This Is Sort Of One Of Those End-Of-Year Posts: Highlights, Lowlights, Current State

Confession: I hate gift guides but I enjoy reading everyone’s “Best and Worst” end-of-year recaps.

Usually I publish something along the lines of “The 10 best foods I ate this year” type of thing. This year I’m writing something a little different.

One year ago, I was wrapping up a temp job I began soon after we moved back to the Twin Cities from St. Louis, MO. The data entry assignment at an ill-fitting desk wreaked havoc on my body.  The problem was that I was too efficient and so they kept extending my end date. I was in constant pain day and night. In December, I got pushy about requested an assignment that aligned more with my career interests.

The next gig led to a permanent job and this fall I finally got hired as an employee. I’m grateful for this job opportunity and for every day that my body feels normal enough that I don’t even think about it.

Each morning, I hop on the bus at 6:45 a.m. that heads to downtown Minneapolis. I love looking out the windows at all of the glittering buildings and bridges as we cross the Mississippi river.

My skyway food adventures have slowed. Upon transitioning to my permanent vs. temp role, I have more responsibilities and less flexibility to flex my schedule. Plus, we have an on-site cafeteria that provides us with a discount so you’ll typically find me there for lunch. If you’re all interested, I can make a point to revisit this quest.

Moving into 2018 kind of feels like keeping our heads above water.

{Insert clip from She’s All That of Freddie Prinze Jr. doing the “Can’t let it, don’t let it, never let it drop, sooner or later it has to drop” thing with the hacky sack.}

Jake’s employer is a Super Bowl sponsor and everything accelerates for him until February. After years of working less traditional jobs with odd schedules, I’m adjusting to my first role in a corporate setting. Like many, we’re juggling demanding jobs, home maintenance, a pet, and both of our families while also trying to practice some degree of self-care while actually cooking some our own meals and reserving enough energy to see our friends sometimes.

Little victories feel like finishing a book. They feel like finally taking the time to replace all of our burnt out lightbulbs and taking the dog on a long walk.

I suppose this is what they call adulting? Moving around the Midwest for five years made us work through challenges that many of our peers haven’t experienced, but it also prolonged some aspects of adulthood that many have become used to. All in all, we’re trying to take one day at a time and be grateful for the good things in life.

Can’t let anything drop! (or so it feels like)

Here are some dining highlights that didn’t make it into a post this year (in no particular order):

The cocktails here are so good. They’re perfect. .All of a sudden I am finding myself looking for excuses to drive to Wayzata. I never wanted to drive to Wayzata. The cocktail hour is generous, the space is beautiful, the service is polished, and the food’s delicious, too.

We loved everything we ate during our first visit to The Rabbit Hole, a full-service restaurant located in Midtown Global Market. The food is Korean-inspired. I still think about the crispy fried chicken wings doused in gochujang-butter sauce. And the perfect cocktails and the beef bop bowl. Their beef bop bowl has inspired how I make them at home with slow cooked beef seasoned with Korean flavors.

Hocus Pocus Drag Brunch at Union Rooftop (hosted by Flip Phone), Downtown Minneapolis:

Flip Phone hosts all types of Drag Brunches at Union. Themes have included everything from Ke$ha, Adams Family, Lady Gaga, Prince and Robyn. I attended one of the Hocus Pocus drag brunches with friends. The events are popular. You will be squished into a table in the small rooftop space. It will be loud and warm but you will have so much fun. There’s singing, dancing, drinks, and food. The brunch menu is limited. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the food arrived and how good it tasted.

If you’re so inclined, bring dollar bills for tipping the performers. All of the tips are donated to OutFront Minnesota, a non-profit committed to advocacy for LGBT communities and allied communities.

Whimsical drinks at Can Can Wonderland, St. Paul, MN:

Where else can you find a absinthe-infused cocktail garnished with a burnt candy cigarette? The whimsical drink menu appears to vary with the seasons (these drinks may no longer be offered). Your drink may arrive garnished with pop rocks or edible dirt and it may be served in a watering can. Those searching for something non-alcoholic can enjoy house-made sodas and cereal malts.

I got invited here for a MNBloggerBash event.  While they did treat us to lots of samples such as frozen cocktail squeezy pops, I purchased these cocktails at full-price. 

My favorite posts:

  • Minne-Road Trip around Southern Minnesota. I’m linking to this post about eating pupusas in Owatonna, because they were one of my favorite dishes I ate during the three-day trip.  You can read the other posts by clicking on the Minneroadtrip tag.

Worst meals: 

  • A nautical themed patio restaurant on White Bear Lake, MN. A gust of wind uplifted a patio pole and launched it at our dining companion, banging him in the shoulder and ripping his shirt. Restaurant staff mostly disregarded the incident and charged us full-price. No check-in from a manager. Also, no response to a very polite email I sent afterwards.
  • $16 hot beef hoagie from the US Bank Stadium (The giant nachos with the white queso were really good, though!)
  • My last meal at The Freehouse in downtown Minneapolis
  • Lunch at the ESPN Club on the Disney Boardwalk in Orlando, FL.

Wishing you all of the good things in 2018. Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below on what you’re looking forward to, your own highlights, or anything, really!


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    I love your food highlights of the year! Although I always enjoy following your adventures I must admit your food posts leave me wanting more…more …more. Because they are so deliciously written and illustrated. I want to road trip with JeniEats again.
    On another note-so happy you have found a full time job that is more in your skill set. Adulting is difficult at times but you and Jake are balancing it out and making it work. Home ownership, pet parents and all the other things make for a busy life and I love that you still find time to share a bit of your food adventures here on the blog. Always a good read and I come away thinking I have only begun in experiencing all the neat foods there are to eat!

    • Jeni

      Thank you so much Beth! I love your food posts too. Thanks for your encouragement with the overwhelming world of adulting 🙂

      • Aunt Louie

        You are selling yourself short! You have been practicing for “adulting” for years…you just didn’t realize it!!! No different than the rest of us did!!!
        Love you and your blog…Aunt Louie

        • Jeni

          Thanks Aunt Marylou! We love you.

  2. Kirk

    Happy New Year Jeni. I’m glad that you’ve found something more permanent in terms of work. I also look forward to your posts, how and when you decide to do them. Take care!

    • Jeni

      Happy new year to you friend! Creating writing is my passion project so I will always keep writing. Always love whatever you post too.

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