Despite how ubiquitous pumpkin spice has become, not everyone is a fan of its aroma or flavor — or the things that have come to be associated with it.
Some people would rather lose their sense of smell than walk through another mall reeking of pumpkin spice. Others would happily be called humbugs rather than take another hay ride to another pumpkin patch.
Still others never could stand the taste or texture of pumpkin pie.
For those people, here are some ways to enjoy fall while avoiding that dreaded blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and ginger.
Beyond pumpkin spice scents
While the smell of fallen leaves wafts through the outdoors, spice up your indoor air with one of these enticing natural scents. Or try them in perfume or cologne.
Amber — Earthy, musky and honey-like are all terms used to describe this scent usually derived from plant resins.
Citrus — From bergamot to yuzu (and the more familiar lemon, lime and orange), fruits in the citrus family render aromas said to boost production of serotonin, the happy hormone.
Cedar — Known for repelling pests, spicy cedar evokes images of the crisp, cold north woods.
Cypress — Often considered a more masculine scent, cypress is smoky, pungent and pine-like.
Sandalwood — Often used in incense, this woodsy, fungus-y (but in a good way), relaxing scent also makes its way into many men’s grooming products.
Beyond pumpkin spice flavors
Give your taste buds an unexpected treat with these flavor alternatives.
Maple — A maple- glazed doughnut makes a great fall treat, while maple syrup can substitute for sugar and vanilla extract in many recipes.
Chai — Not just for the popular lattes any more, chai can be used to flavor your breakfast granola and muffins, or desserts like rice pudding, apple crumble and spice cake.
Hazelnut — We know it from Nutella and flavored coffee creamers, but hazelnut is also used in many dessert recipes and in savory poultry stuffings.
Curry — Both savory and sweet and packing a little heat, curry is great for hearty fall dishes like soups and stews.
Pear — Pears work well in many dishes usually featuring that other fall favorite flavor, the apple. Try poaching or pair them with pork, peanut butter or pancakes.
Beyond the pumpkin patch
Just because the temperature is cooling down, there’s no need to sit in the house and mope. Get your pumpkins at the supermarket or big box store, and have some family fun at one of these fall destinations.
Visit an apple orchard — Norman’s Orchards in Tarentum, Soergel Orchards in Wexford and Schramm Farms in Penn Township are just a few of the area farms that offer apples fresh off the tree. At some, you can even pick your own.
Navigate a corn maze — Test your intuition and navigation skills by making your way through an intricately designed corn maze, such as the one at Gearhard Farms in Murrysville or Chad’s Corn Maze in Ligonier Township.
Take a fall foliage hike/drive — Peak colors are expected Oct. 25-30 in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to paweatheraction.com. Laurel Highlands ridges should be in full color somewhat earlier, around Oct. 20-25.
Find a local football game —Check out the schedule of games at an area high school, middle school or recreation league. It will cost you a few bucks at the most, and you might actually know some of the players.
Build a bonfire — Home fire pits can be found for around $30 and up at big box stores, and are sufficient for toasting up marshmallows, s’mores or even hot dogs. Tell a ghost story while you enjoy your treats.
Beyond pumpkin carving
All those slimy innards make pumpkin carving a sloppy proposition. Here are a few minimal-mess craft activities to add some autumn cheer to your surroundings. (OK, a couple of these could involve a little mess.)
Pine cone bird feeder — This works best with open cones. Tie a string around the cone, slather it with a mixture of peanut butter and suet/lard, roll in bird seed and hang from a tree or near a window. (The mixture is easier to spread when warm.)
Leaf arts — String pretty leaves into a garland or a mobile, glue them to a cardboard circle and make a wreath or preserve by placing them between sheets of waxed paper and pressing with a warm iron.
Mason jar luminaries — Use paint, markers, glue and glitter or some of your leftover leaves to decorate your jars, then drop in a tea light to give your rooms a soft glow.
Bedazzled/painted gourds — They’re related to pumpkins, but gourds come in a variety of shapes and colors. Slather on some tempera paint and glue on some craft store crystals.
Scarecrow — Make a mini-scarecrow with construction paper, markers and a bit of yarn and attach to a Popsicle stick. For life-size, make a T-shaped frame of PVC pipe or wood, and dress it up with old clothing stuffed with newspaper. Stuff an old pillowcase or piece of burlap for the head, and create a face with buttons, felt, paint or whatever is on hand. Top with an old hat, straw or otherwise.
Beyond the pumpkin spice latte girl outfit
You’ve seen her in countless memes — the “basic” girl dressed for the coffee shop or pumpkin patch in her skinny jeans or leggings, knee-high boots, puffer vest and plaid scarf. Don’t be that girl — try something new, such as these fall 2019 fashion trends from elle.com:
• Capes and capelets
• Oversized blazers belted at the waist
• Super-structured, long-line wool coats
• Patchwork dresses, outerwear and boots
• Bucket hats