Thursday, 30 December 2010

It's Oh-Ficial. I am a Geek.

There's no turning back from this point. The time has arrived that forces my Geekdom status from "Wannabe/Poser" Geek to "Full Blown/Ain't No Denying It Now!" Geek.


I've been fighting this for a looong time. Hoping against all hope (and evidence to the contrary) that I wasn't a Geek. I wasn't a Brain. I wasn't someone who was defined by their brain, their intellectual hobbies, their "quirks", if you will. I wanted to be "normal", "average", "standard" but the clues were all there... Seeking out Mensa for an in-person, not-online, actual IQ test... Using very "cerebral" methods when explaining, organising, planning, creating things... Becoming quite "geeked" in my hobbies (seeking out the new tools/methods, developing new concepts, pieces, tools, investigating every aspect of them...

One of these hobbies happens to be playing the Professor Layton games on my DS. I'm absolutely hooked. I love the animation, the cheesy "plots", the improbability of the story lines, the challenge versus simplicity of the puzzles. I even enjoyed the movie Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva and agreed with murmurs that the story was insane, improbable, ludicrous, absurd because it was all of those things. And more. All of the Professor Layton stories I've encountered thus far have been and I've loved them all!

The proverbial final nail in my Geekdom coffin happened recently. I'm nearing the end of Professor Layton and the Unwound/Lost Future and I wanted to know what was next... What was out there to feed my need for/obsession with Professor Layton... I did a little reconnaissance...

Just a few short weeks later I received a package from Japan. (I'm choosing to block out the details of the actual purchase because without them I'm still in a state of semi-denial so you'll have to do without them, too, I'm afraid.)

But what's in it, you ask? I knew. I knew what was in the box as soon as MrB brought it up the stairs and handed it to me in bed. I was almost vibrating with excitement and refused to open the package until I was dressed, downstairs and had my camera to hand...

Isn't he perfect?!

*hangs head* Yes. I know. My name is "Tanya" and I am a Geek. I blame this website. (OK, I now admit, with hindsight, that the name of that website held some sort of portend about the ultimate level of my Geekiness.) But, I bought an -action figure- based on an Anime movie that's based on a -video game-! I'm certain that that's the final step in attaining Full Geek status. *sigh*

(But I can't help but swoon at his perfect little plastic Professorness!)

Something's not quite right...

I often pretend I know what I'm doing in the kitchen and this is most evident when I attempt to fancily decorate a cookie, cake or cupcake.

This is never more frustrating than when the tools I have don't work the way I believe they should.

Case in point:

In early May of this year I purchased a "Master Tip Set" and was very excited to get started on some super-cool and savvy decorating. It was a 57-piece set that came in it's own storage case.

I was quite disappointed to discover, however, that it didn't work the way I had wanted/expected. Some of my tips didn't fit on the "standard" couplers that came with the set. The tips were simply too large. Boo! *insert Sad face here*

I searched all over the company's website and couldn't find much information about the set that pertained to the particular problem I was having. I then discovered that there was, indeed, another size coupler. A "large" coupler. OK, at this point I'm annoyed that I have to buy another piece to make full use of the parts of a set. In my opinion, that set should have been ready to rock and roll when I bought it (i.e. all parts work with all parts) but I can see, from a sales point of view, how it's good business sense to "encourage" the purchase of other parts or pieces.

Begrudgingly, I decided to purchase a Large coupler. I would not, however, pay UK prices for one when MrB and I were scheduled to make a visit to the US that summer (where this brand's products are almost infinitely less expensive). I did, indeed, find and purchase what I needed.

I came home excited about many things but, in part, about being able to use some different tips from my set. Yes, I am a geek. I have accepted it, it's time you do, too.

I discovered, however, that this new addition to my arsenal wasn't the Be All and End All of my icing/piping problems. Yes, there were some tips that had been too large for my Standard Coupler that now worked/fit using the Large Coupler so I was on my way to Happy Decorating Land. The road had a few more sinkholes, however, and I didn't quite make it there. There were a few of my tips that didn't fit either coupler! Seriously?! *insert Very Angry face here*

I decided it was time to send the company an email...

Dear ****** Customer Service,
I'm a beginner at cake/cupcake decorating and I have a question.
I own the ****** Master Tip Set and it comes with two standard couplers for the "smaller" of the tips. Some of the tips in the set, however, are too large for the standard coupler so I purchased the "Large Tip Coupler". This coupler is too large for the larger tips. I'm at a loss. I can't see where you have a different size coupler but some of my tips, the 124 for example, just don't seem to work with either coupler.

Can you please tell me what I'm doing wrong/failing to understand?

Many thanks and kind regards,
Mrs B bakes
And got this reply:
Dear Mrs. B Bakes,

I apologize for this inconvenience. All of our tips should fit on either the small coupler or larger coupler. Sometimes with use, they may bend and not be able to fit. I am sorry for the confusion. Please let me know if you have further questions.


Stephanie F
****** Brands Customer Care
Hrm. I've barely used my tips and I'm certain that they haven't been bent because I am quite the perfectionist when it comes to things I value and I always treat the parts of that set with utmost care.

So, I inspected them, just to be sure. Of course, there was no bending, no warping yet there were several tips that definitely didn't fit "on either the small coupler or larger coupler".

I decided a more comprehensive approach might be needed and photographic evidence was obtained...

I then sent another email to ****** telling them of my issues and included the pictures as proof that I knew of which I spoke.


I\m sorry it's taken me so long to respond... I am still having issues with a few of the tips in the set that fit neither the standard coupler nor the large one.

The tips are 108, 109, 124, 143 - there may be more; I stopped checking (and I'm presuming there would be more of the ****** tips that I don't own that would have this problem).

I've attached pictures of what I'm talking about but if you can't view attachments, please let me know and I'll try to host them online and send links.
[The above pictures had been inserted here]

All of the four tips have the same problem... Their bottom diameter is too large for the standard coupler (the ring won't go down over the tip and attach to the base) and too small for the large coupler (the tip only rests on the coupler and the ring slides on right past it and attaches to the base leaving the tip completely not secured to the coupler).

None of the four tips are bent - I haven't used them because of this problem - so they're all new and perfectly round.

I eagerly look forward to your advice on this matter.

Kind regards,
Mrs B bakes
I got this reply:
Hello there Tanya!

Thank you for getting back to us with this information. In regards to your questions I have some help for you. Tip 108, 109, and Tip 134 do not work with couplers. They are to be used with parchment paper or uncut bags. Tip 124 fits with the large coupler. We do not have a tip 143 but we have a tip 134 and again it fits with no coupler, just the paper or bag. I hope this helps and we appreciate your business!

Have a great day!


Customer Service Representativ
OK, so let me get this straight... When I emailed the first time and Stephanie replied to tell me that "All of our tips should fit on either the small coupler or larger coupler. " apparently, I shouldn't have taken this at face value. *insert Not Amused face here*

I'd like to end this post on a less annoyed note and share with you what happens when I decide to make "DIY Cupcakes" for a Christmas celebration of about 16 people...

That's the "ash" of the Powdered Sugar Volcano that erupted in my kitchen. (I went through about 4.5kilos of powdered sugar in making the TEN (all Vegan) batches of frosting for the 89 cupcakes! (One Almond Buttercream, coloured red. One Mint Buttercream, coloured pale green. Double batch of each Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercreams. Quadruple batch of the Cream Cheese frosting.) I say it was "ten" batches of frosting but I actually made four more that I tossed out and replaced as I became convinced that the cream cheese had been open and in the fridge too long to be 100% trustworthy. That's a LOT of sugar.

Why 89 and not 90 cupcakes, you ask? I have, honestly, no idea! I made four batches each of the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes (from ...Cupcakes Take Over the World ) which should have equalled 72 cupcakes. I think the batter grew/ multiplied/ spored/ spread/ reproduced/ something in order to create an extra 17 cupcakes. They did not go to waste, however, and I was rewarded with many a smiling face and even a marriage proposal! DIY Cupcakes are something I'd definitely do again! It was much less daunting than baking and decorating and transporting those cupcakes.

If you were hosting/revelling at a DIY Cupcake party; which flavours would you like?

Finally, a usable space...

Winter has descended upon us here in London and we're cosy inside our little home...

Taken 2nd December 2010
Taken 18th December 2010

I finally have visions of barbecues, brunches "on the patio", summer evenings reading The Book du Jour in the cooling air...

Yes, folks, our garden is finally complete! (OK, it has been for a couple of months but I allowed myself to get distracted with some end-of-the-year craziness and haven't told you about it in good time. I'm sorry.)

Before I show you pics of the Landscaper-Finished version (we still need to buy the accessories - BBQ, table, chairs, plants, etc) I'll remind you of the enormity of the task that was set before the man...

I think he did a very admirable job...

So, we're planning to (I should say that I am planning to and MrB is quite indulging at this early He-Doesn't-Know-What-This-Might-Cost stage) get a chimnea (that's just a link to show you what one is, ideas for type and style are gratefully received!), a BBQ, a large-ish table, some chairs, some potted plants (and, perhaps, a new clematis depending on how this one has faired being cut back a-little-further-than-it's-used-to coupled with an earlier-and-more-than-usual-for-London snowfall)... Is there anything you recommend we add to our new Outdoor Living Area?