jacket Patience

Stats and stuff - Jacket "Patience"

So, stats and stuff, like it says.

The GST (Gilt Silk Twist) is done on all the jacket pieces.
Total time GST: 677.5 hours, within half an hour or so.
Total time so far on the entire jacket project: 2708.5 hours (previous jacket took 1947 hours).
Spools GST used: 19.
Waste gilt saved from thread ends: 1 gram.

I've detailed how I did buttonhole stitch with the GST in previous entries on the jacket (search using the tab "jacket"); it's a two-hand method that minimizes the amount of GST pulling against itself, which reduces breakage and makes for a closer, more raised stitch with a pleasing look and feel.

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I used a back-and-forth stitch, rather than working over a foundation thread.  When I started working on the GST, I initially used the motif outline in black silk as the edge, but I found it pulled the motif out of shape, and it lost the clean edge feel created by the black outline.  I didn't want to work backwards chain stitch around all the edges, as some of the fill pieces were very small, so I did a simple backstitch outline in the GST, which actually worked very well.  I slide over and under the GST outline as I work the buttonhole stitch back and forth, and that is sufficient to stabilise the motifs.  For the circular motifs, I worked counter-clockwise in a circle until I reached the center.

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The GST has a nap, I discovered; I stroke the thread once I've cut it off the spool to straighten out the curl, and there is definitely a smoother end.  I run the thread between the same fingers in both directions - this helps to identify the smoother direction, as the feel is quite subtle.  It seemed to reduce the breakage significantly, and I found the gilt did not bunch up on the thread.

For the GST, I used a gold head needle rather than the Japanese needle I'll be using for the gilt thread, as the GST likes to slip out of the eye of the needle.  I bought two packages of gold eye needles, and worked with each one until I found the smoothest one that broke the thread the least.  I prefer a long needle to do the buttonhole, and then I switch to a short needle to tie off the threads and work them into the underside of the embroidery.

I saved all the waste thread, just to see how much gilt I would have by the end of the GST, stripping the gilt from the silk thread as I went.  This was to work out how much gilt there would be, and working under the assumption that in Elizabethan London, all the gilt thread waste would be sold back to the goldsmiths by weight.  I ended up with 1 gram just from the GST, so economically, it makes a lot of sense to collect up all the leftover gilt.  I think in period, the threads would be burned to dispose of the silk, saving only the metal, as I can't think of a good use for a bundle of tiny silk fibers. I don't think they were felting silk leftovers, and I haven't found any record that they did so, but you can't prove a negative, so maybe they saved the silk as well.  Anything the embroiderer's shops could sell to someone else for money would be saved.  Gold has an obvious value, of course, and gilt thread is expensive, so why not try to get some money back from the leftovers?

The longest waste thread was about 3 inches, but that's because I'm not a professional embroiderer.  The shortest thread pieces I saved were about 1/4 cm.

Finally, I had to get a feel for how long my thread was; it's quite easy for the GST to catch on something or slip-knot itself on the underside of the embroidery.  I checked often, and even so, had three or four instances were I missed a small loop.  In the cases where I was too late to fix the mistake, I secured the loops on the underside of the embroidery.  I encountered a bad case of this on the Plimoth Project; I don't know who, but someone working on a frame before me had managed to get a whole bunch of slip-knots on the back of their work, and it took me an hour to fix all of those mistakes.  Soem of them I was able to work through and back into the embroidery, others I had to fix in place by sewing them down with extra thread.  It's annoying, and knowing to look out for it helps save time and thread.  JFYI.

And there you go.  Easy!
Bun: hung over

Slow and Steady...

I woke up very early this morning (insomnia, subtype: chronic), and I got pulled into reading old entries on this blog.  I apologize very much to all the people who left comments on my posts to whom I never replied; I tend not to go back and re-read old posts, so I miss that kind of thing way too easily.

So... sorry.  I really am.  Some of those questions were good questions.

Like the one asking how I manage my chronic pain and still do all sorts of crafty-type things:  It was written in 2011, and a lot of health things have changed for me since then, but my routine is always the same.  I manage with a combination of meds, rest, and allowing projects to take a long time, i.e., I never do anything on deadline unless I absolutely have to.  Currently, I am working on my second jacket, "Patience", but I am unable to pull the 11-hour working days I used to manage.  I am lucky if I get 4-6 hours in on any given day, but I am committed to finishing it, so it will happen.  I have no deadline, other than "I would like to get this project finished in under 10 years chronological time".

I have a long list of projects, some SCA, some not, and they will all slowly happen.

I guess that's how I manage my health issues and projects; slowly.  But it's okay; I will get them finished, and it will all be good.  And in the time it takes to get them finished, I will have thought up a hundred new projects.  It's all good.
Bun: love

Pre-Valentine's Day noodles

(Note:  This essay is posted from a het-cis monogamous point of view.)

So, the day before Valentine’s day, huh?  What a great time to talk about Emotional Labour. What is emotional labour, you ask?  I’ll be happy to tell you!  Read on:

A lot of men seem to think that if they give their SO a giant gift for V-day, that discharges their obligations for the rest of the year (as if 20 chocolate-covered strawberries or a ridiculously overpriced bear will replace being loving and thoughtful).  There’s even a significant number of men who regard V-day as the day when women go completely crazy, demanding flowers and gifts like they’re owed something.  Women.  Such gold-diggers, amirite?

A lot of women do get upset if their expectations of V-day aren’t met; if it’s one of the only times a year their SO demonstrates any kind of awareness that there’s two people in this relationship, sure they’re going to be disappointed! For the rest of the year, they do all the emotional heavy lifting; taking care of their partner’s needs, nurturing, supporting, cooking, cleaning, working, taking care of the kids (if they have any), and generally doing everything else so their partner only has to work for a paycheck, and not any other time.  For some women, being a supportive partner is a full time job, with no pay, no promotions, and often, no support.  Of course they want flowers!

(Deliver them to her workplace; they want to prove that they do, actually have a partner that thinks about them once in a while, since Tina in accounting has her doubts.)

Don’t believe this is really an issue?  There are lots and lots of places on the ‘webs where they go to talk about it, and one of the saddest was a Tumblr conversation I read where women wrote and wrote and wrote about how hard it is to be partnered to a man who not only doesn’t realize how much care and support he receives, he somehow manages to feel entitled to that care and support, while not reciprocating it in any way.  I watched an old episode of “Supernanny” this morning where a husband said that his wife was supposed to do all the work in the house and take care of their three kids 24/7, and therefore didn’t deserve any appreciation or thanks for it.  Or, as one woman put it in another essay, her partner thinks that all the love and support he gets from her is something she should do for free, out of love for him.

That would work, if he gave the same in return, but he doesn't. Many men don’t.  They assume it’s a woman’s job to take care of everything around the home, and as a part of that, their emotional well-being and their relationship, even if she also holds a full-time job.  She asks him about his day, she takes care of laundry, cooking, and the million small things that he doesn’t realize she’s even doing.  Again, even if she has a full-time job.  It’s what women are good at, he thinks; they’re naturally made to take care of men.  Women are kind, soft, sweet, nurturing helpmeets who will always put him first.  Nature made them that way!  Experts have said so!  John Gray has a best-selling series about how women are nurturers!

And many women do end up taking care of their spouse in all emotional matters.  They always put him first, they let him pick the movie, the restaurant, the TV show.  They go with him to things he’s interested in, they allow him to make fun of and belittle their interests, they get used to building their entire lives around him and his needs, and they take care of their own needs in silence.  Who remembers birthdays?  Who keeps track of doctors appointments and school functions, and how their friends are doing?  Some women even take over the emotional labour of dealing with their partner's family - who's sick, who's moving, where is everyone going for Thanksgiving.

“Not me!” you may say, “I’m not like that!” (And I'm fairly certain at this point, that 20% of the men reading this will stop right here, 30% will be angrily writing "nu-uh!!" comments without reading further, and the other 100%* think this isn't how they are with their partners).  Well, let me give you a scenario.  Your wife gets sick – really sick, and she’s not going to get better any time soon. The laundry gets done slowly, and you can’t rely on her to pick up the dry-cleaning, or darn your socks, or make clothing for the hobby you both share.  She can't remember birthdays, and can't do the Xmas cards. The dishes go unwashed, dinner is uncooked, and she’s on the sofa all day, reading or working on the projects that make her now somewhat curtailed life meaningful to her.  Dust bunnies pile up.  She goes to bed early, sleeps late.  You have to go out and pick up her prescriptions, and drive her to the multiple doctor’s appointments she needs.  She isn’t up to going grocery shopping, and when you want to go out and do things, she doesn’t want to go because she feels terrible.  Her needs become many; you have to unload the groceries and put them away if she can’t help, you have to take care of the house, pay the bills (she can’t work), care for her when she’s really feeling bad, and do all these things as well as all the things you did before.

What do you do?

Well, if you’re my husband, you load the dishwasher and unload it.  You’re patient when the laundry gets delayed, and the ironing piles up.  You iron your own shirts, you go grocery shopping, and you do the cooking (and cleaning up after).  You stay home with her if she needs you to, and you go to events alone.  You drive her everywhere, and laugh and hug her and reassure her when she expresses her deep guilt at not being able to do the things she could do when she married you.  You are patient, and loving, and kind, and you tell her you love her every single day, multiple times a day.  You pick up all the threads she could no longer carry.

Bob and I don’t make a huge deal out of Valentine’s day, because for us, every day is Valentine’s day.

(Go ahead, you can throw up in disgust if you need to; I’ll wait.)

(Back?  Good.  I hope you feel bett… oh, you got a little something on the side of your mouth, there.  No, no… a little to the left… yeah, you got it.)

Bob has never, ever, given me a hard time for being sick.  He doesn’t object when I work on my projects – in fact, he encourages me, every day, and tells me constantly how talented and smart I am, and when I express fear about finding a publisher, or dealing with selling stuff on-line, he helps me.  He doesn’t complain when I lose whole weeks to fatigue or migraines, he just worries about me.  He still thanks me for taking care of me when he was in the hospital two years ago, and even when he was still in real pain from surgery, he worried about me wearing myself out taking care of him, and staying with him (as if I would ever be anywhere but at his side).

(Oh, there’s a little more vomit… whoa, what did you eat today?!  Oh, okay.  Better?  Good.  Oh, you got some on your shirt.  Never mind, hot water will get that right out.)

Bob nurtures me.  That’s what emotional labour is all about, caring and supporting each other, always having each others’ back, always trusting and believing the others’ lived experiences.  Bob doesn’t tell me I’m overreacting when I have panic attacks or bad flashbacks; he even tells me if a movie or book will be triggering for me.  He believes my lived experience, even if it makes him uncomfortable, or worried about my well-being when I remember bad things and need to talk about them to process them.  He suffers with me when I hurt, but he never makes it about him. He lets me talk about the issues that are meaningful to me, and he's learned to listen, and not just try to fix, though he does that, too.

I worry sometimes that I don’t reciprocate enough, that I’m the one who isn’t pulling their weight.  Nurturing is how we show our love for each other.

I know lots of great men who are right there with their partners, shouldering the combined weight of emotional labour.  But I also know men who think that all of that weight is woman’s work, and that because they earn money (or more money than their partners), that their paycheck means they don’t have to do anything else.  I know men who think that a (not very expensive)Valentine’s day gift discharges all their emotional debt.  I read people who follow (and rightly mock) Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) and Pick-up Artists (PUAs), who show that for some men, even the effort of doing something nice for their partner on V-day is considered too much, and they complain about the patriarchal system that absolves them from caring at all about their partners’ needs, because that same system says that they have to do something on Valentine’s day, and they don’t think they should even have to do that.  They complain about having to show consideration for one fucking day out of the entire year.

Even leaving the MRAs and the PUAs behind (in the pit they they so deservedly belong in), there are lots of men out there who are loved by their partners, and yet make their partners feel completely unappreciated because all the emotional support and labour that partner provides is taken for granted, even expected, and those men will complain if they don’t get it, even though they do nothing in return.  These are men who have centered their entire lives around themselves and their needs, and patriarchal society encourages them to feel that way.  When women talk about male privilege, that’s one of the things they mean; women are told from the day they are born to put the needs of men before their own needs.  Men get the opposite side of that training – they are taught to expect that the women they date/marry will be supportive of them, and center their lives around them.  Some men discard that training, but many men don't, even if they don't consciously realize what they're doing.

This system is bad for women, but it’s also bad for men – a lot of men (especially white men) grow up feeling entitled to a well-paying job, and entitled to a woman. This leads to a man shooting up a girls school and a women’s gym, and posting rambling rants to YouTube about how no woman will fuck them, and so they’re going to kill a bunch of random women as revenge. Or he never manages to find a woman who’s willing to take him exactly as he is, because “exactly as he is” means he doesn’t give a fuck about his partner’s needs.  Or he kills himself by flying his plane into an IRS building because life didn’t hand him everything he thought he deserved, and he’s going to punish random people for it.  It leads to whole communities of men on-line being abusive to any woman that dares to want to be part of that space.  It leads to men threatening to rape and kill any woman who dares to point out male privilege.  It leads to men thinking women are lesser beings, existing solely to be servants and fuck dolls for men.  I try not to write about my ex-husband, but he was the kind of man that thought “compromise” meant “we will always do what I want, no matter what”.

Donald Trump is a perfect example of a man who grows up thinking all these things – women are inferior, and only useful for fucking (or “grabbing by the pussy”), objects to be leered at and discarded when they are no longer good-looking enough for him (or too old – he does keep trading in wives for younger ones...).  Even with all his money, and all his power, he gets especially enraged when women point out what an asshole he is (say, by making fun of the men in his administration by having women play the part of the men on SNL).  He certainly doesn’t think women are equal to him.

The thing is, the foundation of a good relationship is built on mutual support and care.  If one person does all the emotional lifting, they will start to break under the weight of all work and no return.  If a woman’s partner values his contribution to the relationship highly, and doesn’t even notice hers, she’s going to start to hope for a big present on Valentine’s day, because that’s the only time she can gauge how much he loves her.  And when men complain that Valentine’s day is unfair, and only women get given presents, they’re saying that an expensive piece of jewelry, or even the minor effort of flowers (which you can buy on the side of the road) or chocolate (that you can buy for cheap on-line), is too much work.  Because men are entitled to all the work women do, and if they’re entitled to that level of work from women, then they shouldn’t have to thank women for what is, after all, due to them.

(Ooooh, now the baby is throwing up on you.  Oh dear.  Must be a sympathetic puker.)

Men often respond to ideas like this by claiming that women expect them to be walking wallets, and that women can stay home while they have to work, completely eliding the fact that men are still paid more than women, and are more likely to be promoted, and much more likely to be encouraged and welcomed into well-paid fields.  Moreover, the decision for one parent to stay home and raise kids (apart from being a middle-class privilege) is primarily decided by who brings in the bigger paycheck – which is almost always the man.  Women are not "naturally more suited to raising kids", women just (still) tend to earn less money.  And though it may be unpaid work, raising kids and taking care of a home is full-time work, with no days off.

So forgive me, but it’s a tad grating when some men act like their paid work means not only that their work is more valuable than that of women, but that they’re off the clock when they get home.  And it’s fucking insulting when they act like staying at home to raise children means women spend their days lying on a sofa and eating bon bons, when in reality, they’re working all the time, night and day.  I’m reminded of another episode of “Supernanny” where the husband sulked massively when Jo Frost sent the mother to a day spa and made the husband (for the first time, apparently) take care of the kids for a whole day.  “Why does she need a spa day?  I’m the one who works”, he said, completely dismissing everything his wife/mother of his four kids did every single day.  Too many men still seem to think that parenthood is something women are "naturally" suited for, and men don’t have to be involved at all; this is not only untrue, it’s a huge insult to every dad who is equitably sharing parenthood with their partners, or raising their children while their partner has a paying job.

So what is Valentine’s day, really?  It’s a bonanza for companies selling horrible chocolate and overpriced roses.  It’s a day where men buy lingerie for women, completely oblivious to the message they’re sending (“this present is really for me.  Also, I don’t know what size you wear").  It’s a day that reduces single people to tears, since our culture obsessively centers heterosexual cis couplehood, and implies there’s something wrong with you if you don’t have a partner, and focuses all its advertising on het couples.  It’s a day that, like New Year’s Eve, inevitably ends in sharp disappointment for every woman who thought that maybe, for once, they’d get an acknowledgement of their value to and from the man they love, but were instead handed a video tape of a movie they don’t like and a free promotional toy from that man’s workplace (biographical?  Who, me?  Nah).

A single day on the calendar is not enough to make up for a year of neglect, and smart men (Bob is super-smart, obvs) realize that.  Don’t let advertisers or the patriarchy guilt you into loving your sweetie but not expecting that love back every single frickin’ day.  Don’t let them tell you you don’t count unless you have a man, any man, because that road leads to women dating horrible men who don’t appreciate/love/regard as human them, because they have been scared into thinking it’s better to be miserable and married than single and happy.

Don’t let anyone gaslight you into thinking it’s okay to put up with them if they don’t value your work and effort, even if you aren’t paid for it.  Don’t think you have to have a man if you don’t want one.

And don’t ever, ever, let vomit dry.  Get that spot while it’s still wet.  That stuff sets like cement.

I love you, Bob.  Every day.

*Made you look.  And grumble.
yah rly

Recipe #3: Sugar Cakes

Back to the recipes!  We're actually having a fun week; on Monday, Bob and Harv picked up half a load of something like 2.5 tons of bricks we'll use for building our Elizabethan kitchen building, and we're going out tomorrow to pick up the other half, with help from theblueleader.   We've cleared this gorgeous space in the 12 acre property we added on to our acreage.

road out sized for LJ
(This is the road in.)

But!  Recipe!

This one's an easy documentation, because it's featured in Fooles and Fricassees: Food in Shakespeare's England, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1999.  Appendix I is a transcription of Mrs. Sarah Longe:  Her Receipt Booke, c. 1610.  The biggest thing I changed (other than reducing the amounts a bit) was that rather than wash the butter in rosewater, I ground dried rose-petals I had collected from my own (pesticide-free) roses over the summer into the sugar before using it in the recipe.

(I totally cheated on that, btw; I processed it in a blender.)

Despite the name, this is actually much more of a shortbread cookie than a cake.  The dough is rolled thin, and cut out "with a glasse".

Original recipe:  "Take a pound of butter, and wash it in rose-water, and halfe a pound of sugar, and half a douzen sponefulls of thicke Creame, and the yelkes of 4 Eggs, and a little mace finely beaten, and as much fine flower as it will wett, and work it well together [;] then roll them out very thin, and cut them with a glasse, and prick them very thicke with a great pin, and lay them on plates, and soe bake them gently."

Redacted recipe:
1/4lb salted butter (one stick), softened
3/4 cup sugar (I used the ground rose-petal sugar)
1 egg yolk
1tsp mace
1-1/2 cups sifted white flour, plus some extra

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl.  In a separate small bowl, beat the cream and egg yolk until blended, then add to the sugar and butter.  Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time, sifting into the bowl, until the mixture forms a ball that does not stick to the sides of the bowl.  Makes sure you pick up any dough crumbs in the bottom of the bowl.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325F.  Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4" thick.  Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter or wine glass.  Put the rounds on a parchment lined, ungreased cookie sheet.  Prick them all over with a fork* (like shortbread), then bake until light golden, about 17-20min.

Like shortbread, you don't want the cookie to brown too much.  It should be barely golden on top, and a little browner underneath.

*I really did use a big brass pin to prick them all over.  This is actually a good opportunity to do decorative circles or hearts, or whatever you like on the tops of the cookie, since shaped cookie cutters aren't really period.  However, this makes a great cookie for SCA lunches and teas, and for those times, use of a shaped cookie cutter is officially sanctioned by me.  :)
j'town apple

Recipe #2: Fig Pudding

I thought I'd stick with the whole "pudding" theme this week.  No post yesterday, because yesterday was my birthday, and I was busy shopping and watching Mockingjay with Bob.

(It's a pretty good movie.  I thought it was worth watching in the theatre, even in 2D.  I refuse to do Imax because I like my hearing, and prefer to lose it naturally, rather than having it blasted to smithereens by Imax surround sound.) (My hearing is bad enough as it is, thanks to childhood ear infections and scarring.)


(photo by Andrea Callicutt, copyright 2014)

So... fig pudding.  Like the pease pudding, it's cooked in a water bath, either by tying it up in linen or muslin and directly boiling, or by cooking in a bowl put in the water (essentially, a double-boiler effect).  In this case, with the sweet pudding, it's better cooked in a bowl, so you don't lose the flavour of the figs.  Now as to the length of time it's been a pudding, rather than, say, a fruitcake-like thing, it's harder to say, though Wikipedia rather unhelpfully claims it's a 16th century dish, but that's definitely a [citation needed] entry. The fifteenth-century recipe* I have uses raisins and dates in addition to the figs, having all the fruits mixed with eggs, fat, flour, and breadcrumbs, and worked into a dough that is then boiled in water (and then suggests you can warm slices of the pudding on the griddle).  I prefer it with just the figs, as it's an excellent connection with something the Jamestown Settlement & Museum visitors know - "Oh, bring us some figgy pudding" from the carol We Wish You a Merry Christmas - and it is a proper period dish made with just the figs.   My experience with the pudding was that it tastes very much like a Fig Newton.  Without further ado:

Fig (figgy) pudding

2 cups dried figs, chopped small
1 cup lard or suet, if you can get it (it's better with suet)
1 cup flour
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (crumble up some bread; it needs to be fresh, not dried)
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp milk
Lard, for greasing the pudding bowl

medium mixing bowl
medium ceramic pudding bowl
6-qt saucepan

In a medium bowl, combine figs, lard, and breadcrumbs.  Beat the egg and milk together, and add to the fruit mixture, adding more milk if needed to make a stiff dough.  Grease the pudding bowl heavily (be generous; you want the cooked pudding to come out of the bowl), and pack the dough in firmly, flattening the top evenly.  Fill the saucepan half-way with water.  Cover the pudding bowl tightly with foil and place in the 6-qt saucepan, making sure the water doesn't come up more than 2/3 of the way up the bowl.  Bring the water to a boil, them simmer for 3 hours, checking the water every half hour, adding more water if needed.  Do not allow the pan to boil dry.

Once the pudding is cooked, immediately turn it out onto a plate.  Serve warm or cold.

* pp. 112-113, Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, Thomas Austin (ed.), printed for the Early English Text Society, Oxford University Press, 1888(facsimile, Boydell & Brewer, Ltd., New York, 2000). 
j'town pumpkin

Recipe #1: Striped Pease Pudding

Sorry, I haven't gotten to FB yet; I'm still recovering from the busiest two weeks I've had in a long time.  I went to bed at 7pm yesterday.

I actually promised a few people I would post my recipes for the Governor's table at Foods and Feasts (Jamestown), so here's one, with a little history.  I'll do more over the week.  I don't have pics yet, because I was a numpty and forgot my camera, but other people took pictures, and I'll post them whenever they arrive.

First, one of my traditional recipes, that isn't exactly from a book, but is an accumulation of family knowledge mixed with some historic research:

Striped Pease Pudding
1/2 lb yellow dried split peas
1/2 lb green dried split peas
2 tsp butter
2 eggs
2 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste
Crisco or lard to grease the pudding bowl

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bun:  cooking

Makin' Quiche.

4 eggs.
2 1/2 cups of finely grated swiss cheese.
1/2 cup heavy cream.
Proscuttio, torn into small pieces.
2 onions, finely chopped and caramelized.
Bacon and chive seasoning.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Put the pastry into the pan, prick it all over, and blind bake @ 425F for 10 minutes.
Bring it out, let it cool a little.
Decrease oven temp. to 400F.
Spread carameized onions in the pastry.
Pour egg and cheese mixture over top, pat down evenly.
(If desired, arrange sliced cherry tomatoes all over the top in some kind of pattern.) (I favour something fun, like a compass rose.  Or estencely.)
Put it in the oven, bake for 45-60 minutes, until top is well browned.

Serve with salad.  Or on its own, it's got a vegetable in it.  Frankly, you can mix almost anything in it, as long as you keep to the base of four eggs, 1/2 cup cream, and 2-1/2 cups cheese.  It doesn't even have to be swiss, I just happen to like swiss.

It's good hot or cold, and travels great, and it took me about a year of experimenting until I found the exact style I liked.  You're welcome.