Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck Celebrates First Birthday 🎂

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November, 9, 2019-

One year ago today, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck hit the presses!

What was a little dream, became a huge accomplishment.

Over the past year, there have been many firsts… holding my published children’s book in my hands for the first time, attending my first bookstore author events, first library events, visiting elementary schools as an official author for the first time, reading my book to children across North Carolina, and the list goes on.

The opportunity to share my children’s travel and adventure picture book has been a priceless gift to me.

I’ve driven all types of new terrain with Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck, and feel like we’ve barely hit the surface.

I am ecstatic to see what adventures lie ahead in 2020.

I would like to thank each bookstore, library, school, media outlet, and other venues for welcoming me with open arms.

To my friends and family, thanks for the amazing encouragement and support.

To my little monster truck fans, thank you for reading my book!

To everyone else that helped me find my way as a new author, who gave me advice, connected me with resources, helped spread the word… thank you.

The greatest lesson I learned this year is this— when you have a dream, follow it.

Make it happen.

Put your truck in gear and…

DRIVE TOWARD YOUR DREAMS!

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the Award-Winning Children’s Picture Book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

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

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern 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.

Jami McLaughlin- Mom On The Go!, Community Advocate, and Spring Lake, NC Mayoral Candidate

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Spring Lake, NC-

Jami McLaughlin is a visionary, active community partner and volunteer, mom on the go, and advocate for her beloved community of Spring Lake, North Carolina.

She is the creator of Mom on the Go! blog https://www.fayobserver.com/blogs/mom_on_the_go which was voted the #5 Best Blog by WRAL Reader’s Choice Awards 2018.

She serves as Spring Lake, North Carolina’s Town Historian and is a Member of the Cumberland County Joint Planning Board as well as Partnership for Children of Cumberland County Board of Directors.

Jami is a Sustainer with Junior League of Fayetteville and Fayetteville Holly Day Fair past chairwoman, and current active committee member.

To top it off she is an author and writer… among a ton of other accolades and professional experience in bettering communities located in Cumberland County, NC.

The busy mother of four’s current mission is to be elected as the Mayor of Spring Lake (a neighboring community and gateway to both Fort Bragg and Fayetteville) and Jami’s family’s native home where her deep roots are sowed. She vows to make the community shine through her leadership.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jami at my home to discuss her vision for Spring Lake, NC and why it’s residents should consider electing her as their mayor. http://jamiformayor.com/get-updates/

Listen to our podcast interview here 👇

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Jami-McLaughlin–Mom-on-the-Go–Community-Developer–Spring-Lake–NC-Mayoral-Candidate-e8cbej

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

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

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern 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.

Zombie Walk— Fayetteville, NC

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Fayetteville, North Carolina-

Zombie Walk— an amazing Halloween-inspired event which draws thousands of zombies 🧟‍♀️ and onlookers— occurs each year on Hay Street in the heart of Historic Downtown Fayetteville conveniently located off I-95.

https://m.facebook.com/events/699055680599266?ti=icl

The creepy and creative citywide tradition has lured my family (and friends) into its monster mash over the past several years— and we absolutely love this ghoulish time.

Last night, we attended the 2019 event where Hay Street turned into a frighteningly fun festival with artisans, entertainers, live music, food, and spooks galore with 12,000 attendees!

Scroll below to checkout some of last night’s highlights of Zombie Walk 2019!

US Army Rock Band

Fayetteville Artist Saundra Rubiera

Fayetteville Artist Hannah Locklear

A nod to “Stranger Things” at The Sweet Palette

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

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

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern 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.

Stephanie Starr: Multiple Sclerosis Warrior, Woman of Faith, Mompreneur

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Today, I had the honor of interviewing one of my dearest friends in the world, Stephanie Starr.
Stephanie is a superstar whose light shines so bright. She has overcome amazing odds and blossomed during a time of struggle.
She is an amazing mother of two beautiful miracle children, a loving and devoted wife to her husband Adam, a successful and tenacious Mompreneur, a devout woman of faith and encourager, and a Multiple Sclerosis warrior and advocate.
We talked about everything under the sun to include her battle with MS, infertility issues, Christian Faith, postpartum depression, and her recent entrepreneurial pursuits in the CBD industry with a local coastal North Carolina-based company, Green Compass Global.

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST INTERVIEW HERE: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Stephanie-Starr-MS-Warrior–Woman-of-Faith–Mompreneur-e7tpdh

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

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

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern 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.

Small Business Spotlight with Goldy

Fayetteville, NC-

This morning I was honored to be highlighted by the Women’s Business Center @CEED Small Business Spotlight on WFNC 640AM News Talk Radio in Fayetteville, NC.

http://www.wfnc640am.com/

It was my debut radio interview and I think it went pretty great!

Fayetteville’s favorite news talk radio host, Goldy, made me feel very at home in the studio. He was so poignant and genuine in helping me spread my children’s travel and adventure picture book’s message.

A huge thanks to CEED and the Women’s Business Center (as well as Rossana Allup’s awesome Facebook Live filming skills) for providing me the opportunity to market my book on the radio and on social media.

Watch our interview filmed live here:

From UNC to World Travel, Hurricanes, Surfing CA, Saving the World— to Marriage

Chapel Hill, NC-

My family and I attended a very special wedding ceremony this past April at the whimsical and enchanting Chapel Hill Carriage House on Jones Ferry Road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We were ecstatic to support my cousin, Matthew Duarte, (son of my mom’s sister Fran Austin Duarte) as he celebrated his marriage to his lovely bride, Ellie Bolas.

You see back in Fall 2018 the two planned to wed, but Hurricane Florence had other plans for North Carolina (and their special day). The day the two spent a year planning from their California home— dreaming of beautiful memories to be made with dearest friends and family back home in North Carolina— would have to be postponed.

True to the couple’s fifteen year partnership, commitment and independent spirit, the two fled Raleigh out of the hurricane’s path to the North Carolina mountains and eloped— as not to let Florence ruin the special union between these two strong, love-filled souls.

However, they promised their families to return from their home in California in Spring 2019 to celebrate and renew their vows among their loved ones. They held true to their promise and on Saturday, April 13th, 2019, their special day finally arrived like a dream come true.

This is a very happy Ellie being escorted by her brother Jack.

This is Matt escorting his sweet mom and my aunt Fran down the grassy aisle.

Cutest little flower girl!

Joyful couple!

It was a…

lovely day,

lovely day,

lovely day,

LOVELY DAY!

The ceremony was conducted by a dear friend of the couple who knows them in and out. There was meditation, reflection, laughter, memories, poignant handwritten vows— and passionate kisses.

Not to mention, the most gorgeous setting!

PSA- Anyone looking for a wedding or party venue should seriously consider Chapel Hill Carriage House for a multitude of reasons:

https://www.facebook.com/Chapel-Hill-Carriage-House-Farm-Gardens-231260380267235/

1) They have baby goats 🐐!

2) You get to feed the resident Alpacas 🦙😃!

3) Children absolutely LOVE this place: games, grounds to play and run, and lots of charm and whimsy!

So fun!

But let me place my focus back on the special bride and groom.

YES, I am biased because they are family. BUT, their journey is an incredible one and I’d like to brag on them just a bit.

The two began dating fifteen years ago while attending undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill— Matt, a student of Psychology and Ellie, always the over-achiever, a double major in Environmental Studies and Religious Studies. A UNC couple with dreams of the world ahead of them.

Upon graduation, Matt earned a travel scholarship which allowed him the opportunity to travel to Japan 🇯🇵 for a solitary pilgrimage across the country to visit and study Buddhist Temples and Japanese culture.

Ellie studied abroad as well and spent time in Tibet. After graduation she would go on to travel to Turkey and Japan to teach English as a second language.

Following their international journeys the two settled back in the United States and found themselves at home on the West Coast in California where they have blossomed and embraced the state’s natural beauty to include surfing those awesome California waves.

Matt has worked for Student Conservation Association, where he led young adult teams doing service work such as trail building and habitat restoration in wilderness settings. In addition, through REI’s Outdoor School, he has taught outdoor adventure classes.

Currently he teaches First Aid for backcountry enthusiasts with NOLS Wilderness Medicine. He is also a certified yoga instructor and is working toward a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

And if his plate isn’t already full, he carves time out to volunteer at a local prison in California where he is part of a horticultural inmate rehabilitation gardening program.

Ellie, a Graduate Group in Ecology, Master of Science Candidate, at University of California, Davis, is researching two rare carnivores, island spotted skunks and island foxes, that live on the California Channel Islands.

Prior to graduate school she performed research on wildlife living in and around Los Angeles (such as mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes) with the National Park Service, a project she is returning to for her PhD.

Ellie has also worked as an outdoor science educator and currently works with initiatives to increase diversity in science.

https://vanvurenlab.weebly.com/

These two people are amazing.

Amazing!

When asked what the secret is to their incredible journey and relationship, Ellie answered, “I don’t know any secrets to a long lasting relationship, for us, it’s just that we really like being around each other and we like to make each other laugh. Also, we both love being outside, which is part of why we love living in California- there are so many great opportunities to adventure outside and we love it all, from surfing on the coast to hiking in the mountains to wandering in the desert.”

How fortunate the world 🌍 is to have two mindful, intelligent, fun-loving, and holistic souls to share their passion for betterment of the planet and humanity as well as a sincere commitment to each other.

I’m proud to call them family.

Here’s to many more years of happiness, adventure, and travel!

Cheers to y’all, Matt and Ellie!

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

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

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern 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.

A Day at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, Farmers Market

“North Carolina’s I-95 Brewery” 

“We have all come to the realization that we are Dirtbags; not that we are bad people, but that real innovators and pioneers don’t follow a rule book, and doing what’s right often requires not conforming to conventional wisdom.” -Tito, Eric, & Jerry, Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom

http://www.dirtbagales.com/

#sponsored

Hope Mills, North Carolina-

Do you love craft beer? Farm-to-table cuisine? Farmers Markets? Yoga? Great music? A chill vibe? Kid-friendly open, outdoor spaces where your children can roam? Supporting local businesses and farmers?

If you answered yes to any of the above, Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is for you!

This past Sunday, I was invited by Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau along with other local, and North Carolina based bloggers, to spend the day at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom to check out all of the establishments new improvements to their wildly successful business.

To say I was impressed is putting it lightly.

This veteran owned and operated business is top-notch— and so much more than just a brewery.

It is a community.

The love and dedication owners Vernardo Simmons-Valenzuela (“Tito”), Eric Whealton, and Jerry Hall have for their business oozes from every corner of the gorgeous, countryside property. The heavenly smell of cedar permeates the air as recycled wood is used within the interior of the brewery.

Upon arrival, we were given a tour of the brewery and an education by Hope Demetris, a military spouse, mother, and lead female brewer at Dirtbag Ales. Hope explained the love and care that goes into creating a quality brew.

Her in depth knowledge of the equipment and process was enchanting and impressive. She studied under brew master and co-owner of Dirtbag Ales, Tito, who is the visionary behind the fabulous brewed beer.

When the journey first began, Hope acknowledged they hand stirred the product, but due to high demand and a successful business they have graduated to more savvy brewery equipment to ensure a perfect pour.

There is a plethora of beer choices, from Blood Orange Kolsch to IPA, Mocha Porter to Smash— a little something for every beer connoisseur. Not to mention, Sangria, Ciders, and more.

Following the brewery tour, the bloggers were offered a yoga class to connect with their minds and bodies outdoors on the serene grounds of the compound.

Hayat Hakim— a seventeen year Army veteran turned yoga instructor and owner of the popular Hayat Yoga Shaka in Fayetteville, NC— lead us in the most tranquil yet challenging morning meditation.

The weather was perfect— and with each breath and balance pose, a welcomed breeze flowed over the crowd like a dream.

Truly, a wonderful way to begin a Sunday.

http://hayatyogadance.com/

We worked up quite a hunger and thirst from our morning exercise so it was only fitting our next stop was a beer tasting and brunch provided by the onsite farm-to-table restaurant, Napkins.

Let me brag on Napkins just a bit. Brian Graybill, the owner of Gray Bill Hospitality and lead chef of Napkins, met with our group to give us an overview of the restaurant’s mission.

Brian informed us he shops from the vendors at Dirtbag Farmers Market on Sunday morning (Cathis Farm, Purpose Driven Family Farm, Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock, Jackson Farms Produce, to name a few), he then purchases farm fresh meats and veggies from the local farmers onsite and prepares the daily menu based on available products.

This concept of #supportlocal and #sustainability blew me away.

Not only is it a beautiful concept, but the food is AMAZING.

We were served decadent Stone-ground Shrimp and Grits with cilantro cheese curd (dare I say some of the best I’ve ever eaten), Scotch eggs cased in fresh sausage and yummy sweet potato hash browns.

My mouth waters just thinking of all the goodness that was on my plate.

Well done, Napkins.

Well done!

http://www.graybillhospitality.com/

“Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin

And now, let’s talk BEER.

To accompany our delicious meal, we were offered a selection of brews on tap (commonly known as a beer flight) and/or a full pint of cider and glass of Sangria.

I chose the beer flight and sampled some deliciously crafted hops— each refreshing and delightful.

The signature kolsch was my favorite. Even the sour beer was a pleasant surprise— which I was told is brewed with a tea blend purchased locally from Winterbloom Tea in nearby downtown Fayetteville.

I love the support these folks show their fellow local businesses.

After an amazing beer tasting and brunch, we were off to shop the fabulous vendors of Dirtbag’s Sunday Farmers Market which draws in tons of locals and visitors as it is conveniently located right off of #I-95.

From education of sustainability and agriculture-commerce by Sustainable Sandhills, to bakers, candle-makers, apothecaries, farmers, artisans— there are fabulous products available for all your shopping needs and desires.

Sustainable Sandhills 👇

https://sustainablesandhills.org/

Some vendors that caught my eye and shopping senses were:

Bread & Sugar by Dali👇

https://www.facebook.com/breadandsugarbydali/

Upcycle Candle Company 👇

https://upcyclecandlecompany.com/

Cathis Farm 👇

https://cathisfarm.com/

The Humble Bakery 👇

https://www.facebook.com/thehumblebakery/

Parkerhouse Candles 👇

https://www.instagram.com/parkerhousecandleco/

Mariah’s Gourmet Relish 👇

https://www.instagram.com/mariahsrelishes/

Mustard Seed Arts & Crafts 👇

https://www.facebook.com/tmsaac/

Paradox Farm 👇

https://www.paradoxfarmcreamery.com/

Jackson Farms Produce 👇

https://jacksonfarmsproduc.wixsite.com/jacksonfarmsproduce

Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock 👇

https://www.facebook.com/locallygrowncleanmeat/

Purpose Driven Family Farm 👇

https://www.facebook.com/pdfamilyfarm/

There are also tons of recreation activities on site for the thrill seeker in your life. Such as:

VSR (Virtual Shooting Range) https://www.vsrfay.com/

As well as Axe’s & X’s Axe Throwing Range http://www.axesandxs.com/

Overall, I give Dirtbag Ales Brewery three thumbs up 👍 👍👍!

This place seriously has it ALL and should be on your “MUST VISIT” list.

You will be supporting so many wonderful and deserving local businesses and farmers who appreciate quality customer care and creating an engaging community of fun and fellowship.

I will definitely be back soon.

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

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

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern 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.