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Want to be self-employed? Here’s what you need to know

Have you dreamed of being self-employed but don’t know
how to go about it? Starting up as a sole trader is probably a lot easier than
you think. Here are five simple but important steps that will enable you to
enjoy the full range of self-employed benefits.

Register as Self-Employed with HMRC

Because you will be responsible for paying your own
National Insurance contributions and income tax, you will need to inform HMRC
that you are self-employed within three months. This is essential even if you
already pay your taxes through the self-assessment process every year. You can
register as self-employed with HMRC online or you can phone them on 0845 915
As soon as you register, you will need to pay your own
National Insurance contributions, or NICs. These will be Class 2 NICs and are a
flat rate of £2.80 per week for the current tax year of 2015/2016. If your
annual income is below £5,965, you will not have to make any National Insurance

Class 2 NICS

In addition to Class 2 NICs, you will also have to pay
Class 4 NICs if the total profit you make is more than £8,060. If the profit
you make is in between £8,060 and £42,385, you will have to pay 9 percent of
that in NICs and a further 2 percent on any profit that is in excess of

VAT Registered

Decide If You Need to Be Registered for VAT. If your
business’s annual turnover is more than £82,000, you must register for VAT with
HMRC. This applies at any stage during the year when you think you might make
more than the VAT threshold, and you must let them know within 30 days or you
could face a fine.
It could be worth registering with HMRC for VAT even if
you doubt your earnings will cross their threshold. Having a VAT number can
give your business credibility, and you will be able to claim back VAT on any
eligible purchases you make such as work-related equipment.
You could also consider the flat-rate VAT scheme rather
than the standard scheme. The flat-rate scheme makes VAT accounting much
simpler. Consult your accountant to see if it is the most profitable option for

Set Up a Business Bank Account

When you are a sole trader, it is essential that you keep
your business finances separate from your personal spending. The easiest way to
do this is to open a business bank account that is entirely separate from your
personal banking. Your business account might be called ‘Fred Smith trading as’
(or T/A) followed by the name of your business. Your invoices and cheques will
look more professional too if they display your business name.
You might also consider opening a business deposit
account, which will enable you to earn some interest on any money you hold in
your account for a period of time.

Finance Records

Keep All Your Self Employed Finance Records Accurate
It is essential that you stay on top of your books. This
will mean that paying the correct amount of tax should be a relatively
straightforward affair, and you will keep your accountant and the tax man
happy. It will also help you to run your business efficiently.
When it is time to submit your VAT return, assuming you
are VAT-registered, simply pass the financial records you have been keeping for
the past year to your accountant and complete your self-assessment tax return.


Take out Insurance for Your New Business. Businesses are
legally required to have certain insurance policies. The type of insurance will
vary, of course, depending on the nature of your business or industry. You
might also opt for additional insurance cover for extra reassurance.
If you employ someone else (unless they are a close
family member), you are legally required to have employer’s liability insurance
of at least £5 million. You will be given a certificate of insurance which you
are legally obliged to display somewhere where your employees can read it.
Failure to have such insurance will result in a substantial fine.
Most small businesses also take out public liability
insurance. This is a particularly good idea if members of the public are likely
to visit your premises or you will visit them. This gives you protection if a
third party is injured or a property damaged as a consequence of your business

Professional indemnity is also recommended, as it will
provide you with cover if you are sued by a client.

This is a collaborative post

Eye exam time, again!

eye exam time again

It’ll soon be time for the yearly eye exam at the opticians for Aiden, Kaycee and Ella. It might be time for Ant and me as well but I can’t be sure as we only go every 2 years and I can’t remember if we went last year or not.

For most people, a visit to the opticians is easy, quick and pain-free.

Not for me.

Kids Wanting Glasses

When you have a child who is supposed to wear their glasses all the time but doesn’t and two other children who are hankering after glasses and never get them, it can be quite frustrating!

Kaycee and Ella would love nothing more than for the optician to say, ‘go and choose your glasses’ but alas, every time they go he says,  ‘nope, your eyes are great, no glasses needed this year!’

They try on just about every pair in the shop and pose in the mirrors while they’re waiting for Aiden to finish his eye test and every year they face the bitter disappointment of not being to choose any!

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell them they’re very lucky to not have to wear glasses, they still want them.

Glasses To Help Stop Migraines

I’ve had to wear glasses all the time since I was 16. I first got them because I was getting frequent headaches and I was amazed at the difference they made.
The headaches, although they never stopped entirely, did get less frequent and less painful as I got used to the glasses.

Now I’d be lost without them because I can hardly see when I haven’t got them on!

The only downside to wearing glasses for me is the irritation I occasionally get on my nose, especially when it’s a warm summer.
It gets quite sore and even though I’ve shown the girls the sore patch, trying to put them off their craving for glasses, it doesn’t seem to hinder them!

I’ve considered getting contact lenses or laser eye surgery with Optical Express but I shudder at the thought of them because I’m very funny with eyes. Even just looking at someone with an eye infection makes my eyes water so I reckon I’m just going to have stick with the glasses and put up with the discomfort.

And keep telling the girls how lucky they are!

This is a collaborative post.


Remote control buggy – Review

Aiden’s had loads of different remote control cars over the years. He’s never really been that interested in them so when this remote control buggy arrived, I gave it to Kaycee and Ella instead!
They loved it right away and pestered me to take the photos so they could open it and have a go. One of them put the batteries (which were included) in the car while the other put them in the remote control and out they went.
This is where we made a mistake.
Kaycee put it on the lawn and tried to make it move.
The lawn hadn’t been cut for about 2 weeks and there was no way it was going to work its way through that tall grass!
I did try to film them but it wasn’t very successful (I need more practice at taking video!).
The only downside we’ve found is the battery usage; unfortunately, they soon ran down. We put new ones in and they didn’t last very long either so next time we’re going to spend a little more on the batteries because the cheap ones obviously don’t have enough power.
Despite not being able to play with it for very long, they did have lots of fun and I think this may be the start of a remote control car obsession for the two of them!


Remote control buggy

We were sent the remote control car in return for an honest opinion.

8ft Instant Garden Pool – Review

The girls popped the paddling pool we had last year by trying to run and dive into it. It seems every year we have to buy a new paddling pool so this year I had planned on getting a 10ft steel framed pool from Amazon. It cost around £90 and came with a filter pump.

The day before I was going to order it, I got an email asking if we’d like to review an 8ft pool so of course, I said yes!

Preparation For the New Pool

All three kids spent a couple of days preparing the area for the pool. They had to dig out loads of gravel from where a greenhouse used to be when the previous owner lived here then use the pile of soil that Ant dug out when he made the wildlife pond.
I’m really proud of how they all worked together to get it done without moaning!
When it was all ready, they laid down the underlay we’d saved when we took the carpet up in the living room the other month. It doesn’t look the greatest but when we get round to it, we’ll find a way to hide it somehow 🙂

Hours To Fill

It took hours to fill because we mistakenly used the flat hose instead of the round one. Ant said if we’d have used the round one, it would have taken half the time!

The pool from Thinkgizmos doesn’t come with a filter pump but as it only cost £24.99, buying the inflatable pool filter pump separately for £19.99 is still a great price.

The girls absolutely LOVE the pool and have been going in on days when I wouldn’t ever consider getting into a swimming costume and lowering myself into cold water!
They invite their friends over and Kaycee makes sure everyone follows the safety rules 🙂




It seems quite strong so hopefully, it’ll last the summer and we’ll be able to put it away over winter, to be brought out again next year.

Here’s to a long, hot summer with plenty of pool fun 😀

We were sent the pool in return for an honest review.

We LOVE the Minions! #greengiantminions

Like a lot of people, we fell in love with the minions from the very first time we saw them. When we got the chance to create something fun based on the minions and using Green Giant sweetcorn we jumped at it because the kids LOVE sweetcorn nearly as much as they love minions!

One of the things we love eating but rarely make from scratch is pizza so last night we whipped up an easy pizza dough (recipe below) and Kaycee got to work on prepping the toppings for her minion’s eye pizza!

Ella wasn’t feeling very creative last night, she just wanted to get the dough rolled out, get her toppings and get the pizza eaten so we left all the creating to Kaycee 🙂

She used mushrooms for the white of the eye, gherkins for the straps, a mushroom for the middle of the eye and sweetcorn around the edge. We searched the kitchen trying to find something to make the silver circle round the eye but couldn’t find anything edible so we decided to cut a circle out of silver foil.

Green giant sweetcorn - minions on the packaging


Kaycee's minion pizza


Kaycee enjoying her minion pizza


Ella enjoying her pizza

Minions Pizza dough recipe

To make 4 generous servings

600g strong bread flour
400ml water
2 teaspoons fast acting dried yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil


Mix all the ingredients together.
When dough forms, knead until smooth, adding a little more flour if the dough is sticky.
Cover with cling film for half an hour and allow to prove.

Split into 4 portions, roll out on a floured surface and place on an oiled tray (or if you don’t have a tray big enough, like us, oil some tinfoil, place it on the oven shelf and put your dough on.

Top the pizza with a pizza sauce (we just whizzed up some tomatoes, added a dollop of tomato puree, a sprinkling of garlic powder and a pinch of mixed herbs) and your favourite toppings.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, 200°C/Gas 6 for 20-25 minutes

This is my entry into the Tots100/Green Giant Minions Challenge


Potato and Cheese Pierogi – A Recipe from Poland

Ella has a couple of friends in her class who are Polish and she seems quite interested in their culture so we decided to make some pierogi. They look like mini Cornish pasties but instead of baking them, they’re boiled. They’re traditionally filled with mashed potato and cheese from what I’ve been able to find out from Google and they’ve gone down quite well with most of the people in this house!

You can fill them with fruit instead of mashed potato so we’re going to try making some with apple cinnamon and serving them with cream and toffee sauce!

I’m sharing our first attempt at pierogi below and I apologise to any Polish people if any of it has been done incorrectly!

Pierogi Recipe

Makes approx 24 pierogi.

Potato and cheese pierogi ingredients

For the dough:

2 cups plain flour
1 egg
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive/vegetable oil

For the filling:

2 large potatoes, peeled and mashed
2 cups grated strong cheddar
1 large onion, finely chopped and fried until golden



  • Mix the mashed potato, cheese and friend onion together. Don’t add any milk or butter as you don’t want the filling too wet. Let cool.
Potato and cheese pierogi
  • Mix all the dough ingredients together in a bowl. When it comes together, knead until smooth. Don’t over knead or the dough will be tough to work with (believe me, I know from experience!).
  • Rest, covered, for half an hour.


Potato and cheese pierogi
  • Roll out the dough until it’s about an eighth of an inch thick.


Potato and cheese pierogi
  • Using a cookie cutter (or the rim of a glass) cut out circles.


Potato and cheese pierogi
  • Pick up a dough circle and place in the palm of your hand. Keep the other circles covered with a wet tea towel to stop them drying out
  • Put about a tablespoon of filling into the middle of the dough circle then fold it over and pinch the edges together, making sure the edge is free of filling
Potato and cheese pierogi


Potato and cheese pierogi
  • You can dampen the edge with water before crimping if it doesn’t stick together easily
Potato and cheese pierogi
  • Drop about 5-6 pierogi into a large pot of boiling water and use a slotted spoon to move the water around the pot which will keep the pierogi from sticking together or to the bottom of the pan
Potato and cheese pierogi
  • When the pierogi float to the top, remove from the water and place on a plate that’s been coated with melted butter.
Potato and cheese pierogi


Potato and cheese pierogi


You can serve them straight away, tossed in melted butter or you can fry them up with some bacon like we did the next morning and had them for breakfast 🙂
Potato and cheese pierogi

This is a sponsored post.

Otherworldz – Hay on Wye

I’m bringing a belated Hay on Wye post today. I totally forgot to post my photos from one of the best shops I found at Hay on Wye, Otherworldz.

Everything it sells, I want!

The people who worked there were really nice; very friendly and made us feel most welcome.
If I’d have found the shop at the start of the holiday instead of the end, when I’d nearly spent up, I would have bought lots more things!

Otherworldz - animal ring holders
My little cat ring holder is in the kitchen window, looking after my rings as we speak!


Otherworldz trinket boxes


Otherworldz - odd socks
Odd sock fan? Pick your own pair 🙂


Otherworldz wooden animals


Otherworldz wooden mushrooms
The next time we visit we’ll be leaving with some of these mushrooms because I realllly want them next to my pond!


Otherworldz totem pole


Otherworldz wooden flowers


Otherworldz - lots of sparkly and glittery things!
Oops apologies for the blurry photo….all the sparkly, glittery things must have dazzled me!


Otherworldz wooden items


Otherworldz bird shaled hooks

You can find Otherworldz  on Facebook and on Twitter 🙂


Looking to the future


A general election always gets me thinking about the future. No matter who gets in, things are often uncertain for a while and it seems all everyone can talk about, depending on your political viewpoint, is the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things that are ‘certain’ to happen because of the government.

I prefer to take on the, ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ stance and try not to worry about the turn the country is going to take, after all, they do say worrying causes wrinkles and no one wants those!

When I look to the future, I prefer to focus on things like the children. I wonder what they’re going to choose to do with their lives and I wish I had a crystal ball or a pack of tarot cards (and the knowledge of how to use them!) so I can find out today! I’m so eager to see the kind of adults they’re going to become, the jobs they’re going to choose and whether they’re going to have 1 or more, or no children!
Of course, if you really can’t wait to see what the future holds, there are people you can talk to to try and help you get a glimpse into your future. TheCircle offers psychic phone readings, tarot card readings and astrology, among others.

Ant and I sometimes speculate as to the careers the kids are going to pick. We reckon Kaycee is either going to be a teacher or the boss of a large company because she lives to organise others and Ella is going to be something that doesn’t take much concentration because she has none!

Aiden’s not far off being an adult (how did that happen so fast?!) and he’s considering a career in computers. He’s not sure exactly what yet but our predictions about his future are slowly coming true! He’s been using the computer with ease since he was 2 so it was pretty easy to predict a career in computers for him!

No matter what path they each take, it’s wonderful seeing them grow, seeing the choices they’ll make and the lives they build 🙂

Please note: this post is in collaboration with TheCircle.


Tired old shower room in need of a makeover.

The garden and garage were the first two things that we loved about this house. The third was the shower room downstairs. We only had one bathroom in our old house and it was a nightmare in the mornings with two adults and three children all trying to get ready for the day.

We loved the idea of having a shower room downstairs and a bathroom with a separate toilet upstairs. Ant immediately commandeered the upstairs bathroom and toilet and I have to say, he’s quite possessive over them!

The girls and Aiden (and sometimes me!) are allowed to use the bath but for everything else, especially the toilet (although I do draw the line at going downstairs in the middle of the night!) we use the shower room.

I painted it magnolia when we moved in because the walls were blue and I didn’t like the colour with the pink tiles, shower, sink and toilet. I have to be honest and say I don’t like the pink bathroom set either!
It’s old and definitely looks very dated now.

shower room
shower room
shower room
shower room

I stalk Pinterest looking for new bathroom ideas almost daily!

It would be lovely to have a gloss white finish on the cabinets and a set called Moods on Bella Bathrooms would look brilliant in there. As an alternative, on a budget, option, there are some tongue and groove design units at Argos that are pinned to my board and I’d be very happy with them, especially as they’d totally go with my existing corner cupboard and shelf/towel rail 🙂

I asked Ant if we could move the sink next to the toilet then have a drawer unit and a tall unit next to them. He did some measuring and said yep, it’ll all fit 😀
Ant’s very good when it comes to plumbing so he’ll be fitting our new bathroom which will help enormously with keeping the cost down.

I’m thinking the floor needs to be white wood and hopefully the wood already down will be good enough to sand and paint.

In place of the shelves in the picture above, I’d love to have some floating shelves like these


to put things like these on!


I want to get away from pink and think a bold purple colour would look wonderful. I’ve pinned some items I’d like from the colour match range at Argos on my Pinterest board and I’m searching Google for the perfect purple coloured orchid which I think would look marvellous on those floating shelves 🙂

I added a shower curtain to my Pinterest board but I think the shower would look so much better with glass doors. We did plan on putting some in last year but the budget didn’t allow it at the time. Hopefully, this year will be the year we get a wonderful new bathroom!

My new favourite gift website – Flamingo Gifts

Flamingo Gifts

I was like a kid at Christmas, waiting for my parcel to arrive from Flamingo Gifts earlier this week!

I’d been asked to pick some things I’d like to receive and would be sent a few items from my list so although I knew what was on my list, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to be sent.

I was delighted with all that I received :o)

Mirabelle and Gorjuss

I’m a new fan of Mirabelle and Gorjuss after seeing the selection on Flamingo Gifts. Unfortunately, the handbag I reallllyyyyy wanted was out of stock 🙁 but I did get a purse, journal and pen and a lovely watermelon lip gloss.


Gorjuss Poppy Wood premium journal and pen – £11.69


I also received an owl doorstop and a tiny Russian doll. I’ve wanted a Russian doll for at least 10 years and when I saw not only a Russian doll but a tiny Russian doll, I had to add it to my list. I love all things miniature so you can imagine my excitement when I opened each doll and came to the last super tiny one!


Tiny Russian Doll – £10.70


There are loads of things I want from Flamingo Gifts and I’ve added quite a few to my Amazon wishlist!

I also ordered a couple of items for my step daughter’s birthday. They were delivered the next day which was excellent service. It’s her birthday tomorrow. I can’t share with you what I bought her unfortunately because I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

10% Off

At the time of writing there’s 10% off everything which is reflected in the above prices and postage is only 1p. Even without the promotion, postage is only 99p for orders under £34.99 and FREE on orders over that which I think is absolutely brilliant. High postage costs are what put me off ordering from some gift websites.

Flamingo Gifts will definitely be my first stop now when I need to find gorgeous birthday and Christmas gifts 🙂

Please note: I was sent the above items in return for an honest review.

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