Winning Recipe from the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

What do Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt all have in common? All three of these famous creatives were able to produce stunning artwork from relatively simple materials. The magic lies in the artist’s ability to create something greater than the sum of their materials, and this philosophy is exactly what propelled UCSB’s Bren School to victory at the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown. For those unfamiliar, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is the biggest cooking competition west of Paris, and draws some of the world’s best chefs and artisan sandwich makers (that we know of).

With stiff competition and numerous competitors duking it out for the coveted Golden Spatula trophy, recipes are often kept secret. After all, why would you divulge such confidential and fame-inducing information? But this reserved mindset is not shared by all, especially the team from UCSB’s Bren School. They were generous enough to share the recipe to their winning sandwich, The Vampire Slayer, so everyone can enjoy their marvelous creation. Recreating the greatest grilled cheese sandwich of the year may be difficult, but rest assured, with enough time and dedication, you’ll surely be able to turn out a sandwich capable of slaying vampires!

The Vampire Slayer by UCSB’s Bren School


1 loaf of sourdough bread (The winning bread was from Helena Ave Bakery.)
Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar Cheese (Try some from Face Rock creamery.)
Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese (The one from Kerrygold is a good bet.)
Garlic Parsley Butter (1 stick of butter, 4 cloves of mashed garlic, liberal pinch of parsley.)
Homemade Marinara Sauce.


For one sandwich, allocate enough Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar Cheese slices to cover an entire piece of sourdough bread.
Top the Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar cheese with a few slices of Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese.
Liberally apply garlic parsley butter to the outsides of both pieces of sourdough bread.
After the garlic butter has been applied to the bread, garnish the outsides with parmesan cheese for a toasted parmesan crust.
Place the sandwich on an already hot griddle, and toast until the bread has a light brown color, and a crispy texture.
Now you are ready to experience The Vampire Slayer!

DSC02027.JPGThe best team of the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown, UCSB’s Bren School!

Relax, It’s National Margarita Day

We’d question why National Margarita Day falls in late February, but if you’ve ever dealt with icy windshields and freezing cold toilet seats you’d understand. Ignore the tundra and channel low tides and sunny skies with the Todo Bien Margarita (translation: The “All Good” Margarita). Forget the margarita mix and fancy tequila, the secret to this marg is a little dash of Damiana liqueur. In its natural form, Damiana is a sage-like herb that grows in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and is rumored to be an aphrodisiac (you’ve been warned). It adds an authentic, complex flavor to your margaritas without being as sweet as Triple Sec. Your local liquor store may carry it (if they know what’s good for them), otherwise big chains like BevMo should carry it. Look for the curvy bottle in the shape of a Mayan goddess – she’ll shake things up in your liquor cabinet all Spring long.


The Todo Bien Margarita

1 oz Damiana liqueur

1.5oz Tequila blanco (we used an old bottle we scored on the backroads of Mexico – nothing too fancy, unless you count the bottle’s outfit…)

2 limes, juiced

Run the lime wedge around the rim of the glass and dip into the salt. Fill glass with ice. Separately, pour Damiana, tequila and lime juice into a shaker. Shake for a full chorus of “La Bamba” then strain over ice. Garnish with lime wedge.


Build a DIY ShotSki

There are few things we love more than a great weekend getaway to the mountains – outdoor adventures, cozy nights and long conversations with good company. And maybe a ShotSki here and there. Whether it’s the first run of the season or the last run of spring, we think a ShotSki is the perfect way to celebrate the good times. After all, friends don’t let friends (shot) ski alone. We’re digging back into the Toad archives to bring back a refresher on How To Build the Perfect ShotSki from Jeremy Benson at


1.  Find the perfect ski
The first step (and arguably most important) in creating the perfect shotski is finding the right ski. If you don’t have old skis, ski shops will often have some pairs lying around (especially if it’s nearing the end of ski season). Remember, the longer the ski is, the more shots you can fit on it. Most standard skis will fit 4 shots, but go for the gold and see how many you can fit comfortably.

2.  Glued vs. Nested
There are two basic types of shotskis: The layman’s sit on top, where you simply measure out where to put your shot glasses then glue (or tape!) them down.  Then there’s the nested shotski where shot glasses rest inside the ski and can be removable to facilitate the cleaning process. We went for the nested version, because go big or go skiing later.

3.  Measuring
While perfection isn’t absolutely necessary with a shotski (you are, after all, drinking liquor from a ski), equal spacing will allow for easier maneuvering. First, pick the number of shots you’d like to have on your ski. Four is a nice round number and a good starting loin, but by all means try to get more on. Ideally, shots are approximately 18 – 20 inches apart, enough room for folks to face the shot ski head on. Make marks that are centered in the ski width-wise and get ready to drill.

4.  Drill
For the nesting tactic, we used a hole saw to drill the holes (a large paddle drill bit may also work). Ideally all of your shot glasses will be the same size. Figure out what diameter your glasses are by measuring them and finding a comparable size hole saw or drill bit (we used a 1.5-inch diameter hole saw). Line it up with the marks you made earlier 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. If you want the glasses to be permanently attached, super glue them into place. For removable glasses, use Velcro to hold them in place when the shotski is in use. Having removable shot glasses makes cleaning way easier (and promotes future shotskis).

6.  Deploy the Ski-shot
Call on some good company, pick your favorite brand of whiskey (add some maple syrup to each shot to do it the Canadian way) and take it for a run! Take shots to thank the snow gods for fresh powder or to urge them to make it snow. Mount it above the fireplace, keep it in the garage, sleep with it under your pillow, keep it in your car, give it to a college kid… Whatever you do with your shotski, hopefully it involves good times, deep snow and good friends. Bottoms up!

Look Good While You’re At It

Shotski-womens-items (1) copy

The Women’s Airvoyant Puff Jacket will keep you warm before the shots start flowing, and the Hutton Sherpa Jacket is as cozy as it is cute.


The Men’s Flannagan Long Sleeve Shirt is timeless and fresh, just like the shot-ski itself. Couple it with the Airvoyant Puff Vest and you’ll be looking good and feeling good.

Not Big On Shots?

Try some of our other delicious drinking activities. We love a good game of Kings Cup, which only requires that you drink beer. If you are in the mood to mix it up, try making some of these cold weather specialties.

Sled Field-Testing Guide

We don’t claim to be rocket scientists, but when it comes to sledding, we take our research VERY seriously.  We hit the slopes (okay, bunny hills behind our cabin) in Tahoe to test a variety of sleds for speed, precision, and overall extreme fun-ness. All in the name of science, of course.


Flexible Flyer Steel Saucer
Best For: Dizzy dynamos
Steering: Hand dragging
Speed: Blazing; you may want a helmet
Pro Tip: Sit in the middle, stay low and pray


Zipfy Freestyle Mini Luge
Best For: Hard pack heroes
Steering: Sweet joystick
Speed: Smiles for miles
Pro Tip: Carve turns by leaning into turn and white-knuckling joystick


Plastic Toboggan
Best For: Frugal flyers
Steering: Not that we’re aware of…
Speed: Mouthguard recommended
Pro Tip: Lock your heels up front and try and lean to turn


Mad River Rocket
Best For: Powder sled shredders
Steering: Drag a paw and lean
Speed: Depends on the pow depth
Pro Tip: Goggle up and carve some face shots

Check out to find your closest hill and shop the look for Men’s and Women’s extreme sledding wear.







A Noble Game of Kings Cup

Stuck in a cabin or need to break the ice with your sister’s new beau? Kings Cup is the great unifier. It’s the trick up your sleeve that can turn strangers into friends and a quiet night in into a jolly holiday. Great for groups of 4 or more and doesn’t require a lot of movement. All you need is a deck of cards, adult beverages and a bit of humor. Bottom’s up!

How to Play:

To start, fan out a deck of cards face down around an empty vessel (preferably a large one.) Make sure that all players have a beverage of some sort. (Note: Lighter beer is ideal for this game since you’ll drink a fair amount. Cocktails beware.) Whoever’s birthday is next goes first. Player 1 draws a card from the table and everyone must follow the “rule”. Each card has a corresponding rule/activity (see below). When the rule has been carried out, the person to the left picks a card. Continue in this fashion until the final King card is drawn or there are no more cards on the table, the choice is yours. Remember, there are no losers in King’s Cup!


Card – Meaning – What to do.

Ace – Waterfall – Everyone starts chugging their drink. A player cannot stop drinking until the player to their right has stopped drinking.

2 – You – The player who draws can choose another player who must drink.

3 – Me – The player who draws must drink.

4 – Floor – Everyone at the table must reach down and touch the floor. The last player to do so must drink.

5 – Guys – All of the male players must drink.

6 – Chicks – All of the female players must drink.

7 – Heaven – Everyone at the table must put their hands in the air. The last player to do so must drink.

8 – Mate – The player who draws picks another player to be their “mate.” The mate must drink every time the original player does. This keeps going until another 8 is drawn.

9 – Rhyme – The player who draws must say phrase (“There’s so much holiday cheer”). Going to the left, players have to make up a rhyming phrase to stay in the noun (“I like to drink beer” or “the weather’s been clear”). The first player who fails to think of a rhyme must drink.

10 – Never Have I Ever – Everyone at the table must put up three fingers. Start a game of never have I ever (You say, “Never have I ever….” and if someone has done that, they put a finger down). The first player to lower all three fingers must drink.

Jack – Make A Rule – The player who draws can make a rule that must be followed for the rest of the game. Any player who breaks the rule must drink. Any player who draws a jack can overturn the rule. (ex: No pointing, must speak in an accent, must refer to all players as “sir and/or madam.”)

Queen – Question Master – The player who draws a Queen can ask questions throughout the game, but whoever answers the question must drink. Continue until another queen is drawn and a new question master is crowned.

King – King’s Cup – The player who draws must pour the remnants of their drink into the King’s Cup. When the last king is drawn, that player has to drink the King’s Cup and the game is over! Huzzah!




DIY Pumpkin Keg 

You say Jack-o-Lantern, we say Pumpkin Keg. With a love of beer and a handful of random kitchen supplies, we looked at a pumpkin and saw opportunity. Advancements were made, limits were pushed, and the results were beyond our wildest dreams: a more sustainable, more portable, more festive keg. Follow these steps to make your own Pumpkin Keg. Medium size pumpkin holds a six-pack.


Step 1: Cut out the stem of the pumpkin in a hexagonal shape, with a slight tilt to the knife (you don’t want the top to fall in). Cut an opening large enough to fit your hand.

Step 2: Remove all of the pumpkin innards. Be diligent! The more seeds and insides you take out, the less floaties you’ll have in your beer!

Step 3: Carve a hole for your spigot* on the lower half of the pumpkin. The hole should be slightly smaller than the spigot diameter. Shove the spigot in the hole with as little adjusting as possible. Should be nice and tight.  (*We used a spigot from an old punch dispenser. Waste not, want not.)

Step 4: Pick your poison (or your favorite adult beverage) and fill up your pumpkin keg. “Tap” your keg and cheers to your ingenuity. Happy Halloween, kids!






Shop the Men’s and Women’s Indigo Styles and BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin.)

Earth Day in Santa Barbara


Nowadays everyone know’s what Earth Day is.  What you may not know is that the roots of Earth Day sprouted in our  hometown of Santa Barbara, California. We’re not saying we moved here because it’s the birth place of Earth Day, but we love being part of an environmentally conscious community. Birds of a feather flock together, as they say.

The very first Earth Day in 1970 was a reaction to the oil spill of 1969 just off the shores of Santa Barbara. Then US Senator Gaylord Nelson recognized the oil spill as an absolute disaster for the environment. He also recognized the general feeling of unrest among young adults around the country in response to the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements. Harnessing the power of collective unrest, Nelson and grassroots organizations joined nation wide civil protests calling for increased environmental regulation. On April 22nd 1970, nearly 20 million Americans took to the streets to express their discontent for the current environmental approach of their government. These rallying cried did not go unheard. By the end of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was born and both the Clean Air and Clean Water Act were passed. This new legislation was a massive success for the protesters and a tangible result from the first Earth Day event. 

47 years later, environmental protection and the voices who rally around it face new challenges with talks of dismantling the EPA. Eerily similar to the tumultuous months of 1970, there is much discontent with the approach the current administration takes towards environmental protection. In the spirit of comraderie,  this Earth Day we call on each and every lover of the great outdoors to make your voice heard. Stand up for this planet with thousands of others from your community. Find your local Earth Day event or attend a satellite March For Science. Pledge to make more sustainable choices or spend the day swapping out lightbulbs and biking all weekend. Every little bit counts and YOU make a difference. Together we are a force and together we must protect the Earth – it’s the only planet that has beer. See you out there! 

Wear Green or Get Pinched!


You know why we love St. Patrick’s Day? Because you gotta wear green – and not just the color, the ethos. We think “green” means sustainably sourced, responsibly made, eco-friendly clothing. Luckily, we’re chock full of it!  Making a T-Shirt doesn’t seem too complicated. Source some fabric, sew it up, throw it in a package and off it goes. This “simple” process is repeated each day by clothing manufacturers all over the world. When you do it the responsible way, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Sustainable manufacturing techniques are few and far between. To keep costs low, clothing companies will source cheap materials and manufacture in unregulated facilities. These methods can have severe impacts on local environments and local communities. Choosing sustainability isn’t always the easy route, but for us it’s the only route. We call it eCo.

Look for our eCo tags to call out all products that get the sustainability stamp of approval.

For us, it all starts with sourcing good materials. We strive to use sustainable fibers, so you’ll see a lot of organic cotton, recycled polyester, Tencel® and Modal® in our products. We do our best to use bluesign® approved fabrics to trace the environmental impact of a fabric from sourcing to final production. bluesign® is a third party auditor that examines each step in the textile supply chain to approve processes and materials, ensuring they are safe for the environment and factory workers.

When we partner with a manufacturer, we look for manufacturers taking steps above and beyond to promote human rights, sustainability and community culture. Our partner in Turkey, for example, manages the entire manufacturing process, from organic cotton farming to making fabrics to assembling the final garments. Total processing within one country has many benefits: It dramatically reduces the environmental footprint associated with material transportation and increases traceability on all production platforms. They’ve taken their commitment to sustainability one step further by switching to solar energy at the factory – a transition that has reduced their carbon emissions by half.  We are proud of the long-lasting relationships we have with many of our vendors and  believe that you could visit any of our factories and leave not thinking less of Toad&Co or our products.

Just as orange is the new black, dirty is the new clean.

Sustainability starts with us, but it continues with you. That’s why you’ll find written in the care tag inside all Toad&Co garments the reminder to “Wear more, wash less. Wear it out or pass it on.”  Studies suggest that 58% of the energy and 45% of the water that goes into a garment happens post-purchase, so we recommend that you wear your clothing multiple times before washing to conserve natural resources and prolong the life of your beloved Toad&Co clothing.

Our eCo products pair well with Red or White, smiles guaranteed.

Currently 90% of our line is considered eCo and there is always room for improvement. Every season we strive to improve our sustainability efforts and reduce our footprint even more.  So when you wear Toad&Co clothing, you’re supporting ethical manufacturing and sustainable business. Together we are a force and together we can affect the future.

Image Map