Adrienne Wolter shares local restaurant reviews, day trips and cooking adventures
Not much beats curling up with your best friend on a chilly November evening.
The mark of Daylight Savings Time changes our overall outlook in November. The evenings become dark around 5 o'clock, forcing our bodies and lifestyles to adapt.
Believe it or not, this seasonal adjustment can affect us more than we think. As a form of "jet lag," our bodies can feel the change for days or even weeks on end, losing energy and feeling "under the weather."
Instead of treating our darker evenings as our slow slump into winter cabin fever, embrace this extra time you can spend with friends and family through fun indoor pastimes that are guaranteed to keep you cozy and happy all November long.
"Cozy" and "hot chocolate" are pretty much synonymous.
Instead of going for the powdered hot cocoa, try using real melted chocolate bars in your hot chocolate. The Italian delicacy known as Cioccolato Caldo takes melted semisweet chocolate and cream to create an out of this work rich and creamy beverage. You'll feel so warm and toasty while curling up with a good book.
Reading is the best way to escape from the doldrums of dark evenings, since a book can take you anywhere. Having trouble finding something to read? Ask your friends to see if they'll loan you their favorite book or check your local library.
Venture to online platforms to access book lists, reviews and titles of bestsellers. Goodreads allows you to search for books, discuss with others and create your own book list. When in doubt, judge a book by its cover. If it looks good, give it a try.
Let being cooped up indoors bring out your crafty side.
The home use of loose leaf tea started with Japanese Blooming Tea; a small flower bud that magically opens and blooms as you place it in piping hot water. Drinking tea is a great way to relax and soothe the mind and body. Pick one of these international delights at local specialty tea shops.
You can also try loose leaf tea as it comes in many exciting flavors like Strawberry Rooibos Tea or even simple Peppermint. The beauty of loose leaf and a "Tea Baller" is that you can enjoy one serving for many days, because the flavor lasts.
Learn something new. Since the weather is getting cooler, knit a scarf to keep you warm. If you've never knitted or crocheted before, you can try without any needles or equipment. All you need is some yarn or knitting wool. Since Infinity Scarves are so popular this year, you can make one simply using your arm as a gauge. Surprise your friends for Christmas with a few homemade scarves.
Not much beats homemade popcorn to fuel your movie night.
A movie night wouldn't be complete without microwave popcorn. Enhance your traditional snack with some gourmet tricks that won't hurt your budget. There are so many flavors to choose from to take your popcorn from boring to completely decadent. Try the Cherry Almond Clusters or Chocolate Cream for a delicious spin on microwave popcorn.
Have you and your friends been dying to see the final season of Breaking Bad? Maybe you've been craving a sob-fest of cheesy chick flicks or the entire Star Wars collection from beginning to end. Whether indulging in your guilty pleasure films or reliving your favorite TV series, you can curl up on the couch and enjoy a night of bonding...with your television. Don't worry, no one will judge you.
Also, with the invention of electronic cigarettes, you can enjoy the break you need without even hitting the pause button. Saffire creates some great products to suit your needs and tastes.
Monopoly is a game night staple, but there are so many more options out there, or alternate rules to enliven your experience.
Relive some of your best childhood memories with your family or your little ones. Break out the old board games and have a night debating over whose turn is next or what color game piece you are. This type of bonding can help you nurture and reenergize your relationships with your family.
If you don't have any game boards, try playing charades or Pictionary. Whatever the game, the goal is to enjoy each other's company and laugh together. Monopoly is a great choice if you want the game fun to last for a couple of days. This way, you can play a little each night after dinner.
One of the best childhood toys was the Easy-Bake Oven. Use your microwave much like this fun toy to show your family how to make mug cakes. With some simple recipes, you can create culinary masterpieces in a mug. The best part is you don't have to share; it makes a single mug serving, perfect for a party of one.
November is a great time of year to get back into writing.
Instead of venturing out to pay top dollar for a specialty coffee, make one from home. With Thanksgiving around the corner, an inexpensive can of pumpkin and a home "Frother" will do the trick. You can serve up a Pumpkin Spice Latte that will match that of the leading coffee chains.
Since November is National Novel Writing Month, you can take up the challenging of writing a novel in 30 days. Cozy up on the couch with your laptop ready and let your thoughts trail out. You'll be amazed that the release of thought and spark of creativity will do wonders for your mental health and stress.
S'mores are a great food whenever you need a quick sweet fix.
Think of activities you can do on cozy nights that could be indoors or outdoors. If you have a fire pit or Chimneria, bundle up and roast S'mores over a fire. If you'd prefer to stay cozy inside, you can use your fireplace and warm up with blankets. For those that don't have actual fire, the microwave can also make gooey treats that will melt your heart.
Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, has inspired millions of people to search for their own happiness. Grab some baseball card sleeves and scratch paper or craft items and document your own happiness. Take a November challenge, and for every day, fill one baseball card slot with a quote, picture or design that reminds you what made you happy that day. By the end of the month, you will have a pretty November scrapbook that showcased your happiness.
Forget venturing out to grab a greasy, artery-clogging pizza and make mini pizzas from scratch. A simple flour tortilla and some vegetables and cheese can make a low-calorie dinner or snack that won't compromise your healthy eating habits. Don't worry, these pizzas are still filling and satisfying.
Be productive and let loose by putting on your favorite sweat pants and music, guilty pleasure or not. If you've always hated to exercise, grab a couple of friends and have a dance party. Or, you can rearrange your furniture. Either way, you are getting a good workout while having fun. Plus, changing your furniture arrangements can reduce stress and anxiety throughout the winter months. Don't forget to drink water while you "work."
No matter how you choose to spend your November evenings, make sure you put work aside and enjoy time for yourself, friends and family. By practicing some of this advice, you will survive the dark, winter months feeling energized and happy.