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I went down to Little Saigon in Orange County to celebrate Lunar New Year, Vietnamese style. Here I’m being fitted for my dress. Traditional Vietnamese dresses are called Ao Dai.

These dresses are super flattering with high side openings and wide, silky, flowing pants.

Next stop is the Vietnamese New Year Festival, where I found a baby cherimoya tree.

This marketplace made me feel like I was in SE Asia, except it was much colder here in California. Tons of tropical fruit like rombutan, cherimoya, and jackfruit. Yummy!

These magnolias are so pretty!

There were so many varieties of orchids at the Lunar New Year Festival. Check out the bulbous orchids at the top of this photo, hanging down.

It’s the Year of the Dragon. And, no Lunar New Year Celebration is complete without dragon dancers. These Vietnamese dragons, aka lion dragons, are made up of 2 people, while the Chinese dragons are much longer.

There were 4 different lion dragons in different colors. People were feeding the lion dragons ‘lucky’ dollar bills to ensure good luck and fortune for the new Lunar New Year.

And last but not least….. fresh durian! Here my friend and I are driving and eating durian in the car. We actually think durian smells good! Sweet and delicious. I guess I can only be friends with people that love durian too. Hahaa.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year that’s filled with tons of love, bliss, health, and prosperity. May we all choose to live long and be happy! xoxo

neelam ani phyo raw food essentials

During my silent 10-day Vipassina mediation last October, I had a vision to work with kids in underprivileged neighborhoods teaching them how to garden, grow food, and make healthy food. These neighborhoods lack fresh produce or healthy food options. The only way to save lives is to teach kids about food, real food. Growing our food builds confidence and self reliance. It’s important for kids to understand where their food comes from.

Neelam Sharma is the Executive Director of Community Services Unlimited, Inc. and is largely responsible for the development of CSU’s food justice and youth training programs. She helped create The Healthy School Food Coalition, The LA Food Justice Network, and the California Food Justice Coalition. An inspirational lady…passionate, intelligent, and beautiful.

garden ani phyo raw food

Neelam and I met at the Expo Center garden, where I first met Dana Clay, the Urban Farm Assistant responsible for this beautiful garden. I found a curry tree for the first time, and the leaves tasted pungent, like curry.

cherimoya ani phyo raw food

They even had a cherimoya tree! Yum. The last time I saw a cherimoya tree was in Baja. I love cherimoya, and just picked up 3 at the local farmer’s market. Visit CSU’s weekly Farm Stand in front of the Expo Center on Menlo just north of MLK on Thursdays from 3-6pm.

Find more about Community Services Unlimited events, and how you can volunteer on their website. A special thanks to my good friend Bryant Terry for introducing me to Neelam and CSU, inc.

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