adventures in everything...

FREE CAKE!

17 Apr 16

Recently a friend of mine posted on Facebook about a Charity she’d signed up for.

It’s called Free Cakes for Kids.

I love baking, and don’t really do it as often as I’d like as it ends up with me stuffing my face with whatever baked treats I’ve made, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do something I enjoy, for a good cause, and with the added benefit of not gaining all the weight!

I went on the website and found a co-ordinator in my local area and sent off an email.

A couple of days later an email came through with a few requests for cakes, one of which was due on a weekend I was available to bake, so I jumped on it.

I was to bake a cake for a little girl called Jumana, who would be turning 4 and loves “Disney Princesses, especially Sophia the First, Tangled and Snow White, and the colour pink”.

I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, and started planning what I wanted to make.

I opted for a tangled theme, and decided to buy a little cake figure for the top so she could keep it afterwards.

cake

Apologies for the terrible quality photos, I only took a couple on my phone the evening before I delivered it.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing this, though it was a challenge – I’d massively underestimated how difficult fondant can be, and how hard it is to get a nice neat finish! But once I had delivered it to the shelter Jumana was at, it was so worth all the stressing.

Baking a special birthday cake for a child who lives in a homeless shelter, or is in care, or may have parents who for various reasons are unable to go buy a cake or make one themselves, might seem like a small thing, but making them feel special on their birthday can make a huge difference to them.

If you want to get involved then go to www.freecakesforkids.org.uk and register with a local co-ordinator and get baking!

A taxing time…

10 Apr 16

The 2015 – 2016 tax year ended this week, so I thought I’d share a few little tips that I find have made life a little easier for me – firstly though, let me stress that I am by no means an expert or a tax advisor – these are just a few things I did to make sure I was prepared when it came time to fill in my self assessment that I thought I’d share…

tax blog headers

Seems like a straightforward one, but you’d be surprised how many people have commented on how “organised” I am for having a simple spreadsheet to keep track of my earnings. It’s really not hard and totally worth it in the long run.

I have a Gmail account with google docs, and use a google spreadsheet, which means I can log in and access it/update it from anywhere. It’s not even that detailed to be honest, it consists of a few simple columns (see fake example below) which just allows me to track who I’ve done work for, the hours I’ve done, the total cost for the day, etc.  

At the end of each month, I total up the amount of money that I need to invoice each client, then I calculate the tax I need to put to one side when I receive the payment (more on calculating that amount later).

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.09.21

Updating this even once a week, or if you can be bothered at the end of each day, takes no more than five minutes, and will make life so much easier when tax time comes around – you have a breakdown of every day you’ve worked, or you can add the totals from each month to get your total earnings for the year. Simples.

tax blog headers

Again, I can’t believe the amount of people who have been shocked that I’ve saved money for the tax man! To me this was a no brainer. If I got a huge tax bill at the end of the year and hadn’t saved any money I’m not sure how I’d pay it!

I guess some people pay by credit card, but you do pay a fee for this, and it means you’re paying it off for the rest of the year anyway, and you’re paying interest on it.

When I started, a friend of mine mentioned that when you do your first full year of self assessment, they give you a bill for the year plus 50% of the year ahead based on your calculation. Surprising only one person mentioned this to me, and I’m so glad she did!

When saving, my logic was that I’d be taxed about 20% of my earnings, factoring in the additional 50% of that amount, I figured that saving 30% of my earnings each month would mean I’d have enough to cover it, and it did! Sure enough, this year, upon completing my first full year of self assessment, as well as my tax for the year, I’ve also been billed with an additional 50% of that amount to pay up front for the 2016-2017 tax year, so bear this in mind so you don’t get a nasty surprise!

Saving 30% might sound like a lot, but already being used to tax, NI and student loan being deducted from my PAYE, I found I didn’t really miss it too much.

Of course, there is an upside to this – when it gets to the end of the year, chances are you’ve saved too much money, and you’ll have a nice little chunk left over to do what you want with! Bonus! (though if you have it in a savings account, be sure to fill in the interest earned when you fill in your Self Assessment).

tax blog headers

Again, this kind of goes without saying, but it seems like most people leave it to the last minute, I’ve heard a lot of people saying they wish they’d not left it until the last minute, year after year, but they still do.

There are so many benefits to filling it in earlier though, aside from the first, incredibly obvious one:

  1. It’s less stressful. I mean, this should be reason enough really.
  2. It’s easier to get help. If you wait until December or January and hit a snag, it’ll take you significantly longer to get through to someone on the helpline than it will earlier in the year.
  3. You’ll have a better idea of where you stand financially. Paying up as soon as the tax year ends means you’re starting with a clean sheet, you’ll know that whatever is left over from saving is indeed surplus and is yours to use as you wish, rather than starting the new financial year with an overdraft/credit card to pay off!
  4. Not paying out all your money in December and January. If you haven’t saved money throughout the year, then I can’t imagine that saying goodbye to all your money right before or after Christmas is much fun.
  5. Being Smug. Major bragging rights when everyone else is frantically doing their Self Assessment at the last minute.

Some of this is probably super obvious, and you’ve most likely heard it all before, but actually doing it really does take the pressure off, and your reward is a little chunk of loose change at the end so you can treat yo self!

Doodle-A-Day March: Day 25-31

03 Apr 16

Well, it’s officially April, and this week I completed March Doodle-A-Day!

I enjoyed it this month, doing them in batches of 4 allowed me to play a little with different styles but create a few consistent images.

Firstly let’s catch up with days 25-28…

Day 25 was ‘Breakfast’ – something I don’t usually have, I generally go for a cup of tea in one of my favourite mugs! Day 26 was ‘Yard’, which made me think of American Football.

25-26

Day 27 was ‘Easter’, so of course it was going to be chocolate, and Day 28 was ‘Catch’

27-28

For the next lot I decided to go with some more simplified icons – I did a whole month of icons for doodle-a-day in August last year and really enjoyed it, so I decided to keep the last few simple.

Day 29 was ‘Preserve’, and Day 30 was ‘Pack’…

29-30

Day 31, the final day, was ‘Mega’, I went for a Megalodon, because who doesn’t love sharks, especially giant ones? To fill the gap I decided to do a little Doodle-A-Day logo in a similar style…

31

So that’s it! March is all done! And here the are all together…

march_complete_1000

This month I’m giving doodle a day a miss to work on some other little projects which I’ll be posting, which will hopefully add to my portfolio too :)

Doodle-A-Day March: Day 17-24

27 Mar 16

Hello! Hope you’re all having a lovely Easter weekend and have stuffed your faces with chocolate. I certainly have, but it’s fuelled what has been a very productive weekend so I don’t feel too guilty!

As well as finishing up a bunch of projects this last week, I’ve also been keeping up with my doodle-a-day (just about!) and I have two lots to share since last weekend!

First up, days 17-20 which were inspired by Scandinavian design, with pretty straight forward responses to the prompts…

17: Luck, and 18: pour…

17-18

19: Rabbit and 20: Spring…

19-20

Days 21-24 didn’t have much of a theme as I actually struggled with what to draw for each of the prompts, so I went back to my usual style like I did for days 9-12…

Day 21 was Contrast – I drew a complete blank on this for a good while before settling on night and day. Day 22 was Carry – a little vintage style carry on case…

21-22

Day 23 was Mood – a mood ring. Day 24 was Dye, which again I really struggled with. Eventually I thought of the bowls of dry powdered dye they have on stalls in India, though I’m not sure it’s actually clear what they are supposed to be in my illustration…

23-24

These last 4 were by far the hardest prompts this month and I really struggled, but we’re nearly at the finish line! Tomorrow I’ll be finishing up days 25-28, and then there’s only 3 more left to do!

Next month I’ll be missing out on doodle-a-day to work on a different project, I think I enjoy it more when I come back to it after a break, so will be working on a few small projects over the month instead!

Lx

Doodle-A-Day March: Day 13-16

20 Mar 16

Happy Sunday!

So despite some birthday fun this week, I’ve still kept up with my March doodle-a-day images!

Here’s day 13-16. I went for a bit of a woodland theme…

The prompt for day 13 was “Connected” – two little toadstools, and Day 14 was “Butterfly” – well, this one was a no brainer…

13-14

Day 15 was “Protect”- sticking with the woodland theme I illustrated a Snail with it’s protective shell. Day 16 was “Green” so I went for some cute trees…

15-16

Lx