As many of you who follow me on Instagram know, I’m a cat lady. It all started with my childhood cat, a temperamental, sleek black cat named G. Just G. He was a rescue that upon regaining his strength showed his true colors as a creature that bites that hand that feeds yet desperately wants love & affection. As a teenager, I deeply related to that cat; we were kindred spirits. Over the years since G I’ve had Olive, Critter Lee, Gremlin, and now we have my two boys, the cuddliest of the bunch, that we adopted nearly a year ago as kittens: Kohi & Miruku (their names mean coffee and milk respectively in Japanese—we’re cheesy, I know). They make me happy when I’m sad, calm when I’m stressed, and laugh when I’m angry. So, yes, I had a birthday party for my cats. That’s what you’re looking at here. Well, that and photos of them from kitten to now.

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We’re remodeling our entire home at the moment (pregnancy induced nesting instinct gone arguably awry), and I haven’t been living there since January. Homesick doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. The white oak floors were finished while we were in Japan which means that while I can’t move back into the rest of the house (no sinks or showers!), I can move back into my work space: the kitchen. These roasted banana & buttermilk cupcakes with Lindt LINDOR truffle filling & fluffy marshmallow frosting (a.k.a. 7 minute frosting) is the first recipe I created in my own kitchen since being back, and they’re a celebration of both truffles (tomorrow is national truffle day!) and of the comforts of home.

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I’ll be 22 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Life growing inside of you isn’t, in my experience, without its ambivalence. Some days I fear she’ll disappear, that I’ll wake up to a stillness. Other days, I feel the burden on my body, feel invaded or fear the day (the day coming soon) when my life is no longer my own. But most days, I just enjoy the quiet before the storm, this symbiotic time I get to spend with her. I feel lucky to be a woman—lowered immune system, round ligament pain, swollen ankles, and all. Traveling with her—Matt & I are currently two & half weeks into a month long trip through Japan—as she grows, feeling her kicks grow more urgent and frequent as our journey wears on, makes me feel closer to her. The metaphorical journey in tandem with a physical journey makes the metaphor come alive: with each step, each train, each bus I move closer to being a mother. Momentum.

I relish the fact that in her dark, watery world she’s experiencing the bumps and rumbles of the train, the flavors of each country I visit, her father’s voice as we talk over dinner. We’re already a family. That said, traveling pregnant is a different beast than all previous travel in my life—and I’m sure traveling with a baby will be even more so! But in the mean time I wanted to share my tips & advice that I’ve gathered along the way. There’s been a very real learning curve! If you’re like me and thought that being pregnant would be just like being you but larger, think again.

Depending on how long you’ll be gone, how far along you are, how far you’ll be traveling, and what location you’ll be traveling to you’ll need to consider a few different things. These are just the basics and what I’ve noticed thus far in my experience. I get the feeling that after I finish up all my international travel at around 32 weeks I might have some updates to add to this. But after working & traveling in France, Morocco, Italy, and the UK during my 1st trimester for about 6 weeks total and traveling in Japan during my 2nd for 4 weeks, this is what I’ve gleaned thus far at 5 months along. I’ll be in France, Spain, and Sweden during the end of the second trimester for another 6 weeks, and we’ll see how that goes!

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Our daughter is growing faster than I can comprehend inside me, and at 5 months pregnant, each day brings new challenges and a new, foreign body that seems to morph constantly though I still just look like I ate a big sandwich! As my husband knows well, my pregnancy diet has veered far off course from my initial aspirations. I’ve under estimated this physical process in so many ways—how rigorous it would be for my body (more on that one in my upcoming post on traveling pregnant), how insistent the cravings & aversions would be, how exhausted & relatively fragile it would render me. That said, I put my cravings on the shelf for at least one meal a day and make sure to take in something nutritionally rich whether it’s this pasta or plenty of green juice and oatmeal. So, as promised, here’s the recipe for one such go-to healthy dish that I made as my lightening fast main for the dinner party I threw together in an hour in the previous post.

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