Denton County magazine November-December 2019

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your shake up holidays With Festive Events, Family Recipes, Unique Gifts & More

Plus InsidE the lOcal startup CommuniTy

South African Cuisine in Roanoke Spotlight oN Aubrey FlowEr MoUnd AcTor BriGhton Sharbino


POWER over feeling stuck YOU’VE GOT THIS. We’ve got you.

The KoonsFuller Denton Team: Regan Donnenfield, Sean Abeyta*, Charla Bradshaw*, Sarah Darnell*, and James Logue


Congratulations to Denton Managing Shareholder Charla Bradshaw on being named Best Divorce Attorney and KoonsFuller on being named Best Divorce Law Firm by Best of Denton County. With more than thirty proven attorneys and five offices across Texas (Dallas, Denton, Houston, Plano and Southlake), KoonsFuller is the largest family law firm in the Southwest. You’ve probably also heard that we take remarkably good care of our clients. To learn more about us, visit

As recognized among Tier 1 U.S. News – Best Lawyers ® “Best Law Firms” in Dallas/Fort Worth for Family Law by U.S. News & World Report L.P.

Denton | 320 West Eagle Drive, Suite 200 | Denton, Texas 76201 | 940.442.6677 *Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Principal Office in Dallas.



SPIRIT At the end of a treelined road, painted in prairie sunshine, you’ll find the beating heart of a new community. Based on some very old ideas about town and country. Where smart new homes lead to a deeper connection with the land and with each other. This is Pecan Square, north of Fort Worth in the AllianceTexas corridor in Northlake. And we invite you to join us.

Model homes now open Smart new homes from the mid $200s to the $600s. From I-35W, take exit FM 407 west and follow the signs.








NOVEMBER/ DECEMBER Volume 2, Issue 6

Photo by Kelly Blackall

Celebrate the holidays with family, food, fun & festivities!




Joy to the World

Celebrating the holidays, Denton County–style

62 66

The Brightest Future

From Flower Mound to fame with actor Brighton Sharbino

Start Me Up

Top innovators take us inside the local startup community

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34 30


What defines our county today

DE PA RTME NT S 30 Community Spotlight: Aubrey

Good people, a big heart and room to grow make this small town unstoppable

34 Shopping: Hello Daffodil

11 The Exchange

North Central Texas College's new campus

12 Howling Mutt Brewery A unique spin on craft beer

You can't buy flowers, but you can get fashion, gifts and a wonderful experience

14 Staying Afloat

36 Dining: Anton's African Cuisine

16 Times Are Changing

Try a taste of something different at this new Roanoke restaurant

A dramatic ordeal and rescue on the lake Why you've hit so many red lights lately

18 Recycled Rubber

Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio returns


20 Day in the Life

How one DCTA executive does it all

22 Alton Bowman

Restoring historic furniture to beauty

24 Flipping for Coins

The Texas Numismatic Association

26 Aqua Pop

Bursting soda's bubble in Flower Mound

IN E V E RY ISSUE 8 About This Issue 28 Time Machine 74 See & Do On the cover: Custom illustration of the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival at the Denton County Courthouse by Katerina Francesca Arrington


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Top left photo courtesy of Hello Daffodil; top right courtesy of the Texas Numismatic Association; middle photo courtesy City of Aubrey; bottom photo courtesy of Anton's African Cuisine



Ready for the Holidays

Our design experts show you how simple updates can transform any space.



Thankful and Joyous


efore we all sit down for our 2019 Thanksgiving feasts, all of us here at Denton County magazine and Denton Media Company would like to take this opportunity to tell you how thankful we are for the support we've had from our readers, our advertisers and the community as a whole in 2019. We hope that you, your family and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season. In this special holiday issue, we're taking a look at some of the things that make our county one of the most joyful places to spend the holidays. Family-pleasing recipes from local restaurateurs and chefs, dazzling light displays, charities that help make Christmas merry and bright for those in need, unique local gift ideas and so much more start on page 41. We've also got features on Flower Mound native Brighton Sharbino — who, at just 17 years old, is one of TV and film's most in-demand actors — and the entrepreneurs who are helping to build a thriving technology startup community in Denton County. This issue will also take you all around our region. Find out what's new in Denton (a brewery, music venue and college campus, among other things!). Discover what makes Aubrey special in this month's Community Spotlight. Visit a restaurant that's bringing South African fare to Roanoke. Go shopping in Flower Mound. Read about a thrilling rescue on the lake. And keep up with holiday events in The Colony, Little Elm, Sanger, Argyle, Aubrey, Corinth, Roanoke, Flower Mound, Denton, Lewisville and more. From furniture restoration to coin collectors to the mysteries of local traffic lights, the fascinating stories on these pages will keep you in the know about what's going on in your area. If you haven't already, please visit dentoncountymagazine. com to get this magazine delivered to your home six times a year for just $25. A subscription also makes a great gift for your favorite Denton County resident. Happy New Year! We'll see you in 2020 with more great stories from our home county.

PUBLISHER Bill Patterson

EDITOR Kimberly Turner

M AG A Z I N E CO N S U LTA N T Rich Alfano


S A L E S M A N AG E R Shawn Reneau ACCO U N T EXECUTIVES Becci Hendrix Joanne Horst Danielle Thompson Shelly Vannatta MAILING ADDRESS 3555 Duchess Drive Denton, Texas 76205 EDITORIAL 940-566-6879 A DV E R T I S I N G INQUIRIES 940-566-6843

DESIGN DI RECTOR Ben Carpenter DESIGNER Phil Lor CO N T R I B U T I N G W R I T E R S Wendy Angel, Abigail Boatwright, Jessica DeLeón, Mary Dunklin, Tori Falcon, Lisa Ferguson, Nicole Foster, Annette Nevins, Paula Felps, Nicole Foster, Rachel Hedstrom, Ellen Ritscher Sackett, Donna Stokes, Leslie Thompson, Kimberly Turner CO N T R I B U T I N G PHOTOGRAPH ERS Abigail Boatwright C R E AT I V E PA R T N E R madison/miles media

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscribe to Denton County magazine for $25/year. Subscribe online at or mail a check or visit us at 3555 Duchess Drive, Denton, Texas 76205. For subscription questions, call 940-387-3811. S T O RY I D E A S LETTERS TO TH E EDITOR Write to Please include your full name, city and phone number. Denton County magazine reserves the right to edit for length and clarity. L I K E U S FAC E B O O K FIND US ONLINE

© Copyright 2019: Denton County magazine is published by Denton Media Company, publishers of the Denton Record-Chronicle. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any text, photograph or illustration without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Editorial content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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The name Independent Financial preserves our 30-year tradition of building strong, healthy communities, while embracing new opportunities.

Wishing you a


400 N. Carroll Blvd. | Denton, TX | 940.591.1200 Visit for locations in Texas and Colorado. |

What defines our county today

INSIDE: uu A thrilling rescue story on the lake uu A new brewery and revived music venue in Denton uu A refreshing beverage invented in Flower Mound



EXCHANGE North Central Texas College’s new campus in the heart of Denton offers benefits for students and the community. BY ABIGAIL BOATWRIGHT

NCTC’s new campus features 10 classrooms, a 306-space garage and state-of-the art technology.

Photos courtesy North Central Texas College


or 70 years, the Denton Record-Chronicle called 316 East Hickory Street home. After the newspaper relocated in 2017, the building was left vacant. But this year, North Central Texas College reclaimed the space for its new downtown Denton campus. The old printing press left in the building will be restored and displayed as a reminder of the facility’s history. The new campus, called the First State Bank Exchange at NCTC Denton, opened its doors August 26, with the goal of serving more than 600 currently enrolled students and supporting local businesses. NCTC Chancellor Dr. Brent Wallace says the 45,214-square-foot FSB Exchange building embodies the campus vision. “We wanted to begin to serve the city of Denton in a more impactful way,” he said of their initial search for a downtown Denton location. “We

also wanted to support the concurrent enrollment students that we’ve always served… And we wanted to expand our dual credit offerings.” The campus features on-site IT support and a unique one-stop shop called ManeStop — named as a nod to the school’s lion mascot — that allows

The main lobby of the new campus

students to ask questions, enroll, seek financial aid and register for classes. Classes are built on an eight-week course model, which Dr. Wallace says will allow students to take a full load if desired, but courses are broken up into shorter times so that they that can be taken sequentially in a semester. The facility is designed to allow students to easily pop in for a course before returning to work or high school. It offers convenient hours of study, 10 classrooms and a newly built 306-space parking garage. The college has also aligned schedules with public transportation. There are no food services within the building, but Dr. Wallace says the goal is to encourage students to frequent nearby food and coffee shops, boosting local commerce. “We want to be a part of the downtown square environment, supporting local businesses and being a part of the community.”

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Alex Manning

Justin Reed

Hair of the Dog NEW IN TOWN


ustin Reed and Alex Manning perfected the art of the low-key beer-pong party while in college in Denton in 2011. They also dabbled in home brewing and spent many a night bonding over beer and realizing their mutual desire to share good beer and good times with friends. Tasting Options After graduation, the friends went their separate ways until 2018 when they reconnected and began home brewing again. The reunited Dentonites decided to create a brewery that cultivated a fun atmosphere while encompassing both of their taste palates. They dove into education — embarking on a tour of other breweries in Texas, the United States and even abroad, then taking their hobby public. “We tried a lot of recipes from other breweries, figuring out which ingredients we liked, and collaborated with other people,” Reed says. “We came back to


Denton, and we created Howling Mutt Brewing Company.” The brewery, which opened in September, is named after Bear, their former roommates’ dog from their college days. The beer produced is HAUFEN Beer. Reed prefers Indian pale ales, pale ales, lagers and pilsners, while Manning leans toward dark stouts, amber and fruity beers. These opposing palates make for a great year-round selection for customers. “I like bitterness, hazy, hops — I like kind of a rough beer,” Reed says. “Alex is exactly the opposite. He likes sweet, thick. He likes weird ingredients. You can tell the difference between our recipes when you come to the brewery.” Something for Everyone Howling Mutt teaches visitors about the nuances of beer and brewing, setting out jars of hops so that customers can taste the ingredients from different beers. It’s also welcoming for aspiring home brewers.

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“We want to educate the community on the elements of beer and what’s available,” Reed says. The brewery’s flagship beer is an easyto-drink concoction called Strawberry Blonde. But you’ll find between six and 30 beers on tap, canned or bottled, on any given day. “When you come into the brewery, we’ll explain what pairs with what — if it’s light and refreshing, or hard and heavy,” Reed says. “We’ll have a beer for everyone.” Howling Mutt has a patio where you can relax with a beer and collaborates with local food trucks and restaurants so you can pair your beverage with a meal. Take a six-pack of HAUFEN home if you’d like, or ask for a cup of beer to go; local regulations mean you can walk around Denton’s square with your drink. Howling Mutt Brewing Company 205 N. Cedar St., Denton

Photo courtesy of the Denton Record-Chronicle

The new Howling Mutt Brewing Company in downtown Denton puts a unique spin on craft beer. BY ABIGAIL BOATWRIGHT

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Staying Afloat

A peaceful fishing trip on Grapevine Lake turned into a lifethreatening ordeal for one family. BY JESSICA DELEÓN


ichard Pretorius and his father, John, have been fishing for decades. The July night that almost cost them their lives started like any other as they relaxed on John’s old boat in Grapevine Lake. But when the boat sank, that peaceful evening turned into a nightmare. John, 78, was stranded in the water for seven hours, while Richard, a 59-year-old electrician, swam about a mile across the lake to get help. Thanks to their endurance and the help of the Flower Mound Fire Department, the father and son survived. “We got lucky,” Richard says. “We both believe in God an awful lot.” “Water is coming in.” The ordeal began around 11 p.m. The wind was strong, around 20 miles an hour. Richard and John thought the fish might be better if they drifted to the other side of the lake. But the drift sock was on the back of the boat instead of the side. “All of a sudden, my dad said, ‘I think water is coming in,’” Richard says. He saw three waves come over to the back of the boat and realized the back end was about to sink. John grabbed lifejackets. Richard tried to call his wife, Karen, so she could call for help, but before they could connect, the boat capsized. Richard was thrown into the water, and the phone sunk into the lake. They were on the Grapevine side, and Richard didn’t think he could swim to that shore because the wind was blowing so hard. They swam back to the boat.


“There was nobody there.” “I could hear my dad. He was struggling,” Richard recalls. “He was having a hard time staying afloat because he never got his life jacket fully on.” He told his father to stay afloat while he got help. John told him to swim to the lights in the distance, and Richard set off, swimming sideways to the wind, using the breaststroke and breathing on one side. He stuck the life vest underneath his arms instead of around his neck. After what felt like hours, he made it to shore. “I couldn’t stand up on the shore when I got there,” Richard says. “I had to crawl up because the sand was all messed up. Then I started yelling for help. But there was nobody there.” He screamed at the top of his lungs. It was the middle of the night. Richard got back to the water and swam to the bay at Twin Coves Marina in Flower

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Mound — although he didn’t know that’s where he was. He slipped, hit the rocks headfirst and started bleeding. As he neared the dock, he found a chain in the water and used it to lift himself with his feet. He wandered around the dock and spotted a phone inside the window of the marina office. He picked up an outdoor ashtray and smashed the window — relieved that it was plastic after stepping on beer bottles and thorns on the first shore. He dialed 911. No response. He dialed again. And again. No answer. He screamed at the top of his lungs, but no one heard him. This went on for 45 minutes. He had forgotten to hit 9 before dialing 911. He called his wife, Karen, who phoned 911 for him. By then, it was 5 a.m. — six hours after the trouble began. “I thought we would be recovering his body.” Richard thought he was at Scott’s Landing Marina in Grapevine. Karen called the Euless Police Department, which called Grapevine. She gave them the number that her husband was calling from. Grapevine sent a police officer but couldn’t find him. The police got on the phone with Richard and determined he was at Twin Coves. A crew from Flower Mound Fire Department, along with a boat from the Grapevine Fire Department, arrived. Now, their mission was to rescue his father. About an hour later, they found John, about two miles farther from Richard and completely exhausted. The rescuer had to put John on his back to carry the older Pretorius to the ambulance. Astonishingly, John suffered no serious injuries. “When Mr. P. was able to come and get off the stretcher, I gave a hug and a kiss on the cheek,” Karen says. “We thought we would be recovering his body. It was scary.” The family is grateful for their lifejackets and the work of the rescue departments. The father and son have gone back fishing, but John surrendered the old boat, saying he didn’t trust it anymore. “I call them the Walking Miracles,” Karen says. “Let’s face it. They probably shouldn’t be sitting here now.”

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Times Are Changing

Wondering why you’ve been sitting at lots of red lights lately? We’ve got answers. BY LESLIE J. THOMPSON


Keep Smiling, Flower Mound 16


riving around Denton should get a little easier in the New Year, as the city’s Traffic Operations Division works to modify signal timing along major thoroughfares. When lights are timed correctly, “you can progress through the corridor at a safe speed, without having to stop,” explains Traffic Engineer Brian Jahn. “That’s not always happening,” he says. Now, the city is working to fix the issue. How It Works When a stoplight turns green, other lights along the same roadway also should turn green as cars approach, so that traffic flows smoothly. However, changing traffic patterns can throw the timing out of whack. “We’ve got a lot of construction. Some roads are closed; some are narrowed to one lane,” Jahn notes, adding, “New subdivisions are built, and we’ve got traffic coming from directions that we didn’t have before.” The result is that drivers may frequently hit a string of red lights, slowing their commute and causing tempers to flare. Because cars travel different routes at different times of day, adjusting the signal timing is tricky. Stoplights at each intersection are set to provide a range of “green time,” based on how much traffic is coming from certain directions.

“If there’s a heavy left turn, it’s going to give more time to that left turn, which means the opposing through movements can’t go,” Jahn explains. The computers in the signal cabinets are also connected, so when one light turns green, the ones downstream also know to turn green after a set period. This means that changing any one signal will affect the timing of lights in every direction. Out in the Field Traffic operations staff spent several weeks collecting data on major roadways, counting the number of cars, bicycles and pedestrians during morning and afternoon rush hours, lunch time and off-peak periods. Simulators process this information to generate recommended signal timing, but computers only know so much, Jahn says. “Because the software isn’t real world, it’s not 100 percent accurate,” he notes. “We have to spend some time in the field to get those timings correct and reflective of what we need it to do at each of these intersections, and in the corridor as a whole.” City staff plan to fine-tune stoplights through the remainder of the year, starting with Highway 380. Until the changes take effect, however, Denton drivers may want to remind themselves that patience is a virtue.

Flower Mound is the second happiest small town (population under 100,000) in America according to, an organization that provides information for counseling students and professionals. The rankings were based on metrics such as poverty rate, median household income, property value, education level, crime and safety. “It is considered one of the safest cities in Texas and boasts a vibrant cultural and food scene,” says TCS, which also cites the city’s short 28.6-minute average commute and “ample options to choose the pace of life they want” as reasons for its joie de vivre. Sugar Land (#4) and Boerne (#6) were the only other Texas cities to make the list.

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Three years after Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio closed, it has become one of Denton’s hottest new clubs. BY PAULA FELPS


Revived and Renovated Two years later, Houdek was still wondering how musicians could get more stage time, so he bought the building and spent a year updating it. He added an indoor singer-songwriter stage and an outdoor stage to complement the existing inside stage; it also has eight rehearsal studios. “As a musician, you’ve gotta have a place to hone your skills,” he says. “The way it is now, we’re set up for any genre of music. We’re not going to try to control the music; there are lots of new, emerging artists that need a stage. This is a great

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place for people to go, practice and get on stage and play.” He reopened the club this summer, but his plan was never to run the club himself. For that, he brought in former middle school teacher Chad Withers. Community Driven “We’re still learning as we go, but the response has been incredibly positive,” Houdek says. “We’re listening to what people want and we’re going to make this the best possible experience, both for the musicians and the patrons. We will stay 100% committed to giving the community what it wants.” In the time since the original Rubber Gloves closed, new venues such as Backyard on Bell and Harvest House have popped up, and clubs like Dan’s Silverleaf and Andy’s Bar have reinforced their positions as live music staples. “I love this town. It has such an amazing spirit and there are so many unique, creative compassionate people here,” says Houdek. “There really isn’t any other place like Denton.” With the re-opening of RGRS, Houdek sees a chance to contribute to the thriving, vibrant music scene. “This isn’t ‘my’ club; it belongs to the musicians and the people of Denton. And I think that, because of that formula, we have a very good chance of being successful.”

Top photo courtesy of Rubber Gloves. Bottom photo by Daniel Rodrigue.


n June 2016, after enjoying 19 years as one of Denton’s most enduring, high-profile clubs, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios closed its doors — ostensibly for good. But Rob Houdek wasn’t content for that to be the end of the story. As a music lover, he’s always had an appreciation for the live scene in Denton, and when Rubber Gloves shuttered, he was concerned about how it would affect that scene. “Around that same time, we lost about four music venues in Denton,” he recalls. “Music is such a part of the fabric of this city and I wondered where they were going to play. Rubber Gloves had such a storied history, and I didn’t want to see it go.”

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hances are, you’re familiar with Michelle Bloomer’s work. That commuter bus that arrives on time despite the rain? The train that whizzes past traffic to shave minutes off your commute? The park-and-ride shuttle and vanpool services that ease road congestion?

6:15 a.m. Get up, check emails and get ready for the day

Bloomer offers donuts to a DCTA employee at their monthly staff meeting.


They’re all in a day’s work for Bloomer. As vice president of operations for the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA), Bloomer develops, directs and organizes the agency’s operations and maintenance services for buses and commuter rail. As if coordinating transportation for an

entire county weren’t challenging enough, Bloomer’s daily routine also includes coordinating everything from meals to volleyball practices for herself and her 14-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn. We caught up with this busy Denton professional and mom to find out how she fits it all in a typical day.

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. Arrive at the office, check emails and make a plan of action for the day

10 a.m. Head to Denton for a meeting with city staff to coordinate inclement weather shuttle service

7:30 a.m. Make breakfast, pack lunches and get my daughter up 8 a.m. Drop my daughter off at school and head to the office

11 a.m. Stop at the Downtown Denton Transit Center (DDTC) to check in with the customer service team

Bloomer poses for a photo on the smaller bus DCTA is testing.

Michelle Bloomer walks into DCTA’s administration office in Lewisville.

11:30 a.m. Arrive at the Bus Operations & Maintenance Facility for a meeting with UNT

D E N T O N CO U N T Y N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9

12:30 p.m. Head to the next meeting, eat lunch on the way

Bloomer prepares for a board meeting. As vice president, Bloomer is in many meetings each day.

1 p.m. Meet with social service agencies to present DCTA services, discuss transportation needs and respond to questions

Bloomer talks to a coworker after DCTA’s monthly staff meeting.

Photos by Kayla Laird with DCTA

Here’s how Denton County Transportation Authority Vice President Michelle Bloomer coordinates transport for an entire county while raising a 14-year-old daughter. BY KRISTY ALPERT

3 p.m. Stay after the meeting to talk to people about the mobility needs of their clients and brainstorm options

Bloomer tests out the front seat of the vehicle, which has a space for another DCTA employee to sit up front with the driver.

3:30 p.m. Head back to the office to meet with Rail Operations staff about implementing Positive Train Control (PTC)

Bloomer walks to a testing location to look at a new fleet of vehicles. Bloomer is wearing DCTA’s “Be the Change” shirt, a motto the staff has adopted and is implementing into their new servant leadership training.

6:45 p.m. Go home. make dinner, do laundry

8 p.m. Return home, clean up dinner mess, finish laundry and do some work

7:45 p.m. Drop my daughter at volleyball practice

5 p.m. Tackle a few quick items on my to-do list and check emails

9 – 10 p.m. Watch the last hour of my daughter’s volleyball practice

10:30 p.m. Head home, get ready for bed, send a last work email and check tomorrow’s calendar

Bloomer shows how to buckle a wheelchair onto the vehicle, which would seat multiple wheelchairs at a time.

11:30 p.m. Another successful day! My head hits the pillow, and I’m out!

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Preserving the Past Flower Mound conservator Alton Bowman gives historic furniture new life. BY JESSICA DELEÓN


Top of His Field Bowman’s transformation skills have made him one of the top furniture conservators in Texas. His craftsmanship is displayed in museums across the state and in the Texas Governor’s mansion as well as in the private collections of clients. “It’s very satisfying work,” he says. “We’re preserving the pieces and adding a lifespan into the future.” During his nearly five decades in furniture conservation, he has taken on a number of high-profile projects. He restored the frame that displays the $24 million, 17th century Nicolas Poussin painting “Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter)” at the Kimbell Art Museum of Fort Worth and worked on the Rosedown bedstead. Made in 1844, the Rosedown bed was intended to be placed in the White House for Henry Clay, until he lost the presidential election. Bowman restored the bedstead — considered the most important piece of Gothic Revival furniture created in the U.S. during that century — over a four-month period with a team that spent 1,600 hours on the project. The bed now resides in the Dallas Museum of Art. Bowman’s team spent 1,600 hours restoring the iconic Rosedown bed.


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Art Meets Technology Bowman, the son of an Air Force master sergeant, always wanted to be an artist. He attended Cooke County College and then studied with painting

Photos courtesy of Alton Bowman

n 18th century table made by Bernard van Risamburgh II, a cabinetmaker who created pieces for royals such as Marie Antoinette, sits in a studio in the countryside of Flower Mound. The piece’s beautiful redwood and satinwood were once bleached out, but now, thanks to the work of Alton Bowman, flower inlays are prominent, and its gold-plated brass mounts gleam.

In 1982, Bowman was commissioned to create two intricately carved, 18-foot doors. Eighteen years later, he was called back to Vineyard Bay to restore his own work.

teacher Chapman Kelley, who recommended that Bowman attend the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the school that produced artist Mary Cassatt and architect Louis I. Kahn. After college, Bowman returned to Dallas and tried to make a living as a painter. But after finding that the art community had a need for furniture conservation, he began his new business. He honed his skills through a workshop sponsored by the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works through the Smithsonian Furniture Conservation Training Program and has also studied various techniques and materials in both Europe and the U.S. Among the tools in his studio are a double boiler that melts hide glue (made from animal skins) and an 18th century–style saw for frames, which he made himself. “It’s a mix of art and technology,” he says. “You’ve got to learn technology of the 18th century.” One-of-a-Kind Originals Bowman also creates his own pieces, including a replica of the oldest chair in the world that the Harvard Semitic Museum has asked to display. In 1982, he crafted two large doors — 18 feet high, 16 feet wide and 8,000 pounds each — for a Lake Travis neighborhood in Austin. It took 14 workers 40,000 hours over the course of two years to carve the intricate grape clusters and vines into the Honduras mahogany. Eighteen years later, Bowman was called back to restore the doors. “You know you’re getting old when you’re [restoring] your own work,” he says. N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 D E N T O N CO U N T Y



Flipping for Coins Argyle resident and Texas Numismatic Association President Richard Laster shares his passion for the hobby. BY ABIGAIL BOATWRIGHT

Not all collectible coins are expensive. You can create a collection with a variety of commonalities, at the level of cost you can afford.


f you’ve ever encountered a penny on the ground and couldn’t help but pick it up to look at it, or enjoyed collecting quarters from all 50 states, you should look into the Texas Numismatic Association (TNA). As a member, you’ll find avid coin collectors, educational opportunities and a chance to gather and discuss all things numismatic — the official term for coins, paper money and tokens. A Hobby for Everyone TNA President Richard Laster’s passion for coins began when his grandfather gave him a handful of old coins on his ninth birthday. “This gift piqued my interest because I had never held anything in my hand of historic importance, which


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was affordable, even to a 9-year-old,” Laster says. That accessibility is one of the things that makes this easy-entry hobby so appealing. Anybody can get involved. You don’t have to have a collection worth lots of money to participate. “Something simple, like making a date collection from pocket change of cents, is low-cost and accessible to everybody,” says Laster, who lives in Argyle. More Than Monetary Value Laster says being a numismatist is not just about collecting. It offers fascinating insights to those who take the time to explore the pastime. He enjoys studying to learn new insights about the coins and broadening his personal horizons.

Photos courtesy of TNA News

Coin enthusiasts (called “numismatists”) can gather at local events, including the Texas Numismatic Association’s annual convention and money show held in Arlington.

Photo courtesy Southland Coins & Collectibles, Inc. of Lake Charles, Louisiana

“One of the basic themes of being numismatic is knowing that value is secondary to interest and educational value,” he says. “Coins and the like provide not only history, but also cultural understanding, beautiful design images, an awareness of the nations of the world, and they are avenues to [learn more about] international and local events, leaders, philosophies, history, religious emphasis and more.” Get Involved The TNA — a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 1960 — focuses on education and fellowship. Its annual convention and money show is held in Arlington and is free for members. Next

This 1894 Morgan Dollar in proof condition is pretty rare. Only 972 were originally minted, hence the $13,950 price tag.

year’s show will be held May 29–31. The organization also publishes a quarterly magazine and supports club meetings throughout the state. Those get-togethers are a great way to share ideas and your passion for specific areas

of collecting. There are three local clubs: the Fort Worth Coin Club, the Dallas Coin Club and the Northeast Tarrant County Coin Club. Laster says all area clubs are open to new folks, and new clubs can be added as

interested collectors desire. For more information on activities in Denton County, visit and the organization’s Facebook page or contact TNA President Richard Laster at tnacfa@

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Peters created the labeling and product design himself and enlisted family members to help produce the beverage by hand, two liters at a time.

Based on the Bubble A graphic designer and art director by trade, and a skater and musician by hobby, Peters knew how important it was to have a memorable name. “Water and pop — everything was based around the bubble,” he says. “People always ask if it has sugar, and I let them know it’s only in the fruit. And it’s real. I wanted to make something that would help people, and that wouldn’t have any negative side effects.”

If It Ain’t Broke… Though production has expanded to another facility, Peters said that the product is still made with the original recipe he invented in his Flower Mound garage. “We hit on it and I haven’t changed it. I’m going to stick with it because I think it’s a good product. It’s the best sparkling water out there and more people need to know.” Today, Aqua Pop is sold in about 40 locations around North Texas, including restaurants such as Freshii and Salata, coffee houses, yoga studios, office locations and select Royal Blue grocery stores. Some bars also stock it, and Peters would like to see more Aqua Pop on tap: “Right out of the bottle or in a keg, you can make a mixed drink with it and only have 64 calories,” he says. “I’d like to keep growing the brand and be anywhere you shop. What I always say is, if a place doesn’t have it, ask for it.”

ob Peters knew his wife, Melissa, needed help; she drank too many sodas. To satisfy her craving for fizz, Rob decided to design a sparkling water drink himself. He headed to the garage, where so many great ideas are born. The result was a Denton County original: Aqua Pop. Using unfiltered water and freshly squeezed juice, coupled with carbonation, the beverage has a taste that Peters refers to as “cleaner,” since it is a natural product that does not require chemicals.

Find out how Aqua Pop founder Rob Peters burst soda’s bubble. BY RACHEL HEDSTROM

Rob Peters (right) created Aqua Pop in his Flower Mound garage. Today, the fizzy drink is sold in about 40 North Texas locations.


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Photo courtesy of Rob Peters


VISIT TEXAS WOMAN’S UNIVERSITY Beyond the classrooms and degree programs, you can explore historical collections, experience art and community events, and stroll through the gardens at the nation’s largest public university primarily for women.



Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

East and West Galleries

Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) Collection

Margo Jones Performance Hall

Redbud Theater Complex

Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection

Dance Studio Theater

Historical Little Chapel-in-the-Woods

Blagg-Huey Library – Women’s, Children’s and Cookbook collections

For more information, visit GARDENS •

Botanical Gardens

Dr. Bettye Myers Butterfly Garden

Redbud Lane


Santa & the Chief Old St. Nick himself and I.E. “Andy” Anderson prepare to deliver a police car full of holiday gifts to Denton County kids in this vintage photo. Anderson served as the city’s chief of police from 1957 to 1964 and as Texas Woman’s University’s chief of police from 1966 to 1970. He was also a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Denton, founding member of the Texas Police Chiefs Association and owner of A&A Burglar Alarm Co. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 82.


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Photo courtesy of Denton Public Library via The Portal to Texas History




hat’s the best part of living or working in Aubrey? No matter who you ask, the answer is the same: “It’s the people, by far,” says Library Director Kathy Ramsey. “I think there’s this pocket of really good people, a little bubble in this part of the county that’s just great, great people,” she says. “They really want good things for themselves and their neighbors.” This growing city — about 12 miles northeast of Denton at the junction of US 377 and FM 428 — already extends


its support and services well beyond its official borders. But its many caretakers are more than up for the challenge. A Big Heart “Aubrey is a dynamic small town with a big heart and room to grow,” says Mayor Janet Meyers. “Our best attribute is our people.” She points out a few of the organizations that embody the city’s big heart: The Aubrey Historical Society was started in 2010 by volunteers who now operate a downtown museum chronicling community history. Keep Aubrey Beautiful provides free summer concerts, promotes

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recycling, picks up trash and puts on the long-running Peanut Festival every October. The Aubrey Education Foundation gives scholarships to teachers and graduating seniors. H.O.P.E., a food and clothing ministry, serves anyone in need every second Sunday. Mayor Meyers also credits the passion and patience of the city of Aubrey staff, board and commission members. “From library, fire and police to water and wastewater, this smart, funny and patient group of professionals has stuck with the city through thick and thin. Their hard work makes all of our lives easier and safer.”

Historical photo courtesy of City of Aubrey

The good people of this fast-growing city help one another — and the surrounding communities. BY DONNA STOKES

Top photo by Jordan Woodard; drawing by A.H. Robbins; bottom photo Creative Commons by Larry D. Moore

Outside the Lines While Ramsey, Meyers and City Administrator Mark Kaiser all speak to the challenges of Aubrey’s recent growth surge, they do so with an appreciation for how surrounding communities are working together, even when the exact lines are still a moving target. “Trying to understand who we really are is a message we’ve been working on,” Kaiser says. “We’re not defined by a postal code or even school district boundaries, but instead a series of boundary agreements with our bordering jurisdictions, which include Denton, Pilot Point, Prosper, Little Elm, Krugerville, etc.” While today’s Aubrey is officially about four square miles, its lines will one day include about 40 square miles as defined by those agreements. The generous city already provides services to much of that larger area — 40-plus square miles of coverage from police, possibly double that for fire, and all of Denton County is welcome to check out a library book. In the past 10 years, the population has nearly doubled from 2,595 in 2010 to an expected 5,000 by 2020, according to Kaiser. And 2,200 of those residents have been added in the last five years. That rate of growth is expected to continue for another five years. Though most growth has been residential, Kaiser says Aubrey’s expanding labor pool is also drawing interest from employers, including an out-of-state manufacturer that has recently expressed interest in the area. “Hopefully, this is the first of several facilities we’ll attract,” he says. Kaiser is aware that “we’re a small piece of the growth of Denton County. We’re proud to be a part of Texas and Denton County, and we feel geographically blessed that we are being given the stewardship of this area. It’s our goal to work with everyone around us to provide that critical balance of culture and growth in a cost-effective and authentic way.”

The Aubrey library, which opened in 2006, hosts many community groups every week and is a great place to research jobs, geneology or Denton County history.

This drawing (above) is of the original library. The building is now home to city hall (below).

Ponies and Peanuts Aubrey was founded in 1867. The name “Aubrey” was drawn out of a hat for the town’s post office application, replacing its original name, Onega. N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 D E N T O N CO U N T Y


Photos courtesy of City of Aubrey

The Aubrey Peanut Festival is in its 34th year. The popular event celebrates both peanuts and the spirit of neighbors working together for the greater good.

In the 1940s, peanut crops began to replace cotton as a key part of Aubrey’s agricultural economy. “When it came time to harvest the peanuts, the people of Aubrey and the surrounding communities traveled from field to field, working together,” according to a historical blog by Denton County History and Culture. Aubrey’s peanut-drying mill still represents that heritage, and a new elementary school has even borrowed some of its architectural details as a nod to the city’s agricultural past. The Aubrey Peanut Festival in October, now in its 34th year, celebrates the continuing spirit of neighbors working together for the greater good. Appropriately, this year’s theme was “Love, Peace and Peanuts,” “Our citizens, we’re all good country folk,” Kaiser says. “I grew up farming a lot of this area… I’ve seen it go from the two-lane farm-to-market country roads to what it is today.” Starting in the 1980s, many peanut farms were sold to ranchers or horse facilities. “We are very conscientious that this has long been known as horse country, and we take great pride and want to preserve as much of that as possible,” Kaiser says. Aubrey is home to racehorse breeders, horse trainers, therapy facilities, rodeo grounds and ranches that have been passed along for generations. A recent Texas Highways article dubs the area “a


true equine mecca” and shares details of the hundreds of local horse facilities, including the 80-acre Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses ranch, which is part of a six-hour tourist bus tour of the “horse epicenter of the Lone Star State.” Kaiser adds, “We want to find ways to support those operations and allow them to continue to grow and prosper and expand.” Favorite Places “The Aubrey area is meeting the growth in a very thoughtful and supportive way,” says Ramsey, noting that the library first opened downtown in 1986 as a place for neighbors to gather. A new location opened in 2006, and today, the 14,000-square-foot library and community center holds daily events such as children’s book readings, yoga, senior citizens’ exercise classes, book clubs, therapy dog visits and even a Pokemon club. It is also, of course, popular with readers — with 200 new library cards issued in three months this summer. “We are the library for everyone,” Ramsey says. “The nice thing is that, back in the ’80s and then again in early 2000s, when they were planning this new library, nobody had an idea of city boundaries. The whole farming community came together to build a library, and they started the Aubrey Peanut Festival to support the library, with a pony auctioned off in one of the first festivals.”

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The library ran the festival for 20 years then passed it to Keep Aubrey Beautiful. Aubrey residents Matthew and Stephanie Joyce found the city five years ago when they moved from Missouri. Matthew appreciates the neighborly vibe of those they bump into at favorite restaurants such as World Famous Mom’s, Ernesto’s for Mexican flavor and Bebo’s and Kathy’s Café for barbecue and occasional live music. “Complete strangers talk to you at dinner like family,” he says. “People will pull over and help you with a flat tire, and they’ll go out of their way to open doors for others.” The Joyces and their two young kids are also big fans of Team Family Farms, an event venue that hosts fall activities like a spooky trail, hay maze and pumpkin picking and offers year-round feed-the-animals field trips for the kids to help them keep in touch with rural farm culture. If there weren’t enough reasons to love this endearing town, Mayor Meyers offers a reminder that Aubrey is about 15 minutes from a boat dock on either Lake Ray Roberts or Lake Lewisville. “In the summer, it’s possible to come home from work, hook up the boat and spend time fishing or skiing before dark,” she says. “If you’d rather hike, ride horses or canoe, the greenbelt is just six miles west. Aubrey is a great place to call home!”

Experience the Difference the Right Agent Can Make in Denton and Beyond Shelley Davis, Manager, Ebby’s Denton Office | 940-891-3229 |

Andrea Bedell 903-517-9452

Laura Brewer 940-367-0329

Kristen Caswell 940-391-9654

Yolanda Cervantes 817-707-5219

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Shelley Davis 972-342-8376

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Brenda Pagel 940-727-8432

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Kathleen Simmons 940-395-3394

Kathy Stockdale 940-395-1703 Š2018 Equal Housing Opportunity


o ll He

You can’t buy flowers at Hello Daffodil, but you can get fashionable apparel, gifts and a wonderful shopping experience. BY ABIGAIL BOATWRIGHT

l i d o ff Da


Online customer reviews of Hello Daffodil consistently mention the friendliness and helpfulness of owner Jennifer Purifoy.


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Dreams Come True Both Purifoy and her husband, David, were born and raised in the Flower Mound area. While their two sons, Kelton, 10, and Cort, 8, were small, Purifoy began dreaming of owning her own boutique. “I have this notebook in which I would draw layouts of different stores, with potential names. It’s just always been a dream of mine,” Purifoy says. “So when our two boys were both in school, I started [the business] out of my house. Every week I would have my girlfriends come over, and we would have a mimosa party and shop.” The Purifoys, who now live in Argyle, started looking to open a brick-andmortar store near home. In 2016, they opened up their whimsical location in the up-and-coming Lakeside area. “Our hearts led us to wanting to be back in Flower Mound, supporting this community,” Purifoy says. “We love the community and the people, and we have such great support around here.”

Photos courtesy of Hello Daffodil

ocated in Flower Mound’s Lakeside community, Hello Daffodil is a breath of fresh air for shoppers looking for a sweet gift or a stylish outfit — and that’s just what founder Jennifer Purifoy hoped for when she launched her business in 2016.

When it came to selecting a name for her store, Purifoy had specific goals. “I wanted something inviting, but I didn’t want ‘boutique’ anywhere in the name,” she says. “Which kind of backfired because people think I am a flower shop, and I’m not. But ‘hello’ felt inviting. I was born in March, and I love, love, love flowers. The daffodil is the March birth month flower.” The meaning behind daffodils also spoke to Purifoy. “‘Daffodil’ means ‘a new beginning.’ This was a new beginning for me, so Hello Daffodil is where I landed.” Bright & Bohemian Purifoy considers Hello Daffodil a labor of love. “Hello Daffodil is literally like my third baby. It’s my girl that I never got,” Purifoy jokes. And the love is paying off. Each year since opening, Hello Daffodil has been named Best of Denton County Women’s Clothing Store. This year, they also were voted Best Fashion Accessories as well. The store doesn’t limit its inventory to selections that will appeal to just one segment of the population. There are items for a variety of age ranges and even for men. The common thread is that everything reflects Purifoy’s personal style and aesthetic. “People will walk in the store and ask me if I’m from the West Coast. I love color. I love prints. I really have a bohemian vibe in here. I will only carry the brands that I absolutely love and I know will hold up — things people can wear over and over again.” Some of these brands include California-cool Show Me Your Mumu, beach-chic Amuse Society and Dallas-based brands Blank Page Clothing Company and Buddy Love. One of the shop’s most popular lines is Amber Essential Oils, which can replace your perfume with the natural elements of essential oils. “We have some fantastic jewelry,” Purifoy says. “We have great candles. Spa product, facial products, lotions — one based out of McKinney, Texas, and another from France. Clothing-wise, I try to buy for everyone.”

“Our hearts led us to wanting to be back in Flower Mound, supporting this community.” Everything in the store reflects owner Jennifer Purifoy’s personal style, which trends colorful and bohemian.

Providing an Experience Finding just the right item for each customer brings Purifoy a lot of joy. “I have women come in here and say ‘Oh, I’ll have to bring my daughter back.’ But I like to pull things just for them. They go try them on and come back and say, ‘I never would have picked this for myself and I love it.’ I enjoy picking outfits and things for people and helping them think out of the box.” Purifoy also features local artists in the store and takes pride in offering American-made products. “Pretty much everything in here is made in the USA, and all of our jewelry is locally made,” she says. “A lot of our items are connected to giving back to nonprofits and other causes.”

More than simply providing attractive clothing and products, Purifoy wants to offer a positive experience to each customer she serves. “I want customers to feel welcomed and loved and know that they have a friend in us for life,” she says. “I’m not a pushy salesperson; I am more about making connections and friendships. When people walk in, I greet them with water, wine or champagne. I want people to have fun shopping and feel loved and special.” Hello Daffodil 2451 Lakeside Parkway, #140, Flower Mound 469-464-4339 Web: Instagram: @hellodaffodilboutique

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Anton’s African Cuisine is a new Roanoke restaurant that brings authentic South African flavors to North Texas. BY ELLEN RITSCHER SACKETT


here’s nothing fancy about Anton’s African Cuisine. Diners come for the food and the fellowship. The mom-and-pop restaurant in Roanoke Center was opened last June by Anton and Nicole van Vuuren, who wanted to bring little-known South African gastronomy to North Texas. As Authentic as It Gets “How many times have you said, ‘Why don’t we try someplace different?’?” asks Justin resident Karen Hicks, who

Photos courtesy of Anton’s African Cuisine

South African-born Anton van Vurren brings his homestyle native cuisine to Roanoke.


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Standout Dishes

There are no shortcuts. There’s no easy way. There’s only the right way. enjoyed her first visit to Anton’s so much that she returned the next day. “This is authentic South African food,” says Mignon Hobbs, originally from Capetown, South Africa. She and husband, Craig, drive to Anton’s from North Fort Worth at least once a week. “This is not the taste that you would get in a restaurant; this is what you would get at home — like what my grandmother would make.” Glass display cases are filled with items that are familiar to South Africans — but not to most Americans — things like bobotie, vetkoek, rusks, melkterts, ystervarkies and meat pies. The meat pies are a South African favorite. Each flavor of the savory pastries is distinguished by its own symbol carved into the dough. Anton’s currently offers six varieties: meatball, Cornish, beef and mushroom, bobotie (meatloaf with curry, chutney and raisins), lamb curry and chicken and mushrooms. While most of the restaurant’s recipes are Anton’s own, melktert (milk tart) is an exception. This dessert, topped with a dusting of cinnamon, was originally a recipe from Anton’s grandmother’s grandmother and is available with or without the crust. Nearly everything is house-made daily, including the fried bread. Diners can customize most dishes by adding cheese, bacon, meatballs, mince, lamb curry, eggs or butter and preserves. Specials are available on weekends. No Shortcuts It’s easy to spot Anton, a tall South African with a salt-and-pepper crew cut and tattooed arms, darting in and out of the kitchen. He towers above his Texas-born wife, Nicole, whose blazing red hair is matched by her vivacious personality.

Nicole is often there when she’s not working as a full-time nurse manager at Texas Health Presbyterian. They are a team in constant motion, first-time restaurateurs raising two young children with another on the way. “The food is completely different from anything here,” says Nicole, the enthusiastic force behind the enterprise. “I thought maybe this would work. We live here in Roanoke — the dining capital, you know? Let’s try it. Let’s see.” “In South Africa, I always used to have parties,” says Anton, who came to the U.S. in 2015 with his IT company, a business he subsequently sold. “My friends would come to my house and hand me their meat. I’d barbecue and make all the dishes.” He became serious about cooking two and a half years ago, just for himself. He went through cookbooks with proper South African recipes and “knocked all the fancy stuff out of them.” He started with the common, basic ingredients and then tweaked the recipes, converting volume measurements to weight down to the quarter-gram. “You have to weigh the ingredients exactly,” Anton says. “It’s got to be spot on.” Once the couple leased the Roanoke space, Anton realized he would need to adapt his recipes for scale. “It’s much different cooking at home than cooking commercially,” he says. Oven temperatures, durations and leveling agents change with increased quantities, but he wanted to ensure the dishes were always consistent. “There are no shortcuts. There’s no easy way. There’s only the right way,” he says. He carefully priced ingredients, noting the expense of producing quality food versus keeping price points reasonable.

Biltong This popular South African snack is similar to American beef jerky. It can be eaten “wet,” “medium” or “dry,” depending on how long it has air-dried. Anton’s African Cuisine sells its house-made version by the quarter-pound.

Banana Bread It’s taken years for Anton to perfect his banana bread recipe. The final result uses lots of bananas and very little sugar and is available in miniloaves or mini-bites. The five varieties include plain banana, banana-carrot, banana-pecan, banana-chocolate and banana-chocolate chip.

Rusks Anton makes two types of rusks: buttermilk and buttermilk with raisins. They are similar to biscotti but softer and not as dense, and South Africans often pair them with Moer coffee or Rooibos tea.

Breakfast Vetkoek “You won’t easily find this anywhere else but here,” says Anton, who makes both a baked and lightly fried version of the bread, which is almost the texture of a raised doughnut. The dish includes eggs and cheese with thick-cut bacon, mince or meatballs.

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“Remember, I’ve never been involved in restaurants before, but I’ve been in business for a while.”

The husband-and-wife team have cultivated a culture of family for local South Africans.

A Home Away From Home It hasn’t taken long for South Africans to discover Anton’s. Since the restaurant opened its doors, people from all over the region have ventured in, including some who had previously only connected with one another online. Mignon and Craig, for example, are two patrons who found Anton’s African Cuisine through a Facebook group for South Africans living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. On Saturdays, fans of rugby — a popular South African sport — can come watch games, including the recent World Cup, on the 75-inch TV in the restaurant. A young man from Waxahachie brought in an au pair who recently left her South African home to live and

work in Frisco. She happily spoke Afrikaans, her native tongue, with Anton before they left — with a promise that they’d be back. “There’s a larger community than either of us knew,” Nicole says. “This is meant to be family. A coming-home place.” Anton begins his day at 2:30 a.m. and typically puts in 16 hours. “There’s so much work in the beginning,” he says. “You have to sacrifice everything to get it off the ground.” But as the word of his new restaurant spreads, he says, “It’s getting busier and busier.” Excited by the buzz, he invites curious diners to give his South African cuisine a try. “Come, eat!” he says. “Enjoy!” Anton’s African Cuisine 610 Byron Nelson Blvd, Suite 109, Roanoke Center, Roanoke 682-237-2330

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World TO THE

(and Especially North Texas) The holidays are a time for family, goodwill and joy. Turn the page to see some of the things that make Denton County an especially joyful place at this time of year: kind-hearted charities, dazzling light displays, hand-crafted gifts, wassailing traditions, locally grown Christmas trees and much more. BY WENDY ANGEL, JESSICA DELEÓN, MARY DUNKLIN, TORI FALCON, NICOLE FOSTER, RACHEL HEDSTROM, ELLEN RITSCHER SACKETT, LESLIE J. THOMPSON, KIMBERLY TURNER

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enton County knows how to do Christmas. Residents and organizations prove it every year with jubilant holiday festivals, photoshoots with the Clauses and so many shining lights that we give the Griswolds some lofty competition.

Here are some of the best and brightest places to experience the season’s wonderment: The Colony The Colony’s Parks and Recreation Department shines especially bright this time of year. Its annual Holiday in the Park will be held December 7

Gift of Lights at the Texas Motor Speedway


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at Perryman Park. It starts with beloved Christmas music, holiday games, rides and — dig out your cookie cutters — a baking contest. But when the sun goes down, the lights come out. The Parade of Lights begins at 5:45 p.m. Entrants vie for prizes by showcasing their

most colorful lights and exceptional holiday spirit. The Christmas Spectacular — a nightly light show choreographed to music that runs throughout the month — also kicks off December 7 at Central Fire Station. Texas Motor Speedway Gift of Lights definitely outshines your home holiday décor. The annual fundraiser is comprised of 3 million lights and takes over the Texas Motor Speedway for a month leading up to Christmas. Visitors drive along the track, following a 2.3-mile path that travels under the bleachers and stands, through a giant, luminous Christmas tree and past twinkling themes such as Under the Sea, Toy Land and Reindeer Flight School. The fun continues well after you’ve completed the 35-minute drive. “You finish at the end field, where we have Santa’s Village set up for an out-of-car experience,” says Monica McCue, marketing

Photo courtesy of Gift of Lights

Looking for the best spots in Denton County for spectacular holiday lights? These wondrous displays don’t disappoint.

Photos by Greg McClendon Photography

The Colony's Holiday in the Park and Parade of Lights

director for Gift of Lights. “We have an ice rink with skates in every size, a mini train ride, and Santa will be there until Christmas Eve, along with Olaf and the Grinch.” Gift of Lights is hosted each year by Zenith Roofing Services and Christmas by Zenith. A portion from every ticket sold is donated to Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, Christmas Wish, Scottish Rite Hospital, Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association and Speedway Children’s Charities. Contributions also come from items purchased in the gift shop. The team has to wait until the speedway’s last race is over in November to begin setting up, so it takes a crew of 15 people, working 14 hours a day, seven days a week, to complete the spectacle of nearly 30 displays. McCue says they strive for a wow factor every Christmas. “One of the things people like is that it’s not just Christmas. We have dinosaurs, fire trucks, racecars and a 10-foothigh Fort Worth Police Department badge with a panther on top. We added a boat with fish and lobsters to Under the Sea.” The famous 8-foot polar bear will be present and ready for everyone’s Instagram moments. And as long as they’re leashed, pets are welcome along for the ride. “We encourage bringing your four-legged children,” says

McCue. “They get a treat from Santa just like the kids.” Entrance to Gift of Lights starts at $30 per car, and the event runs from November 28 through January 5. Little Elm Pack up the sleigh and head to Little Elm Park on December 7 for the first day of Christmas at the Beach. Be dazzled by the light parade followed by the official tree lighting at 7 p.m. Then, to make the night even brighter, a grand fireworks display will illuminate the sky, ensuring St. Nick knows just where to find all the good boys and girls on Christmas Eve. Visit Santa Land in the park any day in December to meet elves and see their decorated houses. There’s also music, hot chocolate, train rides and s’mores on the beach. Perhaps the most special treat of all, though, are the live reindeer that will visit on December 8.

was introduced last winter. Though it’s smaller than its magnificent predecessor, the holly tree can grow as much as three feet each year, so be sure to celebrate its progress every year. A bigger tree means more lights! Your Neighborhood These holiday events are spectacular, but chances are your neighborhood has some pretty impressive lighting and décor too. When the Christmas spirit hits, overzealous husbands everywhere prop up their ladders, arrange lawn displays and begin stringing bulbs from shrub to chimney.

There are countless hidden gems throughout the county, but for a guaranteed show, coast through these notoriously lit up neighborhoods: Forrestridge Estates, Southridge Estates and Oak Hickory Historic District in Denton and Norwood in Corinth. Though technically over the county line, Plano’s Deerfield neighborhood is known for its bright displays of Christmas cheer, and historic downtown Grapevine’s lights are just one of 1,400 events that make the city the official Christmas Capital of Texas and draw more than a million visitors a year.

Denton You won’t need the beam of Rudolph’s bright red nose to find downtown Denton this season. The 31st Annual Holiday Lighting Festival takes place December 6 in the town’s Historic Square. You can expect the courthouse’s trees to be radiating a jolly glow, a Christmas carol sing-along with the Denton Community Band, and the lighting of the new Nellie R. Stevens tree, which N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 D E N T O N CO U N T Y


F O O D, FA M I LY, FRIENDS ’Tis the season to cook for the fam, so we asked local restaurants to give us recipes that are sure to keep the whole house happy. COMPILED BY ELLEN RITSCHER SACKETT

Chestnut Tree Chocolate Cream Pie From The Chestnut Tree in Denton This gorgeous pie makes any day festive.


Ingredients 1 cup sugar 2 cups milk, separated 3 Tbsp. cornstarch 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 4 egg yolks 2 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 tsp. vanilla 1 Tbsp. cold butter 2 cups heavy cream ¼ cup powdered sugar Plus the ingredients for your favorite pie crust recipe. Instructions Make the Filling 1. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1 cup milk, cornstarch and flour. Set aside. 2. Place chocolate chips in separate bowl, reserve for the end. 3. Place 4-quart pot over medium-high heat, whisk remaining milk with sugar. Stirring constantly, allow to come to a low boil so that the sugar dissolves. Turn off heat. 4. Gradually incorporate egg mixture into the pot. This allows the eggs to temper without cooking. 5. Once fully mixed, return


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heat to medium-high. Whisk constantly for 8 to 10 minutes or until thick. Once mixture is thick, turn off heat. 6. Take hot custard and whisk into reserved chocolate chips. Stir constantly until smooth. 7. Once smooth, stir in butter. Place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to chill. Make the Crust 1. While filling is cooling, cook pie crust according to instructions. 2. Allow to cool once fully cooked. Make the Whipped Cream 1. In a mixing bowl, combine whipping cream and powdered sugar. 2. Mix until cream is fully whipped and luxurious. Assemble 1. Place chilled filling in cooled pie crust. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on whipped cream. 2. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Photo by Abigail Messerli


Pepper Jelly Sausage Bites From World Famous Mom’s in Aubrey A great holiday recipe to have on hand when you receive your pepper jelly Christmas present:

Photos courtesy of World Famous Mom's and Loco Cafe

Ingredients ½ cup pepper jelly 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger 1 tsp. honey 2 tsp. olive oil 1 16-oz. package smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch slices Instructions 1. In a medium bowl, whisk together pepper jelly, ginger and honey.

2. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. 3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to pepper jelly mixture and toss to coat. 4. Serve with picks to spear sausage bites!

Loco Breakfast Nachos From Loco Café in Denton The perfect Tex-Mex breakfast when you have a lot of mouths to feed. Ingredients ½ lb. chorizo Oil, for cooking 4 eggs 4 large handfuls of tortilla chips (enough to cover a baking pan) 1 can black beans, drained ½ lb. shredded cheese (a mix of Monterey jack and cheddar works best) 1 avocado Pico de gallo (store-bought or use the recipe below) Sour cream, for serving For Pico de Gallo (or use store-bought) 1 lb. tomatoes (3-4 medium), diced 1 cup onion, chopped 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced ½ cup cilantro, chopped 2 Tbsp. lime juice 1 cup pineapple, diced ½ tsp. salt, or to taste

Instructions Make Pico de Gallo 1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir. Make the Nachos 1. Heat a skillet on medium heat with a bit of oil in it. Add the chorizo and cook until done. 1. Transfer cooked chorizo to a bowl and set aside. 2. Add a bit more oil to the pan, add the eggs and scramble them. 3. Heat the broiler. Arrange the tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Top with half the cheese then scrambled eggs, black beans, chorizo and the remaining cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted. 4. Remove from the oven and top with sliced avocado, pico de gallo and sour cream.

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Turkey Potpie From Tierney’s Café & Tavern in Lewisville Use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey in this delicious potpie. Instructions Make the Homemade Crust 1. In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour with salt. 2. Using a pastry cutter, cut the vegetable shortening and cold butter into the flour mixture until the butter and shortening are the size of small peas. 3. Sprinkle on cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and gently gather the moistened dough together with a fork until it just begins to clean flour from the side of the bowl. 4. Separate the dough into two equal-size pieces, form into rounds and refrigerate until needed. Tip: Do not overhandle the dough. This will make it tough instead of flaky. Keep dough ingredients cold.

Make the Filling 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, corn, carrots and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent, about 2 minutes. 3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. 4. Gradually whisk in chicken broth, milk and thyme, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1–2 minutes. 5. Stir in turkey. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 6. Roll out one dough piece on a floured work surface to a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Fit the crust into a 10-inch pie dish. Pour the filling into the crust.

7. Roll out the second crust into an 11-inch circle, lay it on top of the filling, then pinch and fold the two crusts together at the edges to seal. Cut five slits into the top crust to vent steam. 8. Brush crust with the beaten egg. 9. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for 15 minutes; lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 25 more minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Photo courtesy of Tierney's Cafe & Tavern

Ingredients 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. salt 7 Tbsp. cold vegetable shortening 6 Tbsp. cold butter 6 Tbsp. cold water, or as needed 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small onion, diced ⅔ cup frozen corn kernels ½ cup frozen diced carrots ½ cup frozen peas ⅓ cup all-purpose flour 1 cup chicken broth ¾ cup milk 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 cups leftover Thanksgiving turkey, chopped 1 homemade pie dough (or puff pastry to save time) 1 large egg, beaten


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Classic Sliders From Craft & Vine in Roanoke December isn’t just about holidays; it’s also about sports. Get these sliders going just in time for Bowl season.

Photo by Matt Nystrom

Ingredients 8 brioche slider buns 14 oz. ground angus beef 8 slices Swiss cheese 2 oz. caramelized onions 4 oz. caper aioli Salt & pepper ½ cup mayo ¼ cup capers, chopped 1 shallot, minced 1 onion, sliced 2 Tbsp. butter

Instructions Make the Caper Aioli 1. Place the mayo, capers and shallots in a small mixing bowl and mix until combined. Reserve. Make the Carmelized Onions 1. Place a sauté pan over high heat and add butter. 2. Add onions and lower to medium heat. Add a pinch salt and let cook for 5–8 minutes until golden. 3. Remove from heat and reserve.

Make the Sliders 1. Preheat the grill or griddle. 2. Form eight 1.75-oz. patties. 3. Salt and pepper the patties and cook for 1½ minutes on each side. 4. Place ¼ oz. caramelized onions and a slice of Swiss cheese on each patty to melt. 5. Butter the slider buns, toast and hold on plate. 6. Add ¼ oz. caper aioli on each side of the bun. 7. Place patty on bun and enjoy!

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Wildflower Art Studio and Urban Craft Co. can help you create one-of-a-kind holiday gifts — even if you’re not artistically inclined. BY JESSICA DELEÓN

Wildflower Art Studio owner Emile Stewart


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hobby but left with so much more — including inspiration to eventually start her own card business. “She felt like she found herself again, a self that she had missed a lot,” Stewart says. “It was a very special moment, reading the card.” Wildflower and another business, Urban Craft Co.

in Flower Mound, share the same mission: To help anyone — even those who think they have no artistic abilities — find their creative spark. This holiday season, they encourage you to be creative with your gift-giving by creating a hand-made piece that’s uniquely you. Urban Craft Co. Walk into Urban Craft Co. in Flower Mound with your own bottle of wine, a relaxed attitude and the desire to create something new and you’ll have an amazing time. “Our environment is very comfortable,” owner Kimberly Goetchius says. “You know when you walk in, you can make a mess.” In addition to a mess, you can make some memorable holiday gifts for friends and family — canvases, wood signs, metal designs, pillow art, doormats, blankets, shelves and holiday ornaments — and personalize them with a name, favorite quote, favorite sports team, college or whatever else will make your loved one smile.

Photos courtesy of Wildflower Art Studio


ast year, Wildflower Art Studio owner Emile Stewart received one of the best gifts she’d ever received: a card. The front featured a colorful watercolor background with a hand-lettered quote. Inside, a former student explained that she came to Stewart’s workshops to learn a new

You don't need artistic talent or previous experience to create a crafty gift in one of Wildflower's classes.

Goetchius began crafting in her 20s, making wreaths for weddings, Halloween and Christmas. She ran online businesses for scrapbooking and wreaths, then quit her corporate job to open Urban Craft Co. in May. She loves the flow that crafting brings and wanted others to experience that feeling. “You don’t have to think about anything else. You get into that vibe, and you don’t get out of it. And all of a sudden, you made something.” For the holidays, customers can host parties at the store or attend various workshops, including a November 16 event for children that will feature the Grinch. Customers know that they’re making a gift out of love, Goetchius says. “I don’t mind when I get a store-bought gift, but if somebody is making it homemade, they spent hours on it. It’s something more. It’s something special.” Wildflower Art Studio In fourth grade, Stewart sold handmade greeting cards in her grandmother’s antique store, and she has been an artist ever since. Eventually, she

made art her career, teaching the subject in Northwest ISD until she gave birth to her first son in 2013. Before long, she missed teaching, so she began conducting watercolor and calligraphy workshops at her dining room table in Denton. Two years ago, she opened Wildflower Art Studio and moved the workshops there. This holiday season, give a gift that showcases your own creativity. Visit Wildflower’s print-making workshop to hand-carve a stamp you can use for greeting cards, tote bags or wall hangings. Try the hand-lettering workshop

to make your own holiday cards, gift tags and wall art. Or create original art at a watercolor session. You can also learn hand-lettering, calligraphy, brush calligraphy or watercolor with Wildflower’s kits, which include an instruction booklet and supplies for about five projects. Stewart has sold 35,000 kits online so far. She encourages you to take your time with projects. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you can just take one little step of bravery, you may surprise yourself. It takes time and it takes embracing the beauty of imperfection.”

Want to create your own holiday gifts? Wildflower Art Studio's Emile Stewart offers these tips: Start slow. Try it once a week or a month. Need an idea? Give a chalkboard with hand-lettering that says “’Tis the Season” or “Countdown to Christmas.” Hand-letter holiday cards and gift tags. You don’t have to give away the first piece you make, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. “We take little brave risks on paper, and we take little brave risks in life, and that helps us make our lives more full,” she says.

Create your own cards with your new hand-lettering skills.

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2019Guide HOLIDAY


It can be a challenge to find unique gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. But don’t fret or head to Amazon. We’ve got you covered with unique items from retailers right here in Denton County. BY WENDY ANGEL AND KIMBERLY TURNER

Customized Penny J ewelry

Local Pecans and Butters

Texas General Store Price: $6–$12 Buy it for: Clients, coworkers or holiday party hosts  Pecans are quintessentially Texan, and the robust flavors of these seasoned delights are sure to warm up any holiday gathering. Texas General Store’s line of locally made pecans comes in a variety of surprising flavors, from jalapeño to Grand Marnier. Butters are also available, including chocolate peanut butter and pecan honey butters with praline and amaretto flavors. Pick some up for your own holiday baking needs while you’re at it.


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Sleeping Lizzards Price: Necklaces, $8; Earrings, $15 or $18; Charms, $5 Buy it for: A loved one who could use some luck  Local artist and silversmith Beth Klein takes vintage copper pennies and turns them into wearable one-of-a-kind art that could be your love one’s next good-luck charm. Pick a year to commemorate a birthday, wedding anniversary or other special occasion, and then select a design that will be created with enamel on the “tail” side of the penny. That lucky little piece of art is then turned into a necklace, earrings or a stand-alone charm. Klein has tons of colors and more than 50 designs to choose from: Texas, flowers, horseshoes, animals, musical notes, feathers, yoga, arrows and more. Want a custom design? You can do that too. “Anything I can fit on a penny, I can make a stencil out of,” says Klein.

Hand-Printed Art

DIME Store Price: $50 to $75 Buy it for: Your favorite art lover  The art connoisseur on your list will adore these linocut prints from the Denton Independent Maker Exchange (DIME) Store. Beautifully and artfully designed by one of Denton’s most talented local artists, Anna Tovar, the blocks are hand-cut and then used to hand-print each piece on 18” x 24” fine art paper. Many of the modern classic-style prints are inspired by nature, and because they are available in a variety of colors and designs, they can blend in with most décor. For an extra touch, DIME Store has in-store framing options and free holiday gift-wrapping.

Collectible Book

Recycled Books, Records & CDs Price: First editions and signed copies range from $10 to $10,000 Buy it for: The bibliophile or collector in your life  Recycled Books, Records & CDs has something for everyone on your list, but only serious bibliophiles will truly appreciate the $10,000 first-edition Charles Darwin volume from 1844 or the $1,400 signed copy of The Bounty Hunters by Elmore Leonard. If you’re on more of a budget, you can score a first-edition Ernest Hemingway or Washington Irving for $70.

Pura Vida J ewelry

La Di Da Price: $6 to $20 Buy it for: A friend with a warm heart  Give the gift of beautiful jewelry and support one of the more than 800 artisans that Pura Vida employs around the world in countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador and India. The artists receive steady income, and your loved one gets a handcrafted bracelet, anklet, ring or necklace. Pura Vida also has a Charity Collection that allows you to buy bracelets that give proceeds toward a specific cause, from saving the oceans to fighting colon cancer. The jewelry ranges from braided or wax-coated thread bracelets and anklets to turquoise beaded or stamped bar silver necklaces and rhodium-plated stamped rings.

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Green Box Art Line

Flowergarden 118 Price: $12.99 to $34.99 Buy it for: That friend with an eye for design  Who doesn’t want a Christmas llama? Flowergarden 118, a local veteran- and family-owned boutique, carries a variety of pieces from Green Box Art. This fun line prints colorful, often whimsical designs on canvases and household items such as tea towels, trays, cutting boards, mugs, plates, place mats and more. The gicleeprinted canvases come in several sizes, and the designs, which are created by a variety of artists, are diverse enough that you’ll find something for any age and taste! For a personal touch, a bio of the artist is included with each piece. “These products make great gifts, as they are of high quality, creative and functional and add an artistic element to your life,” says Cindy Simmons, Flowergarden 118 owner and lifelong Denton resident.

Hand-Poured Custom Candles

Texas Pride Gift Box

Sterling Crate Gifts Price: $50 Buy it for: Your favorite Texan  Sterling Crate Gifts specializes in custom, personalized gift baskets. So whether you’re buying for your brother who is a barbecue lover, your mom who could use a spa day, a boyfriend who’d love one of their “Man-unition Crates” or your best friend who is obsessed with a particular TV show, you’ll find a great curated offering at Sterling’s new brick-and-mortar storefront at 1811 Bolivar Street. Build your own basket with the store’s many offerings, or have a helpful employee put one together for you. This fun Texas-themed basket is $50. Prices vary on others.


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Casey & Co. Boutique Price: $1 per ounce, with discounts over 30 ounces Buy it for: Family members  Have a sentimental bowl, jar or other container that’s been in the family that you don’t know what to do with? Casey & Co. Boutique in Aubrey has the answer: their handpoured soy candles with premium cotton, braided wicks. “You can pour a candle in it and make use of it. You not only get to enjoy seeing it every day, but [also get] the lovely smell of the candle,” says Marisa Stover, owner. Bring in the container and pick one of the 32 essential-oil scents to make a custom, unique gift that your family will treasure. Choose from aromas such as leather, crème brulee, clean cotton, pineapple cilantro, coconut bourbon and more. These could make wonderful Thanksgiving centerpieces as well.

Silicone Wine Glass

Roanoke Trading Company/Denton Trading Company Price: $9 Buy it for: Wine aficionados  With cheeky messages like “Mom Juice” and “Cheaper Than Therapy,” these colorful silicone wine glasses are sure to delight your mom friends and wine lovers. The glasses are stain-resistant, dishwasher-safe and shatterproof — perfect for the beach and around the pool. A variety of colors and printed messages are available to perfectly suit with your recipient’s personality and tastes. Pair this up with her favorite beverage, and you have a winning and “tasteful” gift. Buying for someone who’s not a wine lover? Roanoke and Denton Trading Company locations have you covered for that too. From inspirational signs to home décor to several lines of jewelry made locally in the DFW area, you’ll find something for everyone on your list at these cute local stops.

Denton Sweater

Norman Roscoe Price: $25 Buy it for: Someone with hometown pride  This holiday sweatshirt is so cute, it’s disqualified from being worn to any ugly sweater parties your recipient might have planned, but they’ll still love it. Soft, cozy and brimming with charm, this one can also be purchased as a long-sleeve tee ($22.50). Denton’s “friendly neighborhood screenprinter” also has several other local-themed designs available and can, of course, print runs of custom designs.

Team Plaque

Gypsy Cowgirl Price: $29.99 Buy it for: Sports fans, members of the armed services, police or fire departments  Gypsy Cowgirl in downtown Sanger has charming plaques featuring more than 170 different universities, local schools and professional sports teams as well as plaques for police and fire departments and the armed services. Grab one for a high schooler with spirit, UNT or TWU grad, veteran or all of the above because they are buy four, get one free. While you’re there, check out Gypsy Cowgirl’s fun selection of women’s clothing and shoes, jewelry, local art, handbags and more.

Lavender & Rose Everything Oil

Salted Sanctuary Soap Price: $25 at Vintage Bleu Home, $28 online Buy it for: Significant others (including bearded ones!)  Treat your loved ones to this beauty product that’s as yummy to smell as it is useful, as the name implies. Use it as a face serum, body lotion, massage oil or even as a beard softener. A lot of lotions are made mostly of water, but this luxurious product contains all-natural skin-loving ingredients like almond oil, apricot oil, carrot seed extract, vitamin E oil and lavender and rose essential oils. It comes in a 9-ounce bottle with a dropper.

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Santa Claus?I

How one Denton County Santa keeps the magic of the season alive BY MARY DUNKLIN

Being Santa comes naturally to Santa Mac, who has taken on the role since 2013.


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f you see a jolly man in Denton County with a white beard and self-described round belly, it’s probably a holiday helper who goes by the name Santa Mac. His distinguished look makes people of all ages take a second look all year long. “Being Santa is not something I read about or practiced,” he says. “It was the natural progression after 15 seasons on the road as a children’s theater actor. Being Santa is a gift.” Santa Mac realized his gift after playing Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street for Denton Community Theatre in December 2013. Being Santa came naturally to him, and now he greets the young and young at heart at family parties, corporate events and community gatherings throughout the holiday season. The curious questions from kids about details of his life, the reindeer and what it's like to live at the North Pole don’t bother him. He’s comfortable communicating with kids on their level. “It’s mostly about being in the moment in front of the child,” he says.

This skill is helpful because Santa Mac is also a middle school substitute teacher for the Lewisville Independent School District. His work with children “isn’t something I take out of the box at Thanksgiving.” He acknowledges the celebrity status of the Jolly Old Elf, but prefers to redirect the focus to others. “I believe the magic of Santa lives in the heart of the child, not in the efforts of adults,” he says. “My goal is to present an authentic, traditional Santa Claus and then to follow the child’s imagination where it will go.” At any given moment, it’s possible someone will ask him: “Does anybody ever tell you that you look like Santa Claus?” Without hesitation, he looks them in the eyes and in a deep voice, answers, “I am Santa Claus.” To experience the magic with your little ones, join Santa Mac at Breakfast With Santa on December 7, 14 and 21 at Marty B’s (2664 FM 407 East in Bartonville). To book him for your own event, visit

Photo courtesy of Santa Mac


Wassail A N Y WA Y ?


Wassail Weekend is a Denton County tradition, but what’s in the mysterious beverage, and why do we drink it at Christmas? BY RACHEL HEDSTROM


Photos courtesy of Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau

enton is serious about its wassail. The time-honored beverage with generations of tradition and lore becomes the city’s focus each year during Wassail Weekend, a magical — and tasty — time when local businesses create their own signature version of the beverage to go up against others in a wassail royale sponsored by the Denton Main Street Association. But what exactly is it and where did the tradition come from? Secret Herbs and Spices Wassail is a type of hot mulled cider originally made from mead with roasted crab apples. Over time, recipes have evolved to include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices. Many modern options start with a base of wine, juice or mulled ale and may also include brandy or sherry. Denton’s contest entries are made without the traditional alcohol element, but they do have special secret ingredients that make each wassail unique. (Mum’s the word on what those ingredients are,

During Wassail Weekend, holiday revelers sample wasail drink entries (hot mulled cider) from local businesses.

but rumors run rampant every year.) Good Harvests The beverage was a key part of drinking rituals in Medieval Christmas seasons. These elaborate wassailing rituals — which included hanging cider-soaked bread on trees, circling around the oldest tree while singing and even banging pots and pans — were performed to ensure a good apple harvest in the coming year. Sometimes, a Wassail King or Queen was elected to scare away “evil spirits” and keep them from harming the trees. Here We Come! The holiday carol “Here We Come A-Wassailing” refers to a different ritual. Villagers enjoyed spreading merriment door to door with a large bowl of wassail for everyone to share. While enjoying the drink, people would wish each other well, saying “was hail,” an Old English phrase that means “you be healthy.” The proper response? “Drink

hail,” meaning “drink well.” Merry revelers in Denton Square will drink well on December 6 and 7, the first weekend of the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival, as they collectively sample between 3,000 and 4,000 cups of wassail before voting for their favorite. “People come back year after year, and bring friends and family so they can enjoy the experience,” says Christine Gossett of the Denton Main Street Association. “That’s what I look forward to the most.” Wassail Royalty Being voted the winner of Wassail Weekend garners a representative from the business a title (King/Queen of

Wassail for first place, Duke/ Duchess for second place or Lord/Lady of Wassail for third place) and well-earned well-wishes. Winners from the past 20 years of the contest have included First People’s Jewelry, Beth Marie’s, Chestnut Tree and Dark Age Tattoo Studio. While you’re enjoying the lights, strolling musicians and merriment at the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival, make sure to drink to your good health and to the health of those around you. Was hail!

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ifts and Santa pics and decorating are fun, but the real spirit of the holidays is about generosity and kindness to others. Here are a few Denton County organizations that are helping to make this season a little merrier.

Volunteers at Barley & Board pack Thanksgiving meals.


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United Way of Denton County Courtney Cross, director of homeless initiatives at the United Way of Denton County, said the organization likes to act as a hub for resources, collating an online list of community services happening in Denton County for the holidays on its website at “For just about every one of the problems we are trying to solve, the go-to solution is let’s find what’s already out there,” Cross says. “For me, it’s rejuvinating to see all that our community contributes to.” The list publishes on November 1, but Cross says the United Way adds to it throughout the season because so many organizations are working to help others during the holidays, and they always need volunteers. If you have never spent your holidays serving at a soup kitchen or packaging up gifts for less fortunate children, United Way of Denton County’s list is a great resource to help you find a place to start. “Our community is growing at a rapid pace,” Cross says. “It’s a great opportunity

to be at the forefront and help Denton County be a better place to live.” Backyard on Bell Backyard on Bell closes on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean its staff takes the day off. For the last few years, the food-truck park and venue allows organizations to use their large outdoor space for cookouts to feed the homeless. “I’ve heard great things all around… that work is under-appreciated and special,” says Backyard on Bell’s booker Zach Walker. “[But] Backyard on Bell can’t take all the credit because it’s mostly the local activists doing this.” The venue and bar will also hold a Christmas benefit show in mid-December with proceeds going to charity and a Toys for Tots drive throughout the month. Radical Hospitality + Serve Denton Radical Hospitality — which runs some of your favorite Denton County spots for dining, drinking and live music (LSA Burger, Barley &

Photo courtesy of Radical Hospitality

These generous organizations and individuals help bring the true spirit of the holidays to Denton County.

Photo courtesy of Richard Pinson

Board, Andy’s, Bumbershoot Barbecue, Earl’s 77) — includes all of its brands and partners with Serve Denton during Thanksgiving. COO Kjell Knutson says they wondered “how do we get our energy focused to make an impact?” So about five years ago, the restaurant group teamed up with Serve Denton to provide hot meals for the most vulnerable families in Denton County. Volunteers assemble filling meals using smoked turkeys from Bumbershoot, sides from LSA and Barley & Board, pies, loaves of bread and more. Serve Denton — a nonprofit that provides services to any organization that needs more hands and resources — finds families who could benefit from a free Thanksgiving meal, and their volunteers deliver the delicious meals on Thanksgiving day. “It’s just our way to love on the community, and we wouldn’t want to do it any other way,” Knutson says. “It’s so neat to see our staff want to volunteer and be a part of it.” Each year, the volunteers’ efforts feed more families than the year before. This year, 70 to 75 families in need are expected to receive free Thanksgiving feasts. Micah Pinson at Scottish Rite Hospital Micah Pinson, a 15-year-old living in Shady Shores, was born with symbrachydactyly, a congenital abnormality that caused him to be missing fingers on his left hand. He had multiple surgeries and became a patient at Texas Scottish Rite when he was just 6 weeks old. When Micah was 6 years old, he called the hospital and

Micah Pinson is just 15 but has already distributed more than 50,000 toys to kids in hospitals.

asked how he could give back. Their answer? Toys. “They said, ‘Well, we always need toys because we use them year round,’” recalls Micah. With the help of his father, Richard Pinson, Micah started a toy drive nine years ago. Every year, the number of toys grows, from 2,000 the first year to more than 20,000 last year. More than 50,000 toys have been distributed in all. They place boxes all around the DFW area, including Denton County, Rockwall County, Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth. Every year, Micah makes sure to personally give one child a toy. “There was one time about three years ago, I gave an art set to someone who loved drawing, and it was a brand new art set, and she started to tear up. It’s pretty cool to see that means something to a child,” Micah says. Other Local Do-Gooders Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to stopping family violence and healing the wounds of sexual assault. During the holidays, they hold two major drives:

Thanksgiving Meal-in-aBasket and Adopt-a-Family. The first helps families who cannot afford a Thanksgiving meal, and the second assists families who are unable to afford gifts and food for the holiday season. To donate food or gifts or volunteer time, contact volunteer@ The Denton Community Food Center provides a central community food storehouse for families and individuals in need. The volunteer-run organization serves 21 communities and has been operating since 1974. To help bag groceries, sort food, stock shelves or serve clients, contact info@ It also accepts food donations from 1–3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County coordinates child-friendly investigations of abuse and helps victims and their families recover from the trauma of abuse. It holds a holiday drive each year to help children who have been affected by abuse. Visit for more information on how you can “adopt” a child to give him or her a better Christmas.

Our Daily Bread provides nutritious meals, warm clothes, counseling and other services for those in need. A full-time executive director, seven part-time employees and 37 volunteers a day are needed to keep the organization operational. To find out how you can help, visit The Denton Hunger Coalition provides food for the hungry at mobile food pantry events on the second Saturday of every month. To volunteer or get more information, email

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Marshmallow Mountain Christmas Trees found a new home just in time for the holidays — and you found the perfect spot to take this year’s holiday card photo! BY LESLIE J. THOMPSON


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Photos by Kelly Blackall

very tradition starts somewhere, and when Marshmallow Mountain Christmas Trees opened in 2017, many locals envisioned making lifelong memories there. “When I walked into the Argyle location, I thought, ‘This is the cutest thing ever!’” recalls Rose Lazear, who took over the nascent business earlier this year. The seasonal Christmas tree lot featured hundreds of fragrant Douglas firs shipped fresh from Michigan, along with props and sets that were perfect for engagement pictures or family holiday photos. “It has a little Christmas town and it has snowmen,” says Lazear, who has a 14-year-old son with her husband, Wes, and four grown stepchildren. “There’s a gorgeous couch and a hot chocolate stand and some doors with beautiful wreaths. It makes for a really nice photography session.” A Christmas Miracle! The venture was inspired by the children’s book The Christmas Night Dash From Marshmallow Mountain by Rigel Kent, who was dating previous Marshmallow Mountain owner Michele Wetteland when the book was written. (The couple has since wed.) When Wetteland moved out of state, the fairytale Christmas wonderland needed new ownership. Lazear and her husband purchased the business this summer. “It happened very quickly, really spur of the moment,” admits the firsttime entrepreneur, who felt it would be a perfect fit for a homeschool mom.

Residents heralded the news as an early Christmas miracle, and Lazear sprang into action with preparations for the holiday season. “We’re going to have some fun props out there, especially for kids,” she says, describing Marshmallow Mountain’s new home at Parker Square in Flower Mound. Photo Ops and Holiday Cheer One of Lazear’s favorite new things this year is the fleet of Little Tikes cars, which are a hit with toddlers. “They have a little Christmas tree on top and a little wreath in the front. That makes for a nice photo op,” she says of the red cozy coupes. For $50, amateur and professional photographers can reserve the tree lot for a 30-minute photo session. Residents can also choose to

capture Pinterest-worthy pics with their cell phones at no charge. Regardless, Lazear recommends that all visitors make an appointment online to ensure that any props or backdrops they want to use are available. Marshmallow Mountain will also offer photos with Santa, wreath-making classes and other activities this season. And, of course, the lot will be filled with fragrant evergreens for purchase. “You’d have to cut it yourself to get it any fresher!” quips Lazear, who anticipates opening on November 21. Marshmallow Mountain Christmas Trees 1400 Cross Timbers Road, Flower Mound 805-368-8789 marshmallowchristmastrees. com


Happenings There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate the season with your family this year. Turn to our “See & Do” section on page 74 to read about a few of our Denton County favorites.

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THE BRIGHTEST FUTURE At just 17 years old, Flower Mound native Brighton Sharbino is already one of the most in-demand young actors in Hollywood.


Brighton plays Lizzie Samuels in AMC’s series The Walking Dead


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Brighton Sharbino was just 10 years old when she fed rats to the undead and stabbed her sister so she wouldn’t come back as a zombie on AMC’s The Walking Dead. It’s a role that the young actor’s mother was not so sure about — at first. “Oh my gosh, did you watch it? Did you hear all the screaming? It was gruesome,” Angela Sharbino says. “For awhile, fans couldn’t separate her dark character from the sweet girl everyone knows as Brighton in real life. That was hard.” At the end, the role launched Brighton’s career. Today, the 17-year-old is one of the most sought-after actors in the television and film industry.

The 17-year-old Flower Mound native began her career at age 7 and is now known and respected for the wide variety of roles she is able to portray.

Left photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC. Profile photo by Diedhra Fahey


“What makes acting so much fun is there is no end to the kinds of roles you can play,” says the Denton County native. “I love learning about all kinds of experiences in the world. And I make it my own.” Brighton is up to the challenge of any role. “She’s great because whatever she does, she makes you believe her,” says L.A.based casting director Kelly Knox, who selected her to play main character and mean girl Allison Betts in this fall’s season of the Zoe Valentine series. In Nate Parker’s film American Skin — a drama on racial injustice that recently won a Venice Sconfini Section Best Film Prize at the Venice Film Festival — Brighton plays a girl who goes to a police

station to pay a ticket and becomes part of a hostage situation. Filming started in September for another movie where she will play a drug addict and victim of sex trafficking who goes to church and turns her life around.


Her mother knew Brighton was an actor after the young girl made believers out of the teachers at Bridlewood Elementary in Flower Mound, where she went to school before making it big and moving to Los Angeles. “Every other day in kindergarten and first grade, the nurse was calling because

Brighton acted sick,” her mother recalls. “I wouldn’t fall for it, but she stayed in character for hours, convincing teachers to send her home by lunch. She’s a great actress.” Before taking to TV and film sets, Brighton played soccer for the Greater Lewisville Area Soccer Association (GLASSA) and was on the Excite! cheer team. Her father, Ron Sharbino, coached her basketball team, an experience she draws upon for a new Snapchat series about two girls who play the sport. Brighton acts in the show but also helped produce it. By the time she was 7, Brighton was singing on Barney, the children’s show on PBS. She also appeared in The New Normal

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Siblings Saxon, Brighton and Sawyer all have successful careers in the entertainment industry.

and landed the guest role of Cammi in an episode of Hannah Montana. The stage soon became her home. As work and acting classes ramped up, her family made the decision to homeschool her to give her more time for the increasing demands of the business. Thanks to her older sibling, the Sharbinos were already familiar with the industry by the time Brighton reached that stage in her career.


Brighton’s older sister, Saxon, 20, who attended Bridlewood Elementary and Downing Middle School in Flower Mound, is also an actor. Her roles have included resentful teen Kendra Brown in the 2015 remake of the classic horror film Poltergeist, an emotional fan in the television show Friday Night Lights, numbers genius Amelia Robbins in Touch and crime victim Savannah


Ross in the “Mood” episode of Law & Order: SVU. Their brother, Sawyer, 13, is a rising star in the YouTube circuit and has also worked on several television series and film shorts. Brighton was 9 when she moved with her family to Los Angeles, but she spent her 11th, 12th and 13th birthdays in Atlanta, where she was filming The Walking Dead. She also worked on episodes of Criminal Minds. She played teen Macie Hart (the adult version of whom became a detective’s wife) in two episodes of True Detective, young Ingrid in “The Snow Queen” episode of Once Upon a Time, crime victim/runaway Mandy Fowler in the “No Good Reason” episode of Law and Order: SVU and the young version of forensics scientist Abby Sciuto in NCIS.


She frequently draws on her experiences in Texas, where her father’s RG Staffing business

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is still based (in Lewisville). Her performance as Abby Beam, a sweet farm girl in the 2016 film Miracles From Heaven, made her feel particularly nostalgic for her home state. “I felt connected because of my love for the country in Texas,” Brighton says. When the busy actor is not rehearsing or filming, she likes going to Sonic with friends or visiting her cousins and grandparents in east Texas, where she learned to drive on the dirt roads. Many of her roles take her out of her comfort zone, but fortunately, the rising star likes a challenge. In Radio Flash, for example, Brighton performed several taxing and frightening stunts. The survival thriller — scheduled to air in November — sees her character leading her family to survival in a dark new world where an electromagnetic pulse has killed power to more than 200 million people. Brighton performed alongside Dominic Monaghan and Will Patton in this adventurous role. “The trickiest part was running across a shaky bridge,” Brighton says. “I’ve never been more scared in my life.” Even more scared than being killed in a scene with zombies. “That’s what makes her such a great actor,” says Knox, who adds that he doesn’t often come across someone he can cast in so many different roles. “She’s like a chameleon. She has the maturity to play a plethora of characters. And she is still young. She has a bright future.”

Top photo courtesy of Sony. Bottom photo by Robbie Joseph.

Brighton is pictured with Jennifer Garner in this still from Miracles From Heaven.




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Four of the area’s top innovators look at the state of the local startup community and weigh in on why Denton County is an ideal place for entrepreneurs to launch their next big idea. BY RACHEL HEDSTROM

Marshall Culpepper launched Kubos in 2014.


Kubos, a platform for satellite missions, raised $3 million in funding.

Original illustration by Jim Frazier

company that sends code into space. A technology firm that specializes in the direct sales industry. An online platform that draws parents closer to their child’s education. A responsibly sourced supplement that benefits underserved populations. These pioneering ventures have one thing in common: They all call Denton County home. This level of innovation is possible thanks to a local startup scene that is as diverse and inspiring as Denton County itself. The Glue of the Community When Marshall Culpepper moved to the Denton area in 2004, he was working remotely for a Silicon Valley technology company. After being exposed to software for the space industry, Culpepper — who earned experience working for brands such as Mozilla — knew he had found his niche. He also knew he had found a home for his new company in Denton. In 2014, he launched Kubos, a software platform for satellite missions that became one of the

first Denton County companies to receive Silicon Valley venture capital funding — around $3 million to date. “W hen the opportunity presented to start my company, I chose to do it in

Denton,” Culpepper said. His reasons are echoed by many other local entrepreneurs. “It’s all part of being in the city,” he says. “You get this awesome culture, a great cost of living and access to a lot of talent.”

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Cindy Tysinger started Global Solutions and Technology, Inc., in 2008.

He believes in our region so much that the same year he launched Kubos, he also cofounded TechMill, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and growing the Denton County technology startup community. TechMill helps local entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses and brings the community together with educational workshops, networking events and creative mixers. And there’s no shortage of creative thinkers to support. Denton County’s plethora of tech talent is one of its many assets. In fact, the county was ranked sixth on a list of the top 25 counties for hightech jobs, according to a 2014 analysis by the Progressive Policy Institute — and the momentum has only continued since then. Another resource for local entrepreneurs is Stoke, a coworking space managed by one of Culpepper’s other companies, Hickory & Rail Ventures. It’s not only a facility for startup staff, freelancers and remote workers, it also offers a variety of educational, networking and social events. Expert mentors from the University of North Texas (UNT), Texas Woman’s University (TWU) and other institutions and businesses offer office hours at Stoke. They make themselves available to answer questions and provide direction to young businesses.


Because getting high-net-worth individuals to invest in tech companies is an important aspect of furthering the community, Culpepper and colleague Heather Gregory also brought together the Denton Angel Investment Group. So far, the group has invested $125,000 in pre-seed and seed startups. “We try to focus on being the glue between the community, the city and the university, trying to bring those three entities together,” says Culpepper. “It goes back to the potential I see here. Take Austin; it was a really nascent creative community in a college town and turned into a paragon of tech innovation. I think Denton can replace that story.” Passion for Innovation Connecting passion with purpose is what drives Cindy Tysinger. After taking another company from startup to $400 million a year, she was convinced that she, too, could turn a good idea into a successful company. In 2008, she began to do just that by launching Global Solutions and Technology, Inc. (GSATi), a marketing and technology company that focuses on green IT initiatives. Cindy’s two sons were also part of starting the business, which they run today from its headquarters in downtown Denton.

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Like Denton County itself, GSATi has grown quickly. From 2009 to 2012, the company’s sales grew 2,367 percent, earning it a ranking of 169 on the Inc. 500 — Inc. magazine’s exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. It was the first of many accolades. “When I moved to Denton and started GSATi, I utilized the Small Business Association,” says Tysinger. “I have been very involved with them and the chamber.” She has stayed involved with those associations as well as the Denton Main Street Board and other businesses in the local community. GSATi also has offered internships to local students, including those from UNT, TWU, the University of Texas at Dallas and North Central Texas College. “I love the young and am inspired by the youth. I love their energy and their social impact,” says Tysinger. After 10 successful years with GSATi, Tysinger set out on yet another new path by launching a new venture, Regenrus, in 2018. Her personal health challenges led her to create a dietary supplement that is responsibly sourced, doggedly researched and managed throughout the manufacturing process. “At 60, I needed to do something even more fulfilling and make a difference in the world,” she says. “I’m a very positive person, and I believe in giving back.” To do that, 4 percent of Regenrus sales go directly toward local causes in Denton County and other markets where the company sells or sources ingredients. Some 2018 recipients include the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, Denton County Friends of the Family, Habitat for Humanity and many others. “Regenrus is all about healing ourselves and making a difference in the world,” she says. Ready, Set, Grow! Another local innovator making a difference for people across the country from her company’s Denton County headquarters is Emily Roden, co-founder and CEO of ReadyRosie. Her company offers tools that help parents stay engaged with their child’s education. After earning a degree from UNT, Roden taught in Denton ISD then then

Original illustration by Jim Frazier

left teaching to work in the publishing industry. “I have 100 percent always had an entrepreneurial bug,” she says. “My first, unsuccessful business was a booth at the downtown mini mall that I had as a college student. I had the itch for a very long time, but working with others was a great way to gain the experience I needed in my industry to have the confidence to go out on my own.” Once she had that confidence, she started ReadyRosie with just $10,000 of her own funds — “bootstrapped” in startup speak — seven years ago. It doubled its growth in 2016, and has grown 20 percent more each year, according to Roden. Today, it reaches students and families at approximately 6,500 schools in 48 states and employs 15 full-time staff and 20 contractors who contribute their creative talents. Partnering with UNT graduate students and the university’s film department and employing interns from the school rounds out the talent pool. “A big part of our product is video-based,” Roden says. “When we started, it was just amazing to be able to connect with local filmmakers ... Everyone that we have worked with from the very beginning — from our design team to our film crew — is Denton-based. A company like ours needed a lot of creative and technical input into the product design, and that’s truly a unique aspect of what Denton can provide entrepreneurs.” She encourages others who are interested in starting a business to utilize the resources available to them in the Denton area, including Stoke and fellow entrepreneurs who have found success. “I would definitely encourage them to explore and talk with three to five people who have started profitable, successful companies,” she says. “The great news is that there are many in the Denton County area.” From talent and creative resources to entrepreneurial expertise, Roden says Denton has so much to offer budding startup stars. “It’s just so powerful that right here in our own backyard, we have the expertise we need,” she says. “It’s really exciting when you can find that talent here because there are all sorts of perks around working together locally.”

Emily Roden started ReadyRosie with $10,000 of her own funds.

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Jon McCarry is the director of UNT’s Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Stoke is a coworking space that also offers educational, networking and social opportunities.


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Institutional Advantages Being located near institutions such as UNT and TWU gives local entrepreneurs big advantages: access to talented interns, wisdom of experienced faculty and valuable resources such as UNT’s Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which opened in 2000. The Murphy Center is just one of the many ways that UNT is working to create a collaborative environment of entrepreneurs, investors and supporters. The university helps facilitate the development of new business ventures and strengthen early-stage companies by offering resources such as back-office support, advisors, mentors and, most importantly, potential capital partners. Jon McCarry, director of the Murphy Center, has seen growth at the university and beyond. “So many people are moving to the area and changing the face of entrepreneurial landscape as a result,” he says. “We are seeing more angel investors starting to come out and identify themselves as wanting to contribute, whether on a capital basis or through individual opportunities.” “There seems to be a lot more activity in Denton. Little Elm has exploded, as well as Prosper and the western part of Frisco. It’s truly amazing to actually see all of this,” he says, noting that outside UNT he has seen a focus on the “Internet of Things” and sales-focused tech companies. “Many people move here with a company and then, after a few years, they get that itch to start their own business. [At the center], I get inquiries from people who have not been affiliated with UNT previously, and they are calling and asking questions about resources available around the area for entrepreneurs. It’s always a really positive sign that there’s much more activity happening.” McCarry joined the Murphy Center in 2018 with a goal of growing a sustainable venture and startup platform throughout North Texas. It was a homecoming for the UNT graduate, who had spent the previous 15 years abroad, advising institutional investors and fund managers on how to source capital and secondary private equity opportunities throughout the Asia-Pacific region. At the center, McCarry works with both

students — many of whom are starting technology companies in Denton County thanks to the relatively low overhead — and UNT faculty, who transform their discoveries and innovations into viable companies with the school’s assistance. “Together with the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, we help them make connections with people outside of the university for funding opportunities,” he explains. McCarry also offers his expertise during office hours at Stoke. “It’s pretty free-flowing, so if anyone needs mentoring, they just stop by on an ad-hoc basis,” he says. “So far, it’s been a great experience.” He is currently working on some of his own projects as well, including a new methodology to clean up oil spills with magnetized carbon and a narcotics Breathalyzer device being developed as a joint venture between UNT and a private local company. Finding the Future Innovation, networking and collaboration are vital for a vibrant startup community, and Denton County has all of these elements. With an organized and growing support network, experts believe our area is well-positioned for success. “It’s a growing community,” McCarry says. “I actually find it quite refreshing … It’s a fairly laid-back community. People are always willing to try new stuff around the area. It’s funny how elements like that tend to contribute to companies’ success. And when those successful exits occur for entrepreneurs, it’s good when they can reinvest locally.” As Culpepper, McCarry and others work toward creating momentum that will help attract more angel investment dollars, they acknowledge that what makes Denton County truly unique can’t be explained by partnerships and plans alone. “It’s the culture,” Culpepper says. “Anybody could start a company anywhere, but Denton has something unique and special. It’s a vibe, a sort of culture, surrounding the music scene, the central downtown core, and it being a friendly, urban area full of students. It attracts people to create things, whether that’s music, art or anything.”


Tech Companies to Watch

More businesses are added to Denton County’s growing entrepreneurial community every month. Here are a few innovative tech companies — both new and established — that call our county home.

Cortex Therapy Solutions provides supplemental therapy via app for individuals living with communication, cognition and swallowing disorders

ALL In Learning provides software that helps teachers easily engage with students and track their progress.

Upventur brings outdoor enthusiasts and experts together as a community to share knowledge and experiences

From the Future Studios creates virtual worlds, applications and groundbreaking extended-reality software and content for popular VR and MR systems

Shepherd Dog builds and maintains custom software tools for small businesses

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Denton Holiday Lighting Festival

Holiday Market

When: November 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: Denton Community Market, 317 W. Mulberry St., Denton Make your holiday shopping a little more festive at this special edition of the Denton Community Market. Santa photos for the little ones, a scavenger hunt, special holiday activities, holiday music all day and extended hours will help take the stress out of gift shopping. You’re sure to find just the right present with the market’s wide range of locally produced items.


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5th Annual Downtown Denton Turkey Trot

When: November 28, 9 a.m. Where: 322 East McKinney, Denton Burn off some of those calories you’re

Top photo by Bellissimo Foto. Other photos courtesy of Denton Community Market and Denton Turkey Trot.

When: December 6, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Where: Downtown Denton This free, family-friendly event is one of the county’s most beloved holiday traditions. Expect live music, food, beautiful lights and joy, joy, joy! This year, there will also be free ice skating sessions. Donations are always welcome and go to Elves Shelves, which provides presents for children in need. Visit to contribute to this great cause. If you’d like to help support the festival itself, consider splurging on a $150 VIP ticket, which includes a pass for two to a special VIP event, reserved parking, Santa meet and greet, catered food, arts and crafts for kids, a holiday lighting ornament, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, two festival shirts and live music.

going to eat later in the day at this fun annual run. The family-friendly route through historic downtown Denton drew more than 2,400 last year. Little ones can do the Gobble Wobble or walk the 5K with family.

A Brave Combo Christmas!

When: December 6, 8:30 p.m. Where: Andy’s Bar, 122 N. Locust St., Denton This two-time Grammy Award–winning band will be playing a wonderful and decidedly quirky evening of Christmas and Hanukkah favorites for their hometown.



Historic Denton Home Tour

When: December 7, 1 p.m. Where: 722 W. Oak St., Denton Explore some beautiful historic homes in Denton’s historic neighborhoods. Homes featuring several architectural styles will be open to the community. Proceeds benefit Historic Denton, a nonprofit that preserves and protects the character of historic neighborhoods and works to improve areas around downtown Denton.



Illustration courtesy of Historic Denton

Sanger Holiday Stroll

When: December 14, 4 p.m. Where: Downtown Sanger Take a stroll through charming downtown Sanger where you can shop while enjoying wine tastings, food samplings, live music, kids crafting and more. When the sun goes down, take in the nighttime Christmas parade and wait for Santa’s arrival.

Argyle Holiday Market

When: November 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: Argyle High School, 191 Hwy. 377S, Argyle Get your shopping done early at this annual event to benefit Project Graduation. More than 80 vendors and shops will offer clothing, home décor, cookware, handbags, art, food and much more. Admission is free. This year, the event celebrates 10 years!



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Fall Pumpkin Festival

Corinth Annual Tree Lighting

When: December 2, 6 to 8 p.m. Where: City Hall, 3300 Corinth Pkwy., Corinth Deck the (city) halls! Enjoy an evening of carols, crafts, companionship and lights at this festive annual event.

Is it time to check out the Active Adult Community of Robson Ranch, TX? Come have a cup of coffee, tea or wine and a few snacks with a resident or residents and find out what Robson Ranch is all about. Text or call (940) 368-1013 for more information.

Your Specialists in Robson Ranch New and Preowned Homes • We Live Here • We Work Here • • We Play Here • We’ll BE Your Neighbors!

Deborah Siefkin Broker / Owner / REALTOR©

Call or Text: (940) 368-1013 Email: Visit:


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Photo courtesy of Aubrey Pumpkin Patch

When: September 28 through November 3, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Where: Aubrey Pumpkin Patch, 1042 W. Sherman Drive, Aubrey Have some fall fun before winter arrives at the fourth annual Fall Pumpkin Festival at the Aubrey Pumpkin Patch. Create wonderful family memories by feeding the farm animals, riding the barrel train, running through the hay maze, shooting the blaster cannon, playing some games and much more. Admission is $9 for ages 2 and up.

With Victorian costumes at the Visitors Center and Museum, strolling carolers, children’s crafts, carriage rides, bounce houses, photos with Father Christmas and a post-parade tree lighting, this annual event is sure to delight.

Roanoke’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

Photo courtesy of City of Roanoke

When: December 7, 6 p.m. Where: Oak Street in Roanoke

Flower Mound Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: December 7, 6 to 9 p.m. Where: Downtown Flower Mound Celebrate Flower Mound’s 30th annual Christmas parade. Lighted floats will parade down Spinks Road to Gerault Park, where a tree lighting ceremony, choir performances, Santa photos, food trucks, local vendors and much more await revelers. The theme, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” is carried over from last year’s event, which had to be canceled due to inclement weather.

6th Annual Shop With a Cop

When: December 18 Lewisville-based Journey to Dream — which helps more than 10,000 students a year through support groups, community outreach, homeless services and more — pairs local officers with

Denton City Contemporary Ballet Artistic Director, Lisa Racina-Torre p resents

“A Gift for Emma”

A Holiday Fantasy in Dance for the Whole Family! Dec. 21, 2019 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 2019 2:00 p.m.

SYTYCD’s Chris Koehl, Guest Artist

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Prompt, Professional and Friendly Service

(940) 382-3232

HOURS: Mon-Fri 8:30a to 5p I Saturday 10am to 3pm DE-14174

1815 N. Elm • Denton, Texas 76201

Margo Jones Performance Hall Texas Woman’s University Corner of Sawyer and Oakland St. Denton, TX 76201

Tickets: Reserved Seating $20 - $30 $35 at the door Go to for tickets! Call 940-383-2623 for more info.

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Helping North Texans Age With Dignity Since 1934

at-risk and homeless teens for a day of Christmas shopping for themselves or their families. Contact the organization at to find out how you can help with this or one of their other annual events.

VNA Hospice Care • Focus is on quality of life and comfort • Symptom management experts • Patient and family-centered care approach • A comprehensive clinical team dedicated to meeting the goals of the patient and family VNA Care Choices

• Patients can continue to consult with physicians and seek treatment • Comprehensive clinical team dedicated to patient-centered goals • Assistance navigating the medical system

To schedule your free in-home informational visit, please call Sarah (214) 535-2615, email or visit

Christmas Spectacular Light Show

When: December 7 through January 5, dusk until approximately 10 p.m. nightly Where: Central Fire Station, 4900 Blair Oakes Drive, The Colony Festive lights come to life every night, dancing to choreographed music and delighting the whole family!

For Eternity…

Roselawn Memorial Park is staffed with a caring team who is available to assist you in selecting from many burial options, for both full body and cremated remains. To learn more, call and make an appointment. Call to meet with a Pre-Planning Advisor, 940-382-5532

, INC.

“A Perpetual Care Cemetery” DE-20697


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Christmas at the Beach

When: December 7, 8, 14, 15; 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, 2 to 8 p.m. on Sundays Where: Little Elm Park, 701 W. Eldorado Pkwy., Little Elm On December 7, the holidays begin with a festive, light-up parade that

Top photo courtesy of The Colony. Bottom photo Courtesy of Little Elm.

• Symptom management expertise with compassionate in-home nursing visits

culminates in a tree lighting with fireworks. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos. On December 8, the kids can get up close and personal with live reindeer and can celebrate by riding the holiday train. The Clauses will also be available for photos on all four Christmas at the Beach days. Santa Land, a magical village of elves and Christmas cheer, is on display from December 1 through 31.

Photo courtesy of The ReVamp

The ReVamp Clothing Swap

When: December 8, 12 to 5 p.m. Where: Backyard on Bell, 410 N. Bell Ave., Denton You read about The ReVamp’s clever clothing swaps in our Style Issue. Now see what the buzz is about. Refresh your closet and have some fun by ditching all of those duds that don’t spark joy. Bring a bag of gently used clothes to add to the swap, and admission is $10. Choose not to bring a bag, and admission is $20.

In addition to scoring some new fashion, you can also enjoy mimosas, live music, DIY tie-dying and an up-cycled fashion

show. All excess clothing will be donated to Upscale Resale, benefiting Denton County Friends of the Family.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from our family to yours. Serving ALL of Southern Denton County! Same day delivery!

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Denton Mac N’ Cheese Festival






Some goodbyes are more

Difficult than others.

Lighting Up the Season

When: December 7, 5 to 7 p.m. Where: City Hall, 212 Main St., Lake Dallas This annual celebration of the season in Lake Dallas features live performances by student and church choirs, hot chocolate and cookies, Santa visits for kids of all ages and, of course, the lighting of the tree.

Introduction to Beekeeping Workshop

When: November 16, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Where: Denton Public Library, 3228 Teasley Lane, Denton If you were intrigued by our feature on local beekeepers last spring and want to try your hand at it, this introductory workshop presented by the Denton County Beekeepers Association will answer your questions and help you get started in time for 2020 beekeeping.


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Photo via Creative Commons by Texasfoodgawker

Join us to fight for our neighbors in need. To live better, we must LIVE UNITED.

When: November 3, 2 to 5 p.m. Where: Oak St. Drafthouse, 308 E. Oak St., Denton Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Come sample more than 25 different options then help crown the macaroni king or queen. Put on by Komodo Loco and Oak St. Drafthouse, this annual event raised more than $4,500 during its first year (2018) to help pay for school lunches. This year, the goal is to raise more than $7,000 for local students. Tickets are $15 and it will sell out early.

Happy Holidays Merry and bright — that’s UNT! And it’s all because of our community. This time of year is for thinking about what you’re grateful for, and we want to say thank you for being part of the Mean Green Family. Wishing you a warm holiday season filled with joy — and green cookies! AA/EOE/ADA ©2019 UNT


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