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?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

All I Want For Christmas... a Miniature Australian Labradoodle!!!!

I follow Parker the Labradoodle on Instagram and I am absolutely in love! I think Sirius needs a little brother but I am pretty sure George would not agree:(

What is your favorite dog breed?

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Yesterday it hit me that it was only 11 days till Christmas and I had not yet watched any Christmas movies. Naturally, I spent last night and tonight snuggled up in bed playing catch-up ;-) I realized I don't actually love as many Christmas movies as I thought I did but here are my favorites! I try not to watch these throughout the rest of the year so they end up being extra special around the holidays.

Definitely my favorite Christmas movie and quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. I know it's not a traditional Christmas movie but I feel like a lot of the movie takes place around the holidays. This is the movie that made me fall in love with New York; I still have it on my bucket list to be there in the snow! Probably the best love story of all time.

Heart-warming and hilarious. My only qualm with elf is that it is not on Netflix :-(

Technically not a movie but I am a huge Friends fans and I really love all of their holiday episodes. You just can't beat a Christmas Armadillo!

Another classic. I don't think it's possible to watch this and not be put in a good mood. I just finished it tonight and I'm already ready to see it again! I can never decide who my favorite character is because they are all so lovable and real! Bonus: Snape and Lily are married!

Probably my least watched Christmas movie but a favorite none-the-less. Jimmy Stewart can melt any girl's heart.

What are your favorite Holiday films?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Christmas tree at the Bodleian Library in Oxford
I don't know about you but I always feel like the holiday season goes by much to quickly. I try not to think about Christmas much until after Thanksgiving (a BIG holiday in my family) but then it feels like there is not enough time to really enjoy the pre-Christmas season!

Last year George and I surprised his family for Christmas in England (SO glad we did!) and it was one of the most magical Christmas' I have ever had. The whole holiday feel is much more intense there and I absolutely love it. This year, we will be spending Christmas with my family in Costa Rica, a totally different experience but one I am almost equally excited for none-the-less.

Christmas with George's family!
I had planned on doing a few gift guides for the holidays but then I got caught up in a million things - new job, family visiting, planning for Costa Rica, etc. and decided I would skip those this year. Also, my family does a big Secret Santa Exchange (and this year George's is too!) so I don't end up shopping for a ton of gifts. I usually get gifts for whoever I picked, George, and maybe a couple others I notice on the way.

This year I got got a MontBlanc pen for the person I picked (When I was a kid we were in NYC and saw Shaq outside his hotel. I asked the person I picked to borrow his pen for an autograph, it was a MontBlanc pen and he warned me not to lose it because it was expensive. Well, as my lucky would have it, Shaq's security guards made him go back inside before he could sign my autograph and he took the pen with him!).  I got George this watch and am going to get a couple pairs of Kate Spade earrings for my sisters and best friend.

It's finally gotten colder here in Southern California, which I love! I definitely day dream quite often about living somewhere where it snows but unfortunately I am not sure that is in the cards for me:( For now, I will have to live vicariously through those of you who do and who post beautiful pictures of it on Instagram!

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season! What are your holiday traditions?