Do you run a small business? What are the tasks you find most boring?

I am a writer, blogger and social media consultant. For me, it is all about ideas, words and passions. It won’t surprise you to know therefore that I find accounting mind-numbingly tedious. My legal training and common sense tell me it is important but I want an easy way to manage it in a stream-lined fashion.

My brother is a self-employed music and singing teacher and kindly introduced me to the amazing Xero. I am so pleased he did. It saves me time and even I can work out how to use it.

So if you sell products, provide services, have to take secure payments, or a combination of the three, check out Xero. It allows you to access your financial information anywhere anytime with its mobile accounting app.

If you are in the early days of business, it can be a pain when someone asks you for an invoice. How much easier when you can tap into beautiful customised online templates for invoices.

What if you were able to check when your invoice was opened by your client or customers? That’s got to be a good thing right?

Cash flow can be a nightmare for small and start-up businesses but with Xero you can get on up to the minute view of your finances from your online dashboard.

If you have a team, a partner or have the services of an accountant or book-keeper, it is super-easy to share your information with them from anywhere at any time. You can decide how much access they have to your details so you are always the one in control.

You can sync Xero seamlessly with third party apps for time tracking, quotes, billing and more.

Wave goodbye to paper-based accounting systems that are in one place where you might not happen to be just when you need a vital bit of financial information

So the system itself comes highly recommended but Xero offers more. One of my favourite areas of the Xero website is the one that gives so many great articles on how to successful run small businesses. As well as the old-school topics around marketing invoicing and so on, it tackles more modern topics such as SEO, content marketing and social media. I think Xero is great for any business and that certainly includes the numerous bloggers who are now monetising or trying to learn how to monetise their online presence.

So usually when using Xero I do it from my laptop but if you are out and about a tablet or smartphone might suit you better. Xero is so good because it is so flexible to an individual business’ needs. You don’t have to pay a small fortune to use Xero and can choose the plan that best suits your business circumstances.

In conclusion, why get yourself in a tizz about accounting when a small investment via Xero can make it all so simple. Check Xero out today and sign up for a free trial.

Helping poor families at Christmas really gives a sense of that idea of goodwill to all during the festive season. We can try to help and get a feel good factor from doing so or like Scrooge before he became enlightened we can turn out backs on those who need just a little help. Does helping poor families at Christmas matter to you as you make your festive preparations?
Helping Poorer Families at Christmas
Stress at Christmas is common and particularly where a family has struggles whether financial or emotional.

Helping poor families at Christmas

I wanted to let you know about the Big Give Christmas Challenge – the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign.Every donation (up to £7,000) that my partner charity School-Home Support receive between noon on the 28th November and noon on the 5th of December will be matched by generous champions, including our friends at the Childhood Trust. This means that all of your donations are doubled, allowing the charity to reach twice as many families living in poverty. Today, four million children in the UK (an average of nine in every classroom) live in poverty, so there’s a lot of work to do!

Poverty in the UK

Living in poverty often means things your family take for granted like housing, food are unsuitable for children growing up. Many families cannot manage to afford school uniform and equipment to help with children’s education.  Milestones like growth that should be celebrated add yet more burdens as shoes are needed and extra-curricular activities that help a child to develop cannot be accessed.

Thankfully, this is where the School-Home Support Welfare Fund comes in.


James’ mum, Moji, was a motivated person who studied at University, before suffering leg and back injuries and subsequent deep depression. Unable to walk, let alone work, Moji and her children – James and his sister Favour – were living in poverty, housed in temporary accommodation (in a top floor flat with no lift, so she was unable to leave home for months at a time) with no proper furniture or clothing.
SHS Practitioner, Sevgi, realised that the family were in need of support. She used the SHS Welfare Fund to buy the children school uniforms and bags, proper beds to sleep in, transport to get to school, and items to make the home more accessible for Moji’s disability. Sevgi also helped the family to get rehoused in a more suitable accommodation and to access the benefits they were entitled to.
Sevgi and Moji’s hard work has paid off. James recently won a scholarship to attend football college and is on track to becoming a professional footballer. Sevgi has empowered Moji, so that going forwards she feels strong enough to find resolutions for the family herself. She recently applied for a scholarship for Favour to attend a private secondary school with board, as she’s doing very well at primary school.
Jackie lives with her four adult children and three grandchildren, Cameron, 12, Curtis, 11, and Kodi, 9.  Cameron, Curtis and Kodi were removed from their parents’ care after witnessing years of domestic violence, and the impact of this violence, as well as other issues including their grandmother’s alcoholism, meant that the boys had serious problems at school. Their attendance was low, their behaviour was poor and both police and social services were regularly involved with the family.
Our ‘Troubled Families’ senior practitioner Sam has helped to turn things around. Previously, the boys had tatty and incomplete school uniforms which singled them out for bullying. The SHS Welfare Fund was used to buy new uniforms which has boosted their self-esteem, and Sam visited their home each morning for a week to get them into a morning school routine. Within 12 weeks the boys’ attendance at school had dramatically improved. School attendance for all three boys is now 95%.
The boys’ behaviour at school was also a serious cause for concern with Cameron, the eldest, was being repeatedly excluded from his secondary school for violent behaviour. Sam spoke to the school and arranged for the boys to have mentors assigned, and also enrolled them on a course supporting children who have witnessed domestic violence. The programme has benefitted them enormously and their behaviour is now much improved.
Finally, Sam worked to build Jackie’s resilience so she could effectively parent the boys. She has given up drinking, has taken on some psychological support and now works as a midday assistant at a local primary school.
The police and social services haven’t been involved with the family since they met Sam.
Does helping poor families at Christmas matter to you? How do you go about supporting them?

Cuddle Fairy
Mum Muddling Through
The Pramshed
Post Comment Love

Are you looking for a great non-alcoholic drink for over the festive period?

Crafted® Mulled St Clements (non-alcoholic)

Serves 4

Non-Acoholic Drink




.1L Crafted® Still & Cloudy Lemonade

Peel of 2 oranges

2 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. ground cardamom

2 tsp. whole black peppercorns

10 cloves

10 star anise

1 lemon to garnish


Place all your ingredients in a thick-bottomed pan and bring to a low boil. Simmer everything for 20 minutes.

To serve strain into a heatproof glass and garnish with lemon slices.


Recipe created by Steven Croall, Bartender at The Lioness of Leith

What non-alcoholic drink do you serve over Christmas?

Run Jump Scrap

Would you like to win an IAMS Bundle for your pet?


As we step into Winter we want to look and feel our best, opting for healthier ingredients which will provide help us live an active lifestyle. As a nation of animal lovers, it’s only natural that we would also want our pets to receive a 100% complete and balanced diet providing them with everything they need to live a healthy and active life.

IAMS Proactive Health for Dogs and Cats provides high quality animal protein, in the form of chicken and turkey, as its number one ingredient. What’s more, IAMS Proactive Health offers dogs1 24% more protein and cats2 47% more animal protein than the top two leading brands3 to help build strong muscles and support a pet’s skin and coat.

Available in tasty Chicken for Dogs and Succulent Roast Chicken, New Zealand Lamb and Chicken, Wild Ocean Fish and Chicken, and Norwegian Salmon and Chicken for Cats, IAMS Proactive Health offers tailored nutrition to support your pet from their junior years all the way through to mature and senior.

We’ve teamed up with IAMS to offer you the chance to win a goodie box for your cat or dog*. All you need to do is answer the following question:

How much more protein does IAMS Proactive Health provide dogs compared to the top two leading brands?


Enter via the Rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*The goodie bag consists of IAMS Proactive Health and IAMS Delights for Cats and IAMS Proactive Health and IAMS Minis for Dogs. Winners will be contacted directly in one week’s time. To share your pictures of your pets enjoying IAMS head on over to @IAMS_UK1 on Instagram.

Rachel Bustin
Pink Pear Bear
My Random Musings
SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Here’s a mulled cocktail perfect for Christmas if you are a gin lover.

Mulled cocktail recipe

Mulled Cocktail

Mulled Cocktail


1L Crafted® Still & Cloudy Lemonade

100ml Gin

Peel of 2 grapefruit

4 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 tsp. ground cardamom

2 tsp. whole black peppercorns

10 cloves

10 star anise

1 lemon and sprigs of rosemary to garnish



Place all your ingredients in a thick bottomed pan and bring to a low boil. Simmer everything for 20 minutes.

To serve pour 25ml of gin into each glass into a heatproof glass. Add the mulled lemonade by straining into the glass; garnish with slices of lemon and a rosemary sprig.


Recipe created by Steven Croall, Bartender at The Lioness of Leith

Jacky Ha-Ha Book