Cheap crafts, Country music, ingenous sporks and more - check out what stuff we like in this week's edition of OnMilwaukee.com Recommends.
The dollar bin at Michael’s – I used to work at a small, locally-owned craft store that’s now out of business, and our dollar bin was where useless, unwanted, crappy novelty items went to die. Thankfully, this is not the case with arts and crafts retail giant Michael’s, which operates more than a half-dozen stores in the area. I’ve discovered plenty of crafty gold in that little bin. My latest find was a packet of 20 mini-ribbons for invitations I was making and wooden letter blocks that I’m going to repaint for a gift. There’s also a plethora of note cards and other miscellany that can be repurposed for scrapbooking or other general ingenuity. Nothing better than this if you’re crafting on a budget. – Colleen Jurkiewicz
Tim McGraw’s "Two Lanes of Freedom" – He doesn’t break any new ground on it, but Tim McGraw’s latest release is a good listen for faith country fans or even the casual one. "One of Those Night" is a solid kick-off single and the album’s final track, "Highway Don’t Care" is a singable collaboration with label mate Taylor Swift (Keith Urban plays guitar on the track, too). He’s back at Summerfest this year, so sample his latest effort before the show. – Jeff Sherman
Pasta Tree's scallops alla Abruzzo – I'm picky about seafood but was recently blown out of the water by this dish. Yeah, sure, size doesn't matter, but these babies were huge. And flavorful. And so firm and yet soft and buttery and peppery I almost had a foodgasm. (Instead indulged in more wine and a dessert.) This entree comes with steamed broccoli in a garlic/red pepper sauce and a choice of noodles – I picked the spinach noodles which were al dente and delicious. The scallops are available Prosciutto-wrapped or in an artichoke cream sauce and cost around $20 per plate. It had been a long time since I visited this iconic Italian eatery – my mom got a great Groupon and invited me to be her guest – and I will definitely return. The warm, cozy environment, fantastic service and the savory scallops reminded me why Pasta Tree has been around for as long as it has. Mangia. – Molly Snyder
Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2010 – There are some classics in Italian wine and one of them is most certainly this Tuscan blend that's half cab sauv, 30% merlot, and 10% each of Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. The result is an elegant, intense red wine with a purplish hue and an explosion of fruit, especially cherries, currants and strawberry. Like my beloved barbera, this blend – which spends a year in oak barriques, would be a perfect complement to tasty cheeses and weighty stews or roasted meats – is light on tannins and heavy on acid, for a robust freshness that means it tastes like a great everyday wine. You can typically find it for about $20 or $25, so you'll have to decide for yourself if it's priced like one. – Bobby Tanzilo
Titanium Spork – I'm kind of surprised that in 2013, we still use separate forks and spoons when the technology of sporks is readily available (and that my spellchecker thinks "spork" isn't a word. ThinkGeek.com sent me one of their $9 titanium sporks to review, and it's pretty great. The best of both worlds, it's super strong, very lightweight, and it works as both a fork and as a spoon. My only critique is that when eating cereal with it, the tines are a little uncomfortable on my upper lip. But hey, that's what you get when you're an early utensil adapter. The future is now. – Andy Tarnoff