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Sandra’s carrot and lentil soup

calendar02 March 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Sandra’s carrot and lentil soup

Here’s a recipe submitted by one of our ace Facebook followers, Sandra. She says, ‘We’ve experienced times when money was very tight as we were unemployed for five and a half years in the past, with a young family. This soup is both cheap and healthy, and it’s quick and easy to make.’ Thanks, Sandra – sounds delicious!

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30-35 mins
Serves: 6
Total cost: £1.04

Ingredients
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
200g carrots, peeled and diced
400g potatoes, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, chopped
150g red lentils
1 litre of veg or chicken stock
125ml milk (I use semi-skimmed)
Black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan with the cumin powder and chilli flakes for a couple of minutes, before adding the onion and garlic. Fry until softened.
  2. Add the carrots, potatoes, celery and lentils. Give everything a good stir.
  3. Add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and use a stick blender to carefully blend the mixture until smooth. If you don't have a blender, you can mash it using a potato masher – not quite as smooth but still tasty.
  5. Enjoy with bread or toast!

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

Six ideas for an alternative Lent

calendar01 March 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Six ideas for an alternative Lent

Doesn't it come round quick? Lent 2017 kicks off today! As usual, the next six weeks will see people giving up a variety of vices. But Lent can be about so much more than trying (and usually failing) to give up something trivial – in fact, it’s an ideal time to make some easy but significant changes, the benefits of which could last far beyond six weeks. Here are our top tips for an alternative Lent in 2017.

  1. Give up talking. No, we’re not suggesting you take a vow of silence for the next month and a half, but let’s be honest, most of us could do with talking a little less. This Lent, why not really focus on listening when you’re having a conversation? Selflessness has the power not only to affect how the other person feels, but how we feel about ourselves too.
  2. 40 good deeds in 40 days. In the same vein as tip #1, why not challenge yourself to do one good deed for someone else every day throughout Lent? It doesn't need to be anything extravagant or time-consuming; something as simple as paying a compliment can go a long way. For guidance, try 40acts – you’ll receive a daily email with tips on how to ‘give back, do good and live generously’ throughout Lent, with options for people who have lots of time on their hands and not much to spare at all! It's free to sign up here.
  3. 'Lent' your time to loved ones. Whether it’s your partner, children, parents or an old friend, make a point of spending quality time with them at least once every week throughout Lent. You could suggest trying something new together each week – pottery painting, snowboarding, hot air ballooning? Well, you don't have to go that mad - perhaps just get together to cook and eat together every Friday night? The memories you make will surely last way beyond Lent.
  4. Don’t give up, GET up. Hands up if your New Year’s resolution was to be more active? Hands up if it went down the pan on 2 January? You’re not alone! But Lent is a great time to try again – for six weeks, challenge yourself to join a weekly sports club or gym class, go for a jog or try a fitness DVD every day. You’ll either have a really healthy six weeks (which is great in itself) or you might end up getting into the habit and find yourself making a really significant change to your lifestyle. Click here to see what family-friendly activities are happening in your area.
  5. Charge yourself for treats. Going cold turkey at Lent is a challenge and most of us slip once or twice… or several times! So why not use this inevitability in your favour? Every time you eat or do something you’re supposed to have given up, simply add 50p (or your choice of amount) into a jar. Given up chocolate? Add 50p each time you eat some. Sofa junkie? Collect 50p for every hour you spend lounging around. Just think how much change you could accumulate! At the end of Lent, you could add it to your rainy day savings, spend it on something you’ve been wanting without having to rely on credit, or even donate it to charity. Result!
  6. Buckle down with your Bible. After a suggestion from a friend on Facebook, here's one I've decided to try this Lent - I'm reading one chapter of Exodus (the second book in the Bible) per day. There are 40 chapters in Exodus so it fits nicely, but you could spread any of the books (or a combination) across 40 days. Whether you're a newcomer to the Bible or you've read it hundreds of time, this is a really easy way to get into it. It won't take up a lot of time and (perhaps most importantly) you can do it while eating as much chocolate as you please. That's the kind of Lent I like the sound of.

Got any tips of your own to add? Comment below and let us know.

A Valentine’s Day we can all be a part of

calendar06 February 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

A Valentine’s Day we can all be a part of

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple months (and if so, wow - why was this one of the first websites you decided to look at?), you’ll know Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Yes, the day when we show the people we’re romantically involved with how much we love them – more often than not, by buying them stuff.

But, believe it or not, spending money isn’t the only way to show someone you love them, nor is 'romantic' love the only type of love out there. Everyone wants to feel cared for and appreciated every now and then. Friends, family, colleagues, even the friendly bus driver who always brightens your morning! So, whether you’re in a relationship this 14 February or not, you could make it a day to show all the people you appreciate having in your life how you feel about them.

  1. First, give some proper thought to what the person might like – naturally, certain things that will make one person’s day might make another feel horrendously awkward! Think about their personality type and try to remember what they appreciated in the past if you can. It tends to show in a gift if you’ve put lots of thought into it beforehand!
  2. You don’t necessarily need to go out and spend on chocolates and flowers. Make your own gifts if you’re crafty. How about home-baked mini muffins as an alternative to a pricey box of chocolates? Or DIY flowers like these ones? Don’t make buying a gift feel like an obligation just because it’s Valentine’s. Sometimes spending time on something means so much more than spending money.
  3. The simplest way to show someone you appreciate them is to tell them! Whether it’s face-to-face or over the phone, it could make their day a whole lot brighter. Why not write a letter or give them a card listing all the reasons you’re thankful they’re in your life? If it’s someone you live with, you could write the reasons on post-it notes and stick them around the house to be found throughout the day.
  4. Just hang out! Spending time with someone can be the perfect (and easiest) gift. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a big day out – going to the pub or watching a film together would work. Ask what’s going on in their life (and listen!) and show you appreciate having them around. (This is probably more of an option for friends, family and colleagues than your morning bus driver, but hey, you never know!)
  5. It’s likely there are people in your world who help to make your life easier every day without you ever really noticing it. It’s often the case that you’d only realise what they’re doing and how much it means to you if they ever stopped. So, this Valentine’s Day, why not show your appreciation by helping out more, lightening their load and making their life that little bit easier? You could roll up your sleeves and help around the house and garden for your parents, assist a colleague with their workload, or even wash your best friend’s car! Even better, it could be the perfect opportunity to spend some time together.
  6. Finally, don’t limit yourself to one day in February to show the people around you that you appreciate and care about them – we’re compelled as Christians and as humans to love each other all year round. But hey, if you feel like you aren’t doing enough of it, Valentine’s Day seems like as good a day as any to start!

Pour coffee, serve snacks, change lives

calendar01 February 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Pour coffee, serve snacks, change lives

Every day, CAP is going above and beyond to raise awareness of poverty in the UK and the funds needed to show it who’s boss. As a volunteer, I play my part by helping to keep our blog stocked up, but there’s lots going on elsewhere in the world of CAP where volunteers are much needed. A big chunk of awareness and fundraising comes from heading out to events and festivals and spreading the word face-to-face – and this is where volunteers are crucial. This year, CAP will be showing up to events all over the country, so why not join us at one for a fun and simple way to give your time and help out a great cause?

CAP is particularly in need of people to help out at this year’s Big Church Day Out. The annual festival brings together tens of thousands of Christians to enjoy worship and music in a fun, family-friendly festival environment, and this year the CAP café will be running at both the South (26 to 29 May) and new North (1 to 4 June) events. We need volunteers to help us serve and chat, keeping our customers nourished, caffeinated, hydrated, happy and informed!

When you volunteer, you’ll be working six to eight hours a day in two to three hour shifts. All your meals will be provided and we’ll help you out with transport too. The exciting news is you’ll be given a free event pass and a camping pass to the festival, leaving you free to roam around and have fun between your shifts.

By helping out at the CAP café you’ll be able to connect with lots and lots of people, playing a vital part in spreading the word about CAP to potential clients, partner churches and supporters. Don’t worry if it feels like you need a lot of experience – before you start you’ll be given plenty of training in how to run the café as well as an info pack about the work of CAP, so you’ll be ready and raring to go before you know it!

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Big Church Day Out CAP café, just fill out the form here. Below is a list of our upcoming events, many of which we may need volunteers for too, so watch this space for more info!

2017 events and festivals

  • 9 to 11 February – iKids AOG conference (Coventry)
  • 27 February to 4 March – Keswick in Devon (Sidmouth) – CAP’s Founder and International Director, John Kirkby, will be running a seminar and speaking on the main stage during one of the morning sessions
  • 11 to 14 April – Spring Harvest (Skegness)
  • 2 to 4 May – Assemblies of God Stronger Together (Bradford) – John Kirkby will be sharing his story and inviting guests on a tour of CAP's headquarters, followed by a free curry!
  • 9 to 11 May - Elim Leaders’ Summit (Harrogate)
  • 26 to 29 May - Cliff College (Sheffield)
  • 27 to 28 May - Big Church Day Out South (West Sussex)
  • 2 to 3 June – Big Church Day Out North (Cheshire)
  • 21 July - Festival of Life (Wales – specific venue TBC)
  • (Date TBC) – RCCG Ordained Ministers’ Conference (venue TBC)
  • 22 to 28 July – New Wine week 1 (Somerset)
  • 30 July to 5 August – New Wine week 2 (Somerset)
  • 2 to 4 August – Hillsong (London)
  • 25 to 29 August – ONE event (Lincoln)
  • October (date TBC) – Festival of Life (London)
  • 17 to 18 November – Christ for all Nations (London) – John Kirkby will be doing a ten-minute talk on the main stage

Why ‘lagom’ living should be your new best friend

calendar13 January 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Why ‘lagom’ living should be your new best friend

Although some people might see putting up flat pack furniture as their personal idea of hell, many in the UK are in love with Scandinavian furniture and design. Indeed, if you’ve been hanging around certain social media spheres in the last twelve months, you’ll probably have noticed the word ‘hygge’ cropping up on your news feed (I’m told it’s pronounced ‘Hue-ugh’).

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word and can be most easily translated as ‘cosy’, the essence of the interior design trend that swept the nation in 2016. Its popularity got us all painting our rooms in warm and comforting shades, and buying as many scented candles, hot chocolates and knitted jumpers as we could carry. Let’s face it, we’re all at least a little glad that wearing comfy jumpers and drinking sweet, yummy drinks is ‘in’, especially in a wet, cold and windy January like this.

Recently, however, a new Scandinavian way of living has been catching people’s attention. Lagom (lar-gom, slightly easier to pronounce) is the Swedish word for ‘enough’ or ‘in balance’ and is based on clearing out the clutter in your life and focusing on what you really need. The ethos behind this trend – on ignoring the push to consume and fill your life with more and more stuff – is something Christians Against Poverty can get behind. Especially if it means we can embrace gratitude for what we already have.

Even better, getting on board with the lagom trend and decluttering could earn you some pennies back, which is always a welcome bonus. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Firstly, have a good look around your house for things you no longer use, or perhaps have a surplus of, like plates and cutlery for example. Rather than gathering dust in your cupboard, someone else could be using them, so why not sell them on?
  2. Make the most of social media selling. Loads of people are now selling their unwanted items online (Facebook has even added a ‘marketplace’ section so you can check out what’s for sale in your area with one swift click). Use sites like Facebook or apps like Shpock to advertise your stuff locally – that way you won’t have to travel as far to deliver or shell out for postage.
  3. You could even sell on your items the old fashioned way and see if there are any car boots sales happening in your area that you could take your old stuff along to.
  4. Importantly, avoid the irony of buying something new and trendy because it says it’s ‘lagom’. That’s really missing the point. If you’re crafty, why not try your hand at upcycling? Repair your old things or make them into something else entirely – upcycling is all about giving them a new lease of life rather than scrapping them. See upcyclethat.com for all sorts of ideas.

So whether your 2017 is going to be all about hygge or lagom (or you're going to steer clear of Scandinavian terminology altogether), the main thing is to know what you can afford and not go overboard. For advice if you're struggling with debt, call us for free on 0800 328 0006.

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