OnMilwaukee.com Recommends, Aug. 17, 2013
From gifts and games to butter and books, the products you need to know about are all here in this week's edition of OnMilwaukee.com Recommends.
The Silver Maple – Runners are hard to shop for. How many pairs of running shoes or copies of "Chicken Soup for the Runner's Soul" can they really need, after all? Check out Silver Maple, a family-run company celebrates the athletic accomplishments of women through hand-stamped jewelry created from silver and copper. Celebrate the completion of a marathon or triathlon with a personalized "bragging rights" necklace or "distance destination" necklace. The yogi in your life will love the yoga-inspired jewelry, featuring mantras like "namaste" and "breathe." Silver Maple also offers motivational jewelry, like this necklace featuring the definition of a word of your choice. Most pieces are around $50 to $70. – Colleen Jurkiewicz
Brewers vs. Reds – It seems like it's been forever since you've been able to watch baseball games at Miller Park – the Brewers had been on the road for all but three days between July 26 and Thursday night. The Brewers are still awful, record wise, but have actually played .500 baseball for the most part except for that horrid May. Catch them this weekend against the wild card-leading Cincinnati Reds. – Jim Owczarski
"Hard Knocks" on HBO – The drama of professional sports has become more entertaining than the games themselves. And "Hard Knocks," the reality sports documentary series produced by NFL Films and HBO, is incredibly entertaining and constantly adds fuel to the what happens off the field is better than on the field "debate." I knew nothing about the Cincinnati Bengals, but after two episodes I'm a fan. Check it out, if only for the amazing narration from Liev Schreiber. – Jeff Sherman
Making butter – A friend once told me I was a kindergarten teacher in my last life. This weekend, I once again proved this to be possible when my family and I made butter. Butter making is so easy and all it requires is heavy cream – I bought organic heavy cream from Crystal Ball Farms at the Outpost – and a clean, glass jar. Pour the cream into the jar (we used a former pickle jar but if your kids are younger you might want to use a smaller jar). Make sure the lid is screwed on super tightly and then take turns shaking, non stop, for about 15 minutes. It's extra fun if you play some good shaking music – I recommend James Brown. The liquid eventually forms into a solid ball and is immediately ready for slathering onto your favorite bread. There will be some leftover liquid in the jar – it's buttermilk and can be used in other recipes. Overall, this is a fast, fun, tasty learning experience. Go science! – Molly Snyder
Max Barry – "Lexicon" (Penguin) – Once I read Australian novelist Max Barry's "Company" back in 2006, I was hooked on his smart, funny, wicked social satire and went back and devoured "Syrup" and "Jennifer Government," and then spent the next five years checking the "B" section in bookshops' fiction section until "Machine Man" appeared in book form in 2011. I was surprised, then, to see "Lexicon" – a fat new novel – already out so soon. Like "Machine Man," there's a lot of action packed into these roughly 350 pages and Barry weaves a plot that is more complicated than it seems. Barry connects the ideas that words can kill and that the art of persuasion is an incredibly powerful force with the internet's uncanny ability to get us to share more and more about ourselves online and the persuasive double-talk that is the weapon of choice among politicians and admen. I see that some booksellers are calling "Lexicon" science fiction, thriller, fantasy. It is all those things (which are genres I never read), but it's more accessible and more wide-ranging than any genre book. –Bobby Tanzilo
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