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The Wren

Filtering by Category: Kitchen

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!

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. 

Superfood Sunshine Smoothie

Renee Woodruff

As you have probably discovered by now, I have a real obsession with my Vitamix, and I love creating new tasty smoothie concoctions.

The following recipe by, Love and Lemons, has quickly become a home-run smoothie in our house and has Dave's Stamp of Approval on it.  Every time I make this one, he always asks what it is because it seems to always turn out a little different every time. 

I'll link to her recipe below but here's my slightly altered version:

  • 2 bananas (frozen)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup original Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • Juice of 1 medium orange (squeeze fresh and keep frozen in ice cube trays, 4-5 cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated ginger (I like it spicy!)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds 

Yield: 2 Servings

Note: Sometimes mine looks more pink than orange depending on the OJ to goji berry ratio.

Smoothie Formula

Renee Woodruff

This is an excellent reference for any new or seasoned smoothie makers out there. I print things like this and hang them on the inside of my kitchen cabinets for easy access and inspiration. I stumbled upon this formula on Pinterest, which serves as a great discovery tool if you're looking for ways to mix up the ingredients you put in your smoothies.

Quick Dinner Fix Tonight - Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Renee Woodruff

Since I've been knee deep in wedding planning, yoga training AND working full-time, cooking has become a thing of the past. I've been ordering in so much lately that should do an algorithm of my past orders and just have dinner waiting on me when I get home at night from one of my top three:

A few weeks ago while Dave was finishing up his fifth week in Thailand, I was at my breaking point. When every menu item on every take-out menu sounded, well, just blah, I went back to my trusty friend, Love and Lemons, for some inspiration -- and I found a recipe for a loaded baked sweet potato. At first it didn't seem substantial enough, but it looked simple and fulfilling and I honestly couldn't remember the last time I had a baked potato.

It was also something I could make two of so I wouldn't have to cook again the next night. Whether you are cooking for one or for many, this makes the perfect meal.

PS - I steamed broccoli on the side to add some greens. And don't you dare skimp on that greek yogurt + lime + salt + chile powder goodness... delicious!!!