well I PM'd him.. and got a response..
although Im not sure it really applies to me? or if Im over thinking it..etc.etc..
but basically fat16lib responded that SD cards will work with +3.3v/8MHz boards...
he stated he uses one with the Pro-Mini..
and also said he uses this breakout board: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/544
which to me looks like a 'bare' bones SD socket on a pcb.. (which is good.. since I too have nothing on my SD card)
however.. it looks as if the Pro-Mini 'does' in fact use an external 8Mhz crystal on-board?
and I am using 8MHz INTERNAL clock??..
could this be where the problem lies?
I have changed out the MOSI/MISO/CS/CLK wires too just in case they were 'bad'... still same results..
I wanna hear from ANYBODY that has done this on an internal 8MHz clocked chip?
this is starting to kill my self-esteem! hahaha