“I Learn in this Letter…”

Since university I have done very little reading. The weeks after my finals I think I did none at all. Then, over the lazy summer months I read nothing but trash- quick and easy, but highly enjoyable, fictional trash. Novels I didn’t have to analyse so could just guiltily inhale in the knowledge that the plots were predictable but fun, and that my professors would scorn me – but from a distance, as they had no power over me anymore. Georgette Heyer, Philippa Gregory, Sharon Penman, J K Rowling (again)… Once I’d recovered from the worry that my English Literature BA had killed my love of reading, my ability to endure it and stick with somewhat not always likeable characters for more than 300 pages, and the perseverance to resist the tempting face of other pastimes – such as rather interesting television, I began to rack up bills in bookshops, buying more varied modern classics, poetry, even non-fiction. Whilst I was reading Dickens, Gaskell, Hardy, Shakespeare, Tolstoy (ok, so maybe I didn’t actually ready Tolstoy), the Man Booker prize winners and nominees passed me by (until I bought Hilary Mantel for my mother for Christmas and she raved about it for weeks). I finally discovered Margaret Atwood and devoured The Handmaid’s Tale in 48 hours. It was completely not what I expected, but it gripped me and wouldn’t let go, which was exactly what I needed. I’ve since bought The Penelopiad and am hoping it will be just as rewarding. The Reluctant Fundamentalist followed suit, thought-provoking and fast-moving, its ending left me undecided and challenged, if not a little confused. But because I didn’t have to discuss it for hours in a seminar, I revelled in it and moved on. I’m a sucker for pretty hardbacks (I’m afraid I do quite often judge a book by its cover) so bought The Diary of a Provincial Lady for its gorgeous floral front, without knowing much more about it than the review in the shop, but read it travelling to and from London on the train whilst working for Dorling Kindersley, its epistolary, epilogue style being perfect for commuter journeys. Brideshead Revisited kept me in touch with more “classic” classics and made me nostalgic for university (and long gone eras) and I acquired The Misanthrope after seeing the recent stage production with Damian Lewis and Keira Knightley. Currently I’m buried deep within Angela Carter’s Fairy Tales, luxuriating in the fact that they echo a childlike feeling within me and yet they’re oh so grown up. And I am once again excited about the fact that I have lots of books to read…

(“Much Ado About Nothing”)

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“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).