The last piece of designing paper details for our wedding were the thank you cards. Like with our save the dates, wedding invitations, and wedding signage, we wanted to keep the colors and theme consistent with the overall design aesthetic.
We decided to design one sided cards to write on the back of instead of foldable cards to keep them simple and clean.
Finishing this component of the wedding experience came with a sigh of relief. It has been an exhausting year of planning and designing, and we have now finally reached the closing point. We are thrilled with everything we designed and most of all eternally grateful to all of our friends and family who contributed to our day.
Autumn has arrived, and even though that only means a slight drop in temperature at night in Los Angeles, we’re seeing squash begin to pop-up in every super-market and in our bi-weekly produce deliveries. That means that over the next few months we will have a great variety of squashes delivered to our home from our local organic farms. Most winter squashes are very firm and require quite a bit of cooking time, but it is all well worth the wait. My personal favorite method is roasting them in the oven, and as an added bonus having the oven on for long periods of time heats up our apartment for chilly autumn and winter nights.
Once I have it open and cut into large pieces, I use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds. If you would like, you can rinse the seeds and let them dry to roast for later. I like to try out different seasonings such as rosemary or paprika on squash, but my favorite has continuously been olive oil, brown sugar, and a dash of salt sprinkled and rubbed onto the inside surfaces.
I have learned that lining an oven safe dish with aluminum foil greatly helps the roasting process. I pre-heat the oven to about 350 degrees fahrenheit and let them roast for about 45 minutes, until a fork can slide into the outer skin with relative ease. It’s a great side dish option to serve with comfort foods all winter long.
Naturally, James and I could not pass up the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris on our honeymoon to France. Anyone who knows us is aware that we are passionate fans of Disney Parks, and we were very excited to visit one in a foreign country. We spent two days there exploring the curious yet enchanting parks, filled with their own mysteries to discover. Being that this was on our honeymoon, we brought with us bride and groom Mickey ears featuring ‘Mr. Dastoli’ and ‘Mrs. Dastoli’ embroidery on the backs to celebrate our recent nuptials.
The Disneyland Hotel is a breathtaking structure that creates a very different feel when entering the park compared to the other Magic Kingdoms. The rooftops of the hotel contribute to what we consider to be the most beautiful version of Main Street, U.S.A.
This stained glass ceiling inside of the Emporium is an example of the ornate details found throughout Main Street.
There are two arcades that run parallel to Main Street. This one is the Discovery Arcade, which has artwork depicting futuristic projections of American cities from the late nineteenth century.
Discoveryland is the Tomorrowland that Jules Verne would have envisioned. For me, all of the lands contained elements that were familiar, but with new subtleties and twists. It felt similar to when I visited Walt Disney World for the first time after having only gone to Disneyland.
Here I am in front of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the Columbiad cannon featured in From the Earth to the Moon as part of Space Mountain. Seeing the Nautilus was particularly nostalgic for James, since the Florida version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage was closed in 1994.
Walking through the Nautilus was one of our favorite experiences in the park. The intricate details found throughout the submarine truly transports the guests imagination into the novel.
Another nostalgic experience for James (but new to me) was riding the original version of Star Tours. Here he is in front of the attraction’s entrance wearing a Star Tours – The Adventures Continue shirt. It was very strange for him hearing Captain Rex’s voice in French, but fun and exciting nonetheless. I was thrilled to finally get the opportunity to ride the original version and meet Rex for the first time.
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is an interesting take on other Magic Kingdom castles. The landscaping around the castle draws direct inspiration from the film Sleeping Beauty and the interior features a giant dragon animatronic.
The story of Sleeping Beauty is told through stained glass windows inside the castle.
From the balcony of the castle you can see the rooftops of Fantasyland. Similar to Main Street, Fantasyland in Disneyland Paris is a grander, more beautiful version than in other Magic Kingdoms. Meandering landscaped pathways take you from one attraction to another in a less linear fashion.
One specific example that involves quite a bit of meandering is Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. Here the Cheshire Cat is overlooking the maze.
We were able to experience seeing a dark ride with the lights on after it temporarily broke down. This was not the first time we have seen a ride with the lights on, but regardless it is always bizarre. This is the forest scene in Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains.
Rather than housing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, there is a restaurant inside of Toad Hall. It certainly cannot fully replace the allure of the ride, but it’s an interesting and charming way to feature the story of The Wind in the Willows.
Much of Adventureland is dedicated to Adventure Isle, a giant walkthrough area taking the spot that is usually occupied by Tom Sawyer Island in other Magic Kingdoms. Here is another instance of going back in time through Disney history with Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship and Skull Rock, which have not existed at Disneyland for over 30 years.
Frontierland has an elaborate backstory based around the town of Thunder Mesa that ties all of the attractions together.
The story of Thunder Mesa culminates in Phantom Manor, which is our favorite ride in the entire park. The atmosphere is much more macabre than the American Haunted Mansions.
We had a table service meal inside the opulent Silver Spur Steakhouse in Frontierland.
We didn’t spend very much time at the Walt Disney Studios Park, but we did go on the recently opened Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy, and we also enjoyed our lunch at Le Bistrot Chez Rémy, a restaurant that scales everything so that you feel like the size of a rat.
We weren’t sure what to expect out of Disneyland Paris, but we can say that we were very pleasantly surprised by its charm and amused by its differences. I will always have an emotional and nostalgic connection to Disneyland USA, but look forward to visiting more of the international Disney resorts. After the wedding and honeymoon we likely will not be traveling internationally anytime soon, but hope to visit Tokyo and its Disney parks next.
A year ago, James and his brother were finishing up post production on our feature film, “El Quetzal de Jade.” The film is a noir inspired thriller that centers around a private detective in search of a Mayan artifact stolen by a dangerous woman. We worked on “El Quetzal de Jade” over the course of a year and a half, using weekends and weeknights to do the bulk of the shooting. Most of the scenes are in Spanish, but it also features English, French, and Mandarin Chinese.
Here is a trailer for the film:
The film was designed to use all of the resources that we already had at our disposal and fill in the rest using visual effects. During trips to Rhode Island, Guatemala, and Quebec, we shot exteriors and plenty of material to use as background plates for green screen scenes. Luckily, we live in a neighborhood with many Spanish colonial and French eclectic buildings which easily double for Guatemala and Quebec, so we were able to shoot some scenes with our actors in the area. Much of the film was shot in the interior and exterior of our own home. Here, Atlas is overseeing production of a scene in our kitchen.
This behind the scenes video gives some insight on the process of building up the film using visual effects:
For our future film projects we plan to work primarily with animation rather than live action, such as in our Lego brickfilm, “Escape from Sabre Island.” We have a few concepts in mind for the upcoming year, and now that our wedding is complete we can return our focus to those.
James and I knew well before our engagement that we would be going to France for our honeymoon. Paris was actually a very important piece of James’ marriage proposal. We spent most of our twelve day honeymoon outside of Paris itself, but made sure to devote four days entirely to exploring the gorgeous city. Being individuals who greatly value design and architecture, Paris offered an endless amount of opportunity for us to explore to our hearts’ fill. It seemed that every corner we turned presented a whole new set of buildings, bridges, and gardens to fall in love with.
We spent many hours each day walking on both sides of the Seine. All of the bridges that cross the river are beautiful, but the most ornate is Pont Alexandre III.
When we weren’t walking, we were making use of the city’s extensive Métro. There are a few different styles of signage from different eras that mark the station entrances. Our favorite is the red one on the far right.
Our first views of Paris came when we emerged from the train station under the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. Our first night was spent in a lovely hotel nearby that offered gorgeous views and easy access to the Champs-Elysées.
On the top of everyone’s list of sights to see in France is the Eiffel Tower. Although we like the structure, and value its iconic significance, it is not on our list of favorites in the city. There are so many other buildings that have more merit artistically.
The top of the tower was closed, so this picture was taken from the second level. Here you can see the beautiful roof of the Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées. We were very excited to see the interior of the building, but it was not open to the public during the three days that we attempted to enter.
Right next to the Grand Palais is the Petit Palais. We took advantage of its free entrance a couple of times and ate lunch in a charming courtyard inside. Although impossible to choose a favorite, these two monuments sitting right next to each other on La Rive Droite may be our top spot in the city.
Another one of our favorites is the Hôtel de Ville. All around the building are statues depicting figures from the city’s history.
Notre Dame de Paris sits on Île de la Cité across the Seine from Hôtel de Ville. The famous cathedral is one of many that we toured throughout our trip.
Another beautiful cathedral is the Église Saint-Augustin de Paris. We happened across this dome while wandering through the city on our first day, and were able to take a quick peak inside to admire its opulent interior. There are so many monuments in Paris that you can’t help running into one every couple of blocks.
Of all the cathedrals that we visited, Sainte-Chapelle was certainly the most unique. Its high ceilings and stained glass windows were truly awe inspiring. The colors are striking, and its use of alternating fleurs-de-lis and arms of Castilla are a wonderful motif.
Right next to Sainte-Chapelle, on the facade of the Palais du Justice lies the oldest clock in Paris, which went through a restoration just recently.
We walked through more than half of the twenty arrondissements of Paris. Here I am on the steps of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in the Montmartre district of the XVIIIe arrondissement.
Both of the hotels that we stayed in had amazing views of the mansard roofs of Paris. It’s fascinating how much stylistic consistency still exists from Haussmann’s renovation of the city during the Second Empire.
Here is another gorgeous rooftop from Musée d’Orsay. We were unable to go inside the museum on our trip. There are so many museums in Paris, but we knew that we wouldn’t have much time to explore them.
We did go inside of the Musée du Louvre to see a tiny fraction of the artwork on display there.
Here is a courtyard that we saw from out the window of the Denon wing.
The Hôtel national des Invalides is quite a sight from across the Seine.
One of the highlights of the trip was a cruise down the Seine at sunset, which we did for my 26th birthday. It was an absolute treat, and a lovely way to spend my birthday evening.
We took hundreds of photos on our honeymoon, and these cover only some of our favorites from Paris. Over the next few weeks we will be posting more photographs from the other sites that we visited on our twelve day adventure in France.