A big thank you to Jackie Shears, "honorary member" of the Skills Exchange, for the excellent photos she took recently at John's birthday party. It was so good to have someone in charge of taking pictures, so we didn't have to wield a camera while organising everything and generally enjoying ourselves. And the photos are far more professional than we could have taken. Jackie has just the right approach, getting people organised when necessary, recording the important moments, but not being too intrusive. And for a few gems, that was excellent value - we've had some glowing comments from friends we've shared the pictures with.
Both events yesterday were good fun and enjoyed the beautiful weather helping Flora in her allotment - a happy 2 hours!
So nice to catch up with everyone and see Karina after a long time : )
The cookie swap was definitely a hit (thanks Karina) and will be making all the tasty contributions.Thank you Martha & Stefan for being lovely hosts.
My recipe for Melting Moments (in the middle) is attached, measured in tea cups (converted from Canadian recipe) which made 12 complete biscuits.
½ cup icing sugar
2/3 cups cornflour
2 slightly heaped
cups of plain flour
Cream butter and icing
sugar until light and fluffy
Add sifted flours and
Roll into balls about
2/3 size of golf ball and place on slightly greased oven trays
Press each ball down
lightly with a fork to make a small biscuit, then press down again with fork
making a criss cross pattern
Bake in moderate oven
180C 375F for about 12 mins until pale golden brown
Cool on wire rack and
join biscuits with lemon cream
2/3 cup icing sugar
Grated rind 1 lemon
3 teaspoons lemon
Beat butter until
smooth, gradually add sifted icing sugar, beat until mixture light and creamy,
beat in lemon juice & rind. Thanks Karina for the lovely idea and Martha - for hosting the cookie swap, it was great to catch up with all.
As promised I am sharing the recipe for Armenian cookies. I added half a walnut in the filling, glad you all liked it.
Nice to hear all the exchange stories and meet-ups of late. Thank you to Olive for my marmalade and flapjacks - mmm very delicious and a fair gem swap for her tax return!
Am now on the search for a SE sewer! I am after a large peg bag as a gift...all the high street ones are tiny or really expensive - has anyone got the skills to make me one please? I can provide the wooden hanger for the inside and are not too fussy about the fabric - something bright is always good to keep the joy of pegging washing out alive!
I am really pleased to see that we have been having more activity lately within the Skills Exchange. Hopefully everyone is pleased with their help, lifts etc.. I am always surprised at how quickly requests are fulfilled and judging by responses, I think others feel the same.
I would like to thank Anna who came round on wednesday with her very efficient carpet cleaner. I now have a carpet which now looks like new rather than needing taking to the tip. We also did the light grey carpet and upholstery in my Camper van which is looking very posh again.
It took Anna two hours to clean everything so 2 gems for her time cleaning and 1 gem for the carpet cleaner and cleaning product. Anna was happy to earn three gems and I was more delighted with the results.
I had noticed a carpet cleaner for hire on way way out of Asda but it would have meant the hassle of hiring it and no doubt 30 minutes of paperwork/deposits etc.. I would also have had to do it all myself and then take it back and be left with a very expensive bottle of cleaning fluid hardly used that I had needed to purchase.
Thank you Anna.
With Christmas coming up, perhaps those of us with lots of gems could find ways of spending them and spreading the good cheer.
I would like to thank Liz for hosting a very successful coffee get together yesterday. There were several new faces there which is always great. As usual we had a magnificent spread of cakes/biscuits etc. Liz can probably do coffee and cakes for the next week !!
I would also like to say a big thank you to Anna and Anne who came round yesterday and did a sterling job on my kitchen and windows. It also motivated me to do two hours as well (as many of you know, I will do anything to avoid housework). I did cobwebs, hoovering and dusting.
I am conscious that we do not share our gem stories as often as we should so if anyone has any other stories to share, please post them
It seems its not just the sun that has been shining - the Skills Exchange activity in our house has been as well - Martha borrowed the Baby Gate, Simon mended our toilet and Patrick has cut Villma's hedge.
On a slightly unrelated note... Due to unforeseen circumstances I have 3 tickets to the Sound of Music at the Theatre Royal in town on Thursday 22nd Sept 2016 at 7.30pm which I can't use. The tickets are good seats and cost £96 for 3.
Unfortunately the Theatre Royal won't refund them as the production isn't sold out yet, so whilst I am hedging my bets it does and I can resell them back to the Theatre I thought I would just ask my highly cultured Skills Exchanger friends!
Whilst I would love the full resale value for them, I would prefer they were not wasted, so if your are interested, please get in touch
We have had a busy couple of weeks in the SE with Kathy & her daughter looking after our house rabbit Fuzzy for a week - he came back looking happy and very well cared for .
David has started to dig up the damson trees and has made one delivery , with more deliveries planned for Tuesday. If there is anybody left who would like one , David is also happy to plant it for you.
Today we have gifted some hellebores to Hannah who has already planted them and sent us a lovely picture of them in their new home.
I need to be earning some gems as we are now down to about 3 - so if anybody needs any jobs doing, or anything that I can do in an evening - eg ironing please let me know.
We would like somebody please to be able to help and cut our hedges in the back garden ( they are not long ) it will need to be somebody please with their own electric hedgecutters.
Really look forward to hearing from somebody soon re hedges !
My sixtieth birthday - a big party in the garden - lots of friends I hadn't seen for ages - a husband working his socks off to make it all a brilliant success (which it was) ..... but a bit of stress about how to manage it all and have a fantastic time. Enter 2 Skills Exchangers to the rescue. For a few gems, we had Bridget as a "meeter and greeter" and general help in the kitchen, which definitely took the pressure off answering the door and replenishing the food. And Jackie, not strictly a SE-er but honorary, as wife of Mark, also a talented photographer, did a fantastic job taking pictures, discreetly at a distance for some candid shots, as well as some posed groups. It was so good to have such a brilliant record of the evening without having to step out of the action ourselves to take photos. 6 gems absolutely well spent!
The Skills Exchange Book Group is very active and we wanted to share with you a photograph taken at last night's meeting where we had the pleasure of a visiting local author - Paula Rawsthorne (shown seated in the photo).
We had read a collection of short stories by local authors, including Paula, and it was a real treat to be able to talk to her about her writing specifically and the more general creative process, and the thriving literary scene here in Nottingham.
As new members join Skills Exchange on a regular basis, it's probably worth reiterating how the Book Group works, in case anyone is interested in joining. We meet approximately every 6 weeks and tend to read off a list - either one that is already determined (for example, The Booker Prize shortlist) or a list that we pull together ourselves (from various 'must read' features in the weekend newspapers, for example). On top of that, we sometimes have 'if you have time' reads, which at the moment, are books written pre-20th century and/or originally written in a language other than English.
Whilst we aren't at all a very academic, serious group, we do try to focus our meetings on discussing the books (as well as social chat, of course!) and to encourage this - there is an expectation that people will have read the book that's being discussed, otherwise the Book Group can all too easily become just a social evening, which is lovely but not quite what we intended! You're not barred from coming if you haven't read the book, but you don't get any wine.
So - if anyone has any questions about Book Group, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. We would be very pleased to see some new faces!
I still have some Christmas cakes going if any one wants to swap for a gem!
They are made using quality ingredients (e.g.free range eggs, unrefined sugar, organic flour, lots of alcohol, Nigella Lawson style!) for a gem each and £1.50 for a 4" cake, £2.50 for a 5" inch cake, £3.00 for a 6" cake ( the pennies are to help cover some of the cost of ingredients, decorations and packaging etc) Please note the sizing will be slightly larger than stated below once marzipaned and iced. Ive attached some photos from last year of examples of what they may look like when ready (marzipaned, iced and decorated, cake board and packaged) (they will be different designs too.) They will be gift wrapped in clear cellophane, tied with ribbon and a hand made tag to state what the cake is (so would make a lovely gift).
Here is what I have left:
1@ 5"x 1.5"
1 @ 6x2"
1@ 4 x2"
Chocolate (using organic dark choc!) with Tia Maria:-
Liz Mollatt, Flora and Meridee all went round last week to help Dennis with cleaning his house ready for Christmas. They also helped to tidy his garden and greenhouse.
As a treat for his helpers, Dennis had asked if someone would make him a cake. Carol Williams made a delicious Lemon Drizzle cake which Flora and Meridee are enjoying with their morning coffee.
A great example of a group activity involving five Skills Exchangers.
If anyone has any other stories to share please let me know so I can share them with the group
Sunday 6th December
Good Evening Everyone
I have been given access to the Skills Exchange Blog so I need to practice. I thought I would start by showing you all the lovely Christmas wreath that Teresa Hopwood has made for me. It is multi purpose - Door Wreath or Table Decoration but today it is a door wreath. I am hoping that I am also going to be able to share a picture with you all. Oh dear technology is not my forte. Hey Presto. All I need to do now is remember how I did this. If anyone else has any Skills Exchange stories and pictures they would like to share then please send them me and I will hopefully be able to post them for everyone to see.
Over the Christmas holidays our family will be looking after the Stroger's mini Zoo. As Lisa was running low on gems and I was running low on time, it was fantastic to be presented by an amazing lasagne which I then froze and took it to my father in law over the christmas period. where 6 of us had a wonderful and tasty meal and a break from cooking.
Subsequently Lisa made me some authentic Indian meals too, which were delicious and we can thoroughly recommend a meal from the Stroger household!
After many years of struggling sending out group emails, we had some co operation with the now newly formed Cambridge Skills Exchange, where a new member suggested to use Google groups.
As I had not heard of these before, I looked into it and found that this indeed might be a great way forward.
Cath and I set to work to contact the whole group and took this opportunity to tidy up the administration at the same time.
After 7 years we had 130 members, but it turned out that on close examination only 80 were active and wanted to stay in the Exchange. So it is that we have started again with new energy and vigour.
We now communicate through the West Bridgford Google Group which should be easier and therefore more open to all.
Keeping fingers crossed that this is the case but have already seen an improvement over the last few days.
Some years ago during the arctic temperatures, a pipe burst and due to the fact that the stop cock was in an awkward place and very stiff, it was not possible to close it easily. All is well now but wanted to make sure that this scenario would not happen again. I phoned Simon the plumber who told me about this switch that could be put in instead of the stopcock tap, SureStop
Simon came and within the hour a new, easy to deal with switch was put in. For £36 and a gem I now have peace of mind. thank you Simon for the info as well as putting the gadget in for me.
After the Skills exchange Christmas party last year, Sally was inundated by requests for her delicious truffles.
People had a choice of a box of coffee, orange, champagne, cinnamon or a mixture there of.
Well, I did not have a look in Sally's kitchen but it must have been like a chocolate factory as at the end of the evening she came and dropped off her boxes with goodies for 6 of our friends. Beautifully packaged with care and love.
Can anyone recommend a company who specialise in front garden gates/fences? I think I need something custom made and I'd ideally like a local firm so would love to hear from you if you know of anyone suitable.
Thanks to the recommendations from the skills exchangers, I've now got a good bank of people that I've now used for electrics, joinery, gardening, odd jobs and chimney sweeping. So, if you need a contact for any of these services, let me know!
I have been trying to earn gems since my little collision with Mike's wall last summer, so have enjoyed bringing Diane M, her husband and friends home from a couple of interesting vegetarian restaurants I would never have found out about if it weren't for that activity.
Ben and I also enjoyed setting up a christening party earlier in the year with Anna G and another couple.
Non-gem related activity has included Helping Mike with the latest edition of Totally Locally WBT with a couple of articles on local businesses Signature and No 8, In which I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the stories of their growth and development and talking to new businesses Country Interiors and Through the Looking Glass about their ideas.
Anne TH also rescued me with her magic hands from knotty shoulders after a house move with a very welcome massage. Finally I thoroughly enjoyed Skills Exchange book club last week. After a few months' non attendance it was good to reconnect with such a warm group of lively minds and discuss how we want the book group to develop. New members always welcome!
It's four and a half years since the Skills Exchange Book Group started, and in that time we've made some good friendships, agreed, disagreed, drunk wine and had some great laughs!
The group generally reads from a list - for example we're currently working our way through the 2014 Man Booker shortlist, and we've also compiled our own lists from Radio 4's A Good Read, and a variety of other sources. We intersperse these lists with books recommended by group members and, as a result, have read a huge variety - including poetry and autobiography, as well as novels, which remain our usual fodder.
I can't speak for the whole group, but for me highlights have included Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - one of those stories you know by osmosis, but have you ever actually read the book? It's wonderful. Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey - the most amazing two character narrated yarn, full of vivid imagery and extraordinary stories. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which taught me so much about Biafra which I grew up hearing about on the news, but to my shame, knew nothing about (the book is so, so much better than the film). Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch which I finished, sobbing, on a plane home from Italy at least 2 years ago and still can't get out of my head!
The Book Group meets approximately every 6 weeks and we alternate hosting in our homes - there are usually about 6 of us. We manage, I think, to strike a good balance between general chat and a focus on having a really good discussion about the book - in fact, members of the group who have belonged to other book groups have commented that we manage this very well. We're not academic in our approach, but we do encourage everyone to do their best to finish the book because it makes for a much better quality discussion.
Please contact me on email@example.com if you're interested in joining the Skills Exchange Book Group, or have any questions.
I would like to thank Flora, Dennis, Jenny, Bridget, Jan and Olive for all their hard work yesterday. We had a really successful afternoon and the weather was very kind to us. I cannot believe how much we managed to do in 2 hours. I had felt really outfaced by the amount of work ahead of me to get the garden tidied up and sorted out for spring. The composter has been emptied, all the plants are planted and the borders tidied up. Everything now feels a lot more manageable and I am looking forward to seeing the garden come alive during spring and through the summer.
I know several of you out there have a sizeable amount of gems and can strongly recommend the group get togethers. I could not have done on my own in 14 hours what 7 of us achieved yesterday. Also it was really enjoyable and great to get everyone together. I am happy to help anyone organise a group activity and once more I am also looking to earn gems as I used 12 yesterday topaz my 6 helpers.
Once again thank you all very much for all your hard work.
We had the first group gardening session of the year last Sunday. Trish, Jan and I went and helped Flora with some clearing away and weeding and I replaced some broken greenhouse glass. It rained earlier in the day but we managed to catch a dry couple of hours. The great thing about group sessions is that everyone motivates each other and you can really see a difference at the same time as having fun.
This Saturday Bridget, Jenny, Diane, Olive, Jan and Flora are all coming to help me with tidying up, emptying the composter and planting.
I would like to really get the gems flowing again. Things have been a bit dormant over the winter - However spring is just around the corner and everyones spirits are lifting with the glimmer of good weather. Crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils are all coming out and the birds seem a bit livelier too.
How about if we all think of a wish or something that we would like help with and then see if we can get that wish off the ground with help from one of the many talented helpful people on the skills exchange. There is a whole host of skills on the shared document for ideas.
After my gardening extravaganza on Saturday 14th March, I will be needing to earn gems
so if anyone would like help with clearing rubbish to the tip, cleaning, decorating or even making a glass dish to put an easter gift on then please let me know. I also love getting involved in any group activity.
I know many of you still struggle with group emails so if you need any help, please contact me.
Good Afternoon Everyone and what a beautiful one it is.
I would like to thank Mike, Kathy,Corina and Olive who worked tirelessly last night and provided us all with some very welcome pampering. They certainly earned their 3 gems each.I would also like to thank everyone who came as without you lovely people none of this could happen
I hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as I did. I love having the get togethers and meeting up with everyone. As usual there was a lovely feast for everyone to share and Floras champagne certainly put a sparkle to the evening.
would just like to thank everyone who came to the garden party
yesterday. The sun shone on the righteous again and we all had a lovely
afternoon. There was a great selection of stalls - Clothes, food,
jewellery, glass, chocolates, cards, books and energy saving ideas. As
usual everyone contributed very generously to the bring and share food
and drink and we had a lovely spread. Ten of us finished the day off
with a very jolly and enjoyable wine tasting session which Flora
organised. I am now more knowledgable and will be venturing a little
further than 3 bottles for £10 at the end of the aisle.
I invited a few friends outside of the Skills
Exchange who all said how lucky I was to be involved in such a friendly,
industrious group with such lovely people and Bridgets friend must have
thought the same as she has asked to join us and will be signing up.
I nearly forgot to thank Dennis and Marta for the
loan of their gazebos. Fortunately we needed them to shade from the sun
and not he rain.
Thank you once again to everyone for making it such an enjoyable event
A big thank you to all who joined the gardening party at my new orchard allotment last Sunday.
just one hour you all amazed me by weeding a large raised bed, fitting a
door on my greenhouse and clearing half of the new plot!
Special thanks to baby
Molly for overseeing the event & bringing her parents & Mike
Mears on what was a lovely afternoon.
Also thanks to all the ladies for getting the gems flowing & Cath
Mears for also helping to dismantle Oonagh's Greenhouse & bringing
it to the orchard site where it will have a new life protecting my
The power & goodwill of the SE manifest.
The Wine Tasting Event on 6th July at 6pm after the SE Gathering is now fully booked.
Last night I went along to
Sherry's Pamper evening with Iranian meal. Sherry organised the event
and welcomed us into her home. Anne TH, Corina L and Sherry provided 2 x
30 minute treatments each followed by a veritable Iranian feast that
Sherry had prepared. I had a massage from Anne which really helped my
shoulder and a lovely facial from Corina which left my skin feeling well
I think I can speak for everyone if I say Sherry is
an outstanding cook and really put on a fantastic and varied spread of
traditional Iranian food.
We all thoroughly
enjoyed our treatments, had a lovely evening and left feeling very
relaxed. I would like to thank Sherry for taking the time to organise
the treatments and do the cooking. It was also lovely last night as we
had different mix of Skills exchangers and as usual, lots of talk and
I would like to share my skills exchange weekend with you all.
First of all, Oonagh came and took away my trampoline which i had been planning to get rid of but could not move it myself. Oonagh and Steve came and dismantled it and took it away to assemble in their garden. Hopefully their children will get as much pleasure from it as my daughter.
I then helped Flora in her allotments for a couple of gems and thoroughly enjoyed myself and so did my dog Ruby.
I then went for a lovely dog walk with Averil, a neighbour whom i met through the skills exchange and who helps me out with dog and house sitting.
Cath is taking and collecting me and my friend when we go from East Midlands to Prague next weekend. Since the airport link bus stopped running, i rely on skills exchangers for my transport.
Finally, I have joined the 21st century and got Isi Dixons old iPhone which is a great improvement on my old one and saved Isi the hassle of advertising it for sale. She also much preferred to sell it to a fellow skills exchanger.
It was a very gratifying weekend which would not have happened without the Skills Exchange.