What are the best home-packed meals to eat during class?

Two of my spring semester classes fall during dinner time and I’m trying to think of foods that I can bring to class that are easy to make, budget friendly, and are healthy. 

Last semester during my morning or evening classes I would bring some combination of a sandwich, salad, smoothie, or fruit. This semester I am trying to avoid carbs, so eating a sandwich is not the best option and I don’t really like cold salads. Other options could be have a smoothie, trail mix, and/or fruit and eat when I get home. But I take the bus, so that would mean late dinners which I try to avoid.  I could possibly eat a large breakfast and lunch and snack during my late classes. 

Any suggestions? What do you eat when class, work, or meetings fall during meal times? 



An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Starting 2014 with new business cards from Print Firm

My line of work has adjusted slightly and my old business cards did not reflect the change. For months I have been meaning to get new business cards and luck had it that I was contacted by Katherine of Print Firm to review their products.

Print Firm is a printing service based in California, but available online to serve customers from all over the world. For an affordable price, they provide business cards, flyers, stickers, brochures, banners, and more. Customers have the option of creating their own design for free using Print Firm’s online template tool or for ten dollars, they can use the design service which includes three revisions and 1-2 business day turn around.  

Print Firm Nano Business Cards

I can’t speak for the free design tool because I didn’t use it, but the method I used to order business cards from Print Firm was easy. Katherine suggested I order the 1.25 X 3.5 nano size card which is a popular alternative to the traditional business card. After I saw a design I liked online, I sent her the image with the text I wanted on the card and within a few hours the order was placed on December 19th. I do not know the exact date that the business cards came. I was out of town and my mailman tends to hide packages away from the front door, so I didn’t notice the box until December 27th, but they could have arrived sooner. An added bonus: a sample of my business card was taped to the outside of the box; who knows maybe someone at the shipping center was curious enough to type in my website and I gained a new reader 🙂

Now that I know about Print Firm, I will use their services again for other printing needs I might have in the future. I also liked the speed in which Katherine and design team responded to me and on their website they offer a price match, quality, and low price guarantee which is always a plus!

I love my business cards and if you are looking for  a printing service check out Print Firm’s online catalog, like their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.

Print Firm
21333 Deering Court
Canoga Park 91304

Note: I was not required to write positive review, but in exchange for this post, I received a box of custom 1.25 x 3.5 Horizontal Nano Business Cards.



An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre



2013: My blog, a year in review

2013 was an interesting blogging year for me. After much thought and weighing the pros and cons, I merged two of my old websites (Lisa Inks and Closed Lids) and created this website (www.lisamariepierre.com). It was a tough decision to make because my readership and views accrued over the past five years were lost and I had start over. In the end, I felt it was best to have one location where I could showcase my professional and personal writing and experiences.

I am happy with my decision and based on statistics, it was a smart decision. I launched this website in June of 2013 and already I have almost bypassed the total number of visitors that stopped by my old blog in all of 2012!

Every month on Google Analytics, I review the statistics of my site to get a feel for how people find my website, what topics they search to find my website, and just to overall measure my progress.

As I prepare this blog for 2014, I decided to review my numbers for June 1 to December 28, 2013.


I had 2,486 page views from 1,356 visitors of which 1,076 were new visitors. These visitors spent an average of 1 minute and 44 seconds on the website


Top 10 countries

1. United States (924 visitors)

2. (a country that didn’t show up in the stats)

3. United Kingdom

4. Canada

5. France

6. India

7. Russia

8. Philippines

9. Japan

10. Australia

10. Poland

Thoughts: As expected majority of my visitors are from the United States, but it is always nice to see that I have visitors from around the world.


Top 10 Referrals

1. Google (507)

2. Direct  (typing in my website name)

3. Facebook

4. Twitter

5. Pinterest

6. Feedburner

7. The Daily Awe blog 

8. LinkedIn

9.  Jason Stefaniak blog 

10.  Yahoo

Thoughts: Despite a large number of people finding my website through Google search engine, they don’t spend that much time on my website (under 1 minute). However, readers who subscribe to my blog spend on average 18 minutes on the website, Twitter visitors, 6 minutes, Pinterest visitors, 4 minutes, Facebook visitors, 3 minutes, and all other referrals, 1 minute.

I should focus on retaining more people via social media sites and email.


The top 5 keywords (several of these were repeated, but written in different ways, so I put in 5 general keywords)

1. Unknown (425 visitors)

2.  Lisa-Marie Pierre

3. Nomadness Travel Tribe

4. How to make mango butter

5. Engagement rings from Costco

Thoughts: For whatever reason, Google Analytics did not show what 425 people typed in to find my website. I read online it means that those people are logged into their Google account, which is why it doesn’t show up in the statistics. I don’t know if that is fact, but it is frustrating not knowing what keywords are used to find my website. I like to use these keywords as an indicator of what topics I should keep writing about. But, I might have to let go of using this method because it is impossible to know what those 425 people are searching.


Top 10 viewed posts

1. A combination of my home, about, contact, resume, guest blog, resources, and client profile pages

2. Nomadness travel tribe is the new urban movement

3. How to make you own mango body butter

4. Would you be upset if your partner purchased your engagement ring from Costco (also my most commented on post)

5. Black people don’t support Black businesses

6. Plan your career and life goals in 5 steps

7.  You can struggle in school and still come out on top

8. Food on a budget tip 4: Pack Lunch

9. 31 thrilling movies for October

9. Q & A with new guest contributor Jason Stefaniak

9. The holy grail of marketing campaigns

10. Reflection: My most intimate moment with nature

10. How to use your syllabus to calculate your final grade

Thoughts: My most popular blog posts were narratives, do it yourself projects, or guest posts. In 2014, I will probably focus more on these type of posts. I used to think frequency of posts or length of a post made a difference if people read my blog, but I don’t see a correlation. Some of my more popular posts are long and some months I only wrote three blog posts, but I still had a lot of visitors to my site. I think it is best to just write from the heart and readers will relate.

My 2014 Blog Goals

1. Retain visitors – increase returning visitors from 20% to 40%; increase subscribers from 20 to 50

2.  Consistently write – write 4 to 8 times a month

3. Vary content – write different type of posts; long, short, photos, audio

4. Host guest bloggers – host at least 6 guest bloggers in 2014 (perhaps paid)

5. Offer products – Write and publish two eBooks

Happy New Year! 

I have accomplished a lot on this blog and I look forward to accomplishing more in 2014.

I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and thank you for your visiting my website, reading posts, and subscribing to this blog!

Without your interaction and readership this blog would not continue.

As always, I am here to help your achieve your goals, don’t be shy and feel free to contact me if there is any way I can help.

Enjoy these last few days of 2013!


An urban planning PhD student finding  peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Bazaar Bizarre SF



Review: Notable Books I Read in 2013

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I love to read. On most Fridays, I participate in the #FridayReads hashtag and I list the books I currently am reading and the books I just finished. I do this to share book titles with fellow book lovers and also to get recommendations.

A couple of weeks ago I realized, I always list the books, but rarely share my reviews. I will try to do better in 2014 and write more blog reviews on the books I am reading!

I read many books and articles in 2013, but a few that stood out to me are listed below.


Invisible Child: Girl in the Shadows – Dasani’s Homeless Life by: Andrea Elliott

I teared reading this five part feature on a homeless child in New York City. It is worth the read and well written; the author really captured the plight of Dasani.

Slaves of the Internet by: Tim Kreider

This article hit home. As a freelancer, it is always tough being asked to do free work. This author discusses his experience with being under compensated.

The Repurposed Ph.D.: Finding Life after Academia – and Not Feeling Bad about it by: Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow

Since I am currently in a Ph.D program, this article was interesting to read. I am thinking about my future and I would love to be in academia, but I am not against looking at alternative career paths.

Science Fiction

Foundation by: Isaac Asimov

My first time reading an Asimov book and I was surprised. I was expecting a complicated scifi novel, but Asimov uses a simplistic style to explain a futuristic world. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Wasn’t my favorite book and I won’t read the other books in the series, but I did like the concept, but not enough to read more. As I’m writing, I’m not sure why this is still on this list.

Divergent by: Veronica Roth

I’m still reading this book. I’m only on chapter one, but I like it so far. It kind of reminds me of The Hunger Games.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by: Seth Grahame-Smith

I actually started this book on audio and switched over to reading. I wanted to read the descriptions instead of relying on a narrator. It was a book I thought would be silly, but actually was very good and interesting. Plus the author is from my hometown, I have to support!


Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb by: David Kushner

My hometown is not too far from Levittown, so I wanted to catch a glimpse of how Long Island was in its early days of suburbanization.

The Big Truck That Went by: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster by: Jonathan Katz

This book is a must read account of a journalist who was on the ground during the Haiti 2010 earthquake and stayed to report  the recovery efforts. It has an intriguing mixture of narrative and data to explain the impact of foreign governments and NGOs in Haiti. [12/23/13 forgot to add this]

Literary Fiction

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by: Ayana Mathis

I picked up this book because I heard a bunch of praise from the Oprah Book Club, but I was slightly disappointed. I enjoyed the book, but I felt like it ended too abruptly.

Half of a Yellow Sun by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book was good because I got to experience the story from various points of view.

Claire of the Sea Light by: Edwidge Danticat

I just finished this book the other night. At first I was going to put it down, but once I got a couple of chapters in, I was really into the story and the characters.

The Dinner by: Herman Koch

I actually finished this book in one night because I enjoyed the build up and suspense.

Crazy Rich Asians by: Kevin Kwan

I loved reading this book about first generation immigrants and their experience.

Personal Development

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by: Sheryl Sandberg

I really enjoyed this book about empowering women to succeed in the workplace.


I’m Down by: Mishna Wolf

I hope to author a memoir and I like to read various styles, so it was helpful to read a memoir that used humor.

Twelve Years a Slave –  by Solomon Northup Enhanced Edition by Dr. Sue Eakin

There are many versions of 12 years a Slave, but I recommend this version because it includes footnotes, images, maps, and all the back story of how Solomon Northup’s story came into light (which is an interesting story in itself). I know this is a a true account, but I wish Solomon or someone did a followup on his life and what happened several years after he returned home. I also saw the movie, while it was okay, I enjoyed the book more.

Assata: An Autobiography by: Assata Shakur

I loved this book. Assata’s account of her life was interesting and thought provoking.

Showing support

The following are all books written by friends or  online acquaintances who are new to the independent publishing industry. I love supporting people and their dreams, so it was an honor to read all these books and an inspiration for me to complete mine.

Turn It Loose by: Britni Danielle

Witness by: Ruby Rae

Do For Love (A Virginia Bridgeforth Ghost Mystery #1) by: K. Nicole Williams

11 Beautiful Tools by: Terez D Baskin

The Poetry Of Prose by: Ella Rucker

The Big Payback: A Kyra Walker Mystery by: K. Nicole Williams

A Promise Worth Making by: Michelle Alerte

Florida Sinkholes: Science and Policy by: Robert Brinkmann [12/23/13, did not read yet, but forgot to add my colleague’s book]


What are some notable books you read in 2013? What is on your list for 2014?



An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre