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The Wren

Proper Way to Set a Table

Renee Woodruff

When I was growing up, I remember my mom hosting family and friends for special occasions like Thanksgiving Dinner, our annual Christmas Eve party or the occasional milestone Birthday Party. Mom would ask my sister, Rachel and me to "go set the table". Without fail, we would always forget which side of the plate to place each piece of silverware and where to properly place the glasses. That's when mom would go digging for "the book" that had pictures of how to properly set the table. When she would find it, we would flip it open and use it as a our reference.

You'd think after all of those years of practice, I would have this image engrained into my brain but oddly enough, I still forget what goes where. So, as a reminder to myself and others who might encounter the same dilemma, here are two images of place settings, one informal and the other formal.

May we never forget how to set the table!

5 Great After Work Yoga Poses by Lauren Conrad

Renee Woodruff

Long day at work? Try these awesome yoga poses by Lauren Conrad to release a little tension and to give your body the love it deserves. And PS - if you aren't a familiar with her site, it's a good one to bookmark and reference often!

Downward Dog
If you are a regular yogi, you know that downward dog is the foundational pose of most yoga flows. It’s home base. And it’s also the best move you can do after sitting all day. It stretches your shoulders, lengthens your back, and gets blood flowing to your brain. Simply make your body into an inverted “V” shape, and push your hands into the floor to stretch your legs and back.

Mountain Pose
This pose may seem simple, but you’d be surprised at how much good it can do for those sitting joints. Stand comfortably with your feet hips-width apart and reach your arms to the sky. Then move your torso backwards into a slight backbend and let your neck and head relax. You should feel a lengthening in your legs and an opening in your chest muscles.

Forward Fold
One of the best poses for stress and anxiety, forward bend is a position you should be implementing into your everyday routine. And the best part is that you can do it anywhere (even on your lunch break!). According to Huffington Post, this post provides a feeling of release in your body and mind, allowing you to let go of anything hectic that’s going on at work. Stand with your feet hips-width apart, bend your kneed slightly, and fold your hips down to the ground. Let your arms and neck hang for at least one minute for a full release.

Cobra Pose
This back bend not only feels good after sitting all day, it also lengthens your spine and opens up your chest and shoulders. Lay on the ground with your arms bent and place your hands directly under you shoulders, as though you’re about to do a push up. Then gently straighten your arms, bringing your chest up off the ground. If this feels comfortable, you can eventually graduate onto an Upward Dog pose, where you lift up your thigh and hips as well.

Butterfly Pose
Good old fashioned “criss cross applesauce” is actually an incredible yoga pose that opens up your hips and lower body. It’s a great way to ease any tightness you may feel from sitting for a long time. Sit on your hip bones with your back straight and your knees out to either side. Focus on melting your knees lower to the ground, gently, to really give your hips a stretch.

Steel Cut Irish Oats Recipe

Renee Woodruff

I tend to switch back and forth between four different things for breakfast -- oatmeal, quinoa, greek yogurt or eggs. These choices are mainly for their health benefits, but also because there are so many variations one can make with each of these food items as a base. Today, my focus is on steel cut oats (I like John McCann's brand) with several additional ingredients to create an antioxidant, protein filled hearty breakfast that will keep you fueled throughout a busy morning.

Base:

  • 1/2 a cup of cooked steel cut oats

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Walnuts 
  • 1 Tbsp Goji Berries
  • 1 Tsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Tsp Dried Blueberries 
  • 1 Tsp Yellow Raisins
  • Several Shakes of Cinnamon
  • A drizzle of raw local honey

Yield: 2 Servings

As with any of my recipes, I only include the measurements for guidance. Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like, and/or substitute your favorite or leave something out altogether if you don't like it. Experimentation is the key to a happy kitchen.

PS - if you aren't serving two, put the second serving in a glass storage container and refrigerate for another healthy breakfast tomorrow.

Enjoy!

Creating A City Garden

Renee Woodruff

Every year, when the weather starts to turn a bit warmer,  I always look forward to transforming our little balcony over looking Manhattan into a lush oasis (creating the illusion that we actually have a bit more space than we actually do). 

I've always loved succulents, primarily for the lack of attention the require (i.e. less watering, ideal for those who frequently travel), which I maintain year round. And this year, I created a succulent garden using eight to nine plants in one long planter.  In addition, I planted several edible herbs. I have dedicated pots for mint and basil (as I use them most frequently -- think tea and pesto!), and have planted four other herbs together in one big planter.  Herbs are great to keep on hand if you have the space to grow them for cooking, making teas, infusing water, or throwing into green smoothies! 

Herbs to Consider Growing at Home

  1. Basil
  2. Mint
  3. Rosemary
  4. Thyme
  5. Lemongrass
  6. Cilantro
  7. Parsley
  8. Dill 

The remnants of winter

Our porch in the dead of winter

Spring time is calling

Succulents everywhere

Creating a succulent garden

Chili peppers

Dill, Lemongrass, Rosemary and Cilantro all in one planter

Basil & Mint

A pop of color to bring spring into our outdoor living space

10 Ways to Be Happier

Renee Woodruff

I just discovered the website, happier.com and thought these 10 tips were great reminders of things we can do to put a little pick-me-up in our day. Some days are just a little tougher than others and from time to time a friendly reminder on the art of happiness never hurts. 

Try it for yourself.

 No, for real, try it!

Smile!

Just flexing those muscles tells your brain you’re happier.

Go Outside

As little as 20 minutes outdoors is a proven mood-booster.

Be Generous

Amidst all the research, being kind remains the the best way to increase feelings of well-being.

Record Happy Moments

Writing it down really does increase the impact on your life.

Flex Your Talents

We just feel better when we exercise our strengths.

Try Something New

Those who continue learning new things are happier than those who don’t.

Set Goals

Both the goal-setting and progress towards them elevates our mood.

Sleep More

6 hours a day can keep depression away!

Say Thank You

These two words increase both gratitude and kindness, and therefore, happiness.

Give Hugs

When you give ‘em, you get ‘em, and you feel better.