Archive | May, 2015

It’s Time for Summer Fun!

It’s Time for Summer Fun!

It’s Time for Summer Fun!

Make a Difference in 2015 by visiting the Little Free Library in Argyle

Get Twisted with Joy and Big Al’s Totally Twisted Balloons

And, Come Together with Nature at the Clear Creek Heritage Center

Posted in Current Issue, Featured0 Comments

Make a Difference in 2015

Make a Difference in 2015

Take a Book and Leave a Book

Little Free Library Comes to Argyle

The North Texas Book Festival, Inc. is promoting the Little Free Library in Argyle. The NTBF, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that encourages literacy and raises funds for school libraries, public libraries, and literacy programs in Denton County.  The Little Free Library, a national organization, also promotes literacy and the love of reading.

When Argyle resident Karen Kiel contacted Lynn Sheffield Simmons, founder of the North Texas Book Festival, with the idea of Argyle residents exchanging books through the Little Free Library, Lynn received the NTBF board members approval to endorse the project and to pay the membership fee for 10 Little Free Libraries.  The Little Free Library membership includes brochures, a wooden plaque/sign made of reclaimed wood from 100-year-old barns in the heart of Wisconsin’s Amish country and the sign reads Little Free Library along with a membership number.  The membership also includes a dot on the United States map on the Little Free Library web site showing where the library is located.

Dave and Kathy Salisbury of The Real Estate Station on U.S. Highway 377 and Dallas Street volunteered to erect the first Little Free Library.  The North Texas Book Festival, Inc. donated the membership and Karen’s husband, John Kiel, designed the Little Free Library donating it to the North Texas Book Festival, Inc.
The Little Free Library will be put up at the side of the Real Estate Station on Dallas Street.  The two-shelf structure will hold adult books-mysteries, romance, history, cookbooks, and different genres on the bottom shelf, and children’s books on the top shelf.  Those wanting to read a particular book or books return one for each one taken.

“We were honored when we were asked to be the first location for the Little Free Library in Argyle.  Without a library in town this is the perfect venue for reading and exchanging books.  Promoting literacy at a time when “hand held technology” vies for our attention reading is so important for children and adults alike.  We welcome people to participate in exchanging books here at The Real Estate Station, and even relax on our outdoor patio if it’s a nice day.  We always have free drinks!  Being Argyle residents ourselves and owning a business in town drives our passion to give back to the community and make Argyle the best place to live!” said Dave and Kathy Salisbury, owners of The Real Estate Station.

The North Texas Book Festival, Inc. is accepting book donations and is asking residents to volunteer to help with the Little Free Library.  Residents who would like to design their own and erect it on their property or business, or hire John Kiel to build one, please contact Lynn Sheffield Simmons at 940-464-3368 for more information. Patty Smith is the Program Coordinator.

Posted in Current Issue, Editorials, Featured0 Comments

Move Naturally

Move Naturally

by Reese Gray

Although we strive for active lifestyles to acquire for good health, our weather can be bit extreme.  Let’s face reality, we do live in Texas.  And no matter what we plan, we live in a fast paced hustle and bustle world that constantly interrupts our best made plans for routine exercise activities.

But still the messages are clear. For a healthy you there are requirements you have to meet, on physical activity, eating and mental clarity all to ensure the healthy lifestyle we all search for.

No matter how busy you are or how hectic your life is, you still have the small back to basics it takes to add some needed movement to your life.  Just move naturally.

Add a few steps to your day, and a little exercise can go a long way:
•    Park in the farthest space in the parking lot, or at least adjust to 5-10 spaces out from your norm
•    Take the opportunity to stand and move around in your office area while on phone calls
•    Take the stairs over using the elevator
•    Keep an eye on your posture – sit tall, stand straight and move with purpose
•    Take meetings on the go. Ask a coworker to “walk with me” and chat about the meeting topics
•    Walk the dog
•    Play some active family games weekly
•    Park the car when you get home and walk back to the mailbox
•    Take a little short 10 minute walk before or after dinner

Striving for convenience has made us a bit on the lazy side.  Consider that we pay a gym extreme amounts of money to help us exercise our bodies but we scramble for a parking space right near the door of the facility.  We buy expensive shoes to enable our special sports program but we pay the neighbor kid to mow the yard.

Improving your mental health and mood
Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.  And you can’t start this too early.  It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing even lower levels of physical activity can be very beneficial.

Increase your chances of living longer
Science shows that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.  Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.

Intensity and  aerobic activity are the ultimate goal in exercise but  factually, the activities we need to keep our bodies healthy and fit are all around us NATURALLY, oh they may not be the most popular activities but let’s face it working in a garden should bring you much more pleasure than mindless sit-ups and tummy crunches.

And when you can or if you are ready to add extra exercise after moving to a natural movement lifestyle, try a membership at the Natatorium so you can swim all year long.  That is an activity that is healthy for your body and it can actually be utilized in North Texas whether in January or July.

Posted in Current Issue, Health and Fitness0 Comments

Prostate Screening

Prostate Screening

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that mostly affects older men. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

Many men have questions about prostate cancer screening (testing). Even though prostate cancer is common, screening for it isn’t recommended. The information below can help you start a conversation about prostate cancer with your doctor or nurse.

What is the prostate?
The male prostate is a small sex gland that makes fluid to carry sperm. It’s located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Who is at risk for prostate cancer?
Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
•    Being age 50 or older
•    Being African American
•    Having a father, brother, or son who had prostate cancer

Why isn’t screening recommended for prostate cancer?
Screening for prostate cancer isn’t recommended because the risks of screening and treatment outweigh the benefits.
•    Most of the time, prostate cancer grows so slowly that men won’t die from it or have any symptoms.
•    The treatment of prostate cancer is more likely to cause medical problems than the prostate cancer itself.
•    The screening tests for prostate cancer that are available now can’t tell if you have a cancer that will cause problems or not.

What do I ask the doctor?
Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse:
•    Am I at risk for prostate cancer?
•    Are there things I can do to lower my risk for prostate cancer?
•    What are the benefits and harms (risks) of prostate cancer screening and treatment?
•    Are there any warning signs or symptoms of prostate cancer I should look out for?

American Cancer Society recommendations for prostate cancer early detection
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should not be screened unless they have received this information. The discussion about screening should take place at:
•    Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
•    Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
•    Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

After this discussion, those men who want to be screened should be tested with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done as a part of screening.

If, after this discussion, a man is unable to decide if testing is right for him, the screening decision can be made by the health care provider, who should take into account the patient’s general health preferences and values.

Assuming no prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, the time between future screenings depends on the results of the PSA blood test:
•    Men who choose to be tested who have a PSA of less than 2.5 ng/mL may only need to be retested every 2 years.
•    Screening should be done yearly for men whose PSA level is 2.5 ng/mL or higher.

Because prostate cancer often grows slowly, men without symptoms of prostate cancer who do not have a 10-year life expectancy should not be offered testing since they are not likely to benefit. Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about screening.

Even after a decision about testing has been made, the discussion about the pros and cons of testing should be repeated as new information about the benefits and risks of testing becomes available. Further discussions are also needed to take into account changes in the patient’s health, values, and preferences.

Posted in Current Issue, Health and Fitness0 Comments

From the Spice Rack

From the Spice Rack

by Kathe Kitchens, Bestemor Herb Farm


This relative of ginger and turmeric is similar in its flavor and therapeutic qualities.  Historically there were three varieties, now generally reduced to green and black or brown types.  Cultivation is believed to have begun in India, varieties used and traded for at least two thousand years.  There is the “true” cardamom, Elettaria, and the close relative group of plants Amomum, Alpinia and Aframomum.  As with cinnamon and its relative cassia, these cultivars are close in flavor and are often used to extend the real spice, or substituted in its place.  It is still grown primarily in India, but was introduced to Guatemala in the 1920’s and became a leading crop.  It can be grown in Texas, but only in pots as it is a tropical zone species.  The seeds of the plant are harvested, picked by hand to retrieve them at the proper maturity; it is one of the world’s three most expensive spices, after saffron and before vanilla.

Its value as a cleaner for teeth and breath made it a staple for after meal consumption in ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian society and later in Europe.  Green “true” cardamom has shown promise in research for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.  According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies prove the value of black cardamom as a therapy for cancer.  Naturally diuretic and full of fiber, this spice lowers blood pressure and supports cleansing of the kidneys.  Its anti-inflammatory properties are especially effective on the mucus membranes of the mouth and throat.  Energizing for those who suffer from fatigue or depression, it is also reported to stimulate the production of hormones and enzymes, digestive juices and peristalsis in the intestines, speeding up the elimination of toxins.  It also promotes sweating and helps to clear respiratory congestion, and relieves headaches resulting from illness.  Like antimicrobial garlic, coriander and other spices, it is used in foods to delay spoilage.

In essential oil form, cardamom is valued as an astringent and antimicrobial. One or two drops in warm water used as a mouthwash disinfects oral tissues and eliminates bad breath.  Used in a bath, it will disinfect skin and hair.  Blended with coconut or other natural oil, it is reputed to be unsurpassed in producing glowing skin.  As a hair treatment, cardamom is renowned for the elimination of dandruff and producing shiny locks, and is also a natural lightener for those who prefer the sun kissed look.  Like most essential oils, it should not be applied directly to skin unless blended with dilution oil.

A strong warming spice, cardamom should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers or very young children. Properly trained aroma therapists, herbalists, naturopaths or practitioners of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Ayurveda can direct the safe and effective use of this treasured spice.

Posted in Current Issue, Home and Garden0 Comments

Twisting Balloons Into Joy

Twisting Balloons Into Joy

by Janet Sever Hull

On any given night or weekend, balloon artist Al Curlett can be found working an event almost anywhere in the DFW Metroplex.  The Denton resident and owner of Big Al’s Totally Twisted Balloons, says he does balloon art because he loves “meeting and bringing joy to other people.”

Al brings his talent to private parties as well as to businesses and community events. You might have seen him at: Brookshire’s, the Texas Motor Speedway, Colonial Country Club, Dillard’s, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, the Ranch of Lonesome Dove, corporate parties, nursing homes, churches, schools, birthday parties, class reunions, the North Texas Book Festival, and many other community events in North Texas.

Al says the best part about being a balloon artist is he’s always around people who are having fun and he gets to be a part of it.  “Every party is a special day for someone.  My job is to make the party special for them.”

He learned the art of balloon modelling or twisting, years ago by chance when his wife, who was a post-intensive care nurse, was working weekends.  To be near her, Al hand-carved a dummy named Norton and developed a ventriloquist act to entertain patients in the hospital where she worked. Next, he learned to do magic tricks for the kids and then one of the moms suggested that he learn to twist balloons.

Al bought some books and started with the basics…dogs and swords.  He attended a balloon twisters’ convention in Austin where he learned more complex designs and became aware of some of the great balloon twisters such as Don Caldwell, Ken Stillman, and John Homes who were doing incredible things with balloons.  Al learned the concepts of twisting then took it to the next level and created his own unique designs.
Al’s balloon repertoire currently includes 42 kinds of hats and 80 more figures which he can twist from memory.  He uses 17 different colors for his balloon creations and says that adults most often request hats or roses.  When he is working a children’s event, girls most often want flowers or butterflies and boys ask for swords.  Al has even created balloon art from pictures people have brought to him.

He says adults appreciate the art behind the finished product and have a lot of fun and get a kick out of it.  “Kids are surprised and happy when they ask for something and it really looks like what they wanted.”

Nancy and Eric Fehrenbacher first met Al in 2005 when Nancy was pregnant with their oldest child.  They would go into Luby’s to eat and would see Al twisting balloons for patrons young and old.  After their son was born, they continued to eat at Luby’s whenever Al was working and they were such regulars that he began saving them a table.  A friendship developed between them and at some point, Nancy invited Al to their home for dinner.

Al calls Nancy and Eric his good friends and “original groupies” because they kept coming to see him.  Nancy says they were “drawn to Al because he was so friendly and down to earth.  He does fantastic work and you feel happy to be around him because he’s so interesting and he works hard to brighten a person’s day.”

Luby’s closed their Denton location in 2009, so now the Fehrenbacher family goes to CiCi’s Pizza to see their friend “the balloon guy” in action.  “But we only go if Al is working,” says Nancy.

Al has the soul of an artist, and his creativity isn’t just limited to balloon art.  In his spare time, he creates beautifully hand-carved wood pieces as well as stained glass lamp shades.  His home is filled with his beautiful creations and his fun and lively spirit.

If you would like to hire Al Curlett for your party or event, he can be reached at 940-300-7676.

Posted in Current Issue, Editorials, Featured0 Comments