Tuesday, September 20, 2016

About Illness And Recipes

Warning: Long Post Ahead

I don't talk about my personal health issues on this blog all that often, but I've decided to today. And I'm doing it for two reasons:

1.) To shamelessly promote my new article on News Hub about living with chronic illness

2.) To talk about a new recipe I've been trying out

In the interests of transparency, I'll admit that my health issues are all undiagnosed. In fact, I've never spoken with a doctor about any of them. But my mother has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia for years, and I've had many of the same symptoms that she suffers with (some even as far back as when I was ten years old).

I've also had many of the symptoms that she doesn't experience. That's the trouble with a condition like Fibro -- it comes with a list of 50+ symptoms.

Anyway, I'm getting off course.

It's been suggested that people with fibro may also have gluten sensitivities or intolerances, so they're urged to cut gluten from their diet. This isn't always easy, considering that gluten is in nearly every bread or pasta product imaginable. Thankfully many places are developing gluten-free options, though they're typically more expensive.

About a month ago, I decided to cut gluten from my own diet to see if I noticed any changes in how I felt. Unfortunately, I didn't. What I did notice, however, was a renewed love of cooking and trying new recipes. I've always loved to cook, but when my illness flares up, sometimes I don't have the energy for it. Thus, I've been relying on a lot of easy meal options lately. That meant a lot of pizza, frozen burritos, and stew that I could quickly mix up and throw in the oven. In other words, a lot of meals that contained gluten-heavy ingredients.

This month, I've adapted my meal options, but managed to find choices that were still relatively simple, so even on bad days I could still eat well.

These days, there are numerous options to make going gluten-free easier. Some options are hard to come by if you live in a small town like I do, but even then there are still options. There's a market just outside of town that sells a wide variety of gluten-free products, from flour to pasta to bread. And even my local Wal-Mart offers gluten-free pasta and bread (though the bread isn't all that palatable unless you drown it in something).

I've also discovered a new dish that doesn't require any gluten or specifically-gluten-free ingredients, and it's one of my favourite options for the sheer simplicity.

It was inspired by a conversation I had with my fiancee about burritos. When she explained the ingredients that went into these burritos, I started thinking of what I had on hand that I could use to make something similar. Here's what I ended up with:


Ingredients

  • Corn Tortillas (the soft ones, not the hard ones)
  • Rice
  • Black Beans
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Cheese (I had American on hand, but most any cheese would work)

Steps

Use the sauce from the can of tomatoes to add liquid to the bottom of a baking dish, then layer in the ingredients. Start with the tortillas, and lay out one even layer in the bottom of your baking dish, tearing the tortillas if necessary for even coverage. (This doesn’t have to be 100% precise -- a little overlap is okay. Just try to avoid empty space.)

Layer the rest of the ingredients as follows: rice, beans, cheese. This step is dependent upon personal taste in regard to how much of each ingredient to add. I added more rice and less beans, but you could do the reverse, or make it even. Doesn’t really matter either way, so do it how you like.

Add a second tortilla layer, and follow the previous steps again, and top the dish with the tomatoes. The first time I made it, I also had some salt&pepper chicken on hand, but in subsequent times, I didn't. The dish is great either way.

I also added some hot sauce and garlic powder to the rice for a bit of flavour, but you can leave it plain or add other seasonings if you prefer.

This dish requires very little baking time, if you start with pre-cooked ingredients like I did (I had beans and rice ready from earlier in the day). It just needs time to heat, melt the cheese, and let the tortillas soak up the liquid in the bottom of the pan. I baked mine for about 20-30 minutes.

The great thing about this recipe is that it can be modified to suit personal preference. The type of rice or bean can be changed, you can add or take away ingredients or seasonings. It’s pretty versatile, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

I'm not sure if this should be called a burrito, an enchilada, or something else entirely. All I know is it's simple and delicious, and will be a staple in my house whether I'm specifically trying to stay gluten free or not.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Promised News

Well, this post isn't going up as early as I'd hoped (when does it ever?), but here it finally is. Last week I promised another post with more news, so this is that post.

First and foremost, university news: due to financial straits, my only option is to defer enrollment until next year. I'll be able to start applying for loans in May, and of course I'll file the Fafsa before March, so I should be in a better financial state by next year's term.

Secondary news is that I've finally set up an account with a new internet provider. That means that I'll no longer have to fight for a good wifi signal, which will obviously be beneficial in work and other online endeavours.

Finally, I have my SAT Scores back: my overall score was 1120, nearly 50 points over what the university minimum requirement is. So that's one less thing I'll have to worry about.

Aside from some smaller things, like receiving my first job request via my website, there's not a lot else going on. Family stopped in for a visit and I got sidetracked from updating my website, but I'm hoping to get that done within the next week or so.

At this point, I'm not putting anything on a strict timeline (aside from work of course), as life always has a way of interfering. You know what they say; if you want to make God laugh, tell him you've made plans. So for now, I'm just taking it one step at a time, and things will get done when they get done.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On Writing And Editing

While in the process of finding work as a freelancer, I've had the opportunity to work as both a ghostwriter and an editor (alongside BlogMutt, I was also hired in early July by a publishing company, and have since completed my first assignment for them).

Having now done both professionally, I can say with certainty that I prefer editing. That's not to say that I dislike being a ghostwriter -- on the contrary, I love what I do. And to that end, I have a bit of news to share; over the next few days, I'll be updating my website to include work as a ghostwriter, instead of just an editor.

When my site went live, I was contacted about a writing job, despite it being beyond what my website advertised. I completed the job, and have decided to include the option of being hired for further ghostwriting opportunities.

The writing will have a different payscale than the editing, so I'll likely be adding a separate page for it to keep things neat and organized.

Early next week, I'll be posting another update with a bit more news. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Forever Silent

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not exactly proficient in consistently updating my blog or website. But I've neglected this poor page long enough, so here's a bit of news.

I've been trying to find work as a writer or editor, and finally had some luck -- I'm now a ghostwriter for BlogMutt! Unfortunately, it's not enough to keep me afloat financially, and since I have time to balance a second (or third?) job, I'm also looking for more proofreading work. I still work as an editor for WLE, but it's a much more lowkey position, and the pay is minimal.

It's unusual to say that I could be holding down three jobs, but that's the nature of remote freelance work, isn't it? You work on your own time, so you're able to switch between jobs as you need to throughout the day or week. As long as it all gets done and your clients are happy, that's what matters.

I'm also still available for hire on a freelance basis for individual clients, so if you or anyone you know is looking for a good editor, feel free to contact me!

Note: This post will also appear on my personal website, Ally Cat Editing.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Helping Out a Friend

Today's post is going to be a little different than my usual. Instead of an update on what's going on in my life (that'll be coming in a few days, don't worry) or my random thoughts about "insert-subject-here", today I'm trying to help out a friend.

A good friend of mine is dealing with serious financial trouble, and while I don't feel it's my place to go into details about her situation, she really needs help right now. She's also an artist, so she's taking commissions to try to make enough money to meet her needs. So if you or anyone you know are interested in some digital art, please consider contacting her.

Her art can be found here: On-Raven-Wings

Commission info can be found here: Chaotic's Commissions

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Big News and Small Updates

This is just a quick update to make a note of some interesting things going on. I don't want to say too much until my plans get off the ground, but I've got something in the works, and if it goes as well as I hope, it should be pretty awesome. For now, what I can say is that my previous experience in promoting things will come in handy.

In other news, its been a somewhat crazy couple of weeks. I found out that I do have minimal internet access at home -- a local internet provider has created a WiFi cloud that covers a large portion of my area, and it reaches my front porch. Occasionally, I can connect from inside the house, but generally I need to be outside to have a signal. Still, it's better than nothing, which is what I've had for the last two months.

University news; the recently changed SAT exam meant that the score I was supposed to get is no longer valid, so I had to contact the university and find out what their new requirements were. On the new scale, I need to get a rough average score. That shouldn't be too difficult. I'm still worried about my math score, but I'm hoping that my English score will help carry me, along with the essay.

The second university wants to hold an interview next week. Unfortunately, my webcam is busted, so Skype isn't an option (and apparently Skype doesn't work on Chromebook anyway). I went to my local college to see if their computer lab had webcams, but no luck. So I've contacted the university and inquired about the possibility of a phone interview instead, and am waiting to hear back.

I'm still trying to find a job, and am waiting to hear back about a potential position with a PR firm. Beyond that, I don't have much in the works.

Hopefully I'll have more news about my new project late next week. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 4, 2016

On Writing, Working and the SATs

Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us, fellow writers! Are you joining in?

I didn't know I was going to participate in Camp Nanowrimo until after it began. Specifically, I decided to join in on April 2nd. I've participated in November NaNo plenty of times, but this is my first time trying my hand at Camp. If it weren't for the adjustable word count, though, I wouldn't be attempting it, as I've got too many other things on my plate.

I'm keeping my word count goal ridiculously low -- 15,000 -- and I'm really only doing it so that I can have something pushing me to keep writing while everything else falls down around my ears.

I might be moving again at some point soon, but unfortunately I don't know for sure. The house I'm staying in might be put up for sale soon, or it might not. It really depends on if the homeowners decide to try and keep it or not. And they can't seem to make up their minds. Three days ago we were looking at our options for internet service -- now they're back to wanting to get rid of the property.

On top of that, I also need to find a job. That's a bit more difficult when I don't even know where I'll be living (there's a possibility of moving out of town, which will make commuting a bit tricky). Ideally, I'd like to find a job that I can work remotely, so my housing situation doesn't affect it. Even in the house with no access, I can still travel for it. If I move, it'll be to a place with internet access. A remote job is my best bet right now. I've been pursuing a job with a healthy living magazine, but so far I've not heard anything concrete.

Finally, as I've mentioned previously, I'm still studying for the SATs. Unfortunately, it's not going as well as I expected. I'm out of practice with math (something I've always struggled with), and now I have to go back and teach myself algebra. Fortunately, I have a few textbooks from my early college days, so at least I'm not short on materials.

But getting back to the topic of NaNo; I've got a lot going on at the moment, and most of it is pretty stressful, which is why I decided to take on the challenge of participating in Camp NaNo. It's stressful for a completely different reason, and it may be a good way to relax after a long day. And again, I've kept my word count goal very low to make it even easier -- it's a good way to make sure I accomplish something.

And something is still better than nothing, no matter how little and how slow the progress is.