I feel so blessed to have had 12 months jam packed with new experiences. The travel opportunities were plentiful, the food unique and the bucket list has many more checks. My kind of year.

In this first month I got one step closer to meeting Oprah…one tiny, little baby step. My “Recharge Your Life with a Bucket List” video was featured on Oprah’s website. I did say it was a baby step. My travels took me on a tour of Mystery Castle in Arizona,which still remains a mystery to me. I also attempted, and succeeded at making my very first loaf of bread and munched on the yummiest pork cheeks at Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Bottega.

February is my birthday month and I like to celebrate for the entire 28 days (and when I’m lucky 29 days). The festivities began with an amazing dinner theater at Teatro Zinzanni in San Francisco, where I got to wear my best cocktail attire and smooch the star. I also indulged in my very first Whoopie Pie, red velvet, at Pican Restaurant. While in Oakland, I was mistaken for a streetwalker, I would like to think a madam yielding, high-class one. The month rounded out with experiencing weightlessness by indoor skydiving. Not as exhilarating as the real thing, but much safer.

The first thing I did to kick off the month was put on my big girl panties and gave blood. I covered my eyes through the entire process. Maybe they weren’t big girl panties after all. Gastronomical adventures led me to Tra Vigne in Napa to eat bunny rabbit, San Francisco to start an obsession with deep-fried brussel sprouts and I learned how to make my very own cognac whole-grain mustard. I’m sure I gained weight this month. A few of those calories were burned trying to learn a line dance. Lastly, I hit Half Moon Bay to spend some time with the dinosaurs. Not real ones. Duh.

I was lucky enough to spend an evening sipping tea at the trendy Samavor tea house.  This place could put almost any wine bar to shame. We spent time traveling to Grand Cayman where the adventures seemed endless. The highlight was swimming (& kissing) stingrays, it was the perfect mix of fear, adventure and amazement. Plus, we watched as someone caught a fresh conch, cleaned it and gave us a raw conch sample to taste. Though I didn’t get to swim with turtles, I did get to hold one at a turtle farm. And drink fresh coconut juice straight from the shell.

In May I went cave tubing in Belize with the bats. Luckily, they kept their distance. My dream of holding a monkey came true in Roatan. If he would have fit in my carry-on luggage, I would have taken him home with me. It was the best surprise when we had to walk across a suspension bridge to get to the monkeys. Another check off the bucket list. We also squeezed in a short trip to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum in Mexico. Beautiful. Though, we ate some wonderful things throughout the month, the only new and strangeEAT was escargot. It proved that you can slather anything in butter & garlic and it would be good.

In preparation for the summer, I created my own cocktail, a Lemon-Basil Fizz. And it was pretty damn good. At the Susent Magazine Celebration, I was able to ask celebrity chef Rick Bayless if he preferred beer, wine or Tequila. And he asked me why he had to choose? Also, Peter and I spent an evening learning how to Curl. It’s a heck of a lot harder than it looks.

Fourth of July was spent poolside at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, where we stuffed our faces with muffulettas and margaritas. After too many drinks, I tried to find peace at the Petrified Forest. It kind of worked. I broke my “no massage” rule in order to have my very first foot massage. Only because I didn’t have to get naked. And I hunted for ghosts at Goldfield Ghost Town. There weren’t any. This month was also my fourteenth wedding anniversary. Peter and I celebrated by eating lambs brain at Laconda. It’s fun being married to me.

I attended my first BBQ Showdown at Seghesio winery. I licked my fingers for two days. I also learned the art of coffee cupping (aka: coffee tasting). Wound up wired for two days. After the buzz wore off, I tried my hand at making an origami crane. I made one. Just one. But, that counts. After realizing that I take for granted what is in my own backyard, I visited a tourist attraction in my town, Lagunitas Brewing Company. It is now my favorite beer drinking spot.

In September, I attempted to grow shrooms. Semi-successfully. I also had a romantic dinner…alone. And it was after 5:00pm at a fancy place. Scary. Lastly, I agreed to vacation with a total stranger, on a Playboy cruise, which was NEVER on my bucket list.

After the Playboy Kandy Kruise, October was spent relaxing, recouping and writing about this once-in-a-lifetime event. I expressed my views on Go-Go dancers and the All-White party. Though, take note that I am not an expert on Go-Go dancers. I gave haggling at La Bufadora in Mexico a shot. Turns out I am not that good at it. I also witnessed a blow hole spout off at La Bufadora. This was much better than the haggling. In between writing, I got hungry and couldn’t resist a trip to Plate Shop for a pigs ear. A little chewy.

I started off November right by squishing my boob into pancakes for my first mammogram. Luckily, they bounced back. A trip to Northern Arizona got me a little closer to heaven at the Holy Cross Chapel where tourist brought me to tears by singing a cappella. I also went hunting for a rock star in Jerome. There is one there. I just didn’t find him. I did find some chicken poop at Liberty Market. Don’t worry, it wasn’t real crap.

December was all about Las Vegas. Sin City. It started by a huge lesson in why you shouldn’t bring your piggy bank to Vegas. Can you say “suspected cocaine dealer”? Things started to look up when we checked into our five-star suite at THEhotel at Mandalay, I could have easily lived there. But, not so easily afforded it. We did leave the room long enough to chill at the Minus5 ice bar, make “friends” at Madame Tussauds and be dazzled by Cirque du Soleil Ka. My only regret was that I did not order the $85 Lobster Pot Pie at Michael Mina’s Nobhill Tavern.

Where did you travel in 2011? What new food did you eat? Did you check anything off your bucket list?

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