The Dream Centered Life


I truly love inspirational books because I feel like there are times in our lives (and they occur continuously) where we all need to re-realize what drives us, what we are passionate about, and/or we need something to give us that kick in the pants we’ve been avoiding or looking for. When I received this book, I was in need of a little bit of it all.

It is a faith-centered book, so if you aren’t into that sort of thing, this might be a bit too spiritual for you. I, personally, feel like there is a spiritual part to our lives that helps guide us and that helps make things happen when you’re on the path you’re supposed to be on, but I definitely believe that it is based off the choices we make and that nothing is pre-destined no matter how we live our lives. This idea is certainly evident in the first part of “The Dream Centered Life,” by Luke Barnett. 

The first three chapters describe his journey to get to where he is. While he somewhat avoided filling his father’s shoes, it is where he ended up, if not surpassing what he thought he was capable of becoming. He describes his fears and his self-doubts, but always says that when he prayed and trusted in the Lord, things worked themselves out for the better more often than not.

The next section is focused on dream-centered living and leadership and the principles that he’s discovered in his journey of living this way. One of my favorite quotes in this book is as follows:

“God “conceals” our dreams from us to see who is eager and energetic enough to search them out. He’s not going to give his best ideas to the lazy. It’s like the gold in the hills – it’s there, but we have to dig for it. That’s why easy solutions are cheap, but everything of lasting value starts with a dream.”

It’s so true though. You can coast through life, even work harden than everyone else at it, but if you aren’t doing the right things that will get you where you want to be and putting the energy and effort into the things that will get you there, you may NEVER get there. You also have to play to have a chance at winning the dream.

Some lessons learned through his journey:

  1. Some people won’t believe it until they see it. Success may only equal tangible accomplishments to some.
  2. There will be disagreements over culture.
  3. “Criticism doesn’t have boundaries.”
  4. Hire slow, fire fast.
  5. “Before new dreams can take off, old dreams have to die.”

There are also dream busters and dream lifters, The dream busters involve a couple things: those people who don’t believe in our dream and try to move us away from accomplishing it and also those things we tell ourselves or let ourselves believe that prevent our dreams from coming true. It is important to rise above the dream busters in our lives if we’re ever going to get anywhere.

The dream lifters are things that will help you achieve your dreams. There are a few lifestyle habits that will help you achieve your dreams:

  1. A schedule – setting aside time for those important tasks that help the dream be realized
  2. Simplify – being too busy can fill our time with the wrong things and make us feel productive, when actuality we aren’t productive in the important ways
  3. Fast and pray – it can involve skipping meals, drinking only liquids, eating only things from the ground, or removing your biggest craving(s) such as media, sports, etc. for a period of time
  4. Get quiet and listen – pray and then sit quietly and listen; keeping a journal can help as well

It takes work to make a dream come true and things just aren’t destined to happen, therefore we cannot just sit around waiting for things to come to us.

I enjoyed how Barnett summarized the important points at the end of the chapters because it can be used as a quick reference if we need a refresher of the specifics. I also enjoy how things aren’t particularly sugar-coated about how to make our dreams come true. A lot of inspirational books focus on the positive only (or mostly), but life isn’t all positive and our experiences that lead us to our dreams (or lead us away) aren’t always the happiest.

Overall, this book has many helpful points and lots of great stories and spiritual examples. Give it a try if you’re feeling a little or a lot lost or just need a push. It might just be the kick in the pants you needed!

The Dream Centered Life


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.


Here and Gone: A Book Review


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It’s summer and I was in need of a good book to read. A departure from my normal cookbook/inspiration reads, I found the summary of this novel, “Here and Gone,” by Haylen Beck, to be intriguing and something that sounded right up my alley.

From the very beginning, this book captures you with its quickly unraveling story of a mother who ends up in a small town and finds her children missing, with no information as to how or why. Everything after that is full of suspense and keeps you glued to the book to find out if the children were actually there and if so, where they went. Was it the mother? The father? Is it a conspiracy? Why her? Why them?

There are characters to root for, characters you want to strangle yourself, and others that make you quite frustrated. The plot twists and turns as new information is given, new characters are introduced, and as the story of this mother unfolds. It also makes you want to hug your children (if you have them) a bit closer.

I could not put this book down and finished it in a day, which is saying something when you have a toddler to take care of. I was on the edge of my seat hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst for this mother and her children. If you like suspense and thrillers, you won’t be disappointed. I look forward to reading Beck’s other novels.

Here and Gone @ Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Power of Broke


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I’m not particularly a business person, though I do have my own little business that I will hopefully take much farther as the years pass (and the kids get older). I’m definitely not an entrepreneur, at least in the sense of what I consider one. But, I love learning new things, gaining new information on anything and everything, and I am a HUGE fan (my husband also) of Shark Tank.

I was excited to receive “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John because I definitely admire where he started and how far he’s come in business and I definitely take things he says on Shark Tank as words of wisdom (along with all the others).

Chapter One describes what THE POWER OF BROKE actually means and how Daymond John has used that in his business career. He also explains his SHARK point basics which are important points he suggests applying to all types of business, not matter what it is.

Chapters Two through Six are personal stories of successful business people who Daymond John says have used THE POWER OF BROKE from the very beginning of starting their businesses to the apex of them now. Though the types of businesses/careers may be so far apart (food, music, fashion, sports), the principles are still the same and their drive and hunger for success have all pushed them to where they are now.

Within the stories, you will find many important Power Facts and Power of Broke Principles that you can apply to your own budding business or career, but nothing and no one can force the personal drive and hunger you MUST have to get to where the most successful entrepreneurs have gotten.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration and insight into what it takes to start a business or to take the next steps to growing one. It definitely isn’t a step-by-step guide in the traditional sense, but the information you will glean from this is priceless and more information is always better than no information.

The Power of Broke @ Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places


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Stories…we all have them, we all tell them, we all listen to them being told. We learn from them, teach with them, and share our lives with those we know and don’t know. We also connect to each other through them. This is why I love this book. You feel a connection to the stories being told, even if they are not your own. And who knows, some of them may become your own, but you’ll have your own version to tell.

“We Stood Upon Stars,” by Roger W. Thompson, is a compilation of essays/stories of Roger and his family as they travel through different areas of the West. Some involve life-changing events, like the story of his grandfather heading out West for a life change during the Depression. Others are purely comedic like the attack of the great sea monster. There is an essence of spirituality as Roger finds God’s presence in nature and in the places he and his family discover. Always, you can find a spirit of adventure and discovery, no matter where he’s traveling.

I also love the hand-drawn maps they’ve included, as they are a great stepping stone for each of us to start our own adventures in discovering places we’ve not yet been. Whatever you are looking for, whether it’s to be inspired, to find some place new to travel to, to find God in places you never thought, or for all of the above, this book is a great addition to anyone’s library and it’s just a fun read, not matter who you are. I hope he comes out with an East version as well, and maybe a few places in between.


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Vibrant India


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To be honest, I don’t know much, if anything, about Indian cuisine. I’ve only eaten it once (in London, as I was told that was one of the best places to have it), I definitely don’t get cravings for it, and it really isn’t a type of food that is even on my radar. When I do think about it, I always think of heavy food and lots of bread.

Obviously, there are different regions in India and cuisine may differ, but I don’t know that many people realize this. I certainly didn’t before reading this cookbook. On the back of the front cover alone, I have learned so much already: this book is about South Indian food, is full of vegetarian recipes only, and the food from this area is referred to as the “yoga diet” because it’s clean, healthy and light. Completely opposite of what I would have thought. I’m intrigued already.

“Vibrant India,” written by Chitra Agrawal, starts off with a lovely and organized Table of Contents. I do enjoy a good-looking Table of Contents. The book is broken down into: Introduction, How to Use This Book, Breakfast & Light Meals, Salads & Yogurts, Stir-Fries & Curries, Rice & Bread, Soups Stews & Lentils, Festive Bites & Snacks, Sweets & Drinks, Chutneys & Pickles, From Scratch, and a few other important sections specific to Indian cuisine like Hands Over Forks & Knives and a Starter Grocery List.

So what makes South Indian food so different from North? Here are a few differences.

  • Relies on rice and lentils instead of breads and curry
  • Use of fresh coconut and curry leaves
  • What you mostly find and eat in U.S. restaurants is NOT South Indian cuisine
  • Use different spices/spice mixtures – saarina pedi or rasam powder, tamarind
  • Hot drink of choice is coffee made with chicory (not tea or chai)
  • Rooted in strict vegetarian customs of Hindu Brahmins and Ayurveda
  • Light and fresh
  • And much more

Every recipe is vegetarian. Each recipe is specified for seasons and by restrictions like vegan or gluten-free.

In the Indian Cooking Techniques and Tips, Agrawal says that tempering spices is the most important thing she can teach her readers to do. She also includes an extensive list of things included in the South Indian Pantry, such as different spices, chiles, fresh ingredients, sweetening and souring agents, nuts and seeds, lentils and beans, grains, flours, and oils. Finally, there are a few specific kitchen tools she recommends – most are specific to Indian cooking so if you’re serious about getting into South Indian cuisine, you’ll need to invest in a few, if not all, of them.


These meals are usually savory and spicy.

Recipes include Rice & Lentil Crepe, Steamed Semolina Cake, Steamed Rice and Lentil Cakes, and Spiced Spring Vegetable and Coconut Polenta.


Consisting of shredded or chopped vegetables, lentils or beans, and fresh ingredients like fresh coconut, lemon, and cilantro, plus spices/seasonings. With yogurt, it is traditional to end a meal with rice and plain yogurt.

Recipes: Root Vegetable and Asian Pear Salad; Cucumber, Sprouted Mung Bean, and Pomegranate Salad; Summer Squash in Herby Coconut Yogurt Curry; and Radish Yogurt Raita.


These recipes are flexible and you can use what you find at your local markets and what is in season at the time.

Recipes: Cabbage Stir-Fry with Lemon and Curry Leaves; Stir-Fried Corn with Basil and Leeks; and Pineapple and Peppers in Red Coconut Curry.


A South Indian meal is not a meal without rice. There are many different types of rice to choose from also. Breads are also a big part of South Indian cuisine too.

Recipes: Steamed/Simple Basmati Rice; Lime Dill Rice with Pistachios; Yogurt Rice with Pomegranate and Mint; and Spicy Sweet Potato Buns.


Lentils are the main protein source for Indian vegetarians. Most of the recipes in this chapter are variations on saaru and huli.

Recipes: Basic Red Lentils; Lemony Lentil Soup; Roasted Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew; and Creamy Yellow Lentils with Tomato and Ginger.


This includes special foods made during festivals, as well as snacks, an apparent obsession in Bangalore.

Recipes: Lettuce “Dosa” Wrap with Curried Potato and Chutney; Stuffed Shishito Pepper Fritters; and Festival Trail Mix.


While many Indian desserts are known for being overly rich and sweet, Agrawal grew up with mostly fruits and toned-down desserts that she still prefers today. South India is also coffee country so it’s no surprise that their traditional hot drink is coffee.

Recipes: Chia Pudding with Roasted Jaggery Blueberries; Summer Peaces in Sweetened Yogurt; Banana, Coconut, and Cardamom Ice Cream; Turmeric Almond Milk; and South Indian Drip Coffee.


Condiments are important in an Indian meal and both of these things can be used to add flavor to dishes.

Recipes: Cilantro and Coconut Chutney; Meyer Lemon Pickle; Rhubarb Strawberry Pickle; and Spicy Cranberry Relish.


This chapter involves making your own spice blends. These blends include Saaru/Rasam Powder, Huli/Sambar Powder, and Yangi Baath Powder.

There are so many recipes that I WANT to make and I am eager to add South Indian cuisine into my repertoire of recipes and go-to meals. I like that Agrawal has included a section for meal planning and sample menus. She also includes a starter grocery list to get your pantry ready for a few South Indian meals.

I am so happy I’ve found this book because I feel like a whole world of food that I never knew about has finally come into my life and may also be what I’ve been looking for when it comes to fulfilling yet light meals that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

I strongly encourage you to pick up this book if you love Indian food, love yoga and Ayurveda, love being a vegetarian/vegan, or just want to add some spice to your life and switch up your meals. You won’t be disappointed.

Vibrant India @ Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.