Merry Christmas!

I’m in America! Currently sitting in the San Francisco airport, slightly delirious from the first leg of the journey home (11 hour flight, oof) and SO READY to be back in Portland. I’m super excited that I get to be home for the holidays, partly for the whole seeing family bit and partly because I’ll have a real kitchen! I have big plans. Also, one of the best parts of school is this two week Christmas holiday—incredible.

The last few weeks have involved making several thousand cookies in a baking lab and writing a 20-page paper about everything we learned. It was a lot, to be sure, but I also had more fun than expected because I genuinely could talk about gluten proteins and dough hydration for a very long time. It’s interesting for me to see this process from a research angle because the work is pretty similar to what I’ve been doing for the past few years, but the approach is totally different. Rather than designing trials to get to the best product in the shortest amount of time, our focus now is more on making sure that we’re generating data that can answer the questions we want to ask. We also got to feed our cookies to a whole bunch of people for sensory testing, which was very fun. It’s not too hard to recruit people when you’re basically just giving out cookies.

Paris does its best to live up to its “City of Light” nickname in the Christmas season, and from what I saw they did a pretty good job of it. I loved getting to my destinations early this month so that I could walk around different neighborhoods and see all of the lights hung across streets, decorated shops, and elaborate window displays. Plus, knowing that I was coming home gave me an excellent excuse to explore chocolate shops and Christmas markets—my friends joked that half of my suitcase is food (not quite, but I’m not exactly coming home empty-handed).

My semester finishes up mid-January and then we’re off to Dublin! That last week and a half will be a doozy (we have a whole new class for a week plus two final projects), but the finish line is so close! I’ll miss Paris for sure—the baguettes and croissants more than all of the quality time on public transportation—but I can’t wait for Dublin.

Merry Christmas! Have a great holiday season!

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