10 Must Try Foods of Scotland

musings, Scotland, Travel

Scotland is known for greasy and sometimes odd concoctions, often the result of crafty people that used every, and I mean EVERY part of their food sources. Once you get past the initial, “what the….[insert expletive]” you are likely to enjoy the treats.

10. Deep Fried Mars Bars

Scotland is known for its love of the deep fryer, almost as well as the American South is. One of their better, and disgustingly wonderful treats is a deep fried Mars Candy Bar. Step one – buy a Mars bar, step two – batter the bar, step three – deep fry until its crispy outside and a gooey mess on the inside. It’s sinfully good.

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9. Irn Bru

Scotland is one of the only nations in the world where Coca Cola is not the most popular soda. Instead, they have their neon orange amalgamation, IRN BRU (pronounced URN BREW). To Americans, you will notice it tastes like liquid penicillin we got as children (I know!) to the rest of the world it’s something resembling bottled cotton candy.

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8. Scotch Eggs

This treat sounds weird, but it’s really a tasty appetizer. It’s a boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then breaded. Then it’s baked or deep fried. It’s an appealing savory delight with an umami sensation.

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7. Neeps and Tatties

This sounds almost mystical, but it’s really just mashed potatoes and equally mushy turnips. Both are excellent when made right and nutritious. (see number 2 for the proper serving)

6. Scottish Salmon

Scotland has some of the most amazing Atlantic Salmon in the world. Their sustainable farm raising prevents over fishing, and a premium product. Commonly, (when found stateside) it’s smoked and served as a fantastic protein in fine cuisine. Try with some capers or cream cheese.

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5. A Full Scottish [Breakfast]

Brace yourself for this one. Rather fast for this one. Scottish Breakfasts, like most of the British Isles, is a practical feast, and possibly the only meal you’ll eat for the day. It often has several types of sausage (including blood sausage), beans, toast, eggs, mushrooms, sometimes porridge…. and up to the chef’s discretion some other treats. It’s commonly served with tea and sometimes oatmeal. If you can eat it all, props. ALSO, vegetarian versions are equally delectable and satisfying.

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4. Flapjacks

In the United States this is another loosely used term for pancakes. In Scotland it’s a granola oat-bar kind of thing. Almost like a cookie, these buttery treats are ideal for a snack with a cup of tea, or just as a great treat. They are divine when freshly made and sold.

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3. Shortbread

As one of Scotland’s better known treats, it’s important to try this treat when in Alba. Walker’s may corner the U.S. market, but many fine bakeries create and sell their own versions of the treat for visitors and locals alike.

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2. Haggis

Haggis has a bad reputation. But the reality is that it’s a very tasty national dish and one that is logical for nutrition and practicality concerns. The dish uses every part of an animal in a way so as to maximize flavor and necessity. While traditional haggis is not legal in the United States, trying it fresh and hot in Scotland is an important initiation right (the vegetarian version is also very good and is made of nuts, oats, mushrooms etc).

Keep Reading if you want to know what’s in the dish….or skip to 1.

Haggis is made by using a butchered sheep’s (or calf’s) stomach. Inside the stomach goes left over organ meat such as lungs, heart, liver, fat (suet) etc. then the rest of the space is filled with oats and seasoning (this is all cooked before hand). The stomach gets tied shut and  then it is boiled and/or baked to perfection.

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1. Wee Dram of Scotch

No trip or palate journey through Scotland is complete without trying some of the national drink, SCOTCH. Most places cut the little bit of liquor with water, swish, and then allow the consumer to taste and play with it in the mouth before swallowing. Follow the professional’s recommendation and go slow. Scotch is for the flavor, not the buzz.

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The Best Lessons Have Been My Mistakes

adventure of the week, Caribbean, colorado, Colorado Events, family, Ireland, italy, love, mexico, musings, outdoors, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

I have been traveling internationally for 8 1/2 years. Mostly by myself. Always on a budget. And with a few struggles along the way. Some have been all my fault. Others I can blame on fellow travelers. All of them are important.

Here are 10 of the best/worst lessons to learn on the road.

  1. Carry a phone-
    A part of me hates this but it has saved my butt more times than I can count. For instance, when you forget to learn out to read bus schedules, you can call a cab.

2. Buy good maps

    I don’t know how many tines having a bad or outdated or confusing map has messed up a day, turned me around, or got me lost. So, investing in a good map is an important way to preemptively save the day.
  • 3. self care!
    • I have become sick 2 out of 3 extended trips. If I had used more hand sanitizer, brought some vitamins, and got more sleep, I would have had an easier time with everything.

    4. Pack Light/Buy light

    • I have always made this mistake on longer trips. I pack too much, and immediately regret it. The other side is buying too much. When my aunt went with me to Europe in 2015 she bought so many souvenirs that we had to mail two large boxes home AND a suitcase. Because of the weight and international shipping fees, she spent almost $800 to mail home about $3,000 worth of merchandise. The moral of the story is that it’s better to buy the few things you REALLY want, leave room in your suitcase to bring it home, and consider purchasing some items when you get home. Pro tip- many companies get GREAT shipping discounts if you buy say $100 of merchandise.
  • 5. Eat Well
    • Don’t eat expensive, eat well. Eat your veggies like mamma told you. Don’t drink too much. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and enjoy delicacies in moderation.

    6. Say no

    • Say no to people that annoy you. Say no to drunk guys in bars. Say no to pushy “tour guides”. Say no to flirtatious Italians. Say no when it seems wrong, sketchy, scary, or if your gut tells you so.

    7. Ask Questions

    • So many mistakes and mishaps could have been prevented for myself and others if I had asked more questions, asked for directions, asked for a better map or bus schedule. See 1 and 2.

    8. Bring a Towel

    • It sounds silly, but if you have read Hitchhiker’s Guide (or seen the movie) you know towels are helpful. Truth is having a good towel on the road is also helpful.

    9. Bring a Sweater

    • Weather conditions can change in most places without warning. The times I have needed a sweater I have been so grateful to have one. When I have forgot one, boy did chattering teeth regret it.

    10. Make sure you are physically ready

    • Travel can be thoroughly miserable if you are not in shape. Being tired from long walks, or just carrying luggage can make the trip a miserable time. See 4 for extra help!

    What have you learned on the road?

    My Favorite City

    History, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United Kingdom

    A lot of people have favorites, and while I try not to discriminate, Edinburgh will always be my favorite.

    I fell in love with the city at first sight. Literally. I rolled myself out of Edinburgh Waverly Station and when I walked out I was facing Princes Street, totally unimpressed and then I turned around. And of my god I will never forget the chills I felt taking in the magnificent gothic spires and alleys that make up Old Town Edinburgh.

    I fell. Truly. Madly. Deeply. In love with the city.

    I loved waking up to the sound of tourist music and the earthy smell of centuries of rain, Moss, and people. What Victorian London loss in the Blitz, Edinburgh has retained.

    My first time in the city was one filled with new experiences, people, accents, food, art, culture, and hundreds of moments that propelled a small town girl (Pop. of Florissant, CO 100) into a completely new world.

    I tried clubs and hipster coffee shops (when hipster was hardly a thing). I shopped for woolen goods, and went clubbing. I met friends and another male love interest. I had my heart broken, and found new passions. I visited ancient relics, I drank scotch for the first time, I went to my first U.K. Castles, I even did tombstone rubbings at Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. I got my first tattoo. I absolutely absorbed every misty breathe I could of the city.

    In the last eight years I have been to more cities and have had more experiences. I added places to my scrap book like Rome, Venice and Florence, San Francisco, Orlando, and Frankfurt. Yet still, my heart craves the cobbles and Georgian basements of Edinburgh.

    I returned in January 2015 and found new treasures such as Dean’s Village, and Mary King’s Close, and my new favorite, Sandy Bells. I found more music and a local Edinburgh than early tourist season had revealed. I loved the city even more in winter’s chill, even when it cut me to the bone. This time, five years wiser (I hope), I found the city as charming and lovely as before, just with new layers. My friends now haunt real bars and appreciate some tunes, they work professional jobs, and they don’t live with their parents. We all moved on and upwards, creating some blend of lives in the cities we have landed.

    I know I’ll make it back to Edinburgh one of these days, a few more years wiser, a more aware version of myself. Yet my curious and naive mind will wander over dark closes and Scottish identity. I’ll learn new slang, and ghost stories, I’ll hear new tunes and make new friends, and once again I’ll be in love with the ancient walls around me.

    Losing Bourdain

    documentary, Florida, food, geek, italy, mexico, musings, new mexico, Scotland, Travel

    I started watching Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations when I was a teenager. He had a wit about him, and an elegant but no nonsense means of writing about the world. He sucked me into his journeys in Ireland or Kenya and he did everything from drinking cow’s blood in Kenya to vegetarian dishes in India with humor, grace, and intelligence.

    Bourdain moved through the world as something of an enigma. He was fully engaged with his location, yet he had a distance, a perspective, an observer’s mind as he met people and filmed a story. He existed in and out of the scene all at once, which made for a compelling look into his mind and craft.

    Sure, he condemned vegetarians and Colorado, both which are near to my heart, but I forgave the grumpy uncle figure that could WRITE.

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    He could WRITE. Bourdain pieced together vignettes that made the viewer stop and think, or day dream, or question their perspective on the world. He spun tales and myths and legend on his own that no one dared question. They were eloquent and smart, thick with descriptors and layers of thought and depth that many of his peers could never match.

    I loved watching Bourdain in his element, elbows deep in meat and alcohol, talking with a local chef about the importance of animal innards to make distinct flavors and dishes. Bourdain was a compelling force, a person that could not be tamed or cut down, he just existed, and he shared with the world what that looked like.

    “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.” 

    Orkney Islands Part II- Adventure of the Week

    adventure of the week, food, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel

    Part II, Orkney Journey

    Stromness, Orkney
    May 5,
    Written May 7, 2018

    As many of you know I took a side trip to the Orkney Islands or as many people around that area call it simply Orkney. Oh and don’t call them the “Orkneys” for some reason this doesn’t settle well, or at least that’s what I’ve been told and read.

    So I was in Orkney in the seaside village of Stromness and I was taken ill by some sort of cold. Originally I had planned to go to Orkney is search of probably their most famous bird, a puffin. However, due to my lovely little cold I was in no state to rent a bicycle and peddle out to some rural cliffs to find these rare birds. Thus, I walked around the village briefly and more or less went to bed at 2, woke again at 4, got organized and packed for the next days early morning journey and then bought come groceries for the morning and decided on bed. Though that sounds dreadfully boring, I plan to go into a little detail on what I did see, smell and taste while in Orkney.

    I started the day about 11:30, I walked down the winding old stone streets along, that were almost abandoned. The city felt like this town was left behind, even to the point where one can see men with large beards and pipes and newsy hats standing by the bay. Stromness truly feels like a portal to about 100 years ago, just the feel of the people, the hostel, the town, the smells in the air aren’t modern, the streets still remain small and bumpy. Horses graze on the steep grass slope just above you; and the rest of the town is fenced in with old stone walls. It is just so calming and mind blowing at the same time with how something could hold onto its original identity for so long. Of course, it is not that the town hasn’t been exposed to anything modern, it’s just that the core of it has stayed the same.
    My first moment of realizing the distinction of the city was when I was walking the main sort of street, which is really about five different streets all linked together. Suddenly from nowhere, I see a hearse winding its way down the road, where I then realize it in fact has a coffin in it. So I stop to let it pass. Being that the streets are so narrow one can barely fit any car through it, yet alone a hearse. The coffin was simple wood and then covered in a rich and kind array of flowers. A large van followed, probably filled with close family and friends but after that I was truly surprised at the 30 to 40 people walking behind the van and hearse, all in mourning.

    All of the mourners walked behind the hearse, dressed in their black suits, all with solemn looks on their face. Of course it’s by no means weird a funeral and all that happens with it but I was truly surprised on the group walking to the cemetery. It was really like something out of a movie.

    Of course, I don’t know how Scottish Tradition works around funerals, and really how it functions outside of Colorado. Yet I had gone into the world under the impression it was very much like at home where we drove, because everything was so far spread out.

    So this rare sort of intimate sight was another conformation on how little this area has changed. It was just beautiful and tragic and heartfelt and something, though sad, I won’t likely forget. 

    After seeing the funeral procession and snapping photos of the town along the way, I made my way to the small local Museum of Stromness. So small and low on visitors I was only charged £2.50 and was told I could come back as many times as I liked in the next week.

    For being such a small museum they really had some interesting items from a local and famous shipwreck dating back to the 1700’s. As well as a more modern German fleet from the first world war. It was a fascinating to look on these items with barnacles and sea urchins still attached from their ocean graves. They also had interesting bits on whaling, fishing, arctic explorations, and trade in Canada. All of which was fascinating but I felt so ill I had to hurry to start heading back to my bed because nothing sounded better. 
    Scrimshaw on walrus tusk
    I admittedly stopped in a gift shop and bought some local honey and a wool hat. The hat was made from the wool of a rare type of sheep that lives only in that area. The hat is adorable and so warm!

    The honey, however, is simply the best I have ever had in my life. At home I’m a total honey junky, commonly eating spoonfuls daily. While I’ve been traveling, my honey eating has been few and far between, so I felt like spoiling myself and and helping my sore throat in one go. The best way to describe the honey, is the taste is the same as the smell of the entire island. That may sound unpleasant, but it’s one of the single most pleasurable tastes and sensations one can have with food.

    The smell of the island is rich, salty ocean, earthy, grassy, fields and with it’\s lack of modernization it almost smells like an antique. Not quite musty and not really mildew, not rust but just a calming and beautiful sensation. The honey, of course, seems to have captured this in the perfect means, which makes it so delightful, soft, and just a work of perfection! So thank you you little Orkney bees! 

    After my honey venture I picked up some fish and chips for a quick lunch and found myself a small stuffed toy puffin to try and satisfy my anguish at not seeing a wild one. I truly can’t win everything but I have done so much, I can’t complain! 

    The next morning I did have to get up at 4:15am to get myself ready to get on the ferry that left at 6:30am back to Scrabster. I wasn’t overly groggy either and left 30 minutes earlier than my sort of last call out the door I had planned. This time I found my way to the dock with no problem! Oh and the odd thing about being so far north is it never gets truly truly dark! It’s more a gray overshadow all “night” and then the sun eventually may peak through the clouds. It’s rather odd and charming at the same time. 

    The ferry was a nice ride back to the mainland, I joyfully watched the large beasts of islands show up out my window and take over the plain of vision. Sea birds happily diving in the water for their breakfast and the thick deep blue cold water churning around the boat peaking into small wisps of light blue as it beat upon the side. It made me realize how much I love being on the sea and in that environment. Maybe my next adventure will be buying a boat or buying a ticket on one that travels around for a time. I think that would be a grand adventure right there! 

    One of the many islands we ferried by

    HAPPY TRAVELS future and past!

    orkney2

    Orkney Islands – Adventure of the week

    adventure of the week, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel

    I’m doing a bit of a throw back Thursday since the snow ruined my hiking + cat adventure at Lori State Park in Larimer County, Colorado on Saturday. No doubt, I had a great time on the weekend with friends over brunch and lunch, but it wasn’t quite the adventure I wanted to share.

    So instead of Wednesday, here is my Throw Back Thursday in the Orkney Islands about 8 years ago.

    I should start by saying that every intent for heading to these remote islands off the coast of Northern Scotland to see puffins.

    Yes puffins.

    Because they’re adorable. Check out these faces:

    Here are some of my journal entries from the time:

    May 4, 2010
    Stromness, Orkney, Scotland, United Kingdom

    Anyway about yesterday I started to feel better after being up a while and had to make a train at 10:38 a.m. to Thurso. I made the train no problem and rather enjoyed the 4 hours of scenery and rural towns I got to take in. I did find it amusing to have the birds watching so intently from their rocky perches in the sea. Almost as if them acted as if they were totally blown away by some human made contraption.

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    After 4 hours on the train where I read, listened to music, and watched the world go by I arrived in the sleepy little town of Thurso. Where upon arriving I had simply had enough of some of the junk I was carrying around, that I decided that I had to mail some home and this is how I met Karen.

    I was asking the lady working the booth at the station how to get to the post office, and another local popped in insisting she would give me a ride. Going with what I consider, a healthy intuition, I agreed. Karen was right, I really needed someone to show me where it was because it, was more or less hidden in the grocery store. Of course I got the average rundown of where I was from, what I had been doing? Was I homesick? Is the weather too cold for you? How cold is it in Colorado? The typical questions that I have been kindly asked over and over again with.

    Karen dropped me off and we said our goodbyes and I went into hassle with mailing something home. Now this I was rather unaware of but a package going to the states from the U.K. cannot exceed 2kg. So I was only able to mail home about half of what I wanted and will again have to mail some more stuff home today. 
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    After all t of hat I felt a coffee was in order and that’s where I met Keelie at a small bakery in Thurso. I ordered my stuff, and after a while asked which taxi service to use to get to Scrabster for the Ferry. A
    fter I had said the first thing, we struck up a great conversation on what I’d been up to. When I said Colorado she thought of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and told me she was going to go there one day and find and meet him. Then she asked about Forks, Washington in reference to Twilight and a couple other things. She actually surprising me that “South Park” wasn’t brought up. Oh and she told me when I first came into the shop she had thought I’d run away from home, another blow to me trying to at least look my age, hey I wasn’t even wearing my glasses which make me look younger! Ah well I can’t win everything.

    After the coffee I called a cab and popped up to Scrabster. I can’t remember my cab drivers name, but he was truly a great laugh from the start. First, calling me Beverly just to torment me, then talking about how much he hated the English and the French! He was just hilarious and a lot of fun to talk with for the quick ten minute drive. 

    Finally at the dock station,  there was a couple of hours wait until I left. Thus, I worked on reorganizing my schedule. About an hour before departure I got onto the ferry and settled myself next to the window inside and warm. No outdoor freeze your ass off ferry but a really nice, more luxurious type for the hour and a half trip.

    I found a TV and watched Scrubs and Friends, comforts of home which truly I was missing. I really haven’t sat down and watched TV since before I left Colorado. So in truth, it was nice to veg out on old comforting shows, and ignore the somewhat nauseating rocking of the boat. 

    I arrived in Stromness a little after 8 p.m. and was immediacy confused as to where I was due to my crappy bing map that I took a photo of on my camera. (THIS WAS WAY BEFORE SMART PHONES AND INTERNATIONAL CALLING PLANS)

    So, instead of directly making it to my hostel, I went all over until I found another map in town, explaining it all. I was honestly a bit furious at this and have now learned not to trust bing maps either, after issues with Google maps! But I got to the hostel okay and only a little wet from the sea mist, and settled in for the night. The lady that owns this Brown’s hostel is very sweet and understanding and put me in a room by myself for the dorm rate. 

    Part II this weekend 😉

    Packing for the Unpredictable

    Caribbean, Cruising, Florida, Ireland, italy, mexico, new mexico, Scotland, Travel, wyoming

    Colorado winters overlap with spring in an unusual way. This week has gone from 70° to 25° and everywhere in between. Today it is snowing. It’s April 6, 2018 and it’s snowing.

    I try to not get discouraged on these wintery days, after all we need the moisture and the snow has a charm to it. Yet, I do wish it was rain instead of the ice and freezing cold. It also reminds me of the importance of clothing with unpredictable weather patterns. While I have lived my whole life in the Colorado and I am fully aware of wacky weather, I have also been the victim of my own poor planning.  Therefore, it’s imperative that one puts together smart outfits for the unpredictable.

    Here are the things I never leave home without:

    • Long pants or jeans
      • You never know when the weather will get cold, especially in the evening, even in tropical areas. Also, if you plan on any outdoor sports of hiking, long pants help with mud, cuts, and other facts of the journey.
    • Hoodie/Sweater
      • Every trip I have taken, whether a warm or cold climate, my hoodie comes in handy. I may not use it everyday, but when airport air-conditioning is too high, or a cold snap hits in Mexico, I am so thankful that I have it.
    • Sandals
      • Depending on how you travel, I have found sandals are a must have. For instance, going through airport security is easier when shoes slip on and off. If I want an impromptu visit to a swimming pool, I’m covered. Finally, if you are hosteling or staying at a number of places with a shared bathroom, sandals make trips down the hall much easier. My personal favorites are Birkenstocks or Chaco’s
    • A nice outfit
      • maybe someone will ask you on a date, or to a club. Or maybe you will want to dine at a fine restaurant. Research what seems appropriate for where you may go, and pack for it. I strongly believe it’s hard to be over dressed (okay maybe a ball gown is too much) so bring something pretty, easy to keep clean/wrinkle free, and a good pair of dress shoes.
    • Boots/Water Resistant Shoes
      • Rain, mud, and floods happen. Maybe I have bad luck, but I have always have had a need for something water resistant on my feet. Make sure you research what you may need, because warm monsoons in India are going to be far different from Spring showers in London.
    • Umbrella
      • I have lost, broken, and bought endless numbers of umbrellas. My biggest issue was not buying a high quality umbrella to deal with the torrential downpours that sometimes hit Scotland in January. My advice is that you should buy the best umbrella you can find and treasure it. Also, sometimes it’s better to just get wet than fight with gale-force winds.
    • Jogging pants, not pajama pants
      • If you don’t plan to do a normal workout routine, then I suggest you bring some warm and comfy jogging pants. These make life more comfortable, and are warmer when evenings get cold. While pajama pants are nice, jogging pants create much needed warmth, especially in winter and spring. Same goes for them as the hoodie, sometimes air conditioning and cold snaps freeze one out. Extra plush makes the day better.
    • Leggings
      • This rule is maybe not for men, or maybe, you do you. Leggings are my go to for flights, and extra layers in the cold. On flights they are more comfortable if you swell like I do with flights. Leggings are also great backups if your other pants are dirty, and they are usually easier to clean in a sink than a pair of jeans.
    • Reusable Shopping Bag
      • It sounds silly, but seriously invest in a shopping bag that is easy to fold up and stuff in a pocket or purse. This is a major convenience as more and more countries have moved from giving out plastic or disposable bags. So having a bag for shopping, or even just to lug around laundry, water bottles, snacks etc. is worth it.
    • Backpack or larger purse
      • Now don’t bring a small suitcase, but a day bag or day pack is what is needed for the day to day travels around the city or town. This can hold your water bottle, sun screen, camera, phone, snack, money and other necessities. Ladies, make sure you get a bag with an over shoulder strap. Backpack lovers, maybe carry it in front in busy areas.

    What do you not leave home without?

    Happy Travels!

    unpreditable

    Consider Scotland for your next adventure!

    History, Scotland, Travel, United Kingdom

    If you love and live in Colorado it can be hard to find somewhere as beautiful to vacation in. Not to sound snobby but when sights like this

    are in your backyard, it’s sometimes hard to be blown away other places.

    Yet I have been to Europe quite a few times and it has never disappointed. My most recent trip left me in Scotland for most of the month I was away, and it was amazing!

    Edinburgh is my favorite, for being a gorgeous gothic city with ancient and medieval bases.

    and the castle is awesome!

    Graveyards feel more romantic than macabre.

    The street performers are a hoot and a half.

    The architecture stunning

    and Scotland has so much natural beauty everywhere

    Even when you’re freezing in winter

    and there are COWS!

    The most beautiful castles…

    Keep a lookout for Nessie

    And wear some dancing shoes.

    It’s truly magical, and something dreams are made of.

    Best,

    Rebecca Lee Robinson