August 7, 2014

7 Ways to Save Money on Back to School

It's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about back to school shopping... from school supplies and new clothes to lunches, snacks, and everything in between. If you're like me, all of those expenses add up. (Especially when you've got THREE kids in school! Yikes!) To help ease some of the back to school stress, here are 7 ways to save money on back to school shopping in Bastrop, Texas and beyond:


  1. Print Coupons - An easy way to save is to print coupons at home for items on your school supply list. Currently, you can print coupons for Purell, Ziploc bags, Wet Ones (disinfectant wipes), Clorox wipes, facial tissues, and more. Most coupons can be printed 2 times per computer. Click here for the BISD school supply list for 2014-2015.

    Here are some great places to score coupons:

    Some stores, including Walgreens, CVS, and Staples, will let you pair a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for even bigger savings. And while we don't have a Target in Bastrop County (yet... fingers crossed!), they also offer additional savings through mobile coupons (text OFFERS to 827-438) and the Cartwheel app. Other local retailers who offer mobile coupons include Staples (text JOIN to 555-444) and Payless (text HAPPY to 747-474).

  2. Reward Programs - Many stores offer reward programs with special deals and savings for members. For example, at CVS, reward members get special prices on certain items, as well as ExtraCare Bucks, which can be used like cash on future purchases.

    Some of these retailers include:

  3. Store Deals - Many retailers offer special in-store deals on certain products. For example, next week (8/13/14 - 8/17/14), when you purchase $20 in school supplies at HEB, you will get a $10 Catalina coupon at checkout!

    Here are some of the prices of school supplies at HEB:
    • GTC pencils (12 ct.) $0.60
    • Crayola Markers (10 ct.) $2.94
    • HEB colored pencils $0.77
    • 2-pocket folders with brads $0.15 (limit 12)
    • Elmer glue sticks (2 ct.) $0.50
    • Elmer school glue bottles $0.50
    • HEB Buddy glue bottles $0.44 (limit 6)
    • 1-subject wide ruled notebook $0.88
    • 70 sheet spiral notebook $0.25 (limit 12)
    • 150 sheet wide or college ruled paper $0.82
    • HEB crayons (24 ct.) $0.25 (limit 6)
    • Crayola crayons (24 ct.) $0.50
    • Composition books $0.50 (limit 6)
    • GTC 1" vinyl binder 1 $0.92
    • HEB Buddy pencil sharpener $0.87
      (Thanks, Saving a Buck with Mrs. Buck!)

    Other stores that offer in-store deals include CVS, Walgreens, Staples, and Target. Check out the weekly ads for in-store deals. Here are a couple of apps to download that will keep you up-to-date with the weekly circulars:

  4.  Rebates - There are so many wonderful apps that let you earn rebates on things you buy in-store. All you have to do is submit your receipt to earn rebates. Here are some of the apps:

    There are also some great websites that let you earn cash back for shopping online at stores like Gap, Old Navy, Children's Place, Gymboree, Amazon, and more. Plus, sites like RetailMeNot give you coupon codes to save even more at your favorite stores! Here are some of the other cash back sites:

  5. Tax-Free Weekend - Shop for back to school supplies including clothes and shoes without paying sales tax! This year, the Texas Sales Tax Holiday is Aug. 8th-10th. Click here for more info.

  6. Shop Used - There are a lot of ways to save money when you don't mind buying used items. There are consignment shops, thrift stores, and garage sale groups on Facebook, just to name a few. For a list of all the Bastrop County garage sale groups on Facebook, click here.

    Here are some of the best places to shop used in Bastrop:
  7. Let Others Do the Work For You! This whole saving money thing can get a little overwhelming. Luckily, there are a million blogs dedicated to helping you save money.

    Here are some of my favorite money-saving blogs:

I hope that gives you some great ideas on how to save a little money this year. If you have any other tips, please share them in the comments!

P.S. This article contains some referral links. :)

July 31, 2014

First Friday Art Walk (August 1, 2014)

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 Aug. 1st, 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; Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest
  • Dawson Bradley Design, 601 B Chestnut Street; Artist: Brad Dawson

Lost Pines Art Bazaar


 SOUTH MAIN LOCATIONS:
  • Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, 815 Main Street; Multimedia Group Show
  • Art Connections Gallery, 908 Main Street; Artist: Roberto Ugalde
  • Pinesong Gallery, 920 Main Street; Artist: Komal
  • High Cotton, 922 Main Street; Ninety-Nine Tournament
  • Art on the Colorado, 924 Main Street; Artist: Rebecca Rodriguez
  • Cripple Creek and Comapny, 928 Main Street; Wine by the Glass
  • The Gallery at Lost Pines, 930 Main Street; Tea, Cocktails, & Fine Art

Art Connections Gallery

Pinesong Gallery


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



For more info about the Bastrop First Friday Art Walk, click here.

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


April 3, 2014

First Friday Art Walk (April 4, 2014)

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 Apr. 4th, from 5:30-8:30pm.

Many downtown businesses, restaurants, and shops will stay open late, and there will be live music, refreshments, and local artwork throughout the downtown area.


FEATURED GALLERIES:
  • Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, 815 Main Street; Artist: Robin Lively
  • Art Connections Gallery, 908 Main Street; Artist: David Johnson and Stan Strembicki
  • Pinesong Art Gallery, 920 Main Street; Artist: Komal
  • The Gallery at Lost Pines, 930 Main Street; Artist: Joycelyn Schedler
  • Lost Pines Art Bazaar, 603 Chestnut Street; Artist: Edd Hayes


"Painted Bunting" by Robin Lively


 FEATURED EVENTS:
  • Bastrop Bling Company, 705 Pine Street; Artist: Kathy Colter
  • High Cotton, 922 Main Street; Artist: Jeff Robertson
  • R.A. Green Mercantile, 1022 Main Street; Artist: Carol Lyon
  • Art on the Colorado (formerly Baker Gallery), 1009 Main Street; Artist: David Baker

    "Painting on Glass #301917" by David Baker


FEATURED LIVE MUSIC VENUES:
  • Viejo’s Tacos y Tequila, 813 Main Street; Musician: Brianna Adams



Enter the RAFFLE at any of the featured galleries for a chance to win a $75 Gallery Gift Card!!! For more info about the Bastrop First Friday Art Walk, click here.

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


March 7, 2014

20 Spring Break Activities in Bastrop County - 2014


Spring Break is upon us, so if you're one of the parents who are scrambling to figure out what to with your kids, here are 20 Spring Break activities in Bastrop County.

  1. Go to the library.

  2. Go roller skating at Bastrop Skating Palace.

  3. Jump in the bouncy castles at Giggle N Jump.

  4. See a movie at Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8.

  5. Get your workout on at the Smithville Recreation Center.

  6. Visit an art gallery.

  7. Visit a museum.

  8. Go canoeing, kayaking, or tubing, or try out SUP (stand-up paddle boarding).

  9. Visit the animals at Capital of Texas Zoo.

  10. Go on a scavenger hunt at the Dinosaur Park.

  11. Go bowling at Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8.

  12. Go skateboarding or roller blading at Power Plaza Skate Park.

  13. Go mountain biking at Rocky Hill Ranch.

  14. Experience the Renaissance at Sherwood Forest Faire.

  15. Ride a horse.

  16. Play golf.

  17. Play black light mini golf at Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8.

  18. Take a class through the Bastrop YMCA.

  19. Go hiking, fishing, and/or camping.

  20. Go to the park.

March 6, 2014

First Friday Art Walk (March 7, 2014)

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. 7th, from 5:30-8:30pm.

Many downtown businesses, restaurants, and shops will stay open late, and there will be live music, refreshments, and local artwork throughout the downtown area.


FEATURED GALLERIES:
  • Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, 815 Main Street; Artist: "Changing Seasons" group pastel show with Jo Castillo, Wanda Gamble, Glenn Whitehead, and Enid Wood
  • Art Connections Gallery, 908 Main Street; Artist: Tim O'Neil, Music: classical guitar by Sean Behrens
  • "Oh Wow" & Pinesong Art Gallery, 920 Main Street; Artist: Komal
  • Lost Pines Art Bazaar, 603 Chestnut Street; Artist: Lynn R. Scherbarth-Mills

Painting by Tim O'Neil

Tim O'Neil had this to say about his art, "Art has been an important interest of mine, going way back to the time I was a child. My father was an excellent draftsman and could have been a great artist, had he pursued it. And, both he and my mother encouraged me. Although I never had any formal training or art education at any university, through the years a number of very accomplished artists came into my life, to instruct and inspire me."

He continued, "Landscape painting intrigues me the most, because of the beauty of Nature, its mystery, and its challenges. An artist can create beauty, tell a story, and instill wonder within the viewer. That is what I try to do. I do hope you enjoy my humble attempts at achieving this goal."
 
Artwork by Lynn R. Scherbarth-Mills
 
The soulful, earthy artwork of Lynn R. Scherbarth-Mills is meant to be touched, felt, and experienced; crafted for the body, home, and soul.  Lynn offers art classes through Rich Earth Design Studio.


 FEATURED EVENTS:
  • Bastrop Bling Company, 705 Pine Street; Artist: Bekah Strachn
  • Bluwr Myles, 711 Pine Street; Artist: Melba Allman Marbry
  • Cripple Creek and Company, 928 Main Street; Sip & Shop with Threads Traveling Trunk, 10% of sales will be donated to Bastrop Animal Rescue
  • R.A. Green Mercantile, 1022 Main Street; Artist: Tom Tierney

Tom Tierney, world renowned "King of Paper Dolls"

Tom Tierney, multi-talented artist and fashion illustrator, is best known for his paper doll books. Having published over 500 books, Tom’s paper dolls are often of iconic celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Cate Blanchett, and even characters from Star Trek!



Enter the RAFFLE at any of the featured galleries for a chance to win a $75 Gallery Gift Card!!! For more info about the Bastrop First Friday Art Walk, click here.

February 10, 2014

Your Valentine’s Day Personality

by Cathleen Martin


Valentine’s Day can be a great opportunity to express your appreciation for that special person in your life, but let’s be honest – it can also be really stressful trying to come up with that perfect romantic experience.  A gift that might make one person faint with excitement may do no more than elicit a resounding "eh" from another!  Perhaps it can help to think about your sweetie’s personality type when planning the big evening; check out the descriptions below (based on the Keirsey temperament types) to see if you recognize your significant other, then read on for some local Valentine’s Day gift ideas.


The Traditionalist


Traditionalists are reliable, practical people that place a high value on doing things the way they have always been done.  They often appreciate the customary trappings of Valentine’s Day – fancy dinners, flowers, candy, and so on. An evening at one of these classy restaurants would definitely make them feel loved!  

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa
575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Cedar Creek, TX
(512) 308-4860


One of the most sophisticated restaurants in Bastrop County, Stories (at the beautiful Hyatt Lost Pines Resort) is offering a special Valentine’s Day three-course meal for $65 per person.  Offerings include seared duck breast, prime filet mignon, and Chilean sea bass.  See the full menu hereReservations are strongly recommended. 

Stories Fine Dining Establishment
 

931 Main Street (entrance on Chestnut Street), Bastrop, TX
(512) 321-4701


It’s hard to beat a great steak for that special meal, and Hasler Brothers serves up one of the best in Bastrop.  White tablecloths, brick walls, and a piano bar set the scene for a romantic evening out; if steak is not your thing, visit on Tuesdays or Thursdays for handmade sushi.  Reservations are strongly recommended.

Hasler Brothers Steak House

919 Main Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 321-3577


Enjoy a lovely meal from Baxters’ extensive offerings in their elegant yet cozy atmosphere.  They are rolling out a new seasonal menu just in time for Valentine’s Day, and there will be live guitar and piano music to enjoy during your evening out.  Reservations recommended.

Baxters on Main


The Rationalist


Rationalists are logical, driven, and natural-born leaders.  The most likely of all types to think of Valentine’s Day as a "Hallmark Holiday," the Rationalist would probably be all right with skipping the whole thing entirely!  If you have your heart set on doing something special on February 14th, however, try surprising them with a meal at one of these more laid-back establishments.

905 Main Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 303-0919


This Bastrop institution is always a good bet for a delicious meal at a reasonable price, and this Valentine’s Day is no exception.  They are offering a three-course meal that includes a salad, your choice of a salmon steak or a 10-ounce ribeye with all the fixings, and a chocolate Bailey’s mousse for dessert.  Non-alcoholic drinks are also included, and beer and wine will be available to purchase separately.  The cost per couple for the evening is $50 (before tax and tip).  Bob Ojeda will be the musical guest that evening.  Reservations recommended.

Maxine's

117 Main Street, Smithville, TX
(512) 237-3128

Low-key atmosphere and out-of-this world food collide at this charming restaurant in downtown Smithville.  This year they will be offering a special Valentine’s Day five-course dinner with two seatings available at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm.  Menu details and pricing are being worked out, and reservations are definitely recommended.

Back Door Café
Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle Photo: © 2011 Houston Chronicle

111 NW 1st Street, Smithville, TX
(512) 360-2100 or (979) 595-6609


This casual eatery in downtown Smithville has a delicious Valentine’s Day menu planned, including your choice of mini crab cakes, grilled salmon, or prime rib, plus your meal will accompanied by live music.  An additional benefit: proceeds from this pay-what-you-can establishment benefit the Serenity Star Recovery Center.  Reservations recommended.

Comfort Café

Paw Paw's Catfish House
1014 Main Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 321-9800

Catfish and beer may not scream Valentine's Day, but it sure is good! Plus, Rationalists might enjoy eating somewhere that isn't a typical Valentine's Day restaurant. Paw Paw's is also super kid-friendly, with coloring sheets, triangle crayons, and a fun little fishing game to keep the kids occupied. Besides, nothing says love like fried pickles!

Paw Paw's Catfish House
Photo by Sleeping Owl Photography


The Artisan


A non-conformist at heart, the Artisan is creative, optimistic, and often the life of the party.  They value unique experiences, especially those that appeal to their senses.  A chance to break away from their everyday routine and spend some serious one-on-one time with their loved one will certainly recharge their batteries!

300 Garwood Street, Smithville, TX
(512) 237-3172

This charming inn located near downtown Smithville is running a special offer through February 16 - $109 per night (taxes included; two-night stay minimum) plus a surprise Valentine’s Day special for you and your sweetie!  Mention code “fb21414” when booking online or over the phone.

Auberge La Grange Bed & Breakfast

575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Cedar Creek, TX
(512) 308-1234


This year, the Hyatt is offering a special “Love, Lounging and Whoopie Pies” package throughout the month of February.  Included in this package are complimentary his and hers bathrobes, a fun “whoopee” amenity, a $25 voucher towards a $100 purchase (or $50 towards a $200 purchase) in Spa Django, and more.  Click here for more details or to make your reservations.

Spa Django at Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa

Cherry Blossoms Spa
804 Spring Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 332-2600

From Cherry Chocolate Facials to Aromatic Foot Baths, Green Tea Eye Treatments, Relaxing Massages, and more, Cherry Blossoms Spa really knows how to pamper someone on Valentine's Day! Click here to view their Valentine's Day packages.

Enchanting Facial at Cherry Blossoms Spa

Viejo's Tacos Y Tequila
811 Main Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 988-7544

Viejo's is a fun place to have a tasty margarita with that special someone or a group of friends. From Avocado, Prickly Pear, Spicy Watermelon, and Pomegranate Margaritas to the Paloma Blanca, Peach Sunrise, Orange Truffletini, Pera Dulce, Fire Water and more, your taste buds will dance for joy. And if the food and drinks don't get you dancing, the live music with Shawn Galvan surely will!

Also, head next door to Veranda, located at 813 Main Street, to register to win a special Valentine's dinner for two at Viejo's - ribeye tacos with agave onion jam, Godiva Chocolate Cheese Cake, and an assortment of heart-warming cocktails!

Viejo's Tacos Y Tequila
Photo by Sleeping Owl Photography


The Idealist


These tender-hearted, intuitive people prize authentic relationships above all else.  While they would appreciate any traditional Valentine’s Day present, they would absolutely love a handmade card or a special gift that you put a lot of thought and time into choosing.  Check out one of these shops to find the perfect item for your sweetheart!

928 A Main Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 332-2477

This local favorite is stocked with all kinds of Texas-sourced gift ideas – wine, gourmet food treats, candles, home décor, jewelry, and more. You’ll be sure to find something here that will make your sweetie’s heart go pitter-patter.

Cripple Creek and Company
Photo by The Grapes Around Texas

114 Loop 150 West, Bastrop, TX
(512) 321-3777

If your sweetie is into sweets, no other delicacy says “Valentine’s Day” quite like chocolate-covered strawberries.  Visit the Sugar Shack this February and choose from three special deals including these decadent treats, or check out their other numerous gift offerings.  Plus, on Feb. 13th-14th, you'll be able to purchase flowers from Brenda Abbott Floral Design at the Sugar Shack, making it a one-stop shop!

It's chocolate-covered strawberry season at the Sugar Shack!

707 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX
(682) 227-0710

This newly-opened storefront for locally produced wines is an excellent place to pick up a gift for your favorite oenophile, or you can take advantage of their Valentine’s Day special –a glass of wine paired with chocolate, each chosen specifically to complement the other.  $20/person from 12-8 p.m.  Visit the link above for more details.

Colorado River Winery

Miss Vickie's Emporium
102 NE Loop 230, Smithville, TX
(512) 237-4100

Miss Vickie's has all kinds of Valentine's Day gifts for your sweetie including jewelry, greeting cards, home décor, knick knacks, '30s memorabilia, and so much more! Downtown Smithville also offers many other cute little shops and antique stores (e.g. The Carriage Stop, Reachable Stars Resale, Mosaic Art & Home, etc.) where you can find that perfect Valentine's day gift.

Miss Vickie's Emporium

Art Connections Gallery
908 Main Street, Bastrop, TX
(512) 581-1799

For the Artisans, why not get them some art for Valentine's Day? Art Connections Gallery is a fine art gallery that showcases and sells the work of many local artists. Also, 10% of each sale goes to the charity of the artist's choice. Their motto is "where art becomes heart." How perfect is that for Valentine's Day?

Downtown Bastrop has lots of other great shops and galleries where you can purchase fine art for all budgets including Lost Pines Art Bazaar, the Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, and the shops in the R.A Green Mercantile.

Art Connections Gallery


…and The Unattached


We know not everyone has a special someone to celebrate with this Valentine’s Day…that certainly doesn’t mean you need to sit around the house, though!  Take this chance to grab to some of your best friends and have a high old time at one of these events.



Thursday, February 13th
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Hit some of the best local shops in Elgin for wine tastings, sweets, live music, giveaways and more!  Participating businesses include The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods Store (106 Main Street), Fiddlesticks Emporium (102 Main Street), and The Pearl (103 West First Street).  This event is free of charge.

The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods Store

1884 State Highway 71 W, Cedar Creek, TX
(512) 303-5073

Get outside and enjoy an evening at the monthly Light o’ the Moon Float Trip, which conveniently falls on Valentine’s Day this year! For $50 per person, you and your buddies can enjoy a relaxing raft ride down the Colorado River, taking in the scenery and doing some stargazing along the way.  Pre-registration is required.


McKinney Roughs Nature Park
 

February 4, 2014

First Friday Art Walk (February 7, 2014)

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 Feb. 7th, from 5:30-8:30pm.

Many downtown businesses, restaurants, and shops will stay open late, and there will be live music, refreshments, and local artwork throughout the downtown area.


FEATURED GALLERIES:
  • Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, 815 Main Street; Artist: Karol Rice
  • Art Connections Gallery, 908 Main Street; Artist: Jeri Moore and Vicky Balcou
  • Pinesong Art Gallery, 920 Main Street; Artist: Komal
  • Abri Gallery, 932 Main Street; Artist: Kazem Khonsari
  • The Gallery at Lost Pines, 930 Main Street; Artist: Rebecca Barker
  • Lost Pines Art Bazaar, 603 Chestnut Street; Artist: Jo Castillo

Lost Pines Art Bazaar
Lost Pines Art Bazaar

 FEATURED EVENTS:
  • Lark, 601 Chestnut Street; Artist: Barbara Samuelson and Russell Smith
  • Bastrop Bling Company, 705 Pine Street; Artist: Deborah Gnagy Ruby
  • Bluwr Myles, 711 Pine Street; Artist: Melba Allman Marbry
  • Cripple Creek and Company, 928 Main Street
  • High Cotton, 922 Main Street; Artist: Jerry Mohme
  • R.A. Green Mercantile, 1022 Main Street; Artist: Marcus Birdwell
  • Baker Gallery, 1009 Main Street; Artist: David Baker

"music of the soul" by Komal
"music of the soul" by Komal

FEATURED LIVE MUSIC VENUES:
  • Viejo’s Tacos y Tequila, 813 Main Street; Artist: Shop Dawgs


Enter the RAFFLE at any of the featured galleries for a chance to win a $75 Gallery Gift Card!!! For more info about the Bastrop First Friday Art Walk, click here.

Need childcare? The First United Methodist Church of Bastrop has you covered! They're offering childcare from 6:00-9:30pm in the church basement. The church is located at 1201 Main Street. It's $15 for the first child, and $5 for each additional sibling. Dinner is provided. Reservations are required; no walk-ins. RSVP at (512) 321-2201.