I've been doing my once-yearly online shopping extravaganza, wherein I purchase (or plan to purchase) nearly everything I need for a year that can't be found in Brazil.
This is known as THE LIST. It's on a document on my computer, which is updated when I remember to clear out my index cards and notebooks from my office and purse, which are often filled with scribbles like "cream of wheat" and "deodorant!"
Selection has improved significantly in Rio de Janeiro in the last six years, but prices haven't gotten any easier on the wallet. In fact, clothing has gotten so expensive that stores I used to frequent are now priced at near-designer levels. I could shop at Saks and Barneys for the price of Sacada these days!
Thankfully, I've learned to adapt, move on, substitute, live without. I look forward to trips to the US for sausage (sausage gravy and biscuits, mmm!), sharp cheddar cheese, eating my sister's chocolate chip cookies with real chips and brown sugar that doesn't crunch in your mouth like glass...finding things on sale that are legitimately on SALE, instead of just being brought down to halfway reasonable prices...and hanging out for hours in the library, devouring English-language books.
As a result, consignment stores make me giddy, I overload my suitcases at the bookstore and I swoon in a Target. It's embarrassing. I'm not really this materialistic! I try to get this all done, ordered and waiting for me at family members' homes, about a month before our trip. Then we're able to rest, relax and enjoy family without rushing from store to store, looking for that last necessity and finding out that our suitcases are 6 pounds over the weight limit and do we throw out the peanut butter or the boxed set of Dr. Who? It's an impossible choice.
On the body: Clothes
-clothing (winter wear, jeans)
-shoes for large feet
On the body: Accessories
On the body: Products
-face washes and moisturizers
-triple antibiotic creme (not available without a prescription in Rio anymore)
-Cetaphil (about R$100 the last time I looked. For a regular bottle!)
-Chapsticks with SPF
-hair products (mousse, gel, wax, etc)
In the body: Food
-Cream of wheat
-comfort foods (cereal, etc)
In the body: Medicine
-Vitamins and supplements
Gifts and unattainables in Rio:
-blank, quality paper notebooks
-fountain pen ink
-Victoria's Secret gifts for Brazilian women/friends
-magazines and books
-TV shows on DVD (some stuff is available on Brazilian cable, if you have it)
What else would you add to your list, if you were only allotted 140 pounds of stuff and had to make it last 6 months to a year? I'd love to hear other people's must-haves. I may have forgotten something important!