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Beauties and Breweries

dweber posted this May 21st, 2015

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Ahhh summer. A time to hit the open road, seek out a summer breeze and share a cold one with good company. Inspired by the final 4 towns in Outside Magazine’s Best Town Ever competition, we’ve picked some of our favorite local breweries and paired them with our hoppiest, most refreshing summer dresses – guaranteed to get you quick service at the bar!

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Going Dutch in the Allisa Dress 
Spur-of-the-moment trip to Eau Claire, Wisconsin? You’ll charm those mid-western brewers in the Allisa. Super-soft like your favorite college tee, but lady-like with a versatile waist, the Allisa is perfect for for an afternoon at Lazy Monk Brewery. We like the crispy Bohemian Pilsner, but don’t take our word for it…

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Easy Livin’ in the Rosemarie Dress
A Southern Belle is many things – graceful, approachable and just a hint of sass. So best to have a dress to match when you’re sashaying through Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Rosemarie is made of our eco-friendly Samba (Tencel®, organic cotton, spandex), giving it the kind of versatility other dresses only dream of. It breathes and moves and follows your curves, so even after you’ve knocked back a few brews at Chattanooga Brewing Company, the Southern gents will still be in awe.

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Take the Scenic Route in the Corsica Dress 
Like a Little Black Dress, exploring Maine’s colonial  ports is an absolute MUST. Luckily, the Corsica Dress helps satisfy both requirements. Sail through one of our favorite ports, Bar Harbor, Maine in our Aquaculture jersey dress – kayak through the harbor, scramble along the craggy cliffs then saunter on in to Bar Harbor Brewing. After a day on the salty sea you deserve only the best, so go for the Cadillac Mountain Stout – it’s top shelf, just like your LBD.

It’s a Lazy Sunday in the Empirical Dress 
Sunday Funday was made for this dress: Roll out of bed, hop on your bike, stroll the harbor, hit a beer tasting, catch the ferry and never change your outfit. With a flirty bodice that looks great sidled up to the bar or peaking out from under a jean jacket, you’re bound to get service with a smile at the Barhop Brewing Company in Port Angeles, Washington. Try a sampling of all the beers, or grab a bottle of the Catcher Rye Ale to sip on the Victoria Island Ferry. From morning to night, US to Canada, you’ll be making waves in this sweet summer dress.

Backyard Collective 2015

dweber posted this May 11th, 2015

It’s springtime, which means it’s Spring-cleaning-time, which means the annual Backyard Collective! The Backyard Collective is the day we close our doors and clean up the public lands in our own backyard with other like-minded companies who support the Conservation Alliance. In it’s 6th year, the BYC partnered with Ventura Hillsides Conservancy for the third time to continue work on the Ventura River Restoration Project.

It was another hard working day, joining forces with local volunteers from Patagonia, Deckers, Elemental Herbs & REI. We got our hands dirty, garnered a few scrapes, removed trash, and spent the better half of a day eradicating the invasive plant species, Arundo Donax, from the Ventura River habitat.

Just a stone’s throw away in our backyard, the Ventura River supplies Ventura County, CA with much of it’s drinking water and much of it flows directly to the ocean. It’s a pivotal habitat to the vitality of Ventura County and especially important during this severe drought. Through the Conservation Alliance and other social and environmental “imunipacts”, the Ventura Hillside Conservancy  has received over $1 million in grants to keep the river habitat clean and thriving. And when paired with a little bit of elbow grease, those efforts go a long way. Since phase 1 of this project, volunteers  have chopped 7 acres of Arundo, removed 3 tons of trash and fostered regrowth of native species.

Be sure to check out the great things the Conservation Alliance is doing nation-wide and learn more about the amazing regional work Ventura Hillside Conservancy is doing too!

 

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Good Vibes with Reverend Tall Tree

dweber posted this May 11th, 2015

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Good luck not tappin’ your foot and bobbin’ your head the moment you hear the good vibes of Reverend Tall Tree. Born out of late night jam seshes in a small saloon in East Los Angeles, Reverend Tall Tree serves up a piping hot helping of smoky rhythm and blues with a swingin’ beat and healthy dose of rocking chair harmonica. It’s a sound that begs to be listened to in the presence of good company and front man Chris Pierce knows just how to set the tone.

Chris is an old friend of the Toads. With a voice like hot buttered rum and a disposition like Southern sweet tea, we knew we liked Chris from day one. We met him back in the early 2000’s on the beach in Venice, CA when we were shooting our first brand video – a mutual friend brought him along to provide some background beach jams and he ended up scoring our theme song, “Everyday is an Adventure” in 15 minutes. He’s represented Toad at various musics festivals and played over the years at the Lizard Lounge in Portland, bringing the spirit of Toad to the stage. He’s hit the road as an accomplished solo act, toured with big names in the biz, and crooned his way through a TedxTalk on the healing power of music. In a nutshell, Chris is one cool dude.

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Reverend Tall Tree is Chris’ latest creative endeavor, and naturally we can’t get enough of it.  In early 2013, Pierce wandered into the Sassafras Saloon, a new blues bar that opened just a few blocks from his house. Word on the street was the Sassafras was looking for a new house band to kick things off. So with a few old buddies, a dusty harmonica and a songbook of standards, Chris and the gang started performing as Reverend Tall Tree on Saturday nights. The rest, as they say, is history.

With Professor Lovejoy on the drums, Old Parker on guitar, Dr. Cooper on double bass and Pierce himself laying down the vocals and harmonica, Reverend Tall Tree’s self titled debut album is all about good company. “Music is a way to celebrate togetherness,” Pierce says, “a congregation, a connection. It lends itself to inclusion and adds to the overall rhythm.”

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And that’s obvious in both their live shows and their studio album. They recorded the LP in the gritty style of the old viynl greats like Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke – one take, no headphones, no individual mics, recorded live to 2” thick tape and mixed on the spot with a 1956 tape machine. Or as Pierce describes, “We let the vibe roll and we let the tape roll.”

When asked what kind of dish Reverend Tall Tree’s music would be, Pierce said, “A Reverend Tall Tree experience is like a pot luck – everyone brings something to share.” So shout, stomp, moan, shuffle, whoop and holler because Reverend Tall Tree is certainly bringin’ something to the table.

You Choose America’s Best Town Ever

dweber posted this May 4th, 2015

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One of these 64 towns can be called the “Best Town Ever.” Crowning the winner will be up to you.

Picking the locations for the fifth annual Best Town Ever contest wasn’t easy. Outside Magazine looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene— these are the towns that are hidden gems, underdogs, towns on the rise, or those solid golden-oldies with a new twist. 60 towns were picked to represent 4 regions of the U.S. – West, East, Midwest and South. And for the first time a wild-card round had Instagram followers nominate their favorite towns for the final four spots: Port Angeles, WA; New York, NY; Saugatuck, MI; and Roanoke, VA had a strong showing of support to bring the competition to 64 towns. Now the gauntlet begins!

Who will advance in the tournament? That’s up to you. Click through to the voting section to vote for your favorite towns and see which town rises to the top. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You can vote once per round, per matchup (So that’s 32 votes the first round, 16 the next round, etc.)
  • Starting on May 4, the first five rounds of voting will last five days each (so vote every 5 days on a new matchup)
  • The winners will advance until only two towns remain on May 29, 2015 to kick off the final round
  • The winner will be the town with the most votes on June 5

Oh ya, and you can win great stuff!

Enter your email address and ZIP code at OutsideOnline.com for a chance to win a three-night vacation to the winning town or up to $300 worth of new Toad&Co threads! Happy voting, and may the best town win!

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Modern Travel: Santa Barbara

dweber posted this April 30th, 2015

 

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This month Outside Magazine’s Best Towns 2015 competition kicks off, pitting 64 towns against each other in a bid for the Best Town in America title. We’re big fans of all the nominated towns, but there’s a special spot in our hearts for one town in particular: Santa Barbara, CA – our home sweet home!

Nestled amongst the hills where the Santa Ynez mountains kiss the Pacific, Santa Barbara is anything but a sleepy beach town: Artist colonies, renowned universities, international non-profits, muchas taquerias autenticos, loads of small businesses and a blossoming tech industry mean there’s something for everyone. And with more than 300 days of sunshine per year, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities – smell the roses at the Queen of the Missions, hike around the Lost Padres National Forest, kayak the sea caves of Channel Islands National Park, bike State Street or cruise along East Beach, hit the local wineries, splash around at Butterfly Beach or get barreled at Rincon Point. If you’ve still got energy after a day of activities, catch a show under the stars at the Santa Barbara Bowl, because where else can you dance the night away with a view of the ocean? So come check out our town and who knows, maybe you’ll think it’s the Best Town Ever too.

WHAT TO DO IN SANTA BARBARA

Channel Islands National Park
Close to the mainland but worlds away are five islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara – that make up the Channel Island National Park. This relatively untouched archipelago is absolutely stunning and one of the richest marine biospheres in the world with many species that live nowhere else on earth. And getting there is half the fun. Head over to Channel Island Outfitters in the Santa Barbara Harbor and they’ll hook you up with everything you need for a day on the water – scuba or snorkel the great kelp forests, kayak through the sea caves (the Painted Cave is pretty spectacular) or leisurely take in the wildlife from your SUP. Hike around the islands for an afternoon or pack a tent and stay a while. Boats leave every morning from the harbor, so be sure to check in with CIO and set your alarm.

Tacos El Rey
One of the best parts of Santa Barbara is the mix of Native American/Spanish/Mexican heritage, and no where is this more evident than in the culinary traditions. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a killer Mexican cafe in this town, but we’re digging Tacos El Rey, a tiny hole-in-the-wall, cash only taqueria just off State Street. Served on handmade tortillas that are made daily, this might be one time when your eyes won’t be bigger than your appetites: The tacos al pastor come topped with grilled pineapple, catch of the day fish tacos mean you’ll always try something new, the portobello mushroom taco is seasoned to perfection and top it all off with the best salsa in town (spicy peanut salsa, anyone?). Grab a watermelon agua fresca to-go and a walk it off – it’s only 5 blocks to the beach!

Handlebar Coffee Roasters
Located just across the street from the historic Spanish Presidio, Handlebar Coffee Roasters is good coffee and good people. Started by a couple of local pro-cyclists who combined their love of biking and coffee, grab a great cup of joe for the road or linger at a sidewalk table and get wrapped up in good conversation. But be warned, their coffee packs a mean punch. It’s made from sustainable beans from three different continents and roasted and brewed to perfection on site. Go for a straight up shot of the best espresso you’ll ever try or a fancy macchiato. Bring your dog (they’ve got dog treats and water bowls), and there’s lots of bike parking for those who roll up on two wheels. Delicious coffee and nice folks, plain and simple.

Telegraph Brewing Company
A favorite of the Toads, you’re in good company when you’re at Telegraph Brewing. With the tapping of their first keg in 2006, Telegraph has steadily grown to be one of California’s best craft breweries and one that’s committed to using sustainable ingredients and brewing methods. They also happen to make excellent beer. Telegraph typically has 10 different beers on tap and they’re constantly rotating: Currently, the Cervza de Fiesta Pilsner lives up to its name as a party for your taste buds, while their award-winning flagship California Ale will have you savor every last drop. Family style tables, big open garage doors, pub games, food trucks and environmentally friendly oats – we’ll cheers to that.

Los Padres National Forest
Extending from Ventura to Monterey across roughly 2 million acres of varied wilderness, the Los Padres National Forest is nothing shy of stunning. From the beautiful Big Sur Coastline of the north to the Matilija Hot Springs of the south theres no limit to the breathtaking views, wonderful hiking trails, epic bird watching and overall good vibes. Our friends at the Los Padres ForestWatch can tell you all about it (they’re the non-profit tasked with keeping the forest thriving), but if you need a place to start then check out the Santa Ynez Mountain Range in Santa Barbara’s backyard. Pick up hiking trails to popular spots like Inspiration Point, Rattlesnake Trail and La Cumbre Peak (the highest peak in town!), or take scenic Highway 154 out of town about 30 minutes to scramble around the rocks at Lizard’s Mouth and take a dip in the pools at Red Rock. Sunscreen, water, sneakers, GO.

WHAT TO WEAR IN SANTA BARBARA

Rivulet Tee
Choose a more colorful path. That’s the spirit of Santa Barbarans and the art of our Rivulet Tee. Offered in three sunny colors, it’s miles beyond basic tees – with a flattering silhouette, wide scoop neck, cap sleeves, solid color front, and cool striping up the center back. It’s made from our Slubstripe fabric, a dream-weight knit of pure organic cotton with cool slubby texture so you’ll be cool as a cucumber as you cruise the beach.

Cetacean Trunk
Now you can surf, swim, sail, paddle, snorkel, spike and swig Mai-Tais with one pair of shorts. In fact, if there’s liquid and action verbs involved, our Cetacean Trunks are up to the task. They’re made of 4-Ply Supplex, our performance-proven nylon fabric that’s tightly woven for extreme durability, treated for quick-dry convenience, and wavy striped for aquatic vitality. Clean styling lets you wear them in town too, and handy zip side pocket mean you’ll never lose your keys (no matter how wet and wild you get).

Capellini Dress
The Capellini Dress dances and sways with a life all its own. No surprise, it’s made of our famous Samba fabric, a slub-textured jersey knit of silky Tencel®, oh-so-soft organic cotton, and a smudge of spandex for stretch. The cool slub texture looks like sun shimmers on water, giving the fabric a little motion even when you’re standing still. A simple A-line dress with a built-in shelf bra and  stealth stash pocket let you can go from coffee shop to beach to date night and never miss a beat.

Fletch shirt
Stand out from the plaid. Street smart organic cotton with a cool crossfire of printed arrows and sharp details make you cool without being too trendy. Comfortably cut with just the right amount of room in the torso, this shirt hits the mark and looks awesome when paired with slacks or swim trunks.

Vote for America’s Best Town Ever

dweber posted this April 13th, 2015

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64 towns. 1 winner. You decide.

Outside Magazine’s Best Towns contest is back for the fifth year in a row. America’s most awesome towns go head-to-head, boasting their best attributes and proving that home really is where the heart is. So whether you’re a die-hard local or you just can’t stop thinking of that one summer getaway, YOU get to pick which town will be crowned Best Town 2015!

From mountain escapes to beachside getaways, powder hot spots to the dusty roads of the Wild West, Outside put together a bracket of their 60 favorite towns. But here’s the catch: They need four more towns to get to the top 64 towns, and they’re looking for your Wildcard Nominations via Instagram. If you have a favorite town with easy access to trails and wilderness, farmers’ markets and craft beers, great ‘hoods and friendly neighbors, then get to nominating!

How to nominate

  1. Upload your photos to Instagram. Use the hashtag #BestTowns2015 on each entry.
  2. Include the full name of your town and state in the description.
  3. You can enter as often as you want.
  4. If your town was one of the top 16 on our 2014 Best Towns list, sorry, it’s time to give someone else a chance.

Judging

  1. First and foremost, enter frequently and encourage your friends to enter too! We’ll keep a tally of the number of posts each town gets.
  2. Beauty, composition, and vibe in the photo all count. Dull, ugly or ill-framed images will be skipped.
  3. The number of likes an image gets matters – so tell your friends to like your pictures!
  4. In the image description, say why your town deserves the Wildcard spot but keep it brief – one or two lines is perfect.

Important Dates

  • Wildcard Nominations and voting starts at 8 a.m. EST on April 20, 2015.
  • Wildcard nomination and voting ends at 8 a.m. EST on April 30, 2015.
  • Start voting on the completed bracket on May 4, 2015.

Beginning May 4, all 64 towns will be up, so vote for your favorite towns. Each week is a new round and you can vote once per round for each matchup. And just to sweeten the deal, we’re giving away a new Toad&Co outfit every week to one lucky voter.  The winning teams will advance until only two towns remain then we’ll have a seven-day showdown to determine Outside‘s Best Town 2015!

3rd Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

dweber posted this April 7th, 2015

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We’re generally a pretty laid back bunch, but we take our grilled cheese very seriously. It all started in 2011 as a modest celebration for National Grilled Cheese Month when a handful of Toads claimed they could make the best grilled cheese. The results were downright delicious!

With a fire in our bellies and a hunger for more (and let’s face it, any excuse for a party), we decided to kick it up a notch: We forged the Golden Spatula Award – the highest honor to be bestowed upon a gourmand – and invited local businesses and non–profits to show us what they were cookin’ with. Boy, did they bring the heat. From Mac n’ Cheese filled ciabattas, to waffle ironed Monte Cristos, to a sandwich who’s popularity was only eclipsed by some very scandalous aprons, we’ve seen some serious chops displayed at the GCSD over the years.

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And like a fine cheddar, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is just getting better with age. This year’s 3rd Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown was the best yet: Our friends at The Organic Soup Kitchen set up a grilled cheese and tomato soup station, we whet our whistles with beer from our favorite local brewery, Telegraph Brewing Companyand we gathered around to watch 10 local teams throw down their gooiest, cheesiest, tastiest grilled cheeses in the battle for the coveted Golden Spatula.

Outside under the twinkle lights, friends popped from station to station sampling the award winning sammies, picking up tips and leaving high fives, while our team of esteemed judges had their hands (and mouths) full tasting creations from return competitors and a handful of rookies:

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For the third year in a row our friends at LoaTree came dressed to the nines and ready for a smackdow. LoaTree is a lifestyle company that profiles changemakers, builds community and inspires action through unique storytelling.

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Like most academics, the folks from UCSB’s Bren School have a scientific approach to the perfect grilled cheese. The Bren School is a graduate program focused on research, teaching, and community service related to solving environmental problems.

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Throwing their hat in the ring for the first time was the Direct Relief team who’s sammie, “Deliver a World of Gouda” was a crowd pleaser. Direct Relief is a medical aid organization that works to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty.

Rick and Kimberly, our trusty Dealer Services Manaager at Toad, went for Ricky's tried and true "Hot N'Sticky". The secret? mixing sriracha sauce INTO butter!

Rick and Kimberly, our trusty Dealer Services Manaager at Toad, went for Ricky’s tried and true “Hot N’Sticky”. The secret? mixing sriracha sauce INTO butter!

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C’est Cheese, our Year 1 champs came back to reclaim the crown with a killer breakfast grilled cheese. A family-run cheese shop and cafe in downtown Santa Barbara, these guys bring a whole new level of credibility to the Smackdown.

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They might be rookies to the GCSD, but the Deckers team made a veal grilled cheese that smacked of old school expertise! Deckers Outdoor Corporation designs, manufactures and markets innovative, function-oriented footwear developed for high-performance outdoor, sports and recreational activities.

Our neighbors, the Ontraport Team, had all the late night munchies in their "Dude, Where's My Grilled Cheese?" (Hot Cheetos, bacon, siracha, BBQ chips, gold fish crackers…). Ontraport supports entrepreneurs in delivering their value to the world by removing the burden of technology and automating their business.

Our neighbors, the Ontraport Team, had all the late night munchies in their “Dude, Where’s My Grilled Cheese?” (Hot Cheetos, bacon, siracha, BBQ chips, gold fish crackers…). Ontraport supports entrepreneurs in delivering their value to the world by removing the burden of technology and automating their business.

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The guys from Union Bank showed up with backup… Union Bank is dedicated to providing unparalleled service to customers, colleagues and communities. Grilled cheese included upon request.

Ian and Nina go together like bread and butter. Competing for Toad for the last three years, these two headed into Year 3 as the reigning champs.

Ian and Nina go together like bread and butter. Competing for Toad for the last three years, these two headed into Year 3 as the reigning champs!

Isabel and Daisy, the Toad copy writer, rounded out the Toad teams. Their Indian inspired "Dharcheesling" enlightened our tastebuds.

Isabel and Daisy, the Toad copy writer, rounded out the Toad teams. Their Indian inspired “Dharcheesling” enlightened our tastebuds.

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All said, it was a battle of epic proportions of cheese, pitting mozzarella vs. Munster, goat vs. Gouda, provolone vs. parmesan. Teams wowed with home grown veggies and perfectly golden crust, and we saw the most multicultural selection of grilled cheeses yet (Indian grilled cheese, anyone?). The competition was fierce but in the end there could only be one winner… reigning champs, Ian and Nina’s appropriately named El Jefe Chees-urito!  Let’s see if they’ll make it a three-peat at the 4th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown, or will a new victor be crowned?

Thanks to all the participants, judges, and spectators who made this year’s Smackdown such a success – we can’t wait for next year! In the meantime, here are a few recipes to tide you over…

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C’est Cheese’s Breakfast Grilled Cheese – The “Fancy Pants Award” 
Makes 1 sandwich:
1 grilled ancho chile cut in strips
Thin sliced ham
Aged white cheddar
Mild cheddar
2 slices sourdough bread
1 egg
Arugula
Butter

1. Butter the outside and inside of the bread. On the inside of one slice, layer ham and ancho chile strips (the more the spicier!)
2. Add one layer of mild cheddar then a layer of aged white cheddar. Top with other slice of bread and grill until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, poach an egg in boiling water.
3. Top perfectly grilled sandwich with a small handful of arugula and place poached egg in a nest of arugula. Yum!

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Ian & Nina’s El Jefe Chees-urito – The “Two Time Champ” Award 
Makes 5 sandwiches:
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb marinated Carne asada, cooked
1 cup of Dubliner cheese, shredded
1 cup of Irish cheddar
1 cup of jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/4 carmelized onions
1 can red enchilada sauce
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
sliced radishes soaked in an ice bath
sourdough bread, sliced
1 jar pickled carrots*
2 cups avocado whip**
1 bag cantina style tortilla chips
Limes cut in quarters

*To make Pickled Carrots: 5 carrots – peeled and sliced diagonally, 1.5 cups rice wine vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of ginger, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Mix in a bowl, cover and let sit overnight.
** To make Avocado Whip: 3 avocados, 3 cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt. Toss into a food processor and mix until it’s light and airy.

1. Mix butter, caramelized onions, parmesan and chopped garlic. Slather the butter mixture on the outside of the sourdough bread slices.
2. On the bottom slice stack a handful of the dubliner, the cheddar and the jack. Next a layer of the Carne asada,then another handful of all three cheeses on top of that and top with about 5 crispy chips. Add the top slice of bread with the buttered side up.
3. Stick the sandwich in the back of a panini press and leave for about 6 minutes or until the bread is nice and crispy without being burned.
4. Let cool for two minutes and then cut in half diagonally. Drizzle with red enchilada sauce and top with cotija cheese. Serve with extra chips, avacado whip, pickled carrots, radishes and a lime wedge. Muy bien!

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Direct Relief’s Deliver a World of Gouda – The “Best Use of Branding Award”
Makes 4 sandwiches:
4 brioche rolls
1 cup cilantro butter**
1 cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite or homemade)
Smoked gouda cheese, sliced
2 cups BBQ Pulled Pork, cooked
1 jar Hooper’s Chili-Style Pickles
4 Direct Relief mozzeralla logos**
4 small square slices of Extra Sharp Cheddar
4 small square slices of Sharp Cheddar
4 small square slices of Gouda

*To make cilantro butter, combine in a food processor: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 6 cloves chopped garlic, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt and pepper.
**On a wide, thin slice of mozzarella, cut out the Direct Relief caduceus logo with a sharp knife (just be careful!)

1. Slice brioche rolls in half and coat the whole thing with cilantro butter.
2. Liberally Lather the bottom piece with BBQ sauce, then a layer of sliced gouda, then a handful of pulled pork, then a layer of sliced pickles, then another layer of gouda, and top with other half of the bun. Press in griddle until cheese is melted.
3. On the top of each grilled cheese, make the Direct Relief logo: A square of extra sharp cheddar in the top left, a square of sharp cheddar in the top right, a square of gouda in the bottom right, a square of sharp cheddar in the bottom left, and lay the mozzarella caduceus right in the middle. Hover the grill over the sandwich to broil the cheese until it melts!

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Daisy & Isabel’s The Darcheesling – The “New Age Award” 
Makes 2 sandwiches:
Fresh mozzarella log, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
2 cups spinach
1 sweet onion, sliced
4 slices of naan bread
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 jar masala sauce
1 jar mango chutney
1 jar spicy mint sauce*

To make spicy mint sauce, place in a food processor: 2 handfuls of mint, 2 handfuls of cilantro, juice from 2 limes, 3 serrano peppers, a pinch of salt for taste, and if it seems thick add a splash of water to loosen it up.

1. Mix the melted bunter and chopped garlic and spread on both sides of two pieces of naan bread.
2. In a skillet, saute onions and spinach with a splash of masala sauce.
3. on the inside of one naan, spread a layer of spicy mint sauce, then layer all the sautéed veggies. Top with a layer of mozzarella.
4. On the inside of the other naan spread a liberal amount of mango chutney. Place on top of the mozzarella and panini press until naan is crispy.
5. Warm up the masala sauce and pour into a ramekin. Pour remaining mango chutney and masala into ramekins. Cut sandwich in half and serve with the three dipping sauces.

Win a Trip to Chile & Argentina

dweber posted this March 27th, 2015

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Picture this: You and a friend hiking through the Andes, kicking back in glacial lakes, dancing the night away in Buenos Aires… Well that could become a reality because we’re kicking off our new Modern Travel Collection by sending two people to Chile & Argentina for 13-days of awesome. Oh, and we’ll toss in a new Toad&Co Modern Travel wardrobe for the trip too – because let’s face it, the days of the safari costume are over! Enter our Modern Travel Trip Sweepstakes NOW and you could be wandering the streets of Santiago in no time.

So why Chile & Argentina? Misty mountain ranges, crashing seasides, romantic rolling hills, unruly wildlife, pulsing cantinas… The Argentinians call it buena onda, or “good vibes”. We call it adventure.

WHAT TO DO IN CHILE & ARGENTINA

Pisco Sours
While the Peruvians will claim this cocktail as their own, Chileans are known for knocking back their signature spirit: the Pisco Sour. A mix of Pisco (a brandy distilled from grapes in the winemaking region of Chile) and fresh lime juice with a dash of simple syrup and an egg white for fizz, the Pisco Sour will put some hair on your chest. Santiago, the buzzing capital of Chile, slings a mean Picso since pride is on the line. Wander from barrio to barrio and try the variations on the classic cocktail.

Villarrica Volcano
Adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers will delight in Chile’s adventure capital, Pucon, in central Chile. World class mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking, climbing, horse riding – whatever gets your blood pumping – it’s all in Pucon and it all comes with a killer view of smouldering Volcán Villarrica. Known locally as Rucapillán, it’s nickname is a Mapuche word meaning “House of the Pilán” or “House of the Spirit,” and it certainly lives up to it’s name. Villarrica is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes and the top is permanently covered by snow and giant glaciers. Pack a few layers and get spirited away.

Lanin National Park
After a few days traipsing the volcano, journey over the mighty Andes into Argentina. Drop by the country’s picturesque Lake District for some much needed R n’ R and a dip in one of its 24 glacial lakes. Flowing from lake to lake are hundreds of rivers and creeks bursting with salmon and trout. Hike amongst the grand Argentinian forests to the Mapuche reserves – home to the indigenous people who are known for their hospitality and stunning craftsmanship. And in case you’re missing the rumble of a volcano, Lanin Volcano is always there when you when you need it – all 3,776 meters of it.

Bariloche chocolates
Belgium, Switzerland, and Bariloche: The chocolate trifecta. Home to some of the world’s best chocolatiers, Bariloche is a sleepy mountain town with quaint, chalet-style wooden architecture and a serious sweet tooth. Back in the1800’s, German and Austrian immigrants came to Argentina looking for new opportunity and brought their time-honored recipes. Pop into the chocolate shops on Mitre Street, Bariloche’s main thoroughfare, for some of the most delicious chocolate you will ever try.

Empanadas 
Is there anything better than buttery, flakey pastry stuffed with goodies and eaten on the fly? Baked, fried, stuffed with meats and cheese, veggies or fruits, drizzled with honey or dipped in salsa – you really can’t go wrong with an Argentinian empanada. And though each region has it’s own take on the snack, Buenos Aires is the unquestionable heartland of empanadas strictly based on the sheer number of empanada shops in the city. Sample versions from the Tucuman Province (big and fried in oil), Salta Province (small and baked in clay ovens), Patagonia (seafood and lamb fillings), or the spicy empanadas of the Jujuy region. Whatever your preference, good luck stopping once you’ve started!

WHAT TO WEAR IN CHILE & ARGENTINA

Boarding Pass Short
Packed for any adventure, these shorts are up for anything: exploring the barrios, cruising the playas and scrambling around in the Andes. They’re styled like classic walking shorts but our performance Travel Twill fabric stretches, keeps you cool, blocks the sun (excellent UPF 40+), dries fast, and repels dirt and salsa stains.

Swifty Tank
In a word, the Swifty is smokin’. It wicks moisture and fends off UV rays with a dynamite fabric blend that feels soft as cotton (but it’s actually a rockin’ blend of polyester and green-tech Tencel®). Tiny stripes and curving seams boost the sizzle factor. And Swifty’s hidden zip pocket and generous shoulder coverage means you won’t lose your room key or show your bra straps when you’re hiking up a volcano.

Whirlwind Dress
After two days in Buenos Aires, your hips break loose and you start to walk like the locals do. Blame it on the music, the sunshine and this dress. Super-simple and free flowing, the Whirlwind Dress is made of two layers of cool, quick-dry fabric that handles heat, travel and water with ease. With an excellent 40+ UPF rating to block the burn and a super-secret stash pocket in between layers, the Whirlwind will have you walking to a new beat from sun up to sun down.

OnRush Polo 
Good looking, refined and ready for action. No, we’re not talking about the Argentine gauchos – we’re describing the Onrush polo. Our Onrush is designed for those who are ready to wrangle the day. Perfect for travel, a day on the trails, city cruising or a sea salt happy hour, the polyester drirelease® and organic cotton knit wicks moisture and keeps you dry and looking muy bien all day long.

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ENTER NOW! Sweepstakes ends 4/14/2015 

Botanic Gardens

dweber posted this March 19th, 2015

On a recent February day Team Toad spent a sunny morning pulling non-native plants at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden as part of our Do The Right Thing initiative. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is just a skip up the hill from our headquarters, nestled amongst the Santa Ynez mountains and home to 10 unique gardens, a Native American creek dam, and one very impressive wildflower meadow.

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As many as 6,550 species and varieties of plants (collectively referred to as taxa), are believed to be native to the state of California. Of that, 2,270 taxa are found no where else in the world and 1,120 species are considered endangered. Invasive plant species, or weeds, pose a major threat to these endangered native species.

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Invasive species are characterized by their adaptability to new environments and aggressive growth within those environments. Without nature’s checks and balance system (like seasonal weather or hungry insects), one small weed can turn into a big problem. Especially in California where water is a hot (or cool) commodity, weeds are taking over prime soil real estate and pushing native species to the brink.

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Although they can look like lovely wildflowers or clovers to the untrained eye, weeds can do some serious damage. Without a thriving native plant population, other wildlife that depends on native plants may migrate or die out, leaving a big imbalance in a fragile ecosystem. So when invasive plants become too unruly for mother nature, that’s when a little bit of man power goes a long way.

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After a hours of weeding and a few trips to the compost bin, there was only one thing left to do: Enjoy the gardens. Ok, there were lots of things left to do – it’s a ravenous invasive species, after all… To learn more about the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and California’s native plant species, visit www.sbbg.org. If you’re not in California contact your regional botanic garden or arboretum about volunteer opportunities. Trust us, you’ll benefit just as much from a morning pulling weeds as the garden will!

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Happy (Extra) Hour

dweber posted this March 9th, 2015

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An extra hour of sunlight means getting outside after work, more sunset walks, a hearty garden and an extra hour of happy hour! Ok, maybe not an extra hour, but isn’t Daylight Savings a great excuse to whip up a pitcher of margaritas and unwind with good company?

The Mint Tangerita

3 tangerines, peeled
1 cucumber, diced
1 handful of fresh mint
1 cup fresh lime juice
3 cups sparking water
2 cups Cazadores tequila

In a pitcher, muddle together tangerines, cucumber and mint. Add lime juice, sparkling water and tequila. Mix well, pour over ice, salud!