Adrienne Wolter shares local restaurant reviews, day trips and cooking adventures
As our summer days quickly fade and the sun sets earlier, we are thrown into the whirlwind of autumn where the leaves change as fast as our wardrobe. It's that time again to switch around our schedules and routines, stow away the summer suits and shorts and break out the toastier attire.
Along with clothes, our palettes change as well, giving us a hankering for fresh, local produce like butternut squash, pumpkin and yes, even that sweet corn. We'd give up our early Saturday mornings and evenings just to get a glimpse of the tame weather and to venture through our farmer's markets.
However, the truth is, our outings can get expensive. We want to keep up with the latest fall clothing trends and spend the money on good food. As the temperature drops, our heating bill soars. Also, we all probably experience a little wanderlust, trying to fit in all kinds of excursions before the dreaded cabin fever and homebound days come in central Pennsylvania. With all of our impulsivity to "fit everything in," money can become a little tight.
So how can we save? Why not do some penny pinching this fall and experience what free or fairly inexpensive adventures await not far from our front door. Central Pennsylvania is filled with amazing sites, especially during the fall months. Also, find other ways to cut your spending around the house in order to prepare for winter. It's amazing how much money you can save by doing some little things here and there.
I know it sounds crazy, but put your gym membership on hold. Many gyms will let you do this, especially if you have a month-to-month contract. That doesn't give you permission to sit on your butt, but you are now free to explore the great outdoors and save yourself approximately thirty bucks in gym fees.
Central Pennsylvania has some of the greatest hiking trails and state parks for you to take your family and friends (even furry friends) on a hike. Experience what Mother Nature has to offer with the changing of the leaves and the brisk air. Get in tuned with nature and de-stress. Try out Pinchot, Little Buffalo, Jim Thorpe and even the Poconos for a weekend getaway. Guess what? The trails are free!
Stop spending your money dining with friends. One drink invariably becomes two, appetizers are a must, so is your entree and dessert. Let's face it, eating out gets expensive. Plus, as our days get shorter, it gets chillier outside.
Why not stay in and be cozy with friends and family? Go to your local farmer's market and buy some good produce together. Then, enjoy a glass of wine while cooking together and eating at the dinner table. Make a butternut squash soup or pumpkin roll to enjoy. Some old school traditions are meant to stay alive.
Still have the impulse to go buy the latest and greatest in fall fashion? Look no further than your friends' closets. That's right, you can have a new wardrobe without spending a dime. Invite your friends over and host a clothing swap night. You are all friends for a reason: because you probably have some common interests and tastes.
My friends and I share clothing all of the time. If there is something you don't wear anymore, your friend may love it. If you feel attached, just ask your friend to return your clothes at the end of the season. You'll feel like a model sporting a new style each day.
We never like the increase in our energy bills in the fall. Sure, air conditioning is pricey, but nothing makes our hearts sink into our stomachs like the first bill that includes our heat. Don't be thwarted by the numbers, because with a little love to your home, your bills can be cut into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Caulking and using weather-stripping on windows and doors can lower your heating costs, while cleaning your gutters will help your drainage and prevent any future problems. Remember, a little work and investment now can go a long way.
Remember those fun leaf projects your elementary school teachers used to assign you? Well, stick with the idea of using what you have out there for free and make some of your own DIY crafts. Create some fun fall festive wreaths, centerpieces and foliage for your front door and dinner table. Or, if you want to try something with the little ones, try some great dollar store crafts and have a night in. Turn off the TV, save some money and enjoy laughing with each other. Now is also a great time to get a head start on those crafty Christmas gifts!
Central Pennsylvania is such a great hub for experiencing history first-hand. With Gettysburg just around the corner, you can experience some great tours and reenactments in the fall. Sometimes, if you keep an eye out, these excursions can be free. Don't forget to take a ghost tour or visit the Jenny Wade House and participate in history yourself.
Also, Hershey is just a hop, skip and a jump away, so take on Chocolate World and experience a yummy free tour. You won't be disappointed. Plus, the Milton Hershey Museum and Hershey factory are around to enlighten you on what made Hershey the sweetest place on earth.
Save on electricity by unplugging this fall. That's right, put the electronics away, hide that remote and turn off the lights. Grab some of your friends and family and venture outside. Have a bonfire and play guitar and sing or tell ghost stories. Laugh and live together out in Mother Nature. View the stars and cuddle up under blankets. Just don't forget the bug spray. Experience fall as naturally as possible.
Don't get suckered into buying all of your holiday gifts at the start of fall. Don't waste money on needless outings and gym memberships that will go unused. Who needs a television when life is happening right outside your door? Unplug and experience how much fun penny pinching can be! Heck, go out there and jump in a pile of leaves - I dare you!