The Wave Whisperer

We’ve all heard the old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention”. For surfboard shaper Jacob Ells, this age-old adage rings especially true. In his early 20’s Jacob found himself a student at the University of California Santa Barbara, living a stone’s throw from the waves of Sands, Devereux, and Campus Point. Caught between a full class load and a Top-Ramen budget, Jacob was itching for a good board but couldn’t fathom shelling out the cash for a new one. There was only one solution.

With some guidance from friends and a few tips on surfboard design, Jacob got his hands on an old blank and shaped himself a board. It wasn’t exactly a polished work of art, but it was magic under his feet. Pretty soon, he was itching for another magic carpet to ride.

Screenshot (254)+_INBLOGJacob in the bay, doing what he loves.

For the next ten years, Jacob dabbled in shaping and board design and “product testing.” He spent a few years sailing across the Pacific, surfing countless waves in solitude, and exploring areas of the planet he’d only seen in pictures. Still, Jacob was thirsty for a more intimate knowledge of surfboard design.

In 2014 he decided to turn his hobby into a profession and he hasn’t looked back since. All Jive Surfboards are hand-shaped by Jacob in Carpinteria, California and the continuous quest for knowledge is what drives Jacob. “It’s funny, the more I shape the less I know,” he says.

As for the boards that don’t come out as planned? “My favorite thing is when I surf one of my boards for the first time and it doesn’t work as expected. After years of surfing my boards, they can still reveal new things.”

Capture_INBLOGIntergalactic surf craft hand shaped by Jacob Ells.

That’s just the kind of guy Jacob is – always finding the stoke. He and his family live minutes away from Rincon Point (one of California’s great breaks), and he’s never too busy to sneak in a quick sesh. “The best part about Rincon is that it’s so diverse – I can have the same amount of fun in a variety of conditions.” As a surfer, a craftsman, and one epic dad, Jacob inspires us to get out there and find our stoke. If you’re in the market for a custom surfboard, look no further than Jive Surf. Tell ’em Toad sent ya.

Screenshot (256)_enderA craftsman, honing his craft.

Earth Week is Here!

We have been celebrating Earth Day for as long as we’ve been making clothing, which (if you’re counting) is 22 years! Every April 22nd we reflect on the current state of the planet and look at how we can do our part to leave it a little better than we found it. From our deign philosophy to our customer service, we’re committed to creating a greener, more sustainable future for everyone. This year, we’re taking Earth Week (April 16 – April 22) to check-in with all our sustainability initiatives. Follow us on Instagram @toadandcoclothing for our sustainability updates throughout the week, and come say hi at our booth at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival!

We may be partial given that Earth Day originated in Santa Barbara, but we truly believe that our hometown has the most awesome Earth Day festival in all the land. With sustainability workshops, eco vendors, and the happy buzz of a community committed to environmental protection, the SB Earth Day Fest is a place for like minds to gather and to grow. This year we’ll have a tent by the beer garden (prime location, if you ask us), and we’re showing off our favorite new eco styles. Stop by our booth to take our polaroid #wearsustainable pledge!

DSC01606_FORBLOGIf you play your cards right, you may even meet Dr. Drew, the king of customer service.

This year’s Earth Week theme is End Plastic Pollution, an initiative we have long been committed to. This season we partnered with a recycling company, Repreve, to create  men’s and women’s styles made from upcycled plastic bottles. We’re putting our foot down when it comes to single use plastics, but it takes a little bit of action from everyone. So kudos to you for using reusable bags, skipping straws at Starbucks, and ditching plastic water bottles for reusable canteens. By eliminating single use plastic, we all contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet. Every little bit counts and YOU make a difference. Happy Earth Week!

blue-plastic-bottles_inblogOne man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Our Eco styles feature fibers made from recycled bottles.

Conservation Hits Home

As residents of the Santa Barbara region, we’re proud of the amazing outdoor opportunities at our fingertips. From world class waves to great local climbing areas, our backyard (aka: the Los Padres National Forest) feels like an enhanced version of the playgrounds of our youth. But amazing opportunities beget hefty responsibilities to respect and conserve these lands. That’s why we partner with the Los Padres ForestWatch (LPFW), the only nonprofit organization protecting wildlife, wilderness, and clean water throughout the Los Padres National Forest. In early August, we hosted the LPFW summer gathering at our Toad HQ where activists sipped on local beer from Figueroa Mountain Brewery, and heard from our CEO, Gordon Seabury, and local photographer Chuck Graham. 

IMG_2307_1060

This year’s focus was the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Carrizo Plain is part of the Los Padres National forest, about 3 hours northeast of Santa Barbara. It’s the largest single native grassland remaining in California and includes Native American ruins like the Painted Rock. The Plain is 50 miles long and is border by the San Andres Fault; the section in the Carrizo Plain is the oldest section along the entire fault zone. It’s an expansive, beautiful landscape and one that photographer Chuck Graham knows well. Graham has a personal connection with Santa Barbara’s public lands (he was a long time guide at Channel Islands National Park), and he’s been capturing stellar images of Carrizo Plain for nearly 20 years (see for yourself here). Graham showed the crowd his favorites from over the years and encouraged all attendees to visit the National Monument as frequently as possible. The future of the Carrizo Plain is currently unknown since it’s been called for review under the Department of the Interior’s National Monument Review. Looking at photos of these beautiful landscapes, we were inspired by nature’s awesome beauty and heartbroken by the thought of losing it. Graham’s deep love for the area made it all the more palpable.

34392887016_fb0850826a_o_1060

On the heals of Graham,  our Toad&Co CEO and Chairman of the Outdoor Industry Association, Gordon Seabury, had some choice words about the necessity of protecting public lands. Gordon stressed the importance of speaking up and sharing comments in support of public lands, and urged everyone to continue using public land for the activities we love. He also stressed that the future of public lands should be in public hands. From an economic standpoint, public lands are in the best interest of local communities, businesses and schools. Gordon, along with fellow members of the OIA , are working as a group to present this view to the current administration. We’re all in this fight together, so we’re proud to partner with like-minded organizations and individuals to keep our public lands wild and free. 

Prairie Falcon_ Carrizo Plain_1060

So consider this a PSA: Your public lands need you now more than ever. Whether you are a birder, a hiker, a climber or all the above, our public lands are ready for you to use them. Find the areas closest to you on the Public Lands Website.  Be sure to respect all limitations of public lands (including fire restrictions and endangered species awareness) and try to leave it better than you found it (gold stars for people who pick up litter when they see it). Our public lands are one of our nation’s greatest idea, so get out there and show your support for conservation.

33592387154_49b734e7b5_o_1060

American_Barn_Owl_Tyto_furcata_Carrizo_1_1060

Winning Recipe From The 5th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

 

For those unfamiliar with 5th Annual Toad&C0 Grilled Cheese Smackdown, it’s the biggest cooking competition west of Paris and it happens at Toad HQ. With competitors prepping and practicing grilled cheese creations for weeks before the competition, it’s the finest iteration of bread and cheese in the known universe. With so many delicious sandwiches premiering at the Grilled Cheese Smackdown, we couldn’t keep all of the cheesy goodness to ourselves.

This year’s top honors went to Visit Santa Barbara‘s Fromage de la Riviera. Fun fact about the name, ToadHQ is located in the Riviera neighborhood of Santa Barbara. Way to know your audience, Natalie and Danielle! Aside from an aesthetic masterpiece, Danielle and Natalie’s sandwich packed a serious punch of flavor. Who knew a mix of caramelized onions and mushrooms could be so tasty? Top it off with gruyere and swiss cheeses and you’ve got a winner on your hands. Permission to share winning recipes is rarely given (ok, not really), so take advantage and make yourself a Golden-Spatula worthy grilled cheese!

Fromage de la Riviera by Visit Santa Barbara

Ingredients for 2 sandwiches: 
2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin (about ¼”)
½ cup of butter, softened and room temp
1/2 up of white wine
1 small package of mushrooms, sliced 
2.5 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded
2.5 oz. swiss cheese, shredded
4 slices of local sourdough bread
Salt and pepper
Parsley
Rosemary for garnish, chopped 
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Instructions:

For onions:

  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and toss in sliced onions. Stir onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread onions in an even layer, cover pot and reduce heat to low. Stir every 5 or so minutes. Continue until onions are nicely caramelized, about 25 minutes. 
  3. Increase heat to medium-high, add about 3 tablespoons of wine to deglaze the pan, and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Once all the liquid has absorbed, about 1-2 minutes, turn off heat and let onions sit. 

For mushrooms:

  1.  In separate saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium/low heat. Add 2 garlic cloves (chopped) to pan and sauté for about 1 minute (Don’t let garlic brown!)
  2.  Add sliced mushrooms to pan and stir to coat with butter/garlic.
  3. Add about a 1/3 cup of white wine (a splash) and bring mushrooms to boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover. When wine has almost absorbed, remove lid and add chopped parsley for color and flavor. 
  4. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper then set aside.

Turn it into a grilled cheese: 

Preheat skillet to medium heat. Butter both sides of bread, lay buttered side down on skillet and cover with a layer of swiss cheese, top with a handful of caramelized onions and mushrooms, then a layer of gruyere cheese, and top it all off with another slice of buttered bread. Cook until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes per side). Add pinch of chopped rosemary to each side and bon appetite! 

For more winning recipes, check out The Overall Hottest Award (spoiler alert: Firemen and chilis are involved) and the People’s Choice Award (which we’re fairly certain won because it had grilled cheese on the OUTSIDE of the sandwich. Ya. Think about it). For more on the event, check out our video recap!

The En Fuego Grilled Cheese

 

For those unfamiliar with 5th Annual Toad&C0 Grilled Cheese Smackdown, it’s the biggest cooking competition west of Paris and it happens at Toad HQ. With competitors prepping and practicing grilled cheese creations for weeks before the competition, it’s the finest iteration of bread and cheese in the known universe. This year the Santa Barbara Fire Department let the fire burn with their sandwich, aptly named En Fuego! A combination of spicy peppers, two types of cheese, and tequila-buttered sourdough (yes, tequila butter), the only thing hotter than the sandwich was the firefighters themselves! Spice things up but proceed with caution – this delicious combination of bread, cheese, and peppers is highly flammable!

The En Fuego by Santa Barbara Fire Department

Ingredients:
Tequila-lime-cilantro butter
Sourdough bread (fresh made is best)
Homemade guacamole
Fire roasted pasilla chiles, red peppers and green jalapeño peppers
Queso fresco
Mexican cheese blend
Jalapeño mustard

Instructions:

  1. Combine 1 shot of tequila, 1 stick of melted butter, and finely diced cilantro. Whisk together and let sit until butter firms up.
  2. Liberally apply butter to two pieces of sourdough bread.
  3. On the non-buttered side of bread, evenly apply a moderate amount of jalapeno mustard
  4. On top of the jalapeno mustard, liberally apply homemade guacamole.  
  5. Press fire roasted pasilla peppers and jalapenos into the guacamole.
  6. Add queso fresco and mexican cheese blend to the top of the guacamole.
  7. Gently sandwich two pieces of bread together.
  8. Grill until cheese is melted and bread is crispy. Ole! 

 

5 Popular Campsites Within 60 Miles of Santa Barbara

 

Summer in California is still in full swing. Make the most of the good weather with our California Camping Series featuring campsite reviews from  TheDyrt.com – it’s like Yelp for public campgrounds. In Part I , we covered Los Angeles, and here in Part II we’re sharing 5 popular campsites within 60 miles of Santa Barbara. All reviews and photos come from real reviews from real campers. Write your own reviews on the The Dyrt and you could win some great gear through the end of September.  

1. Carpinteria State Beach
Distance from Santa Barbara: 12 miles

★★★★☆

“This is a truly unique campground that my family has been visiting for decades. You can walk into town and eat at the amazing restaurants that quaint Carpenteria has to offer. Or you can listen to the waves roll in from your campground as you cook something up over the camp fire. A great home base to explore Santa Barbara or Slovang too.” – The Dyrt user Megan B. See more here.

af487613a6924608a92493b93edce9bb

2. Refugio State Beach
Distance from Santa Barbara: 23 miles

★★★★★

“Refugio state beach is a popular spot, but still very enjoyable, right on the ocean. Easy camping with flat pads and bathrooms. It was a great place for us to transition from backpacking to car camping after we had our first child.” -The Dyrt user Warren K. See more here.

3. Wheeler Gorge
Distance from Santa Barbara: 38 miles

★★★★☆

“We stayed in Campsite #70 and all the previous reviews said it was going to be terrible…in truth, this was one of the best campsites I had been to in a long time. An awesome creek runs through the middle of the campsite. The reason people didn’t seem to like our site was because of it’s proximity to the highway. Didn’t bother me too much… motorcycles zoom by maybe once an hour during the day. Nothing too crazy. The bathrooms are well kept and YOU CAN BUY FIREWOOD from the camp hosts!! Campsites come with fire rings, a grill, and a picnic table. Enjoy your time in the woods!!” -The Dyrt user Garret M. See more here.

cd8c62d758cfa44df1f2ff3301f77e49

4. Middle Lion Campground
Distance from Santa Barbara: 50.4 miles

★★★★☆

“A great, secluded camping spot at the end of an old side road, it gets very little traffic. Two out of the three times I have been there it has been almost deserted. It can become busy on summer weekends. There are 9 sites here, each with a table/benches, freestanding grill and a fire pit. (Depending on the drought conditions though, fires may or may not be allowed). The only other amenity is a vault restroom. There is no potable water here, but there is a creek with water in it year round that runs along the east side of the campground if you feel inclined to filter your own. Most of the sites are well shaded by large deciduous trees, and the surrounding hills do a great job at blocking most of the wind, making it a very pleasant spot for a weekend of car camping. All that is required is a forest adventure pass, which can be bought at any near by outdoors store for $5 for a day and a night, or $30 for a year, and can be used at most any site in the forest.” -The Dyrt user Ryan P. See more here. 

aa98040bdcd894b962cf35bba0b08d27

5. Leo Carillo
Distance from Santa Barbara: 56.7 miles

★★★★★

“I had spent many summers camping with friends at Leo Carillo State Park. Various campsites with easy access to one of the best beaches in Malibu. Close to everything fun in SoCal – Close to the pier, Malibu, Hollywood, LA and more. Camping under the oak trees and in a small canyon. Lots of local wildlife – deer, coyotes, hawks, snakes, bugs and tidepools on the beach. Camping in tents and RVs. Cold foggy mornings from overcast however it clears up. Cool or cold nights and mild days. Decent wading into the ocean and good surfing all around. Not too bad with rip-currents and is great for younger kids too! The rangers at this park love to entertain the kids and they have lots of Jr Ranger programs through the local surrounding areas! Look for them! One of the best beach camping locations in So Cal HANDS down! It gets crowded quickly so book early!” See more here.

1024px-LeoCarrilloBeachCave-01

Reminder – You could win a $100 Toad&Co gift card when you camp California + review your campsites on TheDyrt.com. Learn more about our campsite review contest here. Contests end September 30th!

Feature image Hendry’s Beach, from Damian Gadal

Modern Travel: Santa Barbara

 

Wk18B_Email_MT-SantaBarbara_blog

This month Outside Magazine’s Best Towns 2015 competition kicks off, pitting 64 towns against each other in a bid for the Best Town in America title. We’re big fans of all the nominated towns, but there’s a special spot in our hearts for one town in particular: Santa Barbara, CA – our home sweet home!

Nestled amongst the hills where the Santa Ynez mountains kiss the Pacific, Santa Barbara is anything but a sleepy beach town: Artist colonies, renowned universities, international non-profits, muchas taquerias autenticos, loads of small businesses and a blossoming tech industry mean there’s something for everyone. And with more than 300 days of sunshine per year, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities – smell the roses at the Queen of the Missions, hike around the Lost Padres National Forest, kayak the sea caves of Channel Islands National Park, bike State Street or cruise along East Beach, hit the local wineries, splash around at Butterfly Beach or get barreled at Rincon Point. If you’ve still got energy after a day of activities, catch a show under the stars at the Santa Barbara Bowl, because where else can you dance the night away with a view of the ocean? So come check out our town and who knows, maybe you’ll think it’s the Best Town Ever too.

WHAT TO DO IN SANTA BARBARA

Channel Islands National ParkClose to the mainland but worlds away are five islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara – that make up the Channel Island National Park. This relatively untouched archipelago is absolutely stunning and one of the richest marine biospheres in the world with many species that live nowhere else on earth. And getting there is half the fun. Head over to Channel Island Outfitters in the Santa Barbara Harbor and they’ll hook you up with everything you need for a day on the water – scuba or snorkel the great kelp forests, kayak through the sea caves (the Painted Cave is pretty spectacular) or leisurely take in the wildlife from your SUP. Hike around the islands for an afternoon or pack a tent and stay a while. Boats leave every morning from the harbor, so be sure to check in with CIO and set your alarm.

Tacos El ReyOne of the best parts of Santa Barbara is the mix of Native American/Spanish/Mexican heritage, and no where is this more evident than in the culinary traditions. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a killer Mexican cafe in this town, but we’re digging Tacos El Rey, a tiny hole-in-the-wall, cash only taqueria just off State Street. Served on handmade tortillas that are made daily, this might be one time when your eyes won’t be bigger than your appetites: The tacos al pastor come topped with grilled pineapple, catch of the day fish tacos mean you’ll always try something new, the portobello mushroom taco is seasoned to perfection and top it all off with the best salsa in town (spicy peanut salsa, anyone?). Grab a watermelon agua fresca to-go and a walk it off – it’s only 5 blocks to the beach!

Handlebar Coffee RoastersLocated just across the street from the historic Spanish Presidio, Handlebar Coffee Roasters is good coffee and good people. Started by a couple of local pro-cyclists who combined their love of biking and coffee, grab a great cup of joe for the road or linger at a sidewalk table and get wrapped up in good conversation. But be warned, their coffee packs a mean punch. It’s made from sustainable beans from three different continents and roasted and brewed to perfection on site. Go for a straight up shot of the best espresso you’ll ever try or a fancy macchiato. Bring your dog (they’ve got dog treats and water bowls), and there’s lots of bike parking for those who roll up on two wheels. Delicious coffee and nice folks, plain and simple.

Telegraph Brewing CompanyA favorite of the Toads, you’re in good company when you’re at Telegraph Brewing. With the tapping of their first keg in 2006, Telegraph has steadily grown to be one of California’s best craft breweries and one that’s committed to using sustainable ingredients and brewing methods. They also happen to make excellent beer. Telegraph typically has 10 different beers on tap and they’re constantly rotating: Currently, the Cervza de Fiesta Pilsner lives up to its name as a party for your taste buds, while their award-winning flagship California Ale will have you savor every last drop. Family style tables, big open garage doors, pub games, food trucks and environmentally friendly oats – we’ll cheers to that.

Los Padres National ForestExtending from Ventura to Monterey across roughly 2 million acres of varied wilderness, the Los Padres National Forest is nothing shy of stunning. From the beautiful Big Sur Coastline of the north to the Matilija Hot Springs of the south theres no limit to the breathtaking views, wonderful hiking trails, epic bird watching and overall good vibes. Our friends at the Los Padres ForestWatch can tell you all about it (they’re the non-profit tasked with keeping the forest thriving), but if you need a place to start then check out the Santa Ynez Mountain Range in Santa Barbara’s backyard. Pick up hiking trails to popular spots like Inspiration Point, Rattlesnake Trail and La Cumbre Peak (the highest peak in town!), or take scenic Highway 154 out of town about 30 minutes to scramble around the rocks at Lizard’s Mouth and take a dip in the pools at Red Rock. Sunscreen, water, sneakers, GO.

WHAT TO WEAR IN SANTA BARBARA

Rivulet TeeChoose a more colorful path. That’s the spirit of Santa Barbarans and the art of our Rivulet Tee. Offered in three sunny colors, it’s miles beyond basic tees – with a flattering silhouette, wide scoop neck, cap sleeves, solid color front, and cool striping up the center back. It’s made from our Slubstripe fabric, a dream-weight knit of pure organic cotton with cool slubby texture so you’ll be cool as a cucumber as you cruise the beach.

Cetacean TrunkNow you can surf, swim, sail, paddle, snorkel, spike and swig Mai-Tais with one pair of shorts. In fact, if there’s liquid and action verbs involved, our Cetacean Trunks are up to the task. They’re made of 4-Ply Supplex, our performance-proven nylon fabric that’s tightly woven for extreme durability, treated for quick-dry convenience, and wavy striped for aquatic vitality. Clean styling lets you wear them in town too, and handy zip side pocket mean you’ll never lose your keys (no matter how wet and wild you get).

Capellini DressThe Capellini Dress dances and sways with a life all its own. No surprise, it’s made of our famous Samba fabric, a slub-textured jersey knit of silky Tencel®, oh-so-soft organic cotton, and a smudge of spandex for stretch. The cool slub texture looks like sun shimmers on water, giving the fabric a little motion even when you’re standing still. A simple A-line dress with a built-in shelf bra and  stealth stash pocket let you can go from coffee shop to beach to date night and never miss a beat.

Fletch shirtStand out from the plaid. Street smart organic cotton with a cool crossfire of printed arrows and sharp details make you cool without being too trendy. Comfortably cut with just the right amount of room in the torso, this shirt hits the mark and looks awesome when paired with slacks or swim trunks.

Botanic Gardens

On a recent February day Team Toad spent a sunny morning pulling non-native plants at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden as part of our Do The Right Thing initiative. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is just a skip up the hill from our headquarters, nestled amongst the Santa Ynez mountains and home to 10 unique gardens, a Native American creek dam, and one very impressive wildflower meadow.

DSC_5263

As many as 6,550 species and varieties of plants (collectively referred to as taxa), are believed to be native to the state of California. Of that, 2,270 taxa are found no where else in the world and 1,120 species are considered endangered. Invasive plant species, or weeds, pose a major threat to these endangered native species.

DSC_5297

Invasive species are characterized by their adaptability to new environments and aggressive growth within those environments. Without nature’s checks and balance system (like seasonal weather or hungry insects), one small weed can turn into a big problem. Especially in California where water is a hot (or cool) commodity, weeds are taking over prime soil real estate and pushing native species to the brink.

DSC_5312

DSC_5321

Although they can look like lovely wildflowers or clovers to the untrained eye, weeds can do some serious damage. Without a thriving native plant population, other wildlife that depends on native plants may migrate or die out, leaving a big imbalance in a fragile ecosystem. So when invasive plants become too unruly for mother nature, that’s when a little bit of man power goes a long way.

DSC_5332

After a hours of weeding and a few trips to the compost bin, there was only one thing left to do: Enjoy the gardens. Ok, there were lots of things left to do – it’s a ravenous invasive species, after all… To learn more about the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and California’s native plant species, visit www.sbbg.org. If you’re not in California contact your regional botanic garden or arboretum about volunteer opportunities. Trust us, you’ll benefit just as much from a morning pulling weeds as the garden will!

DSC_5277

DSC_5351