July 4, 2013

So far in Montana

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 5:48 pm

We’re in Montana and I’m taking so many pictures that my social media outlets seem over saturated.

Montana is the best of America – everyone walks around like they’re free of worry and care, plus we have nature and great friends, rolling hills, rushing rivers, baseball games and big sky as far as the eye can see.

We’re with these guys and showing us the right times here in Missoula.


After this meal we headed to a baseball game where we chatted about how great it would be if we saw Bryden from the Bachelorette. So of course Cambri spotted him 2 minutes later.


We talked about it for 3 innings and finally over apologized but got a photo with Zoo-town’s biggest celeb.


We stayed in a dream of a place called the “C’mon Inn” that had 5 hot tubs spotting the common areas. I woke up in the morning to air that just smelled like the title of a Old Spice deodorant. I haven’t exercised in weeks, that I blame on work and the heat but let’s be honest it just doesn’t smell that good in Salt Lake. These are some of the views from this morning’s jog.



Before getting all we could out of nature, we took our chances at the town carousel, which I can confidently say goes faster than your average carousel, and catching those rings turns out is totally worth $2.25.


Then we made people who have the right gear take us down the Blackfoot River. And we floated the heck out of that thing. I kept wanting to see Brad Pitt and whoever played his brother, but they must have passed when I tipped over on the paddle board I was trying out for 5 minutes.


We’re currently on our way to Flathead Lake to celebrate this country. Tomorrow is Glacier National Park and someday we’ll make it back to Salt Lake.


December 25, 2012

More Seoul

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 5:26 pm

One day during our trip we climbed up the side of a mountain that one of my uncle owns and harvested a bunch of sweet potatoes, persimmons and hot peppers.  My mom’s side of the family all got together and worked in the fields and ate a good meal.


It was interesting because I was surrounded by people whom I am related to, yet I didn’t know who anyone was. I didn’t know who belonged to what family, other than my mom’s siblings purely based on physical resemblances.

Below are two of my cousins and my dad.





It was funny to see people that I am related to, yet not be able to talk to them.  Brandon and I basically just talked to each other that day.



Even though I couldn’t talk to anyone, I did feel like I could kind of pick up on some personality traits which was kind of fun. For example, the uncle below in the red would NOT allow any persimmon to be left on the trees.  There were some pretty high branches and persimmons that a normal human would just let go, but HE, he climbed up on a ladder that was supported by soggy river banks to get them.  He proceeded to then FALL off the ladder as he reached. Fortunately he was fine and the minor bruises and busted ego were quickly healed by the satisfaction of the view of bare trees.


It was funny to see kids eat in Korea. I think of some of my nanny kids that wouldn’t touch rice if it had anything in it (like mixed with vegetables or anything) or other picky eaters I’ve known.  These kids are popping squid and seaweed and leaves in their mouths like it’s nothing. Because it is, to them anyway.






Those kids’ hair! It’s the best.




You can’t really see, but in the distance there are some mountains, and just over those mountains is North Korea. We were SO CLOSE to North Korea.  It was blowing my mind that we could be so close and yet worlds away.  I will probably talk more about that in another post.



Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 3:23 pm

Seoul was such a cool city. The subways are really easy and really accessible. The food is abundant and super cheap. People are really nice and I never felt like I was in danger. I loved Seoul.

One of the first things we did when we finally got to Seoul was go to the Namdaemun Market. It’s an outdoor market with a million stores and places to eat.  It’s kind of got a swap meet feel to it. Everything is super cheap and my mom loves to go there for the good deals. The picture below shows one aisle of it, however times this by probably 10 or 15 and that’s how big it really is.


The boxes below are of various sizes of dried fish.  Koreans will use this for a soup base or season it and just eat it as a side dish. I was never into these little fishies and I remember in high school was really embarrassed when friends would come over and see ziplock bags full of tiny dead fish. I’ve come to terms with it now, but it is funny to think how normal it is over there.


I think because the only other real experience I’ve had in a foreign country was in France, I could not stop comparing cultural differences. This one was shocking to me.  In France, meal times and meals are a big deal. You eat a certain time and in designated areas – even kids in elementary school often come home during lunch time and eat at home. This is not always the case, but seeing people plop down any old place to eat was considered improper in France.  However in Korea, people were doing just that! And it wasn’t even a big deal. The picture shows the employees of the stores during their lunch hour.  It was so weird because food decorum was something so engrained in me while in France, and while I was here, it was not even an issue.


The below picture is of Itaewon, considered the international neighborhood of Korea. Basically the only place you can find non-Korean food.



We went to this restaurant 2 days in a row. The front was just an open store front where these steam dumplings were sold.


Somehow, my mom knew that if we walked through the assembly line where these dumplings were being made and walked upstairs, we’d arrive to a restaurant that had 2 menu items of pure glory – these dumplings, and a soup with freshly made noodles. We died. So good.


The first time we ate here, Brandon kept stopping in between bites and massaging his hand. He was not used to using those skinny metal Korean chopsticks and his hand kept cramping. Ha! We just laughed at him and watched him suffer.  He eventually toughened up and got pretty good.


Just a batting cage in the city.  Great colors.


We went up to see this tower in a park in the middle of Seoul. It’s on a big hill and lights up in different colors.



We went to the tower our friend, Jeff and for some reason we took our picture under the New Delhi sign. It was so fun to hang out with someone from home and explore Seoul as 3 non-Korean-speakers.


Up on the lookout there are some chain linked fences with locks EVERYWHERE.  Paris has a version of this on one of their bridges but nothing compared to what was up here.



A pretty crappy picture of Seoul at night.


I think I’m going to stop here for now, but there is much more of Seoul to come.

November 12, 2012

Immersion Blenders and Soup

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 4:05 pm

My old roommate and I really loved living together because we loved cooking and seeing what the other was making… and then stealing each others’ food.  So, since both of us are now married and living with boys, we kind of miss sharing our kitchen with each other.

We (well, she really) started a blog to share some recipes and kitchen things.  I posted today about my immersion blender, and a recipe for potato leek soup.  If interested, here is the link:

Potato-Leek Soup!

October 29, 2012

More Korea

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 9:42 pm

Before I talk about our trip, I’d like to talk about how much it SUCKS to prep for a sub. By the way, did I tell you I’m a teacher? Yeah, a real legitimate instructor of children. I teach 1st grade in a French immersion class which means I never speak English and I’m constantly misunderstood. Anyway, we planned our trip before I was hired, which means I missed 6 days of school, which means the week before was equivalent to a real job where you work after 4 PM. It was the worst!! But seriously, I had parent-teacher conferences, and had to plan for six days of absence, which meant I put in 13 hour days and many hours on Saturdays… but in the end, I left to go to Korea, and the only thing I had to worry about were my constant nightmares of things going wrong in my class.

I prepped until I got kicked out on Friday night, and packed until 2 AM, and then left 2 hours later to catch a flight at 5:50.  24 hours later and 2 layovers at 4 hours each – we finally arrived in Seoul! Only to finally sleep in a horizontal position and wake up the next morning to go on a 4-day road trip to the other side of the country!

We first went to this island called Geoje. It doesn’t really matter the name, but my dad actually grew up here for a few years.  Did you know he was born in North Korea? Yeahhhh. Which means he had to hop on a cargo ship and escape to the South. This island was where his refuge camp was during the war.

There is now a POW memorial here.

I’m glad Koreans think it’s “Belgie”.

This is where my dad went to school! They’ve revamped the building, but it’s right where it used to be.

Pops in front of a windmill. (Self-explanatory I guess.)

We stayed in a cabin type place and the trees were so pretty!

The next day, we went to a temple.

My mom, her high school friend and chauffeur, and my dad.

Dad telling us something really important.

The next day, we went to Pusan, which is trapped by water and mountains, so the city is like a long, squiggly line.

We walked down a trail that got pretty close to the water. The wind was crazy!

My brother says these old ladies dive in the ocean and find food. What did I say about old people! They’re so useful!

Walking along rocks and stuff.

Cool wall on the way out.

My parents are on that rock!

Sculpture outside our hotel in Pusan.

Bridge in Pusan.

The next day we went to the historic city of Gyeungju, which was the capital city of the Shilla dynasty.  Basically lots of old stuff, museums, and tombs. It was really cool.

This first picture illustrates a myth that the king would sit at the higher end, let his cup go all the way around the circle, and somehow the cup would go back UPSTREAM to the king.

There were a million kids on field trips that day. They all pointed at Brandon and said, “Hello! Hello!” Brandon saw one in a Jazz hat and tried to take a picture, only to get yelled at and scolded by the teacher because they were in a hurry. Whoops.

Brandon really was quite novel for these kiddies.

Playing with some lights

Museum stuff. They say if you just dig in this city you’ll find stuff.  Pretty cool to think about people sitting around carving these things.

Shoes that were put on before the burial.

Love the color in this photo. These are hats!

Inside/outside a tomb.


More temples. This one was having construction done behind it, which explains that big modern while building in the background.

Old and new.

Golden boar.

Chinese lanterns! We walked up this mountain and then some more steps to see a giant Buddha that had been carved into the stone of the mountain. Brandon says it reminded him of something out of Indiana Jones.  Apparently the sunlight hits the Buddha on a certain day at a certain time, which then reflects onto the city to show a buried treasure… or something… We couldn’t take pictures of the Buddha, so I just got the lanterns.

People are short in Korea. Brandon’s head was constantly threatened.

This pictures show the genius of Koreans and their heat.  Even back in the day the heat was distributed through the floor. Same thing today. It was the best. Especially because we slept on the floor 9 out of the 10 nights we were there

And of course… KITTIES! They exist in Korea too! And they don’t eat them!

More from Seoul to come…

October 22, 2012

We’re in Seoul!

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 3:02 am

The good and the bad of Seoul. (I only have pictures from my iPhone right now. More pictures to come soon.)

Good: Seoul is extremely generous with their public bathrooms and their wi-fi.  While I’m here, I can’t help comparing my experience in the only other foreign country I really know, France. And let me tell you, I do NOT understand how Paris is the most visited city in the world with their public bathroom system. Self-cleaning? Don’t believe it. One that you pay for is worth it? Never is.  However, here in Seoul, people actually use toilets like real humans and courteously leave it without peeing on the floor. They also sometimes have this bar of soap stuck on a metal rod that everyone shares:


Bad: Well, you know how kimchi tastes REALLY good, but smells really bad? This whole country essentially smells like kimchi everywhere you go. Walking around town, people on the subway, you simply cannot escape it. And if it’s not kimchi, it smells like this:


What is this, you ask? Just a tank full of squid.

Good: Old people. I’m serious. The old people here are not crotchety folk that just yell at you for talking too loud. It’s amazing how many grandmas are doing manual labor pushing around gigantic carts of cardboard down the street, or selling bunnies in the subway.


They also recognize the importance of constant calisthenics.  Evidenced by this guy doing push ups on the tomb of a former king.


Bad: Silkworm larvae is something people PAY to eat. Fortunately for Brandon, the lady gave him a free sample! (However, another thing contributing to the terrible smells in this country.)


I’m going to end this now, but let me lump everything else into the good – SEOUL is AMAZING. I could live here and be TOTALLY HAPPY. The subway system is so easy and useful, everything is inexpensive, and these drinks alone would give me joy until the end of time. (There are concord grape fleshies that surprise you in these cans!)


I do wish I knew more Korean. I feel like I understand a lot more than I realized, and I could learn if I really applied myself. But who has that kind of time? And when is really the next time I’m going to need this language? I mean, besides communicating with all my relatives? So, maybe I will post again about our trip, maybe I won’t find the time. But in the meantime, here are more pictures from my phone from our trip so far.



These children! All dressed in the same sweats to go on a field trip.


We had a little get together with my mom’s side of the family in the mountains. My uncle built this rock thing and Brandon recognized the Chinese characters on the right that say “Stone”. Everyone was really impressed.



August 11, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 12:26 am

Not for us, just other peoples’ babies.

Jason and Heidi recently moved back to Utah and it is nice to be able to get together with them sans a 7 hour commute like when they lived in Fort Collins.  Plus, little Zeke is SO CUTE.

My sister, Michelle, recently had a little babe, the cheeky fellow in the middle there. He’s so cute! I’m sad that I don’t know when I’m going to meet the little guy. Soon I hope.  Also, it was Michelle’s birthday recently, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

The next picture is of a lady I met who was temporarily in our ward. Her name is Faith.  She came to Salt Lake on vacation from Nigeria in APRIL.  She was traveling alone; her husband last minute had to stay in Nigeria because of a work emergency.  During her “vacation” in Salt Lake (that was only supposed to last a couple of weeks) she was not allowed to get on her flight back home because of complications with her pregnancy.  Faith lived out of a suitcase, went back and forth between friends’ homes, and depended on a lady she met at Temple Square for rides to and from the hospital… all while being 6 to 9 months pregnant.  With a lot of patience and a darn good attitude, she was able to have her baby last week.  Having had past problems with pregnancies, this little baby is nothing short of a miracle; Janice was born perfectly on time to her mom… and dad via Skype.  I still can’t believe this story when I think about it; I am so happy to have known Faith and relieved and ecstatic for her and her new little family.

Another new baby – the first person I have personally met and who is also in Us Weekly – little Bryce was born breach, at home, to a set of great parents.  He is probably the cutest newborn baby I have EVER seen with my own eyes. That little hand just kept peeking out of the blanket and was killing me.

The last baby in this post is little Reid, son of Shelby and Trevor (Brandon’s sister + her husband).  There are lots of pictures because I actually remembered my camera to Reid’s first (pre-)birthday party.  He’s just a happy little guy and does this side-to-side head wobble that has everyone swooning.

Brandon’s mom did a really good job of making the party festive with 1) animal print sunglasses for everyone.

I love everyone here taking pictures and trying to make Reid smile.

I love Shelby’s smile in this next one. And #2 for festive – that animal-inspired cake!

One-on-one time with the little guy.

August 3, 2012

Rule the Rocks

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 1:45 pm

A couple of months ago, Brandon and I were able to go with some of our friends to what the State of Utah calls Rule the Rocks.  It is sponsored by the Truth about Tobacco, a campaign that is partially run by a friend of ours, Adam.  Here he is:

A group of about 13 of us went around to small-ish towns in Utah: Vernal, Price, Moab and St. George and put on a little BMX/skateboarding competition.  Brandon and I just helped set up the tent and register the kids.  We got free vitamin water, met a bunch of cool BMX guys, and spent some time with great friends.

It was cool to be a part of something that the kids just LOVED, and promoting stuff that they need to know, like not smoking. And it was a free vacation with friends.

While we were in Moab, we also got to see the Delicate Arch! (Thanks to Adam and Laura for accomodating that desire of mine.)  It was HOT, and Brandon and I both got BURNT.  I know, usually it’s just Brandon, but that 95º heat just got me so good.  But I LOVED IT. Seeing that arch come out of nowhere.  Just breathtaking!

A few random pictures –

1. Missionaries showed up at the Vernal competition, but hey, what else are you going to do in Vernal?  2-3. Some nice views. 4. Truth booth (terrible quality photo, sorry) and Brandon and I are both bright red.

Oh, and I can’t forget.  After seeing these 12-year-olds jump off stuff and flip and let their hands go on BMX’s and stuff, I just wanted to join in on the fun. So someone let me get on their bike and I got to drop in!! I really didn’t know what to do after that, but that part was really great.

August 2, 2012

New Title

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 12:26 pm

Michelle was right – I needed a new title for this blog. “ijk” just doesn’t work anymore.  In fact, getting rid of those initials was the hardest part about getting married.  Truly.  Those initials are the best!!! Consecutively and alphabetically correct? How can you beat that? Only if my new last name started with L, that’s how.  Like, LeStone… but unfortunately, that’s not it.  I can’t complain about the last name though.  Stone is pretty solid. (wah wah.)

But still, the problem with naming the blog remains. “ijk” is out.  “IBS”? …NOPE. I typed in “The Stones” “zee Stones”. But I decided I’m not ready to have a “family” blog. This is MY blog. Brandon has his own tumblr. I’m keeping our internet journaling separate for now.

So I went with Salt Lake Stone… but I’m not sold yet. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Salt Lake from Ensign’s Peak.

Update: I couldn’t do Salt Lake Stone. It sounded like a company that builds temples or something. So I just went back, slightly modified.

July 23, 2012

No A/C

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 5:39 pm

We live in a great little part of Salt Lake. It’s called the Marmalade district. It’s just west of the capitol building, just north of the temple, and our street in particular does not sit on a steep hill like the streets just a stone’s throw east of us.  We LOVE where we live.  We are constantly riding our commuter bikes downtown, or (less frequently) riding our road bikes around the many scenic longer routes that surround us.


Although, that being said… our apartment is MINI. Really mini. Like 600 sq. feet and no hallways.  But it has a washer/dryer in a laundry room, and a garbage disposal, and a dishwasher… so we thought, we might as well live in mini place that includes a great location and that is really well-priced while we can.  However, one thing I didn’t realize, is that this apartment came with no air conditioning.  Last year, I lived in a brick home and the air conditioning broke and it was like an OVEN in that house that summer.  I never really thought I couldn’t live without this modern-day luxury… My whole childhood in California was A/C free (I think, family? …right?), and my mission definitely had no A/C (French people don’t believe in stuff like that), although, that led to massive cuts to my hair (so much so that once my zone leader had to tell me to stop cutting my hair… oops).  But apparently, that brick house, and this current apartment have proven to me that I really really really love air conditioning.  I will say, I hate it more when people abuse the air conditioner and it ends up at a constant, freezing 68 degrees forcing you to wear sweaters all the time inside.  But, pictured below is what happens when you really have no A/C.

This is our butter, melted to a LIQUID STATE when left in our cupboard.  Granted, this is also during the time that Brandon convinced me that our swamp cooler was really working, even though it felt like a HAIR DRYER blowing FIRE all around the living room.  He just kept saying… “I really don’t think it’s that bad…” as sweat dripped off his nose I’m sure.  I really tried (maybe not REALLY) to be positive about it, but there was NO DENYING that our swamp cooler was not in ANY WAY COOL.  So I finally decided to call our landlord and we found out there was actually no water being pumped through the thing.  So swamp coolers aren’t actually giant hair dryers!!! And our butter doesn’t melt in the cupboard anymore!!!

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