News And Notes
Apr 25

Beautiful, Budget-Friendly Wedding Dresses

Shopping for a wedding dress on a budget is hard — like really, really hard. It requires creativity, compromise and serious searching both online and in stores. However, it is possible to find a dress that matches your style, price point and vision. When dress shopping, try not to feel defeated. Chances are, you won’t have a “Say Yes to the Dress” moment. I didn’t.

What’s most important is finding a dress that fits you and your budget. Then, once you find your dress, stop looking! Feel confident in your purchase, and rock it on your wedding day.

To prove that beautiful, stylish dresses exist (and to inspire skeptical brides-to-be), I found cheap alternatives that mimic pricier styles. Now, go forth and shop!

Runway: Houghton Bride

Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar

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Posted at 12:01 am | Permalink
Apr 24

Blake Takes Over No. 1 on Top 20

Blake Shelton - Sangria

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/blakeshelton.

It was a battle between husband and wife for the top spot on Top 20 Country Countdown, but Blake Shelton came away the winner with his new video, “Sangria,” taking over the top spot, knocking Miranda Lambert down to No. 2 with “Little Red Wagon” after two weeks at No. 1. Little Big Town and Kip Moore also made their countdown debuts with their latest videos.

Top 20 Photo Gallery »

Want to re-watch some of your favorite interviews? Get Top 20 online extrasincluding videos and photos. You can also cast your votes and take a look at the current chart to see where your favorite videos land.

This Week’s Chart

  1. Blake Shelton – “Sangria”
  2. Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon”
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns”
  4. Keith Urban w/ Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up”
  5. The Swon Brothers – “Pray For You”
  6. Little Big Town – “Girl Crush”
  7. Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”
  8. Maddie & Tae – “Fly”
  9. Reba McEntire – “Going Out Like That”
  10. Billy Currington – “Don’t It” Continue Reading

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Posted at 4:30 pm | Permalink
Apr 24

Hit the Road, Y’all!

Meet Jeremy Pawlowski, the vision and voice behind the popular blog and Instagram feed “America Y’all.” Our sister site, DIY Network, profiled Jeremy as a Creative Genius over on the blog Made + Remade, and we think Jeremy embodies the spirit of Great American Country. Here, Jeremy gives some advice for seeing America (without quitting your day job!) and also shares a handful of photos from his recent trip to Big Bend National Park.

Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo courtesy Ryan Millar

Camping, hiking, travel, adventure. In a world where we are inundated with images of far-off majestic places, it’s easy to feel like the four things I mentioned are unattainable. Just a few years ago, I was that person staring at photos on my computer screen, dreaming of a life lived on the road, feeling like it would never be mine.

Big Bend National Park

Photo courtesy Jeremy Pawlowski

It started with a trip to a park not more than an hour away from my home in Austin, Texas. A quick overnight camping trip was all it took to help me shake away the preconceived notions I had about what it took to travel and enjoy the outdoors.

Big Bend National Park

Photo courtesy Jeremy Pawlowski

That one quick trip helped me realize how much there is to see and do in my own backyard; I had caught the travel bug. I started by checking out the state parks in close proximity to my home and, slowly but surely, kept driving further and further every weekend, all the while still making it home by Sunday night to get ready for work the next day.

Big Bend National Park

Photo courtesy Jeremy Pawlowski

I often have people ask me how I find the time and money to get out so much. And the answer is quite simple.

You don’t need fancy gear, you don’t need a lot of money, and you don’t have to quit your day job.

Big Bend National Park

Photo courtesy Jeremy Pawlowski

You can usually find me hiking in jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes; my tent is from Wal-Mart and my sleeping bag is a hand-me-down. The biggest expense throughout my travels is gas. All you need is the eagerness to explore the outdoors.

A couple of years and thousands and thousands of miles driven, from state parks in Arizona to national parks in Utah, some of my favorite places to visit and explore are not more than an hour away from home.

Big Bend National Park

Photo courtesy Jeremy Pawlowski

So, if you have the urge to travel, get out there and start with a day trip, and then a quick overnight camping trip. You’ll see that it isn’t all that intimidating, I promise.

Written and photographed by Jeremy Pawlowski of “America Y’all

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Posted at 11:21 am | Permalink
Apr 23

Take Our Country State of Mind Quiz

Country State of Mind Quiz

You know what pairs perfectly with country music? Travel, y’all. Country stars spend a lot of time on the road, riding their glamorous motor homes  from city to city to play music for their fans. Some artists also use their travel experiences as inspiration for songs.

Do you know which tune is about a band that shares its name with a state? How about which Jason Aldean song name-drops states like Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma? Do you know which country stars named albums after their home states?

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Posted at 2:01 pm | Permalink
Apr 22

7 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22

Start an herb garden and hang it in your kitchen window. (Photo courtesy of HGTV Gardens)

Earth Day and Earth Month only occur once a year, but don’t limit “green” behavior to the 30 days of April. You can protect the environment every day by doing these seven simple tasks, and once they become habit, helping to preserve Mother Nature won’t seem like a chore.

1. Unplug — Instead of scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or blogs tonight, flip through a neglected newspaper, magazine or book. Turn off the TV and cook an incredible meal with organic, local ingredients. Reconnect with your spouse, partner or family with an al fresco meal, drinks and music.

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Posted at 12:01 am | Permalink
Apr 21

Budget Wedding: 6 Ways to Save Money

Wedding Flowers on a Budget
For many engaged couples, wedding planning kicks into high gear this time of year. And while it’s fun choosing menu items, a cake and flower arrangements, it’s also stressful and exhausting, especially for anyone working with a tight budget. Since I’m in the midst of planning a wedding myself, I’d like to share some tips on how to save money and keep your sanity during the process.

Morning and non-Saturday weddings are very budget-friendly.
Want to save money before you even make the guest list? Choose an early start time on a weekday or Sunday. Most weddings start late Saturday afternoon or evening, with guests eating and drinking well into the night. A morning wedding requires less food, less (if any) alcohol and (probably) less dancing. Venues also offer cheaper rental rates on weekdays and Sundays. Continue Reading

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Posted at 12:01 am | Permalink
Apr 20

Miranda and Luke Win Big at ACM Awards

50th Annual ACM Awards

Everything is bigger in Texas, so the Academy of Country Music headed to the Lone Star State to celebrate the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The evening kicked off with Keith Urban and Eric Church taking the stage to perform Church’s “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag” and the pair’s current duet, “Raise ‘Em Up.” Continue Reading

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Posted at 2:45 am | Permalink
Apr 18

Q&A With the Salvage Dawgs

Mike, Sally and Robert of Black Dog Salvage

In Great American Country’s new series, Salvage Dawgs, the guys at Virginia-based Black Dog Salvage are on a mission to find and repurpose the treasures hidden inside historic structures. The series premieres with two back-to-back episodes on Monday, April 20 at 10/9c, and if you haven’t jumped on the upcycling bandwagon yet, you’re about to.
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Posted at 12:07 am | Permalink
Apr 17

Spring Festivals in Bloom

Knoxville Dogwood Festival

Photo courtesy of CelebrateKnoxville.com.

Spring should be officially titled the “season of festivals” due to the number of outdoor events that take place during its three-month stretch. The days last longer; people stay out later; music plays louder; the drinks taste better. Yes, spring has sprung in all its glory. Most of us look for excuses to get outside, eat good food and saunter with no agenda. Festivals lend themselves to this leisurely lifestyle quite well.

And while it seems like music festivals get all the attention this time of year, cities are also putting their region’s seasonal blooms on display with parades, contests and street fairs. Below are just a few of the festivals that celebrate the best of spring’s flora.
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Posted at 7:35 pm | Permalink
Apr 17

Miranda Has Two Weeks at No. 1 on Top 20

MIranda Lambert - Little Red Wagon Video

Miranda pairs up with her favorite canine costar in “Little Red Wagon.” An avid dog lover, she is the founder of MuttNation Foundation to end animal cruelty, and href=”http://blog.gactv.com/?p=61397″>Redemption Ranch, a no-kill shelter in her home state of Oklahoma.

Miranda Lambert makes it two weeks at No. 1 on Top 20 Country Countdown with “Little Red Wagon,” but she had some serious competition! Carrie Underwood remained at No. 2 with “Little Toy Guns,” while Lambert’s husband, Blake Shelton, made it to the list with “Sangria,” coming in at No. 3. Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr also debuted new videos on this week’s countdown.

Top 20 Photo Gallery »

Want to re-watch some of your favorite interviews? Get Top 20 online extrasincluding videos and photos. You can also cast your votes and take a look at the current chart to see where your favorite videos land.

This Week’s Chart

  1. Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon”
  2. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns”
  3. Blake Shelton – “Sangria”
  4. The Swon Brothers – “Pray For You”
  5. Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”
  6. Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes”
  7. Reba McEntire – “Going Out Like That”
  8. Maddie & Tae – “Fly”
  9. Luke Bryan – “Spring Breakdown”
  10. Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” Continue Reading

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Posted at 4:52 pm | Permalink