Here are a few things I recommend (post-Christmas edition):
1. Using tissue paper instead of gift wrap. Easier to store, fewer dyes, more flexible.
2. The Edge brownie pan. I first learned about this pan from not martha (who used it to bake brownies and lasagna). I was instantly taken with it. My lovely sister-in-law gave it to me as a Christmas gift, and I have already used it. I have never used a premium brownie pan before — I’ve always used the thin ones you buy from the grocery store. So my comparison might be off. However, the brownies I made in this pan (from a mix, no less) are the best brownies I have ever tasted. EVER. They were evenly and perfectly cooked. I’m looking forward to using it for lasagna soon.
3. The Italian Job. The original, starring Michael Caine and co-starring Noel Coward. Young Michael Caine could have read the phone book, and I would watch it with rapt attention. But what I really love about this movie is Noel Coward’s performance of Mr. Bridger and the Quincy Jones soundtrack (especially “The Self Preservation Society”. The car chases are fun too! I also like the remake, starring Marky Mark. As a caper flick, the remake is probably the better of the two, but the original is my favorite. My adorable husband gave me copies of both movies as a Christmas gift.
4. KitchenAid Gourmet Essentials Brushed Stainless Steel uncoated pots and pans. Since replacing our old coil electric range with an induction glass-topped range back in September, I’ve become increasingly unsatisfied with my old Revere pots and pans. I’ve learned that older pots and pans were made with a slightly curved bottom, to ensure good contact with range coils. But on an induction cook-top, these pans will rock back and forth, in a somewhat terrifying way. It’s not too much to imagine them walking right off the edge onto the floor! So I needed new cookware. I checked Consumer Reports, and they rated these KitchenAid pots and pans number 1 in uncoated cookware, above Emerilware, All-Clad, Calphalon, Revere and others. They are also much less expensive. The KitchenAid cookware has a nice weight to it — not flimsy, but not hefty either — and they sit nice and flat on my new range. These pots & pans came as a gift from my parents, and I love them.