Rockin’ Out: A Yarn Bomber heads to the Hills

dweber posted this July 21st, 2014

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Steve Duneier didn’t start the revolution, but he certainly reignited the flame. With enduring dedication to the cause and an underground network of supporters, Duniere has been detonating psychedelic yarn bombs in the hills of Santa Barbara for the past two years. And the results are awesome.

Since 2012, Steve has been coming up with some seriously cool public art and getting people fired up about going outside. He started by covering a majestic Eucalyptus on one of Santa Barbara’s most beloved hiking trails, followed by a crochet-covered boulder that overlooked the city in 2013, and three awesome installations in the Santa Barbara backcountry in 2014 – The Sasquatch Cave Web, the Seven Falls Starburst, and most recently the Lizard’s Mouth Rock Garden in June.

Our own HR manager, Carlynn, happened upon the groovy garden at Lizards Mouth and a light bulb went off. Here at Horny Toad, we have a monthly, “Lunch and Learn” where different people from the community give fun presentations about what they do. So last week Steve popped into the office to share a pizza and a few stories with us.  Inspired by the urban yarn bombing that has become a global phenomenon, Steve gave a new twist to the idea by yarn bombing nature in an effort to inspire people to “go outside to play!”

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“You have to show people what you do because it’s a powerful motivator to do something,” and show people he did. After a social media blitzkrieg and a call for knitters around the world to support his efforts, hundreds of square feet of knitting began to pour in as strangers around the world wanted to be a part of Steve’s first installation in 2012. Since then, his installations have grown in size and scope, with materials coming in from 36 different countries and six continents.

Of course, these installations are only temporary since Steve’s a firm believer in “leave no trace.” Each installation is up for nine days, after which the yarn is collected and either sent to a non-profit to be turned into blankets for those in need, or saved for future installations. So whether Steve Duneier is encouraging yarn bombers to take up arms in their own communities or inspiring people to bounce around the boulders for a day, you can bet that the revolution has been revived (and it will be televised).

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The Secret’s in the Sauce: BBQ Recipes from team toad

dweber posted this July 7th, 2014

It’s no surprise that we love to eat around here, and in the spirit of the 4th of July we asked Team Toad for their best, most mouthwatering, crowd-pleasing, down-home Americana BBQ sauce recipes. From peanut butter to bourbon to a healthy dose of Sriracha, these recipes aren’t your grandma’s BBQ sauces.

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Steve’s Tipsy Chicken BBQ Sauce (makes 1 ¼ cups)

Being from Boston, our marketing manager Steve can give you a zillion recipes featuring Guinness beer (Beeramisu, anyone?). So naturally  he has a great BBQ sauce recipe using everybody’s favorite Irish brew.

1 1/2 cups Guinness Extra Stout beer
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Caribbean hot sauce (Steve uses Pickapeppa sauce)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp garlic salt

Add the beer and garlic salt to a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Heat the pan over medium heat, add the remaining ingredients, and keep whisking until the ingredients are mixed together. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce is reduced by half, then set aside to cool. Brush the BBQ sauce on meat or veggies during the last 5-10 minutes of grilling.

 

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Ian’s Front Porch Peach Chutney (makes 1 ½ cups)

Our platform manager, Ian, hails from Louisiana and is Horny Toad’s resident expert in all things Southern. Ian’s combo of bourbon, butter, and peach preserves makes us feel like we’re sipping mint juleps and swatting away the fireflies. Nothin’ beats that Southern summer cooking.

3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup whole-grain mustard
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¾ cup peach preserves or jam
1 tbsp bourbon
½ tsp kosher salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and boil until almost completely reduced and the mixture looks like wet sand, about 4 minutes. Whisk in both mustards and peach preserves and lower the heat to a simmer, whisking everything together for about a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bourbon and salt. The bourbon is added at the end—uncooked—to give a genuine jolt to the sauce. This Southern blend goes great with pork but is also a good finisher for chicken, duck, or veal.

 

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Courtney’s China Town Chicken Ka-Pow (makes 1 ¼ cups)

It’s true what they say, sometimes life imitates art because this sauce has a real kick to it, just like our creative project manager, Courtney. Courtney grills up chicken wings and tosses them in this killer honey sriracha sauce to knock the socks off her guests.

5 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey, plus more for drizzling
¼ cup Sriracha
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fresh lime juice

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add the honey, Sriracha, soy sauce and lime juice, and whisk together until the mixture bubbles gently. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool for 10 minutes.

 

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Kimberly’s Saucy Satay 

“Satay” is just a fancy way of saying BBQ in Thai. Always aiming to please, Kimberly our dealer sales manager support sent us two sauce recipes. And just like Kimberly and Horny Toad, this marinade and peanut sauce are a perfect pair.

Satay marinade (makes 2 cups)
4 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground white or black pepper
2 medium garlic clove, minced
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground coriander
2/3 cup coconut cream

Combine everything in a bowl and stir until mixed. Toss meat or veggies in the marinade then cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before grilling.

Thai Peanut Sauce (makes 3 ½ cups)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 cup red curry paste
3/4 cup natural unsweetened creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon of salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

Put everything into a pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat whisking constantly. Simmer on low for 5 minutes and continue whisking to avoid burning. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature and serve. This recipe makes A LOT of sauce, so Kimberly likes to freeze half for later.

 

No Corkscrew? No problem.

dweber posted this June 30th, 2014

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Well folks, it’s that time of year again… A new festival every weekend, spur of the moment day trips, impromptu picnics, those breezy nights with a few good friends… Really, who doesn’t love the spontaneity of summer? Maybe it’s the heat going to our heads, but nothing says summer like grab-and-go adventures. Of course, it’s easy to forget to pack some of the essentials, and more than likely it’s the ever elusive corkscrew.

We’ve all been faced with the “forgotten corkscrew” dilemma. Do you give up, or do you fight for the vino? You fight. You get your MacGuyver on. Veni, Vidi, Vici, VINO. Below you’ll find our favorite methods for opening a bottle of wine when you’re up a creek without a corkscrew. Full Disclosure: We’re pretty sure these tricks work, but you might want to have an extra shirt handy, just in case.

The “Employee of the Month”
For all those in-house Happy Hours, take a pair of desk scissors and twist a blade into the cork until you get about three-quarters through the cork. Get a good grip on the scissors as you slowly twist the bottle and pull the cork out. Your check’s in the mail.

The “Just a Bit of Elbow Greisling”
Have toolbox, will travel. Twist a screw down into the center of the cork, grab hold of the screw with a pair of pliers or wrench, push up your sleeves and wrangle that sucker out. Your high school shop teacher would be so proud.

The “Me Tarzan, You Jane”
The King of the Apes probably never had to deal with a corked bottle, but if he did we’re pretty sure he’d just whack it with a rock. To take a page from Tarzan’s book, you can basically take ANY blunt object (hammer, boot, big rock) and smash a long pointy object (nail, golf pencil, bones) into the cork at a 60° angle. When it’s lodged about halfway through the cork, grab the neck of the bottle with one hand while slowly twisting the nail/cork out with your other hand. Tarzan drink now, clean later.

The “Julia Child”
Ever the life of the party, you can bet Julia pulled this party trick every once in a while. Take a serrated knife and slice into the cork at a 45° angle. Once the knife is lodged about halfway through the cork, pull the knife and twist the bottle in opposite directions. The cork should slide right out of the bottle, easy as pie. As our Patron Saint Julia would say, “Nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should!”

The “Cabernet Shoevignon”
So you hiked up a mountain and realized you forgot the corkscrew. Take off your hiking boot and place the bottle where your heel would be. Bang the shoe heel against a tree or a rock and watch the cork work it’s way out with every good whack. Once the cork is about halfway out, hold the bottle right side up and pull the cork out with your hand. Slam bam thank you mam.

The “Honey I’m Home”
Want to impress the neighbors? Jamb your house key into the cork at 45° angle until the serrated part of the key is completely inside the cork. Hold the bottle firm as you twist and pull the key upward. Congratulations, you just got the block party started.

The “Tour de Franzia”
We’re giving a whole new meaning to the term “fixie.” Using a knife or any sharp instrument bore a hole all the way through the cork. Once you’ve got a nice tunnel through the cork, place a bike pump nozzle through the cork and pump air into the bottle until the cork pops out. Vive le vin!

The “Bill Nye the Science Guy”
The chances of you having a blowtorch but not having a corkscrew are slim, but IF that’s you, this should be your new preferred method. Using your blowtorch, heat the bottleneck where the bottom of the cork sits. The air in the bottle expands which builds up pressure and forces the cork upwards. Really, is there anything cooler than science and wine?

Have you got another genius method for opening wine without a corkscrew? Let us know by emailing us at content@hornytoad.com.  And if you missed out on the email and want to see more of this kind of stuff from us, be sure to get signed up for our weekly emails here!

 

featured retailer: Rock/creek

dweber posted this June 30th, 2014

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Nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Range and the roaring bends of the Tennessee River, the “Scenic City” of Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to this month’s featured retailer, Rock/Creek .

Not only are they veritable experts in any and all things outdoors, the talented staff at Rock/Creek also serve as passionate community ambassadors and accomplished environmental activists. You can find the Rock/Creek team hosting a full calendar of workshops and film screenings, coordinating their annual trail running series, and even spearheading local non-profit Wild Trails – an organization which donates 100% of the proceeds to local trail restoration and advocacy. Just as the name and philosophy suggest, Rock/Creek is the place to find all the gear and inspiration you’ll need for an awesome excursion in the Tennessee hills and beyond.

With everything from white water rapids tours to bouldering tutorials to their trail running series, it’s no wonder the folks at Rock/Creek have been the hub of the outdoor community in Chattanooga for more than 25 years and voted GOA Retailer of the Year for the 2nd time in three years. Priding themselves on supplying only the best gear and the best brands – they’ve faithfully carried our Horny Toad threads since 2007 – five stores located around Chattanooga cater to a specific customer base, each with a unique look and feel. With two stores specializing in water sports, two stores offering the latest travel and seasonal mountain gear, and a new boutique store located in a rock climbing gym, Rock/Creek serves up an exceptional experience that leaves you satisfied and excited to take on your next adventure.

let’s go: Nashville, TN

dweber posted this June 26th, 2014

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For the fifth month of our Let’s Go Travel Series, it’s off to “Music City,” better known as Nashville, Tennessee! Located in central Tennessee on the Cumberland River, Nashville is a perfect mix of sweet Southern charm and smoky rock n’ roll grit. Stately manicured gardens and old civil war battlegrounds, opera houses and dive bars, “The Athens of the South” has a little something for everyone. Music Row offers a classic take on Nashville’s largest industry, while the slower paced riverfront is great for outdoor enthusiasts. Foodies will flock to the once-dicey-now-dishy East Nashville for microbreweries and country bistros while travelers looking to stretch their legs can walk for miles amongst Nashville’s many parks and nature preserves.

Check out our list of what to do and wear in Nashville.  And if you have a favorite weekend destination, we want to see it! Tag a photo of it with #letsgotoad on Facebook, Twitteror Instagramand we’ll enter you into our monthly contest. If we pick your photo, you’ll score a $150 Horny Toad gift card to use on some sweet new travel threads.

Get your Nashville on:

Arnold’s Country Kitchen – A cafeteria style eatery known for its take on Nashville’s signature, “Meat and Three” dish (a protein and three sides), Arnold’s doesn’t mess around when it comes to country cooking. Grab a tray and head down the lunch line as you pick from a range of southern favorites like chicken and dumplings, slow-cooked pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, candied yams, or rare roast beef served up by Arnold himself!

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles – We’re pretty sure that sisters Irma and Norma Paz would agree that nothing says summer like an ice cold popsicle. After visiting family in Mexico, the Paz Sisters decided to bring their favorite summer treat back to Nashville and boy, are we glad they did! The shop makes two dozen flavors daily offering a selection of traditional fruity and creamy options, as well as a few flavors for the ultimate thrill seekers. We like the Horchata, Avocado Cantaloupe, and Chocolate Wasabi! Repeat after us, “Uno mas, por favor!”

Barista Parlor – This coffee shop isn’t on our “Must Visit” list, it’s on our “Will Fall in Love With” list! A strong cup of fair trade joe, family style tables, cases brimming with goodies from local bakeries, high ceilings, local art installations every month – what’s NOT to love about Barista Parlor? Bring a book and settle in or chat with an old friend as you kickoff your day or jumpstart your afternoon at this one-stop-shop.

Centennial Park – A day in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through Centennial Park, Nashville’s 132acre historic park (it was built in1897) in the heart of downtown. Urban hikers, boot campers, and trail runners will enjoy miles of trails that snake around Lake Watauga, beautiful gardens, volleyball courts, dog parks, oh, and a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon. During the summer you can rent bikes and enjoy a plethora of cultural and music festivals like  Shakespeare in the Park and the Summer Concert series.

Gruhn Guitar – Since 1970 Gruhn Guitar has been a mecca for music lovers looking for some sweet new (and old!) strings. Part appraisal shop, part showroom, part impromptu jam sesh studio, this guitar store is where the “who’s who” of Nashville’s rock scene shop for all their musical needs. Browse the walls and soak up the soul of Nashville as you gaze upon vintage Gibsons or rifle through the treasure trove of “As Is” instruments. If you’re not in the market for a new toy, the friendly staff can help you trick out your own guitar or give you a sweet-sounding “tutorial” on vintage guitars.

Roots RatedWe teamed up with our friends at Rootsrated.com to get the lowdown on the best spots in Nashville (and all over the country). Whether you’re looking to head up the trail or down to the brewpub, they’ve compiled expert-generated submissions and content into unique city guides to help you live like a local, even when you’re on the road.

Get your gear on:

Open Air Long Sleeve Shirt – Fighting the urge to walk around shirtless on a hot day is the right thing to do. Happily, we’ve got your back. Tropical-weight, core-cooling Open Air fabric will pick up any and all available breezes with its specially engineered open weave, made from 100% organic cotton. Pleasing plaid pattern, full-button placket and a single-patch chest pocket will make you happy to keep your clothes on, no matter how hot it gets.

Keyhole Dress – There’s nothing better than simplicity done well. The Keyhole dress fits this category with a supple blend of organic cotton, silky Modal® and stretchy spandex that packs like a dream and always feels good against the skin. Wear it belted for casual Saturday breakfasts, unbelted for a day at the beach or with your own leather belt if you want to dress it up for a proper night out. Stripe pattern is current but timeless and the tiny keyhole detail gives a glimpse of sexiness without revealing a thing.

Women’s Airbrush Long Sleeve Shirt - Like fresh air held together by organic cotton yarns, our women’s Airbrush shirt is lightweight and breezy and exactly what you want when the mercury and humidity rise but your yen look and feel cool holds steadfast.

Jack Polo – Wanna know a secret? Polos are just t-shirts with a collar — yet they’re considered devilishly handsome and far more cleaned-up looking than their collarless counterparts. Get the all ease, comfort and style accolades by having a couple of our butter-soft, organic cotton Jack Polos on hand. There’s a narrow solid band at the chest to facilitate a hidden drop in pocket among the vintage stripes. To keep your secret on the down-low, we added aesthetically-minded details like vented hems and a solid underside of the collar.

Stay tuned for a new trip every month, and don’t forget to check out our past trips to Portland, ME and Asheville, NC for more weekend travel inspiration. If you want to see more of this kind of stuff from us, be sure to sign up for our weekly emails here too. See you on the road!

 

 

 

Reasons to love linen

cgray posted this June 23rd, 2014

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We love linen. It’s about as retro as you can get–linen textiles are considered some of the oldest in the world. It was even used as currency in ancient Egypt. And believe us, we get it, because for travelers and anyone looking for a lightweight, tough and beautiful fabric to help them beat the summertime heat (and look good doing it), linen is worth its weight in gold.

You might think of linen as a sensitive type that needs a lot of extra love to stay looking good. But it’s actually pretty easy to care for: it’s dirt- and stain-resistant, can get tossed right into the washing machine, and it gets softer, smoother and more gorgeous with every wash. (No chafing after a whole day hiking around jungle temples–whew!) And it’s super-tough, too: the fibers in it are much longer than those in cotton and other natural fabrics, they don’t stretch, and don’t catch or tear when they meet a rough patch.

It’s even stronger wet than it is dry, but that doesn’t mean that sogginess is on your horizon. Linen can soak up 20 percent of its weight before you start feeling damp—and it releases water quickly, too, if you do get splashed. In hot weather, it billows away from your skin and lets breezes flow through easily, and reflects heat better than cotton—think of it like your own personal, portable AC system. We’ve read that people who wear linen stay several degrees cooler than their friends wearing silk or cotton—and that’s just their skin temperature.

Maybe we’re gushing a bit—but if you’re so inclined, you might want to wander over to our men’s and women’s linen collections to find that perfect piece for your own summer wanderings. (Did we mention it shields you from insects and UV rays, too? Tropics, here we come!)

 

Bring Your Dog to Work Day Contest

cgray posted this June 16th, 2014

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It’s no secret that we love office dogs here at Horny Toad.  In honor of Bring Your Dog to Work Day this Friday, we want to hook up one lucky dog owner with a Horny Toad and Ruffwear gift pack to get you and your four legged totally styled out.  The winner will take home a $100 Horny Toad giftcard, and a collapsible water bowl, leash and portable dog bed from Ruffwear.  Sweet!

Think you’ve got what it takes to match these pups to their people? Submit your guesses through 6/22 by emailing us at content@hornytoad.com.  And if you missed out on the email and want to see more of this kind of stuff from us, be sure to get signed up for our weekly emails here!

 

Sandwich in a can : A tribute to dadisms

cgray posted this June 2nd, 2014

A native salmon fisherman cleans his nets of sea weed caused from an increase in river temperature.

We might have given them neckties every year on Father’s Day, but we got something much more valuable back from our dads: advice. And with their special day coming around again this year, we’ve started to think back on our dads’ classic catch-all phrases—some of them wise, some of them just plain funny. And the funniest part of all: we’ve started to hear ourselves say some of them ourselves.

So in honor of Father’s Day, we’re going to share some gems from the Horny Toad Dad Crew. Whether they’re from the father we grew up with or the fatherly types we’ve met along the way, here are some of our favorites:

On life:
“Sometimes you eat the bear; sometimes the bear eats you.”

On fools:
“If brains were dynamite, he couldn’t blow his nose”

On escaping a phone conversation:
“You’re cuttin’ out. Love ya!”

On hard-to-recall words:
“Hey, hand me that doojiflopper. No, not that one, the other one!”

On school:
“Don’t do anything stupid. And if you do, don’t get caught.”

On (some of) our friends:
“Keep looking.”

On salad:
“I’ll have the honeymooners special… Lettuce alone.”

On emergency dashboard indicators:
“Idiot lights.”

On any question we start to–:
“No.”

On his work:
“I’m up to my ass in alligators.”

On golf:
“You’ve just gotta hit the ball, ya know?”

On what’s for dinner:
“Chilled monkey brains.”

On what kind of food he’s eating:
“Nacho (insert food here)”

On beer:
“Sandwich in a can.”

On duct tape:
“Handy man’s secret weapon.”

On how he smells:
“Like a fresh June rose.”

On obnoxious children (who, us?):
“And this is why guppies eat their young.”

On bread:
“Eat your crust, it will make your hair curly.”

On himself:
“I’m a fungi.”

On our visiting friends:
“I’m glad you’re here. I need some extra hands to help with….(insert any number of random house/car projects)”

On goodbyes:
“Write when you find work!”

Wait, Dad, did you just ask if we’ve checked the oil in the ol’ doojiflopper recently? That maybe we should consider taking the LSATs? We can’t quite hear you, you’re cutting out.

Oh, you just called to say you love us? Love ya, too, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

 

Common Ground

sohlson posted this June 2nd, 2014

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Last weekend we had the pleasure of attending Mountainfilm in Telluride where the Horny Toad and Conservation Alliance-sponsored-film, Common Ground premiered.

Directed by Alexandria Bombach of RED REEL, Common Ground is a story about several ranching and farming communities living against the stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana who are faced with the decision of what to do with precious unprotected public land as the tide of of commercial development encroaches.

Ultimately, Common Ground is a story about protecting our wild places, defending a timeless heritage, and facing the inevitable fact that change is a part of life on our planet.  The film will be released on June 24, 2014. Check out the RED REEL site for locations, or contact them if you’d like to host a screening in your town.

 

Featured Retailer : Whole Earth Provision Co.

cgray posted this June 2nd, 2014

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They say everything’s bigger in Texas—and when it comes to Whole Earth Provision Co., people can find a whole lot of big fun in these nine homegrown Texas stores.

Founders Jack and Linda Jones, inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog, opened the first store in 1970, stocking things like geodesic dome kits, travel books and beekeeping supplies. From the beginning, it was a hit: People loved it so much that the shelves were bare 10 days after the founders opened their doors in Austin.

Over the years, camping and travel gear - including our own Horny Toad threads, which they’ve loyally carried for the last decade – found a home here, too. Now, adventurers, travelers, nature lovers and families converge in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Southlake to find travel and everyday adventure wear, shoes, toys, gifts, books, and everything they need for both backyard and far-flung adventures. You’ll find a unique combination of high-tech outdoors gear with whimsical gifts, wind chimes and hammocks, and plenty of books and toys that kids and kids-at-heart can’t resist.

The stores’ friendly, fun-loving employees—they’re called Whole Earthlings—are as eclectic as the stores themselves. You might figure out the best threads for your next trip with an urban farmer, work with a pro backpacking guide to size your next pack, or talk with a banjo player about the best toy to get for your nephews.  Volunteers from the stores also spend their time on local river and park cleanups and teaching outdoor ed to kids, and the stores have donated to a number of outdoors- and conservation-oriented nonprofits. So you’ll head out on your next adventure with a big smile, too, whether you’re exploring your big backyard or the biggest state of ‘em all.