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We’re more than halfway through the year, and I am proud to say I’ve been able to cross a few things off of my To-Do List 2012:

• Afternoon tea at Chado Tea Room in Hollywood. A Groupon helped get me here, and I was very happy it did. The tea we tried–birthday and red flowers–were both so good I even got some of each to take home. The food was delicious, too, with several different sandwich options, scones, and some very yummy desserts. I would definitely love to go back, although possibly to Chado’s Pasadena location, which I’ve heard has a more charming tea house atmosphere.

• Dinner at Bodega Wine Bar in Santa Monica. Okay, so this was less dinner, and more happy hour, but the small plates my friends and I shared were great and definitely filling. Hummus, bruschetta, pizza…I enjoyed it all, and the wines, of course, were excellent, as well. The place has a very lounge-y vibe to it, with high-top tables and low sofas. We got there near the end of happy hour and had some trouble getting a table; even on a Wednesday night, this place gets packed!

• The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. While my wish to see the Getty Center still stands, this was an excellent step in the right direction. The Villa is absolutely beautiful. I went for an event in the evening, and just the walk from the parking structure had me feeling calm and peaceful. The venue looks like something straight out of Italy, and it’s collection inside is equally awe-inspiring. Glass cases display artifacts made in 400 B.C. …that look like they could have been made yesterday. I was absolutely amazed at the skill and detail in each piece, especially when considering the lack of technology used in the creative process. The current featured exhibit, and the one I saw, is about all things Aphrodite.

• The Metro from Hollywood & Highland to the Pantages Theater. I had heard stories of a Metro in L.A., especially recently with the opening of the Expo Line, but I had never really believed it to be true. I felt as though I had been transferred to New York as I headed down the stairs to the underground station. My only thoughts as I boarded the subway car and made the short trip to the next stop was, why do Los Angelenos not use this more often. I’m hoping with the Expo Line–which will eventually go from downtown all the way to the beach!–will help get this city back on board for public transportation.

• Dinner at Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City and Freddy Smalls in West L.A. Small plates seem to be the menu item du jour, and it’s an area where both of these places excel. I think the last time I (unwilling) had Brussels sprouts was in grade school, but the ones at Freddy Smalls were so fantastic it was time to start eating them again. Highlights from FFS included fried chicken sliders, a choose-your-cheese plate and some sort of fruity crumbly dessert.

• Paddle boarding in Long Beach. This is definitely my new favorite water sport, and not just because it’s the only one I’ve ever actually been able to do. Paddle boarding was actually a really great workout (gotta keep that core tight!), and it was really peaceful out there on the water. My lesson, given by Long Beach Adventure Tours, started at the Hotel Maya dock and took me out to the bow of the Queen Mary. It was quite the view!

American Idiot at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County. Although I was bummed to have to miss out on the performance at the Ahmanson, Segerstrom Center is a great venue, and I was more than happy to make the trek down to O.C. The show was fantastic; I had forgotten how much I loved Green Day’s American Idiot album! It was definitely a must-see.

• The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Urban Light, Metropolis II, European paintings, and Modern Art—with works from Picasso and Matisse—were highlights for me. The museum is ginormous, though, so I unfortunately did not get to see everything. All the more reason to take a trip back!

What’s on your 2012 To-Do List??

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