Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Newlywed Game, a year and a half later!

I've been tagged by my new blogging friend Leisy to fill this out. And using my womanly wiles I convinced Charles to play. But we're doing it a little differently. We're answering the questions for each other. Whoever gets closer gets ten points. Charles is way busier than I am today, so his will be posted later today, but I'm bored at work, so I'm posting mine now! Enjoy.

My answers for Charles:

What were you doing ten years ago?

I was in 9th grade, in my last year of hunior high. I wore the same fleece jacket everyday. I mean every stinking day. It looked like a lamb. It was my first year of seminary. I was in jazz band, which I loved, and I went to school at 5 or 6 in the morning for practice, and then stayed late after school to play in the pit for the school musical. I liked to make music videos with Meghan, and if I ever run for president, those videos will mysteriously disappear.

Five things on my to-do list today:

1. Get Molly out of bed and to school. That girl is SO not a morning person. And I go to school when she does even though I don't have class till 2:00.

2. Find a comfy chair and study my brains out for Sven's really, really ridiculously difficult Stata class.

3. Go to class.

4. Live through it. Easier said than done.

5. Think of something to celebrate, and then celebrate with my wife who I love more than anyone in the whole entire world, even more than NPR and Condaleeza Rice.

Things I would do if I were suddenly made a a billionaire:

1. Buy one of those laptops for impoverished children. The kind with the pull-string instead of electricity. I don't need one. I just really want one.

2. Buy a mac. I don't need one. I just really want one. Or two.

3. Invest in the commodities market. Probably in turkeys. Why not? Actually, I have much more financial sense than my wife even understands, so I'd probably invest in things she doesn't even know about. But I'm itching to invest, for sure.

4. Travel the world, one tropical place after another.

5. Finally open up TheMollyCampbell, our Irish pub/soup and pie place.

2 of my bad habits:

1. I take my half of the bed out of the middle, and give my wife the two edges. and I'd wear jeans to bed if my wife didn't mind. She says she feels uncomfortable for me, so I have to change.

2. I leave dishes in the sink. But so does Molly.

5 places I have lived:

1. West Valley, UT

2. Moscow, Russia

3. Minsk and Vitebsk, Belarus

4. Bishkek, Kyrgizstan

5. Provo.

5 Jobs I have had:

1. greenhouse, planting and delivering and goofing around.

2. river guide in Jackson Hole, WY.

3. intern and translater at WTO in Bishkek

4. Gap employee. Two months!

5. Warehouse delivery on campus. Truck driver! I loved it.

5 Things people don't know about me:

1. I have a butt.

2. I'm a closet foody. My mormon mom would faint if she knew how well I bake bread.

3. I'm such a good boy. and I'm quite the romantic. I woo my wife all the time.

4. I would be a brillian criminal master mind if I weren't such a good boy. I have about forty different schemes to bring about the demise of BYU, as soon as I get my degree. They range in schemeyness from stinky smoke bombs to flash mobs to all-out mind games. But you didn't hear it from me.

5. I have a reason for everything I do, from the way I put toothpaste on my toothbrush to the way I drive. If you ever ask me why I'm doing something, no matter how outlandish it is, I will be able to tell you why. I think a lot.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

you cheeky thing, you!

So every week Charles and I pick a word of the week, and whenever we use the word creatively (and/or correctly) in a sentence we get ten points. And as anyone who knows us will tell you, the points game can get pretty serious by the end of the month, when we tally points and declare a winner. The winner gets to pick the date for that weekend, and we do everything the winner chooses. Sometimes I like to let Charles win just because he's good at picking dates for us, but normally I am supremely triumphant.
Anyway, last week the word was cheeky, and it was so fun that we chose cheeky again this week! The week before that was sassy, and the week before that formidable. Anyway, we're taking votes for next week's word of the week, and you get ten points if you give us a good one!

Monday, January 28, 2008

kids, do NOT try this at home.

Last week I informed Charles that I wanted to be a gourmet chef, and he reminded me that I had not yet conquered creme brulee. They don't let you become gourmet until you do that. So we got to it. We decided on the barefoot Contessa's recipe for it, since it involved oranges (well, orange liqueur. for which we substituted orange extract.) and we got started. Everything was going really well at first. This is before we put them in the oven.

Kinda cute, huh? That's what we thought. We put them in the oven for forty-five minutes like the recipe said, and when they came out they filled the kitchen with a creamy, tangy, orangey smell and they looked exactly like they were supposed to look. It wasn't until the actual bruleeing part that things got interesting, though. We don't actually have a brulee torch, as I'm sure most young newlyweds can identify with, so we had to be a little more creative.

Charles used a 3M can of air (like for dusting computers) and a candle lighter to create a makeshift torch and brulee the sugar on top to make it carmalized and crunchy. Kind of exciting, eh? Here's what it looked like when he was done with the bruleeing.

It made a very satisfying cracking sound when you hit it with a spoon (0r a fork, for those of us who are spoon-wary) and it was so sweet and custardy! We were standing and eating one, and giggling, when we realized that we were a little too giggly. We opened the window and went to the living room, but even that wasn't enough to escape the fumes we'd inadvertently created with our silly torch. So we opened all the windows in the house, went outside for a walk, and finally decided to call the poison control center because we didn't feel too hot. 411 and the provo police department both gave us the wrong number for the poison control center at first, which is a little disconcerting, but we finally got through and we made friends with a woman named Sandy who didn't really believe us when we told her we weren't huffing the 3M air can, but trying to be gourmet chefs with it. Anyway, she finally told us we'd be fine, but we shouldn't go back inside for awhile. So we walked around in the cold night and went to 7-11 and basically felt very silly and foolish. But we were glad to have created another funny memory to look back on, when we're old and wrinkled and too senile to be trusted with brulee torches. Sandy even called us back an hour later to check on us and tell us we were goofy. Thanks, Sandy!

This week we're trying duck a l'orange and chocolate souffle!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Kartofel Suppe.

So, we went to cabin and had a blast, and we even took the camera, but it never came out of its case the whole time we were there! There was no way I was going to come home with a picture of me looking like I did: way stinking frumpy. I was so exhausted the whole time, and I took a nap everyday we were there, so I had a constant case of bedhead. And it didn't help that my sister-in-law, who's five months pregnant, looked so stinking cute the whole time! Anyway, I did take some mental pictures, just to prove that I'm mental, so I'll share those ones with you.

The cabin is way up past Heber, in the mountains, and in the winter (starting after conference, usually) you actually have to snowmobile in. You park in a lot down at the bottom of the hill, and then snowmobile up a bit before you get to cabin. I'd never seen anything like it, the first time I went. You have to turn off the water and dump antifreeze down the sink and tub and toilet when you leave, so the pipes don't burst. It can be quite an ordeal to open it up, too, because sometimes you have to dig your way in to the cabin, like my brother-in-law had to do before we got there!

But once you're in, it's so cozy! Matt and Charles kept the fire going 24-7, and they took all the little girls for rides on the snowmobile and the 4-wheeler. They followed Charles around all weekend asking for rides. Nobody likes to ride with me, because I go really slowly so I don't get stuck, and so I can see all the scenery. Charles and Matt ride like snow-demons, and the girls bounce around in the back and come home missing gloves because they flew off and stuff like that. Charles was definitely the favorite uncle this weekend!

I mentioned that my sister-in-law Erika is five months pregnant. My neice Sarah, who just turned three last month, is apparently a little confused about the process of acquiring a little brother, and goes around telling people about the baby in her belly. She sticks it way out, and says she can feel him kicking. If you ask her what her baby's name is, she says very matter-of-factly, "Mart." So every morning when we woke up, we'd ask her how the baby was doing, and she'd say "dood" or "him hungry." It was so cute!

This may come as a shock to some of my old roommates, but I am totally in love with cooking these days. I love making up recipes and seeing them work. and I love feeding people and seeing them appreciate my creations. It's my new favorite thing to do. My hobby. Anyway, while we were there, I tried to make banana bread, but there were no bread pans, so I used a cake pan. I guess something about the elevation and the cake pan threw the bread off, because the bottom got burned before it was cooked all the way through. I was so sad! Usually I make really amazing banana bread! Matt joked that they were going to banish me, because "you know we judge your worth by how you cook, right?" The thing is, I sometimes do! So I needed a way to prove to myself that I was a good cook, after all. So I spent the weekend concocting recipes to try when I got home and I had my own kitchen. And guess what? I just made some kick-butt cream of potato soup! I made the recipe up in my head, and I made the soup, and it was so stinking good. This recipe is going on the list of soups for TheMollyCampbell, our future Irish pub/soup and pie place. I'm going to include the recipe here in case you want to try it. Happy cooking!

five red potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces.
about 1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced carrots
1/2 onion, grated
four strips of bacon, slice into tiny pieces.
1 can chicken broth (I know. but it totally works.)
1 quart whole milk
1 pint whipping cream (not whipped cream.)
1/2 cube of butter
1/4 cup flour

Boil the potatoes and carrots until they are tender, but not too tender. Not gluey. Meanwhile, sautee the bacon and onion in another pot. You don't need butter or oil, because the bacon melts and keeps the onion from sticking. When the potatoes and carrots are done boiling, pour out the water, and pour in the cooked bacon and onion along with the chicken broth. Allow to simmer, while you heat up the milk and cream together. You need to heat them more slowly than the potatoes, so you heat them in another pot until it's almost boiling, then pour it into the simmering potato mixture. Let it all simmer, while you create a rue sauce from the butter and flour and about two cups of the whole milk. Melt the butter and whisk the flour in, a few tablespoons at a time. When it's created a thin paste, pour the milk in and whisk it all quickly together so you don't get clumps of flour. Then pour it all into the rest of the soup, and let it simmer a few more minutes. Serve hot.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

we're meant for each other

So, we both took this quiz. Let the record show that I took it willingly and Charles needed some persuasion. Either way, we both ended up as the most boring character, Rory. I wanted to be Sookie St. James. Charles wanted me to be Laurelia. And I wanted him to be Luke, but he wasn't an option. Anyway, since when is my humor quiet?

Which Gilmore Girls Character Are You?

You are Rory. You pride yourself on your moral fortitude. You are a bit of a prude and bookworm, but you have honesty and a quiet humor on your side.

an inversion, or a bubble?

It's winter, and Christmas is over. Often Charles and I ask ourselves what the point of winter is, once Christmas is over. And we find no point at all. This is why we have decided to continue celebrating Christmas, indefinitely. We are keeping the tree up, Provo.

We're back in school, and we're doing pretty well so far. I don't have any goals of a 4.0 this semester; I just stinking want to graduate! Charles is really enjoying his classes so far, except for the stupid computer stats class. I like that class, though, because I get to talk to Charles online while he's there! I'm having an early-brit-lit-based semester, which is too bad because I hate early-brit-lit. Hence, my last semester is loaded with Shakespeare, because I put him off until the end of my college career, all the while hoping that the world would see the error of their ways and stop worshipping and adoring the Bard. I certainly have stopped!

New Years was a fun time for us. All the Campbell clan went bowling, and then we went to Chris' house to continue bowling on their new Wii. I was beaten very unceremoniously by my five-year-old niece Emily. We gave three-year-old Sarah a remote that wasn't plugged in, and she would stand in front of the TV and "bowl" during everyone's turn. Whenever someone got a strike, she would jump up and yell "I did it! I did it!" and everyone would congratulate her. It was easier that way. And more fun!

Then we went to Charles' friend Dave's house, and met his wife for the first time (she's cool! we like her!) and saw all the other friends, too. At ten pm, I got a call from the future. It was my dad in VA. "Hey, what year is it where you are?" he wanted to know. They'd just finished their annual Back to the Future marathon (my favorite part of New Year's!) and they were out on the porch banging pots and pans and waking up the neighbors. I still had two more hours to wait before I could get my New Year's kiss, though!

This weekend we're going to Charles' family's cabin, with his brother Matt and his family. It's going to be way fun! and there's nothing like a trip to the cabin to make you appreciate winter, and also wood stoves. and wool socks. and heavy quilts. and hot chocolate. We're in charge of one of the meals there, so I'm trying to decide whether to go with soup to warm us up, or something fun for the kids like tacos or pigs in a blanket or something. I love feeding people!

Well, that's it from us for now. We'll take some fun pictures at the cabin and get them posted soon! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Back to the Future

Well, we're back!

As usual, it was a very eventful Christmas break with the Meppens. It all started on Saturday morning after finals, at five am to be precise. I woke up scratching both of my elbows. My arms were crossed, and I was scratching both elbows in my sleep. They really itched for some reason. Since I was awake, I got up and went to the bathroom, and while I was washing my hands, I noticed in the mirror that both elbows were swollen and blotchy. I figured they were just dry, and I'd scratched them until they were puffy, and I put lotion on them and went to bed again. Then when we woke up three hours later, I had hives all over my torso and thighs, and I was itching like crazy. The last time I had a reaction like that it was because I'd eaten only oranges for a week, and I'd eaten them pretty much non-stop. But not this time. We didn't have time to figure out what I was reacting to, though, because we had to pack and get to the airport so we could fly home to my family for Christmas! So I choked down some Benedryl and got to work. By the time we got to Charles' mom's house, though, the hives had spread to my face and arms, and my hands and feet were swelling. So I took some more Benedryl, took a quick nap, and told Charles we were still going.

We made sure we had plenty of drugs for the plane, and as luck would have it there was an open seat between Charles and me on the plane, so I crashed the whole way to VA. Benedryl's good stuff for flying, turns out. By the time we landed, though, I could hardly walk on my swollen feet, and it was all I could do to keep Charles from requesting a stinking wheelchair. I gnawed off my wedding ring and put some clogs on and hobbled to the baggage claim. Doodie walked me to the car and talked my ear off while I rested and let the rest of the family claim our baggage. By the time we got home and got me into bed, this is what I looked like:

Pretty fancy, huh? No ankles, wrists, knees or knuckles. We had some fun taking pictures of my disfigured body. I couldn't fit my feet into church shoes the next day, so I got to go home after sacrament and skip relief society and sunday school, much to Maggie's dismay. Finally we decided that Benedryl wasn't doing the trick, so I went to the doctor (it was inevitable that we'd have an emergency room experience this break, since the whole family was getting together, and my dad joked that he was glad to be getting it out of the way before Christmas Eve) and got some serious antihistimines and some strong steroids. About twelve hours after I started the steroids, I could walk again, and by the day we left, I was wearing my wedding ring again. We still don't know what caused the reaction, because I didn't even eat anything weird, and I definitely did not partake of any of my mom's (numerous) seafood dishes while I was home. But I'm all healthy again, so I guess it just makes for a weird story.

Speaking of my mom's dishes, she went all out and made everyone's favorite meals for their homecoming. Em got manicotti, Charles got Thai food, Grandpa got oyster stew, and I got tomato soup (homemade, bisque style. To die for. I had some at every meal while I was home!). We played Settlers at least once everyday, until we got too competitive and we all started to crack. Settlers pressure, plus the pressure of the upcoming Annual Meppen Gingerbread House Making Contest, plus the craziness of the whole family being together again was a little much. and it was so stinking fun! I'm sure you've all been dying to hear what Charles and I had in store for the contest, so I'll let you in on our award-winning ideas. Charles constructed the Taj Mahal, complete with peppermint stick minnerettes topped with giant jawbreakers for the domes. I went with the Washington DC temple, with a tiny golden fondant Moroni and stained-glass windows peiced together from multi-colored fruit roll-ups. I took first place in the religious category, and Charles took first for sheer audacity. Funny, whenever grandparents judge our contests, everyone seems to end up with first place in their own category. It was still a really intense contest, though. It lasted about four and a half hours. Here are some pictures of the final masterpeices.

Pretty talented family, eh? That's what I thought you'd say. Dad used wheat linguini as a roof on his log pretzel cabin, Doodie used candy legos for the load-bearing structures of his house, Maggie employed ice-cream cones very artfully as a steeple on her church, Emile made some cool trees out of chocolate candy corn, Daniel tiled his roof with giant smarties, and Anna added a rustic touch to her cabin by creating a haystack out of shredded wheat. I personally thought Lizzy's nativity and "Happy Birthday Jesus" sign in front of her baptist church were very nice touches.

Christmas Eve was a crazy night! Mom made prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, roasted garlic smashed potatoes, and creamed onions, and cheesecake for dessert. Mom recited The Night Before Christmas, with some help from Lizzy, and Dad read the Christmas story from Luke. Then we played grab bag, where Lizzy, Charles and I pulled off the Great Meppen-Campbell Heist, and made off with all the good stuff, including the cherry cordials, the portable Trivial Pursuit, and the etch-a-sketch pen. Then we checked to see where Santa was, and found out by Satelite feed that he had already started on North America, but had found too many children awake, and had been forced to go to South America before finishing North America! So everyone grabbed their pillows and blankets and ran to Lizzy's room to stake out their sleeping spots, and to get to sleep before Santa came back. That was when the chaos began, as it does every year. I had made Maggie into a burrito the night before, MollieCarterHunt-style, and now everyone wanted one for Christmas Eve. So I made everyone a burrito bed, and gave them three toppings of their choosing. Charles got four, though, because I love him like a spouse. Then the lights went out, and everyone caught the giggles. Doodie decided it would be a good idea to scare Lizzy, so he crawled under the bed from his side to Lizzy's spot on the floor, so quietly that Charles and I had no idea he was right underneath us. Then he stuck his face in Lizzy's and snorted really loudly, scaring not only Lizzy, but also the rest of us! I looked over my side of the bed, and all I could see in the dark was Doodie's disembodied head bobbing as he laughed and made a face at me, and I screamed. Then Charles thought it would be fun to start flickering the lamp on his side of the bed like a strobe light, and all the kids got up and started dancing around. I seriously thought I'd found the place where they keep the wild things. They roared their terrible roars and showed their terrible claws and tickled me to death. I really died of tickles. Then Dad opened the door a crack to remind us that Santa Claus knows when you're awake, and Doodie yelled out, "Dad! We're trying to sleep in here! Stop letting the light in!" Which set off another round of the giggles and rowdiness. This is why I love my family. But then out of nowhere we heard a faint jingling, and we realized we were really cutting it close! There were bells right outside our window! We heard Santa glide down our street and start working on the end of culdesac, and suddenly Maggie was all business. "Everybody, shut up! Doodie, I'm gonna give you such a whoopin'! Molly, you're next!" She finally got us all settled down, and Lizzy set the alarm for crackofdawno'clock, and we fell asleep. And let me tell you, everyone in that room was snoring except me. I may snore normally, but I couldn't sleep that night because everyone else was!

Finally, it was time to wake up, and we sent Maggie in to wake up our parents. She ran into their room and jumped on their bed and sang "Rise and Shout, the Meppens are out!" at the top of her lungs. She's got quite a set of lungs, apparently. So they lined us up on the stairs and took a picture of us on the way down, as usual. Charles got to go first this year, since he's the oldest. It's a very coveted position in our family, and it was hard for me to give it up, except that every year I'm the one with the worst double chin in the picture, becuase everyone can hide behind me, and I'm out in the open. It's not a very good angle for taking a picture, but it's tradition. Anyway, this year you can't even see my chin! Huzzah for marriage! Also, Charles and I got a special early delivery from Santa on Christmas Eve: new pj's! That was so we could wear them to bed that night. Mine are pink cotton with white polka dots, and a gray shirt with lace trim. Charles got comfy sweatpants and the softest blue long sleeve shirt you've ever seen. It's so cuddly! and yes, I've probably worn his new pj's about as much as I've worn mine. They're really comfy! Santa has good taste!

On the 28th, Daniel proposed to Emile, on accident. Ok, not on accident, but he wasn't planning on it. But they were both happy with the results. Since he didn't have a ring just then, he moved her CTR ring to the other hand for the night, and then they went ring shopping first thing in the morning. She wasn't supposed to tell us before then, but when she came home from dropping him off at the hotel (he's deathly allergic to our cats. He's the only one who slept peacefully the whole week, though!) she pranced around with her left hand out until someone asked her why her CTR ring was in such a dumb place. "What if Daniel proposes?" I asked. "You'll have to move it." and then she just smiled and went all googley-eyed, so I gasped and Anna paused Gilmore Girls and Charles put down his book (which he was pretending to read near me so that he could actually watch Gilmore Girls with me instead) and Emile told us that she was engaaaaaaaaaaaaaged! That was about the point that my parents shuffled down the stairs in their pj's to make some sandwiches, because they couldn't sleep. They pulled out the Martinelli's and the the prime rib leftovers, and opened the fancy cheese that they'd forgotten to give Grandpa for Christmas. They looked very tired, because Emile had already spilled the beans to them. We all stayed up late with sandwiches and creme brulee ice cream and told stories and laughed. It was a really good night. The next morning, when she came home from ring shopping at the crack of dawn, I woke up to her yelling up the stairs, "I'm stinking engaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaged!" It's a really pretty ring. It has a pearl in the center, with I think three stones on either side of the pearl. It's not her wedding ring, though. It's her engagement ring, and the wedding ring will be the one they picked out here in Utah. So she'll have two rings like me, instead of a ring and band. Anyway, their wedding date is April 26th, and their colors are black, white, and the color of the polka dots in a star-gazer lily. Which is fuschia, but she won't call it that. and I'm going to wear fuschia shoes!

We're back in Provo, now. And I'm going to work, but most we're just relaxing while we can. I'll be posting the rest of the break later, but I thought I'd at least fill you in on our Christmas. Maggie's supposed to be mailing me her essay that she wrote about ants, while we were driving to the airport to fly home to Utah, and I'll probably post it here because it's cute. So that's what you have to look forward to! Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!