Fine art, cool toys and even a little bit of etiquette – we've got all this and more covered in this week's edition of OnMilwaukee.com Recommends.
Worx Toys Speedster – There are lots of cool-looking toy cars out there, but why not choose one that is fun and does a little bit of teaching along the way? This sleek yellow and black plastic car is about 8.5 inches long – so, pretty big – and rolls nicely, especially on hardwood floors. It retails for about $30. The wheels come off and the doors open, but what's cool about it is that it's got a four-button keypad that allows kids to punch in shape codes that highlight the different systems in automobiles. Tap four buttons and see the transmission; another four shows the dashboard controls; yet four others show the brakes ... there are 15 features highlighted. Kids can even program the buttons to set up unique features. There's an interactive storybook that helps kids understand how cars work, but I found my little ones preferred guessing at the codes more than reading the book. The company also makes a motorcycle, space shuttle, fire truck and helicopter. – Bobby Tanzilo
Woodsnap prints on wood – Yes, we know you take great photos, but posting them on Facebook is no way to really let your work shine. For the pictures that really matter, why not turn them into a piece of art? Woodsnap lets you do just that at an incredibly reasonable price. For as little as $40 for an 8-by-8-inch frame (and they get much bigger), Woodsnap will take your digital photo and print it on a wood canvas. The results are nothing short of stunning. A week after ordering, my canvas arrived; I chose an autumn scene from Up North, and the end product looks like a work of fine art you'd see in a gallery. The natural wood grain shines through just enough so you can tell this isn't a normal canvas. The colors are saturated a little differently in the process, too, giving the photo a classic, retro Instagram feel. With grooves routed into the back, it's easy to hang, and get this: for every Woodsnap you buy, they plant a tree. That means beautiful, permanent art at a great price, and it helps the environment, too. Is this the ultimate personalized conversation-starting holiday gift? I'd say so. You're welcome. – Andy Tarnoff
Latino Arts' Dia de los Muertos exhibit – I already blogged about a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibit at the Walker's Point Center for the Arts, but this one is at the Latino Arts Gallery inside the United Community Center (UCC), 1028 S. 9th St. It's similar and yet different from the WPCA show, which is just a few blocks away. This one features more than a dozen ofrendas (altars) honoring the dead, from Frida Kahlo to family members. There is also a large installation of peace flags with the names of local young people who have died, mostly from gun violence. Despite all the death, the exhibit is celebratory, with lots of bright colors, flowers, decorated skeletons and photographs. Plus, this exhibit features numerous ofrendas made collaboratively by kids. The show runs through Nov. 17. – Molly Snyder
"A Year of Good Manners" by Margery Sinclair – I recently interviewed this Milwaukee-area etiquette expert, who has taught the art of social graces all over the world. Her fantastic book includes 365 sensible tips for gracious living. The left-hand side of each page is comprised of a calendar where you can keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates – Sinclair recommends inviting your parents and grandparents to hand-write their own milestones in for a personal touch. This is an easy way to revive the lost art of everyday gentility. It's available at George Watts' Tea Shop, 761 N. Jefferson St., or by phone, (414) 352-1707, for $27.95. – Colleen Jurkiewicz