As you know by now, I cherish the opportunities that I get to escape from the city on the weekends. Not too long ago, on the day of our first snowfall in Manhattan this year, I took an overnight trip out to the adorable little town of Huntington, Long Island to visit one of my best friends, Kelly, and her family. Kelly and her husband Dave are my second set of friends who have made the leap from the busy city to suburban life. Of course I miss seeing my friends as frequently as I used to,but I must admit, it's quite lovely having "real" homes to escape to every now and then.

The weekend was relaxing and filled with lots of catching up, touring the new town, hearing stories about their new home and anticipating the excitement around another addition to their family, a second baby girl. Below are a few of my favorite things from this beautiful autumnal retreat that I wanted to share. I'm always on the lookout for great gift ideas and I think that all of these are fun items to consider giving this holiday season.

Amos Lee: Amos Lee is an amazingly talented musician and his new album, Mission Bell, doesn't disappoint. Kelly and I went to see him live at The Paramount, a beautiful loft-style venue in Huntington.


Hunter Boots. I absolutely adore my Hunter rain boots (in purple), and they've saved my feet and clothes from many a rainy day in the city. Since I woke up to a snowy morning in Manhattan, these are what I wore for my trek out to the suburbs on Saturday afternoon.


Calm Tea. Kelly and I sipped on this tea Saturday evening after returning home from the show. I enjoy drinking tea so much, and this delicious one provides a comforting blend of chamomile, rose petals and other soothing herbs.


Gwyneth Paltrow Cookbook. It's not quite the holidays yet, but I've gifted this book on a couple occasions so far. Although Gwyneth seems to be one of those people you either love or hate, you can't argue about her ability to cook, entertain, and market herself. This book makes for a beautiful housewarming gift or just a little something to say, "thanks for being you."


Votivo Holiday Candles. Kelly and I both love candles. We visited an enchanting little store near her home Saturday afternoon, and I think we smelled every holiday candle they offered. I walked out with two Votivos (try the Icy Blue Pine - it smells just like a freshly cut Christmas tree.)


Signing Off Refreshed from my Retreat,


Renee Woodruff blogs about travel, food and living life to the fullest on Follow her on Twitter or see what she's up to on Facebook!