PB&J lifehack.

Does PB&J really needs a makeover?

Some bloggers certainly think so. Hacks and tricks range from somewhat useful (check out Crystal Paine Freezer-Friendly Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches) to unintentionally comical and controversial (who remembers Bev Weidner’s Peanut Butter Slices Recipe?)

Well, guess who is now brave enough to share her PB&J hack? This girl! No, I’m not kidding. I can’t believe it either. Let the merciless mockery ensue.

Lifehack is a clever technique, tip that is meant to simplify a task or make it more efficient. While my tip will not reduce the time needed to spread nut butter and jelly on a piece of bread, it will reduce your guilt over throwing away perfectly good crusts because of unexplained crust phobia that has consumed toddlers, kids and adults alike. Without further ado, I present to you the

PB&J hack

  1. Arrange sliced bread on a clean surface.


2. Using a large cookie cutter or a knife cut off the crust.


3. Place the cut off pieces of bread on a baking sheet and place in a 300F oven for 15 minutes. After bread cools off, put chunks into the food processor and pulse until desired crumb size. Transfer to an air tight container (I use mason jars.) For optimal freshness, place in refrigerator for 1 month or in the freezer for 3 months.


4. Place crustless bread back into the bag, trai Ta-da, crusts are not going to waste anymore!


**Mini-tip #2:  If you are planning to freeze the sandwiches, put peanut butter on both slices of bread. This will prevent jelly from turning bread into mushy mess.

***Mini-tip #3: Seal edges by flipping plastic cookie cutter upside down to seal the edges together.

****Correction and tip #4 from my eldest: “Mom, you can’t use PEANUT butter on my co-op sandwich. It can kill my teacher and hurt some of my friends. Use cashew butter, please.” Good point, kid, thank you.

So this long post can be summarized in 1 sentence. Don’t throw away the crusts, turn them into bread crumbs instead.

The end.

Globes, maps and scissors: why all maps are inaccurate. 

That map you have on your wall? It’s wrong.

The map we use daily in our homeschool? It’s wrong.

This Google World map? Still wrong.

The new fancy accurate map? It’s wrong too.

ALL maps are wrong. Why?

It’s square peg through round hole kind of situation: we are trying to take a sphere and represent it on the flat surface.

In this experiment we will try to do the impossible: take a 3D bubble and flatten it into a 2D map.

1. Cut a line from North to South pole along the longitude line.

2. Try to lay the “map” flat. Stretch, cut, struggle, sob, quit.

3. I made several cuts along the longitude lines, leaving the segments attached at the equator line.

Now it’s time to play connect-the-dots game: complete latitude lanes and fill in the gaps. Ta-daaaa! You have successfully transferred surface of three dimensional object to a two dimensional sheet of paper, but at what cost?

Landmasses near equator kept their shape and size. The further away from the equator, the more distorted the image is. Greenland appears to be as big as Africa; India looks tiny, Indonesia is barely visible.

Check out The True Size Of web site for some eye-opening maps.

The most recognizable version of the world map, the Mercator projection, was presented in 1569 (!!!) by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator. His projection is a great tool for nautical purposes, but is widely criticized because it distorts sizes.

Should we stop utilizing all the maps? Using a globe, three dimensional representation of our planet, seems like a logical conclusion, buuuut…

…all globes are wrong too!

Earth is not round.

No, I am not suggesting that Earth is flat, it’s just not a perfect sphere. We travel through time and space on an oblate spheroid—a sphere that is squashed at it’s poles and swollen at the equator.
I’m beginning to think that the best way to study geography is from International Space Station. Field trip, anyone?

February homeschool plans: yes, we are giving in to Olympics craze!

As Christmas season was coming to an end, I was hoping to enjoy slow January full of rest, snuggles, hot tea, good books and lazy couchschooling. Series of unexpected events and no ability to control our schedule led to the busiest month in a long time. It’s OK, we’ll move the R&R month to February!

Except February is full to the brim with fun events and learning opportunities: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, webcasts and online classes, the biggest book sale of the year, regular meetups and clubs, co-op classes, tutoring sessions and Winter Olympics 2018.

Olympic games were always a HUGE deal in my childhood home, especially Winter Olympics. But how do I tie this unit in with Valentine’s day and other holidays?

There is a Greek connection to everything, it seems. Coincidentally, we have been going down the Ancient Greece rabbit hole for the past few months, so this unit study will fit in organically into our schedule. Our history unit will tie it all together:

  • the Ancient Olympic Games were staged in Olympia in honor of Zeus,
  • Valentine’s day is influenced by Greek festival in honor of Pan, held around February, 15th
  • Athens is a birthplace of democracy, making it relevant to Presidents’ day study,
  • Groundhog day…I’m sure there is a festival that was celebrated first week of February.

During the next few weeks we will cover the plethora of related subjects. Here are just a few:

  • geography
  • history
  • culture
  • art
  • music
  • I’ll throw in some PE for a good measure

Opening night plans

As much as I enjoy the atmosphere of a live broadcast, we have another commitment on Tuesday mornings, so we will settle the party with taped Opening Ceremony in the background. To kick off the party we will:

  • snack on fruit and vegetable plate arranged in Olympic symbol;
  • start drawing flags of the countries participating in the games (you could find free printable version, but we prefer to sneak in some coloring/writing practice and add a unique personal touch to the flag banner. We will pick a handful of flags to draw each day.)
  • make Olympic torches and have a relay (or maybe a game of hot potato.)
  • kids will design an obstacle course and all family members will try to conquer it. Anticipation is killing me! I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

How are you incorporating Olympic fun to your homeschool or after-school enrichment?

Do you want to build a snowman? Baking soda dough.

The winter is almost over, and to my kids’ chagrin, it hardly snowed in Oklahoma this year. I’m not complaining, but they are. Loudly.

To distract them from this tragedy, during the past few weeks we painted with ice, froze some treasures in a block of ice, instantly froze some water, and played with this “win-win-win-win” fun messy baking soda dough. Why quadruple win? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Kids did 100% of prep work and loved every moment of sifting, measuring, stirring and molding. Sifting is not required, the boys insisted.
  2. They enjoyed the messy sensory fun and played with the dough for hours. They built (and destroyed) snowmen, created mountains, clouds,
  3. Just when the boys started losing interest, I asked them if the would like to add some vinegar to their creations. You could see the wheels turning “Vinegar…baking soda dough…YASSSSS!!!!”
  4. …aaaaaand my favorite part: both baking soda and vinegar can help clean all over the house. While baking soda mixed with vinegar is not the most effective cleaner, the aftermath of this fun messy sensory activity can be used to scour sinks and bathroom surfaces.
    *****I always thought that baking soda+vinegar cleaning solution was effective, but the science behind this fizzy bubbling reaction proves that I was wrong. Baking soda is basic while vinegar is acidic, their reaction produces water and sodium acetate. Mostly water with tiny amount of salt in it.*****

Note: this dough is not edible.

Note #2: the recipe is modified to make enough fizzy dough for an entire preschool class.


4 lbs (about 8 cups) baking soda

0.5 cup salt

2 cups of water

4 tsp dish soap



optional: food dye, glitter and few drops of essential oil.


  1. In a large bowl combine baking soda and salt, whisk.
  2. Add dish soap and stir until the mix is crumbly.
  3. Slowly add water until the snow dough reaches the desired consistency. If it’s too crumbly, add more water, if it’s too runny, add more baking soda.
  4. Optional: add glitter and few drops of your favorite essential oil.
  5. Time to play! Mold your baking soda dough! We made snowmen, volcanoes, snowflakes and flowers. After your creations are completed, use dropper or a condiment bottle to pour vinegar on baking soda dough.
  6. If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that there is a twist. We made some baking soda snowflakes and tried to  freeze them. It would have been a great activity…if the recipe didn’t have salt in it and the dough didn’t freeze. Oops.
    I’ll combine 1 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water and repeat step 6. Stay tuned for the updates!

Check out this fun and EASY activity:

Detailed step-by-step instructions can be found >>>here<<<.