Preserving the sweetness of things

Our previous minister,  Rev. John Hunt, (now retired), would sometimes  offer the congregation ‘a sweetie for the sermon’. His sermons didn’t ever need any sweetening but he said a ‘sweetie for the sermon’ was an ancient Scottish tradition, and we, believers all, were more than happy to help preserve the ways of the old Kirk.  So the baskets of sweeties were passed from one pew to another and we, smiling and laughing like young ones at a birthday party, selected our sweetie and, then, spent the rest of the sermon, trying to dislodge sticky toffee from our gums and teeth. ( Perhaps we were not as young as our hearts imagined 🙂 ) Gummed up or not, they were sweet moments, and, although, I remember not a word of the sermons, I do remember feeling content and treasured and loved. Sugar it seems is a powerful  preservative of well-being.

In the spirit of ‘a sweetie for the sermon’, I  am spending time trying to capture and preserve  the sweetness of the current season. For there is much sweetness to savour.

There is the sweet fragrance and delicate tones of my dwarf sweet peas both outside

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

and indoors, mingled with scented rose.

Rose and Sweet Peas

Rose and Sweet Peas

Then there is the sweetness suspended in the flowers and leaves I  am drying for my home-made potpourri.

Summer Medley

Summer Medley with Tracy’s  butterflies

Potpourri translates as ‘rotten pot/stew’, which, hopefully, mine will not be, if I have dried everything sufficiently well.

Additional sweetness comes in a friend’s seasonal gift of  home-made  Christmas mince pies; so delicious they are impossible to preserve except on camera.

Stars of Wonder

Stars of Wonder

They are a scrumptious-sumptuous combination of melt-in-your-mouth sugary buttery pastry and ‘ barely there tartness’ of rich, fruity mince meat;   made, I am told, with the addition of apple and green tomato to the dried fruit.

So those are the sweeties. Now for the sermon. Sermon? What sermon?  My mouth is too full of goodness to speak.

© silkannthreades

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88 thoughts on “Preserving the sweetness of things

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I did microwave them. Some flowers worked better than others and the timing also varied; usually just bursts of seconds at a time. You may be able to find exact instructions somewhere. I just thought, you can dry herbs in microwave so flowers should work too. I placed them between kitchen paper, a few at a time, and put a plate on top at first.
      Then just to be sure I dried it all off properly I put them in a paper bag in the hot water cupboard. The colours were impressive.

      Reply
  1. Gallivanta Post author

    One of my readers has let me know this by email; ” About the sermon sweeties – we called them Pan Drops in Scotland but now I think of them as Mint Imperials. Woe betide any child dropping a sweetie and it would roll under the seats and cause merriment. I believe the older worthies calculated the sermon as ‘a two sweetie’, or ‘three sweetie length’, and so on . ” I am so delighted to have this extra information on a sweetie for the sermon.

    Reply
    1. Su Leslie

      Brilliant! I remember my mother talking about Pan Drops and I didn’t really know what they were. My great grandad used to keep a bag tucked down the side of his chair. Perhaps my great grandmother’s tirades were a bit like sermons?

      Reply
      1. Gallivanta Post author

        How exciting that you know of Pan Drops too. I am not fond of minty type sweets but I would like to try one. I expect your great grandad was wise to keep Pan Drops to hand….always there to sweeten life.

        Reply
        1. Su Leslie

          I love mints and even know, the smell of mint sweets reminds me of my great grandad. I’ve recently been in touch with one of his grandchildren (who, though a generation above me isn’t much older) and it’s lovely to reminisce about the things we remember as kids.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          My grandfather always had peppermints when he travelled in the car. I didn’t know my great grandparents and have heard no mintie stories about them, even though one of them was distinctly Scottish, or so I am told. Being able to reminisce with family members is precious.

        3. Su Leslie

          I feel very fortunate to have known my great grandparents, and also my maternal grandmother, very well. I miss my gran terribly and wish I’d asked her more about her life when I had the chance. I suppose I hope blogging about my family history is a way of keeping the stories alive for generations that don’t realise that one day they’ll be interested.

        4. Gallivanta Post author

          I miss my paternal grandmother. She wasn’t a talker (so I don’t know as much about her as I would like to) but, you will see in my posts, that I mention her and some of the things that I have inherited from her. Keeping the memories, if not the stories, alive, is part of my blogging plan 🙂 I wish I had known my paternal grandmother’s mother. I think I would have liked her. I have been looking after her gravestone in Christchurch and was very upset to discover just before Christmas that the lavender plant I grew on her plot has vanished. It was so beautiful.

        5. Su Leslie

          I’m impressed that you had great grandparents in New Zealand. Virtually of my family’s in the UK.

        6. Gallivanta Post author

          I get my family tree a bit muddled but I have great greats here too and maybe a great great great grandparent if I am I accounting for them correctly.

  2. Clanmother

    Your posts have me scurrying all over the Internet! Scottish Traditions! Now that is an interesting thought. Well, I found out some interesting things. For example, the Reformation in Scotland caused a great deal of havoc for bakers. Did you know that by 1583, bakeries who made Yule-breads were fined? By 1638 the General Assembly in Edinburgh tried to abolish Yuletide! I am wondering if your “sweetie for a sermon” came out of this? Another wonderful post – full of joy!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sadly, I couldn’t find ‘a sweetie for the sermon’ tradition on the internet so its origins are yet another mystery to me. I didn’t know about the Yule breads; there is such history in our food, if we but knew it 🙂

      Reply
  3. Miss Lou

    I remember a time with one of my study groups from church, we all got a piece of paper and we anonymously wrote a positive uplifting comment for each other on a piece of paper. We would write our comment, then we would fold it over so it could not be seen and then the next person wrote something.

    Everything was so different and came from the heart, the sharing of personal experiences with individuals was amazing.

    I felt so wonderful for weeks after that.

    Also. I’d like some of those pies… lol

    and and.. the pot purri (will you send some – I’m just across the way and up a bot (NT, Australia) … lol #MakesHeavenlyAffectedFace

    #EarthIsCrammedwithHeaven

    Reply
        1. Miss Lou

          It was an awesome experience. I found most valuable the segment on ‘Discoveries’

          It very much helped me to understand some of the behaviours of my mother that I witnessed as a young girl.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          I am not seeing that particular segment but there are obviously lots of areas where they offer insights and strategies. Our church was Presbyterian with a strong Celtic tradition; the atmosphere was always very positive and supportive; we were alongside each other as our minister used to say.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I would love to send some but Australian Quarantine wouldn’t love me! Ditto with the mince pies. I have done that exercise you mention but not in a church setting. It’s great when we practice being positive 🙂

      Reply
  4. Juliet

    I can almost smell the fragrance from here. Sweet peas and roses, what a delicious combination. And the mince pies look so tempting. Thank you for sweetening my day.

    Reply
  5. jaggh53163

    Those mincemeat tarts look fabulous – even good enough to eat. I’m sure the addition of apples and green tomatoes makes them lighter and less dense than my ex-mother-in-laws recipe !!! The Star of Bethlehem is a perfect visual addition. Thamk you for sharing – though I can’t quite taste them !!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      If you could taste them 🙂 I am sure you would find them lighter and less dense than your ex-mother-in-law’s recipe. Another friend of mine says that she adds mashed banana to her fruit mince to give it lightness. I wonder if someone has written a book on all the types of mincemeat pies there must be in the world ?

      Reply
  6. Virginia Duran

    Oh the Christmas mince pies look really delicious! How were they? This post made me smile, you seem happy writing this and showing all those beautiful flowers. How is your mother by the way?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Virginia. Yes, there were lots of happy things to dwell on in this post. Sugar, even though it is supposed to be bad for our health, is actually a great healer. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2278942/Pouring-granulated-sugar-wounds-heal-faster-antibiotics.html
      My mother is doing quite well. Her recovery will be slow because of her age but she seems cheerful when I talk to her. She still has pain which is not fun but, at least, she is at home.

      Reply
  7. lagottocattleya

    Now you got me thinking of summer again! (And all those lovely things I used to do when the children were small.) Your pictures speaks love and care, and beauty – and something for the stomach too! Have a lovely weekend!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hope you have a lovely weekend too and a more relaxing one than last weekend. Are your lights still shining brightly in the window? I think it is or was Saint Lucia’s Day? Maybe?

      Reply
  8. KerryCan

    It’s so nice to see pictures of fresh, vibrant flowers! Helps me remember that our weather won’t last forever. Your photos are gorgeous and I agree with Sheryl–this is a nice reminder to slow down and breathe.

    Reply
  9. Forest So Green

    I love your photo of the dried flowers. Wonderful colors and textures. And those mince pies. Oh, they look so delicious 🙂 Annie

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Annie. I have realised that the colours of the flowers intensify if I dry them in the microwave 🙂 And those mince pies were so very very good.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That photo is one of my favourites 🙂 I am not very good at making mince pies (not enough practice, I suppose) so I really appreciate it when someone brings me a home-made mince pie or two or three…the more the merrier!

      Reply
  10. Tracy Rhynas

    My butterflies have found a lovely sweet home 🙂 The clematis adds a beautiful flash of colour into your potpourri (I think I will stick with the French potpourri rather than the translation!!). “Add more colour to the garden” is on my to do list for 2014.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes they have. I was so thrilled to see them in my package and I thought immediately how sweet they would look in the potpourri. If you want instant colour in your garden you could attach some of your beads to the greenery 😉

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Mmmmm…better not get carried away then.When I lived in Botswana about the only thing I could grow was statice but I liked them because they were good for dried flower arrangments; not brilliant colour but satisfactory. Our Lusaka garden had a lot more colour and vegetables grew extremely well.

  11. utesmile

    The perfect sweet post for me. I do love sweet peas and your handmade potpourri is more beautiful than what we can buy.
    … and my mouth is watering… 🙂
    A sweet post just as you are!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Ute for your kindness. If I were a sweet I think I would be a ginger covered chocolate or something with coconut and marshmallow in it or a piece of fudge. What would you like to be, I wonder?

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I don’t eat a lot of sweets so I don’t really know all the delicious kinds of sweets that are available. But chocolate coated marshmallow sounds good. I do like Turkish Delight and sometimes nougat. Haven’t had nougat wrapped in edible rice paper for years.

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