Thursday, August 13, 2009

Homeschooling Discounts and Free Resources

The Homeschool Buyer Co-op is a great organization that has helped me save a bundle on curriculum. Co-op discounts range from 20%-90%!

This month the Co-op is giving SmartPoints to members who help spread the word about these great deals. If you haven't joined yet, you'll get 100 SmartPoints just for joining! Once you have joined, you can spread the word too and start building your own SmartPoints balance. When you have enough SmartPoints, you can use them to purchase many of the products available through the Co-op.

Click my link or use the address below to get a complete list of all the available offers organized by subject area:

Here's a sampling of what's available:


Switched-On Schoolhouse - Save 12%, Free Shipping, AND Earn SmartPoints

PLATO Learning K-12 Curriculum - Save $50

eTAP K-12 Curriculum - Save 35%


Meet The Masters Art Education - Save 50%

Type To Learn Typing Tutor Software - Save 56%


Rosetta Stone Homeschool - Save up to $100, Free Shipping, and Earn SmartPoints


Chester Comix - Save 57%

Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips - Save up to 90%


Explode The Code Online - Save 50%

My Access! Writing Curriculum - Save 50%


Aha!Math for Grades 5-8 - Save up to 50%

Destination Math - Save up to 66% (the ultimate Saxon Math online companion)

Thinkwell Video Classroom - Save up to 48%


Discovery Education streaming Plus (educational videos!) - Save 45%

SmartDraw Homeschool Edition - Save 60%


Adaptive Curriculum - Only $49

Aha!Science for Grades 3-5 - Save up to 67%

PLATO Learning (formerly CyberEd) - Save 63%


Kaplan SAT Online Prep - Save 80%

Let's Go Learn - Save 25%


BrainWare Safari - Save 68%

And the list goes on!

Have a fantastic school year!

Monday, July 6, 2009

For Homeschoolers in Richmond VA

Summer is almost half over and most of the curriculum sales are finished. As I am getting my lesson plans together for the Fall, I wanted to give RES and myself a little plug. If you haven't made all your plans for the upcoming school year, then check out Richmond Enrichment Studio. Going on it's 3rd year, there are lots of great classes coming up.

This year, the new High School Academic Core Track will be starting and I'm very excited about it. This is great if you feel deficient in one or more subjects and need someone else to handle the tough subjects for you. If you haven't homeschooled through high school before, this is a great option to ease into it without wrestling over the decision to keep them at home or send them to public school.

Since the program is new, you will find some Level 1 offerings of classes and may be hesitant to enroll your student. Be assured that Level 2 classes will be added in subsequent years as the program continues to grow.

The classes I'll be teaching:
English Grammar & Composition for 9th/10th graders (there is a companion Literature class being taught by Joyce Rodgers for a TOTAL Language Arts program)
Latin I - I'll teaching from an immersion style for translation and we will be learning what daily living consisted of in the Roman Empire
PreAlgebra I, Algebra I, and Geometry - All using Math U See
Family & Consumer Science - we'll be learning how to live - how to apply for a job, resumes, buying a car, rental agreements, cooking, sewing, decorating, caring for yourself and clothing, caring for young children

Beginning Latin - for Elementary students, a great way for your child to learn grammar and word roots through Latin vocabulary
Intermediate Math - fractions, division, decimals, getting ready for PreAlgebra I

Classes are small, so register now to save your child's spot. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about classes I'm teaching.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just claiming my blog

for Technorati. Just ignore this little message. It's for the bot. bu9depx8my

Saturday, June 27, 2009

School starts up again

Really, I shouldn't have let them have that 3rd week off, when they were begging to start school work again. I'm amazed at what was lost in 3 weeks. I can't imagine the damage 12 weeks would do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do NOT buy a Gateway Computer EVER!

For the last 9 years, I've owned multiple Dell computers. Mostly because they were recommended to me by co-workers in the IT dept when I was still working. At first, I was greatly impressed with Dell and their customer service department. On my second and third Dell purchases, the computers weren't so great. There were constant lock-ups, peripheral problems, etc. Whatever was covered under warranty was deftly handled by the CS department, but I felt the quality of the computers themselves had gone down.

So, when the time came last year to buy a new computer (the older Dell had finally crapped out for the last time), I decided it was time to change brands. So we decided to give Gateway a try. The computer arrived all gleaming and shiny with it's piercing blue light. It was very exciting. It's worked great until about a month ago. Then it started locking up quite a bit. Yes, I had Anti-Virus/Spyware/etc. on it. I thought we had bought in April 08 and so didn't check on the warranty. It got steadily worse - we tried cleaning, defragging, all the stupid things non-tech people do to salvage what they can without paying for it.

Last Wednesday, I turned it off when I went to bed and Thursday morning it was dead. It wouldn't complete the boot up cycle. Oh, I panicked! I needed my Callidora files and photos badly! Just start up ONE time so I can retrieve my files! Max tried a couple of things from the boot menu but nothing worked. So I pulled out the Recovery disc that came with the computer. You know that one that says, "WARNING: Inserting this disc will erase all your files. Use only to recover your Windows Operating System." So, I put the disc in. It had a Repair function which I tried first, but no - computer cannot be repaired. Then I went to the Install option, and it booted up. Yay! All my files were still there too!

However, the disc had partitioned my hard drive and created a very small C: only big enough to hold the OS files. I could SEE my files, but couldn't use them except for photos. I couldn't access my programs and I couldn't merge the 2 partitions. So I found Gateway's website, looking for support, and low and behold! I had warranty until June 25, 2009! I decided to call right away.

So as not to kill you with the HORRID details, here it is in a nutshell:
I ended up speaking with 6 different reps and a supervisor. The first 4 reps all gave me different solutions totally unrelated to each other. Reps 3 and 4 said that I should have never put that disc in my machine. It was HARMFUL to the computer and they no longer sent it out to customers! I immediately demanded to speak to a supervisor.

Yes, indeed, it's true - THAT DISC IS HARMFUL AND GATEWAY DOESN'T SEND IT OUT ANYMORE! Well, pray, tell me what is Product Registration for than to give you a way to contact your customers in the event you need to recall something. He said, that if I had used that disc in the first 90 days, they would have covered it under my software portion of the warranty. But since I waited until the week before the warranty expired, they could do nothing but offer me the option of backing up my files for $129.95 or receiving a new disc for $19.95.

So, I broke my computer using a disc that was sent with my computer. Gateway knows this disc is harmful and no longer sends the disc out, but hasn't contacted it's previous customers to warn them against using it. Or better yet, with an offer to replace it. I called again to see if there was anyway to fix this after Max spent 4 hours removing my files to another computer. Reps 5 and 6 told me to put this disc into the computer in order to put it back to factory settings. In my shock, I asked if I was supposed to use the disc they acknowledge as harmful to do this. Oh Yes! It's no problem. I asked again 3 times if they really meant for me to use this HARMFUL disc again. Yep, you bet - or however you say that in Punjabi. I said fine and did it. I got an error message.

Oh you need a level 2 tech. Great. Well Steve gets on the line and tells me the error code means my disc is corrupted and he'll sell me a new one. I laughed out loud and said "Did you say SELL me?! NO YOU DID NOT SAY SELL ME!" He said "OH YES I DID SAY 'SELL'!" I asked why I should pay for a disc that I've only used once, is harmful to my computer, and was obviously defective to begin with. Shouldn't the company replace the defective disc. Well, if I had found that out in the first 90 days, they would have replaced it.

I asked if Gateway expects it's brand new computers to crash within the 90 days. Because there is no other reason to use this disc. Oh no, of course a Gateway computer wouldn't falter in the first 90 days. So how am I supposed to know my disc is corrupted in the first 90 days when I have no occasion to use it. Too bad, my problem. I hung up in tears of angry frustration.

That was 2 days ago. I'm writing this now on said computer that has been totally reformatted, wiped clean and reprogrammed with Linux using Ubuntu, Mozilla Firefox, and am using for my programs. Microsoft can go to hell with Gateway in the lead.

Do you want to free yourself from the Microsoft matrix? You can, it takes a little effort, but it's all free and when you get everything up and running, it's as familiar as Windows with better programs and no glitches. Start with Ubuntu. Firefox and OpenOffice come with it automatically. You'll need download Flashplayer for Linux once you're up and running, but it's easy. Ubuntu has an unbelievable image editor, accessories, games, music player, burner, sound recorder, and lots of cool stuff.

So DON'T BUY A GATEWAY! Their Customer DISservice Department sucks!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Break is almost over :(

Well, we took a 3 week break from school work from the middle of May until now. The kids were begging and whining about how school was dragging on. I was tired and frustrated, trying to get them to focus was impossible. That's the nice thing about homeschooling - you just take a break when you've all had enough! They kept telling me 3 weeks wasn't going to be long enough. I said, "oh no! You'll get bored, trust me." "No we won't! We're sick of studying. The weather's nice. We wanna play for 6 weeks."

Yeah, right. I stopped arguing. Last Friday, the end of the 2nd week, Ronan pulls out his math book and says, "Can we do Math now?" I said NO and told him to put the book back. I reminded him that we still had a week of break left. He whined. Yes, he did. We argued about him not getting to do his math. Hahaha, can you believe it?! This past Monday, I had the exact same argument/conversation with Miranda. SHE wanted to do math and was complaining of boredom! I reminded her about wanting 6 weeks off - she groaned. I said, "it's okay honey, only one more week of break. Aren't you glad it was only 3 weeks?" She actually said yes.

Blaise turned 12 on the 29th. He WOULD be happy with a 6 week break, but his laziness is driving me crazy. Max, of course, only had 2 weeks because he's taking an 8 week PreCalc class this summer.

So Monday, we start again. But I'm excited! New subjects, eager children, fresh workbooks. I love homeschooling :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Proud Mama

Here it is, the official senior year portrait! Max has officially finished senior year of high school and first year of college at the same time. How I love concurrent enrollment at the community college! He has done quite well, finishing with a 3.765 GPA this year, taking English, History, Algebra 2, Chemistry and Physics. He'll be taking PreCalculus this summer and is starting his college search for a 4 year university to transfer into.

He also got his driving learner's permit about a month ago and I have to say that I love being chauffeured around :) The stick shift lessons are going - um, smoothly. Automatic, of course, is much easier, but you know how important it is to know both.

The three other kiddies are on early summer break right now. We'll be starting up our homeschooling again in June with another short break in the Fall. Why waste all that heat on sweating outside when we can sweat inside over difficult concepts :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Contest ending April 30

Be sure to get your entries in for the Name That Dress Contest! You can find all the rules, prize, ways to enter here. I'm looking forward to your creative names :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My New Chauffeur!

I'm sooooo excited! My son Max got his learner's permit today and he is driving! I let him drive to school today and had him take me to the bank. Oh! Life is good! I may never drive again :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meet DJStoreroom

Very nice stuff :)

The Crazy Train!

Since making my presence stronger on Artfire, I have discovered some fun things in forums. One of them is the Crazy Train. It's a way for handcrafting artisans to get noticed by the world. As a passenger on the train, one artist gets promotional exposure for 2 days by all the other passengers. So now that I'm on a legitimate crazy train (and not one of my own design!), I'll be introducing you to new artists as I learn about them.

Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spending more time with Artfire

Etsy has been good to me over the last year, but I must say that the fees can be a killer on the higher priced items. I feel horrible passing that along to the customer, so I can make my small profit. I've known about Artfire for awhile, and just last month decided to give it the old college try. I became a Charter Artisan with them and have been concentrating on adding my new items to that shop.

My intention is to have Artfire as my main shop, along with my website, and have Etsy as my one of a kind and clearance shop. So if you've been following me on Etsy, please take a look at my shop on Artfire. There you will find not only my Spring Collection, but some OOAKs and destash items.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm back!

Okay, I know I've been slackin' big time in the Blog Department, but seriously I'm a one-woman show. For the past month, I have been getting my Spring Handbag Collection ready, and working on dresses that soon need to be completed. I've also been putting together lesson plans for several high school level classes I'll be teaching in the Fall at the homeschool center. I know you think that I have plenty of time, but no - I didn't. Registration began in March and if you were being asked to pay for a year long class, I know you'd want to see the whole thing planned out in advance. So had to do that, times 5 - while sewing, teaching my current classes, teaching my own kids, and daycaring 2 days a week. Exhausted!

But, get your browser on over to Callidora's and see some of my efforts. If you do, then come back here and tell me in a comment to this post:

1. Which product you like best
2. What changes you like or dislike about my new website design
3. A way to contact you

and you will be eligible for a giveaway on April 15!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Boldly Going...

Yes! It's true! A confirmed rumor that the Star Trek Experience will be re-opening in a new location off the Las Vegas Strip! I'm so excited, I haven't been able to think of anything else since Friday when I heard.

The Details:

The new location will be near the Fremont Street Experience, so somewhere north of the Stratosphere. It will be open (partially) in time for this year's Convention in August. They plan to have the restaurant and retail shops open. They are moving the museum artifacts, but they may not be in place by then. CBS/Paramount will either updating the rides or creating new ones, not sure yet, and they are slated to be fully operational in 2010. My guess would be in time for next year's Star Trek Con.

So when will I be going?! I've thought and planned (while maniacly rubbing my hands together) and decided on Star Trek Con 2012. Yes, I will need 3 years to save because this time I'm doing it all! Blaise will be graduating from high school that year, and Max should be just about finished with his Bachelor's if all continues on schedule. My plan is to be there for the entire Convention and maybe a few days on either side for other Vegas fun.

So there it is... I'm a happy Klingon again :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Richmond Homeschooling

If you happen to live in the Richmond, VA area and are homeschooling or just thinking about it, I wanted to plug next week's Open House at Richmond Enrichment Studio (RES). Teachers, including myself, will be on hand to showcase our students work and talk with parents about what's available for the Spring Session. Also, there will be a preview of the new High School Core Track that is starting in Fall 2009.

So, be there if you can, Friday, Feb 27 5:30-8:00pm, 11000 Trade Rd. Richmond VA

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Okay, this is the best Valentine card I ever got! As you can see, by this properly documented picture, it was handcrafted (yes it runs in the family!) by Miranda age 9. Look for the time/date stamp!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recipe: Future Salad

This was named by Max because he thought it tasted very futuristic, and fresh!

Serves 6
2 cups of black beans
2 cups of frozen corn
2 tbsp. cilantro ( I used dried, but you can double and use fresh)
1 tbsp. bacon bits
2 scallions chopped
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar
1 cup of Chipotle Lime salad dressing
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 head of romaine, chopped
1 bag of corn chips

1. Combine all ingredients (except corn chips) in a large bowl. Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes for flavors to blend.

2. Place some corn chips on each plate and spoon a portion of mixed salad and enjoy!

This is great on its own for a light lunch, or can be paired with rice for a dinner.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Catching Up!

Okay, I'm excited about a few things that have happened over the last week!

1. I totally rearranged my craft room to give me more space and I feel sooooo creative now :)

2. I decided on a line of semi-formal and formal wear for women. Think Prom, Bridal, and Cocktail dresses!

3. I lined up 3 models (beautiful friends in a variety of gorgeous sizes) and a photographer (a lovely young lady still taking classes)! This will be done in 2 months when the dresses are complete.

4. I have dreamed up and teamed up with LaMar Lynch to provide a "Wedding Bundle" - bridal gown, bridesmaids gowns, and handcrafted wedding invitations. These will be available in April for weddings taking place in November 2009 and after.

5. My friend LaMar got some awesome press this week and I am soooo proud of him! His local news station picked up the article and wants to do a spot on him :) What an inspiration!

6. My homeschool center classes are going well, and we are already planning for summer and fall sessions! Good lordy, I'll have to really have my ducks in a row!

7. Miranda is one month away from transitioning from (predominately) 4th grade material into 5th grade. Ronan is about 6 weeks away from transitioning into 2nd grade. Blaise has managed to squash 7th and 8th together, (and dare I say it! - don't tell him, but...) he'll be ready for 9th grade in the Fall! Max is loving his Chemistry class (shock, I know), and is working on a term paper on Joe McCarthy for History. He'll tackle Algebra 2 again for an 8 week session that starts in March.

8. Hubby just got over the flu and boy are we happy he's back to his happy self :)

And that's us, all caught up :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First Cloche Attempt

I made my first cloche, seen here, out of scraps on the cutting room floor. I was trying to get basic construction down and sort of work out the kinks. I'll be making some real ones to sell and to wear in my So Called Vintage Life!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Eat The View

Eat The View is a very cool little organization trying to promote turning our suburban lawns back into useful food growing lots. They are currently focusing on having a portion of the White House Lawn turned into a fruit and vegetable garden with the produce going into the White House kitchen and surplus going to area food banks.

My local farmer, Charlie Collins of Victory Farms, has been nominated to be the White House Farmer. Having eating Charlie's produce as a CSA member, I can gladly vouche for the wholesome goodness he provides for our table. Please go to the website to learn more about this initiative and vote for Charlie. Voting ends on January 31, so please hurry and go do it right now.

With a troubled economy, we can learn from our American history and turn our useless lawns into sustainable produce for each family. Remember Victory Gardens? Even urban dwellers can grow an amazing amount in a small space.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Vintage Fantasies!

So I've always loved the historical. When I was a teenager reading Harlequin romances, I always chose the historical romances. I loved Gone With The Wind, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, and Titanic. I've always wanted to bring back the 50s in dress and rosy nostalgic bliss.

I've been noticing that others share this same longing and passion to re-create the romance and dignity of past days. So I decided, for fun, to make myself a Regency style dress. I wore it to church a couple of weeks and absolutely loved how gothic it made me feel!

Last year, I made a couple of 50s dresses to wear anywhere. My husband says he can't figure me - well I can't either, but I'm having fun! About a month ago, we went to a vintage shop in Richmond and a telescoping cigarette holder from the 20s/30s and well, let's just say that I caught the fever.

I decided that some of my lady friends should have a vintage night out with our husbands. I've been searching for 20s cloches in my gigantic head size and really couldn't find anything less than $100. I bought a pattern for a 30s Hollywood Glam dress and found an original reprint pattern for cloches - so soon I will be on a vintage sewing frenzy!

I might make some of these historical/vintage dresses in fine fabrics to sell. How fun would that be for a themed wedding or night out on the town?! Going on themed cruise? It would be awesome to have one of these dresses made perfectly to fit your own proportions. I'll be sure to get some photos up after they're done.

Recipe: Frito Pie

I've never had Frito Pie before, but I saw it on the menu at Galaxy Diner and had to try making it. So I made up this recipe myself and the fam went crazy! Here it is (side note, done as organically and close to earth/unprocessed as possible):

Ingredients (You may substitute with items in parentheses, but I can't guarantee it will be as tasty or nutritionally sound)

Serving for 6

1 cup each of dried beans - navy, great northern, light red kidney (1 can 15 oz. can of each type)
1/2 to 1 lb. pasture-raised ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (2-3 tbsp. jarred minced garlic)
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 can of Enchilada sauce
1 can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chiles (1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 4 oz. of green chiles, diced)
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder (less if you don't like spicy)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. real butter
1 large jar of Cheese Whiz (Velveeta, small block has more preservatives than Cheese Whiz)
1 bag of Frito's Original Flavor Corn Chips
1 cup shredded cheese, (cheddar, monterey jack, colby, or fiesta blend)

Slow cooker
Stock pot
Cutting board
Can opener
Pyrex pie pan or Pyrex casserole dish

1. Sort beans and rinse. Cook on high in the crockpot for 6 hours.

2. Melt butter in stock pot on medium high. Saute chopped onion, peppers, and garlic for about 5 minutes. Remove from pot and place aside in a bowl while still crisp.

3. Brown ground beef. Repeatedly break apart beef as it's browning.

4. Preheat oven to 350. Add onion mixture to beef in stock pot. Add Ro-tel, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce and all spices. Add drained beans. Stir and mix well. Lower heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. In Pyrex dish, cover the bottom with Fritos. Add whole jar of Cheese Whiz to the simmered chili and mix thoroughly until all cheese is melted. Pour chili onto Frito base. Add extra Fritos around the edges to simulate pie crust. Put shredded cheese on top of exposed chili.

6. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. Serve with sour cream and chopped scallions if you like.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Teaching begins again

I'm really fortunate to have a great homeschooling community. I am part of a homeschool center that provides classes taught by homeschooling moms and some enrichment professionals. Richmond Enrichment Studio is in its 2nd year and is a great model for other homeschooling communities.

Sessions run for 8 weeks and the school year is from September to May. It's sort of like a co-op and is a great way to supplement the at-home program. This session I'm teaching on Thursdays: Intermediate Math, Pre-Algebra, Mythological Creatures, Latin, and Human Body Systems. It's a packed day, but we do get a lot done!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Miranda's Birthday

Miranda enjoying her Princess card which was Handcrafted by LaMar and definitely enjoying her cake! She turned 9 on Dec. 25. Yes, my Christmas angel :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My First Customer Appreciation Photo

I'm so happy I got this photo! Please go to my Gallery to read the full story and see additional photos of this project.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ronan's birthday

He turned 6 on Dec 20 and had a great celebration at Nana's house.

Friday, January 9, 2009

January Blues

My kids have cabin fever. It's cold, it's wet, homeschooling is boring, why do we have to get out of bed?! Well, I can't help the cold and the wet. Schoolwork isn't boring; they just aren't motivated after taking a holiday break. And I don't want to get out of bed either, but I have to make money and feed my lazy beasts. Does anyone have a cure for the January blues?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Callidora's Closet is open

so go see what she's got in there! There's a Spring Shopping Poll and the Deal of the Week. If you want to get the Deal of the Week right in your inbox, be sure to subscribe to my new blog.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back from the Holidays!

I hope you all wonderful holidays and time with your families! We celebrated 3 birthdays and Christmas with both my mother and mother in law. My sister came from California for a VERY short visit with baby Jillian. But I think I ate most of her up in a 24 hour period. Just dahh-leeng!

I finished a couple of personal projects for my closet :) and I've been hard at work on the drawing board. I have been formulating my business goals for this year. In that regard, this blog will be strictly my personal blog with ALL my fabulous opinions, reviews, and great finds. I am starting a Callidora's blog on Wordpress. There will be announcements of what I'm doing in my shops, Deal of the Week spots, photos of my custom work, and upcoming items.

I'm very excited for what 2009 will bring!

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Put even the plainest woman into a beautiful dress and unconsciously she will try to live up to it. - Lady Duff-Gordon

Please visit my online shop, Callidora's, for clothing and accessories. I'm adding new items all the time and I'm always happy to do custom work in any price range. You can email me with any requests and we can create your unique, handmade item together.

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