January 29, 2014

dumping cable

Right before I moved into my new house, I wrote about dumping Netflix. Six months later, I'm dumping cable.

I knew going in that cable would probably be a temporary pleasure. But I was getting a great deal through the cable company, so I decided to go for it. Plus, they offered a great deal on a DVR, and I'd wanted one ever since I heard about them. (The DVR didn't disappoint—in fact, it was probably my favorite aspect of having cable TV!)

Today, I got my bill for February—the first bill after the end of the six-month introductory pricing. And I about fell over dead. My bill (which included cable, internet, and DVR) jumped from $67 to $117! No way could I justify paying that much, especially since the cable was only expanded basic—no "fancy" channels. So I called the cable company to try to negotiate a better rate. (When I signed up, the lady told me they were constantly running "retention specials" to keep customers.) No such luck. The best I could do would be to sign a 1-year contract and lock in an $83 rate for my current cable channels and 30 meg internet. Who on earth needs 30 meg? Not me! (I currently have 15 meg, and I've had both 7 and 5 before with no streaming issues.)

So, I decided to keep the internet and dump the rest ... thus saving me roughly $80 per month. As soon as I got off the phone, I went to Hulu Plus and reactivated my subscription. $8 vs. $80 ... It was a no brainer. Most of the shows I currently watch are on Hulu Plus, and I rarely watch shows as they air, anyway.

So what will I miss the most (besides the DVR)? Hallmark movies and Friends*, neither of which are on Hulu Plus. (Amazon Prime & Netflix do have some of the older Hallmark movies, but I'm interested in the new ones.) The solution for Hallmark was simple: take my VCR back to my parents' house and record the Hallmark movies there, which is what I was doing pre-cable. But Friends was trickier ... until I got an email from WBshop.com this afternoon. This isn't what it said, but it might as well have:
Dear Becky,
Congratulations on saving $80 a month by dumping cable! In celebration, please use all but $2 of that savings to purchase all 10 seasons of Friends. Thank you for your business.
That's right: I just bought all 10 seasons of Friends for what I'm saving by dumping cable. Think of the things I could buy with that $80 each month! (Just kidding. I'm going to save it! Most of the time ...)

I am a bit sad to see cable (and my beloved DVR) go. I now have 36 hours to watch the most important things that I've DVR'd and not watched yet. (I'm thinking Sherlock needs to move to the top of that list.) But I'm confident I'm making the right choice. There's just too much of my father in me to be OK with paying more than $120 per month for cable and internet!
Goodbye, precious DVR!

*I have a storied history with Friends. It premiered when I was in junior high, and my brother and I would sneak into our basement to watch it (and other NBC sitcoms). When my mom found out, she banned Friends. Being a (fairly) good child, I stuck to the letter of the law and didn't watch Friends anymore. However, as Mom didn't ban anything else, we continued to surreptitiously watch a myriad of other shows she wouldn't have approved of. In college, I started catching Friends episodes here and there, and that sporadic viewing continued until I got cable. Then I realized that Friends is on TV constantly, and I've recently been watching an episode or two after work each night. Even though it's a 20-year-old show (crazy!), it doesn't feel like it. And it's certainly tame compared to what's on TV today!

January 14, 2014

recipe: biscoff brownies

I have a thing for box brownies. Seriously. I have yet to find a from-scratch brownie that I enjoy as much as a brownie from a box. So when I was craving chocolate the other night, I turned to my old stand-by ... but I decided to amp it up with some cream cheese and Biscoff spread ('cause you can never have too much Biscoff spread!). And they turned out delightfully, if I do say so myself!

Biscoff Brownies

1 family size box brownie mix and the ingredients called for on the package

Biscoff topping:
1 (8 oz) brick cream cheese (or regular or reduced fat), softened
1 egg
1/2 cup Biscoff spread
3 T sugar
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix up brownies according to package directions. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. In medium bowl, beat together Biscoff topping ingredients until smooth. Drop by spoonfuls over the brownie batter. Using a table knife, cut through the brownies several times to swirl the topping. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

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