Be Like a Bee: Make Dandelion Honey!

May 20th was World Bee Day! A day to acknowledge these tiny pollinators and the important job they do for us. I think it is so fascinating that these tiny creatures were created with a unique and vital job for (literally) the world’s food supplies, and yet we still place so little value in them. In fact, we often think of bees as annoying and squash-worthy. Did you know that they can fly at speeds of about 15 mph? Or that it takes 556 worker bees to gather a pound of honey, each individual producing only 0.8 grams in her entire lifetime?  It takes one colony of honey bees (around 30,000 bees) to pollinate an acre of fruit trees (from our Canadian stats). I bring them to your attention to highlight another forgotten piece of nature: the humble dandelion.

Taken from the French phrase: “dent de lion” describing the tooth-like spikes on the flower’s leaves, these “weeds” have one of the longest flowering seasons around. Every part of the plant can be used: leaves, root and flower for edible delights! And — they are one of the first sources of foods for our ever-more-valuable pollinators! Again, a unique example of God’s intricate designs for our planet! This week, we learned to appreciate this symbiotic balance of God’s goodness even more – by trying our hand at Dandelion Honey!

I’ve been studying more about “natural” uses of things, and watching videos on foraging and gardening (still trying to be a bit “greener”) and use less, and thus discovered dandelion honey. I suppose it is technically dandelion syrup — but it tastes more like flowery honey of bee pollen than the mapley goodness Canadians are famous for. You can find lots of videos and articles on How to’s, each with their own quirks, tips and tricks, but I thought I would lay it out here for y’all on how we did ours. Check out my Pinterest Boards for more ideas. Note this was our first attempt, so proceed with caution!

It’s kind of an old fashioned recipe, so measurements were not all that precise, which is just up my alley ‘cuz I love to “wing it” a lot in the kitchen. First, the hubby picked a bucket full of dandelion flower heads (from our very own lawn — which we knew was pesticide free and abundant). I rinsed them off and picked out some grass (and the odd ant). You can leave the green head on the flower, and although we left some stems on (because I am lazy) I learned after that the stems are fairly bitter so should be removed. Some videos made tiny batches of a few cups of flowers, but we had a lot! You then make a dandelion “tea” by covering the flowers with water and boiling all the goodness out of them (about a 10 minute boil). We added a sliced lemon and a sliced orange to season even more (as per the videos). The tea is then cooled and steeped overnight in the pot. The next day, I strained all the “juice” out with cheesecloth — about 10 cups worth of liquid from my “big batch”.

The next part may be disheartening to the health conscious of you looking for natural recipes, but you add a lot of sugar to the mix here. Most how to’s say even amounts to your liquid, some say a little less, so for my 10 cups of tea, I added 8 cups of white sugar — okay a little less than 8 cups because I added a bit of brown sugar because I didn’t want to be left with no sugar left in the house! You get my point, though, right? It’s a lot of sugar! The next step is the syrup part of boiling off. And as any good Canadian knows, syrup takes a lot of effort to boil down. Did I mention I am not patient? I boiled my mixture for about an hour — just until it started to thicken up around the sides and slide between my fingers like the viscous syrup we know and love. I should have boiled it longer. Perhaps a lot longer. I was hoping it would thicken up upon cooling, but it didn’t. Our final product was pretty runny — but oh so yummy!

I think we got about 5 or 6 jars of the honey packaged up in the end. I gave two of them away as gifts. The citrusy sweetness is apparently a very good elixir for sore throats and such — not to mention great on pancakes! Or spoonfuls at a time. 🙂

A Sweet gift for a Special Person!

So there ya have it: Dandelion Honey! As I reflected on these two simple beings, honeybees and dandelions, I couldn’t help but muse how deep their examples are to us. Both are seemingly insignificant. Common place in our springtime worlds. Easily ignored and often thought of as nuisances to be got rid of. Yet so vital to our earth’s mission. Much like we often feel in our own worlds. I recently put these words on our letterboard at home: You are sons and daughters of the King. Act like it.

I want my kids (and me) to be reminded that we are children who belong to the Most High (Psalm 45) So often we feel insignificant. Worthless and commonplace with little to offer to a bigger world at large. How can we serve when we are so small? Or so common place that no one pays any attention to us? Especially when things can be air brushed and photoshopped. The scriptures remind us of our place. We are heirs to the throne and will one day sit next to the Creator of the world! He who delights in the honey bee and humble dandelion, finds absolute sweetness in the sight of us! Rejoice in this my beloveds! And be reminded of it next time a bee buzzes by, or you see that field of “weeds”.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on

Celebrating Freedom

Happy Victoria day! Happy Belated Mother’s day! Happy Beginning of Summer! Happy who-knows-how-many day of Lockdown! I don’t know about you, but I am feeling the need to wish you a happy something. To celebrate. To move forward. To move on. Things are slowly, slowly starting to open up around us, but we are still being cautious, and many of our “normal” summer events have already been cancelled. Covid-19 and the pandemic of 2020 will cause us to question how we do things for sometime. Life will go on, but we need to be prepared for changes going forward. We usually spend this first long weekend of summer at our trailer, opening up, dusting off the winter, and looking forward to sunny days and slower times. Instead, we are still home. We’ve been doing slower days for three months already! Home — but still keeping ourselves busy. We are ahead of schedule this year with our little urban garden, and the youngest has been itching to get our seedlings in the ground. This weekend was spent in preparation!

We expanded our growing space this year by purchasing two raised beds… and 3 cubic yards of soil! (which is a whack load of dirt, lemme tell ya!) I guess if I can’t have the farm, we are going to bring it to me, by golly! Now, let me premise the rest of the story by saying we are not great at building projects. We have limited experience and even more limited tools. But where there is a will, there is a way, right? And, so, we spent the entire day building, levelling, shovelling and soon — planting! I thought, great — I will blog about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5. Seemed like a gardening-type verse to focus on. Yet, as I read the passage over this week and meditated on it, the context, and what I might muse about, I was convicted by the following verse:

“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:26 (NIV)

So much of my isolation has been spent scrolling through news feeds, searching for ideas, plans, gathering information. This is not inherently wrong, of course, and it has become part of our lives — especially now, when everything has “moved online”. And so I muse: How much have I envied others as I scrolled? Have I become conceited in my own posts as I “brag” about what I am doing at home? I’ve found myself looking at the newscaster’s artwork on the walls as I listen to the news. I wonder about the kitchen gadgets and the furniture and lack of dirty dishes as I look up new recipes. I see the actors and actresses without their camera crews and wonder how they pull off their great looks without help. What about those Zoom Meetings? Perhaps you’ve been seeking out worship and devotions and watched churches who can put on heavenly displays. Or maybe you’ve been like me — totally jealous of the Instagram stories of vast acres in the hills, with perfect rows of green growth… and chickens.

photo credit: silvertulipgifts (Etsy)

The Mitton crew has had a good weekend. Our garden beds turned out great, and we worked together as a family. We spent time outdoors and got a lot accomplished. I am proud and feel good about the things we did. We have reason to celebrate those things. Still, I am reminded to be humble and remember that God has blessed us with the means and the abilities. As He has blessed those I see online. I must remember not to listen to the voices that remind me of the doubts and insecurities I have. The ones that tell me what I have is “not good enough” . The envious thoughts of “if only…”

Oh my friends, I hope and pray that as I post each week and share my pictures and muses with you, that you understand that we are on the journey together. Our lives are far from perfect, and those on the screens are far from perfect too. We all need a Saviour and the fruit of the Spirit. It’s hard to balance dreams and reality, isn’t it? To curb our envy, and still pursue lofty goals. Galatians 5 reminds us that we were called to be free as we walk in the Spirit, and not be burdened by the desires of the flesh. It is my prayer for us on this long weekend. Here’s to celebrating that kind of freedom!

The Puzzler

Are you a puzzler? Sounds like a villain from some ancient comic book series, doesn’t it? I’m not sure what they are called, but I am referring to “one who does jigsaw puzzles.” (Check out my social media if you want the answers to what they are really called…) At the start of the Coronavirus lockdown, we, like all the other families we know, got out the puzzles. Gonna be stuck for couple of weeks, might as well tackle that 1000 piece object of frustration, right? Or maybe you are the 1500 or 2000 piece master. Hats off to you. Ours started out well. The youngest was determined to finish… even time-lapsing the evidence to show the progress (see below). Alas, our kitchen table was no match for the unfinished work of art. Pieces began to slide and fall off, lost to the abyss of the living room floor. The table was taken up with other projects, and the purple flowers of the Thomas Kinkade painting eventually all blended in with the blue-green grass. We were “done” — the puzzle soon became too time consuming for our small attention spanned minds. The box got put back in the cupboard again. Maybe if we had a dedicated workspace. (I say this for about half the projects I start). I have a friend who refinished a table just for puzzles. I recall basements of older relatives set up with folding card and T.V. tables with jigsaws on them. I honour ya’ll with thought and admiration for your dedication. Sorry, not our cup of tea.

our attempts at jigsaw puzzling…and sharing videos on the blog…

Which is probably detrimental to our mental health. They tell me puzzle building is good for your brain. It makes all kinds of connections between your left and right brain hemispheres and releases “good” brain chemicals leading to calmer emotions, better memory, creativity, and eventually can raise your IQ levels by up to 4 points. Does it have to be the kind of puzzle that takes up my dining room table, though? Perhaps my denim quilt will achieve the same results… or matching tupperware lids. Or dividing brownies into enough pieces to last longer than two days in a house full of teens. Those are puzzles, right?! But, I digress…

The idea of “the puzzler” and cutting out almost 500 squares of denim for above said quilt project, had me thinking about the idea of piece work. Many of you are familiar with the Bible’s description of the church as different parts of one body. 1 Corinthians 12 goes on to explain in details how all the parts fit to make a complete whole — much like the pieces of the puzzle are designed to complete the picture (eventually — if you have the patience!).

photo credit:

As a beginner quilter, I have new appreciation for the work that goes into a huge quilt… so many tiny stitches and pieces of fabric tediously folded and tucked — often by multiple hands to complete a masterpiece! I can’t help but think God has a folding card table set up somewhere in Heaven for His puzzle of “the Church”. Or a great sewing room somewhere with giant quilts of age-old stories weaved together with tiny, perfect stitching.

We’ve been blessed in the last couple of weeks to “fish around” a bit for a variety of online church services and worship videos. Not because we don’t love our own church body, but because isolation has given us the opportunity to see what the world is doing! His church is alive and reaching out in new and wonderful ways. We’ve had to be creative and be challenged to work together to get things done. We may be physically distant, but we are certainly not isolated! Much like the quilters of old — each working on our part of the puzzle to create a masterpiece. Younger and able bodied groups are reaching out to seniors. Gifted musicians are joining together to make concerts on balconies. Bakers and baristas are serving frontline workers. The internet has exploded with “church online”… with traditional and non-traditional services being broadcasted world wide. We need to put aside our differences and look beyond our tiny warped piece and see how our bumps and grooves align with dips and waves of others. Do we fit? Can we flip to fit even better? Does our straight edge align with the straight edge of others to frame the puzzle? Does our flash of colour blend with other, similar flashes to blend into a beautiful tapestry? Who are we to think that we have all the answers? Perhaps the Master Puzzler has given us this world wide pandemic because He wanted to pull out the old Heavenly folding card table for awhile and mix up some puzzle pieces and make something beautiful out of us. And He’s got a whole lot more patience then we do! What will you do with your piece of the puzzle?

What will you do with your piece of the puzzle???