March 4, 2015

First Friday Art Walk (March 6, 2015)

The First Friday Art Walk is a monthly event held in downtown Bastrop on the first Friday of every month to celebrate Bastrop's thriving art scene.

This month, First Friday will be held on Mar. 6th, from 5:30-8:30pm.

Many downtown businesses, restaurants, and shops will stay open late, and there will be refreshments, live music and entertainment, and beautiful local artwork throughout historically hip downtown Bastrop.

ALLEY B LOCATIONS:
  • Lost Pines Art Bazaar, 603 Chestnut Street; Students Show: Tommie Eernesie, Marlana Chalmers & Zoe Zamora
  • Eclectic Perfection, 601-D Chestnut Street; Artist: Kelley Keen; Music: Wynn Taylor & Ace Grant

Lost Pines Art Bazaar

SOUTH MAIN LOCATIONS:
  • Bastrop Bling Company, 705 Pine Street; Student Show: Ceili McMulle
  • Bluwr Myles, 711 Pine Street; Student Show: Juston Rowe
  • Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, 815 Main Street; Artist: Maria Montoya Hohenstein
  • Art Connections Gallery, 908 Main Street; Artist: Chris Chappell; Music: Faire to Middlin
  • “Oh Wow” & Barbara’s Corner, 920 Main Street; Students Show: Edgar Florez & Claire Gordon
  • High Cotton, 922 Main Street; Event: Learn The Art of Extraordinary Pet Care from Crossroads Animal Hospital
  • Bastrop Picture Frame Emporium, 926 Main Street; Student Show: Michelle Mejia
  • The Gallery at Lost Pines, 930 Main Street; Student Show: Belen Villarreal
  • Abri Gallery, 932 Main Street; Event: Weaving Demonstrations (until 8pm)

"Flower Girl" by Maria Montoya Hohenstein

NORTH MAIN LOCATIONS:
  • R.A. Green Mercantile, 1022 Main Street; Artist: Rick Jones

"Mountain Landscape" by Rick Jones

Need childcare? The First United Methodist Church of Bastrop has you covered! They're offering childcare for ages 0-7 from 6-10pm on Friday, Mar. 6th in the church basement. The church is located at 1201 Main Street. The cost is $15 for the first child, $5 for the second child, and FREE for each additional sibling. Dinner is provided. Reservations are required; no walk-ins. RSVP at (512) 321-2201.

And don't forget to take pictures to enter into the Downtown Bastrop Photo Contest!!! The 1st place winner gets a $50 gift card that can be used at any local business that's a member of the Bastrop Downtown Business Alliance, and the 2nd place winner gets a $25 gift card!

February 27, 2015

Top 10 Things to Do This Weekend (Feb 27-Mar 1, 2015)


1. Patent Pending Improv - Feb. 27th, 7:00-8:15pm at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Center for the Performing Arts (PAC) Black Box Theatre, located at 1401 Cedar Street in Bastrop. Performed by Bastrop High School theatre students. $2/person or $3/couple.

2. Game Night & Open Mic - Feb. 27th, 7-10pm at The Owl Wine Bar and Home Goods Store, located at 106 N. Main Street in Elgin. FREE!

3. "I Do! I Do!" - Feb. 27th-28th at 7:30pm and Mar. 1st at 2:30pm at the Bastrop Opera House, located at 711 Spring Street in Bastrop. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for children, students, and military.

4. "Alice in Wonderland" - Feb. 27th & 28th, 7:30pm at Playhouse Smithville, located at 110 Main Street in Smithville. Tickets are $12/person and can be purchased in advance online or at the door.

5. Anthony Ray Wright - Feb. 27th, 9pm at Ironwood Icehouse (formerly Cindy's Gone Hog Wild), located at 5496 Hwy 71 in Garfield/Cedar Creek.

6. Sherwood Forest Faire - Feb. 28th-Mar. 1st, 10am-dusk at 1883 Old Hwy 20 in McDade. Enjoy tons of fun activities at this Renaissance Festival based on the tales of Robin Hood and his Merry Men... right in your very own backyard!

7. Empty Bowl Project - Feb. 28th, 11am-1pm at the Bastrop High School Cafeteria, located at in Bastrop. Tickets are $20/person; children 12 and under are FREE. Proceeds benefit the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.

8. Skins, Skulls, and Scat - Feb. 28th, 7-8pm at Bastrop State Park. Touch, feel, and see skulls, skins, and scat of the various wildlife that inhabits Bastrop State Park. Test your knowledge and learn how to identify these different animals. Free after park entry fee.

9. Gourmet Grilled Cheese Party - Feb. 28th, 7pm at EON Vintage, located at 705-C Pine Street in Bastrop. Potluck style, so bring your favorite cheesy dish to share. FREE!

10. Vinyasa Yoga - Mar. 1st, 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 February events, click here.

February 25, 2015

Empty Bowl Project - 2015

The bowls are ready, and the cooks are gearing up for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry's 11th Annual Empty Bowl Project on Saturday, Feb. 28th from 11:00am-1:30pm at the Bastrop High School Cafeteria.


This special lunch is an exciting battle of the best Bastrop County chefs, throwing down in the areas of soups, stews, and chilis. Come in and grab a one-of-a-kind bowl painted by a student artist, and support the Food Pantry's ongoing fight to make sure that no one in Bastrop County is left with an empty bowl. Plus, listen to live music by Max Butler presents a Dunn Deal while you bid on handcrafted items by local artists in the silent auction and nibble on cookies and other delicious desserts made by Food Pantry volunteers.

 
There will be two rounds of voting - one by the special guest judges who will award winners in each category, and the other by the attendees who have the power to crown the "Fan Favorite." Returning judges are Cecilia Nasti, producer and host of the "Field and Feast" radio show, extreme soup lover and closet foodie Nell Carroll, Director of Photography at the Austin American-Statesman, and  Lois Rodriguez, editorial lead for the Texas Highways website, Texas TraveLog, and the Texas State Travel Guide.

The Empty Bowl Project is a nationwide movement that brings artists and cooks together to raise money for programs that strive to end hunger and food insecurity. All proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships for this event will go toward providing a reliable resource for those living in poverty in Bastrop County.


This event is a major component of the Bastrop Food Pantry's fundraising efforts that in 2014 translated into 375,014 pounds of nutritious food distributed to over 12,097 households and a broad array of education and support services to the elderly and those in need.
 
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Food Pantry office (806 Fayette Street), the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce (927 Main Street), the Sugar Shack (114 Loop 150), or at the door on the day of the event. Tickets are $20 per person, and children 12 and under are free.


For more info, contact the Food Pantry at (512) 303-0033 or visit www.bastropfoodpantry.org.

February 22, 2015

The 10 Best Margaritas in Bastrop

In honor of National Margarita Day on Feb. 22nd, 2015, we began a quest to discover the best margaritas in Bastrop, Texas. (It's a tough job, but someone had to do it!) We took nominations for your favorite margaritas on the 365 Things to Do in Bastrop, Texas Facebook page. Then, we recruited 7 judges and visited 9 restaurants over 2 days, tasting a total of 27 margaritas. Each judge ranked the margarita on a scale of 1-10, and we averaged all of the scores to come up with the top 10 margaritas in Bastrop. Here are the results...

10. Tie--Frozen Strawberry Margarita at Ramos #2 and the House Frozen Margarita at Guadalajara.


We tried the house frozen margarita, the frozen strawberry margarita, the frozen mango margarita, and the frozen sangria margaritas at Ramos #2 and the house frozen margarita at Guadalajara. They were all pretty good, but the frozen strawberry margarita and the house frozen margarita at Guadalajara were favorites.

9. Tie--House Frozen Margarita at La Hacienda and the Texas Two Step Margarita (1/2 frozen strawberry, 1/2 house frozen) at Los Cabos.


At La Hacienda, our waiter was amazing, and when we told him what we were doing, he said, "For margaritas here in Bastrop, this is the place!" We tasted four different margaritas at La Hacienda, and we're apt to agree. They've got some great margaritas, and the house frozen margarita was one of them.

The Texas Two Step margarita at Los Cabos (formerly Nancy's Steakhouse) is a swirl of 1/2 house frozen margarita and 1/2 frozen strawberry margarita. It was a great combination! Plus, we love the name.

8. Jubielosa Margarita at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila.


This was one of my personal favorites of the night, and most of the judges agreed. The Jubielosa margarita at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila is made from El Gran Jubileo Tequila, Fleur Elderflower Liquer, fresh lime juice, cucumber, and jalapeno, muddled in agave nectar. It has a sweet and gentle flavor, followed by a spicy bite. One judge called it "spicy and seductive," which is a perfect description.

7. House Margarita on the Rocks at Piney Creek Chophouse.


The house margarita at Piney Creek Chophouse was the strongest margarita we tasted, so if you're looking for a margarita with a kick, this is the one for you. As an added bonus, the bartender at Piney Creek Chophouse is an older, distinguished gentleman that one judge described as "a debonair Sean Connery type." The atmosphere is classy and subdued, which makes it a perfect destination for an intimate evening sipping a glass of wine or their delicious (and powerful) margarita on the rocks.

6. El Nino Margarita at Chili's.


We tried several margaritas at Chili's, including the Tropical Sunrise margarita (made with Sauza Gold Tequila, midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice, and a splash of grenadine) and their new Mango Patron margarita, which has real, fresh pieces of mango in it. But our favorite was the El Nino margarita. It's made with Sauza Gold Tequila, Cointreau, and fresh orange juice. Delicious!

5. Moonshine Margarita at Hyatt Lost Pines.


The atmosphere at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort and Spa makes you feel like you're on vacation a thousand miles away. Their Moonshine Margarita just adds to that relaxed, on vacation feeling. This super star concoction features a blend of Grand Marnier, fresh-squeezed lemon and lime, agave nectar, and Fitch's Goat Moonshine, a from-scratch corn whiskey distilled in nearby Smithville, Texas. Bonus points for keeping it local!

4. House Margarita on the Rocks at La Hacienda.


We had a lot of fun at La Hacienda, partly because of the tasty margaritas and partly because of the fun mariachi band. Mariachi music aside, La Hacienda has some fantastic margaritas, and the house margarita on the rocks was one of them!

3. Mexican Martini at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila.


While some would argue whether a Mexican Martini is a margarita or not, we don't care as long as it tastes good... and the Mexican Martini at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila was fabulous. Made with Cazadores Reposado Tequila, triple sec, olive juice, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar with a chili salt rim, it was the perfect blend of flavors, not too sour and not too sweet. Bonus points for the chili salt rim, which I'm not ashamed to admit, I licked off the glass.

2. Frozen Mango Margarita at La Hacienda.


The frozen mango margarita at La Hacienda was beyond delicious. Several judges commented "Wow!" and one judge tried to give it a 20 on our scale of 1-10. I think that says it all. This is definitely a margarita you need to try.

1. El Mariachi Loco Margarita at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila.


Drumroll, please! After tasting 27 different margaritas at 9 different restaurants all over Bastrop, we've decided that the best margarita in Bastrop is the El Mariachi Loco margarita at Viejo's Tacos y Tequila. Made with Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo Tequila, Tres Generaciones Silver Tequila, muddled avocado, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar, this margarita is delicoso! Heck, I don't even like avocados, and I loved this margarita. I guess with "tequila" in the name of the restaurant, it comes as no surprise that they've got some of the best margaritas in town.

Not only were the margaritas fantastic, but Viejo's gets bonus points for having live music on the patio, and it just happened to be one of my favorite local bands, Princeton Runaway! It was such a fun atmosphere, that none of the judges wanted to leave. Great job, guys!

Honorable Mentions

Live Music - Viejo's Tacos y Tequila, Hyatt Lost Pines, La Hacienda, and El Nuevo Mexico all get a thumbs up from us for having live music on Friday and/or Saturday night.

video

Strongest Margarita - Piney Creek Chophouse gets this award, because they definitely had the strongest margarita we tasted. I think just two of those bad boys would keep me from driving home.

Best Salsa - OK, I know we were tasting margaritas, but we also had chips & salsa at most of the restaurants we visited. And the salsa at El Nuevo Mexico was delicious!

We sure had a lot of fun making this list! There was nothing particularly scientific about our method; it was just a group of 7 people tasting margaritas and deciding which ones they liked the best. We would love to hear from you, too.  Which is YOUR favorite margarita in Bastrop?

February 20, 2015

Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps Performance Showcase (February 22, 2015)

As a former band geek and alumni of Longhorn Band, I love everything about band. I have many stories that begin with the infamous "This one time at band camp..." although my stories aren't quite as lurid. I especially love marching band! The uniforms, the choreography, the music, the flagsI love it all. But if marching band is ice cream, then drum and bugle corps is an ice cream sundae covered with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a cherry on top. It's marching band taken to the next level.


There are several drum and bugle corps across the country, and we're lucky enough to have one in our own backyard! The Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps is a non-profit musical youth organization with over 150 student members from all over Texas and the south. They've been having their monthly rehearsals at Bastrop High School, which not only gives our local economy a little boost, but also affords us the opportunity to witness some exciting, world-class entertainment.

Here's a video from the January rehearsal that highlights their hard work:



The Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps will have a Performance Showcase on Sunday, Feb. 22nd at 12pm at Bastrop High School. The show will be outside unless it rains, in which case, it would take place in the gym. Their new show is "Phantom of the Opera," one of the most dramatic and intense musicals of all time.



Even if you can't make it to the performance, you can volunteer your time or resources. They have a student sponsorship program and an instrument replacement program. Plus, they accept monetary and in-kind donations and are always looking for volunteers. Click here for details.