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 Pexels.com

Is it Okay to Doodle in Church?

Welcome back! This week, we have a guest post from my friend, Ruth. She inspires me on so many levels! So, I asked her to give me her thoughts on art and worship! I hope she inspires you, too!

Hello! I’m so honoured to be a guest blogger here on mittonmusings. My name is Ruth, and when I’m not working at my full time job in technology, I love to paint and draw. You’ll often find me doodling in meetings and during church. I love bright, colourful things and so the recent colouring party postings have been right up my alley!

I’d like to share with you today a series of questions and answers with my thoughts about colour and art.

Let’s start with an easy question: what’s my favourite colour?

Ok, so that’s not really so easy because I don’t know that I have one particular favourite. However, if I absolutely had to choose, I suppose it would be red. But what I really like about red is how it comes alive and vibrates with life when put beside certain blues and greens. When I’m painting, I love to start with a red under painting and then layer greens and blues on top, allowing the red to peek out in places, making the painting really come alive with colour.

Ruth’s “waterlily” with red underpainting

Why do I doodle in meetings and in church?

Contrary to my husband’s teasing, doodling while listening to a sermon isn’t a distraction. It actually helps keep me stay focused by not allowing my mind to wander and think about the milk I need to add to the grocery list or a work challenge that I’m struggling with. This article from Harvard Health Publishing supports what I’ve experienced.

Doodling is different from drawing in that there is no planning or prior thought to it. I never know exactly what will end up on the page! I just start with a shape and then keep adding to it. They say that doodles can tell you something about a person — but I don’t know what my doodles say about me, except that most of them end up looking quite floral, so I suppose that’s the gardener and nature lover in me.

How does art make me feel?

Drawing and painting connect me to the person that God created me to be. Let me try to explain. For many years, after I graduated from university, I stopped making art. I was working hard on building my career and then I met my husband and had babies. And I began to feel like I had lost hold of something important. A piece of myself had gotten lost and, even with all the good in my life, I desperately needed to find it. When I started painting again, it just felt so right.

Ruth’s sermon doodles

When I’m drawing or painting, I’m connecting with my subject in a very intimate manner. In the process of painting, I get to explore and really get know God’s creation. I feel immensely privileged. While I’m painting, and I’m in the flow, it’s the best feeling in the world.

How can art and colour be incorporated into worship?

Art has long been entwined with the church. Look no further than the beautiful stained glass windows of many churches. Can it be used to worship? Absolutely! A verse, a story, a sermon – any of these (and more) can be inspiration for worshipful art. It doesn’t need to be representational either. Creating abstract art can be a very fulfilling and spiritually rich experience.

When you think of God, what colours do you see? When you think of His love, His creation, His sacrifice? Use colour to express your thoughts and feelings of your Creator and His creation.

Some of my favourite tools and products that I use to create art

And finally, let me leave you with some practical information. Here are some of my favourite products and tools, all of which can be found at your local art store:

•        Pigma Micron pens. My preference is the 01 but I also use the thicker 03 and 05 pens as well.

•        Sketchbook. Any one with good, thicker paper will do and allow you to use pen without bleeding through.

•        Golden acrylic paints. They may be more expensive but they are worth it!

•        Birch board and mounted birch board. I prefer using wood over using canvas as there’s not as much “give” and I have more control. It’s also a smoother surface to paint on.

Is it Okay to Doodle in Church? Thoughts from a guest blogger!
You can find more about Ruth at http://www.ruthlindamorton.com

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on art and colour in the comments below. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook.

Meaning of Blue

Welcome back to the Colouring Party! I’m afraid to say that today kind of feels like the day after the party here at Chez Mitton. We set our clocks back to daylight savings time on the weekend, the kids were away on a youth retreat, we launched our first ever giveaway here on the blog, and we picked up the eldest son from his midnight flight after his trip to New Zealand. Time flies! Seems like just yesterday we were just saying goodbye… and here he is back again, with a bit more wisdom in his pocket and some jet lag in all of our bodies from the adrenaline rush of his return. Which brings me to this week’s colour: Blue. And I’m feelin’ it today!

Sometimes we say that don’t we? We’re “feeling blue”. Sad and a little depressed. That lack of sleep doesn’t help either. Although, like many of the colours we’ve been looking at, the meaning of blue is complex and varied. Often we use blue to describe the calm, peaceful feeling we get from the ocean waves or clear skies. Almost the opposite of “feeling blue”. Yet again, blue is said to be the colour of “the Divine”, of wisdom, the heavens, of peace. We have plenty of blue catch phrases as well. I found an interesting tidbit on the web’s Urban Dictionary: the idea of a “blue blood” was “…translated from the old Spanish phrase “sangre azul”,[where] blue blood derives from the Medieval belief in Europe (among other places) that the blood of the royalty and nobility was blue; since the royal family and aristocrats were wealthy and powerful enough to pay commoners to labour in the fields for them, [the royal] skin was translucent and pale enough for their blue veins to stand out….” (since they didn’t go out in the sunlight.) Almost the opposite of our definition of “blue collar workers” as requiring plenty of manual labour. Complex thoughts, indeed.

So, where does blue lie within the scriptures? Our blue, here, tends to follow the idea of nobility, grandeur and royalty. Although we do have some references to the calming blue waters next to green pastures in the Psalms, dark blue and deep purple are abundant in descriptions of precious stones and valued silks. Sapphires or “lapis lazuli” are referenced nine times in the Old Testament, including this verse from Exodus 24:

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky.”

So much for walking the streets of gold in Heaven, I guess. Ezekiel 28 gives us another glance at the deep royalty of blue. Sapphires and other jewels adorn the great King of Tyre in this passage, representing his wisdom and prowess. Many say this is a description of Satan and his fall from Heaven. Once adorned and created as the “seal of perfection” with beauty and sophistication, this “guardian Cherub” became prideful and full of corruption and was eventually cast out by God. A good reminder to us to be wary of all that sparkles. Wealth may not be all “true blue”, shall we say?

Alas, most of us are not adorned with royal sapphires. Diamonds do not bedazzle our imperial necks, nor are we of noble “blue blood”. No worries, I found our blue, dear friends! In the common cuttlefish of the sea. “Techelet” is a Hebrew word referring to an ancient blue dye thought to have been extracted from this squid like creature. Although considered “special” and used sparingly to highlight, this dye was common enough for use in the average Hebrew garment. In the Torah, God commands Hebrew followers to attach “tzitzit” to the four corners of their garments to remind them of the Ten Commandments. (Numbers 15:38-39) This practice is also common among many orthodox Jews even today. One of those “tzitzit” (or fringes as you may have heard them called) should be, you guessed it: blue.

photo from Beit El Blog

Besides the fact that I just love that new word (tzitzit — it’s fun to say and spell!) I discovered new insight into an old Bible story. Many gospels describe the story of a woman with a long standing blood issue. The story tells the tale of this “unclean” and shunned woman who reaches out in faith to touch the “hem” or “fringe” of Jesus’ garment in hopes that, by her fatih alone, she might be healed. Tradition has it that the “fringe” they speak of ? Yup, it is the common blue “tzitzit” of Jesus’s shawl. Cool, eh?

And so we come full circle again in our study. Are you feeling a little “blue” today? Is life catching up with you or has the vast expanse of blue skies ahead have you feeling overwhelmed at the unknown? Perhaps your thoughts of nobility, wealth and wisdom have been stripped away and your skin is a bit more translucent and exposed to the harsh reality of the outside world? Maybe you need a little dose of the calm blue of the “tzitzit”. The ancient reminder of Who is in charge. The healing touch of Christ’s “fringe benefits” in a crowded world of chaos. May you be Blessed with Blue !


Are you enjoying our party?! Don’t forget to enter our I Still Believe movie ticket giveaway: click here. It’s your little “loot bag” for coming to the colouring party! Our movie review is coming soon — so watch your inbox for it! Want to learn more about “tzitzit” (LOL, I just love to say it!). Check out my Pinterest boards for more on how to make your own. Maybe it would be a fun Sunday School craft or home school project? Chat soon, my friends!