Category: Inspiration

Assortment | 3

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone NP

I’m buried in photos from my motorcycle trip in June, an impromptu trip to Dublin, and a few hikes, climbs, and overnight bike adventures in between. Thankfully, while the rest of the world is out adventuring, gear manufacturers are hard at work in Friedrichshafen and Salt Lake City, showcasing drool-worthy new gear for adventures to come. Some of it is available today, and some of it will arrive in stores this winter. Here’s a few of my favorites.

roof-top camperWhite Lightning Hard Shell roof-top camper. You can put racks on top of this low-profile camper so you can carry your bikes, surfboard, kayak, or whatever and have a comfy place to sleep. (At $3800, it’s pricey, but if you preorder this for delivery in the fall, you can save $500.)

pocket cleatsThese ultralight Pocket Cleats look like the first decent alternative to microspikes. At only 5.6 ounces per pair, that’s half the weight of the alternative. Oh, and did I mention they’re $10 cheaper, too?! It’s hard to imagine buying winter traction in August, but they may be hard to come by this winter.

There are a lot of portable espresso makers out there. Reviews are mixed, however, on the quality of the espresso produced. The Caflano All-in-One Coffee Maker looks like it could possibly make the world’s most perfect, fresh cup of drip coffee. A little adjustable grinder nests inside a mesh drip filter. Coffee drips into an insulated thermal mug. You’ve got to see the video to appreciate just how slick this thing is.

ATCBlack Diamond is releasing an upgraded ATC belay device. I don’t know anything about it, but it looks right sexy.

nano air lightAnd when the Patagonia Nano Air Light comes out, you can bet I’ll be buying one for super cold cross-country ski days. It looks like the existing Nano Air Jacket, but with hybridized panels for extra breath- ability – perfect for high-exertion activities in winter.

One helmetBolle has also introduced The One Helmet, a bike helmet I think I pretty much need to have. It’s got removable areo shells (okay, I don’t really need this), a built in LED safety light, interchangeable liners for summer and winter, a removable visor, and a “sunglasses garage” to hold your glasses when you want to take them off mid-ride.

Finally, if all this gear didn’t make you go glassy-eyed, Will Gadd’s article on overcoming fear is fantastic. Lean into it, analyze/learn from it, and when you decide to go for it, really commit.



Life lessons from the seat of a mountain bike

P1010985Nick and I spent 4 days in the Methow last weekend exploring the trails on two wheels with our friends Dale, Ed and Jennifer. I’m not a natural mountain biker by any means. It’s a sport I have to work at … *really* work at … to avoid being a total klutz. Even after all that effort, I still have loads of room for improvement.

Some of the best life lessons come from doing the hard stuff, though. Here are some of the things mountain biking is teaching me:

17. Ups are followed by downs.

16. Sometimes the best way past an obstacle is straight through it.

15. Boldness pays.

14. The hardest parts are also the loneliest.

P101097913. There’s fresh horse poop on the trail ahead.

12. Balance is first among the virtues; momentum is second.

11. Success requires confidence, but cockiness invites failure.

10. Some people are lucky at some times; nobody gets lucky every time.

9. It’s all about the being and the going, not the having and the arriving.

P10109848. It’s tempting to focus on the immediate problem to the exclusion of the big picture.

7. The thing that nails you is the one you don’t see coming.

6. It’s worth stopping for a breather to see where you are.

P10109765. Thousands of tiny decisions shape the ride.

4. Fun starts when you push your limits.

3. You can get hurt, heal, and try again.

2. Practice makes you better.

1. No quitting allowed.

Assortment | 2


It’s been a lovely couple of weeks in the Northwest. I made good progress on my vegetable garden. The kale, chard, tomato, and tomatillo starts are in the ground. The peas, arugula, and pumpkin seeds have also sprouted. In between gardening and work I’ve also managed to get a few hikes and scrambles in. I snapped the above picture of the Stuart range from the summit of Navaho Peak on Saturday. About 10 seconds later, it started hailing/sleeting on us and the view disappeared. Message: summer is not quite here yet.

Here are a few things that caught my eye on the Internet lately. Enjoy.

Would you believe a German city is putting traffic lights in the ground because people won’t look up from their cell phones?

Social self care…it sounds so weird to an introvert, but she might just be on to something

Please stop telling me I should have kids

An open letter to the Target boycotters

Yum: Smoked carrot “lox”

Must do things in/around Seattle: Seattle Beer Week is still going on (May 12-22) | Fisherman’s Village Music Festival (May 20-22) | U District Street Fair (May 21-22)

Lastly, check out this view of Bellingham Bay from the trail to Oyster Dome. If you haven’t been here, it’s time to take a hike!

Bellingham Bay

Assortment | 1

A while back, I did a series of posts called “Something for the Weekend” where I posted a few links to interesting things around the web. There was so much pressure to get it posted on Friday, and I eventually dropped it. I still like the idea of sharing a few curated posts, but instead of making it a regular weekly thing on a specific day, I’m going to rename the series “Assortment” to take the pressure off. When I have enough fun stuff to share – like today – I’ll post!

Hope you are looking forward to an excellent weekend.

A playlist of live Prince performances:

A hilarious and insightful look inside the mind of a procrastinator and a related blog post that might make you reevaluate what you’re doing with your life – or at least schedule a visit with your parents

Even in this digital age, there is still good reason to take notes by hand

Infographic reveals 20 cognative biases that affect our decisions. Of course, another notable bias is thinking that stuff that applies to everyone (like bias) doesn’t apply to you (and me). Let’s do our best to not kid ourselves.

Not enough time to keep up with the news? In the Know on is one of the best weekly round ups of current events. If you do nothing else today, add this to your feed reader and mark it as a must read.

Yum: skillet braised celery with dijon sauce

Must do things in/around Seattle: Tilth edible plant sale | Street Requiem

How I learned to love Evernote


For years, I kept hearing how awesome Evernote was. How it could store everything you possibly needed, make it available everywhere, and how scores of people couldn’t live without it.

My brain stores thoughts about as well as my hands hold water, so I decided to give it a try. I created notebooks and saved a few notes here and there, hoping it could serve as an ultimate Commonplace Book.

I used it the way I’ve always used physical notebooks: a note goes in a notebook. I created a bunch of notebooks. One notebook for yoga. One notebook for recipes. One notebook for travel journal entries. Etc.

The results?

I hated it. Mostly.

I could capture and access things anywhere, but my notebooks were unorganized. I struggled with where and how to organize my notes. It was a mess. In the end, the only way I could find things was by searching. This works well (but only if you are a good speller – which I’m not).

In the last month, though, Evernote finally clicked, and I promptly avalanched hundreds of notes into the app. It’s now one of the most indispensable tools I have.

What changed? How I organized my notes.

Essentially, I learned the right way to use Evernote. Here’s what I learned.

The key: tags not notebooks

I discovered the power of Evernote tags through a wonderful post. They shared an organizational system by Thomas Honeyman, who noticed that tags are essentially the same thing as notebooks, except with a lot more power. Here’s how he (and I) use them:

Step 1: Create Notebooks

notebooksBefore I can tag notes, I have to have somewhere to put them. Instead of a notebook for every subject, though, I have just six all-purpose notebooks.

  1. Inbox

The Inbox is my default notebook where all new notes are saved. It corresponds to a physical inbox and is for all notes I haven’t dealt with yet. Notes stay in the Inbox until tagged and moved to the right notebook.

  1. Cabinet

The next notebook is called the Cabinet. Almost all of my notes will be moved here. It holds useful articles, inspirational ideas, book summaries, working documents from my projects, Internet bookmarks, and other information.

  1. Memories

The third notebook is a special notebook called Memories. It holds photos, audio recordings, videos, writing, and other important, sentimental memories from my life. From an emotional standpoint, they don’t quite make sense in the work-oriented Cabinet notebook, so they live a separate notebook for memories.

  1. Reference

The fourth notebook is for all my important product receipts, instruction manuals, serial numbers, maintenance schedules, and other miscellaneous chunks of random information I might need. I separate them all out into the Reference notebook. I could keep all this stuff in the Cabinet, but since I rarely need access to this information it seemed reasonable to separate it into another notebook.

  1. Shared

This is a stack or collection of Notebooks. This is where I keep Notebooks that others have shared with me. (Hat tip to Michael Hyatt for this idea.)

  1. Trash

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Step 2: Create Tags

Instead of placing a note into a specific notebook, I created tags and assigned those tags to the note. For example, instead of a notebook called “recipes,” I create a tag of that name and assigned it to all of the notes. The advantage is that I can add other tags as well, like “main dishes” and “company-worthy.” Instead of only being able to find the note by navigating to the correct notebook, instead I can simply search the tag “recipes” or any other tag.


Step 3: Nest your tags

The beauty of tags is that they can be grouped in hierarchies according to whatever makes sense. They will display in alphabetical order so use symbols or numbers if you want to organize them differently. I broadly organize my tags into three groups:

The first is called .Descriptors and contains all the tags I use to describe what sort of note I’ve saved. Common People contains the names of people I interact with often; Media Type contains common blogs, websites, and news sources I save excerpts from. Using these tags lets me use Evernote’s search to instantly find a drawing by my niece to welcome my cats to their new home.

The second is called .Knowledge and contains tags associated with the stuff I want to remember. The knowledge tags describe the topic of the note, if there is one. For example, I have a group of 27 tags inside .Knowledge, each referring to a different type of recipe. When I find a soup from my favorite plant-based chef that I want to try, I save it to Evernote with the soup and recipe tags from .Knowledge, and the Chef AJ tag from .Descriptors. The next time I cook a soup for dinner, I’ll have a wealth of interesting knowledge to draw from, all with the quick search of a tag.

The third is called .Projects and contains tags associated with work I am actively doing. These tags are very straightforward. I write for four different blogs, so I have a group of nested tags for with a tag for each blog. I’m also working on remodeling a home that we moved into three months ago, so of course each area of my house has its own tag. Whether it’s a picture of a room I like, a link to a cool product, a how-to on fixing something, or paint swatches, I can find them all easily by simply searching the tag.

The beauty of this tagging system is that it allows me to find notes in multiple ways. For example, if I have just wrapped up a meeting with my editor at, I can tag it with conversation, their name, and Gear Institute. Now, there are multiple ways I can find the note.


Hopefully you found this useful. Setting up Evernote this way can seem daunting at first, and it will take you some time to get your tags all set up. It’s so worth it though.

Good luck!