Backyard BBQ, Yooper Stewart Style

Yooper Stewart and I have been lucky – his last two trips home we’ve had great weather. Because of that, we’ve been enjoying backyard cookouts and bonfires with the family. When you eat outside with Yooper Stewart, however, you can’t expect things to be normal. When it’s windy, for example, your “tablecloth clips” may be unconventional.

And there’s definitely nothing normal about starting a bonfire. Yes, he uses kindling and wood like anyone else, but why use fire starters or any other normal bonfire technique when you could use … hand sanitizer.


And after dinner, when the parents go home and your wife and sister go see a movie, what better way to relax than to sit back with … your laptop.


Really, it’s just another day in the life of Yooper Stewart, when he’s not on the road or selling Legos or running an Amazon business.

I didn’t know these things about Yooper Stewart when I met him, but I had an inkling when, on our wedding night, he introduced me to Red Green. Lucky for me, Yooper Stewart’s handy and handsome.

Shovel It


Tackling the plow snot – the worst part of shoveling.


Winter. Those glorious eight months of biting cold, sunless days, and piles and piles of snow. Yooper Stewart used to love the winter (because he used to own a lawn care business and didn’t work when it snowed). These days? Well, he’d rather not share his specific feelings about the season, but let’s just say it’s not his favorite.

A contributing factor to his waning love of the snow – shoveling. He now works doing outdoor maintenance at the local hospital. That means lawn mowing and flower beds in the summer, but it also means salt tubs, snow blowers, and shovels in the winter. Being paid to shovel a sidewalk isn’t too bad. Having toe clear out two parking spaces at home, however, wears on you.

Fortunately for YS, he married a helpful woman who hates shoveling as much as he does, so she shares in his agony to help reduce the number of hours he spends throwing snow. A couple of years ago my parents retired to Las Vegas, so they gave us their snow blower, but we live significantly farther north than they did and that cute little machine couldn’t handle the work. After we burned out the third motor, we stopped fixing it and broke out the shovel.


Yooper Stewart & Mrs. YS (sporting the biggest, warmest coat you’ll ever find)


Shoveling on a good day is bad enough, but this picture was not taken on a good day. On this day we were shoveling snow while the snow fell on us while the wind blew the shoveled snow back in our faces. Then the neighbor revved up his snow blower (thanks – rub it in). Then we saw it – the snow plow. We’d just cleared the end of the driveway and the snow plow was three houses away, ready to drop another half foot of snot in front of our car. Awesome.

I won’t lie – I wanted to flip them off, but Yooper Stewart is a working man. He’s talked with the guys at the DPW before. He patted me on the head and waved at the snow plow driver. The drive waved back, lifted the blade, and drove past our driveway sparing us another 15 minutes of work.

I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here, but with sore shoulders and an aching back all I can think about it buying YS a new John Deere for his birthday.

By Any Means Necessary (aka Hunting Yooper Stewart Style)

(WARNING: Graphic photos below – if you are squeamish about dead animals, stop now!)

For the past two years my husband has battled the woods and the elements in an attempt to score some organically-raised, free-range venison (aka he’s gone deer hunting). As the new guy at work, however, he’s the last to get vacation time for this event, and seeing as the rifle season is only two-weeks long, he’s limited to an hour here and there before and after work. After a few days of non-stop working and hunting, he’s usually exhausted and hasn’t been able to kill anything yet.

The year he tried something different – he smashed our car into a deer.wreck

It wasn’t actually by choice, and it did cause quite a bit of damage to our car, but Yooper Stewart is safe, the car is fully covered, and YS finally managed to bag a buck (a 7-point buck at that). As luck would have it, YS was actually pulling the trailer, so he tossed the great car-killer into the back and brought it home.



Technically YS still had to get to work (he was on his way before the little run-in), but his deer-hunting boss understood the value of free, fresh meat. A friend offered to process the deer for us, but not until the following week. With the predicted temperatures at 75 degrees for the day, YS had to at least gut and cool the carcass in order to preserve it.


After watching a demonstration on YouTube and talking with a friend about proper technique, YS started the process of gutting a deer – the first time he’s done this in 20 years. (FYI – “How to Gut a Deer in Eight Minutes” works on YouTube with an experienced hunter gutting a deer conveniently located on a hill. For the rest of us, plan on half an hour).


I’ll spare you the really gross pictures (though we have them – my aunt took pictures of EVERYTHING). After the gutting, YS had to rinse the deer well. Having hit him with the car, some of the intestines exploded, releasing its contents into the deer. YS took his time cleaning – no one wants deer poop in their venison.



As I said, with predicted temps in the mid-seventies, cooling the carcass was critical. The original plan included a tarp and bags of ice, but then it occurred to us – we had an empty chest freezer in the garage! Commence operation Freezer Stuff.


The whole dragging-to-the-freezer process humored me (especially when this happened), but then YS needed help getting the deer into the freezer. That required me touching the deer. I’m not all that squeamish, but touching the deer’s head…I know it’s not possible, but I kept expecting it to wake up and thrash. I don’t know why that was my biggest fear, but it was. Regardless, I’m keen on the idea of “free” meat for the winter, so I sucked it up.

He wasn’t a natural fit for the freezer, so YS grabbed a hatchet and got creative. (Icky picture below).



That will work for now (and it will guarantee that my chest freezer gets a head-to-toe, inside-and-out soak and scrub down with commercial strength hydrogen peroxide – to be performed by YS).


It may not be exactly how YS planned to provide meat for his family, but it worked, and now he has a nice, 7-point rack to show off.

Staying Busy, Yooper Style

I have horribly neglected this site all summer, and I apologize. It’s not that there aren’t stories to tell, we’ve just been good-and-busy, so I’ve been pouring my time into the paying gigs. Summer vacation is officially over, however, so I have a few minutes to let you know what’s been going on.


After putting on his most comfortable around-the-house outfit (plaid and camo is a favorite combo), YS took Aunt Linda outside to show her the compost pile. It’s a must-know location for disposing of a watermelon that’s spoiled when you cut into it (bleh).

DSC02771Then he busted out his favorite toy: the dual-bevel, sliding, compact mitre saw (I had no idea what any of that meant before I got married). He uses it at least once a month for various projects. This summer he used it to help organize his Legos (that deserves a post of it’s own).


Let’s just say the Lego project involved a lot of shelves.


One of his favorite activities was driving our friends’ boat. It had been years since he’d been on a motorboat, and he loved it. (Besides the camo, have you noticed the other theme throughout these pictures? I swear these are summer photos, it was just a rather cool summer).DSC02800

There were a few really nice days, so we made sure to take advantage, and his new favorite way to enjoy the outdoors was in our new kayaks. We’ve rented them before, but this year someone generously bought two for us. We took full advantage, exploring Grand Traverse Bay and the Chain-of-Lakes. Generally YS is the slowest moving person I know, but put him in a ‘yak and I can’t keep up.DSC02847We even managed to find some time to play tourist and go up to Mackinac Island for the day. We thought a weekday would be less crowded than the weekend, so we drove up on a Monday…the Monday when the Chicago-Mackinac sailboat race was ending. That’ll teach us to check a calendar.

This doesn’t show half of what we did this summer, but it’s a pretty fair representation. Regardless of what he was doing, YS stayed true to himself – camo, hoodies, and a beard. It’s all part of his master plan to convince me that camo and hoodies are all-occasion wear.




The Next Generation

Yooper Stewart isn’t really a kid person. It’s not that he doesn’t like them, he just doesn’t have much experience and they can sense it. His #1 goal when dealing with kids: prevent tears. It doesn’t take tykes long to figure that out and use it to their advantage. YS recognizes this weakness, so he usually tries to avoid being alone with kids, but they love him. They seek him out and follow him, loving his easy spirit, kindness, and willingness to blow up firecrackers at any moment.

Legos and the outdoors - perfect!

Legos and the outdoors – perfect!

One of his biggest fans is JT. Yooper Stewart is one of her favorite snuggle buddies.

Recently JT spent the weekend with us. It wasn’t entirely planned, so YS and I had some work we needed to accomplish. Since the weather had finally warmed up, we decided to work outside so JT could play in the yard and burn off some energy. As soon as she saw YS sorting Legos, however, she wanted in. Because YS was sorting and organizing, it didn’t really work to have her playing with those particular bricks, but that wasn’t a problem. When it comes to Legos and outdoor work space, we can always find a way.

DSC02758JT – the next generation.


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 …