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

Investigate Chromatography

Well… day whatever of self isolation. I’m missing routine. I’m unmotivated and finding it difficult to find things to blog about. They’ve just announced that school won’t be back in session until at least May 31st. Pray for us mommas. In light of all this, I thought I would repost this article I wrote for a fellow blogger looking for some science ideas. It’s not been posted on my site, so – perhaps it would be a fun project you could do during isolation? God’s creation is vast and colourful, and hopefully spring will bring me some new ideas to muse about, but until then, enjoy this one! Stay safe, friends.


Greetings!  I am so pleased to share some thoughts with RedHeaded Patti as a guest blogger!  As a scientist and mom of four (plus the extra odd neighbourhood kids and students that sometimes visit) it was a no brainer for me to answer her call for a SUMMER OF STEM ideas!  We are always learning and love to share with others! So let’s get right down to it:  Let’s investigate Chromatography!  We originally tackled this project for this year’s science fair and it is a perfect investigation for all sorts of children or students… you can tailor it to any age by investigating just a bit deeper or a little less.  We wanted something easy, fun and colourful to learn about!  To read about our finished project, check out the link here.  We post every Tuesday and would love to have you join our adventure over at mittonmusings.com!

ChromatographyChromatography, in its simplest terms, means “separating parts of a mixture”.  Scientists do this for all kinds of mixtures:  gases, liquids and solids can all be separated into their various parts.  For example, blood can be separated out to search for specific diseases.  Oil companies often use chromatography to weed out impurities in their products. Gases can be diffused and distilled to investigate all about bombs and warfare.  Distillation is closely related to chromatography and is another method for separating mixtures.  Perhaps you can investigate the differences!  For our example, we are going to be using paper chromatography to separate liquid pigments (in markers) into their various colours.  Pigments are also found in other everyday objects like leaves and candy… even more to investigate!

So… let’s gather our materials:

paper cups

coffee filters

markers (various colours and types)

rubbing alcohol

elastic bands

a dropper

a coin

water

Once you have all your materials now is when the fun starts!!  Here’s the basic method and what our results were.  Feel free to try all sorts of markers and colours and see what results you get!

We took 6 cups and wrapped one coffee filter on the top of each cup and secured it with an elastic band

We picked 5 sharpie colours and traced the coin to make a circle on the filter

We dropped a few drops of alcohol inside the ink circles and watched the circle as it “grew” and separated by moving along the filter paper

We did the same with the Crayola marker, except we used water instead of alcohol (you’ll see why later)

Our Results:

colours

The ink separated (spread) and some turned into different colours along the coffee filter.

Green…. showed yellow

Dark Blue…. showed a light then darker blue

Purple…. showed pink and violet

Teal…. showed yellow and blue-green

Black (Sharpie)…. showed purple

Black (Crayola)…. showed blue and pink

Our favourites were teal and purple!!

Wasn’t that fun?!  Now, as good scientists, we have to ask the question: WHY?  Markers have ink — that’s what makes the colours.  Ink is a mixture of a fast-drying liquid and pigments (the substances that give something colour).  Sharpie markers have alcohol-based ink (permanent), and Crayola markers have water-based ink (not permanent).  So, when we added more liquid (alcohol or water), the ink spread out and separated into other colours.  Did you notice that black is really a mixture of a whole bunch of colours?!

We also observed that some colours spread out further than others.  The water based marker spread the most. This is because “solutes” (the things that make up a mixture) will move along depending on how much of the solute there is in the mixture.   Water based inks have a lot of “solvent”(the stuff that solutes are mixed into)…which is why they are not permanent and are easily washable. Some inks showed more than one colour even though they started out looking like only one!  This shows us that inks (or pigments) are really made up of a mixture (or solution) of different colours that produce the various shades of “single” marker colours.  Isn’t science great?!

We hope you enjoyed this fun and easy science experiment.  Remember it next time you are enjoying some colouring this summer with your markers — and don’t ever stop learning!leaves

A Season of Growth

Back when school was actually in, and I was musing about if homework was actually necessary, (Ha! Little did I know!) there was a lot of talk about this idea of “growth mindset” among educators and how it influences our students and how they learn. I suppose, it really is how we all learn. In case you have no idea what I am talking about, here is the general idea:

growth mindset, proposed by Stanford professor Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, describes people who believe that their success depends on time and effort. People with a growth mindset feel their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in others’ success.

Those who hold a growth mindset believe that they can get better at something by dedication of time, effort and energy. Working on one’s flaws, and the process—not the outcome—are the  most important components. With time and practice, people with a growth mindset believe they can achieve what they want. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset.

From: https://tophat.com/glossary/g/growth-mindset/

There is some confuddled methodologies and thought processes surrounding this whole idea — but it is what I have been musing about this week. “Growth”. I’ve been thinking about literal growth — changes you can physically see, as well as the more mystical, unseen growth, that we all do as people when faced with situations like this global pandemic we are all experiencing right now. Three weeks in, and people are starting to talk about the consequences. I’m curious to see how this will change us. Will it change us for the better? Or will we revolt and protest? Only time will tell. Speaking of time; it is finally starting to be “spring-like” around here and, like I have said so many times before, time has a way of moving forward… worldwide pandemic or not. The buds are starting to show up on the trees. We have started our little seeds and the kids have cleaned up the backyard garden (hurray for quarantine — we are ahead this year!) and we are dreaming about fresh veggies! We also fostered some baby ducklings for 3 weeks — which was definitely a growth project! Those tiny things grew fast! I’m not sure I am cut out for farming — as much as this city girl dreams about it, (constantly) it would certainly take some “growing” on my part. Perhaps these cuties will be a topic for a future muse.

Which brings me back to my muse. I think growth is a unique entity. We have “growth spurts” and we have long, slow, lengthy times of maturing that seemingly takes forever. It’s hard to see growth in those times. We think that nothing new is happening. Like a young tween waiting to get curves or the first facial hair. Often, those are times of renewal and recovery (or perhaps discovery?) — so that all the conditions are right for good growth. It’s been a month of ups and downs for the Mitton crew during lockdown 2020. I get excited about a new project or homeschool, and just as quickly get sad and frustrated. Some days I dream big, and other days I can’t seem to get moving at all. They tell me that’s normal. It seems we are in a season of growth.

So as I navigate this time, I’ve been encouraged by the words of Lamentations 3. Verses 22 and 23 are the most famous, of course, and the most uplifting when it comes to sparking Hope and Encouragement:

But it is interesting to note that the full chapter is a lament. It’s not that encouraging. It’s full of despair and depression. Then the writer comes to the realization of God’s ancient idea of a growth mindset. Each morning is a new day. And God’s love is faithful. It’s a process, with ebbs and flows of good and bad. A journey with a goal, where success is measured by time, effort and persistence. And failure is part of the process.

So, what about you all? Are you feeling stuck in the lament? Are you wallowing in the darkness of unemployment, uncertainty or just simple boredom? Tomorrow is a new day. Filled with new doses of mercy, light and hope from a God whose faithfulness is timeless. May you be encouraged, my friend, by the journey itself. Your successes will be achieved through time, effort and tiny steps forward. Oh… I am certainly not there either. My mind dreams big, but the flesh is weak, and laziness, to be truthful, is a whole lot easier. Share me some love, okay? Post a thought, some encouragement, or something you’re doing to make this season of “slow growth” helpful for all of us! I love to hear your comments.


Want some ideas for some things to do during your “slow growth” time at home? Check out these posts: How to Stay Motivated Brag Tags DinoSaurs or browse through my old muses like the Colouring Party!