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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

New Year’s Day 2012 I took a trip out to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl to help with the Donate Life float for the Rose Parade, which was on Jan 2nd this year. Donate Life is an amazing organization that raises awareness so we stick that pink dot onto our driver’s license, to help save lives by being an organ donor. My dad was a kidney recipient, so this organization rings very close to my heart.

This is the beautiful finished float. The folks sitting on it are the stars of the show…family members of donors from 2011. The stories I heard yesterday were so moving, and I broke into tears numerous times. One woman’s 9-year old daughter had gone to the hospital for an ear infection. The hospital misdiagnosed and mistreated her (not uncommon), and she died. Her mom was proud to share how her daughter lives on in others, literally, and that her daughter has saved many lives by being a donor. You can see the portraits of each donor on 6 clock faces, a total of 72 donors are honored.

My good friend Vicky is a ‘red jacket’ and one of the team leaders on this huge project. She’s been here working on the float for weeks from early morning until 11pm. A huge undertaking, whew.

We are all misting the flowers with water before the float is moved outdoors for judging. It was gorgeous in Pasadena, 80 degrees!

Everything on all of the floats in the Rose Parade are all organic! This means only living materials like flowers, leaves, seeds,…all put on by hand.

Look at this detail….mustard seeds painstakingly glued onto the surface. Wow.

Beans and flower petals have all been attached by hand.

This is the bed of roses underneath the clock with the moving hands at the front of the float.

Look closely and you can see each of these red roses has a wish tied onto them.

When the float moved outside into the sun, all the colors popped so brightly! You can see the driver of the float inside the open door. The driver can’t see a thing, and is guided by audio by someone outside the float.

At one point, everyone held hands in a circle around the float. It was very moving. And even the judges teared up and cried when they talked with the donor families and heard all the incredible stories. Today, I discovered (since I don’t have a TV to watch the parade myself) that our float won one of the top 3 trophies and the craftsmanship award for outstanding showmanship and dramatic impact over 55 feet! Yeah! I also heard that floats cost about a half a million dollars to build! Great exposure and for a wonderful cause.

This was one of the best, most memorable New Year Day’s of my life. What a way to spend the 1st day of the new year. Plus, I felt like it was in honor too of my dad, who was so very blessed to have had a kidney transplant, which helped extended his life another 10 or 12 years. I learned that a liver lives for 100 years, so even after someone passes from old age, a liver can be donated to help another person live. Amazing.

I’ve chosen to be an organ donor for as long as I can remember, and I hope you will also consider joining me in helping save lives so someone else may live one more day! For more information check out Donate Life.

 

 

 

 

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