All I Want For Christmas is… Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck!!!

Check out this adorable Christmasy video of my children’s travel and adventure picture book!

It should be under your Christmas tree 🎄 for the special children in your life!

Put the pedal to the metal and purchase this perfect Christmas gift today!

Order here 👉🎁:

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

– 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.