Posted by & filed under Christmas, The Voice of Saddleback Employees.


by Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

1.Take it Easy on the Road- Every single person on the road has somewhere to be. So stop trying to run everyone off the road to get where you are going five minutes faster. Having a car is a luxury, not an entitlement. I created a mantra for myself that inspires me to relax even if everyone out there is crazy: The bird does not explain to the snake why it flies; it simply flies. Meaning, you don’t have to bring yourself down to the level of road ragers and cell-phone gazers. Be cognizant, but be cool.

2. Slow Down While Shopping- This is pretty much the same concept as driving, with the exception that people hidden behind metal and class in their cars can be a little more rude without being personal. When you are out there shopping this Christmas seasons, don’t forget what Christmas is all about. The point is to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth, not to get the last hot toy of the season. Also, as the husband of a wonderful woman that works in retail, I ask you to be polite and patient when you shop and be kind to the people helping you. It might seem like you are not getting the attention you need, but remember that these folks are usually working with a skeleton crew and 5 times their normal volume of customers. Treat others kindly and you will feel the Spirit move in you.

3. Travel Light, Dress Like a Rockstar – Make your life easier by traveling like your favorite lead singer on tour. Ever notice how your favorite band will often wear the same two or three outfits on tour? That’s because nobody has the time or the space to carry around hundreds of cool outfits or to coordinate them. Pick a few essentials and mix it up. For the gentlemen: One pair of jeans, one pair of chinos, three long-sleeve shirts (one white; spread collar, one plaid; use some colors that that go with anything, and one that’s your favorite ever), a sweater and two blazers, one pair of dress shoes one pair of casual sneakers, provide a lot of fun combinations. And you don’t have to pack the entire closet.  This should all fit in one bag and a hang-up. If it doesn’t, upgrade to a side pocket duffel.

4. Show Up With Something – You might have the biggest family in Texas, or you might be joining another couple for a tiny Thanksgiving dinner. Either way, a gift will be appreciated. The best red wine for turkey day is a Pinot Noir, because its earthiness compliments the meal. The best white wine is a Riesling, because the wine’s wonderful apricot and apple accents compliment the sweetness of a Thanksgiving meal. If you want to go non-alcoholic, I’ve personally always appreciated a loaf of French bread or a couple of baguettes.

5. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself- It seems like a no-brainer, but last year, I got ready to take off for a road trip and realized I had a flat tire. Couldn’t make the trip because guess what, Discount Tire isn’t open every single day of the year. Nobody is! Check your tires, oil, etc, before you go on a long trip.

6. Be Courageous – You know that one person nobody likes that somehow manages to make it to every family event? If you’re the host, do yourself a favor–don’t invite them. I know that’s controversial. We’re supposed to be graceful and kind. Well, some people invite that and some people don’t. Do your entire family a favor and make the holiday enjoyable. Many a beautiful Thanksgiving and Christmas has been sacrificed to the obligatory inclusion of Drunkle Frank or Cousin Drama. Treat the deserving with the grace of the world, but don’t open yourself up to a disaster. The owner of the China shop rarely invites the bull inside out of the bottom of his heart. Most of the time, he just gets invited by default.

7. Collect Keys – I feel like a PSA here, but this is the truth. It’s a lot of fun getting together with family and friends during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whether you’re out of town or safely nestled in your own home, be safe! Collect keys and make sure that people aren’t leaving the party before they’re ready to make the drive.

8. Love Your Spouse- November and December are the busiest months of the year. It’s super easy to let tensions rise and to take that out on the closest person…your husband or wife. Don’t! This is a fun time to work together. Nothing in the world matters as much as your marriage. As a newlywed, I’m probably highly unqualified to give marital advice. But then again, it is pretty good advice, right? Make sure that you are taking care of the special person in your life and working together to have a Thanksgiving and Christmas that is as stress-free as possible, enjoyable, and dedicated to God and not greed.

9. Make it Personal – So much of Christmas these days seems to be about the accumulation of wealth. I believe it’s better to give someone a personal gift than a generic thing off of some wish list they wrote while watching Youtube from the comfort of the lavatory. Is this selfish on my part? I don’t think so. I would rather give someone a trinket that they will keep forever than a 100th shirt or 5th pair of sunglasses, etc. Example: my wife’s grandfather needed a shoe horn but was having some hip problems. So, I had a custom shoe horn made out of Texas mesquite that was basically the length of a cane. Custom gift with function and form.

10. Be Thankful – We all say the Grace before dinner. Well, take it one step further. Spend a little time and look around at all of your blessings. Even if times are tough. Count your blessings. Appreciate Thanksgiving and Christmas for the time you get to spend with the people you love. Cherish these moments. Ignore the hustle. Let your loved ones know they matter. It will make their holiday a lot better. And then, when Christmas rolls around, give them a gift that means more to their souls and less to their closets.


Good luck and God Bless!


Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

In this twenty-first episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:

Dave shares his secret formula for cleaning dogs that like to wrestle with skunks, Suzette washes poo off of a crate-full of puppies, and Sela tells us what is takes to make a handsome chupacabra.



Come see the rest of the Not Dead Yet Series

Subscribe to the Not Dead Yet Show newsletter right now or else be prepared to face the consequences of missing the greatest show ever produced about the Munsons living in tents.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required


Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.


By Tim (Social Content Guy)

My new favorite lawn game is one you might not have heard of before. It is called Kubb (listen to how it is pronounced here.) A friend of mine recently introduced me to the game and set up a game one afternoon. I was intrigued by the description and history of the game and by the time the first game was over, I was hooked. This may or may have been because I won…

Like many games, the history of Kubb is not entirely known and the theories about it are colorful. You can read some of them on good ole Wikipedia. I will tell you the version my friend told me. Supposedly the game traces all the way back to the Vikings. The story goes that they would play the game with the skulls and femurs of their enemies. Some still refer to the pieces as skulls and femurs. Some still dress like Vikings when they play too. Some also call the game Viking Chess.


Here is a basic explanation of how Kubb is played. There are two teams that play against each other. The pitch size is 5 meters by 8 meters. That’s roughly 16.4 feet by 26.2 feet. There are six boundary pieces that are placed so the pitch is clearly defined. On each side of the pitch there are five skulls (kubbs) with a larger one in the middle (called the King). The object of the game is to knock over the other teams skulls by throwing the six femurs (wooden batons). Only after you have knocked over all the skulls can you knock over the King. Should the King be knocked over beforehand you lose the game.

To see who goes first one person from each team throws a femur to get it as close to the King as possible without touching it. Whichever team is closest then gets to throw all six femurs. Now if you have been doing the math you are probably thinking, “What’s the point? You have five skulls and one king to knock over with six femurs. That will be easy.” Wrong! It is actually quite challenging. And there are some more fun rules that make the game more interesting.

After the first team has thrown all six femurs the second team must start their turn by throwing back whichever skulls were knocked over. They must be thrown on the first team’s side and in bounds. After throwing the first skull you’ll want to try to hit it with any remaining skulls. This results in the skulls being stacked making them easier to knock over. Once they have been thrown and placed the second team gets to throw all six femurs. The field Kubbs (the ones just thrown by the second team) have to be knocked over before moving on to the back row or baseline Kubbs. As you can imagine this makes the game more challenging as well as longer.

The team that is first to knock over all the field Kubbs, the baseline Kubbs, and then the King, wins. Some have said Kubb can be described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. I’d say that is a pretty close description. There are a few more rules I didn’t mention but you can read about them or watch this very helpful video.

If you have never heard of Kubb I’d encourage you to find or build a set and go try it out. If you have played before but it’s been awhile I hope this rekindles your love for it. My friend who introduced me to the game held a tournament recently. The winning team got to take home a homemade Kubb set. Guess who won?! That’s right. My family and I now own a sweet Kubb set and can be found playing in our backyard on most days.



Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



By Jana Mendoza (Human Resources)

Food as Medicine  – Part 3

So you read my other posts about using food to heal your gut and reverse autoimmune symptoms and you’re intrigued; Great! But you need more info to get started. Let me give you some great resources that have helped me and should help guide you through your journey.

First, there are a lot of great authors and researchers who have put plans together and have great blogs out there. Their sites are full of recipes, great articles that spell out what you can and can’t have and recommendations for other ways you can support your healing process. The following ones are my favorites and they have all the info you would need to get started.

He Won’t Know It’s Paleo – Breanna Emmitt
Manages the symptoms of Celiac and Hashimotos with AIP. Has a recipe book and site that features tasty and relatively easy AIP recipes. And they’re so good that her hubby didn’t know he was eating a different diet for 6 months after she started cooking that way.
The Paleo Mom – Sarah Ballantyne
An MD and researcher, Sarah has written the bible on AIP. She is also symptom free from Lichen planus. She has a whole book, The Paleo Approach on the science behind AIP, so if you like to know the why, then her book would be for you.
Autoimmune Paleo – Mickey Trescott
Has Celiac and Hashimoto’s and overcame the symptoms with the AIP diet. Has a cookbook called The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.
Phoenix Helix – Eileen Laird
Eileen has Rheumatoid Arthritis and now lives pain free from following AIP. Her blog is a mix of science, recipes and testimony.

So there is a lot to learn with AIP, but ultimately there is a lot of cooking that will need to happen. You or a your loved one will be making all your meals from scratch. So brush up on cooking skills and get ready. The above sites have great recipes on them but there are tons more resources out there, so get on Pinterest, fire up google and start collecting.

The other great resource and support out there is Facebook Groups. There are many AIP groups out there where you can get info, ask questions, post recipes and get support from a group of people that know what you’re going through and are committed to the same journey. As with any Facebook group there’s great people and of course the “2%”, but in general I’ve found the people to be supportive, warm and kind. Here are some good ones:

AIP Support
AIP Reintroductions
Autoimmune Paleo recipes
Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed Naturally

I know this feels overwhelming and even impossible, but the truth is this is doable, there are thousands and thousands of people just like you and me that are figuring out how to make it work in the middle of busy lives, are realizing that they can still enjoy food and flavor, and are choosing to put themselves and their health first. This is not the end of the world friend, this is just the beginning of hopefully a healthier and happier world. Just take it one step and one meal at a time.


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

I’m a fall guy. NO, not the kind of “fall guy” who takes the blame for running over the founder’s statue in the town square and ends up in county jail for 11 days just so his two best friends don’t get in trouble with their short-tempered girlfriends. What kind of a dude do you think I am? I’m the other kind of fall guy. The guy who enjoys the fall season. Autumn. Sweet, slow, cool, autumn with its leaves of burgundy and burnt orange and its gentle call for the digging out of overshirts and cardigans from the back of the closet.
When I sit down to get to work on a short story, poem, or blog post, I like to have a soundtrack going; a soundtrack for my craft and a soundtrack for life in general. Here are 10 songs (in no particular order) that I really think have that certain “fall” feel. I hope you enjoy them and they help you slow down and enjoy the change of season.

1. Louis Armstrong- “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South”

Louis Armstrong’s mad scat lyrics always relax me and get me in the perfect chill mood. And then that smooth trumpet blows in and warms the room like a cozy fire.


2. Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash – “North Country Girl”

In my opinion, these men are two of the finest singer/songwriters of our lifetime. And here, the two combine their efforts for one of Dylan’s most atmospheric songs. You can really feel the wind blowing and you start thinking about that girl you once knew, too.


3. Ryan Adams – “Pretenders (Pretending’s Fun)”
It’s hard to pick just one fall-friendly Ryan Adams track. He’s an underrated, prolific genius. But, “Pretenders” is a real treat. It comes from a scrapped album (now a treasured bootleg a la Dylan). With phrases like: “Folks covered up with roses might envy everyone…” it’s easy to feel the emotions in a Ryan Adams-penned song.


4. Fran Healy- “Anything”
Fran Healy, lead singer of Scotland’s greatest alt band, Travis, goes ethereally solo on the album Wreckorder, and the track that haunts the most is “Anything”. The strings are gentle and piercing and Mr. Healy’s voice is as melodic and soulful as ever. For a bonus, try “Sing Me to Sleep”, which features Neko Case.


5. VAST- “One More Day”
When the leaves begin to fall like lost opportunities and a scarf is just one more way to keep the memories inside, you’ll find songs like “One More Day” a perfect compliment to the chill of an early fall.


6. The Wallflowers – “One Headlight”
Jakob Dylan’s “One Headlight” is one of those 90s heartbreak songs that sounds best being blasted on your car radio while you are cutting through a foggy night, winding down country roads in the middle of the night, perhaps with only one headlight to lead you.



7. David Gray – “Babylon” (Acoustic)
I play this song on repeat a lot during the autumn. Gray picks the guitar softly and sings of a relationship that, like the Biblical Babylon, had potential but is seemingly in trouble. Such a beautiful song and so powerful, especially in its acoustic renditions.



8. The National – “Green Gloves”
When I hear this song, I picture all of my old friends out living their lives and I miss them. I think of my college days wandering through the falling leaves of Denton, TX, with nothing but my peacoat and the love of those around me to keep me warm. I believe the song is a bittersweet masterpiece. You can’t possibly maintain relationships with everyone, but you can still think about them from time to time. And it’s in those brief moments that you are with them.


9. Coldplay – “Amsterdam”
“Come on, oh my star is fading and I swerve out of control. If I, If I’d only waited…I’d not be stuck here in this hole.” This is one of the most powerful piano-rock songs of all time. There are a lot of good Coldplay tracks to choose from. “The Scientist” and “Fix You” are heartbreakingly sad, but “Amsterdam: just feels more like the wet and cold and thunderous autumn nights. Less of a whimper than a shout.


10. The Cure- “The Forest”
There’s something so eerie about this song that it feels weird not listening to it during the fall. The lyrics spin a compelling narrative of a man chasing a strange voice through the woods and the music is altogether anxious. Will he catch her? You can find out for yourself if you give it a listen:

Nick is part of our Social Engagement and Customer Service teams. He released his debut novel, The Ties That Bind (insert link to: in 2014, and has also published short fiction, pop culture essays, popular blogs, and music reviews for a number of print and digital outlets.


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)

Man, I want to go there…


How many times have you heard that, when someone’s talking to you about vacation plans?


More importantly, how many times have you been the one to say it?


Because stop it.


I know, travel’s tough. Gotta find the time, gotta find the money, gotta organize and plan…it’s not easy.


“Well, nothing worth doing,” your mom / dad / teacher / coach / etc. always said, “is”.


“Aqaba is over there,” my wife’s favorite line of Peter O’Toole’s goes, speaking to Omar Sharif about overcoming the first major trial in Lawrence of Arabia. “It is only a matter of going.”


The fundamentals of getting to Aqaba – real or metaphoric – aren’t hard. I’m not what you’d call a seasoned traveler (though my plane stub collection weighs about a Chipotle burrito by now, a lot of it’s for business…doesn’t count). But in the past six years or so, my wife and I have managed to cover our share of ground. And it all started with a very familiar ‘man, I want to go there…’.


It all comes down to this:


  1. Have a list of your dreams.

Know what it is that you want to see – and especially what you want to do. Write them down – a written goal has a much better chance of happening, and hopefully you get to a place where you have so many goals and dreams it’s hard to keep up with.


My wife and I found ourselves talking about watching the Boston Pops play their big July 4th concert with the indomitable John Williams at the helm, and how cool it would be to see that (even though Johnny had long since moved on). This got us a list of places we wanted go, things we wanted to see, stadiums we wanted to watch football in….the important stuff. It also led to looking at…


  1. Know what you actually want to do.

So you want to go to Paris. Awesome. What do you want to see? What do you want to do? Not what should you do, what do you actually want to do?


Knowing what you need to do and what you generally like to do not only helps you build the right trip, it can open up a world of things to experience that you’d miss trying to complete someone else’s checklist. Open minds to new things are good. Your dreams and your trips, though, are yours.


We knew there was too much in Boston to do on a short holiday weekend, and while we wanted to see the Pops, we’re also not much on crowds. We were ready to tolerate the parts of it we didn’t care for, but anytime you can skip it, why not? As it turned out, the Pops does a practice concert the day before with their celebrities and everything – shorter lines, easier security, same show. Get what we want and free up the day itself back for…who knows what? Yup – that’s the checklist we want.

  1. Take 5 minutes right now and look at prices.

Take that first wish-list item, and drop it into Expedia. Like right now. Start with dates that are relatively soon, and play around from there to find low seasons and ideal timeframes. It’s a very easy first step to getting there, and can usually surprise you.


Boston for July 4th sounded like a peak-season, tourist destination, urban center price point nightmare…until we looked. Flights actually not bad, brand-name hotel in the heart of things on the right T lines not expensive at all and meant no car needed, admissions free or not bad…hey, someone could actually do this! And this before AirBNB!


  1. Remember that dream list? Bring it with you.

It’s a recurring theme at Saddleback, but leave room in your schedule and mind for the unexpected. Once you’re in a new place, there’s no telling what you’re going to find that fits things you like and want to do. You’re in a dream destination – chances are, you’re going to find some dreams beyond what you came to experience. Know what your must-do’s and your like-to-do’s, but know yourself and keep your eyes open while you’re at it.


Two midblowing opportunities popped up while we were in Boston. First, it turned out that tall ships were being allowed into the harbor a little earlier than they usually were – not just great picture opportunities, but as it turns out we were able to line up a brunch on one the last day we would be in town. We love boats, we’ve gotta eat, mission accomplished.


Second, freeing up July 4th itself meant that when a colleague who was in town at the time found out we were there and was invited us to a rooftop party to watch the show and the fireworks, we were able to both say yes AND have achieved the goal of the trip.


Aqaba and you

Aqaba – or Boston, Australia, Thailand, or the sweet, sweet dead middle of nowhere –  is over there. It’s only a matter of going.
Travel can be intimidating, but a lot of it is buildup what’s possible and what’s necessary in your head. The sooner you start taking it from dreams to facts, the easier and more real it becomes.


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



By Tim (Social Content Guy)

I live in the Colorado Rockies and have been out here for just over four years. Prior to moving here I had never done any rock climbing though I definitely had done a lot of scrambling. I took a nasty fall at Battleship Rock in New Mexico back in 2004 and had been pretty freaked out by heights since. After being in Colorado for a bit I met some really cool folks who were really into rock climbing. I decided to buy some climbing shoes and soon had my first chance to go climbing. I’ve been hooked ever since!

As with every sport or activity there are people who are really into it and there are people who aren’t. With rock climbing I’ve had many people say it is too scary, doesn’t seem like a good idea, or simply don’t think it is a good fit for them. I’m not trying to convert anyone into a climber but I did want to share a few of the benefits of rock climbing.

The first one is that you get outside (unless you’re going to a gym). If you live in a place like I do it is really easy to find fantastic climbing within an hour or so. There are so many options and I have just started scratching the surface. Getting outside is so awesome for your mental, physical, and emotional health.

A second benefit is the friendships and community that get built around climbing. Unless you are bouldering or solo climbing you’re going to need to go with other people. While there are obviously other ways to grow in your friendship, rock climbing tends to speed up the process a bit. When you’re getting ready to climb you learn to trust one another quickly. I have a few friends I climb with regularly and they are becoming some of my closest comrades.

On a recent climb I got stuck in a hairy situation. My friend Mark as belaying me but as I was 50+ feet up on the rock it was hard to communicate. A fella that was climbing a route nearby noticed I seemed to be stuck and asked if I was okay. He ended up talking me through a very important step that enabled me to get back down safely. It was a great example of how awesome the climbing community is.

A third benefit of rock climbing is the views. Some of the most incredible moments and views I have had in my time in Colorado have been while climbing. Many routes have little ledges or shelves at the top where you can sit and take in the views. In some cases climbing the route is the only way you will be able to see things from that particular view. I love it! Every time I get to the top of route I try to leave a bit of time to be still and soak it all in. Check out this video I made recently from a route at Eleven Mile Canyon.



There are many more benefits to rock climbing but hopefully I have whet your appetite enough for now. I would highly recommend giving rock climbing a try, even if it is in a gym, to see if it might be something you’d like to pursue more. If not, I hope you have another fantastic sport or activity that helps you stay healthy, connects you with community, and gets you places that have awesome views.



Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)

Science has have had a lot to say recently about sitting too much – it’s bad, apparently, even though sitting all day Saturday and Sunday between now and Christmas is practically compulsory. With more Americans in office jobs, sitting in front of a keyboard, monitor and discretely tucked-away browser windows with pleasure reading (where, doubtlessly, they’re shopping for high-quality leather) and obesity a continuing issue, it’s a fitting thing to be concerned about.

This has led to innovations like standing desks (these are actually pretty awesome), and Fitbits and watch apps that remind you to get up and move around every once in awhile.

We at Saddleback don’t disagree. Getting up and moving in all its forms is to be commended, though we prefer to it by getting out, and not just up. It’s not just the exercise – you see a lot more away from a desk or cubicle, have more conversations, and build up a bigger stable of stories. More dreams, too, and having something to work towards – in and out of work – makes everything personal and workwise easier and more worthwhile.

Still, the challenge is how to build it into your day. Standing desks are expensive, and leaving it to alarms detaches you from the process – makes it a burden instead of a good habit.

I only recently joined Saddleback after a long, deep obsession with the brand. Before that, I was part of a big international digital agency, chained to a desk even though, as office environments go, it was tops. What was a growing boy to do to break the chain and stretch his legs regularly?

Water. That’s what.

Starting the day with a full 32 oz cup from Dickeys of ice water, refills every time I got close to done, and at least two planned walking tours of the office a day to take care of a conversation or two in-person instead of over email (and to pet the office dogs on the way) gave me a 60% boost in daily steps.

Especially in a coffee and soda-drenched office environment, the next healthiest thing behind motion that your body misses at a desk job is water. And it gives you a couple good built-in reasons to get up and move.

First,  I found it goes down way easier than coffees and cokes. Practically drinks itself. Which means that, unlike caffeine delivery beverages, I was able to drink a lot of it without even really noticing. This created a lot of refill breaks, and opened up more spontaneous conversations and meetings just by being a little more visible. Drinking a lot of water can also help keep you feeling full throughout the day, and can help keep you sane on a tough diet.

Secondly, drinking a lot of water causes you to need to get up for…well, let’s call it constitutional reasons. Especially ice water. Didn’t add as many side trips (constitution’s gonna constitution), but that built in another few breaks and steps I wouldn’t have otherwise taken.

For those reasons, even when I made the move to Saddleback and a home office, the first thing added to my desk on day 1 was not my laptop, but my giant Dickeys cup full of water.

So, with the holiday season coming up, if part of what you want a Fitbit or smart watch for is to remind you to move, ask Santa for a nice, big water bottle or Dickeys gift certificate (and something else awesome to cover the difference) instead.


Posted by & filed under Gift Ideas.


Filmed October 29th, 2015. See all that Saddleback Leather has to offer. It’s a simple walkthrough on my tent office porch. From Briefcases to Leather Pine Cones, it’s all here. And all these come in colors of Tobacco (dark tan), Chestnut (red/brown), Dark Coffee (self-explanatory). Some do not come in Carbon (Black), but most do. This does not include Love 41 designs that are also on our website that Suzette has designed.