The Conservation Alliance

sohlson posted this April 22nd, 2014

Photo courtesy of Greg Burke. Cathedral Rock, John Day, Oregon

The Conservation Alliance is a group of outdoor businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations. Since its inception in 1989, Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas throughout North America. We’re proud to be one of their members.

In the past 25 years they have contributed close to $13 million to grassroots conservation groups. The results of their funding have helped save more than 42 million acres of wildlands, protect 2,825 miles of rivers, stop or remove 26 dams, designate five marine reserves and purchase nine climbing areas.

The Conservation Alliance’s success in protecting wild places is impressive — but that’s not the only reason they’re one one of our favorite partners.  While they know how to get stuff done, they’re also a lot of fun.  For example, one day every Spring we close the office and join them in the Backyard Collective, an event they organize that brings together members like us with local grantees for a day getting our hands dirty and working outside to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyard.

In addition to everything else, they’ve co-sponsored two films with us, made by Alexandria Bombach of REDREEL.  You can watch one of them here, and check out her latest film later this year at Mountainfilm in Telluride.

Earth Day

sohlson posted this April 22nd, 2014

The history of the first Earth Day (and the modern environmental movement in general) has deep roots in our hometown of Santa Barbara. In 1969, the largest oil spill to date occurred  in waters off our coastline. While the environmental movement was already brewing (for example, there was the publication of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, the passage of the Water Quality Act, the campaign to ban DDT and the creation of the National Wilderness Preservation System), the oil spill sparked a fierce and public battle between local residents and the oil company responsible for it, and a nation-wide environmental movement was born.  Though it was not the only event to spark the modern environmental movement in the United States, the Santa Barbara oil spill was one of the most dramatic and visible of the several key events that led up to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and in California, the California Coastal Commission and California Environmental Quality Act.

After witnessing the ravages of the spill firsthand, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson took action. Inspired by the anti-war movement happening at the time and realizing that the same political action could be put toward air and water pollution, he persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. It was then that the modern environmental movement came into full swing.

On April 22, 1970, in massive coast-to-coast rallies, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums calling for a healthy, sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment, and groups that had been fighting against oil spills, factory pollution, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

The first Earth Day achieved rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urbanites and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. In Santa Barbara it lead to the creation of the Community Environmental Council – one of the most established environmental organizations in the region, and the host of Santa Barbara’s vibrant, annual Earth Day Festival.

In an effort to stay in the spirit of Earth Day, the electricity of our city’s festival is generated from the sun and biodiesel, they divert compostable and recyclable materials from the landfill and all remaining emissions are offset. It falls on April 26-27 this year, so if you’re in town, be sure to stop by the Horny Toad booth and say hello.

Happy Earth Day!

Tax Day Drink Recipe

sohlson posted this April 15th, 2014


Tax day is a great day for a refreshing drink, and we think the Michelada fits the bill perfectly (pun intended).

There are several legends as to its origin, but our favorite says that Michel Ésper from San Luis Potosi, Mexico used to order beer  at his sports club with lime, salt, ice and a straw in a special cup called “chabela” — as if it were lemonade.  Members of the club began ordering “Michel’s lemonade,” and the name shortened over time to “Michelada.”

1/4 cup ice
Mexican beer such as Dos Equis or Tecate
¼ cup fresh lime juice
Sal Limón or coarse salt

Salt the glass, pour beer and lime juice over ice and take a load off. Variations on the drink include adding Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and soy sauce, but we’re purists.

Have a refreshing Spring drink recipe?  Tell us about it!




2014 Backyard Collective

sohlson posted this April 7th, 2014

A few of the day’s tools.

One morning every Spring we close the office to participate in an amazing event sponsored by our friends at The Conservation Alliance called the Backyard Collective. This year they teamed up with Channel Islands Restoration to organize a day of removing invasive plants and planting natives in the San Marcos Foothills.

After a great pep-talk, we’re off to work!

It’s always a gratifying to work side-by-side for a good cause with companies like Deckers, Patagonia and REI, and this year was no exception!

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.49.09 AM

Horny Toad guys getting briefed by the Channel Island Restoration crew on invasive plants and the importance of restoring the San Marcos Preserve’s native species.

Two years ago, we did restoration work in the same area.

Sunny and his team spent the day trimming seedpods off of invasive castor bean plants, keeping them from squelching native plant species.

It was satisfying to return to the site and see that native plants are regaining their foothold and balance is being restored to the section where we worked in 2012.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.50.36 AM

Paige breaking up weeds like a champ.

We know how lucky we are to live in Santa Barbara. Getting our hands dirty and giving back to this landscape in a conservation project is one of the best ways we can think of start the day — and we’re always stoked for the yummy post-BYC lunch that follows a morning of pulling, digging and planting.

Toads enjoying a delicious lunch courtesy of Goodland Kitchen and Telegraph Brewing.

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

Featured Retailer: Backwoods

sohlson posted this April 7th, 2014

This month our featured retailer is Backwoods, a fellow Conservation Alliance member. Backwoods, founded in 1973, is a family-owned and -operated outdoor shop with eight locations throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas. In 2004, Backwoods took its mission to the next level by creating Backwoods Adventures, a travel company that provides unique, personal, first-rate experiences worldwide. And don’t worry – even if you don’t live near a Backwoods location, you can always outfit yourself for your adventures and plan your next trip with their help online.

2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

sohlson posted this April 7th, 2014

The esteemed trophy.

 The seed for our Annual Grilled Smackdown was planted in 2011 with a modest inner-office Grilled Cheese Contest. Flash forward a few years and several dozen and gooey, golden delicious sandwiches later to our Second Annual Horny Toad Grilled Cheese Smackdown Invitational.  Like many great ideas, this one took on a life of its own. Now it’s a community event with an official panel of judges, fierce competition and a slew of grilled cheese recipes that are too good not to share.


2013′s reigning champs, Team C’est Cheese, complete in team uniform.

We’d like to thank C’est Cheese (who happens to be last year’s overall winner),  Isla Vista Screen Printing, Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, all three Horny Toad teams and the UCSB Bren School for bringing their A games. Everyone made a valuable contribution to Grilled Cheese history this year.


Judges get down to business, keeping clean palates with Juice Ranch alkaline water
(thanks Erin and Scott!).

We’d also like to thank Cheryl and Michael from the Burger Bus, Liz from Citrix, Andrew from Genuine Bread Co., our very own Neil, Matt from the Independent, Scott and Erin from the Juice Ranch and Brian from Telegraph Brewing Company for serving on our esteemed panel of judges.

The 2014 champs, our very own Nina and Ian!

The 2014 champs, our very own Nina and Ian!

And last but not least, we send a hearty high five to this year’s overall Grilled Cheese Smackdown winners, Ian and Nina of Horny Toad Clothing!  Thanks for making us proud guys.

We hope you enjoy the recipes.  Happy National Grilled Cheese Month!


The champion “Truffle Shuffle”: a taste and presentation combo-punch of a sandwich.

Nina and Ian’s Truffle Shuffle – The “Best Overall” Award
For the Sandwich:
1 cup grated Uniekaas Truffle Gouda
½ cup grated Cypress Grove Midnight Moon
1 cup grated Trader Joe’s Goat’s Milk Gouda
¼ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup crumbled Point Reyes Original Blue
1 cup chopped Truffled Marcona Almonds
1 cup chopped, cooked bacon
good sourdough bread, sliced
8 oz. button mushrooms
1 Tbs minced garlic
black truffle oil
1 lb. chopped kale
salt and pepper
package of white mushroms
1 Tbs minced garlic

First sauté the mushrooms:
- Slice mushrooms while heating 2 TB of butter in a pan
- Sauté garlic for about a minute in the butter
- Throw in mushrooms on high heat to sear
·  Lower the heat and sauté until cooked through.

Combine all of the cheeses in a large bowl and mix well.  Layer some of the cheese mix on a slice of the Sourdough.  Place some of the chopped almonds, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon, then layer with more cheese – don’t be shy.  Put the sandwich on a griddle or Panini press and cook through to melt the cheese.  Serve with a healthy side of salty kale chips and enjoy!

For the Kale Chips:
truffle flavored olive oil from Trader Joe’s
one bag of chopped Kale from Trader Joe’s
salt and pepper
- Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
-  Mix the kale in a bowl with 4-5 TB of truffle oil – add more if all leaves are not coated.
-  Sprinkle with pepper and mix again.
-  Spread evenly on baking sheet
-  Sprinkle with salt
-  Bake for 10 minutes until crispy
- If they are crispy after 10 minutes, turn off oven heat and leave kale chips in there until they crisp up and dry out a bit.


Pizza meets grilled cheese.  It’s love.

C’est Cheese’s The Pizzaiolo Grilled Cheese – “The Most Artisanal” Award
They melted a signature blend of three different cheeses — Scharfe Maxx, Mozzarella and Canadian Cheddar — on  slices of Italian loaf bread with Calabrese salami (Italian style pepperoni), roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh basil. Yum!


A little sweet, a little savory, a lot of yum.

Courtney & Zack’s The Jesus M. Cristo : A heavenly, waffled spin on the Monte Cristo – The “So Close” Award

1 loaf thick brioche bread /challah  (12 slices)
1/2 stick melted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk or half n half
2 Tbs dijon
6 slices turkey
6 slices ham
6 Tbs pepper jelly
2 cups arugula
12 oz Gruyere
1 t vanilla
powdered sugar (for finishing)
maple syrup (for finishing)

- Mix eggs, half n half (or milk) and vanilla in a wide bowl
- Brush waffle maker with butter before each sandwich
- Assemble sandwich – slice of challah, pepper jelly (to stick to the cheese), then cheese, then turkey, then  arugula (sandwiched between the meats to keep it fresh), then ham, then bit of mustard, then another slice of challah
- Dunk fully assembled sandwich in egg batter on both sides, careful to hold all pieces together
- Press in waffle maker until crispy and gooey
- Top with maple syrup drizzle and powdered sugar
Makes 6 sandwiches


Yes, those are Doritos.  Yes, it’s completely genius.

Kimberly & Rick’s Bacon Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese – “The Super Bowl Special” Award
2 slices of sourdough bread
2 jalapeños, roasted
1 slice pepper jack cheese
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbs. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs butter, softened
1 Tbs crushed Cool Ranch Doritos
1 slice bacon
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

- Slice jalapeños lengthwise and place skin side up under a broiler on high for 8-14 minutes, until skins are black and bubbling. Then place in a Ziploc bag and let steam for 20 minutes.
- For best results, let butter and cheeses warm to room temperature before beginning.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread, and then spread cream cheese on the other for each slice. Place pepper jack cheese on one slice of bread. Then layer jalapeños, bacon, Doritos and red pepper flakes. Top with slice of cheddar and the other slice of bread.
- Grill in Panini press, or on griddle or pan until cheese is melted.
Makes one sandwich.


Bren school demonstrating the classic and always-delicious beer and grilled cheese pairing.

Bren School at UCSB’s  The Drunken Fig – “The Most Spirited” Award

olive bread from Our Daily Bread
Manchengo and drunken goat cheeses
bourbon caramelized onions
fig jam
farmer’s market arugula
-Layer ingredients and grill to gooey perfection!


The Isla Vista Screen Printing guys sent their extra mac n’ cheese around
the room for a crowd pleasing encore.

Isla Vista Screenprinting’s The Hawaiian – “The Sweetest” Award

ciabatta loaf
white cheddar mac and cheese infused with tantalizing pineapple, jalepenos,and smoked applewood bacon
A fine layer of apricot stilton crumbles
A spread of blackberry jam.
- Melt. Enjoy!


Bici Centro’s entry put a cheese-y spin on “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Bici Centro’s Pickles and Swiss – “The Cheese on Bread” Award
Sourdough Bread
Swiss Cheese
-Butter, grill, and serve with dill pickles.





Let’s Go Winner #1

sohlson posted this March 27th, 2014

Congratulations to the first winner of our Let’s Go travel series! Christopher Sorel submitted this photo of Naumoff Island in Canada and won himself a $150 Horny Toad gift card.

Happily, there’s still time for you to enter our monthly giveaway. Post a photo of your favorite weekend destination with #letsgotoad on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  If we pick yours, we’ll send you a gift card too!

Looking for a fresh travel idea? Get the scoop here on this month’s Let’s Go destination, Bend, Oregon.


Let’s Go: Bend

sohlson posted this March 27th, 2014

The second month of our Let’s Go travel series lands us in Bend, Oregon. Located in the center of the state, Bend is a wonderland of outdoor recreation, good food and friendly people. To the east is wide-open high desert, characterized by big skies, juniper trees and sage brush. To the west is the Cascade mountain range, full of high peaks, pristine lakes, backcountry trails and pine forests.  The Deschutes river runs through the middle of town and is flanked by trails.  Every season in Bend is a good one, so don’t be shy about getting yourself there as soon as you can.

Have a favorite weekend destination? Tag a photo of of it with #letsgotoad on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you’ll be entered into our monthly giveaway.  If we pick your photo, we’ll send you a $150 Horny Toad gift card so you can get yourself some sweet travel threads.  And to check out last month’s winning submision, go here.

Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this list of what to wear and do in and around Bend.

Spork-  It started in 2009 as a mobile streetfood kitchen housed in an Airstream. Now it’s a cool westside restaurant serving globally-inspired, locally sourced lunches and dinners. We recommend enjoying one of their delicious cocktails on the patio.

Men’s Liftoff Shirt- Made of airy, two-layer 100% organic cotton fabric, it’s as handsome as it gets and so soft you’ll want to sleep in it. Wear it over a t-shirt or alone – for summer travel you’ll never take it off.

Mirror Pond – While you’re downtown, head to Drake Park, home of Mirror Pond.  Featuring a picturesque bridge, a plethora of ducks, walking paths, and benches for soaking up the killer views, it’s also a hub for community events and the local’s choice for summer river floating.

Crux Fermentation Project - Bend is no stranger to good beer, but Crux ups the ante with a wide selection of adventuresome and delicious flavors, good atmosphere and yummy food.

Men’s Swerve Cargo Short-  Cargo shorts but with trimmer lines for social versatility, organic cotton for eco-credibility and a hint of stretch for great movement.  They feature front cargo pockets and back flap pockets with a hidden snap and are perfect for for all the hikes, bike rides and general hanging out you’re going to do in Bend.

Crow’s Feet Commons -  Located in Bend’s oldest original home that’s still standing, it’s a community mecca for skiers, bikers, coffee drinkers and beer lovers. Crow’s Feet Commons sells gear, organizes group rides and offers a friendly meeting place for local lovers of the outdoors.

Women’s Slub Stripe Vee Tee -  With a flattering shape, sweet stripes and unexpected pop of color at the v-neck it’s the right shirt to take you from trail to tavern, Bend-style. Best of all, it’s made from pleasingly slubbed, 100% organic cotton, so you can have your favorite new tee and eco-consciousness too.

Tumalo Falls - Though you can drive right up to the water falls, we recommend hiking (or skiing) one of the trails up to them.  You can also take a trail beyond the falls to another set of falls and to Happy Valley. Either way, it’s a pretty good way to spend a day.

High Desert Museum - Located on 135 forested acres, this architecturally pleasing museum features indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife presentations and hands-on programs for the entire family.

Women’s Swept Away Skirt - Girl Scout meets street smart in a skirt that can navigate both travel and day-to-day life. A great blend of lofty linen and earthy cotton give it elegance and ease, meaning it goes with flip flops and a tank top, boots and a jacket, the city or the mountains and all things in between.

Rockin’ Dave’s Deli Hit up Rockin’ Dave’s for delicious made-from-scratch, budget-friendly lunch and breakfast. We highly recommend the breakfast burrito.

Got something to add to the list? Tell us in the comments. And if you want to see more of this kind of stuff from us, be sure to sign up for our weekly emails here.  See you on the road!


World Water Day 2014

sohlson posted this March 17th, 2014

HTB_600pxWide copy

March 22 is World Water Day so we’re taking the opportunity to tell you about Heal the Bay, one of our favorite partners whose cause we have contributed to over the years. HTB is an organization dedicated to restoring health to the oceans for the past 29 years. They’ve advanced science-based solutions that protect water quality, public health and quality of life for millions of people living in Southern California. From their landmark victory in 1987 that stopped the dumping of partially treated sewage into the Santa Monica Bay, to their work this past year to ban single use plastic bags in Los Angeles, they’ve been at the center of the movement to clean up and protect our region’s natural resources.

This year they plan to collaborate with local groups to uphold a moratorium on oil drilling in Santa Monica Bay. They plan to work to build a park in the heart of South Los Angeles to clean up urban runoff and create much-needed recreational space for underserved communities. Also on their roster is a plan to advance cost-effective solutions that protect water quality and water supply throughout the region – so important in this time of drought.

Heal the Bay mobilizes thousands of volunteers through beach cleanups (one of our personal favorites) and welcome your ideas, thoughts or concerns. We are proud to support their efforts and encourage you to keep up on their activities through Facebook and Twitter.

Happy World Water Day!

Meet Our Women’s Designer

sohlson posted this March 11th, 2014


Kim is our women’s designer, which means that if you own a Horny Toad dress and love it, you probably have her to thank.  She’s also an artist, climber, skier, wife and mother.  We asked her to take a few minutes from her crazy busy workday to answer some questions about her life and the Horny Toad Spring line for women.

Why did you become a clothing designer?
I worked in ski and adventure photography for a long time and needed a change. I wanted something that I was just as passionate about, and I wanted to stay in the arts and the outdoors.  Also I wanted to stay in one place.  All my other careers kept me traveling nonstop and I wanted to settle down and have a family. I’ve always sewn and made things – my mom was very involved in fashion when I was a kid, so apparel design was really a natural progression. The strongest themes in my life have always been art, the outdoors, clothing and people – working for a cool, culture-based, environmentally smart company like Horny Toad is a perfect way to incorporate all of those things.

How long have you been here?
A little over four years, but it certainly doesn’t feel that long… time flies when you’re having fun!

Where does your inspiration come from?
Literally everywhere.  It could be culture, architecture, photography or even something as fluid as a concept.  Each season we choose a design theme and the clothes are richly influenced by it. This season was based on the energetic, optimistic and almost space-agey sensibility of the mid to late 50s.  We’re calling it “Upbeat and Unbeatable.”  It was a really fun theme to design into.

How would you describe your personal style?
This is a tough one.  My style has changed many times throughout my life based on my activities, how I feel in my body, where I’m living in the world and what’s important to me at that time. A few things stay constant, however; I love beautiful fabric, clean lines and interesting, unique construction.  Right now I’m a mother of a young child, so getting out the door every morning with matching shoes on feels like a win.

What’s the best part of your job as the women’s designer?
I love the nitty gritty work of designing: drawing the clothes, making the prints and yarn dyes, watching the drawings come to life and transform as we fit and perfect them. It’s a collaborative effort, like making music. I love working with such talented people.

What do you love to design most?
Really, I love it all. Dresses and skirts are my favorite but I still love to work on tops, pants and the occasional jacket when Paige will let me.

If you could pack three things from our Spring line on a weekend trip what would they be?
I am about to do just that! My husband and I are off on a kid-less vacation to Todos Santos, Mexico later this month. There will be more than three Horny Toad items from Spring in bag… The Ella Pant the Willowy Button Tank and Neko dress to name a few.

What’s your measure of success?
One of the things I love most about clothing design is that it offers the privilege of impacting peoples’ lives in a small but very real way. I’ve said it before: I love clothes, I love people, I love what clothes can do for people. The right garment can inspire you, give you confidence and make you feel completely at home and comfortable with yourself. It’s really quite awesome when you think about it.  If I do that for someone even once I feel like I have succeeded.