Antonella’s Italian Ristorante: A glimpse of NYC Downtown Fayetteville, NC

“Fly me to the moon, Let me play among the stars…”

From the moment you open the glass etched door of Antonella’s Italian Ristorante you feel as if you’ve walked back in time into a Frank Sinatra movie, half expecting the rest of the Rat Pack such as Sammy Davis Jr or Dean Martin to come waltzing by your table drinking a martini while crooning a jazzy tune.

It is a true New York City experience in the heart of Downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina.

From the charming atmosphere to the excellent authentic Italian cuisine, and first class service, I was floating on cloud nine. I wanted to drink it all in and let it permeate my state of mind.

The gorgeous fresh flower arrangements— tonight’s happened to be my favorite hydrangeas— by candlelight creates a table set for culinary mastery.

This adorable woman, Stephanie, set the bar high for servers. She was professional, kind, thorough, attentive… and precious. Great service goes a long way.

Good job! 👏

Stephanie guided us along our journey of the menu and favored dishes we should give a try. Not to mention the vast selection of cocktails and wines.

Our first course began with a beautiful fresh salad topped with Antonella’s homemade cucumber dressing and a delicious savory soup.

I was then treated with the most refreshing mango martini 🍸 that put a smile on my face and a glint in my eyes.

For our main course, we went with two of Stephanie’s top suggestions. I chose a decadent Mediterranean dish served with shrimp and breadcrumb crusted salmon atop cream sauce. My husband went with a classic Spaghetti Sicilian topped with scrumptious shrimp.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

We were both in a New York state-of-mind— cue Billy Joel, Mr. Piano Man.

Stephanie was genuinely ecstatic that our experience at Antonella’s was phenomenal. 😍

For diners looking for a more casual experience there is outdoor dining on the bistro patio overlooking the quaint sidewalks and hustle and bustle of Hay Street.

According to the restaurant‘s Facebook page, it is owned and operated by Chef Antonella Giannone Scibilia who is originally from Brooklyn, New York.

Antonella’s Italian Ristorante was chosen as Fayetteville’s best downtown restaurant in Up and Coming Weekly’s 2018 Best of Fayetteville Awards.

I could not agree more.

To learn more about this first class dining experience in our downtown, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Antonellas-Italian-Ristorante-1231244156989396/

You must give it a try. I promise you will not be disappointed.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

I can add puppetry to my resume!

I have Donna Cowan, California-based author of With the Courage of a Mouse: The Superhero School Series (https://www.amazon.com/Courage-Mouse-Superhero-School/dp/1640853839) to thank for this. She inspired me to take the plunge into the world of puppeteering.

You see, Donna told me all about her special handmade puppet created by a puppet-maker genius and children’s book author by the name of Debra Williams who lives way on the other side of the world 🌎 from the USA 🇺🇸 in New South Wales, Australia 🇦🇺. http://www.clewerpuppets.com

I fell in love 😍 with the idea of having my very own puppet designed to use as part of author events for Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178.

Donna kindly provided me Debra’s contact information and I got in contact with her right away. Although a bit of a challenge from Debra’s normal requests, she jumped right in and created the most adorable monster truck hand puppet that arrived on my doorstep today.

I tore open the package like a child on Christmas morning— the package that traveled so far to reach little old me here in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

When I opened the box, I smiled ear-to-ear because it could not have been anymore perfect. She did an amazing job hand stitching 🧵 the monster truck with perfect accents to match the illustrations from the book; not to mention two finger puppets to represent Mommy and her son which velcro neatly into place inside the cab of the truck.

No detail left undone.

I give Debra and http://www.clewerpuppets.com 👍👍👍 and an A+ 💯! I could not be happier with the quality and design.

Thank you Debra for bringing me such joy today! I can’t wait for the adventures to come with my new puppet.

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Let’s Stroll Downtown Fayetteville, NC

I’ve been out of the stroller business for several years now as my son is approaching second grade. Before I know, he will be able to carry me around.

But today, I had the opportunity to spend some darling moments with a dear friend’s precious three month old daughter, Little Miss Aurora, and we took to downtown Fayetteville, NC to pass the time and enjoy the sights and scenery.

https://visitdowntownfayetteville.com/

If you are a mom of a small, stroller age child, look no further than our town’s downtown area for perfect paved and accessible sidewalk escapes to entertain your tot— and, provide you with a relaxing and peaceful outing outside of your home.

Downtown Fayetteville has so much to offer to include restaurants and shops as well as museums, but there are so many nooks and crannies to explore outdoors.

There is nature.

Lots of natural scenery spanning across Festival Park, Cross Creek Park and Linear Park:

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/cross-creek-linear-park

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/festival-park

Calming sounds and views of rushing creek waters are perfect to soothe a baby’s mind as well as weary parents in need of a “Calgon moment” away from daily stresses of home life.

As you can see, Aurora was quite enchanted by the sound of the falls.

The cascading fountains in Cross Creek Park are so relaxing and beguiling. You must sit a spell and take it all in.

We came across a lovely “Angel of Hope” 👼🏻 statue that comforted us and brought a smile to our faces.

Just across the bridge, we happened upon a monument honoring the city’s namesake— Marquis de Lafayette.

Sitting sentinel behind the monument are the holy and tranquil grounds of First Presbyterian Church: http://www.firstprez.com/

We decided to take a closer look at the beautiful, old brick facade of the historic church’s chapel and grounds.

Such a lovely place to spend a morning in reflection with a sweet babe, and gaze upon the allure of the house of worship.

Not to mention, the multifaceted and reformed architecture of intriguing old buildings along downtown streets.

We worked up quite an appetite from our morning adventure in the Cool Spring Downtown District and ended it on a high note with an early lunch and tea at Reyhan— Sea & Mediterranean Grill: https://www.facebook.com/Reyhan-SeaMediterranean-Grill-952922134902997/

Gorgeous restaurant setting, excellent service and absolutely delicious.

I highly recommend the Grilled Chicken Shish Wrap. There was not a morsel left on my plate to take a lovely photo of. 😍

If you are feeling cooped up and need to get out of the house with your snuggly cuties, haul out the buggies and hit the sidewalks of Downtown Fayetteville, NC!

Here is a link to all of our city’s parks and trails to help guide you: https://fcpr.us/parks-trails

Enjoy!

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Wendi Iacobello Interview: NC Native, Milspouse, Advocate, Creator of Strength 4 Spouses,Woman of Faith

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Interview-with-Wendi-Iacobello-Strength-for-Spouses-e41odq

Today, I was honored to sit down and speak with Wendi Iacobello— former Special Education teacher and college professor, Army wife, professional blogger, and freelance writer (among a host of many other talents and expertise).

She is a native of Western North Carolina— raised in beautiful Marion, NC not far from Asheville, and the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wendi provides supports and advocacy to military spouses through her gem of a blog, Strength 4 Spouses: https://strength4spouses.blog/2019/02/26/military-spouse-career-struggles-knowing-your-value/

She is also expecting her first child 👶🏻 (I am so thrilled for her). She has quite a story of faith in the making of this special baby.

I am inspired by Wendi and her passion to support Milspouses and their families. I was thrilled to talk with her about Army life here in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area as well as the amazing things she is doing for our community.

You will be inspired by her too. ❤️

Take a listen to our chat here on Hodge Podge Podcast:

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Interview-with-Wendi-Iacobello-Strength-for-Spouses-e41odq

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Do unto others and reap the rewards.

Over the past several months since publishing my first children’s book, I have had to ask others for help and support.

I’ve had to reach out and ask people to trust in me and my little book— and allow me to visit their elementary schools, libraries, bookstores, as well as other venues.

Not to mention I’ve annoyed friends and family with my constant posts on social media while asking them to share the news of my book.

Placing yourself on front street can be so scary. It’s much easier to hide behind the scenes, but I knew if I wanted to get my book in the hands of children I was going to have to work hard and get out there. Out of my comfort zone.

Sure, there have been some minor disappointments and rejections along the way. However, more than not, people have been EXTREMELY supportive of me; and given me (and my book) a chance.

To my delight and surprise, I have been shown so, so, so much kindness.

It truly amazes me.

Thanks to everyone who has shown me kindness and helped me to believe in myself.

Thank you.

I’m a firm believer that if you show someone an unexpected act of kindness it will pay off tenfold. I have certainly been the recipient of this as of late and feel it’s affects rubbing off on me. Not only from dearest friends and family, but also from complete strangers.

I love how the entrepreneurial world embraces one another. I’ve found myself being so affected by this empathy that when I meet new people whether here in my home state or across the country or world, I cheer for them and their pursuits toward their dreams. Because they are doing the same for me. And it feels good to my soul.

The world is the most connected it has ever been— thank you, Bill Gates. Through my interactions with other creatives and dreamers online, I am thrilled to connect with folks who hold a similar zest and zeal for chasing after dreams. And, it’s all the more sweeter when people— who do not even know you— can recognize the time, energy and struggle of your pursuits; and, applaud your efforts and encourage you.

How cool is that?

So, if you are out there thinking about your next steps in life, I want to cheer you on.

KUDOS!

I want to encourage you.

You can do it!

I want to give you some good, sound advice:

Keep a level head.

Don’t worry about the “what if’s” and “”what nots.”

Just put one foot in front of the other and keep your eyes on the prize.

You don’t have to be the best. But you do have to at least try.

TRY.

And if you fail, pick your ego up off the floor and try again.

Humility equals empowerment.

To know oneself and where you want to go in life is powerful.

Accept your faults. Strive to be a better person— be a loving, humble, kind, helpful person.

Be a determined and passionate human being.

You got this. I promise.

I am proud of you.

You ARE worthy.

Go for it!

Dream those big and little dreams. Put a plan into action.

The world is holding you up and cheering for your successes.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Maid Marian… was SWEET!

Fayetteville, North Carolina is graced with some extremely talented people. One group continues to shine and sweeten Spring nights with their theatrical flair— the one and only Sweet Tea Shakespeare.

This troupe of thespians is a true treasure to our community which never disappoints with its delivery of unique, poignant, musically gifted and jest-laden performances.

Some friends and I were eager to catch their first outdoor staging of Maid Marian last night.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare performed in the courtyard of Fayetteville’s historic 1897 Poe House— which is a sight to behold this time of year with its brick terrace encased with purple blooming iris and lavender.

Before the show, we were greeted at the concessions tent (to our delight) with Fayetteville’s favorite savory pie creations— none other than Fayetteville Pie Company’s delicious entree pie as the main dish to enjoy for an evening of theatre beneath the stars.

Not to mention we were served the signature fruit flavored sweet tea which makes the experience so much sweeter!

Pie, sweet tea, and Maid Marian on a perfect May night was a nice slice of heaven right here in the center of our fabulous city. I am amazed each time I am honored to watch this group perform. Such well-rounded talent that leaves your senses fulfilled and quenched.

We were introduced to a major twist in the retelling of a tale we all know well about a guy in tights named Robin (and something about a hood). However, the focus of this production was on the ladies of Sherwood Forest and highlighted their ingenuity, strength, forbearance and smarts. It was masterfully executed right down to the sword fighting and archery. 🤺 I found it to be charming, intriguing and timely. I love a good heroine— or in this case heroines! You go, LADIES (and gentlemen)!

Well done I say!

Not to mention the music accompanying the top notch acting is AMAZING. Just listen to these two songbirds:

And, this fella right here has some serious ukulele skills:

The beautiful outdoor scenery paired with such lovely tunes sent our toes tapping:

Although I was a bit biased to support Maid Marian and her tribe of super independent, awesome “Marionettes” (like what I did there?)— the male cast was equally awesome, and seamlessly incorporated some truly appreciated humorous moments and wit.

I give Maid Marian 👍👍👍!

So, what are you waiting for? Support this valuable, local ensemble and purchase your tickets for the next performance here: http://www.sweetteashakespeare.com/

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast:

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

http://www.hodgepodgebyalisonklak.com

Instagram: @alisonklak

Facebook: @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.