Archive for the ‘Finding Fun’ Category

Spirits of the Season

sohlson posted this Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

For knitters, picklers, jam makers, wood workers and other crafty types the holidays are no biggie.  People who make cool stuff year ’round and without the threat of a looming gift exchange, we tip our hats to you.  For the rest of us, let’s fly our DIY flags high!  And may we all sip a few festive drinks while we wrap, bake, and merry make.

Boston Bog (as featured on our awesome Toad Traveler canteen)
ice
1/2 measure cranberry juice
1/2 measure apricot liqueur
1/2 measure ginger syrup
1/2 measure fresh lemon juice
orange peel garnish
Instructions:  Add rum, apricot liqueur, ginger syrup, lemon juice, cranberry juice and ice to the canteen and shake well.  Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with the orange peel.

Homemade Irish Cream
1 cup half and half
4 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cup Irish Whiskey
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
2 Tablespoons Chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix ’til smooth.  Store in fridge in a pretty bottle for as long as it lasts.  Mix with coffee for an assault of unapologetic deliciousness.

Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine Recipe
2 clementines
peel of 1 lemon
peel of 1 lime
1 cup caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg
1 whole vanilla pod, halved
2 star anise
2 bottles of Chianti, or other Italian red wine
Jamie’s Instructions:  This is dead easy to make and tastes like Christmas in a glass. It’s a lovely celebration of those traditional festive spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you’ve got your own favorite spices, then feel free to add those to the pot too. Let everything cook away and warm up gently so the flavors have time to mingle with the wine. I like to leave my mulled wine ticking over on a really low heat and just ladle some into glasses as and when guests pop in.

Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I’m doing this first is to create a wonderful flavor base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and both bottles of wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

Hot Apple Pie
2 oz Tuaca
hot apple cider
whipped cream
cinnamon stick for garnish
Instructions:  Pour the Tuaca and hot apple cider in an Irish coffee glass, top with whipped cream and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Eggnog Food, Network-style
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*
Instructions, courtesy of the Food Network:
-In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.
-Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
-Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.
* Raw Egg Warning – Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

Have a killer holiday drink recipe?  Please share!

 

Unflappable Customer Service

sohlson posted this Monday, November 19th, 2012

There are a couple of things you should know.  The first is that we’re upping our online customer service hours for the holidays.  That means if you need something – anything – Horny Toad-related, our customer service ninja badass Ian will probably save the day.

If you’re like us, you read a statement like this and your mind naturally wanders to the question:  “Anything? Just how unflappable is this guy?”

We thought we’d save you the trouble and “live chat” him ourselves.  Here’s how it went:

Toad Customer Care: Good afternoon, thank you for contacting Horny Toad, how can I help you?
Visitor: Hi!  I wanted to let you know that I did not get 3 compliments the first time I wore my Horny Toad shirt.
Toad Customer Care: I’m sorry to hear that.  You are definitely welcome to send it back for a refund if you’d like.
Visitor: Oh, wait, just saw the guarantee, 1 compliment the first 3 times?
Visitor: Okay, Well I’ve worn it three times and I’m not sure if I really got any compliments.  Someone at work said it was interesting and that the fabric felt amazing, but those aren’t really compliments.  Or are they?
Toad Customer Care: That’s up for you to decide.  You are more than welcome to send it back if you aren’t satisfied.
Visitor: if I send you a photo of myself in the shirt, will you tell me how it looks?

At this point Ian walked around to the front of the office where the pranksters were sitting.  Which leads us to the second thing you should know:  the internets are not private, people.  Once he got suspicious, all he had to do was glance at the IP address from the messenger and he knew it was an inside job. Busted.

Welp. You can’t win ‘em all.

But in case you need some stellar (and very patient) Horny Toad customer service, here’s when to find the person we’re now calling Saint Ian:

11/19-12/22
Monday – Friday 9am EST – 8pm EST  M-F / 6am PST – 5pm PST
Saturday 12-4 EST / 9-1 PST

You can call 888-865-8623 or hit him up on the live chat via www.hornytoad.com (like we did).

Anacapa Island

sohlson posted this Monday, November 19th, 2012

Last week we joined the Channel Island Restoration crew for a day of work at Anacapa Island.  We like to think of it as a doing good/finding fun cocktail smoothie.

We headed out early in the morning on a work boat packed to the brim with supplies.  Trying our hand at whale calls and dolphin chatter sure is a sweet way to start the day.  (There were a few dolphin and seal sightings but, despite our efforts, no whales.)

Once we arrived, some of us were put to work pulling invasive ice plants.  These are often interspersed with native grasses we  hope to save.

And some of us were put to work planting native species grown in the island’s own nursery.

It is amazing to experience an ecosystem that is so fragile yet so resilient.

Really, we couldn’t ask for a better hard day’s work out of the office!

Plus, it gave us a chance to put our Cipher Pants to the test.

Hey Pumpkin

arasch posted this Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Today we celebrated the pumpkin in all its forms.  Baked pumpkin, curried pumpkin, carved pumpkin.  Pumpkin in chili, in pie, in beer, in ice cream, in whoopie pie.  There was no form the pumpkin took that we did not embrace.

Wildly delicious as it all was, there were a few faves.  We especially loved Nina’s pumpkin chili, Joanna’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
and Courtney’s traditional killer pumpkin pie (recipe below).

Pie crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter – chilled/cut into cubes
1/4 cup ICE water
Granulated sugar for dusting
Combine flour and salt in large food processor. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pulse in water, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture begins to clump. Pull from food processor, form a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Pie filling:
1 can of pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
Combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Pour mixture into pie crust, and bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, checking frequently. Pie is done when center feels solid but still wiggles. (It will continue to cook once you remove it from the oven.)

Once our bellies were full of pumpkin goodness we took to the back yard to make some pumpkin art.

Work in progress

Champion pumpkin carvers

Homage to the king

Final product

We hope you enjoyed the last day of October as much as we did.  Now… bring on the snow!

 

 


Where in the World Would You Like to Go?

sohlson posted this Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Sometimes we think about where we’d go on our ideal vacation.  After all, it can’t hurt to dream…

Haley:  My dream vacation would include three parts:  2 1/2 weeks in New Zealand; 2 1/2 weeks in Indonesia and 2 1/2 weeks in Greece.
In New Zealand I would spend some of my time surfing and exploring the little town of Raglan. I’d leave the remaining time undetermined- with lots of room for spontaneous adventures in other towns.  In Indonesia I would spend most of my time in Bali surfing and working with a close family friend who runs a midwifery clinic.  And my time in Greece has not been mapped out yet; however, I have a long list of places there that I would love to see!  The goal would be to keep all of these parts loosely planned with lots of room to go where the trip pulled me.

Chelsey:  One of my dream vacations would be to spend autumn in Europe— specifically Edinburgh, London, Paris, and Vienna. I would ride on the ferris wheel over old world-sy Edinburgh, stroll through the incredible Viennese Christmas markets, people watch while trying to blend in with locals at sidewalk cafes and street markets in Paris, and just wander around in London. I’m a sucker for fall, it’s so dreamy and romantic to me, and so are all of these places. Just google Vienna Christmas Market” and you’ll see what I mean! It looks like what Christmas felt like as a little kid.

Guin – One of my dream vacations would be at Tahoe skiing with all of my friends and family in a giant ski-in-ski-out cabin that could accommodate us all. There would be food, drink and cards in addition to music and a snowy fireside marshmallow roasting session.

Ian – New Zealand.  For probably about a 6-month vacation, because I would need that long to do everything that I want to do there.  But if I could only go for a couple weeks or a month or two, that would be fine.  I would also have to include a layover, probably a week or two, in Mallorca, Spain.

Brian: For me it’s a trip to Spain, starting in Barcelona and traveling down the coast, popping over to Morocco for a week, back up and over to Portugal for another week.  The trip ends in Madrid.  Along the way taking in the culture, the history, the beaches and some Spanish soccer.  Traveling with me are my wife and son.  Would love to stay for a month if life allowed.  This is the dream trip for us because it offers such a great blend between the present and the past.  The diversity of the various cultures along the way would give great variety in a relatively small geographic area.  While not for a month, this dream trip will become  a reality, at least for a couple of weeks, next Spring.

David:  Beach + sun + waves + beer + tacos/beer + surfboards + live music + hammock + nighttime dancing.  Sprinkle in some hiking and I’m sold.

So where would you go and what would you do?

10 Reasons Why Camping is Better than a Motel

sohlson posted this Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Sometimes when you travel there’s no avoiding a motel – but for every other time there’s camping.  Here’s why we’ll choose a tent and sleeping bag over free wifi and a  breakfast bar (almost) every time.

1.  Motels have popcorn ceilings.  Camping has starry skies.

2.  Motel sheets are suspicious.  Sleeping bags are cozy.

3.  Food cooked on a camp stove is scientifically proven to taste better.

4.  Chances are, you won’t be kept up all night by your neighbor’s TV while you’re camping.

5.  Fresh air vs. stale ashtray smell

6.  Pine needles vs. creepy carpeting

7.  Smelling like campfire is sexier than smelling like motel bar soap.

8. Ghost stories are better for your brain than cable television.

9.  Camping costs less than a motel.

10.  When you’re 80 a motel will probably sound much better to you than camping will.  Enjoy it while you can.

How to Build a Shot-ski

sohlson posted this Friday, September 28th, 2012

The shot-ski is a great implement in the art of après ski bonding and a perfect example of how to upcycle.  We like the way it requires all participants to keep the same pace – no sippers allowed.  Recently we tried to make a shot-ski using a hot glue gun… it was surprisingly ineffective and we were forced to use tape instead.  Lucky for you, we’ve since done a little internet research and unearthed these brilliant instructions.

With thanks to the Jeremy Benson at skinet.com, behold six easy steps to shot-ski heaven.

1.  Find the perfect ski
The first, and arguably most important, step in creating the perfect shot-ski is finding the right ski. If you don’t have old skis, ski shops will often have some pairs lying around. Thrift and second hand gear shops are also a great place to look. Whenever possible find a ski that has some kind of sentimental value to you, like those Volkl P9s you used to shred moguls on back in the day. Remember, the longer the ski is, the more shots you can fit on it. For example, my 202 Spalding Extreme Powders comfortably fit four shots (on a 225 DH ski you could probably fit five).

2.  Kinds of shot-skis
In my experience, there are two basic types of shot-skis. There’s the lazyman’s sit on top, where you simply measure out where to put your shot glasses and then glue (or tape!) them to the topsheet. Then there’s the integrated shot-ski, (discussed) here. In this style the shot glasses rest inside the ski and can be removable to facilitate the cleaning process.

3.  Measuring
While perfection isn’t absolutely necessary with a shot-ski, it’s nice to come as close as you can to uniformity. First, pick the number of shots you’d like to have on your ski. Four is a nice round number and a good starting point. If you must have more than four shots on your ski, by all means go for it, but cramping the ski will probably only lead to awkward shot taking and more booze on people’s faces than in their mouths. A good rule of thumb for spacing is approximately 18 to 20 inches apart. Good spacing will allow for a more comfortable forward-facing approach to the ski, which is already a difficult thing to deal with. Make marks that are centered in the ski width-wise and get ready to drill.

4.  Drill
To make holes in the ski, I used a hole saw – but a large paddle drill bit may also work. Ideally all of your shot glasses will be the same size. I’d recommend buying a set that you will use primarily for the shot-ski, then all of your holes can be uniform and the process will be much easier. Figure out what diameter your glasses are by measuring them and finding a comparable size hole saw or drill bit. In this case I used a 1.5-inch diameter hole saw. Line it up with the marks that you made during the measurement process and drill, being careful not to drill all the way through the base. By stopping your holes just above the base you can remove the core samples, making perfect, countersunk holes for the glasses to sit in. A flathead screwdriver or a chisel work great for cleaning out the holes. It is important to note that many skis out there have fiberglass, wood, metal and plastic in them, so be careful not to breathe in any fumes and wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes.

5.  Velcro
After the holes are drilled and cleaned out, smooth out any imperfections with sandpaper or a grinding wheel. At this point those who want their glasses to be permanently attached can super glue or epoxy them into place. Those who want their glasses to be removable may want to consider using Velcro to hold them in place when the shot ski is in use. I bought some adhesive-backed Velcro at the local hardware store. The adhesive on the Velcro works pretty well, but gluing the Velcro into the holes and onto your shot glasses will ensure that it works for a long time. Having removable shot glasses makes cleaning your shot ski way easier (and promotes better hygiene). Plus, you’ll be less likely to make your (significant other) mad when your ski is in the sink.

6.  Deploy the Ski-shot
Now that your shot-ski is in working order call up a bunch of your friends and celebrate something. Take shots from your shot-ski to thank the snow gods for a big dump or to urge them to make it snow. Mount it above your fireplace, keep it out in the garage, or bring it to parties. Whatever you do with your shot-ski hopefully it involves good times, deep snow, and most importantly, friends. Because taking four shots by yourself is awkward.

by Jeremy Benson for skinet.com

 

Toad Tequila Tasting

sohlson posted this Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Good tequila is like medicine.  Taken in the right dosage it produces wondrous effects, such as a relaxed disposition, mad dancing skills and an enhanced sense of humor.  Really good tequila is a transcendent experience.  It does all that other stuff, plus it’s complex and tastes like heaven.  The other day we broke out six bottles of the really good stuff and treated ourselves to a tasting.  Here’s the wisdom we can offer from our experience.

1.  Corzo Anejo tastes like sweet flowers and zesty earth. It’s made from blue agave and makes a killer margarita.

2.  Chinaco Anejo has a slightly unctuous quality (that means oily) and tastes spicy and like dark plums.  Its warm flavor stays in your mouth for a long time after you sip it.  Delish.

3.  Sotol Hacienda de Chihuahua Plato is smoky and smells like vanilla.  One Toad even swears it smells like cake frosting.  It has a slightly peppery aftertaste that likes to linger on your tongue. The perfect thing to sip while watching the sun set.

4.  Tres Generaciones Platais like sipping the flavor equivalent of a surf session in Baja (or is it just that we completely associate the two?).  Bracing, refreshing and clear like a summer sky, this wasn’t everyone’s favorite, but the people who loved it really loved it.

5.  Corralejo Reposado was well-liked amongst everyone who tried it.  It’s fruity and a little spicy and goes down very easy.  It’s like the fine sipping tequila equivalent of a Tom Hanks’ film.

6.  Casa Noble Reposado is sweet and smoky and delicious and somehow kind of comforting, like the highlights of a good vacation.  You can really taste that it’s aged in French oak barrels and it smells like vanilla bean.

For more on how to put this wisdom to use, check out Kate’s Superior Margarita recipe.  And if you have one of your own, we’d love to see it!

The 2012 Horny Toad Fall Reading List

sohlson posted this Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

This Thursday is National Read a Book Day, an occasion we observe faithfully.  You might ask: “Why are you making such a big deal National Read a Book Day when it’s clearly a lesser holiday than World Reading Day or National Book Day?”  For us it’s all about the timing.  Now that the weather’s getting cooler we’re ready to curl up with our favorite sweater and a tasty warm beverage and enjoy some quiet time with a great read.  Here are our Fall reading recommendations:

Haley:  I recently read Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. I loved it!

Chelsey:  I’ve been reading The Buddha Walks Into A Bar. It’s a great perspective on traditional Buddhist philosophy set within the framework of modern, urban life. The author Lodro Rinzler makes lofty ideas like enlightenment and meditation seem applicable to daily life, all with an engaging, almost charming narrative. I’ve found that his words really stick with me and have changed my perspective on most things (for the better).

Amy:  Just finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a sad, sweet story about a very proper English husband/father/friend who does something very out of character that turns out to be life changing in an amazing, albeit ordinary way.  I’m also reading Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage – very interesting, this one.  Nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors!

Ellen:  I’m reading Some of My Lives  by Rosamond Bernier.   This book offers the memoirs of an extraordinary woman in bite-sized chunks and gives the inside scoop on all the colorful people with whom she rubbed elbows.  The stories are an inspiring reminder that all the moments, activities and encounters of our lives have the potential for greatness.

Courtney:  Currently I’m reading  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  I like to think of this book as bringing me one teeny step closer to taking over the world… or making myself seem even weirder than I already do.  But, fingers crossed for the first one, right?

Jason: Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer is my latest read.  It explains why creative people are the way they are.  And I can also recommend The Society of the Spectacle, published in 1967 by a French philosopher named Guy Debord.  The first editions were covered in sandpaper so they destroyed the books on the shelf next to them, but it’s about how social life has been replaced by representation – an idea that is still applicable with the prevalence of Facebook and other social media.

We hope you find this list useful… if you have a book to recommend we’d love to know!

A Weekend in Her Clothes

sohlson posted this Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Just who are we making our clothes for?  At Horny Toad HQ we think and talk about this a lot.

The short answer is that we make clothes for YOU.

The big answer is that we make clothes for people whose lives are full and multifaceted.  We make them for people who love to get outside but also appreciate a good meal in a nice restaurant.  We make them for people who get off the grid when they can but love being a part of their community.  We’re pretty sure our customers care about the environmental impact of their choices but they don’t want to sacrifice beauty and versatility.  And they take great pleasure when little details are done right.

Whenever we talk about our customers our friend Erin comes to mind.  She manages a Nature Conservancy preserve outside of Post, Oregon. With a resume that includes dedicated environmentalist, swimmer, cyclist, runner, climber, animal lover, artist and accidental mechanic, it’s kind of a wonder she has time to think about personal style at all.  And yet… on a recent trip to Santa Barbara, she arrived with a suitcase full of her favorite Horny Toad clothing.

Here’s what she wore during her weekend with us:

Beach hang time (in the Espressivo Long Sleeve Shirt) with her favorite HT office dog, Jade.
“This is my new favorite shirt,” says Erin.  “It’s unbelievably soft and the drape is really flattering.  I love that it can be dressed up with no effort but looks great with jeans too!”

Morning coffee, poolside, in the unapologetically comfortable Morning After Pants and Allspice Jacket.
“This is lounge wear at its best,” says Erin.  “The Morning After Pants should be illegal they’re so comfy – and for a fleece pant they’re actually quite flattering!  I love the Allspice Jacket for its versatility.  It’s great as a top layer on an early morning run here in Santa Barbara, but I’ll be able to wear it layered under heavy jackets this winter in Central Oregon too.”

Gathered belladonna flowers, eucalyptus leaves and other local fauna make great subjects.  “I found these on a walk around the neighborhood where I’m staying.  They’ll be fun to draw, but they look beautiful just arranged here together on the table too.  Today I’m following the advice I read in a poem by Terry Ehret: ‘Paint not the thing itself, but the effect which it produces.’”

A quiet afternoon with her sketchbook – wearing the Spicey dress (look for it in Spring ’13).  “I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of this dress.  The way it gathers a bit at the sides is a great detail and the pockets at the side seams are placed perfectly, plus the fabric can go both dressy and super casual, depending on what you wear it with.”

End of the day with an ocean view and glass of local Santa Barbara pinot noir (in the Oolong Long Sleeve Dress).
“The fit of this dress is what makes it,” says Erin.  “It follows your shape without clinging too tightly – and I really like the asymmetric lines at the neck.  It will be great with boots when it gets cooler but I can wear it now with sandals, no problem.”

We’ve asked the question before, but we always love to know: what are your favorite clothes for a weekend getaway?