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The Wren

Filtering by Category: Home

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!

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

A Little Kitchen Design Inspiration

Renee Woodruff

I've always thought the kitchen to be the heart beat of any home: a place where family and friends gather together, the center of one's life. A place where memories are made and homemade food is prepared.

My one and only rule for a kitchen in terms of design no matter how big or small is that it should not be closed off from the rest of the home. It should function as a social gathering space, where conversations can easily take place and memories can be made bountifully. 

I dream of the day that I have a much larger kitchen but until I do, I'll let my friend Kelly's kitchen be my inspiration. Having a Kitchen Designer with a love for Scandinavian style as a mother never hurt anything.

If you're day dreaming of a new kitchen, let's do it together and let these beautiful pictures provided by House Beautiful be our inspiration. 


Clean, crisp and welcoming.

Swap the kitchen cabinets for this clever rail system to create a unique look.

Chalkboard covered pull-out pantry, yes please.

Love the removable cutting board over the sink that allows for easy clean up.

One can never have too many pillows (although Dave disagrees). We also have these kitchen chairs from West Elm and adore them. 

A Fun Way to Store Tea Bags

Renee Woodruff

As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to share how I store my tea bags. Living in a really small apartment in Brooklynwe've gotten creative with all of our spaceputting every inch of it to the best possible use.

One day after digging through a ziplock bag for a flavor of tea that fit my mood, I decided I needed a different method for storing my tea bags.  My eyes focused on a display of antique mason jars that Dave's mom had given me.  I began sorting the teas and placing them in the jars.

You can find similar jars at a local antique shop or you might want to ask your parents or grand parents if you can go digging through their attic, basement or garage. You may find mason jars as well as other treasures.

How to Store Healthy Ingredients

Renee Woodruff

Remember one of the very first blogs I posted about Smoothie Ingredients to keep on hand? Well, some of you were wondering how I store all of this healthy goodness in some sort of respectable fashion in our teeny tiny Brooklyn kitchen. 

Let's just say, the mason jar is my best friend. I could dedicate an entire post to the many uses for mason jars (hey, maybe I will...) but all you need are mason jars, these cool plastic lids, paper tape and a sharpie.

I'm not big into DIY but this is a project we can all do. Have fun with it, use different color tapes to spice up your fridge! This is what your final product will look like.