The one with a bitter family tradition.

For as long as I can remember my mother kept key lime juice around the house. She used it for all kinds of things (seriously, this stuff is great). You can use it for marinades or salad dressing or…well, in a key lime pie. (here is their website)

When I was a teenager- I know it was when I was over 16, because Mike witnessed this- my dad and brother asked me to try some straight out of the bottle. Now, when you look at this stuff, with it’s cloudy pale yellow coloring, you think it’s going to be sweet. I mean, it looks like sweetened condensed milk. Well, let me assure you, it’s NOT sweet. It’s like getting punched in the face with a brass-knuckled lime. It’s SOUR. And BITTER. and I will never forget that taste as long as I live.

Earlier this month, I bought a bottle to make a key lime pie for the husband’s birthday. My child, who loves all things citrus and sour (and has been known to drink straight from a bottle of lemon juice), has been begging to try it. I’ve even caught him smelling the bottle a few times. I’ve told him no. I’ve told him he wouldn’t like it. He would not be deterred. It was like I was trying to convince him that he didn’t want chocolate cake. It was not going to happen. Fed up with hearing about it, I gave in to him today.

I also have photodocumentation of the event.

Please note he GOES. BACK. FOR. MORE.

THE ONE WITH AWESOME GATOR WRESTLING.

And Mike won!

Also, my husband is a really, really good sport. I heart him.

Ok, maybe not gator wrestling, but it’s nearly as fun. It’s a gator scarf made from this kit for my dear friend Robyn. This scarf is really fun. I love the texture.

My row counter looks like a fishing lure.

Kinda creepy.

Looking less voodoo and more awesome.

Rawr!

This was a fun knit and once I got past the head, it started really going. I’m really pleased with him and I hope Robyn is, too. 😀

Celebrate Color

The one with T-Mobile STILL sucking.

(The original saga is here)

Is this girl's hair huge or is it just me?

So, we’re still with T-Mobile. After spending a few weeks battling it out and writing letters and contacting the BBB (which, in case you don’t know this, is pretty much a complete waste of your time), we decided to cut our losses and ride out the rest of this contract. It all came down to the early termination fee. My husband, being the Virgo he is, just couldn’t stomach paying $400 to get out of a contract.

Today, however, Mike gets a text telling us we are eligible to convert our prepaid (AKA: flexpay) account to a “regular” account. Yay! Sounds great! As I mentioned in the original post, we could save a lot of money per month by switching to a value plan. I was thrilled. So, I dial 611 and immediately start the process. Person #1 hands me off to person #2. Person #2 starts telling me the wonders of having a postpaid account. Whatever, lady, lets just get down to brass tacks- you’re eating up my quiet time.

Before I called, I looked up the rate plans online. I am a visual learner and spoken words tend to get jumbled in my head after a while. The rate plan I wanted to switch to was $79.99, a value plan with a bunch of stuff- 1K minutes, unlimited texts, and some data. I told the rep this and she said OK, but I would have to pay a $200 migration fee. I argue back and forth with her and finally realize this migration fee thing is a bunch of bologna and to see any savings, it would take 6+ months. So, no. So, we start talking about their other family plans. I pick out one that is slightly more than the value plan and has most of the same amenities. When it gets right down to it, though, after taxes and whatnot, I would only save $5-10/month. Which would be fine, except then Person #2 tells me that I would have to extend my contract by 8 months.

Wait, what?

She explains that I will be starting on a shiny new contract and that they will have to tack on time to the end of the new contract. The way she worded it was odd- I thought she meant I only had 8 months left, which I knew wasn’t right. So, I make the woman tell me 3 times what she meant. Finally, I get that she means that I have used 8 months, which they will tack on the end of my contract, so, in essence, I would have a new 2 year AND 8 MONTH contract- almost 3 years. After I pick myself up off the floor from falling off my chair, I then ask about the value plan- at this point, paying $200 to migrate doesn’t sound too bad. She gives me the same oddly-worded statement that makes it sound like I only have 8 months left on my contract, and I ask her point-blank, “So, if I switch to the value plan, I will have to pay $200 to migrate AND extend my new contract by 8 months?” “Yes ma’am.”

Oh.

Hell.

NO.

The kicker? Even with this new contract, you don’t qualify for new phones or anything. You’re paying for the right to stay with T-Mobile. I told the woman “No, thank you.” and hung up. The wording they use is scripted, obviously, to screw with people. It makes it sound like you’re getting a wonderful deal and they’re doing YOU a favor. I can see a lot of people buying into it without asking questions and being stuck for almost 3 years. If you are in this situation, please, please, please STOP. Ask questions. Make sure you understand what is going to happen 100% before you sign your new contract. They CANNOT make you sign a new contract (even if they say they can, THEY CAN’T- at worst, they cancel your contract (they also cannot charge you an ETF if THEY cancel the contract), at best, you ride out the rest of yours at your current rate plan). You will not be turned away from the pearly gates of heaven just because you didn’t sign one. Kittens and puppies will still be fine even if you do not sign a new contract. Make the rep explain things and write them down. Get the rep’s NAME and BADGE NUMBER and record the price and conditions you were quoted. If anything seems fishy, stop. You can always call back.

I know T-Mobile is doing away with the Flexpay option (you can’t even access information about it on their website anymore). No one seems to know when the final day will be and they’re scrambling to scare everyone into switching to a regular account. Frankly, I’ll stay with my Flexpay account until the bitter end. At least it doesn’t surprise me.

The one with a super-quick baby sweater.

I knit this sweater in 2 days.


Seriously. I am an English-style knitter, which means I am slow, slow, slow and I still managed to crank out this 0-3 month sweater in 2 days. The pattern is part of The Kumfy Schlutti Collection (does anyone know how to pronounce “Schlutti”? It looks like “Sh-lutty” to me) and the yarn is “Out to Pasture” by Three Irish Girls (available exclusively at my dear friend Jenn’s yarn shop, Pulling at Strings. Go. Shop. Tell her Shanna sent you. She won’t give you a discount or anything for that, but hey, tell her anyway- it make me look like an awesome friend.)

Speaking of friends, this little bit of coziness is one of my oldest and dearest friends, Vivianne, who is expecting her first baby (a boy) next month. Congrats Viv! 🙂

Stitched in Color

The one with football food.

Auburn football started a couple of weeks ago. While I have been *ah-hem* less than impressed this season, it has made for Saturdays filled with yummy junk food*.
*I’d like to again take this moment to remind you that this blog is not a health food blog.

This past week on Twitter, my husbandboyfriendobject of lust…favorite actor Nathan Fillion posted his recipe for 7-Layer Dip. Now as much as I love me some Captain Hammer, his recipe sounds  “meh” at best. My 7-Layer Dip kicks Captain Mal’s 7-Layer Dip’s sweet little ass. Sorry, Castle…er, Caleb…er, Nathan.

Just like that.

I also made my Devilish Taco Dip. This stuff is HOT. Perfect for clearing your sinuses.

Devilish Taco Dip

2 lbs ground beef (cooked, drained)
2 lb block Mexican Velveeta (cubed)
3 cans HOT Ro-Tel (UNDRAINED)
3 envelopes  taco seasoning

Throw it all in the crock-pot on low, stir occasionally, serve with tortilla chips (I like Tostitos Scoops). You can also omit the beef or tone down the heat by using plain Velveeta and mild Ro-Tel.

Keep a towel handy. You will sweat.

But the best thing I made today (IMO) was a new recipe I tried.

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats.

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 package miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup yellow cake mix (I used French Vanilla)
6 cups Rice Krispies

Melt your butter in a pan and add marshmallows. As the marshmallows start to melt, add your cake mix in, one spoonfull at a time. After the marshmallows are melted (and all the cake mix is incorporated), add in the Rice Krispies  and immediately press into the pan. 🙂

I won’t even judge you if you can’t keep your fingers out of your mouth.

The one with butter. Lots and lots of butter.

Earlier today on the dreaded Pintrest, a friend of mine posted a link to some cookies on the Bake at 350 blog. Now, I am not one for decorated cookies, but I saw a link on the side for this cake. The Bake at 350 cake was Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Amaretto Buttercream and it sounded fantastic. At first, I was deterred by the amount of butter this cake took- 9 sticks (or 2.25lbs or 4-and-a-half cups)…then, I started to realize:

I DON’T WANT TO LIVE THE REST OF MY NATURAL LIFE WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT A CAKE WITH 9 STICKS OF BUTTER IN IT WOULD TASTE LIKE.

The only problem: I didn’t have any amaretto. Frankly, I’m not a huge amaretto fan. I only like it in amaretto sours. I noticed, though, that Bake at 350 mentioned that her cake was based off of a cake called White-on-White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel’s Buttercream. Hey, I may not have amaretto, but I do have:

THANK YOU, WHISKEY PRALINES!

So, off to the store Seamus and I went to pick up cake flour and butter. A LOT of butter. I came home and immediately got to work. Frankly, this is the best buttercream I have ever tasted. I could have just happily sat on the couch and eaten myself into a sugar coma. The cake is wonderful, too, but the icing is AMAZING.

I’m going to preface these photos by saying that I suck at icing cakes. I can knit, I can draw, I can paint, I can cook, and I can bake, but I will never be able to ice a cake.  But I try!

White-on-White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel’s Buttercream

For the Cake:

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2-1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  1. Place one baking rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Add about half of the buttermilk and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping the bowl down and beating until incorporated after each addition. End with the dry ingredients. The batter will be thick and glossy.
  3. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set two layers on one rack and the third on the other. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean and tops are flat and browned. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at a different time. Set the cake pans on racks to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely before frosting.

To make the buttercream:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp Jack Daniel’s whiskey
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  1. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and yolks in a large bowl on high speed about 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar; simmer until it reaches the soft-ball stage, registering between 234° and 240° F on a candy thermometer. Immediately transfer the syrup to a large heatproof liquid measuring cup. In a slow, thin stream, add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture, mixing on low speed the entire time. Increase the speed to medium and beat about 7 minutes, until the syrup has cooled (the bowl should be barely warm to the touch). Add the butter, half a stick at a time, beating on medium speed about 20 seconds after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, beat on medium until the frosting thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the salt, whiskey, and vanilla.
  2. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer and spread thickly with frosting. Add the third layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. Covered, the cake will keep for 2 days at room temperature.

Seamus tested….

Seamus approved!

The one with drunken tastiness.

One of the husband’s favorite things in the world is Jack Daniels Whiskey Pralines. I haven’t had much luck ordering them online- by the time they get here they’re stale or all broken up or both (not to mention, they’re stupid-expensive). Since he is having The Big Snip today, I decided to try my hand at making him some to eat while he recovers on the couch.

They turned out great and they’re really delicious.

Shanna’s Whiskey Pralines

Combine brown sugar and buttermilk in large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the candy thermometer (ensure the thermometer is not touching the bottom of your pot or you won’t get a proper reading). Continue cooking and stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage).

Remove from heat, add butter, BUT DO NOT STIR. Just set the butter on top and let it melt. Let the mixture (with the butter still NOT stirred in) cool to 150 degrees (takes about 15 minutes).

Stir in pecans and whiskey  and beat until the candy begins to thicken, but is still slightly shiny (about 3-4 minutes). Using a large spoon, drop into heaps onto parchment paper (not wax paper, not tin foil, PARCHMENT) and let cool completely at room temperature.

  1. You can use another variety of whiskey (or leave it out altogether) if you would like. I happen to like the honey variety because it’s sweeter.
  2. I didn’t have quite enough buttermilk, so I substituted half the buttermilk with evaporated milk.
  3. Do not let your husband measure out the whiskey for you. He will encourage you to start doing shots and you will get drunk. This is strong stuff.

Enjoy!

The one with the sociology of Pintrest.

OK, let me preface this by saying I don’t have the Pintrest love. I’ve tried, I really have, but I’ve come to the conclusion that either I don’t have high enough aspirations or I don’t have enough money (probably a bit of both).

Pintrest is like a social media pinboard. You find something you like and you “pin” it on Pintrest. Clothes, crafts, decorating, food, anything your heart desires. The few pins I have are mostly of yarn, a few clothes, and food ideas. Most of my friends post similar things, with a lot of design ideas and inspirational quotes and such. Like this:

Inspirational.

OK, really, it’s normally more prolific stuff like this:

No, seriously, I found this on Pintrest when I searched "Quote".

(Personally, I find Rick Astley more inspiring. After all, he’s never gonna give me up.)

Anyway, but the biggest thing I have learned from Pintrest is about my friends.

They.

Really.

Really.

Really.

Really.

(I'd seriously be pissed if someone did this to a book)

Really.

WTH is this?

Really.

Really.

Really.

Like.

Rainbows.

I mean, really. A lot. They all like rainbows. It’s like a sickness.

The one with T-Mobile sucking more than they normally do.

Tags

, , , , , ,

OPENLY JUDGING YOU.

Before we moved to Japan, we had T-Mobile. They were an OK company then and I was mostly happy with them. Obviously, when we moved, we cancelled or service with them. When we moved back 3 years later, we got T-Mobile again. We stayed with them for 2 years before finally being bitten by the iPhone bug and moving on to AT&T. After 2 years of rollercoaster bills and crap customer service, we decided to move BACK to T-Mobile.

As a military family, we move quite a bit. Our credit has taken a bit of a beating for it- especially during our time overseas (frankly, after how long this recession has dragged on, it’s a wonder anyone has decent credit). When we began my contract in January, as expected, I was placed on a Flexpay account. A Flexpay account is one where you pay for your monthly service ahead of time. We were told after 6 months, if we paid on time and were good little minions, we could be converted to a regular account. I don’t really have an issue with being on a Flexpay account. I like that there are no surprises at the end of the month. I have always paid on time and I have been satisfied with my very basic service- we own 2 non-smartphones and have a plan with talking and texting and nothing else. I’d love to have a smartphone again, but, frankly, it’s just not in the budget.

A few days ago, my mother told me that her Blackberry died, so she called T-Mobile and they offered her 2 new Blackberries and a better deal on monthly services. I went to the website and saw this:

Unlimited Deals!

and this:

Slightly Less Unlimited Deals!

Wow, we could save $40 just by switching to the 1,000 minute Talk + Text plan!

That’s awesome!

So, I call. As soon as the representative saw we were on a Flexpay plan, her cheerful demeanor went away. She wanted nothing to do with working with me or helping me.

It went something like this:

What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?

After arguing with her for a while about wanting this plan and her insisting I could not have it, I asked to speak to a supervisor. She put me off. I asked again. No dice. Finally, I demanded it and she insisted he was busy. I was angry at this point and told her to tell her supervisor to call me, which, unsurprisingly, did not happen. I ended up sending an email to every single email address I could find for T-Mobile because I knew if I got on the phone, I would start screaming at someone. I didn’t wake up to a single response or call.

I decided to try again today. I started off by contacting T-Mobile on Twitter, which I actually got a response to.

Seems pretty straightforward. I can do this.

So, I hopped on my phone and dialed 611. I start off by speaking to a rep, then a supervisor, then a manager. Oh, “Jake M” (badge #116812658), you and I had a great time on the phone, didn’t we? He started off first by telling me the same thing every other rep had: that, no, I could not get in on the lower rate because I had Flexpay. This makes no sense to me- I pay my bill the same as anyone else, in fact, I pay it before the fact- and I asked why. No one has an answer for me. No, you can’t have a better rate, but we have no clue why you can’t have a better rate! After this lovely and non-informative exchange with “Jake M” (I still sincerely doubt this is his real name and badge number considering he had to look up his badge number), he said, “I don’t know why you escalated this call to me. This could have easily been handled by a representative or supervisor. It’s a waste of time.” Well, jackass, I’m calling you because the T-Mobile Twitter gods TOLD ME TO. I told him as much, informed him I would be writing an appropriate letter, and ended the call.

Well, T-Mobile today has been fun (and challenging!). I’ve enjoyed our time together. We’ve had our good times and our bad. I’ll never forget the time you sold me an LG flip phone. Or when you made me fax over our orders to Japan. Or when you ignored my emails. But, now, I’m done with you. I need more. I need people who treat me like a human. I can’t believe I’m about to pay a disconnection fee to do it, but I am. It’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun. One more week and I’m moving on. It’s not you, it’s…no, wait, it’s totally you.