Restaurant Recreation: Fogo de Chão’s Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheesy Bread)

Have you been to Fogo de Chão? It’s one of our favorite restaurants! Fogo de Chão is a Brazilian steakhouse with 20+ locations across the US and Brazil. Their claim to fame is their “gaucho style” meats which are fire roasted and served table side on swords. In addition to the delicious meat and abundant and fresh salad bar, I am obsessed with their pão de queijo. It’s their signature warm, soft Brazilian cheesy bread. Photo taken at the source:

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I have been wanting to make this recipe at home for ages but assumed it was way too complicated. I was so wrong; this recipe couldn’t be simpler or easier to make. What a fool I’ve been!

Domestocrat’s Restaurant Recreation of Fogo de Chão’s Pão de Queijo (makes 24 rolls)
1 cup tapioca flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choosing – I recommend something sharp; I use either parmigiano-reggiano from our local Italian deli or Cabot Catamount Hills cheese from Whole Foods

The key to this recipe really is the tapioca flour. First of all, it’s made from cassava root so it’s gluten free and grain free. The consistency is the same as cornstarch and is used in similar applications (thickening soups, sauces, and pie). In this bread it’s perfect since it’s super light and very chewy.

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When researching this recipe I found two methods to make this bread: 1) the pâte à choux method which requires cooking the dough on the stove and then baking and 2) mixing in the blender then baking method. The recipes were identical so I favored the simpler one with less steps (aka the blender method).

Combine all of the ingredients (minus the cheese) in a blender and blend together. I used my Ninja Professional blender (the single smoothie cup was super handy for this recipe!).

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Shred the cheese if you can, it’s so much fresher and flavorful that way. Add the cheese to the blender and give 2-3 pulses. You want to incorporate the cheese without obliterating it.

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Using a measuring cup that you can pour from, pour the bread batter into each cup in a greased mini muffin pan. Fill up each cup 3/4 way.

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Bake on 400 degrees for 11-15 minutes depending on your oven. It takes 11-12 in my powerful gas oven. You want a golden brown bottom, the tops will look puffy but won’t be browned.

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The middles might sink a bit but it’s totally normal and won’t affect the bread’s flavor or texture at all.

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These are best eaten freshly baked and just cooled. I don’t recommend reheating them later, trying to store them, making them ahead of time, or bringing to a summer cookout outdoors (yep, tested all of those scenarios and it wasn’t good).

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If you are a Fogo fan, try this recipe. You will impress everyone you know for perfectly replicating their recipe. And even if you haven’t been to Fogo, try these! Because cheesy bread! Perfectly crispy, savory, soft, warm, heavenly, pillowy cheesy bread.

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Recipe: Macaroni Pasta Salad

I’m obsessed with deli pasta salad. You know the kind – perfect little elbow macaronis, thick with creamy dressing, studded with goodies like veggies and cheese. I have a few pasta salad recipes in my repertoire but the aim of this one was to recreate the classic deli version that I can’t seem to get enough of every summer.

Domestocrat’s Macaroni Pasta Salad (yields 10-12 servings)
2 lbs. elbow macaroni
2 broccoli crowns, trimmed into bite sized pieces and blanched
2 red peppers, diced
1.5 cups shredded carrot
1 small red onion, minced
For the dressing:
3.5 cups mayo
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. hot sauce (I prefer Cholula)
3 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Pinch of garlic salt

Start by making the dressing. Mix all of the ingredient together in a big bowl and store in the fridge so the flavors can jive while the rest of the recipe comes together.

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Cook the elbow macaroni to just before al dente. It’s going to soften in the dressing and in the fridge, so keeping it toothsome is ideal. When the pasta has cooled, pour in the dressing and stir until each piece is coated.

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Mix in all of the goodies you plan to put into the pasta salad. It could be veggies, cheese, olives, pepperoni – the sky is the limit!

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This macaroni salad is best after it has sat in the fridge for an hour or so. That way, all of the flavors have time to come together and the pasta absorbs some of the dressing. It can totally be eaten right away too.

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This might be my new go-to pasta salad recipe – it’s fresh, sweet, savory, and full of flavor. It also has great texture too, I love the combination of chewy pasta and fresh, crisp veggies. Enjoy!

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Recipe: The Best Chocolate Cupcakes

If I had to choose a favorite dessert, out of all the desserts in the world, it would be cake. I’m a cake fiend. Cupcakes, birthday cake, wedding cake, sheet cake, single slices of cake at the grocery store. Just gimme all the cake. When a cake is good, it is so good but when it’s bad, it’s really bad. Making good cake at home shouldn’t be hard but for some reason I’ve always left it up to the professionals at my favorite bakery rather than make it myself (Lyndell’s in Ball Square, what’s up!). Until I found this recipe. This one is the be all end all. Take it from this cake devotee, you should definitely try this at home!

Domestocrat’s Best Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from King Arthur’s recipe, yields 30 mini cupcakes or 1 8×8 cake)
2.5 cups cake flour (I use King Arthur’s Unbleached Cake Flour)
2 cups sugar (I prefer brown but white is fine too)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghiradelli and it’s amazing)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1.5 tbsp. espresso powder

Making this recipe couldn’t be simpler; it uses the classic the muffin method. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl/stand mixer, combine all of the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then slowly mix the wet into the dry until the batter comes together.

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Pour the batter into a greased mini muffin tin and bake on 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

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When the cupcakes are ready they will be moist and springy to the touch, not hard and dry. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

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The interior of this cupcake is perfection – airy and moist with a spongy crumb rather than a dense one.

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Frost and decorate as you like. If you want some frosting ideas, check out this recent post I wrote on three different frosting options.

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Cupcake perfection! Rich and chocolately, with a little boost from the espresso powder. Moist and light. Sweet and luscious.

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This recipe totally works for both cupcakes and cake – for obvious reasons. If you’re going the cake route, I recommend an 8×8 baking dish and baking on 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes (mine took about 40). For regular sized cupcakes (rather than minis) bake on 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes.

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Frosting Head to Head: Three Contenders, One Winner

I recently made chocolate cupcakes (recipe coming soon) that were divine but I was at a loss for frosting options. The cupcakes were so spectacular that a homemade frosting was the only way to go – but what recipe? I didn’t have any in mind so I took to the internet. I found Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss Buttercream Frosting recipePioneer Woman’s Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had recipe, and a basic Whipped Cream Cheese recipe from The Kitchn. Each looked equally promising. No better time than the present to force them into battle! Here are the head to head results.

Contender #1 – Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss Buttercream Frosting (will frost 20 mini cupcakes or a 4 inch cake)
1/4 cup sugar (I used brown because I prefer the flavor but white is good too!)
1 egg white
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Whisk egg white and sugar together over medium heat in a double boiler until the sugar granules have dissolved. Transfer the mixture into a stand mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. This will take a while – 5-10 minutes for me.

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After the volume has doubled, add the vanilla and butter and keep whipping. The frosting is ready when all of the ingredients are mixed together, smooth, and shiny.

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This frosting is best piped on cupcake or spread delicately on a cake.

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Contender #2 – Pioneer Woman’s Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had (will frost 12-16 regular size cupcakes)
5 tbsp. AP flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar (I used brown because I prefer the flavor but white is good too!)

In a small saucepan, whisk flour and milk over low-medium heat.

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Whisk constantly until it thickens (about 5-7 minutes), the consistency will be like pancake batter. Set aside to cool completely.

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When the flour mixture has cooled, cream together the butter and the sugar in a stand mixer. Add in the vanilla.

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Next add the flour mixture to the creamed butter/sugar and whip on high for a good 3-5 minutes. It should be light and fluffy, and look like whipped cream.

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This frosting is best spread on cupcakes/cake with a butter knife.

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Here is a side by side comparison of Contender 2 and 1. Both are made of the same basic ingredients but obviously their texture is very different. They tasted essentially the same to me: buttery and sugary, with a hint of vanilla. Contender 1 was lighter with a smooth body and didn’t stick to my palate. Contender 2 was dense, yet fluffy, and coated the mouth. The sugar granules were crunchy and apparent in Contender 2 whereas in Contender 1 they are fully dissolved and cannot be distinguished. I preferred Contender 1 and John preferred Contender 2, go figure!

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Contender #3 – The Kitchn’s Basic Whipped Cream Cheese (will liberally frost one 8 inch cake)
4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
Splash milk (I use almond milk)
Splash of vanilla

In one bowl whip the cream and vanilla on high until soft peaks form. In another bowl whip the cream cheese, sugar, and milk together until smooth. Add the whipped cream to the whipped cream cheese and beat on high until soft and fluffy. I prefer to use a hand mixer for this recipe. Taste and adjust the sugar if you need to.

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This frosting is light but very flavorful. The cream cheese adds a richness that balances very nicely with the light whipped cream.

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This frosting is best spread on cupcakes/cake with an offset spatula.

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The winner of this battle? Contender #3! Don’t get me wrong, all of these option are delicious (and I’ll certainly be making all of them again) but I prefer the flavor and texture of the whipped cream cheese frosting the best.

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Recipe: Raspberry Charlotte Cake

I’m kind of obsessed with ice box cakes. There are so many! My family is partial to “Snake Cake” which is just our name for the classic ice box cake made with chocolate wafers and whipped cream. Smitten Kitchen makes a mean one too. It’s getting to be the time of year where ice box cakes are critical because you know I’m not roasting in my kitchen when it’s 90 degrees out to bake a cake.

The Charlotte Russe was invented in the 18th century by French chef Marie-Antoine Carême. It’s a classic icebox recipe – bavarian cream in a mold of ladyfingers. I saw this spinoff, the Raspberry Charlotte, on the season 16 premiere of America’s Test Kitchen. It looked like a challenge but I was inspired. It’s an ice box cake, yes, but has many parts that all individually take a long time to prepare. It’s worth the effort though because the results are beautiful and so delicious!

America’s Test Kitchen Raspberry Charlotte Cake (original ATK recipe here)
For the filling:
1.25 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp. water
3 egg yolks (reserve whites for cake)
2 tsp. cornstarch
3.25 cups frozen raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. butter
Pinch salt
1.75 cups heavy cream

For the jam:
1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

For the cake:
2/3 cup cake flour
6 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg plus 3 egg whites (reserved from filling)
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Fresh raspberries for decoration

It’s not yet quite summer but I’m ready for a light berry-based dessert. Plus, raspberries are so pretty – they look like little jewels!

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Begin by making the raspberry custard base for the filling. Heat the raspberries, sugar, salt, and butter over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, butter is melted, and the raspberries have broken down into mostly liquid (5 minutes).

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While the raspberries are cooking, prep the two other elements of the filling:

  1. Combine the gelatin and water in a small dish and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks (save the whites!) and cornstarch together in a separate small dish, also set aside.

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When the raspberries are ready, it’s time to temper in the egg/cornstarch mixture. To temper the eggs: Take a spoonful of the hot raspberry mixture and slowly pour it into the bowl of yolks, whisking quickly and constantly. You have to do this slowly or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.

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When the volume has doubled, pour the tempered eggs back into the pot with the rest of the raspberry mixture. Stir continuously over low heat until the mixture has fully thickened (2-3 minutes).

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When the custard is done, strain into a bowl with the gelatin mixture in the bottom. A fine mesh strainer works best to strain out all of the raspberry seeds. Stir thoroughly to incorporate in all of the gelatin and set aside to cool to room temperature.

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Now, for the jam! In a small bowl mix together the gelatin and fresh lemon juice, and set aside for a few minutes so it came come together. In another bowl, microwave the storebought jam until it is warm and runny. Stir in the gelatin until it is fully incorporated, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

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Now for the cake batter. In a big bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the oil, whole egg, vanilla, and water. Pour the wet team over the dry team, and stir to combine.

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Next, whip the reserved egg whites by hand or in a stand mixer until they form soft peaks.

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Take 1/3 of the egg whites and mix into the cake batter. Once that is fully combined, fold in the remaining egg whites gently.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1-1.5 cups of the chiffon cake batter into the bottom of a greased and parchment lined springform pan. Pour the rest in a greased 8 inch square baking dish. Bake both for 10-15 minutes, until the cake is just baked, springs back when you touch it, but isn’t browned. When the cakes are done, cool completely on a wire rack.

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When the cakes have fully cooled, pour 2 tablespoons of the jam mixture on each and spread evenly over the top.

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Cut the square cake in half, and then in half again, to get four even strips. Place the cake round back into the springform pan and, with the pan unclipped, place the strips around/abutting the edge of the round.

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Next, whip the heavy cream by hand or in a stand mixer until it forms soft peaks. Take 1/3 of the whipped cream and mix into the raspberry curd. Once that is fully combined, fold in the remaining whipped cream gently until the color is uniform and there are no streaks.

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Spoon the raspberry bavarian cream into the chiffon cake mold and smooth over the top to completely cover the cake.

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Finally, take the remaining jam and spoon over the top of the cake. Use a butter knife to create a marbled pattern and then top with fresh raspberries in whatever decoration you like! Chill in the springform pan in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours, or until the cake has completely set up (you can totally leave this overnight too).

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After the cake has set up in the fridge, slide a knife around the interior ring to loosen from the springform pan before taking it off.

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Cut into big beautiful wedges and enjoy!

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I am so glad I made this cake! It’s super light, refreshing, and delicious. It’s not a cake that will weigh you down and, for that reason, it couldn’t be more perfect for summer. It’s so fresh and the flavors are so bright. You get so much real raspberry flavor, combined with the lemony jam and the light cake, it’s just absolute perfection. And the cake itself is a stunner to look at too!

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Ireland Trip: A Full Guide

In February 2016 John and I embarked on our first European vacation to Ireland! We booked through Great Value Vacations totally on a whim (fully explained in the Day 1 post) and it ended up being one of the best trips we’ve ever been on. We’d spent the last nine years seeing as much of the US as possible (38/50 states!) but it was finally time to go abroad. Éirinn go Brách!

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I organized each post about our trip by location/region. Here are all of the links:

Further related reading/may be helpful if you’re interested in international travel and/or road trips:

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International Travel Essentials – Tips, Advice, & Recommendations

In February 2016 John and I embarked on our first European vacation to Ireland. We’d spent the last nine years seeing as much of the US as possible (38/50 states!) but it was finally time to go abroad.

Up until this point our vacation of choice has been road trips – we’ve done four big road trips in the last 6 years: two cross country trips (Boston to Las Vegas in 2010 and Boston to Portland, Oregon in 2012), San Diego to Portland, Oregon in 2013, San Francisco to Denver in 2014, and hundreds of smaller road trips in between.

In 2015 we tried another new-to-us vacation and went on our first ever cruise to Alaska. Cruising is a whole different beast, and I won’t touch on those specific details here, but I mention it because, depending on if you cruise internationally, some of this blog may be applicable.

The differences between domestic and international travel are obvious and abundant – logistics, packing, passport requirements, cost, route, sightseeing, currency, political/cultural differences, etc. The main point of this post is simplicity. International travel can be complicated and challenging. By keeping things simple you can focus more of your energy on enjoying your adventure, and making a ton of great memories while staying safe. This post also focuses on travel essentials that have a small footprint – smart packing is all about items that can double duty/serve multiple purposes or are small/light/compact in your luggage.

My only preface is to say that I am, by nature, a person that enjoys being prepared for any and all situations. I carry the world in my bag at all times because I like to. I feel best knowing that whatever my day brings, I can handle with minimal fuss. If you are more of the spontaneous type, this post might not be for you.

First things first, sleep! Traveling, by nature, is stressful and exhausting. Sometimes you have to catch a flight at 3AM, or you have to adjust to a major time difference, or you may be a light sleeper or have trouble sleeping in strange places. The bottom line is that getting enough rest, or being as comfortable as possible while you try to sleep, is crucial. Here are my two recommendations for comfortable resting in any location:

1) The Rest Easy Inflatable Neck Pillow – I love this thing. John got it for me for Christmas and it saved me on our trip to Ireland. I used it on the red eye flight we took to Dublin, in the airport while we waited for our guide to pick us up, on the bus throughout our trip to nap, etc. It’s super soft, comfortable, the cover is washable, it’s simple to use (you don’t even have to blow it up, there’s a built-in hand pump), and when you deflate it you can tuck it anywhere in your luggage. I had hated neck pillows up until now because they are such space wasters but this one is super compact.

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2) Eye Mask – I bought this Alaska Bear sleep mask because of the adjustable strap and the soft material, but as long as the eye mask blocks all light, the brand doesn’t much matter. I don’t like anything that goes around my head because I am prone to migraines but this was really comfortable. The mask is great because it makes resting/sleeping in daylight possible (which is normally impossible for me). I used this on the plane and in the airport to block out the light so that I could rest. Eliminating the distractions around me really helped me relax, whether I actually slept or not.

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Another thing that is critical on vacation is time. Especially ones where there is a packed itinerary. John and I don’t do the whole lay on a beach vacation thing; we like to have a full schedule with activities, sightseeing, and fun things planned. Either type vacation is good – as long as you’re enjoying yourself and relaxing. That said, the action-packed variety means that time is at a premium.

Getting ready and out the door is my biggest time suck (on vacation and in daily life, let’s be honest). The thing I spend the most time on is blow drying my hair. I’m a long haired cat and prefer to bring my own salon-style hair dryer wherever I go. Those crappy hotel ones just don’t cut it for me! Bringing my own wasn’t feasible for our Ireland trip because 1) it’s too big and packing space was precious and 2) it wouldn’t have worked in the outlets and I didn’t want to risk it blowing out our adapter (see below).

So I invested in the Aquis microfiber hair towel. It was great! Lightweight, very small folded up, and dried my hair really well. It really cut down on my blow drying time (I have since been using it at home and at the gym). It takes up way less space than a hair dryer and is much more practical. The only thing that is a bit of a pain is drying it when you’re on the go. But I just folded it up damp, put in a ziplock bag, and hung it to dry when we reached our next destination. No mildew, mold, or weird smells. It dried just fine. I washed it when we returned from our trip and it’s like new again.

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The only thing that caused me actual stress when we were preparing for our trip was the electricity conversion. Not all countries use electricity the same way and I knew nothing about this prior to our Ireland trip. John and I did a bunch of research (the internet has a million great articles on the subject – here’s my favorite one) and ended up buying the Bestek 200W travel adapter and power converter.

The basic thing to know is that the adapters are the plug attachments that allow you to plug in to outlets provided abroad. The power converter allows you to utilize the correct voltage, depending on where you are in the world.

This Bestek one is great because it has 3 outlets and 4 USB ports, is small and can fit into any bag, and it can be used in over 150 countries.

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Another issue when traveling is hydration. I am a thirty person and drink a lot of water, and I never drink enough on vacation and end up feeling gross. Planes, airports, buses, hotels are all so drying too. They typically keep the air cool and dry, which is comfortable, but very dehydrating. I end up feeling parched and my skin gets super dry. So, in addition to common sense travel essentials like water and moisturizer, I highly recommend a hydrating spray. I tried this Kiehl’s In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist and it was wonderful. Just spray on your face and you feel instantly refreshed. Plus, it smells like delicious lavender. I now use it at home and at work just for a little hydration pick me up.

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I’m a bag lady; I have a bag for every situation in life and travel is no different. A daily bag for traveling, for me, is utilitarian and is always based on where I’m going. Sometimes I trot out my nicer bags (Marc Jacobs and Kate Spade are my faves) and sometimes I go with a basic backpack, it really just depends. My bag for our Ireland trip needed to be all about function, space, and durability – with a focus on waterproofing and the room to hold my Canon DSLR camera. I went with Timbuk2’s Classic Messenger Bag (size: small, color: smoke). I am a loyal Timbuk2 customer and this bag was as perfect as the others I have by them.

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There are a gazillion pockets, which is the best feature of this bag. Quick access exterior pockets for chapstick, interior pockets for my phone and Clif bars, and interior zippered pockets for more secure things like money and my passport. The bag fit all of my essentials – wallet, camera, water, snacks, cough drops, hand sanitizer, pens, etc – and kept them completely dry.

The messenger bag style was perfect because of the easy access in and out and comfy crossbody strap. Plus, I love the four size options from Timbuk2 – this bag is big enough for my stuff but small enough to look like a purse (I don’t like carrying a big huge bag to places where there are bag size rules).

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And speaking of waterproofing – I knew I was going to need a warm, 100% waterproof coat for this trip. Going to rainy climates doesn’t bother me as long as I have the right gear. We love Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland, so we were ready to take on Ireland rain!

I bought this coat for a few reasons: I love the zip-in fleece lining – it makes the coat a 3 in 1 which is awesome for traveling, especially to a place with variable weather. It has 3 exterior zip pockets to hold my stuff securely and also without getting wet. And it has an oversized hood with a toggle so you can really keep the rain out of your face/hair. These kinds of coats are everywhere so you can find them at any store – I’d recommend a outdoorsy type retailer for the best construction though (REI, Columbia, North Face). I ended up wearing this coat all winter long, so I’m very happy with this purchase.

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Last bit of waterproof preparedness – shoes! They aren’t as cute as flats or heels but, as I mentioned, my gear for our Ireland trip was all about function. I did a bunch of research and picked up these waterproof Merrell Azura shoes. I bought them 4 months before the trip to have time to break them in and to test them during our New England winter. I really love them – they are comfortable for hours on end, look good with jeans, and kept my feet bone dry.

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There are a few other essential items I would recommend that weren’t pictured here.

1) An international roaming add-on to your phone plan – Whether it’s for maps, Yelp, documents, or posting pictures to Instagram, you’ll likely want to use your phone during your trip. If so, you’ll need international roaming coverage unless you want a hefty bill when you get back.

John and I both have AT&T and they have a few international traveling packages (most providers will), at three price points. It’s a one-time, 30 day add-on that allows you to use data without additional roaming charges. We chose the AT&T Silver Passport package and I’m so glad we did. Typically vacation is a time to unplug, for sure, but on this trip we needed to be able to have maps available, the ability to text each other and call our hotels, and have the internet for spontaneous information we needed.

2) An iPad/tablet loaded up with TV shows, movies, and podcasts – This goes without saying but long flights and bus rides are boring. I know streaming apps are ubiquitous now but you can’t always count on airlines having satellite TVs or your bus having wifi. Prior to our trip we loaded up our iPads to capacity with Better Call Saul and The People vs. OJ Simpson episodes, Serial season 2, and a few of our favorite old movies.

iPads/tablets are also great because of the size. I would not at all recommend bringing a full laptop on an international vacation, or any trip for that matter unless you absolutely have to.

3) Headphone splitter – We have this Belkin one and love it. It allows us to enjoy the same shows/movies/music podcast at the same time but with our own headphones. It also affords us more media storage space on our devices – I usually load up my devices with podcasts, while John loads up on shows/movies.

4) Ziplock bags – I regularly buy gallon, quart, and portion measured food storage bags from Target for every day life but they come in so handy for travel. Diverse in size, waterproof, and secure – I never go away without them! I toss a few of each kind in my luggage and if I need them, great – if not, they take up practically no space. On our Ireland trip I used all of them! (eg. I used the gallon size to hold my damp micofiber towel (see above) and the candy we bought on our trip, I used the quart size to hold toiletries and postcards/gift cards we bought for safekeeping, and I used the portion bag to hold cough drops and the bar of soap we brought on the trip).

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5) Snacks. Can’t say it enough!

6) Last but not least, research. If you’re not the researching type, no big deal. If you are, I highly recommend the following approach (in addition to internet research, of course).

John bought me these two books for Christmas and they were amazing (Concise History of Ireland and Illustrated Dictionary of Irish History). John was a history major in college and always found he learned best with a historical text accompanied by an illustrated dictionary. The history book is dense and rich with information – with such specific details that, on its own, would have left me on information overload. But having the illustrated dictionary as a compendium allowed me to switch between the two books while I was reading, so that I actually learned the information. I cannot recommend this approach enough!

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We’re going to France in August so I look forward updating this list with any new tips afterward!

(Products listed on my blog are never sponsored; I am in no way paid, given free samples, or told to say anything you just read. I have posted about the above products because I went out, purchased these items myself, and want to share my thoughts in a candid and informative way.)

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