“O, for a Muse of Fire”

I walk the same routes without even thinking: up by the common, round the village pond, to the corner shop, the bakery on the high street, back via the cricket pavilion, the old horse-chestnut tree to look for conkers, down behind the tennis courts… I feel like a ghostwalker in my own home- loving the paths I know like the back of my own hand for their nostalgia and childhood memories, but tired of their innocent familiarity, longing for change and new challenges…

Today was my little sister’s 16th birthday, which makes me feel old. It also makes me feel like wrapping her up in cotton wool and locking her in the cupboard under the stairs (my baby sister, 16?!).

To celebrate the occasion, as well as it being National Cupcake Week (http://bakeryinfo.co.uk/) and Roald Dahl Day on Monday (http://www.roalddahlday.info/), I transformed our kitchen into a Willy Wonka- meets George’s Marvellous Medicine- meets Matilda’s Bruce Bogtrotter stealing- chocolate fudge cake making factory. I.e. a mess! See evidence below. However, they say that the proof is in the pudding, and as we haven’t eaten any yet I can only say that it smells and looks highly calorific!

Update: I can indeed confirm that the chocolate fudge cake IS as calorific in taste as in smell and sight. We have all put on a combined weight of about three stone from consuming it (totally worth it!)

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“Good Day, Sir” (part 2)

So why the Timon of Athens opening line? I thought it was appropriate as I try to learn some key phrases in Romanian for my forthcoming trip. However, I’m beginning to doubt the success of this plan, as it doesn’t look like the easiest language to learn! See some examples (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Hello : “Salut.” (sah-LOOT)
Good day :”Bună ziua” (BOO-nuh zee-wah)
How are you? : “Ce mai faci?” (cheh my FAHTCH)
Fine, thank you :”Mulţumesc, bine.” (mool-tzu-MESK BEE-nay)
My name is ____ :”Numele meu e ____” (NOO-meh-leh MEH-oo yeh ____)
Please :”Vă rog” (vuh ROHG)
Thank you very much : “Mulţumesc mult.” (mool-tzoo-MESK moolt)
I’m sorry :”Îmi pare rău” (oohm pah-reh RUH-OH)
Good-bye :”La revedere” (lah reh-veh-DEH-reh)
I can’t speak Romanian [well] :”Nu vorbesc [bine] româneşte” (NOO vor-BESC [BEE-nay] Roh-moohn-ESH-teh)
Help! :”Ajutor!” (ah-zhoo-TOR)
Leave me alone : “Lasă-mă în pace” (LAH-suh muh oohn PAH-cheh)
I’ll call the police : “Chem poliţia.” (kem poh-LEE-tzee-ah)
I’m lost : “M-am rătăcit” (mahm ruh-tuh-CHEET)
I’m sick : “Sunt bolnav.” (SOONT bohl-NAHV)

Especially for Anna:

I’m a vegetarian : Sunt vegetarian. (SOONT veh-jeh-tah-ree-AHN) 🙂

And just for fun:

I haven’t done anything wrong : N-am facut nimic rău/greşit. (NAHM fah-COOT nee-MEEC RUH-oh/GREH-sheet)
It was a misunderstanding : A fost o neînţelegere. (AH fohst oh neh-uhn-tzeh-leh-geh-reh)
This gentleman will pay for everything : Acest domn va plăti pentru tot
My hovercraft is full of eels : Vehicolul meu pe pernă de aer e plin cu ţipari

“Good Day, Sir” (part 1)

In two weeks time I’m off to Romania for a week. A late holiday? European sightseeing? Not exactly. A team of us from church are going out with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for Caminul Felix- a family village in Western Romania. “Caminul Felix” means “happy home” and was first established in 1990 to meet the needs of young abandoned children in Romania. They provide these children with a new family, education, vocational activities and work training. From one young couple adopting five abandoned children they’ve grown: in 1992 the first Felix village was built to the east of Oradea with six families, and in 2002 the second Felix village opened with ten families, just south of Oradea. Now they’re building a third Romanian Felix village and they need more houses! So we’re going to help. I’m sure it’ll be a steep learning curve and a far cry from putting together a flat-pack Ikea bookcase.

Here’s what they say on their website, plus some links for more info, and some pictures of what the houses should look like when we’re done!

“There are millions of abandoned children in the world today. The Felix Village Ministry is a strong answer to the needs among the children without parents in our time and world. The family concept is proven to be an outstanding environment for abandoned children.
The family idea should be used around the world to meet the needs among abandoned children. ”

http://www.caminulfelix.org

http://www.habitatforhumanity.org.uk

“If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On…”

Gifts. That’s what I’m pondering today, after my recent talk about home-made pressies. What gifts really are the best? Big flashy expensive ones? Rushed, panic-bought bath salts? Fail-safe store vouchers? A poorly composed love poem (from Twelfth Night, perhaps?!)? I’m firmly of the opinion that it’s the home-made, “it’s the thought that count”, “made with love” gifts that mean the most and are the best. But maybe I’m wrong. Please do dispute me. And obviously, if someone wished to buy me a big flashy piece of jewellery, or a car, or a designer handbag, then I probably wouldn’t decline…

To prove my point, here are some gifts given to myself and my family recently. My dad was recently in an accident, and so a work colleague thought to send him a gift. But what? Men are difficult to buy for at the best of times. The perfect answer: homemade Welsh Gower brownies. Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but these brownies were so delectable and melt-in-your-mouth-y that no brownies have matched up to them since. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to eat them all, but believe me if I could’ve I probably would’ve. I heartily recommend them to everyone as the proof that all the best things in life do in fact come from Wales. Check out their website and I challenge you to not let these snaps make your mouth drool! http://www.gowercottagebrownies.co.uk/index.html

Now the Gower Cottage people do say why send flowers when you can send brownies, but I still love a good bouquet. I recieved a bunch as a leaving present last month and I think they’re beautiful. Perhaps the novelty of flowers wears off after a while. I can’t say I’ve got to that stage in my life just yet. Happy gift buying, people!

“In Sooth, I Know Not Why I Am So Sad”

This post comes with a (Merchant of Venice) apology to those with whom I’ve been an emotional drama-queen recently. My teenage tantrum phase was clearly overdue… On the plus side, I now have lots of time for being creative. And if anyone would like to offer me a graduate editorial job (or a mythical unicorn and a blue moon!), let me know!

Next stop on board the craft train: ways with felt. I’m all thumbs when it comes to sewing, but these simple shapes are really just that…  And these templates, whether stuffed and hung up with ribbon, or sewn together with buttons and made into corsages, make cute, cheap and colourful gifts. Win win 😀

“Hence!”

We begin with the subject of decoupage. Thanks to the lovely Emily, who introduced a group of us girls (and some unimpressed men!) to this craft activity, I’ve since been decoupaging everything in sight. My family will testify to the scraps of paper all over the carpets and the dried pva on my clothes and in my hair. Simply put, decoupage is glorified, wonderfully easy, and really very pretty, papier-mâché. And I love it. Here are some examples of coat hangers (although not many, as most are going to wind up as people’s Christmas presents this year!), dressing up some of my fave dresses. Since these efforts, a storage box and a pen pot has been added to their ranks. Soon there won’t be a bare surface left in my room…

PS: You may be sensing a theme occuring. More specifically, an opening-lines-in-Shakespeare-plays theme. (In this case, Julius Caesar.) Who knows how long I can keep it up- some opening lines are quite verbose!

“Who’s there?”

So begins the greatest play every written (Shakespeare’s Hamlet). And here begins my humble blog. Welcome to Emma’s Emporium! I’ve been challenged and inspired recently to start blogging, so watch this space for craft attempts, random literary quotes, thoughts, general ramblings and who knows what else… For now, here’s a photo I took of one of my favourite places in all the world: a tumbling down, second-hand bookshop in Laugharne, Pembrokeshire (in the village that inspired Dylan Thomas‘ play Under Milk Wood).