July is a notoriously busy month for us. With two birthdays, the Fourth, and the realization that we have only half of the summer left, it seems that we’re always into something.
We didn’t go anywhere for the Fourth. We typically don’t, simply because none of us want to deal with the traffic or the crowds. We live only two miles south of Disneyland, so if we really wanted to see an epic fireworks display, we’d simply have to sit at the pool in our neighborhood. Or, if we wanted a better view, head down the street a short clip.
Instead, we walked next door and got a bunch of small fireworks. I’m not a huge fireworks fan, but the kids had a blast — they really enjoy setting them off, watching them, and feeling like they’re “grown” because they used a blow torch to do it. With supervision, of course. The fireworks “event” in our neighborhood grew just a bit when our neighbors from down the road brought their fireworks over and told the kids to set those off, too. They didn’t need to be told twice, that’s for sure. Only one minor incident in which the bush out front caught fire for a brief moment when a spinner flew into it. (Don’t worry — we were armed with a hose and cups of water. Safety third, after all!)
A week after the Fourth marks our first of two birthdays – Kate’s 17th birthday was on the 11th, and my 34th was on the 12th. Neither of us are big birthday people, so there wasn’t a huge celebration — just something quiet with delicious food and cake. Kate requested salad + cheesecake for her birthday, and I am a total sucker for charcuterie plates and regular ol’ store-bought birthday cake. White or yellow cake, white icing. Super simple, super yummy.
I like to go all-out for my charcuterie. We had leftovers for DAYS.
On the biz side of things, we’ve been making some good changes over at Autumn Lane. New offerings, adjusting processes, and such. I’m happy to be a part of something where there’s a continual push toward improvement — it really ensures that we’re all on top of things and striving for the best we can possibly muster.
It’s not without some headaches and disagreements, but as my husband put it — (sorta like this) — it’s important in a business to have differences in opinion on how things are going, how things are running, and so on. We all know that cliche, “Variety is the spice of life.” It’s sorta like that. Trying as they may be in the moment, those differences are good for the company because it means we’re all seeing things through a unique viewpoint and can bring different things to the table. Keeps it fresh, and it also keeps us from falling into a rut with regard to processes, offerings, and doing things repetitively that don’t benefit the company.
Summers have been historically slow for the business — the vast majority of our clients are enjoying summer with their families, businesses paused briefly for vacations. On one hand, we — ok, ok, I — freak out about why sales aren’t at the volume they were before…but on the other, it’s a slight breather. The calm before the storm, if you will.
Here’s hoping the back-to-school, back-to-biz storm treats us favorably!
I got to check something off of my Beck List! It didn’t go entirely as I thought it would, but I accomplished something I set out to do. Before I tell you about that, check out one of my new releases in July!
It’s called Barcelona Nights, and it was inspired by the trip Jeff and I took. Barcelona, to date, is one of my favorite places in the world. Not only did it have such meaning for us, but it’s really just a badass city. There’s a lot of history and culture in the city, but also a really modern, youthful feeling. Barcelona Nights combines the idea of something rich + luxe with an edgy look. I really dig it — this particular font was handpicked by Creative Market, too!
My big accomplishment for July — and the goal I set for myself — was Salt & Sea Calligraphy Script! I set a goal to release a font in 2018 that required me to learn a new skill, something that I found complex, and rock it. I’d originally thought that now was the time to release an SVG font, since they seem to be all the rage right now. I started to go down that path, but realized that there’s a lot more research I need to do before I start releasing things willy-nilly. I tabled the font goal for the time being, in favor of learning the skill properly…rather than rushing it.
A few weeks ago, though, I came across a few social posts from other lettering artists that sang the praises of this iPad app called Affinity Designer. I watched some of the videos they were showing, did a little reading, and then saw that the app was less than $15. The big selling point? It’s vector. Um, amazing. I realized that if I could learn this app, I could feasibly change my entire process for certain fonts. It meant instead of lettering in ProCreate, importing to Illustrator, and vectoring letters, I could letter the font in Affinity, and nix the entire vector process…cut down on clean-up, and also increase the amount of consistency and detail. I’ve struggled for some time to create a font that had super thin, delicate upstrokes. My patience wore thin lettering in this style, and dealing with the clean-up…it was always inconsistent and it really just pissed me off.
So, I bought Affinity, tinkered for a day or so, and then banged out this lovely new font.
I still have a lot of learn about Affinity, and a lot to do to tighten up my process. BUT!!! This font was lettered on a Monday, and released by Thursday. (I really tried to wait until Monday, allegedly the best day to release fonts…but I was too excited.) While Affinity did cut down on my clean-up process, there are some kinks I need to work out — namely, adjusting the pressure settings on the vector brush I used and learning how they react. All in all, though, fab purchase and I highly recommend for other font designers and lettering artists.
I’ve followed Angie for quite some time now, and own several of her fonts…she’s a designer that I admire a lot, so it was made even sweeter that she used my Spring Market font for her watercolor flower thank you card set that she’s selling on Amazon! I about came unglued when I saw it, out of pure excitement. I’d always hoped that I’d eventually see one of my fonts being used in the wild! I ordered these cards super fast, because I wanted to see them in person. The set is beautiful and high quality…so I’d recommend them to y’all, for sure, and not just because it uses one of my babies!
With the end of summer sneaking up on us, we managed to get out for a day — we drove down to San Diego and hung out in Old Town for a little while. I’ll tell you a little more about that in a minute!
Do concerts count as travel?
Ugh, probably not, but I haven’t lettered that heading yet. (Get it together, Beck!) We had our first of three concerts in a month’s time at the end of July — Breaking Benjamin (a check on the Beck List!) and Five Finger Death Punch. I’d never been to Irvine FivePoint Amphitheater before, but what a badass set-up, y’all. It’s obviously open air, but all I was expecting was an amphitheater — a stage + seating. I didn’t expect that there would be lawn area outside of the theater, cornhole games set up, food and booze trucks to boot. We’ve got additional concerts here in August (Shinedown & Godsmack, Rob Zombie & Marilyn Manson) so now that I’ve laid eyes on it…I think it’s going to be super fun!
I wasn’t too keen on going, initially, simply because I’d had a bit of a rough week — I was ready to just have some super quiet time away from a lot of people. Now, I’m really glad I went. We had the nosebleediest of nosebleed seats. Literally in the section furthest from the stage, the highest row. I’m not even complaining, because we didn’t get stepped on, bumped and jostled, and we had space…and a really nice vantage point, too. I totally dig a rock concert, but it was also nice to leave without your ears ringing.
Breaking Benjamin put on a badass show. I’ve enjoyed their music for years, but didn’t realize how insanely talented they actually were until I saw them live. Some bands just don’t sound the same live, and not in a good way — Breaking Benjamin sounded amazing, and they were super consistent with their albums. And, I really enjoyed how each of the band members got to highlight their strengths, and have a little bit of a spotlight between songs.
One of my favorite parts of the show was the middle, where they played some cover songs. They only did a little bit of vocals for this stuff (Metallica) but they did some instrumentals for Nirvana and Pantera, just to name a few. SUPER talented.
We left about half way through Five Finger Death Punch’s set. It was getting pretty chilly, we were all kinda wiped. Because it was the second time Jeff and I had seen FFDP, we were cool with it. The last time we saw FFDP was right before Ivan Moody left for rehab following a few meltdowns on stage. Literally 1-2 concerts before that, so I think we got one of their last “good” shows before things spun out of control. Ivan seemed to be happier this time around — more with it, and more like he was quite enjoying himself, and I can really appreciate the fact that he called attention to the fact that he’d been gone and we’d probably read about him in the news recently. He owned it, and personal responsibility is a huge thing with me. I hope he’s back on track now — it seems like that is the case.
While we were in San Diego for our Old Town trip, we hit up Lucha Libre Taco Shop. I’ve seen this place featured so many times on Food Network or Travel Channel specials. In short, it’s a taco shop, but the decor is all about Mexican wrestling. The walls are pink and covered in masks and memorabilia, and there’s even a sparkly gold vinyl booth reserved for winners. Winners of what, I’m not entirely sure.
Either way, I’ve always wanted to hit this place — mostly just to say I’ve seen it — but what I didn’t realize was how delicious the food actually was. Now, remember — we live in Southern California. We have a really awesome Mexican restaurant right next door to our neighborhood and walk there with enough frequency that the family that owns + operates the business knows who we are and where we walked from. But this place, my friends, was reeeeally good. I would say that it’s probably the best Mexican food I’ve had in SoCal as of yet.
I had the Alambre burrito. Maybe people would say it’s not “real” Mexican food because there’s a definite SoCal twist to it…fries in the burritos, y’all. Yes, fries in the burritos. But it works.
On the beer front… We didn’t hit anywhere new this month. We did head out to Gunwhale Ales when we did a supply run to Windsor Homebrew, and we had a few new brews there. All delicious, like normal, but I haven’t reviewed them. I probably should have done that right after we stopped in, but life happened! Our kegerator appears to be crapping out. Freezer’s great, fridge not so much. The kegs aren’t super cold anymore, so it seems like we’re going to have to find a replacement and re-install the taps. Maybe this time, the taps will be level with each other, haha.
August is set to be a busy month for us…but then again, what month isn’t busy? We have two kid birthdays, and my mom’s birthday… And, my mom comes to town during the second week, and school starts up again! I’ve got a lot in the works, font-wise, and even more to do on the Autumn Lane side. Plus, two more concerts to check off of my Beck List! Here’s hoping July treated you well, lovelies — have a fab August!