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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

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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.

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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.

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Come Together With Nature

Come Together With Nature

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center

Experience 2,900 acres of landscape as diverse as it is beautiful, where the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and Clear Creek come together. It’s also where colorful wildflower prairies mesh with waterways lined by a canopy of towering cottonwoods. Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center; where the natural community comes together with nature lovers in our community.

The history of the Clear Creek area is a long and colorful one. In 1883, the Denton County Commissioner’s Court purchased 334 acres of the land that now makes up the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Area (CCNHA) to become the Denton County poor farm. The land was sold at auction in 1948 and, in 1959, the Texas Legislature created the Clear Creek Watershed Authority to sponsor the construction of flood control dams on the tributaries of Clear Creek. Today, the City of Denton leases the land from the Army Corps of Engineers.  The City operates and maintains the 2,900 acres with the goal of promoting environmental citizenship through nature experiences, education and research programs, and conservation and restoration projects.

Clear Creek offers the opportunity for multiple age groups to interact with nature and learn about the ecology of our region. It’s a year-round destination for viewing native plants and animals in their natural environment.  Besides the human species, you’ll see other species like the armadillo,great egret, coyote, white-tailed deer, water lilies, snowy primrose wildflower, and cottonwood trees, just to name a few.

Visits to CCNHA have been integrated into the science curriculum for all DISD 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade classes, hosting more than 5,500 students annually. UNT, TWU and NCTC classes regularly meet on site to do projects and conduct research. You’ll also see volunteers from the Elm Fork Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists guiding hikes, building trails, monitoring bluebird boxes and helping to preserve and enhance the habitat for all species to enjoy. With over five miles of trails for hiking, you can experience a variety of ecosystems; from wetlands to bottomland hardwood forests to upland prairies, the diversity of nature is abundant.

Saturday, June 6th is National Trails Day at CCNHA from 8:30 a.m. – 2p.m. Discover, learn about, and celebrate trails while participating in outdoor activities, clinics, and trail stewardship projects.  Archery, geocaching and a trail run are only a few of the free activities the entire family can enjoy! Also that same day is the Crazy Coyote 5.4K & 7-mile Trail Run, Butterfly Activity with Explorium Denton, and hiking all day.

Join us for one of our Junior Master Naturalist Camps in the month of June. Campers will enjoy a unique natural science and outdoor experience at CCNHA with Certified Elm Fork Chapter Texas Master Naturalists. Each day will include nature study, themed crafts and outdoor activities. Each day kids must bring a sack lunch and water, and should wear closed-toe shoes, long pants sunscreen and insect repellant. Register online at or call 940-349-7275. Fee is $65 per class week.  Visit for dates and details.

Photography by Angilee Wilkerson

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Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

by Cait Landon

Winter is on its way and all those bright splashes of color that you have outside and around your house are now headed into the storage shed and garage.  Gone are the bright pots, the little pillows on the porch chairs and the gorgeous summer blooms are fading fast. If you are looking for tips to keep your curb appeal intact during the cold season blahs, consider these few simple pointers:

Make your front door pop!  It should be a strong focal point, so be a bit bold.  A bright accenting color may be a great option. Take a picture of your house and place doors in different colors right on the photo to give you some great and easy ideas of what the color will look like on your home.

Winter mums are so bright and colorful.  They are very easy to handle, fairly inexpensive and their deep bold colors will add dimension to the front and patio area of your home.

Bright lights. Each year when spring rolls around we jump outdoors and make sure our porch lights are clean and the bench is inviting.  This year give a little dust off before the cold rolls in and you’ll be happy to see a brighter front area look as the trick or treaters come knocking, and the family drops by for Thanksgiving.

Landscape lighting has gotten so easy you should give it a shot.  As daylight savings time goes away for the cold months, outside lighting has more opportunity to showcase your home more than any time of year.  And there’s actually no prettier glow than lighting in the winter.

Show your numbers. House numbering is a great way to add some pizzazz to your home.  Check out sites like Pinterest to get different idea options.  You will be amazed at how this small and quick change can add an updated look.

Clean and sparkle the windows.  We have significantly less sunshine so make sure you optimize on every little ray.  Keep windows clean and clear so they can help brighten your home.

Of course none of these updates can do a thing for the aesthetics of your home without basic maintenance.  Keep the front of the home tidy and maintained during the colder months. Stay on top of basic yard maintenance.

Keep flower beds and gardens going through the fall season. Adding trees and shrubs to your landscape in the cooler and hopefully moist fall weather is great and healthier for their growth.  Planted now, roots have more opportunity to get established before wintery cold comes around and freezing occur.  Just be sure to add several inches of mulch after planting to help with warmth and moisture retention.

Keep up with the weeds.  By staying on top of this chore, you will remove weeds before the seeds set, saving yourself even more work in the spring.

A simple splash of color goes a long way in the winter months and here are a few ideas for cool season splashes:

Peppers are still the trendy veggie you should have for your beds and vegetable garden. But they are not just for the vegetable garden, as many ornamental types are available for adorning annual beds.  They will brighten the patio and front beds with a blaze of color.

Berries are another aspect to be considered for winter color. Hollys, nandinas and pyracantha all have red, orange, or yellow berries that are not a bird’s favorite choice, so your areas will stay decorated throughout the winter.

Here in North Texas with our nippy nights, warm sunny days, and a northern coldblast thrown in every once in a while to remind us it’s December, winter is the flower gardener’s most relaxed growing season. A simple splash of color goes a long way.  Beds also color pop with pansies, pots of ornamental cabbage, and borders of narcissus.

Who says winter has to be bleak?  Yes, it’s a bit harder to get yourself motivated to do these chores in the winter, but focus on the “best drive-by look” in the neighborhood.

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June / July 2014 Issue

June / July 2014 Issue

It’s Summer Time in Denton!

- Visit the Lewisville Lake Environmental Area to see how pollinators work their magic

- Explore another iconic building in Denton:  Courthouse-on-the-Square

- Enjoy the festivities in Denton and surrounding areas for the Fourth of July

Click here to download the latest issue.

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