There have been many challenges of having to stay at home. One big challenge is missing our friends and family – and the time we spend together. Luckily, we have old fashioned games and internet/smart phones/tablets.

I was thinking of Ava, missing out on her friends, so I had the idea to play games via video chat with them. I reached out to her friend’s mom and we set up a day/time to play together. We used Facebook Messenger Video to play, but you could use Zoom or Google Hangout as well.


Yahtzee is super easy to play with via video chat, with 2 or more players. It is meant for ages 8+, but it is very easy to play for even 6 or 7 year olds. If you don’t have Yahtzee, but have 5 dice, you can play. If only one of you have the actual game, with scorecards – you will keep score for both parties – or you can print off/make your own scorecards and keep track seperately. Here are two versions you can print – Classic Yahtzee via or Triple Yahtzee Score Sheet via You may want a calculator handy to add up the scores at the end. Here are the rules to Yahtzee via, if you have never played before.


Farkle is a fast paced dice game that is so fun! Play with 2 or more players, ages 8+, but like Yahtzee, it is possible for 6 or 7 year olds to pay as well. You will need 6 dice and a score sheet to play. Here is a score sheet via with directions on how to score. Also, here is another score sheet via and a more detailed version of how to play the game here via


Scattergories is awesome to play via video chat. It is recommended for 2-6 player to play, but its definitely possible for more to play! It is listed for ages 13+, but 8+ can play (they might not get some of the topics or spelling correctly, but that’s no big deal.) If you don’t have Scattergories – click here to print it out for yourself via If you just need sheets to play the game, just print pages 6 and 8 of the previous link, or use lined paper folded in half across and then thirds, numbering each “column” 1-12. You will also need a timer – set for 4 minutes a round. Here are the rules via to Scattergories, if you have never played before.


Battleship is a game for 2 players ages 7+ that can be played via video chat. You would play the game as you normally do, just not in person. Here is a travel size on Amazon for under $10, if you don’t have it yet.

Watch Ya Mouth

Watch Ya Mouth is a silly game that came out a few years ago that requires the player to put a mouthpiece in and say what is written on a card, while their team member guesses what they said. It is recommended to play with 3 or more players, ages 8+. This would be fun to play with team members on video chat – if two players are in one house and two players in another house, then pair up with someone from opposite houses. If there are only 3 players, 2 players would guess. You will need to have this game handy to play, for cards and mouthpieces – here it is on Amazon for under $20. There are a few different versions to choose from.


Charades is a classic game that you don’t need anything but yourself, another player(s), a charades list via (you can also google charades list to find more words to choose from!) and a bucket or hat to put the words in to play. Here are the rules via This would be so funny to play with via video chat!!


Pictionary is another classic game that can easily be played via video chat. It can be played 2 or more players, ages 6+ (will need to be able to read.) You will need a dry erase board of any size (they have them at Dollar Tree for $1), dry erase board markers and a list of ideas to draw. Here is a great resource with rules on how to play as well as multiple word lists via!

These are just a few ideas that I have for this blog post, but please let me know if you have any other ideas! Let me know if you have a virtual game night, and how you liked it, too! ❤



DEAR PHOTOGRAPHER featuring Forever Whimsy Photography

(I can’t believe it’s been nearly 5 years since I wrote my original Dear Photographer post.)

Dear Photographer,

Can you believe it has been nearly 10 years since you officially began your journey as a photographer? You started much earlier than that, you always had disposable film cameras in your youth and for your 18th birthday, your mom bought you a Targus film camera. You couldn’t wait to get your hands on a digital camera and it wasn’t until 2007 when bought yourself a Nikon Coolpix E7600 with some leftover money from waitressing. It was so awesome to be able to take pictures of anything at anytime. Eventually you bought a Kodak EasyShare, but what you really wanted was a DSLR. Your best friend got one and you would take pictures on it whenever you could. In 2010, you documented Camp Little Joe’s 60th anniversary on her camera – even funnier to you because a week later, you were back together with one of the subjects you were documenting. Then came Ava and that sealed the deal – you had to learn photography. You would borrow Uncle Marky’s DSLR to take pictures of her, but you needed to have your own and could finally afford it. So for Christmas 2011, you purchased a Nikon D5100 with kit lens. Never did you think to yourself, “I will be a professional photographer someday,” you just wanted to capture every stage of your daughters life the best that you could. The first SECOND you could take a photo on that camera (as soon as the battery was charged) – you did just that. It remains as the image you remember of Ava’s “rooster curl” at 5 months old.

You practiced all the time, mostly on your niece Mariah. She was always willing to be your model and in doing so, you learned SO much about your camera. Back then, you were still shooting in aperture mode but you were learning composition, focusing, lighting. You made it a point to try to learn something new every time you picked up that camera. You would take pictures here and there of other people, just for fun. Then you started photographing other people. Looking back, you wonder why in the world anyone paid anything for those photos, but understand that it was a stepping stone. You became interested in learning how to shoot in manual mode the in the winter of 2013. It was not easy, by any means, to teach yourself photography. Months and months of trying and failing and finally getting it after reading a blog on Click It Up a Notch. Your A HA moment… finally.

By fall 2014, you were mastering manual mode – and looking into how to start your business. You also had made a blog and had some photographer friends from different states that you met online helping you with it, “The Thrifty Tog Blog.” It fizzled out after a few months, no biggie. Then the same friend you worked on TTB with had come to you and had a new idea – Dear Photographer. You worked your butt off from mid-2015 to 2017, running the Facebook page, keeping the blog going, getting two photographer meetups planned in different states. You even developed a magazine, literally designed it from scratch which released early 2017 – you wanted to give up a few times in the process, but you held on until it was done. Then, you decided it was time to part ways. You wanted to stay because you spent so much precious time working on this and building it up… but you weren’t treated fairly and your friend, wasn’t your friend anymore. It wasn’t a decision you took lightly, and still to this day it bothers you… your farewell post that so-called friend wrote when you left was taken down, so it was literally like you were erased from it’s history. You know and there are some good friends that you met through that community that know your integral part – and a lot of them also left that community. Today, all you hope is that your reasons for starting it didn’t go to the way side – beginning photographers to feel empowered in their journey and seasoned photographers to help them in their journey – and for them both to continue to learn from one another.

Eventually, you had to have a full frame camera but you didn’t have the money to buy anything new, so you chose a used Canon 5D classic in March 2015, which at the time, was 10 years old. Oh my, who cared? It was such an amazing camera, to go from crop to full and show you the possibilities that were endless! The 5D and 50mm 1.8, which for you at that time, was a $550 setup but absolutely amazing to you, left you wanting more though due to technology restrictions from an old camera. So you bought a used Canon 6D and again, were floored at how amazing it was. You held on and on for that Sigma 24mm, knowing it was quite an expensive lens – and were able to buy it used from a local photographer in spring 2016. It’s been nearly 4 years and it’s still the only lens you want to use, so beautiful. Finally, in 2019, you purchased a used Canon 5D Mark iii for a deal you just couldn’t pass up. It is so nice to have two cameras and not have to worry about what happens if one breaks.

Wow. If only you knew how many photographs you would take, how many people you would meet because of photography, how you would run out of wall space haha. How empowering, frustrating, interesting your journey would be. How you would view these images you take for others as memories and get to watch families grow with your camera. How much a gift you really have.

Continue to grow, no matter what. Be kind to others, help them on their journeys. Be thankful for the photographs you have taken that are on walls in homes for families to look at for generations.




Ava growing up has been a testament to my photography journey. To see how far I have come, it is amazing to me. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.



I admittedly do not carry my DSLR around with me 24/7. It’s big and bulky. Not to mention, I’d be afraid of something happening to it using it that much.

I do however, carry my phone with me nearly at all times. No, the quality isn’t anywhere as good as my DSLR’s quality but it’s all about composition, light and the edit for me. I have photos from my phone that are some of my absolute favorites.

I had the iPhone 4, iPhone 6, iPhone 7+ and I currently have the iPhone 11 Pro Max. My iPhone 4 photos are not the greatest, I was really just getting started with smart phone photography then. I have some real favorites on my iPhone 6 and iPhone 7+. I am BLOWN AWAY by the capabilities of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, especially that it is such an upgrade from the iPhone 7+ which had portrait mode but it wasn’t all that great in my opinion. I rarely used it. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has the ability to change the f-stop to 1.4, which is literally what I shoot with on my DSLR a lot of the time – I just love bokeh (the blurriness of the background.)

My favorite apps for editing are Afterlight and RNI Films. They both have great presets. Afterlight has some neat overlays that can make your photo look more interesting. RNI Films has a great grain texture that you can adjust. I also like the fun “disposable camera” apps like HUJI and Kanon-Classic. They can be kind of finicky in my opinion.

You can absolutely take wonderful photos on your phone. You need to practice, try different things, use light to your advantage, try to keep the background uniform to limit distractions. Capture real! You don’t need your subject to smile for every picture. Document the little things that you don’t want to forget.

I want to remind you to please make sure to print the photos from your phone. There are different apps you can use, Shutterfly is a great one for up to 250 free prints which you just pay shipping (for me, it usually ends up being $25ish for 250 photos, but the quality is definitely better than Walmart or other cheap print places for about the same price if you paid for them.) You can also back them up in a cloud or upload them to your computer and save to a USB drive or external hard drive, if your phone quits working you will lose those photos forever, and that would be sad.

Lastly, I would LOVE to teach you smart phone photography – I have a class that I teach! I can do 1:1 (just you and me) or a class (up to 5 people.) It’s super fun to share my knowledge with you. I love what I do. I really want EVERYONE to have beautiful pictures from their phone ❤

Have you ever taken a great photograph on your phone? I’d love to hear about it! ❤



Winter. It is the one season I just don’t really like. The cold, the snow, the darkness. The lack of color. Every winter, I seem to go through a funk. It’s hard to photograph in the winter. The scenery isn’t good and it’s too cold to do outdoor photography sessions. It gets dark so early it’s hard to do photographs indoors, too.

One thing I am fascinated by is frost and how it covers everything. To my surprise, I woke up one morning to get Ava ready for school and when we walked out to the bus, I noticed the frost covering everything. I ran back inside for my camera and macro lens filter and walked around my backyard taking photos of what I saw, hoping to capture it beautifully.

I love the colors in these photos, they are so pretty. The frost made the backgrounds almost pastel in color. The tones of greens are phenomenal. I think it is so neat how the frost was almost like little barbs on everything. Imagine my surprise when I saw the spiderweb covered in frost! I actually gasped!!

What are your thoughts on winter? What do you like or don’t like about winter?

Comment below to let me know your thoughts.



Back in July 2018, Ava and I went camping for the first time with our friends, Jeff, Kim and their son, Wyatt. I had always wanted to go camping in a tent so earlier that summer I bought a used tent so that I could see how I would like it. It was a fantastic time! Jeff, Kim and Wyatt are seasoned campers – literally the best to go camping with, they are so knowledgeable and fun to be around.

We stayed at Breakneck Campground near Moraine State Park. I was very impressed with the campground there. Quiet, family friendly, fair prices and it is literally surrounded by nature.

Jeff and Kim suggested a hike at McConnell’s Mills and although I was slightly weary because I never hiked before, I brought my camera. I love nature and I especially love photographing nature. I really enjoyed the hike and the photographs that I took!


Have you ever hiked at McConnell’s Mills? What was your favorite part about the hike – a location, something you saw, the company?

Do you have any other favorite places to camp or hike nearby?

Leave a comment below!