2011 Hangover Helpers

When it comes to ringing in the new year, I have one humdinger of a tradition. I do a whole lot of nothing. I trade in sparkly duds for flannel pjs, champagne for Crystal Lite, noisemakers for my television remote and clubbing is replaced with a rousing marathon of HGTV.

Yes. I am a hoot.

For whatever reason, whooping it up on New Year's Eve has never appealed to me. Don't get me wrong, I love me a new year. I carefully craft my list o' resolutions, which will all be broken sometime in the month of January, without fail -- except one: begin the new year hangover free. Being boring has its benefits.

However, if you're ringing in the new year in style, and not in your pajamas here are some tips I gathered to avoid starting off 2011 under the covers, head pounding.

2011 Hangover Helpers

1) BLOODY MARY - My personal favorite, not to mention it's mighty tasty. Hair of the dog and all that. Gather up some vodka and bloody mary mix prior to your night on the town so you're all set to fight the hangover beast. Just don't drink too many or you'll have a repeat episode on January 2nd.

2) BANANA MILKSHAKE - Blend up a banana with milk and honey. Slurp it down. The milk will calm your tummy and assist in rehydration, the honey will help build up your blood sugar levels and the bananas are full of electrolytes, potassium and magnesium which are all things heavy drinking eats up and spits out.

3) EXERCISE - I don't know about you, but when I'm hung over running about and bouncing around is the LAST thing I want to do. However, seeing it's the new year and all, it may help you hop back on the resolution train. Turns out it will also get your blood flowing and apparently bodies like that sort of thing. Just remember to drink oodles of water while you work it out.

4) ORANGE JUICE - Drink it up with or without leftover champagne, either way the vitamin C will stimulate your aching liver to help eliminate alcohol. Just don't drink it in excess or you'll be spending the first d…

Cream City Foundation is just one charity you can give to this holiday season.
Cream City Foundation is just one charity you can give to this holiday season.

Christmas is a great time to buy into charity

Christmas is a looming seven days away and that means I really should start thinking about shopping for all the good little girls and boys on my list.

Ugh, every year I dramatically proclaim, "I will begin saving and shopping for holiday cheer beginning in February of this year," give or take a few poorly executed Seussical rhymes along the way.

Alas, the time has come again where I can't bury my head in the snow any longer. Time to pull out the ol' pocket book, throw on the thinking (Santa) cap, and hit the mall.

Or is it?

Last year in a last minute holiday panic I struck a chord of gift giving genius. I decided to donate money to various charities that focused their efforts on military veterans, in honor of my late grandfather Ken. It not only felt great knowing the gift would help those in need, but both my grandmother and I fought back tears as she read the donations in honor of her husband.

That moment encompassed what had been missing in so many of my Christmases past. Giving not to equal what I was anticipated to receive, but to give because it is what felt right in my heart. The moments it took to research various charities, enter my credit card information and my grandfather's name was more than any swipe of my card at the mall could give me or my grandma.

There are so many wonderful charitable organizations in the United States and our immediate area. More than I ever could imagine, actually. In one search I conducted in researching this article, I came up with over 5,000 results in the vicinity of southeastern Wisconsin. Of course there are the ones we all know and love, but what about the little guys in our local charitable community? They need support and love too, especially this time of year. Here are a few that resonated with me, and I hope they will with you too.

Cream City Foundation, 759 N. Milwaukee Street Suite 212, describes itself as a catalyst for social change on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Since 1982 the…

Drink your way to charity.
Drink your way to charity.

Bloody Marys, charities combine for holiday cheer

E = mc2? Pshhhhaw. Try CHARITY + BLOODY MARY = WIN.

That's the equation I've been following for over a year organizing the Bloody Brunch events, and it's proven to serve not only my Bloody Mary quest, but the community, quite well. It's also much more tasty than a boring ol' mass-energy equivalence.

What in the world is a Bloody Brunch, Einstein? Well, it doesn't involve breakfasting vampires or brawling chefs. What it does involve is sampling some of the city's best Bloody Marys while raising money for local blood related charities. To date there has been over half a dozen events in a little over a year and a half. Those events have raised a couple thousand dollars which has been donated to organizations such as The Blood Center of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation.

We also strive to focus on local businesses by providing free marketing in swag bags filled with goodies. Last year we donned our Santa hats and organized a holiday party for the ages where we also introduced a toy drive benefiting Toys for Tots. Five giant garment sized boxes were filled, along with our hearts.

This year we're back at our elf imitating game with another round of holiday-esque Bloody Brunch. We're returning to the scene of the very first Bloody Brunch, AJ Bombers, 1247 N. Water St. and celebrating the season in charitable style on Dec. 19 beginning at 3 p.m. This year's festivities will benefit Toys for Tots and the MACC Fund.

Per usual there will be Bloody Mary specials, with an AJ Bombers twist. The Bloody Bomber comes topped with a burger. It's wrapped in cheese and bacon and garnishes a giant mug of Bloody Mary yum.

To accompany your Bloody Mary there will be a sleigh full of holiday cheer to go around. Sample some of the items that made AJ Bombers a national star. Rob Gustafson Photography will be snapping your photo paparazzi style in front of the step and repeats.

Sign your name on the Milweb1 Wall o' Fame, then strike your best Paris Hilton-esque pose as…

Sara was charmed by IronCupcake's Sandy Ploy.
Sara was charmed by IronCupcake's Sandy Ploy.

Sara meets a charity 'fairy godmother'

I'm a cynical person by nature.

My Netflix queue is void of science fiction or horror, as any tale too tall will perform a trapeze act in my head; bouncing to and fro as the gears turn and my brain once again rejects the avant-garde.

I was nearly kicked out of catechism class for my skepticism. That one I'm kind of proud of.

Suffice it to say, fairy tales aren't really my thing. Until I met a woman by the name of Sandy Ploy.

I bet you didn't know fairy godmothers existed. Well, they do, Milwaukee, and we're lucky enough to have snagged a good one.

While the rest of us are bee boppin' around town figuring out how we can avoid this new anti-texting law, Sandy Ploy is whipping up cupcakes and charitable gatherings. Sometimes together (I know your mind just imploded a little bit from the good), known as the wildly successful Iron Cupcake events, and sometimes not.

Last night I attended an affair of the latter and it was every bit as sweet as the former. I met up with Milwaukee's Fairy Godmother at Distil, 722 N. Milwaukee St., for "Warm Hands Warm Hearts", an event that partnered with C2 Graphics, It Starts With Us, and James Conway Photography to collect hats, scarves and mittens for residents in need at the Hope House in South Milwaukee.

As I left my car in the hands of the Milwaukee Street valets and entered Distil, I was immediately impressed. The space seems so teeny-tiny from the facade but once inside it's sprawling; with high ceilings, deep booths and a bar that goes on for days. I'm sure Sandy's magical wand waving had something to do with this.

I arrived to the party a bit after the 5 p.m. start time and was impressed with the mountain of donated winter weather attire I was met with. I added my bag o' mittens, entered the raffle, slapped on a name tag and went to mingle. I heard about the gathering via Twitter so I knew I would find friends in the crowd as well as introduce myself to new faces.

The bar at Distil was offering discounted drinks, som…