DEAR SARA: I asked my mother-in-law what my sister-in-law might like for her upcoming birthday. She told me she wanted a Mary Ann pan. I was too embarrassed to ask what it is. What is it? -- Becky Cody, Kansas

DEAR BECKY CODY: It's a round cake pan. They're short compared to a Bundt pan. Although the classic Mary Ann pan has smooth sides, some now have fluted edges or elaborate floral designs and are called Mary Ann or Marianne pans. It's shaped in a way that the cake is molded to have a semi-hollowed-out top when it's inverted. This lets you fill in the depression with fruit, whipped cream, custard, etc. If you can't find a Mary Ann pan, look for a obsttortenform, Culinique or a flan/Tiara pan. They aren't exactly the same, but they are similar.

DEAR SARA: Any suggestions on how to keep wild geese off the lawn? Kind of a yucky topic, but we live near the St. Lawrence River, where it seems the whole geese population stays, and poop all over the lawn is a constant battle. We'd like to be able to enjoy our own yard but often just give up. Shooting them is not allowed. -- P.F., New York

DEAR P.F.: I lived in upstate New York and had a large-scale deer problem in my yard, so I feel your pain. I've heard border collies are wonderful in helping to scare geese away without harming them. The geese view the collies as predators. They're not a cheap or low-care breed to buy from a breeder, but you can look around for an older dog at the humane society, or try the border-collie rescue in New York at Glen Highland Farm, 217 Pegg Rd., Morris, NY 13808; (607) 263-5415. If you're not interested in taking on a new pet, there are geese-control services that use collies, too. Try Geese Police at 866-NO-GEESE (664-3373). They're based in New Jersey but service parts of New York. If they can't help you, maybe they can refer you to a company that can. You could also post a classified ad. You might find someone who would be willing to bring his or her collie for a friendly visit to help you out.

DEAR SARA: I noticed that some people wash and reuse their plastic zipper-type and sandwich bags. I have started to do this also but only when I have stored nonmeat items. I have been really leery to wash and reuse something that had uncooked chicken or pork in it. Do you also rewash and reuse the bags that you have used to store raw meat, or do you just cut your losses and throw them out? -- luvmyhubby, e-mail

DEAR LUVMYHUBBY: No, I don't reuse those baggies for food storage. You could reuse them for nonfood items instead of tossing them away. I know you didn't ask me about drying them, but I thought I'd share a tip. You can repurpose a container, such as a toothbrush holder, and insert chopsticks or dowels into the holes. Then hang your baggies to dry from the "sticks." Some people simply let them dry on their top dishwasher rack or use a bottle-drying rack.