $1 (up to $100,000) to the ASPCA for every photo posted on their Facebook page of a pet owner wearing a cat-proud outfit. If your closet is currently cat-pride free, relax and don’t cough up a hairball. That’s why Pickler partnered with fashion designer and fellow cat lover Geren Ford, creating the limited-edition sweater you see Pickler wearing here. When you visit the ASPCA website to purchase the sweater ($35), 100% of the proceeds benefits the ASPCA. You can also virtually “try on” the sweater at Fresh Step’s Facebook page, post it, and make the $1 donation. It’s so easy, your cat can probably do it!

Pickler, who unfortunately had to relocate her beloved cat Pickles due to her husband’s severe allergies, is thrilled to be part of such a pro-cat program, brushing off any fear of being stamped with a “crazy cat lady stigma” as cooly as she’d brush cat hair off a couch. “I’m not ashamed of anything,” she says matter-of-factly. “I don’t really worry about what everybody else is doing and what they like. I kind of do my own thing. I love cats and I’m not going to not love cats just because somebody else doesn’t think it’s cool. I don’t think they’re cool if they don’t like cats.”

She was in a similar mindset while making her brand new CD, 100 Proof, which is out today and takes Pickler back to some more traditional country roots. “On my last album, I made a record based on what I thought radio would play and what I thought people would want to hear,” she explains. “I didn’t do that with this record. I’m not trying to get anybody to like me with this album. Nothing’s forced. I was me, I didn’t make this record for anyone but me and I think it’s okay to do things for yourself every now and then.” Her new approach has produced an album that is her strongest, most personal effort yet. In fact, by not worrying about what anyone wanted to hear, she just may have made the record everyone was waiting for after falling in love with her on American Idol in 2006.

Continue on after the jump for more dish about Pickler’s brand new CD …

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Country Spotlight: David Nail: Let Him Reign

January 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm , by

Photo: David McClister.

After occupying the country radio charts for a marathon 48-week stint, David Nail has finally been rewarded with his first, well-deserved number-one song: “Let It Rain,” the first single off of his The Sound of a Million Dreams CD. Now that he’s top of the heap, though, don’t expect him to lose the perspective he’s been given on his rise to that position. “There have been a lot of times over the course of my career that it didn’t look like I’d be able to make a record, much less have two out and get to travel the country and tour with people,” the Missouri native told me on a recent visit to the Journal. “My short-term and long-term goals are always one in the same. I hope to do something today that allows me a tomorrow. I hope to do something this year that allows me another year. I do not take things for granted.”

Case in point was his reaction to his Grammy nod last year for his vocals on “Turning Home,” off of 2009’s I’m About to Come Alive. “I can’t remember anything in my life being more unexpected,” Nail says of the moment he got the call about his nomination in the Best Male Country Vocal category. “It was just a whirlwind. I remember literally dropping to my knees and just being overcome with surprise and emotion. I kind of teared up a little bit, went and hugged my wife and said, ‘Baby, I’ve spent a long time trying to get people to like what I do. And evidently the people in this town like what I do.’ ”

Hear Nail sing three stripped-down songs for the LHJ staff after the jump.

His fans across the country aren’t complaining much, either. If you follow him on Twitter you’ll see that he not only talks the talk, he (excuse the word and phrase play) twalks the twalk of gratitude by maintaining one of the most engaging and appreciative conversations with his supporters—the Nail Nation—of any artist through that medium. Entertaining proof of this came when someone recently pondered about whether Nail himself actually signs the promo CDs that go out. Nail, in turn, tweeted back a photo of the stacks he was signing at that very moment as he watched TV, no doubt doubly endearing himself to anyone who might have been having the same doubts. (The bonus, by the way, of following Nail on Twitter is that you’ll get such in-depth college and pro sports analysis that by sheer osmosis you’ll be qualified for most on-air positions at ESPN.)

So, with a killer voice, his first number-one under his belt, a nation of loyal fans and a second album chock full of high-charting potential, Nail seems poised to make Nashville’s all-star team in 2012. That turns to speculation over what the follow-up single to “Let It Rain” will be, so in an homage to Nail’s athletic leanings (and, well, because I’m a dork) I couldn’t help but create my own next-single sports bracket for what I’m thinking/hoping for in terms of his second release. Check my brackets out after the jump and let me know if you agree. You’ll also find the video of Nail’s in-office LHJ performance after the jump, as well as to his takes on everything from where he fits into the current Nashville music scene and what charitable effort he’s passionate about, to why Taylor Swift reminds him of Garth Brooks, and more.

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Country Spotlight: Margaret Durante’s Nashville Diaries

December 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm , by

It was so much fun getting to share a stage with Jason Aldean!

I’ve been writing the Nashville Diaries blog for five months now and things are getting pretty serious between us, wouldn’t you say? I guess that means I can share a secret with you then: I cried when I watched Taylor Swift’s 60 Minutes special over Thanksgiving. I bawled like a little baby, wondering what had overcome me. I guess what overwhelmed me was the way she answered her questions with such poise, all the clips of young girls crying and screaming for her at her concerts, and ultimately my desire to someday affect people the same way she does.

Still, when I saw her at a Christmas party the other day I couldn’t bring myself to tell her how much she had inspired me, let alone even just introduce myself. I’m still wondering why I hesitated—and it’s not that I’m too cool for school (which, by the way, is overrated and dumb). I think it was just that I was afraid of bothering someone who probably hears praise like that all the time yet, when I think about it, that makes no sense at all. True, the saying goes, “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all,” but I think there should also be a saying that goes, “If you have something nice to say, then by all means, say it!” Well, at least I’ve confessed my sob session to you all and I’ve put it out there in the universe. In the future, though, I’ll try to remember that it’s never inappropriate to pay someone a heartfelt compliment, and that applies to all times of the year, not just when spreading Christmas cheer! (Rhyming is cool.)

Truth be told, emotions always run a little high for me around the holidays. The music business winds down for a bit this time of year and I’m, of course, excited about the holidays but I’m also anxious to tie up various loose ends before everyone takes a break. Don’t even get me started on my tendency to procrastinate when it comes to Christmas shopping. Luckily I have two very proactive sisters who have helped me quickly and painlessly get the shopping done for my family.

So much has happened in the past months that it seems like Christmas has totally snuck up on me. I’m getting ready to put a single out in March (I can’t wait for you all to hear it!) and a full album shortly after, so I’ve been in the studio working on getting everything just right. I also recently opened for Jason Aldean during CMA week in downtown Nashville right by the Riverfront, which was … AWESOME! I’m a big Jason Aldean fan so it was so much fun to share the stage with him. We were promoting an AMC show called Hell on Wheels, which has some very ruggedly handsome men and a post Civil War revenge plot—juicy stuff! I attended the CMA awards the next day, which was fun and surreal. I also spent a day giving interviews to all the radio stations that had traveled to Nashville to broadcast from Music City during CMA week. And then, last but not least, the LHJ Nashville Diaries Sweepstakes winners—Angie and her 10-year-old nephew, Jake—visited me. We got to hang out in the studio and Jake laid down some smooth vocals on one of my new songs!

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Martina McBride Lends Her Voice To “A Home for the Holidays” Adoption Special

December 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm , by

Photo: Randee St. Nicholas.

If you drew Martina McBride’s name in the country music superstar Secret Santa and you need a last-minute gift idea, I’m so about to hook you up. “Everybody always says I’m hard to buy for, and I’m not,” McBride tells me. “Just give me bath stuff and candles, and I’m happy!”

What would probably make the Grammy-nominated country singer even happier this holiday season, though, is if you tuned in to the 13th annual A Home for the Holidays this Wednesday, December 21, on CBS. “I was really honored to be asked to do this,” says McBride, who will be hosting and helping the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network shine a light on the more than half a million U.S. children in foster care in need of a permanent home. “It’s a really important show that is literally making a difference to future generations,” she adds, noting that some parents featured on this week’s show had been inspired to adopt from watching prior A Home for the Holidays installments.

The fact that McBride and her husband, John, are blessed to have a family with three beautiful daughters (Ava, 6, Emma, 13, and Delaney, who turns 17 this week) was specifically one of the reasons why hosting this year was important to her. “We kind of take family for granted sometimes,” she explains. “I mean, we decorated our Christmas tree last night and halfway through it I thought, think of all the kids out there that don’t have a family to decorate a Christmas tree with. And yet we take it for granted. We do it every year—it’s a tradition. It really makes you stop and think.”

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Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Gift Giving This Season

December 5, 2011 at 10:05 am , by

’Tis the season for, well, tons of stuff. Department store circulars crowd our mailboxes (and coupon codes flood our e-mail), the new totally-bigger-than-last-year’s TVs jut dangerously out of car trunks, and gift closets overflow with trinkets for the people you didn’t think to buy for anyway, but “shoot!” those neighborly jerks just brought over bottle of your favorite wine.

Ugh. There has to be a way to feel at least a little better about all of this.

I’m into the “going green” lifestyle, and I like to be pretty discerning about what I put in and on my body and around my home (case in point, after moving into my first grown-up New York City apartment this week, my Seventh Generation cleaning products, Dr. Bronner’s all-in-one soap and BPA-free water bottle were among the first things I unpacked). And because I care about how I live, if I’m going to add to my loved ones ever-growing inventory of stuff yet again this December, it would be great to give gifts with at least some earth-friendly redeeming qualities.

The folks at Origins, a beauty line that promotes its natural ingredients, agree, so they teamed up with eco-tastemakers to lend some easy, green ideas we can all try this holiday season. Their first video, with best-selling novelist Emily Giffin and eco-minded event planner April Trigg, offer the coolest green gifts you can give this year, many of which are made from awesome recycled or reclaimed materials. I especially love the salvaged tin ceiling photo frames April found—they’re perfect for your shabby chic sister.

Watch the video below for the rest of her picks (and get her handy where-to-buy-it list here) and head over to Origins.com with the special code GOODTOGLOW for a surprise at checkout. Want more tips on how to make your holiday a little more green? New videos will arrive each week on Origin’s Facebook page, including eco-chic holiday fashion with designer Vivienne Tam and green holiday decor with interior designer Robin Wilson.


Do Good, Look Good: Second Annual Beauty Bloggers Online Auction

November 28, 2011 at 11:35 am , by

Is it just us or do the holidays seem to begin earlier and earlier every year? We’re not complaining, we’ll take any excuse to squeeze in a little shopping–and the ladies behind BeautyBloggers.org have given us even more incentive to open our wallets.

For the next two weeks, as you’re mulling over your gift list,  Karla Sugar and a roster of over 60 other beauty bloggers will be hosting their second annual online beauty auction. Proceeds are going to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides medical care to people in crisis, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
These beauty mavens have collectively rounded up a pretty impressive collection of products to auction off: a complete set of Peau Vierge skincare from Le Métier de Beauté (retail: $1,100), a mascara wardrobe from Lancôme, a set of “matched luggage” makeup travel bags from Stephanie Johnson, Armani’s mother-of-pearl holiday eyeshadow palette, and tons of other goodies.
So put your clicking finger to good use, someone on your list will appreciate it. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing that your bucks are going to a good cause. Hey, it is the season of giving after all, right? The auction starts today and ends on December 12th.


Ladies’ Home Journal We Volunteer Awards Winners

November 22, 2011 at 9:51 am , by

We’re so proud to highlight the women who won our second annual Ladies’ Home Journal We Volunteer Awards, a partnership with WE tv. Our goal was to find rockstar volunteers who are quietly making a big difference in their communities, and these three amazing ladies do not disappoint. Tessa Wehrman (left) volunteers with two groups to help disabled kids and adults, Holly McKay (center) has taught “mad scientist” lessons at her local elementary school twice a week for years, and Alison Bearman (right) volunteers 5 to 6 days a week at her local animal shelter, helping to find loving families for rescue dogs.

We honored these amazing women at our annual awards luncheon (with fabulous presenters Andie MacDowell, Sara Gore and Diann Valentine) and it was a seriously inspiring—and tear-inducing—day. Learn more about our second place and people’s choice award winners below, and read about grand prize winner, Tessa, in her magazine feature.

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Categories: Do Good, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: | 3 Comments


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