Life with a Master Gardener

I like to tease Yooper Stewart that I married him for two reasons: his snowplow and his leaf blower. In the eight years that we’ve been married, I’ve never raked the yard – it’s wonderful. It does come with certain side effects, though. I used to rake the leaves in the fall. YS does SO much more than that.


Notice the giant pile of branches? It’s bigger now. I let the leaves fall – Yooper Stewart takes down as much of the tree as possible. Where as my only concern is cleaning up the yard for the fall, YS plans ahead – this is all part of his springtime prep work.

Part of that prep includes the garden beds. He layers grass clippings, leaves, and mulch so they can compost under the snow throughout the winter. We can provide our own leaves and grass, but we have to find the mulch.

Not a problem.


Matt left the house to get some mulch from our local DPW; a few minutes later he came home with this truck behind him.


That’s right – Yooper Stewart went to get some mulch and he came home with front-yard delivery service.


Could it get any easier? Only Yooper Stewart …

Happy Birthday Yooper Stewart!


Happy birthday to the love of my life! I can’t believe how blessed I am to know him. He challenges me, supports me, frustrates me, encourages me, and loves me through all of our personal and marital joys and struggles. Love you, honey!



Yooper Stewart Cooks … Sort Of

Last week was a crazy-busy week for me, so I asked Yooper Stewart to give me a hand. He was skeptical, but when I showed him that I already had the ingredients – he only needed to put it together – he agreed. There’s no one cuter in the kitchen (over the age of 12) than my honey, YS.


Even in the kitchen he wears his uniform – jeans and a hoodie. It amuses me that he cooks with one hand in his pocket.




Sloppy Joes – he had the onions and peppers chopped and measured about two hours prior to dinner time. The house stunk because of the red onions, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to get a little bit of help in the kitchen.


Without question the most entertaining part of the evening included Pillsbury biscuits. It was late before I realized I didn’t have any buns, so I suggested insta-biscuits. Yooper Stewart was more than leary – he actually read the directions!


And then he pondered the instructions. “Don’t these can’s explode?” he asked. I assured him it would be a controlled blast, but he wanted to see the directions for himself.


No honey, you can’t bake the biscuits like this. (He wasn’t really going to … I think).



Viola! Relaxing with a tasty meal cooked by his own hands (please ignore the mess – this is Lego-Central).

Yooper Stewart in His Element

Earlier this week I found an SD card while cleaning off a book shelf. I had to plug it in to see what I had. It was quite a delight to find photos from 2006 – our first cat (Roo), my niece as a baby, the tiny house we used to rent, and Yooper Stewart’s trip to Kentucky. I wish we could afford to send him on more week-long adventures, but time and finances don’t always allow for it. Since we can’t ship him back to his comfort zone more often, I’m glad we have some evidence of his last major trip to nature. Here’s a look at a younger Yooper Stewart and some of his favorite vacation accommodations.

Bedtime - I'm pretty sure he'd rig up one of these in the basement (if we had a basement).

Bedtime – I’m pretty sure he’d rig up one of these in the basement (if we had a basement).

This is why I don't go camping with the hubs - I prefer four walls (and a floor, ceiling, coffee maker).

This is why I don’t go camping with the hubs – I prefer four walls (and a floor, ceiling, coffee maker).

I'm noticing a clothing trend...

Is it any wonder why I love this man?

Is it any wonder I fell in love with this man?

I’m noticing a clothing trend…

Forget treadmills - this is how YS likes to exercise.

Forget treadmills – this is how YS likes to exercise.

I swear to you, he owns shirts.

I swear to you, he owns shirts.

What's not to love?

What’s not to love?



Life with YS: Learning a New Language

With MattMarriage – a wonderful, holy union between a man and a woman. Just turn on the television and you don’t have to flip for long before finding a show dedicated to brides, weddings, or wedding planners. I’ll tell you what I haven’t seen, though – a show about a woman who grew up with sisters, then marries a wild, hairy mountain man.

As if living with a man wasn’t a big enough surprise – the eating-in-bed, peeing-in-the-backyard, lounging-in-underwear – no one ever mentioned that I’d have to learn to speak Yooper Stewart-ese. I knew when we met that we had different styles of communication, but I wasn’t prepared for a lifetime of learning.

My first clue should have been when we announced our engagement. We picked a date, venue, and attendants. I bought a dress and all the accessories, which I showed to YS’s sister. You would have thought I was showing her a Yeti pelt. Why?

Me to my family: YS and I are getting married.

YS to his family: We’re thinking about getting married.

There you have it, the fundamental difference between YS and me – absolutes and possibilities. Seven years ago we left one rental for another. Our first landlord was pretty shocked when I told him I’d leave the keys in the house at the end of the month (two weeks away). Why? Because YS gave our notice: We’re thinking about moving closer to my job …

Those events happened in our first year of togetherness, so I should know better by now, right? Yeah, right.

YS is a LEGO man. He creates, plays, researches – if it’s LEGO, he loves it. Most recently, he’s been buying and selling them. To be more accurate, he’s been buying them – lots and lots of them. It finally reached the point that I had to put my foot down, no more buying until he starts selling.

I should have been more specific.DSC04408

Last week YS gave me some money to deposit into our checking account. Why? Because he’d been buying again. And what about the selling? Well, he did sell … one lot … for about 1% of the value of what he’s bought. Technically yes, he sold some LEGOs, and our agreement was that he would sell before buying again, so, technically, he met the standards of our arrangement. Sneaky, sneaky.

It looks like I’ve still got some learning to do, but I’m planning on being with Yooper Stewart for a good long time. Maybe I’ll figure out Yooper-speak in the next few decades.

The Flip-Side: Yooper Stewart’s Wife

One of the deals Yooper Stewart and I made when I started this blog was that it wouldn’t be poking fun at my hubs. I try to present my observations of this fantastic man, nothing else. In order to help him realize that this isn’t about picking on him, we’ve agreed that it might be nice to make some observations about the whole family (translation: me).

With that in mind, it’s time to come clean: I have a few quirks of my own. One of YS’s favorite quirks of mine is my feet. Specifically, my feet in bed.

I am very particular about the temperature of my feet. I can’t sleep if they’re too cold, but I also can’t sleep if they’re too hot. I learned as a child that the easiest way to regulate foot-temperature is to pop a foot out from under the covers every now and then. YS doesn’t quite understand this. Summer or winter, he wraps himself in blankets like a burrito. He might sweat out six pounds of water, but he doesn’t disengage from the covers.

The first winter we were married, it took a while to get used to the space heater under the covers beside me. I’m pretty sure I spent the entire winter with my foot peeking out from beneath the down comforter. My adoring, considerate hubby, however, thought it must be a mistake. Whenever he got up to get a drink or use the bathroom, he’d tuck my foot under the covers. I’d wait for him to crawl back into bed, then pop it back out.

No socks were harmed in the taking of this photo.

No socks were harmed in the taking of this photo.

Summers are another matter entirely. I like to be covered, but I don’t want my feet to get hot. My solution is to strategically place the sheet and blanket between mid-shin and shoulder. My little piggies don’t touch the covers. However … some days are chilly, so I might need a pair of socks. This is what really makes Yooper Stewart chuckle – me, under the covers, with my feet sticking out, wearing socks.

I can’t explain it, but it works for me, and it keeps YS entertained for months at a time.

Six Wrenches, Two Hands – Not a Problem

Yooper Stewart recently spent some time putting together a bike for Aunt Linda. He couldn’t wait to explain to me how the situation justified his purchase of a new wrench set. It was such an interesting conversation that I cut him off and made him start over so I could preserve the memory forever.

Here’s that memory:

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow


Baby hair!

It’s come to my attention that my super-stylish, beyond-adorable nephew, Butter Bean, wants a buzz cut. This breaks my heart. The kid has amazing hair. He had the crazy baby curls for about two years, but then his parents decided they were a bit of a hassle. A sad day for me, but I guess I understand.

It definitely made it easier when BB came home as GQ Butter Bean. Watch out ladies, this guy’s got “the look!” He called this his spiky hair, and for a while he’d grab a brush and try to push his hair into the faux hawk. When you’ve got great hair like this, use it!

Now, however, Butter Bean want to shave off his hair. Now that he’s four he’s got life figured out, 072and he wants to look like his grandpa (who is quite … folically challenged). Ugh. He also lives near an Air Force base. He saw some soldiers and decided he wanted a hair cut like them. Well, okay, that’s cute.

Butter Bean, here’s the deal. I understand your desire to rid yourself of your beautiful hair. Yooper Stewart did the same thing. My curly, highlighted hubby shaved it all off for a chance to drive a front end loader (at least your motives are a little more admirable). If you must shave your head, here’s how to do it Yooper Stewart-style: (DISCLAIMER: Aunt Karin was on hand and supervised the hair cutting. Please do not try this without at least Aunt Mimi’s supervision.)

Shave carefully ...

Shave carefully …

... but don't forget to smile for the camera!

… but don’t forget to smile for the camera!

Viola! Buzz cut perfection!

Viola! Buzz cut perfection!


Matching: It’s a Matter of Opinion

"The shorts"

“The shorts”

No one’s ever accused Yooper Stewart of having too much style. I often remind him to thank God for his good looks, because his fashion sense attracts the wrong kind of attention. Ninety-nine percent of the time it looks like YS grabbed clothes off the floor in the dark and walks out in whatever he happened to grab.

Would you believe me if I told he you picked that outfit on purpose? One of the most surprising things to me about Yooper Stewart is that he actually likes to make sure his clothes match. The problem: he doesn’t understand what “matches.”

A couple of summers ago, YS walked out of the bedroom in a pair of patchwork shorts (the kind with lots of squares of different colors/plaids sewn together). He’d paired it with a green plaid shirt. His reasoning: they’re both plaids, plaids match.

"The Comforter"

“The Comforter”

Two winters ago I tried on an outfit of skinny jeans, nude heels, and a gray sweater with a section of brown/white/tan argile-type patter wrapped around it. He didn’t like it. His reasoning: the nude heels didn’t match any of the colors in the sweater.

Yooper Stewart doesn’t really understand neutrals, so he doesn’t like gray pants with brown sandals (and don’t get him started on the evils of a brown belt and tan boots – brown and tan do not match), but he’ll put together four different camo patterns in one outfit.

His matching obsession doesn’t just affect his wardrobe, though. Our home is also a victim of Yooper Match.

"The Lampshade"

“The Lampshade”

With the recent purchase of a king bed, we’ve made the decision to forgo king sized bedding for dualing twin comforters. We’ve had separate winter covers for a couple of years, and we’re making the full transition this year. Because it’s been so cold here, we haven’t been in a hurry to find new comforters. While at Big Lots, however, Matt noticed a couple of red and gold twin comforters.

“These would totally match our lampshades!”

Seriously? YS wants to buy his bedding based on how well it will match our lampshades? Does he even remember what they look like?

Apparently he does, and apparently exact color matches are as important to our bedroom

Who'd have guessed - it works!

Who’d have guessed – it works!

as they are for his feet and waistline. I still haven’t figured out how his brain processes the matching-code, but I can’t complain about the house. Midgie seems to enjoy it … and at least it’s not camo.