Am I Instafamous Yet?

Am I Instafamous Yet?

Instagram is one of my favorite social media platforms. If i’m not posting on Instagram, I am at least scrolling through it to check up on my friends and family. I haven’t personally  used Instagram professionally, but the magazine I intern for (Drift & Die Press) uses it every time we have something new up on the website, and I can see how effective that is by the likes and comments we get. However, I did have a ton of fun creating my photos that I posted to Instagram on Canva. I’ve used Canva before in another class, but never posted anything I made. I used a similar shade of pink to keep some continuity between my blog and instagram. If you haven’t noticed by now I love pink, so keeping that tie not only between my social media accounts but also between my personal life was important to me. The only things that were really challenging with this assignment was that I did not realize that I have a little bit of perfectionist in me, so it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to make my graphics. In the future, I imagine i’ll use Instagram to document my journey through mortuary school, because any time I bring it up people get really interested. Maybe I will blog about my journey and use Instagram to promote my posts, similar to this class! To see my Instagram go to

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When it comes to food, Houston doesn’t have a problem.

When it comes to food, Houston doesn’t have a problem.

Living in Texas, I became spoiled when it came to food. I split my time between both Amarillo and Houston, but Houston is far superior when it comes to variety and quality of the food. Below I will provide you with all of my favorite places to eat in Houston from Kolaches to Mexican food in no kind of order.


Katz’s Deli…photo courtesy of

Katz’s originated in New York and was replicated in Houston. It is a Jewish, Kosher-style deli with the same atmosphere as the original. The walls are lined with photographs of the New York deli as well as celebrity autographed memorabilia from visitors over the years. As mentioned in their URL, they never close. The day ranges from family friendly to late night to cater to all audiences and the menu is one of the most extensive I’ve personally ever seen.

Favorite dish: Corned beef hash with a side of beef bacon


Jinya Ramen Bar…photo courtesy of Commercial Architecture Magazine

Originally opened in Tokyo, Jinya is a bar in Houston with a wide range of ramen noodle dishes and appetizers. The atmosphere is very cool and modern. The lights are dim inside and the seating is done a little odd. There are booths and regular tables but down the middle there is a long table for communal seating. The menu is huge and each dish is super customizable, you can add anything or take anything you want away in whatever ramen dish you order.

Favorite dish: Wonton chicken ramen, add nori dried seaweed, corn, and extra wontons


Pappasitos Cantina…photo courtesy of Houston Press

Pappasitos is part of a larger group of restaurants, Pappas. They have seafood restaurants, steakhouses, burger joints, and even a coffee shop. However my favorite by far is their mexican restaurant which is Pappasitos. As soon as you walk in, you can smell the grill. If you aren’t hungry when you get there, you will be once you get inside. The food is delicious. The steak and chicken are mouth-watering and the salsa and guacamole are to die for. The menu has something for everyone, spicy or not, veggie or meat, even for picky kids.

Favorite dish: Pappasitos Famous Beef Burrito


Kolache Factory…photo courtesy of Favor Delivery

If you’re in the mood for breakfast, or just something small the Kolache Factory has you covered. However, my mom and I have been known to eat a dozen kolaches in one sitting just between the two of us. There is something on the menu for everyone. There are sweet fruit and cream cheese kolaches, savory meat kolaches, and even traditional kolaches with sausages. If you’ve never had a kolache, its basically a sweet roll filled with anything under the sun. I’d highly recommend giving it a try.

Favorite dish: Polish sausage kolache


The Burger Joint…photo courtesy of

I know burgers are overdone and done everywhere imaginable, but this is not your typical burger place. There are burgers on the menu are burgers you can’t get anywhere else, fries as well. Each burger is drastically different but you can add and take away any ingredient you want. I’ve never eaten inside but I do know they have a wide range of beer and a kids menu, so they reach a relatively wide audience.

Favorite dish: Mexi burger with queso fries



The Teahouse Tapioca & Tea…photo courtesy of teahouse

Now, I know this isn’t a restaurant (yes they have food but people do not come for the food) but it’s easily my favorite spot in Houston. The Teahouse is the best place I’ve ever been to get boba/bubble tea. There are so many options for your drink and toppings you can add. It is a goal of mine to try everything on the menu. If you’re passing through I hope you give it a go. The watermelon ice blend is a good place to start (with tapioca, of course).

Favorite item: avocado cream blend with tapioca


Home is where Mom is

Home is where Mom is


She gets it from her momma…Sami poses for a picture with her jack-o-lantern post pumpkin carving and pre-interview. Taken by Abby Taylor


A mother’s love…A photo of Sami and Jill, courtesy of Sami Smith

I do most of my interviews with a recorder because I’m a pretty slow writer, and I don’t like typing during interviews because I feel like it disconnects you from the interviewee. I am also in a podcasting course so I am pretty used to recording audio, so it was a comfortable experience. I enjoy editing audio. I used to mix songs together after Pitch Perfect (2012) came out, so I’m kind of self-taught but it comes in handy with projects like this and in my podcasting course. I enjoyed the cutting and putting together clips, but I really didn’t enjoy listening to the recording over and over again.

Before the interview Sami was carving pumpkins, and since she isn’t a stranger taking pictures of her came pretty easy, it’s something I do on a regular basis.

Honestly, I’ve met Jill on more than one occasion, the most surprising part of the interviewing process was the stories that Sami told about her mom. In one part of the unedited interview she tells a story about how one of her mom’s coworkers asked her why she smiled all the time and Jill replied with “there’s too many good things in life to not smile all the time”, this is how i’ve always known her. You would have no idea about all of the things she went through.

The only things that I would have done differently is picked another location for the interview and used a different app. On the app that was recommended by another student in the class, if a file was longer than three minutes you had to pay ten dollars to export it. I wound up re-recording the recorded interview on another device, so the audio didn’t come out how I wanted it to and there are some sounds I couldn’t get rid of.

I am going to mortuary school in the fall, so I won’t necessarily be in the communication field. However, I could use audio to remember exactly what a family member wanted their loved one to look like for the viewing process by recording the interaction with the family member. I will also learn how to open and run a funeral home, so I could use audio for advertising purposes as well.

What’s up bud?

What’s up bud?

Freshman year seems like such a long time ago, but after visiting the Williams Conservatory at UW memories flooded back to me of the days spent studying at the tables they provide. This time, however, I was there to actually LOOK at the plants and take pictures of them. After learning about creative devices in class, I tried to apply them here. Let’s take a gander, shall we?


Three’s company…this photo has a ton of different plants in it, but the original focal point was the tree on the left because I kept seeing eyes in a lot of the conservatory as well as pictures I had taken.

The creative device this photo portrays is mainly symmetry, but not in the traditional way. I tried to balance this photo with the tree dividing straight down the center. Though the right side is heavier, I think that it allows for the viewer to look to the left to avoid the overwhelming visuals on the right side. You could also say that this photo uses the rule of thirds as there’s an item in each third with the tree on the left, the tree in the middle, and the tree on the right.


How Eye Roll…As I mentioned before I saw eyes all over the conservatory, and even the trees just outside of it. This is one of the first things I saw that jumpstarted the pattern.

The creative device used in this photo is texture. No zoom used here! Because I got so close to the tree (close enough to touch), the viewer may just want to reach out and touch the photo, and my goal was to not only capture the eye I was seeing, but also how much detail the bark on the tree had. Another device that could be seen here is cropping. I made sure to get close enough to the tree, so that all that was in the photo was the bark.


Hope this isn’t too cornea…yet another thing I found that resembled an eye but rather the center of an eye than the whole shape.

The creative device used here could be focal point. Because that baby yellow point is so concentrated here it causes the viewer to look at the center of the cactus. There is also an argument for color and contrast. Because that yellow is so bright and eye-catching it draws the viewer in to look at the top of that cactus. I wish that I would have tried to center it more in my camera so that the center of the cactus was also the center of the photo.


The little bud that could…I took this photo mainly because I liked the small plant compared to the bottoms of the trunk of the trees behind it. 

The creative device used here is mainly framing. I wanted to capture how this little guy picked the best space to begin its journey, in between where the roots/trunks intertwine with each other. You could also argue that establishing size is being used here because you can clearly see how small the budding plant is as compared to the trees growing around it.


Orange you glad I didn’t say green?…I took this because almost everything I saw in the greenhouse was very earthy and green and I felt I needed a pop of color.

The creative device used here is contrast. With the exception of the little pink spots on the leaves to the left, everything in this photo fall under the same dark hues as one another, so the viewers eye is drawn to the orange petal in the center of the photo. Other devices used here are rule of thirds with the leaves, petal, and water and leading lines as the orange petal takes your eye to the pink and green leaves.

With this assignment I wish that I had positioned myself a little differently when I took the photos, for example the cactus above. If I had positioned that a little differently it would have made a better photo. I also wish that I had paid more attention to the backgrounds and outer edges of the photos so that the focal point were more pronounced.


Thirst For Knowledge

Thirst For Knowledge


Aylin Marquez in bellydance wear, courtesy of Aylin Marquez

Everyone talks about how they want to get the maximum out of life, but how often does anyone actually do it? Why do so many of us give up on pursuing our interests and dreams? Aylin Marquez sets her mind to something and goes after it.

Aylin was born to a Turkish mother and American father. At just four she moved with her familyfrom the United States to Turkey. Even as a kid, whatever she set her mind to she didn’t give up no matter what the cost.

“While my mother wanted to communicate with me in English, I remember refusing it so I could learn Turkish. This meant I did not speak at all for a while.” She immersed herself in Turkish culture, and fell in love.

At 16 she moved back to the United States, though it was a little bit of a struggle.

“I did not know much about American culture. I spoke English with an accent, so even today I am still being treated as a foreigner, and my nationality is often questioned.”

Regardless of the struggles she faced in either place, she loves both places and refers to both of them as home.

While living in Turkey, Aylin achieved her certification for Egyptian Style Bellydance and started teaching in 2002. When she moved to Wyoming in 2006, she continued her teaching. Starting with Eastern Wyoming College Community Center and then continuing with teaching for the University of Wyoming Community Enrichment Program at the Beta House, Half-acre, Laramie Recreation Center, and now with Blossom Yoga.


Stairway to Blossom Yoga Studio, taken by Abby Taylor

“The most enjoyable performances are the ones where I feel completely lost in music, move freely, and feel joy, love, and passion, and I am surrounded by my belly dance students.”

During her time at the University of Wyoming she founded what is now called the Mountain Women Belly Dance Club and introduced the university and the city of Laramie to both Turkey’s culture and bellydance culture. For her actions to increase the community’s awareness of diversity, she was nominated for the Willena Stanford award.

Not only does Aylin have a love for bellydance, but after moving to Wyoming she developed a passion for yoga.

“Yoga has been one of those turning points in my life.”


Aylin Marquez in Goddess Pose, courtesy of Aylin Marquez 

After being asked to substitute teach for a “piloga” class (pilates and yoga), she realized that yoga was another interest she wanted to pursue. After committing to being a dedicated student, she completed the training at Blossom Yoga Studio in Laramie through the Dharma Institute for Awakened Living in 2018. Since then she has been an instructor at Blossom Yoga Studio.

“Through pranayama, asanas and meditation, I believe that yoga helps bring inner calmness and self-acceptance.”

She now manages and instructs regularly at Blossom Yoga Studio in downtown Laramie.

“Whether teaching belly dance, Pilates, or yoga, or managing the studio, working at Blossom Yoga has been an awesome, learning experience.”

She says this is also due to her coworkers. Not only does she enjoy working for the owners but she says they have continued to mentor and support her through all of her time spent at the studio.

The only thing Aylin said she would change about her work, is that she wants reach more of the community and have Laramie become more involved. The studio offers classes for all levels, including a free beginners class once a week.


Sign to Blossom Yoga in Downtown Laramie, taken by Abby Taylor

Her hunger for knowledge and instruction doesn’t stop with bellydance and yoga. Aylin has a Master of Arts in education, as well as a Post-Baccalaureate Certification in Secondary Mathematics Education and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.

During her time at the University she completed her first research study called “Self-similarity in the Heartbeat Time Series of Healthy Cardiac Systems in Mice”. During her time doing this research not only did she find out things about her research focus but also even more about herself.

“Through the conducting of independent research under faculty guidance, I have realized the complexities of both my discipline and the research process.”

Not only is Aylin in touch with her inner creative self through her dance and yoga, but she also now is proficient in developing, carrying out, and presenting research. Her research has also provided inspiration for further education, as now she is working on her Doctoral Degree in Mathematics Education.

“I always have had a strong desire for an advanced degree and believe that UW’s graduate program satisfies my thirst for knowledge.”

Aylin serves as an inspiration. Remember growing up with your parents telling you that you could do anything you set your mind to? She takes it to an all new level. From not speaking at all in order to become proficient in Turkish to pursuing a Doctoral Degree in order to feed that “thirst for knowledge” she possesses.

“Education was the main reason why I came to Wyoming, but Wyoming definitely has offered more than that in the last 17 years: family, home, friends, job and beautiful connections.”

So Take The Photographs & Still Frames In Your Mind

So Take The Photographs & Still Frames In Your Mind


Organic Happiness. A couple leave’s the Hope Farms Project booth feeling satisfied with their produce. 

This photo was actually accidental, but while at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Laramie I was trying to get pictures of the different stands and the people working them, but I wound up getting this shot of a couple content with their purchase from the Hope Farms Project. The Farmer’s Market is advertised relatively well in Laramie because it’s a huge event, so I didn’t really stumble upon it as I was actively seeking it out.was relatively easy to get this shot, but this photo followed the rule of thirds with the couple on the left and the stand in the other two spots. I can’t believe I wound up getting this shot because the couple just seems so happy. You can find more info on the Hope Farms Project at


I’ll get uh…A boy at the Laramie Farmer’s Market picks his perfect loaf of freshly baked bread. 

This was another shot I got while trying to focus on the booth, but wound up capturing the perfect moment with a boy and his bread. This is my absolute favorite booth at the Farmers Market, it’s full of nothing other than breads of all kinds. I had to get in the way of the crowd to try and get the bread booth in the shot. I was trying to frame the woman in between people but wound up having a different subject while I was browsing back through. Unfortunately, this was the last farmer’s market of the season, but more information on the event can be found at


I’m bouncing off the walls again. Brooke Arithson and Kaycie Garner show off on the trampoline to end the weekend. 

After feeling disappointed with my sports coverage over the weekend I happened to catch the moment of gals doing tricks on the trampoline. I have three roommates so the opportunity to meet new people comes up fairly often as I don’t travel far from my comfort zone around new people. I kind of have to be forced to talk to strangers. While I usually stick to my friends’ sides like glue, I happened to go over and ask these two if I could take some pictures while they jumped because it felt like a moment to be captured. In class we were told that the best lighting to capture was when it was a little overcast, so this was just what I was looking for. This was probably my favorite thing to take pictures of because they had no problem with me taking pictures of them, they even wanted copies of them when I was done. It’s hard to take things seriously on a trampoline.

Flippin’ out. Kaycie Garner prepares mid-air to perform a flip for her onlookers outside.

Kaycie was probably the most excited of the two to perform her tricks for the onlookers (not pictured) on the deck. It was relatively easy to get this shot, other than wrapping myself in the net around the trampoline. I wanted things around her to be a little blurred so that she really stood out as she was trying to flip herself over.

Don’t crack the egg. Brook Arithson and Kaycie Garner play a game of “don’t crack the egg” as part of their trampoline shenanigans. 

This is my favorite shot from this day. The way the feet frame Kaycie as she laughs from being cracked just worked out so perfectly. Finding the unique ways that your eyes are drawn to the focal points of different photographs was so cool. While don’t crack the egg isn’t an official sport, it should be. The competition between these girls was way more fun than sporting events I’ve been to in the past, and this really was less intimidating than showing up to a scheduled event with a camera. It took a lot of the pressure off. 

Final Thoughts:

I was really excited about this assignment because I’m a big fan of taking pictures, usually selfies with my friends but getting out of my comfort zone really added a challenge. However I found out that this kind of photography was way harder than instagram photography. Next time I will preview my photos before I leave for sure, because finding out later that you aren’t as talented as you thought you were is stressful. I will also keep my camera out all the time, because unscheduled things were way more fun and had so much less pressure. I definitely need more work, but I had so much fun doing this I wouldn’t mind honing in this skill. 



After going through former students blogs, I anticipate sharpening my skills on branding myself, presenting myself professionally, and learning how to use and shape media for something other than memes and updating my family with pictures and life events. I’m most excited about reporting on things I’m passionate about and getting to use that to further myself on the path of adulting! Senior year came faster than anyone tells you it will, so using this year to really hone in and focus on what I’m good at and enjoy doing which is anything in the realm of visual/digital communication.

What I’m hoping to report on is local pop culture. The way music is being produced by artists themselves now (think Post Malone’s first single) could bring a lower rate of signed and non self-produced artists, which is causing a scare in the industry. That would be such a cool issue to dive into. My biggest passion (other than Twister and tornados) is music, so the dream is interviewing/reporting on a local pop-punk band called “Teenage Bottlerocket”, the first vinyl album I ever bought was one of theirs and if I could get an interview with any of the members I’d have it made. Though I realize that may not necessarily be tangible, I always see flyers for local bands and musicians around campus and i’d love to see what their lives entail and bring that to light. In Laramie we have so many local bands, as well as hopeful filmmakers, and theater productions. I’d love to get the inside scoop! In the past I invested most of my investigative reporting and research time on environmental science issues and storm chasing. While I still dream of becoming Helen Hunt from Twister, I think it’s time I switch it up a little. Since my current internship is editing musician/band interviews for an online music magazine, getting some experience in that realm would push me right along into continuing down that path while trying figure out if that’s what I want to do when I grow up. 

I have some friends in the theater department, and it would be a pleasure to promote the shows being put on and events they hold, as I am an attendee every chance I get. I don’t feel like the theatre department gets as much recognition as they deserve, so I’d love to help any way I can. Personally, I spent roughly 9 years of my life (less than half of my life now?!) in choir. I also feel the choirs don’t get the promotion they deserve so promoting choir events and reporting on contests/events they take part in would bring me way back to the years I threw my whole being into sheet music, and I’m a sucker for nostalgia.