How to Sew a Button 101

Ahhh, the humble button. The unsung hero of the holidays, the keeper of peace and revealer of truths. You don’t realize how much you rely on your buttons until it’s too late. Luckily, we at Toad have popped a few buttons in our lifetime and know how it feels to be left high and dry, with ne’er a spare button in sight. That’s why we sewed some extra backup buttons into your Toad&Co garments. Grab a needle and thread and get to mending! You’ll score some sustainability points (Way to spare your busted shirt from the landfill!) and prove your domestic prowess. So when Thanksgiving accidents happen, or you snag your clothes while decorating the tree, or you rip off your shirt in a blaze of karaoke glory, just look to your extra buttons to keep the party going.

And if the issue is bigger than a button, we’ll always take back your Toad&Co clothes if you find a flaw in your garment. Or if you don’t get a compliment within three wearings. Seriously. We’ll take it back and make it right. We guarantee it.

How to sew a button


 

Camp Kitchen Hacks

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Is there anything better than camp breakfast? Maybe it’s the fresh air or the fact that you’ll eat anything, but something happens out on the trail that elevates simple bacon and eggs into the feast of the century. Ok, maybe we’re hyperbolizing, but there’s an art to camp cooking that, when done correctly, will change the way you camp forever. Take it from us, your compadres will love you when you say, “No instant oatmeal here,” and whip up the meanest breakfast west (or east) of the Mississippi. So don’t bring home the bacon. Eat it. Eat it all. Here are our tips for creating the ultimate camp kitchen:

  • Keep your cooler cold by freezing gallon water jugs and leaving them in there. Bonus: You can drink them or wash up with them later.

  • Use tic-tac boxes as spice dispensers. We suggest adding garlic salt or cajun seasoning to just about anything.

  • Store charcoal briquettes in a cardboard egg crate, then light the crate to start a fire.

  • Got those extra eggs? Crack them into a plastic water bottle. No need to bring a bowl or a whisk!

  • Degrease your camp stove with half a lemon and salt (you’ll thank yourself later)

  • Make single serve coffee by putting coffee in a filter, tie it up with dental floss or string, then drop it in hot water and let steep like a tea bag.

  • You can cook anything in a cupcake tin directly over a fire – eggs in bacon, rolls, muffins, quiche, cinnamon buns – anything.

  • Make pancake batter ahead of time and put into gallon zip-lock bags. Freeze them, and when you’re ready to use take them out, cut a corner of the bag and squeeze into perfect circular pancakes.

  • Bring peanut butter. Just because.

Stargazing 101

There’s more to the night sky than meets the eye. A lot more. On any given night you can see a thousand stars, five of the eight planets, 88 constellations, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies – all with the naked eye. Here are some facts and tips for optimal stargazing:

Clear and dark skies are good: Cold, windy, cloudless, moonless nights are prime time to check out the stars. Low humidity is also crucial to seeing those tiny details (like Saturn’s rings) through a telescope.

Look low for planets: Look for planets no higher than 30 degrees above the horizon (hold your fist at arm’s length; three fists up from the horizon is about 30°). Venus comes out just after sunset and before dawn, while Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible later at night. You’ll know it’s a planet because they don’t twinkle – that’s what stars do!

Stars twinkle, planets don’t: Stars sparkle because of helium and hydrogen gas within the star; when the gas burns out, so does the star.

Find the “bright star”: The North Star isn’t actually the brightest star in the sky, Sirius is. The brighter the star (or planet), the lower the number in magnitude. For example, Sirius is -1.44 in magnitude while the moon is a whopping -26.

Find the North Star: If you stood at the North Pole, the North Star (or Polaris) would be directly overhead all night long. But the further south you move, the more it rotates due to the degree of earth’s tilt. If you’re in the northern hemisphere you can always find the North Star. The brightest star at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle is the North Star. Can’t see the Little Dipper? Draw an imaginary line straight through the two stars of the Big Dipper’s edge and toward the Little Dipper. The line will point to the North Star.

Know some galaxy facts: Our solar system is just one of thousands in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of thousands in the universe. Galaxies are made up of billions of stars and solar systems all bound to each other by the same gravitational pull. So galaxies can come in all shapes and sizes. The Milky Way galaxy is discus and spiral shaped, with Earth located deep within one of the arms of the Milky Way. That’s why when you look up, the Milky Way looks like a streak through the sky – we’re seeing it from the side!

Look for seasonal constellations: Look for Orion’s Belt in Winter, the Big Dipper in Spring, Sagittarius in the Summer and the Andromeda Galaxy in the Fall. Look up any night of the year and you’ll surly see low-orbit, man-mad satellites following a curved path.

Remember, the night sky is always changing: Depending on the seasons and which hemisphere you’re in, you’ll see different constellations. But one day your favorite constellation could be gone… The Milky Way is constantly losing stars and producing new ones – about seven new stars per year! With an estimated 2 billion stars and more than half of them older than our 4.5 billion-year-old sun, the Milky Way is considered a young galaxy. Makes you feel like a kid again, don’t it?

For more facts and charts, we like these tools:
stardate.org for everything about constellations
cleardarksky.com for stargazing forecasts
Sky Guide app to identify celestial objects

stargazing

7 Steps to Becoming a Wine Expert

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November is the perfect month to brush up on your wine know-how and impress friends and family at holiday dinner tables. You don’t have to be a wine expert to swirl your glass and talk about wine, but it helps to have a few phrases in your arsenal. Reds, whites, rosés, champagnes – you’re bound to encounter your fair share this season so you might as well get to know them. Go ahead, embrace your inner sommelier. Here’s a cheat sheet to get you started:

  • Start With Your Favorites: Stick to what you like to develop your palate. If you don’t like super-sweet white wines, don’t try them just yet. You’ll be inclined to notice the difference in wines if you stick to the types you like. Like red wines? Try a whole flight of reds then narrow in and try different bottles of one type.
  • Swirl, Sniff, Swish: You may feel silly at first, but this is the best way to get all the “notes” of wine just by using your senses. Is it a viscous wine? What does it smell like? Is it tangy, sweet, spicy when it hits your lips? Slow down the tasting process and you’ll notice the differences.
  • Use your own words: Think it tastes like pomegranates? Picking up hints of nutmeg? Perhaps a bottom note of tennis ball? Believe it or not, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to describing what wine tastes like. Without looking at the descriptions, see what you come up with. Try identifying 2 fruit flavors and 3 other flavors. Trust us, your descriptions will become more creative the more wine you drink!
  • Go to a winery: Field trip! Fall is a great time to visit a winery because it’s generally less crowded and the grounds offer a stunning display of fall. For most wineries and tasting rooms, November falls between busy seasons so winemakers and sommeliers are generally happy to spend a bit more time answering all your questions. And you’ll have a lot of them…
  • There are no dumb questions:
    • What’s the difference between varietal and regional wines?
    • What sorts of grapes grow in what sorts of weather?
    • What kinds of barrels are used for fermentation? How long does it ferment in the barrel vs. in the bottle?
    • Is this an early or late harvest wine?
    • How do you get bubbles into sparkling wine?
    • Why do you use different bottles?
  • Eat, Eat, Eat: Maybe you’re of the old adage that you’ll drink what you like no matter what’s on the table. But with such packed tables (food wise and guest-wise), use your newfound knowledge to suggest exceptional pairings. Sweet potato sides go great with a bright pinot noir, while a buttery chardonnay will bring out the best in turkey. Test your own combinations or use the guide below. And remember, champagne pairs well with just about everything!
  • Exude Confidence: You don’t have to spend crazy money to know what you like. And that’s the beauty of wine – there’s no wrong opinion! So bring your latest favorite to the next holiday gathering and explain why it’s your go-to wine. No matter the type or the price, all wine pairs well with good company.
wineandfood
Need more info? Check out winefolly.com

 

 

Easy As Pie: How To Lattice Pie Crust

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There’s something about a homemade pie that just makes you feel good. It smells divine, it’s always festive and even the “mistakes” are delicious. When it comes to spreading joy, it’s easy as pie. Everyone’s got a family pie recipe stashed in a book somewhere, but add your own twist with a lattice pie crust. Our friend at Luci’s Morsels breaks it down in just five simple steps.

  1. For a 9-inche pie, you need two pie crusts (store-bought or make your own). Roll out one crust and lay in the bottom of your pie dish. Fill with desired pie filling.
  2. Roll out second pie crust between two pieces of parchment or wax paper into a circle. Using a butter knife, slowly cut the dough into strips. The strips can be any size you want, but they MUST be the same size. Wider strips mean less weaving but smaller strips will really hit the lattice design home.
  3. Now the tricky part: Carefully lift the first strip with the back of your knife and lay across the side of your pie. Gently press one end into the bottom piecrust. Pick up strip two and lay at a ninety-degree angle to strip one. Gently press edge into bottom crust.
  4. Place the next strip parallel to strip one, about a half inch away. It should lay over the top of strip two. That’s the lattice! With each strip, alternate weaving it over and under the other strips, always at a 90-degree angle. It’s ok if the strips hang over the sides or begin to fall apart- it’s easy to patch.
  5. When you have all the strips woven over the pie, cut off extra dough and use remaining pieces to fill in. Pinch lattice strips into bottom pie crust. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the pie and bake according to the family recipe!

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