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The past few years I’ve really upped my game in the reading department.  The most common question I get about that is “how do you have time to read?”.  I don’t have more time than any other crazy busy person out there, I just make time.  Reading matters to me.

Life the past few years has felt harder for a variety of reasons.  And I realized instead of being an emotional eater, I’m an emotional reader :).  So instead of stuffing my face with breadsticks or donuts, I just read a book.  Oddly enough, I like to read pretty heavy stuff.  I’m a huge fan of a memoir or a historical novel with some deep, heavy topics.

Anyway, here’s the books I read in 2017.

I read a lot of reeeeeeally good books this year so it’s hard to narrow it down to my very favorites.  But here are some worth singling out (also please note I take no responsibility for language in any of these books–I can’t remember which ones have stronger language and which ones don’t–sorry.  I’m able to look past some language if I think the message of the book adds value to my life.  Take that for whatever it’s worth).

  1.  Little Bee  The writing in this book is out of this world.  So so good.  If I read a book in less than two days, you know it’s a good one.
  2. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood  This is a memoir about Trevor Noah.  I had no idea who he was before I read the book.  This was super interesting.  I wanted to more about how he ended up where he did, but the first part of his life is fascinating.
  3. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life  Possibly the best self-help book I’ve ever read.
  4. All the Bright Places.  This book is pretty heavy, and I don’t normally read Young Adult fiction, but man this one was good.  Couldn’t put it down good.  Her other book Holding Up the Universe I also thought was really good.
  5. Killing Jesus (Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Series)  This is a non-religious account of the life and death of Jesus.  I’ve read a lot about Jesus and I lived in Israel for four months studying his life and visiting all the places he lived, but I still learned so much in this book.  Super interesting and very well written.
  6. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  I’ve been making a very deliberate effort to simplify every aspect of my life and our family’s life.  Less less less in just about every aspect.  This book was super helpful in that pursuit.

I could go on and on with books I’ve loved, but this is at least a starting point of books worth reading.

You can see the books I read in 2016 and some of my favorites in this post.

I also share books I’ve read on Instagram if you want to follow me there (@ltross)!

If you have a book you’ve read and loved, let me know.  I’m always looking for good books!

{Post contains affiliate links}

  • Brooke Anhder

    Do you have a goodreads account? I’ve enjoyed reading reviews and suggestions from it.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      I actually do but I never get on there. I probably should.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle

    Thanks very much for posting this list! I’ve found myself in quite a reading rut recently and have found a few here to help get me out of it. I think I’ll start with Trevor Noah’s bio. I enjoy his humor but know nothing about him personally and now I’m intrigued. Bios aren’t even typically one of my go-to genres, Thanks again!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      If you already know who he is, I think you’ll love it even more. I thought it was really well written and so interesting!ReplyCancel

  • I added all of them to my goodreads whishlist! Thank youReplyCancel

Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure how to write about this so I just kept putting it off.  But so many of you helped and it turned out far better than I ever imagined, I would feel pretty ungrateful if I didn’t at least give a little update.

On December 8th I sent out a little call for help with a project I was doing.  I wanted to collect as much money as I could to buy blankets for the homeless community in my area.  You can read all about WHY I wanted to do it and what I asked in this post.

We collected money for 5 days, made 4 trips to Costco, raised around $4500 from 130 different people.

We donate often to the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City and I’ve seen the donation center around Christmas time.  It’s overflowing with things and slightly chaotic.  I was worried the blankets might get “lost” for a bit before they got in to the hands of people who needed them right away.  So we decided to hand them out directly to the homeless out on the streets instead of going through the shelter (I love the shelter and love donating there, this just felt like special circumstances and timing–normally we still donate through the shelter).

I was admittedly pretty nervous.  I’d never donated this way before and I had no idea what to expect.  I wasn’t worried about my safety.  Just nervous of the unexpected I guess.  And I truly just wanted it to be helpful and not some dumb project that just made us “feel better”.

So on a snowy Saturday morning, we drove downtown with our kids and a few family members, 2 cars full to the ceiling with blankets and socks, and a wagon.  We went to Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake, a known area where the homeless community gathers.  We loaded up the wagon, our pockets and our arms with the blankets and socks and walked from group to group handing them out.

The people were gracious and kind.  Some were chatty and had stories to tell.  Some clearly had mental illness.  A few were visibly drunk.  But they were polite and thankful and plenty were full of humor and smiles.  My kids were a little nervous at first, but they quickly realized these are just people.  And the people loved seeing my kids.

After giving blankets and socks to everyone at the park, we headed over to the shelter and handed the rest out to people outside around the building.

We handed out close to 200 blankets and more than that amount of socks.  And my only reason for sharing is to THANK all of you who helped make it possible.  We saw a need (it’s so cold here in Utah in the winters), we found something that would fill the need (those Costco down blankets are magic), and we asked all of you to help us.  And you did.

I’m hoping we (I could never have done this without so many of you helping) can make this an annual tradition because it worked.  It helped people.  For those who got the blankets, it made a difference for them.  We can’t help everyone and I know it gets overwhelming when we see all the need around the world, but we CAN do SOMEthing and we can make a difference.  It’s what we’re meant to do.  I believe that with my whole heart.

  • Rhonda

    Thank you for the update. It’s heartwarming to read how you obeyed what God placed on your heart to do. God bless you and your family for distributing the warm blankets and socks.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Thank you for this comment Rhonda. It was a great experience for our family and something I hope we get to do more often.ReplyCancel

{Stick with me on this.  I need your help.}

There’s this guy I see walking around town.  He’s a bigger guy.  Long unbrushed hair.  Scruffy beard. His layers and layers of clothes look unwashed.  He carries a big black bag and leads his healthy looking black dog around with him.  I seem to see him a lot.  Or maybe the brief encounters I have every so often are just more memorable than most people I see around town.

Every time I pass him, I wonder (sometimes out loud to my kids)

“what is his story?”

“where does he go at night?”

“how did he end up on the streets?”

“why does he stay around here (where resources are limited)?”

“where is his family?  Do they know where he is?  Is he in contact with them?”

“what is his name?”

Every time the questions flood in.  And I wonder.  But I never stop besides to once-in-a-while hand him a few dollars out the window as I continue on my way to finish all the things I “have” to do.

But today was different.  Today I left the grocery store in my nice warm winter coat (let’s ignore the fact that I had flip-flops on because flip flops are life and I will wear them all year) and said out loud “Holy flip it’s freezing” as I ran through the parking lot to my car.

{It’s cold in Utah right now.  So so so so cold.  And it will only get colder.  And somehow, every year, I forget how cold it gets.  And I forget how long it lasts.}

Anyway.  I digress.  I walked out of the store, in the freezing weather, loaded my car full of groceries I’m privileged to have money to buy and as I drove out of the parking lot, there he was.  I rolled down the window, said hello, handed him a few dollars, looked him in the eye (because THIS will never leave my mind), and continued on my way.

As I drove away, thinking about him, and all the questions that come with his presence, I had a thought.  It was a reminder actually of something I’ve been meaning to do, but managed to keep putting off because that’s how we let life push us around sometimes.

Here’s where we get to the REAL reason for this post.  There are these blankets at Costco.  They’re down blankets.  They pack into a little carrying case that is small and super easy to carry.  And truth be told, the blankets are MAGIC.  They are SO warm.  They’re deceiving in size and weight, but they hold in the heat like you wouldn’t believe.

A while back I thought “I should buy a bunch of these for the homeless shelter and homeless community (who don’t use the shelter)”.  They’re perfect for people on the move who are subject to the extreme cold.  They pack easily in to a small case, they weigh next to nothing, and they’re easy to wipe off and clean.

Seeing this man reminded me to quit thinking about it and “DO IT”.

I know there are so many worthy causes, especially this time of year.  The beauty of this–the blankets are only $20.  Twenty bucks and it can literally change someone’s day-t0-day life.  I hate being cold.  Hate it.  It affects everything.  My mood, my spirit, my attitude, my ability to think and function or accomplish anything, my ability to be nice.  Being cold is part of the devil’s plan.  And I’d love to help people NOT be cold.

Back to the story for a minute.  Instead of going home, I went to Costco, bought a blanket, drove back to the man and parked my car.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I felt stupid.  I felt nervous.  My heart started beating fast and the doubts assaulted their way in to my head.

I’m pretty introvert and walking up to a stranger like that is on my list of “man I really hate this” things to do.

But, whatever.  The guy was out in the cold.  He’s outside a lot of the day (I know, because I see him).  And my best guess is he’s staying out most of the nights too.  He’s one of MANY who are in similar circumstances.

I got out of my car, wondering what in the world I was doing, and walked over to him.  I asked his name, asked about his dog (who you could tell he loved with his whole heart) and asked him if something like this blanket would be helpful (I didn’t want to push something on him he didn’t actually need/want).

We didn’t talk long, and he wasn’t very chatty.  I had no expectations.  I didn’t expect him to say much to me (also a stranger and probably equally as awkward for him).  I certainly didn’t expect any praise or huge amounts of gratitude because truth be told, I wouldn’t be terribly grateful in that moment if I were him.  I also didn’t feel comfortable asking more questions than that.  I don’t know him and didn’t feel I had a right of access to his story without putting in the effort of knowing him.

But he was kind.  And gracious.  And I could tell maybe a little self-conscious (I feel ya buddy).

But that blanket–it will keep him warm.  I know it will because I have one and I’m pretty sure it saved my life one night at a football game ;).

Okay.  Back to the point.

I want to buy a bunch of these blankets.  For the homeless community around me and in the surrounding cities.  I’ve been in contact with my local Homeless Shelter, the Road Home, and have suggestions and advice from them.

I’m inviting all of YOU to help me.  I’d love to raise as much money as I can so I can buy as many blankets as possible and give them to those who just need a little warmth, both in body and in soul.

Twenty bucks.  Twenty dollars buys a blanket and it could make all the difference in someone’s life.  Not being dramatic on that one.

You can donate a dollar.  You can donate $10.  If you donate $20 it buys a blanket.  If you’re willing to donate more, we’ll buy more.

Small things with great love truly do add up.  And they matter.  They make a difference.  WE make a difference.  And those people we’re trying to help, THEY make a difference too.

To participate, you can:

Venmo the money to me, @lindsayross17 (my profile photo is me on a little motorcycle) OR

Paypal to lindsayrossphotography@yahoo.com (be sure to mark that you’re sending it to friends and family or they’ll charge a fee).

Or if you’re close to me (and know me), feel free to just drop some cash by or I’ll come pick it up.

I know it’s hard to just send money to someone, but I hope you trust I will use every cent toward the homeless community.  I’m not keeping a dime.  I’ll document the entire process, report how many blankets we buy, and document the delivery of the blankets.

I will be accepting donations until DECEMBER 12th.  

I’ll then add up the money, buy the blankets and take them to the people who need them sometime next week (documenting it all of course to share with all of you).

As always, THANK YOU to those of you who continue to show up each year as I do my best to do something small for the homeless community.  They have and will continue to have my heart.  I just can’t wrap my brain or heart around someone not having a place to call home.

I just finished a book called “Welcome Homeless” by Alan Graham.  It was eye opening to say the least and I LOVE love love the work Alan Graham is doing.  He built a community for the homeless in Austin, Texas and a “food truck” for the homeless called Mobile Loaves and Fishes–nothing short of inspired.

I’ll leave you with something he said:

“Our dream of connecting human to human and heart to heart has become a reality.  This was never going to be a transactional housing model for the homeless.  People are not just objects to satisfy–Here’s your green soup; now go sleep on a cot.  We are meant to hold the promise of life to others.  Start treating people with dignity and respect.  Start doing that, and the world–cannot–will not–stay the same, because people respond to being loved.”

People respond to being loved.  Amen, my friend.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.  ltross17@yahoo.com

Venmo, Paypal, or cash.  $20 buys a blanket.  Collecting until December 12th.  Those cardboards signs–the ones that say “Anything helps”–those signs are true.  Every donation, big or small, makes a difference.


Side note–for those of you who are close to me, I will also be happy to take any gently used clothing, blankets, or sheets you are willing to donate to the homeless shelter and will take that down with me when we take the new blankets.  You can look on the Road Home website for a current list of immediate/urgent needs if you’d like to donate something more that I can with me.

Drop them off on my porch by December 11th.  THANK YOU!

Newborns are my favorite.  Newborn twins?  Twice the fun.  Twice the challenge.  And these particular twins just happen to be my nephews.  I’ve never photographed newborn twins before and though I’m not doing much with photography sessions anymore, I wanted to share these photos.

My brother and his wife had to fight pretty hard to get them here and endured quite the battle all the way until the minute they were born.  Love these little guys.


{It’s that time of year again!!  I’ve been offering these headshots for a several years now and keep getting more and more requests.  Here we go again!}

As awesome as school pictures are (and by awesome I mean great blackmail for the future), once my own kids started school I decided to do my own head shots and offer it to others as well.

If you’d like an alternative/replacement for the traditional school pictures that no one ever displays, this is for you.  They’re also nice to have for those times you need a picture of your kid (for a school project, grandparent, special occasion, etc) and realize you don’t have any where they aren’t being a complete booger.

The cost is $10 per kid OR $40 per family (so if you have 3 kids, it’s $30, if you have 4 or more kids it’s $40).  This will include a vertical and horizontal headshot of each kid with a white background.

If you want a GROUP photo of all of your kids together, you can add that on for $25.  

Pictures will be edited in color AND black and white and you will receive a high-resolution digital copy (via Dropbox) so you can print whatever you want.  Cheaper (and cooler) than school pictures.  Non-school age children are welcome as well.

Our school allows us to just buy the class photo, so my kids still get their school picture taken and we just purchase the class photo (in elementary).  Then we use these alternative photos as our yearly photos.

I will be taking “school picture” head shots in LEHI (I will e-mail you the address after you sign up) on Tuesday, September 12th, Thursday, September 14th, and Monday September 18th. 

Click THIS LINK for Tuesday, September 12th to sign up for a time slot. (one spot left)

Click THIS LINK for Thursday, September 14th to sign up for a time slot. (5 spots left)

Click THIS LINK for Monday, September 18th to sign up for a time slot. (one spot left)

Click THIS LINK for Monday, September 25th to sign up for a time slot (NEW DATE ADDED).


Sign-up times are first-come-first-served so if a specific time works better for you, signing up ASAP is a good idea (I’ve run out of time-slots each year).  Once you sign-up, please be sure to make your appointed time.  If you need to change your time for any reason, please do it as soon as possible so someone else can take your time-slot.

You only need ONE TIME SLOT PER FAMILY!  (Each kid only takes 1-2 minutes plus a group shot if you want to add that on so just 10 minutes per family is enough time).

If these dates/times don’t work for you, I will probably be doing a make-up date for those who can’t make it.  E-mail me to let me know you are interested and we’ll try to work something out.

If all time slots fill up quickly, I may open another date (in Lehi).

The head shots only take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the moods of the kids (because you know, kids).

Please mention in the comments (on the sign up sheet) how many kids you’ll be bringing and if you want a group shot or not.


To see more samples of what the headshots will look like, click on the arrows to scroll through the photos!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at ltross17@yahoo.com

***If you have any friends/family you think would be interested, I would love for you to pass this information along!***

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