Happy End of August (and not so official end of Summer)! So I’ve never done one of these…a personal “recap” post, but there is a first for everything!

Back in high school (it’s scary to say that I’m almost 8 years past my high school graduation ha!), I used to love reading the more personal posts from some of my favorite bloggers (looking at you, Sally’s Baking Addiction, Half Baked Harvest, and Ambitious Kitchen!).

I loved getting a peak into their lives, learning more about what a day-to-day life for them was like (I couldn’t imagine at the time how much work and creativity went into blogging…now 8 months into it, I have a more personal perspective on the matter ha!), and getting to know the person behind the recipes that I loved so much.

So that’s what I aim to do with this post! Share a little bit more about Britt, aka the Banana girl, and hopefully inspire something in you. I’m going to share a few things that I personally loved about this summer, from my beach runs to the many baking fails to a wedding, and more! And then, of course, what I’m looking forward to as we go into my all-time favorite season!

1. Sunrise Runs

This past summer, I really embraced my early mornings. 4:30 am was my wake up call, in which I would meditate for about 30-45 minutes a day, and then throw on my running gear to head to the beach for a sunrise run.

sunrise over ocean

As cliche as it sounds, you can learn a lot about yourself when you commit to something like that. Not every morning was a run (I’ve learned that I’m very prone to injury if I’m running all the time and at consistently high mileage), but I made an effort to get out there every morning.

In early May, my boyfriend and I had made the decision to move home from NYC, after I really just had had enough of the city. However, we weren’t (or at least I wasn’t ha!) ready to go the West Coast just yet, so we thought it would be a good idea to save some money and at least be out of the city. I know some people love it, but New York just really wasn’t for me. If you ask me how I feel in person, I won’t be able to shut up haha so let’s just say I had spent 3 years there (less than 1 year would have been plenty for me haha!) and was exhausted by the stressful energy, the dirt and the lack of nature.

sky before dawn

It was the best decision we could have made. My all time favorite place ever to run is Compo Beach, so I took advantage of my proximity and committed to seeing that beach every single day.

I met new friends (believe it or not, I have a morning “crew” of people haha! There is a group of swimmers out there at 5:00 AM, my fellow runners and walkers, and a few pups and little critters as well). I watched the sun pour its orange and yellow and pink colors over the treetops. I discovered new routes along the water. And I found a sense of commitment and determination and strength within myself that I hadn’t seen in a while.

sun rising over ocean

Those sunrise runs taught me a lot about who I’m becoming and how I want to add value to this world. The sun rises and sets every single day with the most glorious of shows. It would be nice to even come close to a fraction of that πŸ˜‰

pink sky rising over ocean

2. Improved Food Photography!

One of my big goals this summer was to majorly improve my food photography, so I thought the best way to do it is to experiment as much as I could.

Well, I certainly did! From May until about mid-August, I did a recipe from Monday to Friday. I, of course, used a content calendar and was testing recipes way ahead of schedule, but it was by no means a restful summer. It was, however, all worth it.

Example A:

Decadent paleo Chocolate Birthday Cake with a coconut cream frosting for a completely paleo, gluten free, and refined sugar free treat! Made with sweet potato, it's extraordinarily fudgy yet suits all tastebuds!

Example B:

slice of chocolate zucchini cake taken from full cake

Going forward, I will be aiming for between 2-3 recipes a week (and these sort of posts every now and then!), so that I can focus on more of a community aspect around The Banana Diaries πŸ™‚

3. Oil Painting

I’m back to my art again, and it feels so good! One of my goals at the beginning of 2019 was to make more time for art again. I have to say, January through May, I didn’t make any effort because I really wanted to get The Banana Diaries off the ground.

Thankfully, I did and we’ve been cruising I’m really happy to say, it didn’t come easy, but I’m grateful beyond words for it. I decided that summer was a great time to really commit to that again- I always believed that at any point, you can revisit those New Year’s Resolutions ha! As long as it’s still the year, it’s still good πŸ˜‰

While I worked many weekends this summer, I tried to take a few afternoons to paint, and I’m so glad I did.

It’s tough getting back to something that you love, and I don’t know why. I mean, it felt natural, but I definitely judged myself a little (read: a lot) at first. I kept comparing myself to how I was in school, when I was making art every day as a part of class, whereas now, my art skills are mainly used in my photography and food styling.

Once you rip off the bandaid, though, and push forward, you find your groove again. I gave this painting to my boyfriend’s sister and her new husband as a wedding gift πŸ™‚

painting of ocean

This second one, I did as a creation of a twist on Peter Pan πŸ™‚

Peter Pan painting

Oh, and I started an Art Instagram! It’s nothing major, but I decided it was a good idea to at least have an outlet for my original creativity there, so feel free to give it a follow πŸ™‚

4. Travel

Okay, okay, so this summer wasn’t filled with basically any travel, except towards the end of the summer.

Actually mainly, this past month! We kicked off the last month of summer with a trip to Newport, RI for the wedding (I was a bridesmaid in it!). Newport is absolutely stunning, as was the wedding! If you’re ever down there, check out Cliff Walk (I took a run there one morning, highly recommend either for walking or running! It goes on for miles!).

Jared and Britt at sunset

A few weeks later, I went to Austin, Texas with a few of my really close food blogger friends πŸ™‚ It’s crazy to think that we all met online, but it feels like we’ve known each other for years. These ladies make working alone that much better πŸ™‚

5. Balancing work!…sort of!

Okay, so this didn’t really happen until, like, two weeks ago, when my other good food blogging friend, Natalie (ya know, Feasting on Fruit πŸ˜‰ ), suggested I take a step back and look at how far I’ve come.

Let me tell you, that was hard. I was in such a momentum of testing recipes, cranking out photos, writing and learning about SEO that I sort of forgot to…well…breathe?

I realized I had adopted the mindset that in order to “succeed” (however you define success), I needed to basically kill myself working hard. And tirelessly. Now, obviously I’m not a person that’s afraid to get my hands dirty and throw some elbow grease on it, but I was forgetting how to work smart. I know many will think, well how many of those hours were actually productive?

Actually, a lot of them were. Because when you work for yourself, you’re not working at this set salary that you know will show up, whether you decide to actually do work or talk to your coworkers. So I equated the more hours I put in with whether or not this would work financially for me. And I will admit, it was actually easy once the momentum was there, and I was basically just feeding off my drive to deliver everyone the best recipes. I love making people food, and I love seeing you recreate my recipes and say they were a hit. Nothing brings me more joy than that reaction.

Butttttt I started slacking in other areas of my life, and thankfully, Natalie was quick to point that out. I was pushing 80 hour weeks, and quite frankly, I’m not an IB kid and that just isn’t sustainable long term for me. I don’t really know how people do that unless it’s truly your passion, and even then, you need breaks.

I started realizing I maybe didn’t have such a healthy relationship with work when I felt extreme guilt for taking a weekend, or even a day. And I started neglecting relationships and not getting back to friends (okay, so I always sucked at texting and calling, but I became radio silent). I was so nervous about missing a message or that I still needed to prove myself to other people that hey, I can do this food blogging thing. That it may be “cute” to some people, but to me, it’s a helluva lot of work and time and dedication and learning and adapting.

Truth is, I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone. Not even myself.

So that’s when I cut down my recipe schedule from five recipes a week, to three, and right now, that feels manageable to me. Maybe it will change and go up or down, or if I get really ahead of schedule again (guys, I was working weeks ahead, it was insane), I’ll do more.

But I also know my writing is better when I’m not trying to remember synonyms for basic words and sound like a broken record haha!

6. All things…FALL!

Yep, I am as basic as they come, and I am damn proud of it, my friend!

I literally live for this season. Count down begins January 2nd, after all of the holidays end (sorry, Valentine’s Day…Easter…Passover…and everything else haha! I just don’t like the seasons you come in!). And I feel like it’s the best line up too.

half of a baked cinnamon sugar donut with bit taken from it

So we start out September with my birthday (psst! It’s September 12th!), then we move to Halloween, as my college roommate says, my second birthday. And then we have Thanksgiving, aka a foodie’s dream, and finally we round everything out with Hanukkah and Christmas!

Oh, and then the after party, which is New Year’s Eve πŸ˜‰

So grab your fall themed mugs, whip out those flannels, and get your ovens ready for apple pie, pumpkin pie, and all of the cinnamon-y fall treats! Oh, and movies too, because I’m a huge seasonal movie buff.

Hocus Pocus is my jam, thank you very much, Kenny Ortega!

So that wraps up the first “Things I’m Loving Lately” post! Wow, this feels so different than writing recipes haha! I like it πŸ™‚ I think I’ll do one a month, just to keep things fresh πŸ˜‰

Tell me: what are some things that you’re loving lately? How was your summer? What are you looking forward to?