Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Deadline Frenzy!

Erica Here:

I am in a deadline frenzy! My manuscript is due TOMORROW, and I am not done! I am coming down to the wire, writing the final scene, so blogging is a bit down the to-do list for me.

So, since I need a little inspiration and motivation, I thought you could use some, too. As a fan of the Country Acapella Band Home Free, I love these two videos.


Enjoy, and if you like these, check out the other videos Home Free has on YouTube. You won't be disappointed!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The #Magic of #Christmas

One of the things I love about Christmas is when December casts its foreshadow across my November. Hints of the holidays, of nostalgia, of crystal snowflakes, and crisp winter winds. But I'm not the only one who feels this way! Authors Allison Pittman and Rachel McMillan hijacked my blogging Tuesday to help usher Coffee Cups and Camisoles into the the Christmas season with a new novella collection and their own stories of Christmas delight....

Allison, I know you're busting to share about your Christmas magic ...

My husband and I met each other in August, and were married on December 21, so all of our Christmases together have been as a married couple. That doesn’t mean they weren’t romantic, but I don’t know if they’d be worthy of a soft musical montage. We did have a Christmas-themed wedding, with the sanctuary full of Poinsettias and evergreen, but that’s because the church was already decorated for Christmas, so I didn’t have to spend money on flowers. Just had the bouquet and boutonnieres made to match. In short, I’ve always had a practical edge to romance.

I guess that’s why I’d have to say the most romantic of all the Christmas romance movies, the one I identify with the most, the one I’d like to experience in real life, is The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni. I mean, yes, it has the fantastical element of supernatural alternate universe time travel, but the heart of the story is the home. I love that the set designers created a home that looks like one people actually live in. Cluttered shelves and dirty laundry and all. And all of the romance between Jack and Kate happen in stolen moments amidst the chaos. Most of all, I love how everyone in their circle of friends knows how solid their marriage is. To me, that’s a testament to romance.

In my novella Lone Star Christmas Lights, my character Mari wants to be a romance writer, but when the perfect story comes to light, she deems it too “ordinary.” That’s when Larsen, my hero, asks, “Sometimes can’t a story be about two people who find each other? And that’s enough?”

Twenty-six years ago, my husband—Mikey—and I found each other. So far, that’s been enough.

Loooooooooove that! And Rachel? What say you . . . 

I love Christmas and have yet to experience romance at Christmas time. However, being a hopeless and hapless romantic, I get tingly at the thought of it. Especially because Christmas is wrapped in tradition. I love tradition: it connects us to history.  

While my ultimate Christmas wish is a romantic trip to Austria at Christmas-time for the Viennese Christmas Market  --- I have visited the site but never at Christmas and it is not the same.  I would want to be back in my little hometown for the actual holiday. I love being home for Christmas: the lights, the snow, our sparkly little Main Street with its candles and window displays and market with hot chocolate and ice skating on the nearby lake.  I am such a city girl but there is something about my small town at Christmas that I love.
Christmas for me is about family and music and falling into the cushion of tradition.

That’s why a film that I would most like to experience in real life is Very Merry Mix-Up, I love the emphasis on tradition in this film and that there is room for another person within the realm of these traditions.   There is something so cozy about it: the firelight, the main characters needing to stay awake (okay, I don’t want a concussion like they have in the film), the midnight kitchen raid to make cookies and the ornaments that all signify something when they decorate the tree. Not to mention, the romantic night-time walks to view the Christmas lights

In Falling for a Christmas Star, San Antonio native Sam Medina is in Toronto around the Christmas holidays and invites Merry Strathford into one of his traditions: making tamales in the way the Medina family has done for generations.  I really love this moment in the novel because Sam  ( who is in Toronto on a shoot for a Hallmark-like film) lets Merry into his world for a moment. He likens the experience to “bringing a girl home for Christmas for the first time.”

Christmas is the most romantic time of the year--- no doubt about it.  But whether you are snuggling up to someone you love or just enjoying the romance of a single stroll through the snow or the warm reception of your family gathering, make it all count.  That’s another thing I love about Christmas: it is a spring-board for built-in memory making.

YES YES YES! Built-in memory making! The best ever! And, I (Jaime) am totally looking forward to some warm, memory making moments over a truly great novella collection! Can't go wrong when Allison Pittman and Rachel McMillan pair up . . .

Visit the magic of Christmas in their whimsical and hopelessly romantic pair of Christmas novellas Starring Christmas: releasing Tues November 29
Two Christmas novellas by beloved novelists in one set!

Falling for a Christmas Star by Rachel McMillan
Sam Medina has finally made it. A last minute casting change finds him en route to Toronto to star in the latest entry of the Serendipity Network’s annual Christmas movie extravaganza, My True Love Gave to Me. Finally, he will have the chance to shake off his reputation for supporting roles as the best friend or kind-hearted barista and prove that he is leading man material.
Merry Strathford is too busy for love. When she’s not pursuing a tenure track position in Medieval Women’s studies, she’s serving plum pudding lattes at the Holly and the Ivy CafĂ©. Thus far, the only romance in her life occurs when she falls under the spell of her favourite made-for-TV movies. That is, until Sam Medina walks through the coffee shop door.
Suddenly, both Sam and Merry are living the romance of a Serendipity movie. But life isn’t all snowflakes and sugar plums and real life —and relationships—are far from cookie cutter shortbread.
Lone Star Christmas Lights by Allison Pittman
Mari Medina is in love…with her neighborhood. She’s converted her historic ancestral home into a cool coffee shop and party space, with an apartment upstairs big enough to share with her mother. It’s a comfortable, safe existence, even if it lacks the spark to fuel her unsuccessful attempts to break into the world of writing romance. Still, she’s always on the lookout for a new taste to bring to her patrons.
Larsen Clarke had everything that comes with a successful career: a luxury apartment, a flashy sports car, and his pick of society women. When hardship strikes his family, he gives it all up, trading for a room in his brother’s home, and a venture into creating craft beer. He’s traded his expensive suit for a plaid shirt, and the only risk he’s willing to take involves bold Texas-based brew.
When Mari and Larsen meet, it’s a collision of retail and romance. She’s looking for a story, he’s looking for himself. Together, they just might find a little lone star magic.

Rachel McMillan is the hopelessly and haplessly romantic scribbler behind the Herringford and Watts series. She grew up in a small Ontario town with an annual Christmas light parade, small-town traditions and so much snow.  Now, she lives in Toronto where she spends most of November and December visiting the city’s many Christmas markets and department store window displays (but only when she is not catching up on the latest Hallmark Christmas movie roster and counting the days until she can go home for Christmas once again.
Allison Pittman is an acclaimed novelist of more than a dozen books. She wasn’t born in Texas, but she’s decided it’s in her blood anyways. She likes Christmas shopping in shorts, picking up the holiday turkey at the local smokehouse, and watching her white Christmas on a television screen. She has three grown-up boys—and one almost-grown-up husband—Mikey— the undisputed nicest guy in the world who lets her keep the DVR filled up with Christmas so that she can watch that part one more time.

Enjoy the MAGIC of Christmas 


Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures

Monday, November 28, 2016

#ReadingLove #5ReasonsToPressOn

Anne here.
I  mentioned before that I struggled as a child when it came to reading and writing. My husband also struggled to read, and we must have passed the reading-struggle gene to our children as well. But we were determined to pass on the learn-to-read-until-you-love-it replacement gene! No matter the struggle, we are firm believers in reading.
If you, your children, or grandchildren are stuck or have forgotten the benefits of reading, let me remind you of some great reasons to press on:

1. Reading is contagious. A new report from Scholastic suggests that reading aloud to your children up to at least age eleven increases the percentages of your child becoming a frequent reader. It also forms healthy bonds as you crowd around the table or sit together on the couch to read.
2. Reading is relaxing. A 2009 study by Sussex University showed a 68% reduction in stress through reading. The same study found that reading works better and faster to relax than other relaxation techniques to calm frayed nerves, such as going for a walk, listening to music, or even having a cup of tea or coffee. Relaxed muscles and lowered heart rate occurred after just six minutes of reading. I recommend both a book and a cup of something hot!
3. Reading can make you more empathetic. In a world where less filtered rapid-fire images barrage us on our readers, televisions, and laptops nearly twenty-four-seven constantly desensitizing our capacity for compassionate empathy--we need ways to stay empathetic and caring. Research published in Science has shown that particularly literary fiction helps readers connect to the emotions and thoughts of others.
4. Reading can increase your brain capacity. Research published in Neurology has shown that reading can stave off the rate of decline in memory. Reading is as much a brain work out as a jog is a cardiac workout.

5. Reading can improve your sleep. Sleep specialists report that the number of hours you gaze at an electronic screen directly reduces your level of own body's supply of melatonin that is known to help sleep, while according to Mayo Clinic reading signals the brain to slow down and prepare to sleep. This would argue that traditional hard copy books are better for reading and some studies also suggest that reading a hard copy boosts comprehension.
So, encourage your children and grandchildren to press beyond the work of reading to the joy of reading. I'll never forget that crystal clear moment that happened to our daughter at age seven when she came running down the steps well after bedtime, exclaiming "Mom, it just took me away and I couldn't stop reading!" She'd struggled just as we had. But we incentivized her for every thirty minutes of reading she was awarded screen time. There was much groaning, whining, and procrastinating before she had her epiphany that the joy of the story will drown out the work of reading if you press hard enough, if you wade in it long enough.
Parents press on! Read to your kids, even well past the age they can read to themselves.
There is one pleasure over the holidays, though it was once torture as a early non-reader, that I will always treasure: the reading time, both alone in my library room and out loud from my family.
I was reminded of this as my twenty year old son read an amazing prologue aloud to me, as my father read aloud "When Father Carved the Turk" from Uncle Charlie's Poems by Charles Noel Douglas, and when my daughter read aloud the poem she'd written about the kitchen table.

Put some books under the Christmas Tree this year and have fun together!

What are your favorite reasons to read?
What's on your Christmas reading list this year?
How old were you when you were last read to by your parents?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Thursday, November 24, 2016

What are You Thankful For?

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made the first national proclamation that Thanksgiving would be celebrated by all states on the same day (the last Thursday of November) as a way to bring unity to a deeply divided nation. In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed it to be the fourth Thursday in November and that is the day it has remained.

I love this holiday and all it represents. It's a day to stop and give thanks to God for our many blessings. Research has found that we have a greater sense of happiness and peace when we count our blessings. Scripture tells us the same. I love that God created us to be happier and healthier when we recognize all He does for us. Even when we pray and make requests, we are told to do it from a place of thanksgiving. 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

This year I'm thankful for so many things. A healthy family, a warm home, good food, a happy marriage, an awesome community and church, amazing friends and family members, writing contracts, and good memories from 2016. I'm also very thankful for this blog community. I believe I speak on behalf of all four Coffer Cups & Camisoles ladies when I say, thank you for making this blog a fun and rewarding experience. 

Your Turn: what are you thankful for this year?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Erica here:

This week while working on my current story, I researched Victorian dinner menus and fancy dinner place settings and Victorian dinner etiquette.

My conclusion...I would have needed an army of servants and helpers to put on those dinners, too!

Thankfully, tomorrow when I have 15 people gathered around my dining room table, we won't each have 13 pieces of cutlery and five crystal glasses. We won't have cups for coffee and a demitasse, we won't have finger bowls, salad plates, bread plates, and fish forks.

But tomorrow, we will have fellowship, food, and fun. We'll make memories, share our lives, and help with the cooking, cleaning up, and eating of the feast.

This year I have much for which to be thankful, not the least of which is that my husband continues to be cancer-free.

I hope as you gather with friends and family tomorrow, you are able to express your gratitude for them to our Heavenly Father. He does give us good gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving, from me and all the girls here at CC&C!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Top 10 "I'm Thankful for the Little Things" Post

I'm thankful for the little things in life. The little things that make me smile, remind me of my ridiculously high amount of blessings, and teach me everyday is worth breathing in deep and sending a smile of gratitude toward Heaven.

I'm thankful for Arthur Conan Doyle and my "works of" copy to teach me mystery and mayhem

I'm thankful for my local Starbucks that knows me by name and makes pretty great coffee

I'm thankful for candles my sister makes and sends me to remind me that she loves me

I'm thankful for the Goodwill piece of pottery my mom bought when I was in elementary school that now sits in my home 

I'm thankful for my Gramma's jewelry box in which she kept all her rings and now I shall keep mine

I'm thankful for family legacy and that my namesake (bottom right) went to Sunday School with her girlfriends and passed her faith to my Grandfather

I'm thankful for lipstick, for without it, I would look dead

I'm thankful for Hawthorne, my coffee pot

I'm thankful for pecan pie because we all know that truly IS the pie of Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for double rainbows that are God's exclamation point on His promises

I'm thankful for sunsets, because they bring the coziness of Home.

What little things are you thankful for this season?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Real or Fake? Annual Christmas Tree Dilemma

Anne here.
Like family photo sessions where there always seems to be a meltdown, stained clothing, a missing family member, or a black eye that creates some sort of necessary family upset--for us picking our family Christmas tree has turned into a required argument of real vs. fake.

It started out in the midst of those years when the kids were in elementary school. I would be coordinating all the outfits, when to meet at the tree farm, getting film, remembering the camera, arranging the schedule to meet my husband with the kids between school and hunting schedules--and arranging the weather too, if I could.

All for that perfect fun memory and moment with the kids during the holidays.

But being a parent and arranging perfect memories like that was a bit like getting to church with a smile still in place by the time you walk through the doors. Wiping jelly from the cheeks of your son as he gets out of the car, pulling the back of your daughter's dress out of her underwear just in time, plastering on a half-smile as you try to ditch that exhausted feeling after a spat with your spouse just in time to walk through the church doors. You just begin to ponder if you are a fiction production vs. a reality show.

It was a moment like that that our real vs. fake Christmas tree traditional family argument was born.

For all my efforts, everything fell wrong. I forgot the film to my 35mm camera, making Ted late to his tree stand. It rained instead of snowing, and the kids tromped through the tree farm in inches of mud. We argued, seriously-no-fun sort of nagging, about which tree to pick. We had a rule--we must all agree on the perfect tree before Ted leaned in to cut the base and carry it over his shoulders to the wagon that took us for our perfect cup of hot chocolate and popcorn on the way to pay. But I'd messed up the schedule and there were no hot drinks or treats that day either.  We were a frumpy bunch about to settle for Charlie Brown's twiggy tree, lick our wounds, and call it quits.

If that wasn't bad enough, the struggle that ensued as Ted tried to fit the knotty tree into the stand just about made him cut it into pieces for fire wood instead. But as we hung ornaments still muttering about the need to just go fake the next year and skip all the headache of real--we glanced through the pine needles, feeling the sting of where the needles had barbed our tender skin, the kids at our feet smiling over their favorite ornaments--our eyes met and we knew.

We would always go with real. 

No matter the hassle. The headache. The pain. Real. Being real--it wins hands down.

Now our daughter has graduated college. Our son is married. But once again this year, we'll gather and get a real tree as we have our traditional argument. Real or fake? We smile as we jokingly argue, a sort of special victory settles in our souls as we know we'll survive it all together, imperfect as we are. The pictures might look perfect, but in our hearts, we'll know. However imperfect--we choose authentic.

So even if your turkey dinner flops this week, or you forget to take the giblet bag out before you roast it--or you don't even know what giblets are---just be real. Find the grace of surviving it all together with your families.

Let go of perfect expectations. Hold onto authenticity.

John 3:8
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Happy Thanksgiving week too all!

What are your holiday family traditions?
What makes your traditions lasting or favorite?
Do you have any messy,
goofy inside traditions that represent you?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Interview and #Giveaway with Ruth Logan Herne

We are so happy at the CCC Blog to feature Gilead Publishing's, Ruth Logan Herne today!! Just in time for the holidays, a wonderful Christmas read giveaway with cowboys! Who wouldn't want that??

Ladies!!! I’m so excited to be over here, I’m happy dancing in upstate NY but that might be partially due to the S-N-O-W in our forecast this weekend. But I digress!

Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is a delightful collection of historical Western romances and I’m over the moon in love with my contribution “A Cowboy for Christmas”. I was able to tuck the story into the beautiful, lush Kittitas Valley of Central Washington and it was a delight to roll back the clock about 120 years… and a Christmas romance, besides! Booyah! J

Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?

June Harper, absolutely… June is a woman who has worked to better herself. She lost her husband first to laziness, then to illness… And then her home and her job to the great 1889 Independence Day fire in Ellensburgh Washington. Homeless, with two little girls, June gathered other women to offer each other support, help and safety. When an opportunity to gather potatoes came via a successful rancher, June and the other women applied for work… and her willingness to do whatever proved necessary to get by brought her to a new opportunity: the chance to fall in love with Hugh Stackman, a successful rancher/farmer with a clenched heart and lost faith. Talk about a match made in heaven!

June isn’t afraid to stand up for herself… her daughters… her friends… and to encourage women’s rights. She was an absolutely wonderful character to write… With the grit and courage needed to build a country, starting in her own back yard.

Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut J

Gosh, there weren’t many because it’s a novella. When I’m writing a novella, I’m careful to stick to the main protagonists and the romance… but there was a wonderful KISSING scene…. Sigh…… that didn’t make the final cut…. And it was a Really Good Kiss, I’m Not Even Kidding! J

How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?

This one’s easy-peasy! I wanted to set it where my Waterbrook novels are set (Back in the Saddle, Home on the Range and Peace in the Valley) in Central Washington and the timing was perfect. Ellensburg(h) had suffered from a massive fire that roared through much of the town in 1889 and that left me wide open for June’s trauma and conflict… and then I was able to couple that with a “Man From Snowy River” type idea, to have Hugh and his brother drive a stand of cattle north. Their intent was to sell the beef and have a stake in a mine, but they changed their minds when they arrived in the Kittitas Valley. They saw opportunity stretching far and wide before them, and it was so much fun to bring it to life for the readers!

What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?

My godfather’s name was Hugh and it’s such a strong, old-fashioned name… and June’s name came to me because of the old-fashioned sweetness of it.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite household chore and why?

Cleaning the refrigerator. I hate it. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA. Possibly I suffered some long-forgotten childhood trauma that involved a washcloth and messy shelves…. I always put it off, and then I regret it when someone sees it. What is wrong with me, my friends????

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

Well, I love writing, so I’ve limited a lot of things but I’d say creating gardens and water features in gardens (little ponds, waterfalls, etc.) is a favorite thing. I fashioned two walkways in a fairy garden type setting this year, and landscaped the area because I love to get dirty!

Fall is upon us, and full of events. What is a special holiday tradition you celebrate with your family?

We’ve developed a new tradition called “Bake/Make a Memory Day”. All the local grandkids (10 of them!!!!) come to my house and we spend the day making ornaments for their parents and baking. We make cookies and candies and we rotate stations so all the kids get to bake and make…. And we drink eggnog, vanilla nog (a new fave with the younger peeps!) and eat cookies and chicken nuggets. Truly a kid-friendly experience including GLITTER and SPRINKLES!!! And Grammies never yell about using too many of either, so it’s a total bonus!

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

My faith is a lovely backbone for my stories. It means so much to me to be able to incorporate the beauty of a faith-filled life to help characters deal with life’s turns and twists. We know that life is a winding road, so it’s marvelous to have that faith thread running through stories to help bind people to God’s love, self-forgiveness or forgiveness of others and the simple joy we’d all love to embrace!

Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)

Laughing! I’m not a lounger, I never do jammie-days but that’s just part of my endearing “Take No Prisoners, Look Professional And Get The Job Done” easy-going personality. J
I get up between 3:30 and 4:00 AM and I work until 6:15 or so…. And I’m still working part time, so I have before and after school kids here, and then I get back to writing around 9:00 or so…. And then I have to do something physical or kill someone, because too much sitting makes me antsy! I’m such a YANKEE!!!!!

We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…

Directing your attention to the question above: Yankee… New Yorker…. Coffee. That’s not even a question, ladies!!!! Bring on the Colombian brew!

And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?

A keyboard….. ;)

If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?

19th Century America, either in the east and follow the technological/industrial revolution or in the west, taming my own 160 acres of land. I love that era!!!

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:

“Hugh. Please. Just Hugh.” He felt tired saying it, as if asking her to treat him normally expended too much effort, or maybe it was because she made him think of things he’d cast aside long ago.
She worried her lower lip with her top teeth, just a little, just enough to make him wonder what it would be like to worry that pretty mouth on his own time, and wasn’t that an interesting turn of events? Here she was, concerned about people’s safety and ulterior motives, and he was contemplating a delightful ulterior motive all the while she convinced herself there was none.
She said it softly, and he melted inside.
He’d never sought love the past ten years. He’d kept himself too busy building this, acquiring that, and taking responsibility for Jacob and Lily, but now, gazing into sapphire-blue eyes and hearing his name from the prettiest lips he ever did see, a longing swept over him.
He smiled. Just that. He smiled at her and let his gaze linger for long, slow beats. “So, June.”
“Yes?” She held his gaze, too, a two-sided affair if ever there was one.
“I think this will do to keep folks sheltered and warm for a few months. Don’t you?” Did he lean closer?
Or did she?
He wasn’t sure, but the urge to put his lips on hers swept over him as strong as anything he’d ever desired in over thirty years of living.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Favorite Classic Movies

Gabrielle Here:

Last week I shared one of my all-time favorite movies, Meet Me in St. Louis, and said I had watched it after the election results as a way to escape from all the drama that ensued. It was fun to chat with some of you about your favorite old movies, so I thought I'd elaborate a little more and share some of my other favorites. I tried to limit it to ten, and then to fifteen...I think I'm up to seventeen, with a few cheats at the end (you'll see what I mean). I could have gone on and on. I actually feel bad that I didn't include others, but I had to stop somewhere! :)

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorite oldies and why I love them so much:

Little Women with June Allyson and Peter Lawford (1949). The classic story of Jo March and her coming of age. There were two older versions that I loved growing up (before the 1994 version with Winona Ryder). The earlier version stars Katharine Hepburn and is in black & white. I loved the one with June Allyson because it's in color...and because I secretly had a crush on Peter Lawford who played Laurie. I still can't watch any version without hoping that this time Jo will choose Laurie.

Please Don't Eat the Daisies with Doris Day and David Niven (1960). Doris Day plays a mother of four rambunctious boys living in a high rise apartment in New York City. She's married to a theater critic and desperately longs to leave Long Island and move to the country. What's not to love about this story? Four little boys (all with different hair color and one named Gabe), a rambling old mansion, and fun Doris Day songs. Doris Day is probably my favorite actress of all time. I loved her sunny disposition, her humor, her voice, and her optimism in all her films. If you haven't seen a Doris Day movie, there are dozens to choose from. I could have easily filled this list with all of her movies.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with Jane Powell and Howard Keel (1954). Seven handsome backwoodsmen. Enough said. :) This story follows Adam and Millie's unique love story. They marry after their first meeting, and she thinks she's escaping the drudgery of cooking and cleaning for dozens of men at the hotel where she works, only to discover that she has six scruffy brothers-in-law that she must now reform. The songs alone are wonderful, but the dancing is some of the best caught on film. The first CD I ever purchased was the soundtrack to this film. I had seven bridesmaids in my wedding and I intentionally was married in June because of the song June Bride from this movie. I absolutely love this film.

Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland and Tom Drake (1944). Last week I shared my adoration for this film. I love the community pride, the boy next door, the singing, the Victorian charm, and the fact that they are preparing for the World's Fair. The story takes place over the course of one year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis, MO. Each child in the family has a different storyline, but Esther (played by Judy Garland) is the main character.

Singing in the Rain with Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly (1952). Okay, this is a classic, for sure. Gene Kelly is one of the best dancers in Hollywood history--and he's adorable and can sing, too. A triad of talent. Debbie Reynolds is so sweet and sassy in this movie. It's set in 1927 and shares the transition Hollywood made from silent films to talkies. I love the chemistry between Gene and Debbie. Though Gene has dozens and dozens of movie roles, his role in this movie (and the song, Singing in the Rain) is probably his most iconic.

Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda (1968). I don't tend to like films between the mid-1960's and 1980's, but this one is an exception. It's a hilarious look at two large families (one with 8 children and one with 10) who come together after the mom and dad fall in love. They buy a big old house and the dad tries to run it like a navy warship. Add in lots of subplots with the older children, a funny sidekick and several mishaps, and you have a winner.

Remember the Night with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray (1940). *Sigh* This is one of the sweetest, heart-wrenching love stories you may ever watch. Fred MacMurray plays a prosecuting attorney and he's trying to put Barbara Stanwyck behind bars after she steals a bracelet. Since it's so close to Christmas, the judge doesn't want her to go to jail during the holidays, so Fred agrees to take her home with him to his mother for the week. You learn her background and why she became a thief, and then you see her redemption as they fall in love. This one brings tears to my eyes every time. Wonderful Christmas movie.

Summer Stock with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (1950). Here's another movie chock-full of amazing dancing and singing. Judy is trying to make ends meet on her family farm and her younger sister returns home with the cast of her current play. The director of the play, Gene Kelly, needs a place to hold the play, so he talks Judy into letting them use the barn. Lots of hilarity ensues and a romance develops between two unsuspecting characters.

The Thrill of it All with Doris Day and James Garner (1963). James Garner...sigh. This movie challenges the roles of a wife and mother in the 1960's when she's offered a surprise opportunity to be the face of Happy Soap. She's married to a doctor and has two little children, but she tries to manage being on a weekly (live) commercial and in magazine and billboard advertisements. The pool scene in this movie is a classic when the Happy Soap ends up in the pool and creates a backyard full of suds.

Bachelor Mother with Ginger Rogers and David Niven (1939). I wanted to include a Ginger Rogers movie, because I absolutely love her, so I chose Bachelor Mother, though she had some other amazing movies (she was best known as the dancing partner of Fred Astaire). No dancing in this movie, but it's a funny look at a wealthy department store owner and a sales clerk who works for him. When she finds a baby on the stoop of an orphanage, and the orphanage director assumes the baby is hers, they talk her boss into giving her a better-paying job and helping take care of her. Of course, he assumes the baby is hers, too, and she has to try to convince everyone that she's never seen the baby before, but soon she and David Niven fall in love with each other and the baby, and then they don't want to give him back.

Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale (1942). This one is sometimes considered a Christmas movie (Bing Crosby sang White Christmas for the first time in this movie), but it's so much more. The story follows Bing as he leave show business to try to run a farm. When he realizes it's too much work, he turns the farm into an inn and only opens on holidays. The show features twelve songs (one written for each holiday) by Irving Berlin. It also stars Fred Astaire, who sings and dances his way through yet another classic film.

The Shop Around the Corner with Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart (1940). This romantic film was remade in 1998 and titled You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The plot is very similar, though in The Shop Around the Corner, the two main characters are pen pals who happen to work at the same music shop. As co-workers, they are at each other's throats, as pen pals, they fall in love. One of the scenes that is familiar in both movies is the one where he goes to meet her in the restaurant and realizes it's her, but stands her up. The movie was remade as a musical with Judy Garland and Van Johnson in 1949 and titled In the Good Old Summertime. I love all three versions.

My Favorite Wife with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant (1940). Cary Grant. Need I say more? This is a romantic comedy about a man who believes his wife has died at sea. Several years later, after he's had her pronounced legally dead, he's on his way to his honeymoon with another woman when his first wife shows up! She had been in a shipwreck, but had survived on an island with a fellow passenger. Now, she's back, and willing to fight to keep her husband. This movie was also remade in 1963, starring Doris Day and James Garner (who were paired in The Thrill of it All).

The Andy Hardy Movies with Mickey Rooney and a cast of Hollywood ladies (1937-1946). Okay, I'm cheating for the last four selections, because they're actually several movies in each series. One of my favorite series is the Andy Hardy movies. Oh, where do I begin with this one? I adore Andy Hardy (played by Mickey Rooney). He was an all-American kid, in an all-American home, living in an idyllic town in California during the 30's and 40s. He always got into good-natured trouble, learned his lesson, and moved on. This series helped debut some of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies of the day. It followed Andy through high school and beyond. He even returns as a married man in the last couple films. Such an iconic character from this era. Sixteen movies in all.

The Ma & Pa Kettle Movies with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride (1940's-1950's). I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I love Ma & Pa Kettle movies! They are screwball comedies with hillbilly characters who have a passel of kids. In one movie, they move off their ramshackle farm when they win a modern, state-of-the-art home. It's hilarious to watch them adjust to life in the city and try to fit into their new neighborhood. Pa Kettle is especially goofy and tends to get into a lot of trouble when he's not even trying. Ten movies in all.

The Dr. Kildare Movies with Lionel Barrymore and Lew Ayres (1930's-1940's). Another group of films that piggyback off each other. This one was a little ahead of its time, since it's a medical drama. It reminds me a little of the television drama House. Lionel Barrymore plays an old curmudgeon of a doctor who is extremely intelligent, crabby, and somehow loveable. He and Lew Ayres are diagnosticians, and each movie focuses on a difficult illness or case to solve. You meet a whole slew of secondary characters, and fall in love with each one. Nine films with Lew Ayres.

The Tammy Movies with Debbie Reynolds in Tammy and the Bachelor (my favorite) and Sandra Dee in Tammy Tell Me True and Tammy and the Doctor. I love Tammy (short for Tambrey) Tyree. She's a sweet, polite, backwoods girl who charms her way into the hearts of several men. Like I said, my favorite is Tammy and the Bachelor, which also starred Leslie Nielsen. Tammy lives with her grandpa on a riverboat and one day her grandpa finds Pete (played by Leslie) after a plane accident. They nurse him back to health and Tammy falls in love with him, but he sees her as a child. When Tammy's grandpa is arrested for moonshining, he tells her to go to Pete's home. She walks there and discovers he lives in a big, old plantation home. Pete and his family mistakenly think Grandpa has died, so they take her in. She disrupts their lives in a good way, and Pete eventually sees her as the woman she is. Such a fun, heartwarming story.

This was such a hard list to make, because I couldn't decide which ones to include!! I have so many more favorites, but I had to stop somewhere. Next time I'll limit it to just my musical favorites, and then I'll do a Christmas one, too. I love sharing my passion for old films and I hope I've encouraged you to try some of these for yourself.

Your Turn: I'd love to know if you're familiar with any of these films, and which ones you've enjoyed. What are some of your favorites that I didn't include?

Gabrielle Meyer
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