Carolina Renaissance Festival

-Huntersville, North Carolina 👑

#CarolinaRenFest

My lady family and I attended the Carolina Renaissance Festival last weekend in support of my cousin Ivy Mackinson— a talented thespian in the Charlotte area, who is a performer with the annual festival.

When I was told we would be attending, I had no clue of the festival’s magnitude and the thousands of Renaissance enthusiasts who would be attending— as well as the caliber of highly talented performers.

I was completely shocked to find an entire Renaissance themed village set in a Sherwood-ish Forest 🌳 off a country road on the outskirts of Charlotte in Huntersville, NC.

I was impressed to say the least!

And could not believe I’d never heard of this magical place prior.

From the adorable structures to the amazing musicians, comedic jesters and more, it is surely a sight to behold and a real crowd pleaser! There is plenty of yummy food for all tastes as well.

Today is the last day of festivities for the season which runs each fall weekend from October through November.

If you’ve no plans today, put this place on your agenda!

Cook up your best Maid Marian or Robinhood costume, and spend the day in a lovely outdoor venue!

Ride a camel! 🤗

Hug a pirate! 🏴‍☠️

Dance with a darling mime!

It’s perfect for children and families with tons of attractions and performances to hold the attention of young tots.

And anyone who enjoys lovely nature, Knights jousting while riding horseback, fun shopping as well as a pint of cider or ale.

If interested in attending, look 👀 here👉 https://www.carolina.renfestinfo.com/

– 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.

Ghost Tales of North Carolina

North Carolina is filled with ghost stories stemming from the shores of the Graveyard of the Atlantic down to the southern coast in Wilmington, up the Cape Fear River to the Sandhills in Fayetteville, and westward to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I’ve loved hearing these tales my whole life and have a collection of classic North Carolina ghost stories and legends books I cherish.

My love of ghost tales started as a child while listening to old folks, cousins and friends whittle yarns of things that go bump in the night.

I’m not much on horror films and gore, but I love a good old ghost story. So I decided today on Halloween 🎃, I would tell you all a few of my favorite ghost stories.

Listen 👂 Here 👇👻:

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Ghost-Tales-of-North-Carolina-e6abiq

Cool Spring Tavern, Fayetteville, NC known for its ghosts

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fayobserver.com/news/20191023/8-famously-haunted-spots-around-fayetteville-region%3ftemplate=ampart

Ghost Story Hayride by the Market House, Hay Street, Historic Downtown Fayetteville, NC

Sanford House Ghosts- https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pWT9s-mVaIw

Ghosts of Old Wilmington https://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/about/news-blogs/post/ghosts-of-old-wilmington-one-of-the-most-haunted-cities-in-the-south/

https://visitncsmokies.com/blog/the-legend-of-the-boojum/

-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.

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.

A Haunting We Will Go In Cross Creek Cemetery In Downtown Fayetteville, NC

-Fayetteville, North Carolina

Along Cool Springs Street— one of the most notable historic lanes in downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina— sits Cross Creek Cemetery, established in 1785.

The cemetery is one of the oldest and most iconic graveyards in Fayetteville, NC— a city famous for its significance in ratifying the United States Constitution and it’s colonial era namesake, Marquis De Lafayette.

Cross Creek Cemetery holds pieces of the past and is part of the Civil War Trail which connects with nearby Linear Park.

You can hear the rushing waters of Cross Creek steps away from the wrought iron fencing that encases the cemetery filled with so much history and possibly a ghost or two.

My mom (who is visiting from out-of-town), my son and I decided to go walk the grounds of Cross Creek Cemetery this week for some ghastly fun— to take in the sights of old graves and headstones as well as fall foliage scattered about the mature landscape of the resting place.

I admit… I have a thing for old graveyards.

I find them eerily beautiful and poignant. I love to read the headstone carvings about the people buried beneath the land.

Who are they?

What was their life like way back when?

Are we related somewhere way down the lineage trail?

Many notable North Carolina politicians, dignitaries, and artists are buried in Cross Creek Cemetery. Some of which are listed here on Wikipedia:

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed walking in graveyards. There is a peace there… a sense of respect and wonder.

Call me morbid.

Call me weird.

I’m perfectly okay with those labels because I understand the significance of preserved history graveyards provide us.

Plus it’s kind of spooky and fun to walk about the grounds and ponder if an apparition lurks in the shadows.

Civil War Memorial

If interested in an organized tour to learn more about the history of Fayetteville and Cross Creek Cemetery— along with some fabulous ghost storytelling, check out Downtown Fayetteville’s plethora of guided tours!

https://downtownfaytours.com/

https://www.facebook.com/events/621070681650855/?ti=icl

https://www.facebook.com/Hauntingsatheritagesquare/

If you enjoy a hands-on haunting experience, join the fun TONIGHT at the ZOMBIE WALK which is one of our favorite Halloween events!

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

– 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.

Take the Farm Road this Fall

I grew up in rural Eastern North Carolina— grandchild of country folk— driving along farm roads was a way of life.

The first nine years of my life were spent in a tick bite-sized farming community where my brother, our friends, and I roamed dirt aisles along tobacco fields— and lurked along the woods’ edge where old tractors and appliances went to die, rust among changing fall leaves.

It is no wonder I yearn for country roads… truly a therapeutic outing for me which provides a safe escape from city life and sets my busy mind at ease.

I need to see rich, fertile soil overturned by plows and the people who tend God’s good Earth.

Souls who care deeply for their own— so much so generation after generation live side by side and support one another through their faith, loyalty, and simplicity of country living.

Folks who still sit together at their dining tables on Sunday’s after church for home cooked lunches, eat fresh grown vegetables from their very own gardens, and pray over their full plates for grace— another year, their loved ones, a full crop.

One of my favorite roads in Fayetteville, NC is Gillis Hill Farm Road which is named for the Gillis Family’s Farm which has been in existence for over a century or more.

I’ve previously written I practically raised my son during his toddler years on the grounds of Gillis Hill Farm because there are delicious sweets and homemade ice cream, an outdoor produce market, and serene farm land perfect for a child to roam while their parents refresh their mindset from the hustle and bustle.

This time of year the farm becomes even more magical as the pumpkins 🎃 line up and the hot North Carolina air begins to cool.

Plenty of friendly folks are around the farm to chat with about quaint country life. Not to mention, covered wagon rides which bring a smile to any child’s face— no matter your age.

I stopped into the market recently and picked up a pretty yellow mum as well as winter veggie plants (Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage) for my garden.

A gregarious member of the Gillis clan gave me an education on the Paw Paw tree and its fruit which ripens this season.

https://caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu/2017/09/native-pawpaw-tree/

Photo courtesy of NC Cooperative Extension

“When it hits the ground, it’s ready,” he said and gave me a slice to try, it’s juices sweet as mango.

I’d grown up with Paw Paws all about the woods of my stomping grounds, but had never eaten it’s fruit. He said a brewery out of Durham, NC is brewing craft beer with Paw Paw fruit.

https://www.fullsteam.ag/beer/style/wild-paw-paw-ale

Our chat was an added bonus on my country road drive today as I love talking all things North Carolina— history, people, places, botany, agriculture, beer, whatever— I’m willing and eager to listen.

Truly, I could have sat there and talked to him all day. He had a good southern brogue too which made it all the better.

Made me feel at home— yet all the more wiser— full of pride and wonder.

If you keep winding further down Gillis Hill Farm Road, you cross the County line and find yourself in the middle of the Rockfish community off Lindsay Road in Raeford, NC.

There’s Rockfish Flea Market that boasts an arcade— even a food truck or two. As well as market vendors selling all types of things.

https://m.facebook.com/RockfishFleaMarket/

The flea market is adjacent to Rockfish Speedway which hosts events for the Motorsports lover in your life.

The old fire truck with a classic race car on top is a nice touch as well as a great photo-op.

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Race-Track/Rockfish-Speedway-160330377671161/

I keep meaning to contact the kind folks at the speedway to inquire about setting up a booth one weekend for a speedway event to sell my children’s travel and adventure picture book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck.

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

I believe it would be a “right nice” fit. Don’t you?

My next Lindsay Road suggestion is a little gem (just a hop and a skip down from the speedway) called Re-Imagined which is the most precious repurposed furniture, home decor and gift store.

https://m.facebook.com/reimaginedlindsayhouse/

Last November, I signed up for my very first craft fair which was hosted at Re-Imagined and I have since become a vendor selling my handcrafted art as well as refinished/repurposed vintage and antique furniture.

https://m.facebook.com/nautigulcustomwoodartandgifts/

Let me tell you, I fell in love with this adorable shop housed in an old, restored country cottage which features repurposed vintage and antique furniture— as well as shabby chic, farmhouse-style, handmade decor and gifts.

It’s the bees knees. You must go check out the beautiful goods and support all of the local artisans!

You will fall in love too!

After all this wonderful Fall shopping your last stop on the country road should most definitely be The Mill at Puppy Creek to grab a delicious bite to eat while enjoying tranquil country views.

https://www.facebook.com/themillatpuppycreek/

The Mill at Puppy Creek has great food, local brews and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

The restaurant is also child-friendly for those with kiddos in tow.

But also makes for an awesome adult date spot.

I hope you heed my suggestions and find your way wandering the farm road this weekend!

Tell them all I sent you!

– 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.

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.