Life Happens

And sometimes, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. It has been a trying time. My depression has come back full force and I often find myself doubting my every decision. I know that I need to go back onto the medication that I had previously been on.

But, here of late, life has been hard. I barely passed two of my previous classes due to our homelessness. And I am worried about my current classes now that we are still homeless. Jobs are hard to find so I have been applying at places out of state just to see if I can get something.

The only saving grace is that the kids would get fed breakfast and lunch at school if we move back to Alabama. So that would only mean that we would have to figure out something for us to eat and what to do with ourselves during the time that they are in school.

Alabama also brings the promise of not only finding employment but also a place to live since North Carolina has a three year wait list for section 8 housing. And while there would be some that would look down on my family because of our situation, I am just thankful that we are all still together.

Because if we went to a homeless shelter, we would be separated and I just do not feel that it is right to do that to families. But I know that if I put myself to it and work hard, I can accomplish a lot for my family and myself.

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Three Favorite Winter Meals in Summertime

I love to cook. No matter the temperature outside. One thing that I really love is food that you would typically make in the winter. While it is summer and cooking anything in the oven makes a house hot, with these recipes, you can make them in the crock pot.

Pot Roast with Carrots, Potatoes, and Gravy

Ingredients:

Medium sized beef or pork roast

2 lbs baby carrots

5 lbs small red potatoes quartered

Beef Bone Broth or Beef Broth

Salt

Pepper

Directions:

Dump everything into the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 4 hrs. Once food is done, get a measuring cup and scoop out some of the broth. Heat a pan up on the stove on medium-high heat. Add the broth and two tablespoons of corn starch. Gently whisk together and stir until bubbly and thickened. Add gravy to the rest of the food in the crock pot. Let completely thicken for 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Chili

Ingredients:

1 lb 93/7 ground beef

1 large can tomato sauce

1 1/2 cup water

2 cans chili beans

1 packet of chili seasoning

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Put ground beef into bottom of crock pot. Add water and stir around to loosen up the ground beef. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hrs or on high for 4 hrs.

Serve with your favorite toppings or pairing with chili. I personally use tortilla chips and I love the crunch and saltiness of it in the chili.

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken breasts

1 carton chicken bone broth

2 cups Bisquick mix

1 cup water

Directions:

Place chicken and broth into crock pot and cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 4 hrs.

Take out chicken and shred with two forks on a plate. Take a measuring cup and get out two cups of broth and put into a pot. Heat broth on medium-high heat. Mix water and Bisquick mix together and drop spoonfuls into hot broth making sure to space them out. Add chicken and pot of dumplings back to crock pot and stir.

Serve and enjoy!

How to Not Look Homeless

This task can be exceptionally difficult if you have children and they are kind of messy like what my three girls are.  But you can do it.  Here is what you do.

  1.  Keep empty grocery bags in your car so that easily bag up trash from food and beverages that you consume.  This helps keep you vehicle looking nice and clean.
  2. Have a book bag for each person with you in the car with a couple of days worth of clothing so that you can change clothing every day.  If you have small children like I do, you can use one bag to have clothing for you and the kids in.  Have a separate bag for your dirty clothing so that you can put it away.  Make sure you keep your laundry supplies in the bag with the dirty clothing so that it is easier to keep up with.
  3. If you have most of your possessions with you, make sure that your trunk is organized so that you can easily find what you need.  This also makes it look like you are just moving and stopping to get something out of your trunk instead of living out of your vehicle.
  4. Invest in a really good cooler.  With the cooler, you can keep drinks cold with ice so that you will not have to constantly buy cold drinks.  Plus, when the melted ice turns to water, you can refill your bottles of water with that water and avoid any wastage.
  5. Use the grills at parks to cook food at.  You can cook almost anything on a grill.  Even a charcoal one.  Don’t have charcoal?  That’s okay.  You can just walk around and find some sticks and use them.
  6. Sleeping.  This one can be difficult but, if you have to park somewhere and sleep, make sure that it is a well lit area.  My family has stayed in Walmart parking lots and we always park out pretty far so as not to be in the incoming employees way and in a well lit area.  If you park in a dark corner, expect to be bothered by the cops because they are going to think that you are up to no good.
  7. Keeping cool or warm while sleeping.  Depending on the number of people in the vehicle that you are sharing, invest in a battery powered fan that can be recharged by solar power, electricity, or car adapter.  Your best is one that can be charged by solar power as the battery lasts longer.  As for staying warm, you can always use some fleece blankets to help you stay warm.  My kids always have blankets in the car even when it is summertime.

I hope that these tips help you if you are facing homelessness.  For the previous two posts, click here and here.

When you are living in your car, it can be difficult to find things to do to stay cool in the summer and warm during the winter.  Here are some things that you can do even with having children.

Visit the library

Libraries have books that you can read, internet so that you can job search, and bathrooms.  If you have kids, they generally also have a children’s section that you can use as well.  Plus, they have air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

Parks and Recreation Centers

These also have air conditioning and heat.  While they both feature bathrooms, some parks even have WiFi for you to use.  And even better, there are some that even have splash pads so that you can really beat the heat on those really hot days.  Plus, you can walk on any of the trails that they might have as well which is good for you.

Recreation centers can sometimes have a special area just for kids and some even offer WiFi.  They also have locker rooms if they have a fitness center inside where you can take a shower after playing some basketball or exercising.

The Mall

The mall has air conditioning and heat as well as bathrooms.  You can also walk around which lets you get some much needed exercise.  While it is not completely ideal because you look at things that you might want but cannot afford, you can keep those items in the back of you mind as a sort of wish list.

All of these things are free.  However, some recreation centers do charge to use their fitness center.  Please be sure to ask before going to the fitness section to make sure.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on How to be Homeless and Not Look Homeless.  If you missed the first post, you can read it here.

The Truth About Being Homeless

It has been a long and tense journey.  But so far, we are all still alive.  We have officially been homeless for a little over a month.  I have been job searching like crazy and have come up with nothing.  This is because most of my work experience is considered to be dated.

With having dated work experience, my applications are essentially being thrown into the trash.  Which means, I have to start from scratch with my resume now.  We have applied for Section 8 housing and are now on the waiting list.  In the letter that we received, we will be waiting anywhere from 2 months to 3 years.

Neither one of us do not know what to do anymore.  We have no friends to stay with nor family.  So, we are staying in our car.  We constantly visit the park as it is a place of entertainment for the kids.  Plus, they are able to get some much needed energy out.

One of the parks that we frequent also has a recreation center with it and it has an indoor playground for the kids.  We go to that one when it is exceptionally hot outside.  Plus, they have WiFi there so I am able to get my schoolwork done.  Which here of late, has really been affected.  I am missing several assignments from two classes but I am however at least still passing in them.

It is so hard.  I worry everyday that someone will call child protective services on my family and take my kids away.  The sad reality is that there are not any homeless shelters available if you have a car that you can stay in.  While there is a type of temporary housing option available to us.  They are very strict.  You are not allowed to have visitors, talk to any of the people who live near you, have pictures in picture frames sitting on the provided furniture, or have a fully stocked fridge, freezer, or pantry.

While it is the lesser of two evils, to me, it is better to just stay in our car and take showers at my father in laws house when he invites us over.  We are also allowed to cook over there as well so that is good.

The other hardest part is staying hydrated and exercising regularly.  We have a cooler though that we fill with ice every two days with drinks.  Exercise is a totally different thing all together.  While we could use the fitness center, it does cost and that is something that we are trying to do and that is conserving what money that we have.

As far as our marriage goes, well, it has been frustrating.  There is little intimacy as you can imagine.  It is easy for our tempers to flare and snap at each other.  We try not to snap at each other but it is hard.  For now, we try to do a lot of hugs, hand holding, and kisses on the forehead and cheek.

My kids have honestly learned to be extremely thankful for what they have.  And to condense what we did have, we have donated a lot of our possessions to Goodwill.  It is hard when we go in and see the stuff that was ours out on the shelves.  At least it is for me.  But, it is just stuff.  It can be replaced.  My family however, can’t.

Stay tuned at this will be part of a series and there will be more posts similar to this one.

5 Easy Slow Cooker Meals

I don’t know about you but when summer hits, that is when I love using my slow cooker the most. Especially since it can get really hot in Florida. I hope that you enjoy these easy slow cooker meals. Feel free to comment below with your favorite slow cooker meals.

Meal #1 Beef Stew

Now I love me a good beef stew. And it is super easy to make too.

Ingredients:

1 family size of stew meat

6 large potatoes peeled, halved and then quartered

1 lb carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 in slices

1 carton beef broth or bone stock

1 bag frozen peas

1 small can of tomato sauce

Directions:

Put everything into the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve with crackers, in a bread bowl, or your favorite side dish.

Meal #2 Pot Roast

2-4 lb pork or beef roast

6 large potatoes halved and quartered

1 lb baby carrots

2 c beef broth

Directions:

Put roast fat side down into crock pot and put in carrots and potatoes. Add in broth and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Meal #3 Steak and Potatoes

This is one of my favorite ways to make a good steak and potato dish.

Ingredients:

Steak of your choosing

Butter

A-1 sauce

Worcestershire sauce

Baking Potatoes (as many as you would need to feed your family)

Tin Foil

2 tbsp oil

Directions:

Wash potatoes and dry. Take a plate and add the oil onto it. Roll the potatoes in oil and then salt the potatoes. Place in the bottom of the crock pot.

Take the tin foil and create a pocket. Add in the steak, A-1 sauce, butter, and Worcestershire sauce. Close up the pocket and place on top of the potatoes. Cook on high for 6 hours. You can cook this on low but if you do, it is better to do it overnight where you can just heat the food up in the oven. Serve with your favorite sides.

Meal #4 Chicken

This one is pretty simple. All you need is your choice of chicken, bone stock or broth, and your seasonings of choice. Season the chicken as you desire and place in the crock pot. Please note that if you are using chicken with the skin on it, so not use a lot of stock or broth. You can cook the chicken on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. As always, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is truly done. Pair with your favorite side dishes.

Meal #5 Chili

I think that everyone loves a good chili. You can make this anyway that you want and substitute any of the ingredients you would like.

Ingredients:

2 lbs 93/7 ground beef browned

1 large can Bush’s Chili beans

1 large can tomato sauce

1 c water

Directions:

Place everything into the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. If chili is too runny for your liking, you can take 2 tbsp of corn starch and mix with a spoon with some of the juice from the chili to thicken up the chili. Please note to add the corn starch mixture a little bit at a time as it will thicken as it cools.

What To Do When You’re Facing Homelessness

It is scary to think of. Your life starts to feel like a board game where you take one step forward and five steps back. You wrack your brain trying to figure out where you went wrong and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

If you are lucky enough to have a car, you don’t have too much to worry about. It only gets tricky when you have kids. Because then, you have to worry about their safety and how they are going to react to the situation.

There is so much to consider if you re homeless. You have to come up with a plan as to where you are going to shower, how to cook food, how to stay warm or cool, where to park to sleep, and what to do during the day.

As someone who has been homeless before, it is not easy to deal with. People who are homeless are often looked down on. They want to think that the person is lazy. Many times, it happens because of a natural disaster, a loss of a job, medical emergency. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

The first time I was homeless, my husband had just lost his job and even though I was working, it wasn’t enough to keep paying on our rent and power bill. So, we lived in our car for a while and our saving grace was a friend who lived in Florida.

So, we moved to Florida while I was pregnant. Being homeless and pregnant is not easy. But, we made it. We stayed with friend until just after having our baby and then we had our own place. Things were good for a while.

Then, Hurricane Irma came through. We were set to move into a rental when a tree fell on it. This put us to being homeless with our three girls. It wasn’t easy either. Especially with living in Florida. Once again, some friends offered help. So, we loaded up our stuff and moved to Alabama. We were there for six months until our so called friends decided to move and not tell us.

This time, we dropped some of our stuff off at my father in laws while we made the decision to move back down to Florida. One of my husband’s friends offered him a job and while it’s great, it isn’t constant. So, I have been applying like crazy and praying something comes up soon.

Currently, we are staying with a friend but that will come to an end in two weeks. I am trying not to stress. That is the main thing. Then, you need to downsize as much as possible. Since we only have our clothing, a few toys for the kids, and some personal items, we are good. Another thing that you can do is check your local economic council or housing authority for help. The nearest housing authority near us is on a waiting list however so, that would not be too beneficial right now.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for those who might be dealing with a situation like this? Comment below.