Thursday, September 8, 2016

My love of typography + my addiction to @Canva and finding inspiration EVERYWHERE...even at Chuy's! :)

Pin It Everyone knows that I love my work and I love my district. If you spend a few minutes with me, likely the conversation will turn to Brenham ISD (after I tell a few stories about my crazy boys). :)

The people who are very close to me know that I also love Mexican food. I love queso. I love enchiladas. I loooooove chips and salsa.

So, when my love of Brenham ISD can mesh with my love of Mexican food, it's pretty much a win win.

Several months ago I was having dinner at Chuy's with my family and was totally enamored with the front of the menu...

I took a picture of it and the next day I began working on a recruiting poster for Brenham ISD using my fave publishing tool, In case you're not familiar with's AMAZING and has beautiful pre-designed templates and fonts packages and graphics (some free, some $1) that take the guesswork out of creating both digital and print products.

With my inspirational menu cover and my go-to publishing tool, this is what I came up with...

You never know where you might find inspiration, but I can definitely tell you where to go for amazing desktop publishing! Check out and happy hunting for design inspiration!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The day I broke up with Facebook

Pin It Last week I had the privilege of attending the Global Leadership Summit (#GLS16) remotely here in Brenham. It was my first time experiencing this event and it really got me fired up about my new role and honing my leadership skills. There were several inspiring speakers and the message for me was loud and clear - reduce the noise and sharpen your focus so you can be a better leader. Here are some of my notes from the event...

During one of the breaks, I was perusing the promotional materials and summit resources guide and I kept coming back to this book…
I purchased the book that night on my Audible account and listened to it for the first time on my Saturday morning walk. Towards the end of the walk, an analogy from the author had me in tears. It went something like this...

My life feels like I am driving 100 miles an hour into the parking lot of a 7 Eleven. I skid to a stop in the parking lot and race to the back of the store. I tilt my head back under the slurpee machine and turn it on full blast. I am gulping and gulping and red syrup is all over my face and all of a sudden I realize all I wanted was a strawberry. One fresh strawberry.

For some reason this sent me over the edge. Perhaps because I feel like I am always racing. Racing at work. Racing at home. Racing to be the best. Racing towards something I don’t even know! And really, all I want is peace and joy and love and life. I want to enjoy my kids. I want to enjoy my husband. I want to have a healthy balance between a career I love and a family I cherish.

When I returned home from my walk Saturday morning, I told my husband that I was going to delete my Facebook account. My sister did it several weeks ago and she promised she didn’t miss it. :) To be honest, I think my husband was quite shocked. He’s not a social media person, but he knows that social media plays a big part of my job and my daily routine. My normal morning routine consists of waking at 5am while the rest of my house sleeps to sip coffee in the dark and look at Facebook! Why do we do this!? It’s an obsession … peering into the not-so-secret lives of others … posting our own vetted content and waiting for the feedback, the accolades, the scorn, the reaction, the whatever. It just got to be too much. Too much politics. Too much venting and negativity. Too much pretending to be connected while being totally disconnected!

Am I going to miss sharing pictures of my precious boys with my friends and family? Absolutely. Am I going to miss connecting remotely with my high school and college friends? Of course. Am I going to miss the advertisements and constant scrolling and compulsive refreshing for new content and political rants? Nope. I hope that this decision will help me be more present in my real life and more committed to making connections in person. Disclaimer: I will admit, I did decide to stay on Instagram to give my parents and grandparents and close friends a way to see my boys. However, Instagram doesn’t contribute to the “noise” like Facebook does - for me, at least.

So, you won’t be seeing me on Facebook anymore. It’s day 2 and I haven’t missed it a bit. My new 5am routine consists of coffee in the dark with my devotional or just time to be quiet and meditate. I don’t really know if this decision will play a major role in my efforts to be more present and focused and balanced, but I’m sure willing to give it a try!

Friday, July 8, 2016

My first @ProjectFi billing cycle is complete and I actually saved money!

Pin It I have completed my first complete billing cycle with Project Fi and once again ... I couldn't be happier with the service, the device and the COST!

I was paying around $110/month with AT&T. Now, in all fairness that did include the payment for my phone using the NEXT plan.

However, with Project Fi, my bill last month was only $83 and that ALSO includes a $22 payment for my fancy new Nexus 6P (It was just too painful to pay $600 for the phone up front!). Not only is that roughly $30/month cheaper than what I was paying, I am also going to receive a CREDIT next month for over $16 for UNUSED DATA! (Which offsets the $16ish I spent overseas!)

UNUNSED DATA! They actually GIVE YOU BACK YOUR MONEY for data you don't use. Y'all. This is crazy!! In addition, I was able to go ahead and drop down from the 3GB plan to the 2GB plan based on my usage statistics (I used less than 1.5GB last billing cycle), which will knock off another $10 from my monthly charges.

So...comparing as closely as possible my AT&T past charges with my future Fi charges looks like this...

AT&T = $110/month
Project Fi = $73/month

That is a monthly savings of $40! That's real money! And I have to say, too, that I love the way Project Fi breaks down the charges. It's simple. It's easy to understand. And there are no crazy hidden or obscure fees to jack up your monthly bill.

I know several of you have been thinking about making the jump to Project Fi and a couple of you have actually done it! We would all love to hear about your experience in the comments below!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm back from vacation and here's what I have to say about using @ProjectFi overseas! (Thank you @Google!)

Pin It I just spent 10 days on vacation overseas with my family and I am SO GLAD I made the switch to Project Fi before we left! When we touched down in Paris and I powered on my phone, Project Fi greeted me with this...

And when we left Paris on a train and arrived in Luxembourg, I was greeted with this...

Let me tell you ... Project Fi had me covered EVERYWHERE! I made calls back to the US, as well as local (international) calls within France with NO problems at all. I connected to public wifi when I could, but when I couldn't, I still had no issues. I Facebooked, emailed, Instagramed and texted with no connectivity problems ever! And from what I can tell, it cost me VERY little!

When I returned back to the US and opened my Fi app (it's SO CONVENIENT to just tap the app to check my stats and usage!), this is what I discovered...

From what I can tell, I spent around $9 on phone calls to both the US and France at $.20/minute. I also spent roughly $7 on about .6 GB of data usage overseas at the same price as I would pay here - $10/GB. I have 8 days left on my billing cycle for this month and I am WELL under the 3GB plan I chose initially (which is CRAZY because I was maxing out at around 6GB/month with AT&T!). I will be receiving a credit at the end of this billing cycle for the unused data, so the $15.33 I racked up overseas is NOTHING! I think I paid more than that to AT&T last Spring Break when we were in Canada for TWO DAYS!

I will post again after this billing cycle ends and I have the final charges for my first month with Fi. I cannot say enough good things about my Nexus 6P, which took AMAZING photos on our vacation (my first real test of the camera - see below), and Project Fi service. If you have any specific questions, hit me up in the comments and I'll be happy to answer them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sweet Treats with #Google Sheets and Share Smarter with @Buffer & @IFTTT ... my presos from #TCEATOTS :)

Pin It I meant to share these yesterday and forgot. In case you would like to check out at my presos from TCEA's Tots and Technology in Galveston yesterday. Thanks to those of you who attended and a special thanks to my pals +Tom Spall +Kellie Lahey and +Chad Jones for being in the audience during my last 2 edtech presentations. :) It was nice to have familiar faces in the crowd. :) Also a special thanks to Slides Carnival for always giving me killer Google Slides templates!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I've had my Nexus 6P and @ProjectFi for a week and here's what I have to say about it...

Pin It It's been a week since I set up my new Nexus 6P and activated Project Fi and I could not be happier!!! Here's what I have to share about the device and the service...

Nexus 6P

  • The battery life is AMAZING and the charger supplies such a quick charge! I was worried about not being able to switch out batteries, but I am just realizing that my old Note 3 was the problem. :) No issues AT ALL with staying in business with the 6P!
  • This phone ONLY comes with the basic apps that you NEED! There are no pre-installed navigation apps or storyboard apps or news apps or any other apps that I didn't ask for and don't WANT (and can't UNINSTALL!). All that came pre-installed were the basic Google apps ... the ones I would have gotten anyway!
  • The size is comparable to my Note 3, so there were no surprises there.
  • Sound quality is good - have played to our Fugoo speaker via bluetooth with no problems.
  • Because I was an Android user before, there are no real surprises in terms of software or settings. User friendly. Clean. Awesome.
  • The display ... OMG ... it - is - amazing. I read the reviews and everyone said the display was above average on the 6P, but I didn't really buy into the hype. Well - it's true. It is incredible and you can tell a difference. I look at my screen ... then look at my husband's iPhone ... there's a difference y'all!
  • Picture quality is awesome. Can even snap quick clear pics of my 2 wiggly boys like the one below. I am much happier with this camera than my Note 3 and to be honest - I thought the Note 3 was good!

Project Fi
  • I have yet to experience any loss of service! In fact, I haven't even experienced any sort of lag. I truly can't tell the difference between what I have now and what I had before. 
  • I have placed and received several phone calls at home over my wifi and on the road via LTE (in Brenham and in transit to Galveston through Houston) and have had crystal clear reception in all cases.
  • I love that ALL of my messages ... even my SMS message come through Google Hangouts, so I can respond to texts from my laptop. So much easier to type on a real keyboard!
  • I am making an effort to join public wifi everywhere I go. I didn't do this with my Note 3 with AT&T because I had unlimited data. However, I want to reduce my cellular usage, so I am trying to remember to join wifi in all of my favorite places. So far, so good!
  • I love love love the ease of tapping the Project Fi app on my homepage to check out my data consumption. I am sure I could have recalled this info on my former device, but Google makes it SO EASY! You can see below the days that I was on the road and the days I was in the office or at home. :)

So, overall I am 100% pleased with my decision and don't miss the old device or service one bit. We will be leaving for an overseas trip on Friday, so I will get to test out the international service, as well. I will report on that when I return. :) If you have any specific questions, hit me up in the comments below! I'm happy to answer any questions to help YOU make the decision to move to Fi! :)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Can I still be EdTech Chic without being in edtech?! My last day in #BISDwired...

Pin It
When I say I work with the best team around, I mean I work with THE BEST TEAM AROUND. For the last 7 years, I have been a part of the Brenham ISD Technology Department. These people are my family. Some of our family members have moved on to other opportunities and some new family members have joined the group. But at the end of the day, they're ALL still my family and I know they've got my back.

Several years ago, Brenham ISD decided to develop a presence on social media. I happily volunteered to be the lead on the initiative and luckily my boss (+Kim Strauss) supported me and gave me room to grow. It felt like a natural extension of my professional skills and beliefs and I was thrilled! 

Later, the campaign extended to a BISD re-brand with a new logo, an updated website and eventually even a mobile app! What an exciting time for my department and my district to be revitalizing our look and strengthening our communication lines with modern tools! Again, I was happy to be a part of the process and felt ownership for what we were creating.

Then, Brenham ISD hired a new superintendent with a passion for communication and I was given additional opportunities to stretch my skills. I started writing special interest stories for the district and producing videos to show people why they should choose Brenham ISD. I loved the challenge, but I always knew I had a safety net in my tech dept house.

If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be leaving my BISDwired family, I would have said you were crazy. Like CRAZY. CRAY-CRAY. These are my people. This is my house. I love my work. This is what I do and who I am.

However, when the job was posted for Director of Communications and Special Projects in BISD, I couldn't stop myself from applying. I had grown to love sharing the stories of Brenham ISD and showcasing our INCREDIBLE students and staff. I felt total ownership of our extended communication efforts and the idea of a new challenge was so exciting! I applied for the job, interviewed for the job and accepted the job when it was offered.

It has been an exciting few weeks, but also heartbreaking. Leaving my BISDwired family is hard. Like REALLY hard. Today was my last day as Instructional Technology Specialist for Brenham ISD. Saying goodbye to +Tom Spall and +Troy Kuhn today was heartbreaking. (Luckily we all had on sunglasses so it didn't get weird.) When I return to work on July 5, I will no longer be part of BISDwired. I will begin my new role as Director of Communications and Special Projects. Today I left the safety net of my BISDwired house. It feels like I am graduating and going away to college. Bittersweet. Invigorating. Terrifying.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband asked me, "Can you still be EdTech Chic if you're not in edtech anymore?!"

My answer: YES! Instructional Technology is such a part of who I am and it is absolutely what got me here today. From my days in the classroom at Brenham Middle School making stick figure Sam move his mouth with power point animations to Troop BES sessions with my elementary peeps to planning PBL units with my wonderful BHS staff ... instructional technology is in my soul! And it will stay there! EdTech Chic is just moving in a new edtech direction now. :) I am excited to use my edtech skills in a new and different way and hope you'll enjoy the journey with me!

I have been absolutely blown away by the support of my BISD friends and colleagues...especially in my own department. I am honored. I am grateful. I am 100% committed to being the best I can be. I will not let you down. I will make you proud. And know I am still just a phone call or email or tweet away!