It’s hard to remember a time before online shopping. I still love to patronize independent bookstores, one-of-a-kind boutiques and yes, my neighborhood mall, but the convenience of having items delivered right to your door can be a lifesaver.
The behemoth of online stores is, of course, Amazon. The company was incorporated in 1994, and I made my first purchase there, a true-crime book, in 1997 — 22 years ago. (I wish that purchase had been a few hundred shares of their stock. I might be writing this from the French Riviera.)
How can I possibly remember that first purchase from so long ago? It’s no credit to my memory. Amazon keeps a detailed record of everything customers buy. You can see yours, too. Just log in to your Amazon account, select “Orders” and then select a year.
It’s a weird little walk through your past shopping sprees, and in a way, through your life. In the early days, I was buying VHS tapes — now I don’t even own a VCR. When I was pregnant, I bought baby-name books and baby-sleep guides. There are also purchases maybe best forgotten — such as the pile of bridal books I sent to a friend for a wedding that was later called off. I’ve purchased humidifiers, clarinet reeds, kitchen gadgets … you name it.
With all this info at my fingertips, I’ve gone through and made a list of my absolute favorite Amazon purchases. Some of them might fill a niche in your life, too.
1. Chair swing
Here’s the backyard chair that everyone in my family wants to relax in whenever we’re hanging out in the yard. And, yes, we ordered it from Amazon.
Warning: It’s heavy — 79 pounds— and you’ll need to assemble it. But it combines the comfort of a hammock and the fun of a backyard swing.
I see in the comments that some buyers say their chair parts rusted, but we’re been enjoying it for three years here in rainy Seattle with no problems.
I love to bake, but somehow I didn’t know baker’s whisks existed until just last year, when I found this one.
It doesn’t get all gummed up with dough like a regular whisk or a wooden spoon. If you’re a baker, trust me, you knead this.
My favorite cookbook of all time, this is a reproduction of the 1963 original so many of us grew up with.
In addition to the more than 450 cookie recipes, I love the colorful, charming photographs showing sugary kitchen scenes straight out of “Leave It to Beaver.”
I’m sure there are fancier rice cookers out there, but mine is 17 years old and has never made anything less than perfect rice. While my exact version is currently unavailable, other Zojirushi models also get stellar reviews. It’s the brand my friend from Tokyo recommends, too.
I was overjoyed to introduce my young daughter to Shrinky Dinks, one of my favorite childhood toys.
To make Shrinky Dinks, you color in a design on shrinkable plastic, pop it in the oven, and it shrinks and hardens so you can use it for a keychain, magnet, earrings, wine charm or whatever you like. This book comes with sheets of blank plastic to make your own.
Tip: Keep your eyes glued to the oven window the entire time. That magic minute when they curl up, shrink, and then flatten out is just as fascinating for adults as for kids.
How did my parents — or my home-ec teacher — not teach me about spatter screens? Gently lay it over a frying pan to keep fat or hot liquid from burning you or messing up your stove. Inexpensive and worth every penny.
If a Christmas tree is part of your holidays, you need a pickle ornament.
Whoever’s decorating the tree hides it somewhere in the boughs — being green, it blends in with the branches — and the first to find it earns … candy? An extra gift? The right to hide it again? Your call, but it’s a delightful tradition.
Wear this kitchen timer around your neck, and you can walk away from the oven without fearing that you’ll leave cookies or cakes to burn. Now I mostly use the timer on my smart watch or phone, but before I had one of those, I refused to bake without this.
Are you a history buff? Documentarian Ken Burns calls this World War II memoir by E.B. Sledge “the real deal.”
If that’s not good enough, it was recommended by my late dad, who, like Sledge, was a Marine veteran of the infamous Battle of Okinawa. Never forget.
I love inexpensive kitchen gadgets, and even though it’s not difficult to separate an egg by dumping it back and forth between pieces of shell, cute little Yolky does the job and never cracks up.
Not only does this simple card game entertain kids parents, and grandparents alike, but it was invented by a 6-year-old girl. We’ve taken it on camping trips and played on trains. It seems complex at first, but is easy to learn and even helps kids hone their math and memory skills.
If you prefer the soft gooey middle pieces of brownies, don’t buy this. But if you always grab for a crisp, chewy edge piece, get this pan, and all your brownies will be edge pieces.
Remember how I said I love gadgets? This strawberry-shaped strawberry huller might be my favorite. Of course, you don’t need it — you can carve out strawberry hulls with a paring knife. But this is cute, simple, never fails, and even a child can use it safely.
I hated folding shirts until I read that mall clothing-store employees use a FlipFold to get those crisp, sharp edges when they fold and stack shirts. It’s so simple: Just smooth out a shirt — or pants — on the FlipFold and fold in the sides as instructed for perfectly folded clothes every time.
Now I keep one in my laundry room and one by my dresser.
Warning: Once you get one, you’ll be tempted to refold every non-hanging shirt you own.
15. Onion goggles
My sister laughed when I gave her these onion goggles, but she wasn’t laughing once she tried them.
If, like me, you’re super-sensitive to chopping onions and can’t help but cry, these goggles may look a bit odd, but they’ll save you tears.
16. Zingo game
Zingo is like Bingo for kids who are just learning to read. Each square on the playing cards has both a simple word and accompanying picture, so even little siblings can play.
My daughter loved the snazzy and sturdy tile dispenser, and it makes for a great birthday gift for preschoolers and new grade school students.
This Crayola Masterworks art kit isn’t cheap, but it was a huge hit with my daughter and her friends. Every kid who dropped by drooled over it and clamored to draw and paint, resulting in hours of creative fun.
The easy-to-carry case includes more than 200 pieces, including crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, oil pastels, glitter glue and more.
What’s your favorite Amazon purchase? Share it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.