January 23, 2015

Top 10 Things to Do This Weekend (Jan 23-25, 2015)

1. "Annie Get Your Gun" - Jan. 23rd & 24th, 7:00-9:30pm at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Center for the Performing Arts (PAC), located at 1401 Cedar Street in Bastrop. $5/person. Buy tickets online here. Performed by Bastrop High School theatre students.

2. Game Night & Open Mic - Jan. 23rd, 7-10pm at The Owl Wine Bar and Home Goods Store, located at 106 N. Main Street in Elgin. FREE!

3. "Laundry & Bourbon" and "Lone Star" - Jan. 23rd & 24th, 7:30pm at Playhouse Smithville, located at 110 Main Street in Smithville. Tickets are $10/person and can be purchased in advance online or at the door.

4. Big Chill Adventure Race - Jan. 24th, all day at Lake Bastrop's South Shores Park. Bike, paddle, and run through the beautiful piney woods of Central Texas. Choose the sprint, tandem relay sprint, or the 12-hour race.

5. Winter Wildlife Survival Walk - Jan. 24th, 10-11am at Buescher State Park. Explore the world of forest animals in winter on a one-mile guided hike. Free after park entry fee.

6. From Boys to Men - Jan. 24th, 2-3pm at Buescher State Park. Explore the lives of boys working in the Civilian Conservation Corps over 80 years ago.  On a short hike, discover several structures they built and some of the tools they used while learning about their struggle to survive into manhood during the Great Depression. Free after park entry fee.

7. El Camino Real: Texas' First Highway - Jan. 24th, 7-8pm at Bastrop State Park. Discover the history and significance of the El Camino Real trail and what it was like to travel it for historic settlers and the things they brought with them that helped make Texas what it is today. Free after park entry fee.

8. Karaoke - Jan. 24th, 8pm-12am at the American Legion Post 295, located at 115 Main Street in Elgin.

9. Chasing Gypsy - Jan. 24th, 8pm at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila, located at 811 Main Street in Bastrop.

10. Vinyasa Yoga - Jan. 25th, 8:30-9:30am at the Sufi Center, located at 309 Cardinal Drive in Paige. Suggested donation of $10-20.

*But that's not all! There's even more fun to be had this weekend in Bastrop County! For the full list of January events, click here.

Polar Plunge - 2015

Join the Bastrop YMCA on Saturday, Feb. 7th from 1-2pm for a "Polar Plunge" at the Bastrop State Park pool to help raise funds for their Annual Campaign. All money raised will go towards supporting our community through financial assistance and program subsidies. Your $10 registration fee could help a child play soccer or a single mom have a parent's night out! Register online here.

What is a Polar Plunge? A Polar Plunge is an event held during the winter where participants enter a body of water despite the low temperature. Don't worry, though, there will be coffee and hot chocolate after the dip to help you warm up! Prizes will be awarded for Best Costume, Craziest Jump In, Longest Swim, and Most Funds Raised. Prizes include free swim lessons and Round Rock Express tickets. You'd better come prepared, though, because I'm already working on my costume! Let's just say that fuzzy bear slippers could be involved. See you there!

January 9, 2015

Top 10 Things to Do This Weekend (Jan 9-11, 2015)

1. Gumbo Friday - Jan. 9th, 11:30am-1:30pm at Lost Pines Toyota, located at 806 Hwy 71 W in Bastrop. Open to the public. FREE!

2. "Peter Pan" - Jan. 9th & 10th, 7-9pm at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Center for the Performing Arts (PAC), located at 1401 Cedar Street in Bastrop. Performed by Cedar Creek Middle School theatre students.

3. Game Night & Open Mic - Jan. 9th, 7-10pm at The Owl Wine Bar and Home Goods Store, located at 106 N. Main Street in Elgin. FREE!

4. Chili Cook-Off - Jan. 9th at the American Legion Post 533, located at 3003 Loop 150 E in Bastrop. Beans and Bloody Mary cook-off, raffle, silent auction, cake walk, and more.

5. Winter Wildlife Survival Walk - Jan. 10th, 10-11am at Buescher State Park. Explore the world of forest animals in winter on a one-mile guided hike. Free after park entry fee.

6. Story Time Saturday - Jan. 10th, 10:30am at Chick-fil-A, located at 721 Hwy 71 W in Bastrop. Join the Chick-fil-A cow and friends from the Bastrop Public Library for story time and a free kids icedream. FREE!

7. From Boys to Men - Jan. 10th, 2-3pm at Buescher State Park. Explore the lives of boys working in the Civilian Conservation Corps over 80 years ago.  Incudes a short hike. Free after park entry fee.

8. Sounds of the Night - Jan. 10th, 7-8pm at Bastrop State Park. Learn about the sounds of the forest at night and the special tools and adaptations that make nocturnal animals able to survive and thrive in the darkness. Free after park entry fee.

9. Karaoke - Dec. 27th, 8pm-12am at the American Legion Post 295, located at 115 Main Street in Elgin.

10. Vinyasa Yoga - Jan. 11th, 8:30-9:30am at the Sufi Center, located at 309 Cardinal Drive in Paige. Suggested donation of $10-20.

*But that's not all! There's even more fun to be had this weekend in Bastrop County! For the full list of January events, click here.

January 8, 2015

Bastrop County Fitness Guide - 2015

Is getting in shape on your list of New Year's Resolutions? No? Liar, liar, pants on fire! Don't worry, though, you're not alone. It's on everyone's list. Including mine. Right there next to eating healthier, drinking more water, and getting organized.

Earlier this week, I posted an article about learning to love cooking, which is my #1 resolution. What's #2? You guessed it... getting in shape! Technically, I wrote down "exercise regularly" because I felt that sounded more doable, but they both boil down to the same thingfitness.

To help you out, we've compiled a list of 8 local fitness centers/classes in Bastrop County where you can workout, get in shape, and exercise regularly.

Bastrop Jazzercise

Bastrop Jazzercise
612 Old Austin Hwy in Bastrop
(512) 988-1259

Bastrop Jazzercise offers fun fitness classes that mix dance-based cardio with strength training. Fresh music and moves will burn fat and calories, transform your body, boost your mood, and ignite your energy. They have 29 classes per week for all fitness levelsfrom Lo and Lite classes to strength training and fusion classes that will take your workout to the next level. Childcare is available for only $1/child per class. Sign up by January 31st to take advantage of their January Special—NO joining fee and January for FREE when you join for a 6 or 12 month contract, a savings of $94!!!

Bastrop YMCA

Bastrop YMCA
1112 Main Street in Bastrop
(512) 321-9622

The Bastrop YMCA offers group exercise and nutrition classes, sports leagues for both kids and adults, child watch during select classes, and so much more. All programs are open to YMCA members as well as non-members, although members pay lower registration fees and can attend unlimited exercise classes for free. Sign up for an individual, couple, family, or one adult family membership, with rates starting at $35/month. Beginning Jan. 24th, you can participate in their Fit in '15 challengeto attend at least 3 fitness classes every week for 5 weeks.

Body Toners Fitness Center

Body Toners Fitness
1105 Main Street in Bastrop
(512) 321-6181
Body Toners Fitness is a complete gym and fitness center located in historic downtown Bastrop. Cynthia Meyer, the owner since 1986, was voted #1 instructor/trainer in the "Best of Bastrop County" contest multiple years running. For only $35/month, you get access to the gym and unlimited group exercise classes like Zumba, Piloxing, Step & Weights, and more! Plus, there are NO contracts or sign-up fees!

Camp Gladiator Bastrop

Camp Gladiator Bastrop
Lost Pines 8 Theatre/Bob Bryant Park in Bastrop
(979) 200-9000

Camp Gladiator is an outdoor fitness boot camp with a mission to positively impact the physical fitness and ultimately, the lives of as many people as possible! You can expect a challenging, yet highly encouraging total body workout that allows you to get stronger while fostering a sense of family and deep friendships that motivate you to work harder. All fitness levels are welcome, and the program allows campers to go at their own pace. Camp Gladiator is more than a fitness boot camp, it’s an experience!

Fit Club Fitness

Fit Club Fitness
301 Hwy 71 W, Suite 104 in Bastrop
(512) 922-2807

Fit Club Fitness offers bootcamps, CardioFIT and PowerFIT workouts, full and half marathon training, and Vinyasa Yoga. They are not just trainers; they are agents of change, a community of family and fitness ready to help you break through the barriers that are holding you back from being the person you want to be! Click here for info about their membership rates, January specials, and Post-Holiday 30-Day Shred. They also offer childcare during bootcamps for $1/child per class! Sign-up for an account and visit their online store here.

Redeem Fitness

Redeem Fitness
962 Hwy 71 E in Bastrop
(512) 988-7513 / (512) 718-4685

Come REDEEM yourself at Redeem Fitness, and get your workout on! Redeem's classes are designed to increase your overall fitness by combining functional movements performed at high intensity, that are constantly varied to maximize your potential. All ages and fitness levels are welcome. Have you tried multiple methods to improve your fitness and fallen short? Commit for 1 month and let the team at Redeem lead you to improve your overall fitness and nutrition, and most importantly, REDEEM yourself! NO contracts, NO initiation fees, NO upfront costsAND your first 3 classes are FREE!

Smithville Recreation Center

Smithville Recreation Center
106 Gazley in Smithville
(512) 237-3282 ext. 7
The Smithville Recreation Center is a city-owned 22,500 square foot multi-purpose facility that features a full-sized UIL standard gymnasium and theatrical stage. It's also equipped with a computer room, meeting rooms, kitchen, racquetball court, weight room, cardio room, and lockers and showers in both the men's and women's restrooms. They offer several fitness classes throughout the week and various programs, including sports leagues, for adults and kids throughout the year. Monthly, quarterly, and yearly memberships are available. Click here for a 10% off coupon!

Vinyasa Jewel Yoga

Vinyasa Jewel Yoga
Various locations in Bastrop, Smithville, and La Grange
(832) 788-7347

Vinyasa Jewel Yoga is run by Bastrop's renowned Yoga instructor, Candice Nicole, who inspires her students to grow in strength, flexibility, and bliss. She offers individual or group private lessons as well as public group sessions in Bastrop and La Grange. Or you can practice at home with her online yoga videos here. New students get their first public group class FREE! Plus, mention 365 Things to Do in Bastrop, Texas to get a 15% discount!

There are a lot of fitness options in Bastrop County! We only covered eight of our favorites. The main thing to remember is that you've got to start somewhere. Choose something that works for you and endeavor to stick with it, no matter what. You'll get in shape in no time!

And if all else fails, there's always the ABhancer...

On second thought, just go to the gym!

January 7, 2015

How to Learn to Love Cooking

Every year, I resolve NOT to make any New Year's Resolutions, (since I never keep them), and yet every year, I inevitably make them anyway. This year, I have two main resolutions: 1) Learn to love cooking and 2) Start exercising regularly. Let's start with #1.

For those of you who know me, I despise cooking. No, really. I hate it. If I were rich, the first thing I would dobesides buy a new house, a closet full of new clothes and shoes, and a brand-spankin' new luxury SUV (maybe a Denali or something equally as posh) or better yet, a Dodge Viper (even though it's not very kid-friendly) or possibly my dream car, a lemon yellow convertible VW bug with a white daisy on the dashboardis hire a personal chef. If I were rich, I vow I would never cook again. Ever!

Alas, I am not rich, so cook, I must. (Yes, I'm channeling my inner Yoda today.) Unlike Martha Stewart, June Cleaver, or Julia Childs, I do not possess a love of all things domestic. My family, however, still deserves a good home-cooked dinner every now and then, so despite my lack of domestic prowess, I'm going to try my darndest this year to learn to enjoy preparing a meal.

Step one: learn to cook.

I'm not a bad cook (I make a mean green bean casserole!), but I'm sure there's a lot I don't know, so I figure I should start with the basics. In that regard, I signed up for a cooking class through the Bastrop YMCA called The Happy Kitchen / La Cocina Alegre® Cooking and Nutrition Education Program.

Photo by Jeff Kubina, Flickr CC.
The Happy Kitchen program is a 6-week series of classes which emphasize the selection and preparation of fresh, seasonal foods that are nutritious, economical, and delicious. Classes meet once a week for 1 1/2 hours to cook, discuss, and learn together. Everyone leaves each class with recipes and all the groceries needed to practice new cooking skills. And did I mention that registration is FREE?!

I don't enjoy cooking, but I do enjoy socializing, so an interactive cooking class seems like a great place to transition my passion for people into a love of cooking. Fingers crossed!

Step two: learn to cook efficiently.

If I have to cook less, I'll enjoy it more. At least, that's the idea. Therefore, I must learn to cook more efficiently.

Carolyn McMasters, a local consultant for The Pampered Chef®, is offering a class on Feb. 7th called Dinners Done Right: Freezer Meal Workshop. She helps you make 7 meals in 2-3 hours to freeze and take home. Let me say that again... 7 meals in only 2-3 hours!!! To someone who despises cooking, that sounds deliciously fantastic.

Photo by rpavich, Flickr CC

The class itself is free, but you will be provided with a list of items to purchase ahead of time (some of the items must be purchased through her Pampered Chef page) to use during the class to make the meals. Ingredients like Cherry Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic-Infused Canola Oil, and Spicy Pineapple Rum Sauce will be used to create the dishes, which to a novice like me, sound totally exotic and outside my normal realm of cooking. Which I guess is one of the main reasons I'm taking the class. Plus, you don't have to do the dishes or clean up! Now, that's my kind of cooking.

For details about the class, please contact Carolyn at (512) 450-2181.

Step three: learn to cook with local ingredients.

I've always been enamored with the idea of shopping at the local farmer's markets. There's something romantic and lovely about walking down aisles filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, and organic grains. However, I have no idea what to do with the things I find there, as I have zero recipes in my cooking repertoire that call for squash, eggplant, kale, beets, or zucchini. (Which is why I'm beginning my journey with some cooking classes!)

Photo by Jeff Kubina, Flickr CC.

I'm hoping that knowing I'm supporting local farmers as I cook will bring me more enjoyment from the cooking itself. Also, whether it's true or not, using local ingredients seems healthier. And I will most certainly feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from feeding my family healthier meals.

Photo by Sleeping Owl Photography, taken at Bastrop 1832 Farmer's Market.

In Bastrop County, we have two farmer's markets and one producer's market:

Since Bastrop County is mainly rural, we also boast many local farms. Click here for a list of local farms.

Step four: teach my kids to cook.

If all else fails, I'll just have my kids do the cooking. Of course, that means they'll need to learn to cook, too. Thankfully, the Bastrop YMCA offers youth nutrition programs like "Little Chef" and "The Great Food Race." These classes are designed to take students on a culinary journey which will lead to the discovery of new and exciting "super" foods. They will prepare simple, healthy dishes that can easily be recreated at home using ingredients that will become the building blocks of food for life.

Photo by Karen, edited, Flickr CC.

Yay for child labor! (Yes, I'm kidding. Mostly.) Seriously, though, I want my kids, unlike me, to enjoy cooking, maybe even love it. Kids learn best by doing and mimicking, so I must model a love of cooking for them. Also, I've read that kids are less likely to complain about the meal if they had a hand in preparing it. I think less whining is a wonderful reason for them to help me in the kitchen, don't you?

So, that's my plan. I'm going to take some cooking classes, frequent the local farmer's markets, and have my kids help in the kitchen. Easy peasy. I'll love cooking in no time. Hopefully. Then, when I become rich, I won't need to hire a personal chef. Instead, I'll hire a maid!

Tune in later this week to read about my plan to exercise more in our Bastrop County Fitness Guide!