Feb 142012

Since I’ve found myself with some extra time on my hands lately, I’ve chosen to focus some attention on the yard.

The front yard is complete from a design aspect. All the labor that needs to be done is maintenance. There’s grass, shrubs, bushes, a rose bush, and a few small trees. That doesn’t mean that this is easy. A significant amount of time goes into the upkeep of the front yard.

My house is surrounded by trees and they wreak havoc on the grass. Every few days I go out and remove the leaves from the grass. I know it’s February and trees should begin blooming soon, not shedding their leaves, but the leaves keep appearing. It’s an on-going process that begins in October. I fill the enormous yard debris bin to capacity no less than 6 times every fall.

Once you remove the leaves, you are left with dead grass or bald spots where the leaves once rested. It’s a manual process but a fairly simple one to get the grass to return. First, you remove the dead grass with a claw tool. The dead grass should break off easily. If it’s difficult, it’s not dead. After the dead grass is removed, you’re likely left with a bald spot. Stimulate the dirt by loosening it up with the claw tool. Fertilize the entire lawn (I used bat guano this year) and it should come back to 100% within a few months.

The backyard is a different story. It’s about half complete and there are two drastically different climates due to enormous tree coverage over half the yard. When I bought the house, it was fully complete with a large grassy area in the back. I lost about half of the grass on the sunny side of the yard. I struggled for awhile to figure out what to do with the space because I want to do something with that space but I don’t want to have the yard burn up again. I eventually decided to put raised garden beds on that half and grow vegetables.

As it sits today, the back yard is in a state of disarray. Rhododendrons line the fence. There’s a large area between two rhododendrons that I have historically piled the leaves between yard debris pickup days. Should I decide to get chickens, this is where the coop would likely go.

In the north west corner of the back yard is another large bare spot. This area is historically overgrown with knee high grass and blackberry bushes. Blackberry bushes are the worst. They are covered with thorns and are difficult to kill. I went out yesterday, clipped them down to about 6″ and sprayed the roots. I took the thorny vines and filled a yard debris bin with them. I spent three hours filling the bin with weeds and blackberry bushes from the corner. It’s cleared up now and ready to go for whatever I want. I may put a secondary compost bin back here. I have yet to decide but it looks much better now than it did before.

Feb 122012

One thing that most people will say about me is that I hate paper. It’s inflexible to organize, impossible to search, and leads to clutter. I really do not like clutter. I had known of Evernote’s existence for quite some time but I hadn’t figured out exactly how to use until I was looking for a way of digitizing grocery lists.

Evernote is a note synching service. You can type notes on your computer, cell phone, or tablet computer and view them on any other one of those devices. Typing on mobile devices can be cumbersome so I was really attracted to this because you didn’t have to type your notes up on them.

At the time, I had been leaning toward this type of grocery list but I knew that I was never going to print it out weekly. My first step was to digitize it and turn it into a Google Doc. In addition to this, I was able to meal plan on the same document. This worked for a while but it wasn’t ideal to view the list on my phone while I was shopping. Perhaps I could have formatted it differently but I wasn’t pleased enough with the current results to play with it anymore. This is when I began using Evernote.

Every week, I would sit down with my computer, meal plan, and type up a complete grocery list. When I was shopping, I would just delete the items off the list as I put them in the cart. I loved this solution because Evernote was easy to use, fast, and above all, paper free. A few weeks later, I created a second list for CostCo. This was working but it was taking longer than it needed to. Every week we would buy a gallon of milk so why was I removing it from the list every week?

This is when I switched my list to one that contains a static list of grocery items and has a check box next to each item. Instead of organizing the list alphabetically or by category (produce, proteins, dairy, etc), I organize the list by the route that I walk through the store. Now when I go grocery shopping, it’s fast and I never forget anything that I need.

This is an example of my CostCo list:

CostCo Shopping List

CostCo Shopping List

Today, I use Evernote primarily for lists. I store account information, grocery lists, todo lists, and my daily workouts with Evernote. It has greatly improved my productivity and organization.

Evernote does have a few issues. Occasionally I experience a sync issue where my lists are duplicated 2 or 3 times. It’s not a terrible inconvenience but it is annoying. When this happens, I clean up the duplicates from my computer. The other issue I’ve encountered is that it can be difficult to format these lists. Fonts will occasionally vary from the one I’ve selected or a random blank line will appear within my list that I didn’t put there. Again, this stuff is easily cleaned up from a desktop computer.



  • Reduces Clutter
  • Increases Organization
  • Increases Productivity
  • Convenient


  • Occasional Sync Issues
  • Occasional Formatting Errors

Evernote Rating: 4/5