Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Blog-2 (1)


By Jana Mendoza (Human Resources)

So fall is here. Changing leaves crisp weather, bonfires, roasting weenies and s’mores. Not to mention camping, woohoo!  I’m also looking forward to all the fashion, you know, scarves, boots, coats, getting dressed up and cozy. The other thing that happens in the fall is football season.  Don’t get the wrong impression, I’m not a fan of watching it but I am a fan of making and eating snacks and hanging with friends. I’m also a fan of putting together some tasty treats that don’t require that you slave away in the kitchen all afternoon. These all have just a handful of ingredients and can all be made a day ahead or thrown together at the last minute.

So whether you’re headed to a tailgate, a backyard barbecue or just hanging at home with the family, here are a few of my favorite easy and delicious snacks.

7 Layer Mediterranean Dip

This is a no bake, put it together and stick it in the fridge dip. Feel free to add or remove ingredients depending on what you like. A little lemon juice is good too.
2 containers Hummus

1 container Greek yogurt

1 Diced cucumber

2 Diced tomatoes

1 cup Chopped Greek olives

1/2 cup Feta cheese

1/4 cup Chopped parsley
Layer all ingredients in order in an 8×8 pan. Use pita chips to scoop and enjoy!
Date Delights
While this recipe calls for baking these, you don’t have to. It’s just as good without a trip in the oven.
24 Medjool dates

6 thin slices Prosciutto

4 oz goat cheese
Heat oven to 350.
Slit dates on one side and pit. Cut slices in 4 long strips.
Stuff dates with goat cheese. Then wrap in prosciutto.  Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes until prosciutto gets crisp. Enjoy!!
Cream Cheese and Spicy Jelly
This is a no brainier. Tabasco makes a nice pepper jelly but you can find many brands that make one or look for a locally made option at your farmers market.   Another option that is tasty is a cranberry pepper jelly for Christmas.
1 block of cream cheese

1 jar of pepper jelly

1 package of crackers, I prefer Ritz
Place the block of cream cheese on a plate. You can leave it like that or spread it into a circle. Then top with about 1-1.5 cups of jelly. Arrange crackers around the plate/platter. Serve and enjoy.
Apricot Jam Bars
So easy and so yummy, while this one does need a trip to the oven.  It doesn’t take long to whip these up.
1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup apricot Jam
Preheat your oven to 350.  Lightly spray a nonstick 8×8 baking pan.
In a large food processor, add flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and butter.  Pulse a few times until butter is in pieces the size of peas.  Dump in bowl, add oats and massage with fingers until well mixed. (Or just mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then massage in the butter with your hands)
Add 2 cups of the oat mixture to the baking dish and press down well.  Then spread the jam over the bottom layer.  Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 34 – 38 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.  You can cut into squares or triangles and enjoy!
What is your favorite easy snack recipe?


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by Johnathan Pierce  (Systems Administrator, Automation Geek)

My wife and I have been blessed with the ability to make things. We have had the unique opportunity over the last year to learn about and use a 3d printer. We have made some fun toys, many functional things such as funnels, various parts, and chess pieces. Our most recent adventure has allowed us to help people that have lost or were born without hands through E-Nable.



E-Nable is an organization that facilitates matching people who are in need of prosthetic hands with 3d printer operators. Danelle and I had an annual goal to print a hand for a child. A request was put out by E-Nable for the donation of 1,000 hands by mid September. My wife, Danelle, learned about this request and we both looked into it further to see how we could help.

We found out that a local 3d printing group that we were associated with, PDX 3D Printing Lab,

had volunteered to print some of those hands. They would be facilitating a workshop on assembling the hands and needed 3d printer operators to print hand for the event. We signed up to print a prosthetic hand and attended the workshop at the Portland Maker Faire.

In the process of doing this project we learned a lot. Up to this point we had primarily printed in a material called ABS. The hands are preferred to be in a material called PLA. So we have the opportunity to learn how to use that new material. The designs of the prosthetic hands are openly available for download and typically take approximately 24 hours to print.

One of the primary lessons we were reminded of was that quality matters. We started with a white PLA because that is what we had on hand.  We ran a 12-hour overnight print and when we woke up we were less than enthused with the results. When we took the plastic part off the printer it broke. This was not going to work. We tried to diagnose the problem and ultimately we decided we needed to change the brand of PLA we were using. We ordered another brand of PLA filament that we had good experience with in other materials. We ran the same overnight print and the difference was astounding. All printers are a little different and some filament works great for some and not so great for others. We went with a brand that we had success with in the past and it worked out.




We had all the parts printed and headed to the workshop. The workshop was about one hour long. We assembled the majority of 20 hands for donation to E-Nable. It turns out an hour wasn’t quite enough time. Lots of progress was made and the next day volunteers in the 3d printer section of the maker faire all chipped in to finish the assembly process.


Blog-3 (1)


While we were at the workshop a young boy that didn’t have a hand came in with his parents. They were curious about the workshop and stopped in. They thought they were just there to assemble a hand for donation. He was fit with a hand that was printed by Portland Community College. The smile on his face and the glow in his eye when he first put it on was amazing. He immediately grabbed for a bottle of soda that was sitting on the table. Originally he didn’t think he was going to be able to keep the hand that he had tried on. He thought he was trying it on, not that it was his to keep. When he was told that he could keep it he was so excited. While the family was at the workshop a member of PCC scanned his limb difference and will build a “perfect fit” model for him in the next few weeks.


Blog-4 (1)


A facilitator of the workshop, Shashi Jain said, “His joy in making the hand work was unforgettable. We also taught his parents how to assemble a hand for him. Amazing times we live in, where we can serve people so well, with a little bit of desktop tech.” We couldn’t agree more.

It was great to see the 3d printing technology put to good use in changing people’s lives. The hands that were printed and assembled are functional prosthetics that will be sent to Haiti and delivered to people in need.



Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by Darlene (Corporate Sales)

Bear, or Bear Bear is my loyal furry companion.  I can’t quite figure out if I rescued him or if he’s rescued me.  Like the incarcerated, he was locked up in the comfort of his routine and like clockwork his world was safe yet he was always afraid.  Oh, but that would change in a hurry—you see he was going to “The Mexico’s” (as my granddaughter Molly says) with Joe (my husband) and I for a great adventure.  Silly us for thinking this trip was to get out of the winter cold of Colorado.  No, this trip was ordained to get the cold out of my heart and the afraid out of Bear Bear.

The beauty of working for Saddleback Leather (who loves their people more than their products by the way) brings great freedom and allows for great adventures.

This adventure came at a great cost though, not only was Bear afraid, so were the majority of our friends and family for us…because “Mexico is so dangerous!” I do have to admit besides Bear being afraid, I was a bit scared myself. I think Joe was too but he was manning up so we didn’t really know until after the fact.

Contrary to the danger that we thought laid ahead, what we found immediately was a warm welcome from a variety of our new neighbors in Mexico including all the folks at our factory in Leon Mexico.  What I saw starting to bloom was Bear’s confidence.  He became a bit of a mascot in “The Mexico’s” since most folks there had never seen a “lassie” dog.  We were stopped everywhere so Bear Bear got a lot of unwanted attention but somehow the more this happened the less afraid he was!  I do have to say though he was a bit of a distraction at the factory—you know people not trying to sew their fingers on a Saddleback Bag and trying to pet a dog.

But for me….a little different story….those hidden places in my heart that had turned to stone were now turning back into flesh.  I had forgotten what it felt like to love without measure. Like the Grinch, my heart was breaking out of a small box. Complete strangers felt like family to me in three short months.  As I lived, laughed, and loved in “The Mexico’s” it made me feel so human again.  This deep longing still embraces me to be there right now as I write.  I am grateful for this adventure that awakened my heart, helped my dog, oh and helped me to laugh again with my amazing husband.  “The Mexico’s” did us well, me and Bear that is and we will be forever grateful.


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by Renée (Customer Service)

I’ve always had a fascination with flowers for as long as I can remember. Some weeds too if I’m to be honest, like wild vetch, and of course dandelion, after all who had “wild” daisies to play the “loves me, loves me not” game?!  Ha!  No one!  We played with dandelions.  It goes back to my childhood really. I remember growing up in Panama the abundance of flowers and fruit that grew right outside our apartment (well, more like quarters, Daddy was in the Army).

It was a warm tropical environment and sunny everyday, except the rainy season of course. We had a banana tree with actual bananas on it. They were tiny little bananas that were kind of hard to peel but worth the effort. And there was a little round fruit, it was kind of hairy and had a thin shell.  We would pick them off the tree then sort of crack them open and peel the shell away. Inside was the most delicious peach colored fruit. Pretty sure there was pit too, but somehow I just don’t remember. We called them gennups but I don’t know why, we were just kids so we might have made the name up. I have never seen the fruit again since we left Panama but I’ve thought about it many, many times. Sort of haunts me…not knowing the name for sure. If anybody knows what it was, please, please tell me!

I was outside one day with my friend Billy. He was a tow headed scrawny little boy with the biggest smile and sweetest disposition. There was this pretty flower, on a long stem, maybe a bush, don’t really know for sure, but I was so drawn to it. I walked over and just as I touched it, a lady came out of her house and yelled, “don’t touch that kids!  I’ve been trying to grow that orchid for over a year!”  But it was too late. Just as she went back in the house the flower broke free from the grasp of its stem. I panicked and asked Billy to come hold it just until I could make my escape. And he did!  I cried buckets over that flower and it’s still fresh in my mind to this day, and I see it in every orchid bloom I foster now.

It is such a simple thing, kids being kids.  It’s funny though how that simple moment in my early life made the love of growing blossom in me.



Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.



In this seventeenth episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:

Eating bacon for the first time, and they’re still making phone books? Check out the scorpion we found our home tent.


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

Read more »


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



by K. Vera (IT: Software Artist)

Everyone is afraid of something. My mom is afraid of roaches, and jumps up on the couch and screams and throws things when she sees one. I am afraid of sharks and won’t go in the ocean past my knees, and only then when it is completely clear and I can see everything approaching from all directions. My sister Lori is afraid of spiders. If she sees one in her bedroom she will sleep on the couch for a month.

But when I told the kids I would be writing stories for a blog and asked if they had any ideas, they said, “The spiders. You totally have to tell the story about the spiders.”

So be warned. This story is about spiders.

I actually have a healthy respect for spiders, mostly because they eat ants, my tiny little nemeses. They also help control other annoying pests like flies, moths, roaches, and mosquitos. So when I spot an occasional spider in the house, I usually capture it and release it outside with a “Go get ‘em, buddy.”

I was never tempted to keep a spider as a pet until my mother and son captured a spider with her egg sack. “Hey, that’s cool.” I told him. “Can I keep it,” he asked? “You’ll have to keep it outside,” I told him.

We put the jar in the front garden, placed some crushed ants inside, and poked some holes in the lid. We researched spiders on the Internet, and believed it was a wolf spider. I remember her as Spider 0.

A few days later she was dead, and her eggs had hatched. We expected to find a jar of baby spiders happily eating crushed ants. My intention was to keep them just long enough for my son to appreciate the cycle of life and then release them back into the wild. What we hadn’t realized is that baby spiders are nearly microscopic.

All the babies escaped through the holes in the lid.

I noted that the jar was next to an air vent leading to the crawl space under the house.

“Darn,” I thought.

My son ran in the house excitedly yelling that all the baby spiders had hatched and escaped. My stepdaughters, who are both terrified of spiders, were not happy.

Carlos walked outside and examined the jar. He also noted the proximity to the vent and frowned at me.

“Double darn,” I thought.

Over the next few weeks we spotted an occasional baby spider in the house. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought. Full-grown wolf spiders are creepy, even to me, but the babies seemed pretty innocuous.

Until one day when Carlos called me into the girls’ room and directed my attention to the ceiling. I remember there being fewer than a dozen spiders there. My youngest stepdaughter remembers them in the hundreds. Carlos says there were more than ten on the ceiling, but there were more on the walls and in the carpet.

“That’s interesting,” I said. “I wonder why they all came in here.”

The spiders would have had to crawl under the house, past the kitchen, dining area, and living room to get into the girls’ room. But the girls didn’t find that interesting. They were actually a little mad.

“It’s probably because you eat in your room,” I said. “I bet you have ants.”

They glared at me.

“At least you did have ants,” I added. “Now you have spiders.”

I did see the problem, just wasn’t sure what to do about it. We couldn’t catch them all, and even the tried-and-true-wad-of-tissue-paper approach had some logistical difficulties given the numbers.

Carlos put his hands on his hips. This is what we call his power pose. It communicates to everyone that he is about to take over and we aren’t going to like it.

He told the girls to sleep on the couch and sent me out of the room.

“What are you going to do?” I asked, feeling a little sorry for the spiders.

“I’ll do what needs to be done,” he said.

When we were gone, he shot all the spiders down with Raid and then vacuumed the floor.

HAH! I would have never thought of that. Seriously.

Despite the spider slaughter, we suspected there were quite a few survivors. For one thing, we didn’t have a problem with ants for about five years.

For another, we occasionally spotted descendants of Spider 0. If I saw it first, I discreetly moved it outside. When the kids or Carlos saw it, I tried to convince them to have mercy.

“Spiders eat ants…” I told them.

But Carlos would put his hands on his hips, and I would sigh and leave the room, unwilling to watch the murder of one of God’s fine creatures.

“Just wait until the ants come back,” I called out. “You’ll want the spiders then!”

We had our first major ant invasion last weekend. And I put my hands on my hips and said, “See. I told you. Respect the spiders.”

I just hope no one ever gives my kids a pregnant shark.


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



By Tim (Social Content Guy)

Lately I have been reminded of how awesome generosity is and how it truly builds friendships. What kick started all this was when a friend of mine was very generous to me. My friend Doug, who also works here at Saddleback, recently came to visit me. While he was here he showed me his very nice everyday carry collection. This collection included several quality knives. He asked if I had a knife and I, somewhat bashfully, showed him my $20 Leatherman knife. After examining it he said, “This is as dull as a spoon!”

Sadly, he was right. He then proceeded to pick up a Kershaw from his everyday carry collection and handed it to me. He said, “Here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll take your Leatherman home and sharpen it, then send it back to you. You can have this knife and keep it so you will have two knives.” I was a bit surprised and asked, “Are you sure?” Not only was he offering me one of his own knives, but also it was certainly worth much more than my Leatherman. Wow! Offering to sharpen my knife was kind enough, so the additional offer of giving me the Kershaw was extremely generous!

He left the next day with my Leatherman. Each day I carried around the Kershaw I thought of Doug and how generous he had been. I enjoyed showing it off to friends and telling the story. A few weeks later I got a direct message on Instagram with a picture of my Leatherman sharpened and oiled up. Accompanying the picture was a short message asking if I needed any products for my beard. Side note: Doug owns a wonderful beard company called and has been generously giving me beard products for several years. I’ll write about that in another entry.

Within a few days I had received a package containing my sharpened Leatherman, some beard soap, and some really cool CanYouHandleBar patches. The knife was as sharp, if not sharper, than the day I bought it, and spotlessly clean. I now have two sharp knives! The whole experience taught me something about Doug and about generosity. When someone is generous to us it builds and strengthens our friendship.

Practicing generosity is a choice we make. It is a choice to focus on, and love someone else, more than ourselves. It is a choice to not seek self-preservation, but rather, to bless others. The act of being generous shows the recipient that we truly care for them. As a result, it opens up their hearts toward us. When we’re generous or receive generosity it opens our hearts to friendship.

There are two ways of being generous that I want to mention briefly. Hopefully it will spark some encouragement. The first is that of physically giving gifts to each other. This shows we care about someone. When Doug gifted me with the Kershaw I know it was because he cared about me. He wasn’t doing it to get anything from me. When we choose to be generous we are putting another person before ourselves. It’s also an excellent reason to get together with someone. Call up a friend. Tell them you have something to give them and see when you can get together. It will strengthen your friendship.

The second way of being generous is by giving of our time. Keep your eyes and ears open for needs of people around you. Then give them some of your time and help out in whatever way is needed. Giving of our time to help someone move, volunteering somewhere locally, or just getting together and being a good listener, is an act of generosity. These days we’re all so busy that this one can be challenging and all the more reason to do it. When Doug came to visit me he was on a road trip. He didn’t have to drive down to see me (he lives near Detroit and I am in Colorado). He also didn’t have to offer to take the time to sharpen and clean my knife then mail it back to me. Again, this generosity strengthened our friendship.

I am sure you can see why this experience got me thinking about generosity and friendships. These are just a few thoughts I have on how practicing generosity builds friendships. I hope you’re encouraged and that you begin to, or continue to practice generosity. You will be able to see how it opens your heart, as well as, the hearts of those who are receiving your generosity.




Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.



By Valerie (Customer Service)

I’m not really a cat person.  I don’t dislike them or anything; they just have never been my go to fluffy friend.  Maybe it is because my grandparents always had barn cats.  Their kittens were soft and delightful looking.  However try picking one up and you’d soon discover they were little monsters with razor sharp claws and teeth to match.  I remember many an afternoon trying to play with kittens only to come home all red and scratched up like I’d been battling those not so friendly felines.

There is of course, an exception to most rules.  Smokey was his name-o, or maybe not, no way to know for sure.  That’s what we called him when he meandered into our house one day, and decided he wasn’t leaving.  For a while he was at my neighbor’s place, but must have decided our digs were more to his taste. We tried to take him back to find out he didn’t belong to them either.  Smokey decided he was moving in, and that was that.  A whopping 26lbs of cat cuddliness, he was easy to weigh, since you just had to pop him on the scale and let him snooze. Nothing fazed him.  He purred constantly, and slept enough to make Garfield jealous.

He would bring mice into the house as little gifts for us.  However, he was too lazy to finish the job, and would drop them still ready to scamper, on our feet.  Guess it would be fair to say he was a lover, not a fighter, or a sleeper, not a killer.  If we’d try and leave him for a few days he’d “stress eat” the whole bag of cat food we’d leave for the neighbor’s to feed him while we were away.  He’d do it in a day. We learned quite quickly with Smokey, leave the food with the neighbor, not the cat.

Smokey would allow for kid activities most other cats would have dived behind the couch for.  Dressing him up along with our dog was a favorite pastime that didn’t see to him upset. (Smokey didn’t care what the dog thought of him either and was big enough to get away with that.) We also used to prop a cake pan on him while he slept.  Then we’d take our remote control cars and use that cat as a ramp.  Perfect for getting our zoomy little cars to take flight without so much as making the cat twitch a muscle.  Of course, that doesn’t count the loud purring pouring out.

He stayed for around seven years.  Bringing in live mice, letting us use him as a pillow, and just being an all around fluffy blob. Not once did I see that cat angry.  It probably would have exhausted him far too much.  Then, just as he arrived, one day he left.  I like to think Smokey moved on to a different house with a cozier couch, laid claim to it, and stayed awhile, maybe one with lasagna.


Posted by & filed under NDYS, Uncategorized.



In this sixteenth episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:

Dave gets his beloved Tundra stuck in a hole, Suzette shows us how to decorate a tent, and Dave gets a jacked up Lloyd Christmas.


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

Read more »


Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Blog (1)


By Valerie (Customer Service)

I was a terrible child, really rotten. I can admit that now.  Not the kind that would cause trouble in school, or even gets my name on the board.  Oh no, I was a teacher’s dream, but a sitter’s nightmare.

I would come up with the most ridiculous reasons to justify my distaste for those tasked with my care.  One sitter vacuumed incessantly.  I mean, how could one house have that much need for suction?   I swear thinking back I couldn’t remember a day she didn’t.  Maybe I was messy though, and didn’t realize it.  Maybe removing my shoes wasn’t enough and my socks were full of sand or something of the sort.  Or she’d make me a tuna sandwich.  Mind you, I love a good tuna sandwich, so that wasn’t the problem.  Although, after having hers I’m surprised I don’t flat out refuse it still. My issue was with the mayo.  I still get defensive thinking about it.  She’d mix almost a whole jar in with one can of tuna.  The mayo to tuna ratio was just way off in my childhood mind.

These are just a few examples of valid reasons to run away.  I would take off down the road to have her patiently follow me in the car.  Sometimes I would think myself clever and run into the bean field to be stealthy.  I wasn’t taking off without direction though.  I knew exactly where I was going, to the place where every grandchild is happy, grandma’s house sans the big bad wolf.  She lived so close to home I could see it if the farm field between us didn’t have corn on that year.  It was a scant half-mile away and seemed an easy escape worthy of any repercussions of bad behavior and to spend time with an adult that always got you.  

One time I made it almost all the way, up her porch, to the farmhouse door, only to find it locked.  She had deserted me in my moment of need!  Grandma wasn’t on sentinel duty because she was the reason I needed a sitter.  My parents had taken her to an appointment, so my mayo lovin’ caregiver let me find out the hard way.  I don’t recall running off ever again.  If I did, you had better believe I did a bit more homework before heading straight to Grandma’s house!

Why am I confessing my terrible antics when under someone else’s care?  Some court mandated rehabilitation or confession being good for the soul?  Nah, I actually really like my childhood babysitters now that I’m grown (and don’t have to hear the vacuuming).  Just to remind you, someday if you see your babysitter appearing to let your children run wild don’t judge too harshly, the child or the sitter.  Perhaps the sitter is teaching your child a lesson.  (If they’re making sure they’re safe of course.)  Or just maybe a mayo monster is traumatizing your child!  ;)