Friday, February 13, 2015

Last Minute Valentine's Day Tips

I've always enjoyed Valentine's Day. While I don't really think of it as a "big" holiday and I would much rather receive flowers or go on a date just because it is always fun to celebrate love with someone that you care about. That being said, there are some years (like this one for me) where nothing ever gets planned and you end up needing to throw something together at the last minute. We ladies get pretty lucky here because it is usually up to the guys to have something ready to surprise us with. If you think your man has fallen into this unprepared category, worry not for today I am pairing up with Man Crates to create a "date crate" of items to help your man provide you with the perfect date!

Man Crates is a really neat company that creates gift "baskets" for men. The cool thing about these baskets is that they come packaged in a crate that needs to be opened with a crowbar! I don't know about you but I always struggle to wrap gifts for guys without making them way too pretty or girly. Man Crates are an awesome gift for significant others or just guy friends but their newest product, the Date Crate, is especially clever as it is filled with items to help your guy take you on a romantic date. Here are my top 5 picks for a "Last Minute Date Crate"!

1. Recipe Book- Missed out on all the good restaurant reservations? No problem! A home-cooked meal is so much more romantic anyway. Light some candles and enjoy each others company without having to shout over the noise of a crowded restaurant. Whatever you do, please don't resort to a fast-food restaurant like an ex of mine once did.

2. Good Movie - Snuggle up on the couch with a good movie after dinner. When Harry Met Sally  is a great choice that both of you will find entertaining.

3. Sweets - Can't celebrate Valentine's Day without some chocolate! Chocolate-Covered Strawberries are my favorite treat - Bonus! These can also be made at home!

4. Flowers - Another Valentine's Day (or any day...) essential. No boring roses though please! Drop some hints on what your favorite flower is so he can stand out even more.

5. Nice Attire - I know you're not going to the Opera or anything but you will be hard-pressed to find a lady who doesn't enjoy getting dressed up. Some guys need some help in this department (I once had a date show up in a Batman tee shirt...) but most guys should own some dress pants and a button-up shirt or sweater.

What else would you include in your "Date Crate"? Be sure to check out Man Crates for the perfect manly gift!

Note: I was not compensated by Man Crates for this post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Goal Check-In

This year I want to make sure to check-in on my goals each month to make sure I am staying on top of them and make any adjustments necessary to keep myself on track. So far I think I have done a good job of easing myself into things but I am now ready to step it up a notch.

1. Get Fit - My work offers free fitness classes at lunchtime (amazing!) and I have been going every Monday to the yoga class. It is a good class and a really nice way to break up the day - plus it is very convenient as it is just downstairs! This month I plan on adding the Thursday core class to my schedule.

2. Read More - This was my least successful goal. I did finish Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell but I didn't like it very much and it ended up being a very long read for me. I have started my next book, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling) and I am already deeply engrossed. I am disappointed that I didn't read two books this month as I had planned but I am hoping to catch up in February, it's a short month so it will be tough but hopefully I will select very captivating reads and plough through them!

3. Save Money - I think I have seen the most success with this goal which is great because it's the most important one to me. I have really cut down on my lunches out since starting my new job and not working downtown has helped me resist the temptation to shop! I did use a bit of Christmas money for a couple sale items from J. Crew Factory but it was within the shopping budget I set for myself so I am happy about that. I have two big trips coming up (England & France in March for George's friend's wedding & Badminton in May) so I want to be even more strict about my spending.  There are a couple things I have been looking for for awhile (navy cape and faux-fur vest) so if I find the perfect one(s) within a reasonable price-range I will purchase but other than that no shopping for me!

I'm pretty happy with the way the year has started off goal-wise and I really think these monthly check-ins are going to help me stick with them all year.

Did you set any goals for 2015? How have you been staying on top of them?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Making the switch...

This weekend I am planning to make a big switch on the my own domain ( and to WordPress! I use WordPress at work so I am a bit more familiar with it and I think it is more customizable and user-friendly. I am working on designing a new layout (yikes!) so it's possible I may not have it all ready for the weekend but that is the goal!

Does anyone have any times for switching over or for designing WordPress blogs? I could use any help or advice!!!

xx - Elena

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Over the last six months or so I have gotten really interested in Graphic Design. I used to think that because I was mathematically-oriented, I couldn't be creative. Obviously that is not true but unfortunately it has taken me until recently to realize it!

I've been exploring a lot more creative outlets recently, I even asked for (and received!) a Bamboo Tablet for Christmas! I've been seeing a lot of amazing hand-lettering on social media and I wanted to give it a try so I signed up for this course. Hoping to start it tomorrow and will keep you updated on how it goes!!
Have you started any new hobbies or classes yet this year?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Goals

Well, I'm a few days late but I wanted to think about these for a few days and make sure that they were really the things I wanted to focus on this year. So, without further ado...

This year I wanted to keep it sweet and simple so I decided to focus only on the three things that stood out the most to me (plus I have my 101 in 1001 list!). 

1//Get Fit - It feels very cliche to have fitness on my list but I have seriously been slacking in the exercise department recently and am ready to feel a bit healthier. 

2//Read More - This was a goal I started last year but this year I'm taking it on again and adding twice as many books to my list; hoping to tackle two per month this year!

3//Save - Last year I was in a pretty good place financially but being unemployed for most of this year did some serious damage and I'd like to get back on the right track and be more financially secure.

Do you have any exciting goals for the New Year?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Favorites

2014 has been a crazy year for me, filled with tons of changes, both good and bad. My goal for the year was to figure out what I really want to do with my life and while I can't say I achieved that  I can ultimately say that I am probably the happiest I have ever been. It's difficult for me to admit but I'm pretty sure that is worth more than ticking boxes off of my to-do list ;) Since it has been such a wonderful year, I thought it would be fun to a short list of my favorite things from the past 12 months...

1//England - I spent more time in England this year than ever before and I love it more and more every day I spend there. Oxford specifically is the most amazing and magical places I have ever been. Moving there is definitely on my bucket list; not sure when or for how but it will happen one day! Looking forward to more visits in 2015!!

Beautiful Oxford
2//Books - 2014 was the year I fell in love with reading again. Books have always been important to me but I hadn't been making much time to read them the past few years. This year I read some really wonderful and inspiring books and, most importantly, remembered how much I truly love the feeling of losing myself in a good story.

Some of my favorite reads this year.

3//My Mother-In-Law - Along with spending more time in England came spending more time with Claire. When I quit my job and spent the whole month of May living with her on the Isle of Wight, I had no idea that her time was limited; it wasn't until July that we found out that she was sick. Regardless of what ended up happening, I was so fortunate to be able to spend more time with her this past summer and get to know her better but, considering what did happen, I feel even more lucky. She was a truly phenomenal woman and I feel lucky to have known her and to be part of her family.

Wedding dress shopping with my mother-in-law, sister, and best friends.
4//Learning - I started taking some community college classes in January and continued over the summer and in the fall semester. It has been amazing to have something to study and throw myself into and remember how passionate I am about learning, just for the sake of knowledge, not necessarily for a degree. While I do ultimately want to go back to school for a Master's degree, it has been and continues to be a great reminder that I don't need that in order to further my knowledge.

One of my choices for a Master's degree.

5//Work - I started off 2014 with the decision to leave my job and try and find something that made me happy. It definitely took more time that I expected, I didn't start my current job until late October, but I could not be happier. I love the company I work for, the people I work with and the actual work I do. It's amazing to feel like I am learning new things everyday and to feel valued at a company where I actually have potential for growth.

A video posted by Elena Drake-Knight (@elenatamsen) on
6//Badminton - Attending Badminton Horse Trials has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. This year, my father-in-law bought me tickets and literally made my dreams come true. It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences of my life; it almost feels unreal. My friend, Emily, went with me and we just decided to go again in 2015!!! Definitely the start of the best tradition ever.

Can you tell how excited I was? Photo op with the one and only, William Fox-Pitt.

Cheers to a great year 2014! 2015, I can't wait to see what you will bring!!

xx, Elena

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Final Push!

Just a few days left before Christmas!

Time to get wrapping (and packing!). I can't wait to see George and my family and to spend a few days relaxing in Costa Rica. I know it will be over all-to-soon but luckily I will be coming home to an amazing job, great friends, and some pretty fantastic animals (Sirius, Gatsby, and Kanye)!!!

Do you have any exciting plans for the holidays?

Also, planning on making the switch to WordPress for next year, anyone have any tips?