Hallmark's "Sweet Carolina" & "Winter in Vail"-Which Is Your Favorite?

Starring:  Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes

Sweet Carolina Summary:  A busy marketing executive returns to her childhood home in order to become a guardian to her niece and nephew, and she also reconnects with an ex-boyfriend.  (Released 2021)

Winter in Vail Summary:  A woman inherits a house in Vail, Colorado, and soon stumbles across a man she develops a connection with, and together, the two of them put on a festival. (Released 2020)

Winter in Vail-Image: Crown Media

Sweet Carolina-Image:  Crown Media

Which Story Is More Unique?

Winter in Vail was a resounding success when it aired during Winterfest in 2020.  Fans were enthralled with the chemistry, especially the final kiss between Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes when they were on the deck looking at the stars.

Image:  Crown Media

While many Hallmark movies incorporate a town festival, the Strudel Fest in this movie is really unique.  Chelsea learns her Uncle Grady had been a pastry chef, known for his legendary strudel, and she finds his special recipe. Baking is a recurrent Hallmark theme, but working strudel dough until it is thin enough to read through is far different than the usual sugar cookie baking and decorating.  

Chabert's characters have inherited estates before--think All of My Heart and Love on Safari--but the Colorado setting is so quaint, especially the location of the chalet.  The downtown doesn't allow cars and is pedestrian traffic only--another added nuance.

Making strudel sounds like a lot of work!  Image:  Crown Media

Chelsea and Owen go tubing down the mountain after riding to the top on a gondola--an activity we don't see nearly as often as carriage rides, ice skating, and camp fires.  It's one of the first times where a delicious cup of hot chocolate is referred to as winter in a cup.

Chelsea and Owen go snow tubing.  Image:  Crown Media

When Sweet Carolina premiered, fans were expecting more of the same sizzle they enjoyed with Winter in Vail, but the pressure was on because Hynes had just starred in It Was Always You, which ended up being a tough act to follow.  Online reviews show Winter in Vail holds a slight edge over Sweet Carolina.

Sweet Carolina is a poignant story about a woman, Josie, losing both her sister and brother-in-law and unexpectedly being named the guardian of her niece and nephew.  The movie is heartfelt and shows the realistic struggle a family faces in a custody shift resulting from a traumatic circumstance.  No one pretends to be happy.  The viewer is moved by the grief, loss, and upheaval experienced by Josie's family, but the story isn't a downer because it ultimately inspires hope.

One of the best lines from the movie is memories that make you cry now will make you smile later.  If you've lost a loved one, you know that statement is very true.

Josie gives her niece a charm for her mother's bracelet, but it makes her sad instead of happy. Image:  Crown Media

The only issue is that this story line is stale.  It's hard to keep track of the number of Hallmark movies that feature orphans being adopted by someone else--sometimes a family member, sometimes a stranger.  Who knew young parents died so often!

The scene where Josie and the kids are baking in the kitchen and throw flour at each other is also redundant in Hallmark movies.  Who does that anyway?  No one.  

If anyone threw that much flour at me, I wouldn't be smiling, and they'd have a wooden spoon up their rear.  Image:  Crown Media

As we watch the family advance through the stages of grief towards healing, we enjoy a few comedic respites.  Josie and Cooper trade jabs with playful banter, and it's fun.  Josie embarrasses herself when she thinks Cooper is planning to propose but learns he actually wants to borrow her dad's van for games.  At the end, she only agrees to go on a date with him if he makes the basketball shot that keeps eluding him--he doesn't make it, but admits she's a sucker for a guy with a whistle.

Josie and Cooper relive some of their best high school moments--that type of nostalgia is very relatable to viewers.

Chelsea and Cooper are back in their high school, but this time as adults instead of students. Image: Crown Media

The disappointing final kiss in Sweet Carolina cannot be overstated.  It pales in comparison to the kiss in Winter in Vail.  Maybe COVID has made everyone a little more germ-conscious because this is one in a long line of recent Hallmark movies where kisses are little more than a brief peck, with the actors clamping their lips tightly shut.  This needs to stop.  Viewers love the story, but we eagerly await the final kiss, and it needs to be a doozie.

Just when you think the kiss is going to be epic, if fizzles.  Image:  Crown Media

Both movies allow the female leading character to uproot her life with her portable career and connect with the male leading actor, who is the town native.

Although I enjoy both movies, Winter in Vail is my favorite.  The story is fresher and less cliche. Below, vote for which one YOU think is best.  

Add These Movies To Your Collection

Any movie with Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes is a keeper, and both of these movies are available on DVD.

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What Hallmark Movies Have Been Released To DVD In 2021 So Far?

Hallmark DVD's Released Through Amazon In 2021

When you see a new Hallmark movie for the first time and love it, you cross your fingers and hope Hallmark will release it to DVD.  Not all movies make it to video.  

Multiple vendors distribute Hallmark DVD's, so sometimes Walmart or Target will offer a movie before Amazon does.

These Hallmark DVD's can be ordered through Amazon.

For the purpose of this post, we are sharing which Hallmark movies have been released on DVD through Amazon so far in 2021, including those that are currently available for pre-order.

You will notice a few movies are older releases, but they are being bundled with other movies to form a thematic set.

January 2021

January saw a bumper crop of Hallmark movies coming to DVD--something for everyone!



February 2021

A little Aurora Teagarden mystery along with Niall Matter and Jessy Schram performing country music graced our February.


March 2021

Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott plus Jesse Metcalf and Autumn Reeser equals great entertainment!


April 2021

Paul Campbell, Kimberly Sustad, Alexandra Breckenridge, and Robert Buckely star in April's DVD releases.


May 2021

Luke MacFarlane graces two of May's releases along with Kavan Smith and Brant Daugherty and their respective lady loves.


June 2021

If you are collecting all the Evergreen movies, you can add the most recent one to your shelf.  You'll find more mystery releases, a wedding themed combo pack, and the complete Cedar Cove series.



July 2021

July releases include several double feature combo packs, such as Valentine and royalty themed sets.



August 2021

It Was Always You is one of the hottest Hallmark movies of 2021 featuring everyone's beloved heart throb, Tyler Hynes.  Fans aren't enthused about Italia Ricci in Don't Go Breaking My Heart, but Ryan Paevey fans love watching him in the movie anyway.  


September 2021

Visit Ireland from the comfort of your own couch with As Luck Would Have It; grab the Kleenex box for Sweet Carolina; and enjoy the amazing chemistry between Andrew Walker and Nikki Deloach while learning more about maple syrup in Sweet Autumn


October 2021

Fans were a little ambivalent about Right in Front of Me, starring Marco Grazzini and Janel Parrish, but nonetheless, it will be released in the fall.


November 2021

So far, here are the DVD's we know will be released in November.


December 2021

The hits just keep coming!

More Hallmark DVD's To Come

Hallmark will undoubtedly delight us by bringing more of our favorite movies to DVD before 2021 comes to an end.  Be sure to check back--we will update this list so you will be sure not to miss out on ordering the ones you want!

If you plan to make a purchase, please consider ordering through my affiliate links above--it helps so much.  Thank-you!!

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Hallmark's "You Had Me At Aloha" QUIZ! Plus How Kavan Smith & Pascale Hutton Create Such Fun Banter

Starring:  Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith

Released:  2021

Summary:  A television show replacement is paired up with a man who promises to push everything for the ratings, and the two of them grapple for control.

Pascale Hutton & Kavan Smith  Image: Crown Media

Fun Banter Between Hutton & Pascale

Aside from the breathtaking scenery from the island of Oahu, one of the best aspects of You Had Me At Aloha is the back-and-forth dialogue between Paige Marshall (Pascale Hutton) and Ben Burton (Kavan Smith) as they co-host the travel program, Next Destination.  

The clever ribbings they give each other are so natural and fluid.  How do they interact so unscripted and real?  The answer is Hutton and Smith created the story and invented their own characters, so the script is a perfect fit.  The two actors work together on When Calls the Heart and starred in both The Perfect Bride movies, so they have fallen into a good rhythm with one another that feels organic and seamless.  


Hutton and Smith also invited Rick Garmin aboard to help write the script.  Garmin is known for being a funny writer who creates playful and humorous banter between characters.  

Faithful Hallmark viewers can attest that many movies are redundant in repackaging the same old thing when it comes to comedy.  For example, how many times do characters in Christmas movies drink hot cocoa and wind up with an exaggerated amount of marshmallows or whipped topping on their noses and upper lips?  It's cute once and then quickly goes flat in subsequent movies.

The wit in You Had Me At Aloha is refreshing and original.

Millie volunteers Ben & Paige to do the hula at a luau.  Image: Crown Media

Paige & Ben Balance Each Other

Some people argue that opposites attract while others insist the more two people are alike, the better.  

Before my husband and I were married, our pastor wisely stated that if both of us were exactly alike, one of us would be unnecessary.  

Paige is ultra organized, well-researched, and prefers a plan and a script.  She's very content watching the action from the privacy of a dark office.  Ben flies by the seat of his pants, prefers to ad-lib, and craves hands-on adventure.

Kavan Smith is still quite the hunk at age 50.  Image: Crown Media

In an interview, Hutton shares that in real life, it's just the opposite.  She does advance research on a culture, but then she allows things to unfold on its own once she arrives at the destination.  When it comes to traveling, Smith is actually the one who likes to create a plan and stick to it to maintain control.  

As the movie progresses, we see both characters bend so they can meet happily in the middle.  Paige tries to "chill" and enjoy unplanned fun, as the opportunity arises, and Ben engages in a little more research, strategizing, and at least partially sticking to a script.  Whether it's dealing with a co-worker, family member, or significant other, it's a good lesson to learn--value the input of those around you and find ways to compromise.  

In other words, Paige and Ben bring out the best in each other, which is one reason why, when Todd Harper returns to host Next Destination, Paige quits.  The onscreen magic she creates with Ben cannot be replicated with Todd.

What Bad Experience Still Bothers You?

Although most of us probably haven't been chased by screaming goats and mocked by 10 million people from the subsequent YouTube footage, the concept of allowing our past hurts to put a damper on future progress is very relatable.

Maybe you've had your heart broken, so you hesitate to open your heart to anyone else again.  If you've ever been criticized and embarrassed by something or had a damaging experience of some kind, you never want to put yourself in a position to allow it to happen again.  You stop taking risks, and the result is you allow one traumatic event to define and shape you and prevent you from being an overcomer who lives life to the fullest and embraces your full potential.

Paige is ridiculed as "The Goat Lady."  The one time she dared to go off script to film herself with goats was the biggest mistake of her life.  People still laugh at her or mock her with "baaaa" sounds, and it cuts her to the quick.  It's why she stopped hosting programs and became a producer--so she could hide behind-the-scenes.  

If Paige would just learn to laugh it off, maybe she wouldn't feel so baaaaad.  Image: Crown Media

What's holding you back?  It's time to shrug it off and not let it stop you!

Similarly, Ben wasn't always a daredevil.  He had been in a serious relationship where he planned to settle down, have a home, and raise a family.  When the relationship ended, it pushed him the opposite direction where he avoided settling down or following a regimented schedule. 

When we are hurt, we try to find ways to insulate ourselves, but it only builds barriers without healing the damage.  

Ben takes a chance on love again, and Paige finally moves forward on creating a mystery destination show that she co-hosts with him.  Both leave their baggage in the past to embrace a promising future.  We should all do the same. 

Vacation Bubbles

Another relatable aspect of the You Had Me At Aloha is how vacations make you feel like you're living in a happy bubble.  

When the stresses of work and daily living are absent, vacations broaden your boundaries.  You can act without as much restraint because you aren't trying to maintain an image.  Most likely, you will never see the people you encounter on vacation ever again.  That means you can dress differently, go without makeup, and not worry about keeping up appearances.  You don't have to stick to a tight schedule, and you feel more daring to try new things you'd never attempt back home.

Under the spell of the romantic atmosphere of Hawaii, Paige forces herself to duck Ben's first kiss.  She loves the Hawaii bubble, but the reality is she plans to return to New York while he heads to L.A., and it will all be over.  Why risk a broken heart?

Still, the two enjoy participating in a Tahitian dance, snorkeling, finding restaurants off the beaten path, a sunset cruise, time at the pool, fireworks, and a trivia challenge.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could live life every day as if we were in a vacation bubble?  

Shake it, but don't break it!  Image: Crown Media

To learn more about the Hawaiian locations where the movie was filmed, click here.  

Who Loves Pineapple?

Hawaii is famous for its pineapple farms and boasts the sweetest fruit in the world.  People usually love or hate pineapple.  Where do you land?  

In the summer, pineapple is delicious grilled along with meat and veggies in kabobs, in smoothies, or just grilled by itself.  You can find one of my favorite grilled pineapple recipes here.  

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