Off the Dial

Calendar Confusion

Couple of weeks into the school year and we are off and running!  Girl scouts, tennis lessons, before-school activities, religious school and on and on.  The kids are busy and Slade and I each have our own crazy schedules. My calendar is crumbling under the pressure. Make that calendars.  

I have three right now. I've used a paper datebook for almost all my adult life. Remember those? You use a pen and everything!  I've also kept a Yahoo calendar since 2004 and I put some events on my Outlook calendar at work. 

I like Outlook because of the reminders that pop up, but I don't like the look or the layout. I love the Yahoo system, but it's not Blackberry-friendly. The paper datebook is only good if I remember to transfer the appointments to the computer. Yeah, it's a bit of a mess.


(At least I'm not as bad as this lady!)

I need a system that's easily accessible on a desktop, my blackberry and my husband's iPhone.  I want to be able to print my calendar out each week on stick it on my fridge. I'd love to get reminders emailed to me about important dates and events.  It should also make me coffee, wrap birthday presents and iron on girl scout patches. 

What calendar do you use? What do you like about it? I'd love some help to get this mess under control.

Is Debit The New Credit?

Heard something new the other day. I was buying pajamas and picking up prescriptions at Target when I got the hard sell for a Target debit card.  Not a charge card, but a debit, linked directly to a bank account. 

The nice lady at checkout was very excited about it.   There are no fees, no limits and I would get 5% percent back on each purchase, she said.  "That'll really add up at Christmas," she added. (Shana Tova!)

I have a no-more-credit-cards-of-any-kind policy right now, so I declined.  But I wondered if this was a new trend. More Americans are using cash and debit cards, trying to stay out of debt.  Would other stores join Target in offering a debit card? Has Wal-Mart already done this? Macy's? Nordstrom? (as if)

I ran this by one of the best financial experts in the country, CBS Moneywatch Editor Jill Schlesinger.  She hadn't heard much about store debit cards, but she advises we stay away from store cards in general.    Here's why:

The last time I bought pj's I thought I was going to be on a reality show. (Food Network, I'm still waiting for you! Call me!) That was quite a while ago and since then, we've all gotten much more careful with our money.

Credit card debt has fallen for five straight quarters, dropping below $5000 for the first time since 2002.  Will a debit card with rewards appeal to our new frugality or will we see it as another way for big business to keep tabs and a tether on our money?  Would you sign up?

He Got Sand In His What??

We take a family vacation to the beach at least once a year. Sand and surf mean taking some care with Benny's insulin pump, but we've been doing this since 2007.  By now, we've got the beach time under control, right?.  Well, diabetes is just full of surprises.

Last month was our annual visit to Isle of Palms, SC and we hit the beach before we even unpacked.  Kids splashing in the waves, a family walk on the sand. Digging holes and building castles.  Exactly what we go there for. I felt my blood pressure go down just watching the ocean meet the shore.

Off to dinner straight from the beach (yes, in our bathing suits – it's that kind of place). Went to reconnect Benny's pump and – the tubing wouldn't go into the inset. I just couldn't get it to click into place. Slade took a look and realized the inset was full of sand!

I immediately knew what happened - with the sinking feeling that I could have prevented it.  Earlier this year we switched from the Cleo inset to the Animas.  The Animas comes with a little piece that you click in when you disconnect the tubing for bathing or swimming.  I used it once or twice, but didn't see the point; we never had any trouble with the Cleo and I knew I'd just lose the tiny clip-in.  Now – at the beach, with a suit full of sand - I got it.  Of course we didn't bring any little click-in thingees with us.

We ended up changing Benny's inset at the restaurant and then used an old tubing end as the click-in whenever we had to remove the pump. I like the Animas inset a lot and I'm glad this was so easy to resolve. We got to worry less about diabetes and spend more time teaching the kids to fly kites (below) and boogie board. It was a great trip (can we go back? please?).


If you're ever in Isle of Palms, check out Luke 'n Ollie's. We went a couple of times (including that straight from the beach visit). It's a fun restaurant owned by a friend of my husband's.  Make sure to ask Jonathan about his big win on the Price is Right and try my favorite, the fried green tomato BLT.  You could also ask to see the office/closet where we changed Benny's site, but that's not on the menu.

Southern Cooking – Who Won?

A bit of a wash-out but still a lot of fun for the final competition of the Find Your Center Southern Cooking Contest.  Amateur chefs submitted recipes, judges narrowed them down to six entrants and we had the first competition last month.  Now down to three, the competitors were set to demonstrate their recipes live at Time Warner BBQ & Blues. The weather, however, had other ideas.

Just before our chefs took the stage, the rain moved in.  Really too bad, because they were ready to go with some great food – and they both have great personalities (the third finalist had to drop out for a family situation).  We rallied and held the judging under the tiny tent behind our stage.

Carlajudging  Carlafood

Carla Brafford explains her Jalapeno Mac & Cheese to the Judges (Johnson & Wales Ambassador Chef Peter Reinhardt, Barbecue America's Rick Brown and Charlotte Chef Troy Gagliardo – not pictured)



Clarissajudge Clarissafood
The judges sample Clarissa Lynch's Sweet Potato Biscuits.  The videographer (on the right) is working on making this into a show for Time Warner Cable.

The overall winner was Clarissa, with these amazing biscuits. She gets a $500 gift card to US Airways.  It had to have been close, because Carla's Jalapeno poppers were wonderful (I don't do spicy, but she got me to try one saying they didn't have any heat. I shoulda known…)

Here's Clara with her fun family, trying to stay dry.  Sorry about the weather, ladies, but thanks for a great competition!