By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 18, 2008 at 12:44 PM

I've brought in the last of my plants and herbs from the yard; I've dug out my ugly fleece blankets that keep me warm while watching TV; I'm considering that janky plastic wrap stuff for my ancient and far-from-air-tight windows. It's cold out. And it's going to stay that way for longer than I'd prefer to calculate right now.

And, it's not that winter is all bad. But it's always during this transition time that I start to get sad about the things I'll have to put on hold until the next thaw: biking, picnicking in the park, post-work beers on an outdoor patio, backyard BBQs -- I think I'll stop here.

That being said, I'm making a list of ways to fill the void during the indoor months.

Mixtape club: In theory, this sounds like the most fun a music lover can have: Meet monthly (or weekly if you're super ambitious) with a group of people, each of which has brought a homemade mixtape (or CD or MP3 disc, or URL to download) based on a predetermined theme. Trade, listen, talk, laugh, etc.

Bowling at Polish Falcon: My friends and I tried this a couple years back. The Polish Falcon has open bowling on Wednesday nights and it's an incredibly cheap to hang out with friends, drink a couple pitchers of beer and work on your math skills (it's the old-school, score-your-own deal down there in the basement of bowling.)

Bingo at Comet: This is a new one. Friends of mine recently organized a monthly bingo night at Comet Café. It goes down on the third Wednesday of the month at 9 p.m.

Book club: This is obviously a year-round option, but when it's cold outside, it's nice to focus on indoor entertainment that doubles as social activity. Meeting at bars, restaurants or homes with fireplaces makes it even cozier.

Get baked: What warms a home more than baking? Gather a group that enjoys kitchen creativity and work it the same way you would a mix tape or book club, but with tastier results.

Got any other good ideas?

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”