Lesley Randall

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In a Web Development course at UGA, I learned how to code, utilize Bootstrap and master WordPress. Currently, I still keep up with one of my class projects, a recipe website. There is still so much work to do, however it keeps me accountable in working with WordPress and learning new techniques.

There is still much to perfect and learn with WordPress, but it is such a valuable skill to know how to use. So, why not keep up with my cooking recipes and keep up with my WordPress skills?

I started this project from scratch and utilized different plugins for various things. I plan to keep updating this site with more recipes and fresh features. Click on the button to take you to the recipe website!

In this project I learned how to use Bootstrap. In panel one, I created on my own from scratch. Panel two was strictly learning how to use Bootstrap, while Panel three was using Bootstrap and learning how to customize the Bootstrap as well. Bootstrap was really neat to learn, but difficult to customize, or learn how to customize the Bootstrap at least. This project was a great learning curve which I am proud of how much I learned in a short period of time. Click on the button to see the panels I worked on through Bootstrap.

Seasonal events in and around Athens this fall

Lesley Randall

Oct 18, 2022 Updated Oct 20, 2022

People visit the pumpkin patch in Athens, Georgia on Oct. 10, 2021. The Milledge Avenue Baptist Church’s annual pumpkin patch returns to raise money for the church. (Photo/Aynur Rauf; AynurRauf1@gmail.com)


Autumn is in full swing in Athens and many people are looking for ways to celebrate the season before it slips away. The Red & Black compiled a list of seasonal events in and around Athens for locals and students to participate in this fall. 

Washington Farms

Located just outside of Athens in Bogart, Georgia, Washington Farms offers a pumpkin patch and other fall activities. The pumpkin patch is free to enter, visitors just pay for the pumpkins they pick. Other activities include a 6.5-acre corn maze and a sunflower and zinnia flower-picking field which are available with the purchase of a ticket. 35 other fall activities are present at the farms, and tickets can be bought online. Weekday and weekend ticket prices vary, but general admission costs around $14-19. Washington Farms will remain open through Nov. 6 for the fall season.

Milledge Avenue Baptist Church

Known as the “Pumpkin Church,” the Milledge Avenue Baptist Church sells pumpkins of seemingly all shapes and sizes. Open daily through Oct. 31, the proceeds from the fundraiser go towards children’s, youth and music ministries, as well as building stewardship by supporting service groups, according to the church’s website. While at the patch, take a picture with friends and family at the fall-themed backdrop or among the pumpkins.

Hendershot’s Fall Fright Fest

Listen to music at the Fall Fright Fest, hosted at Hendershot’s and presented by Volumes. Scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21 from 8-11 p.m., the event has a $10 entry fee. Wear a halloween costume and listen to local and visiting musicians, ranging in genre from rock bands to hip-hop artists. Local vendors will sell their products at the event, and local artists will have their work on display.

Fall Festival at West Broad Farmers Market

Back in action after two years, the West Broad Farmers Market will host its Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 22. Enter the pie baking contest by signing up online before the event and bringing the best baked pie to the festival. The festival is free to enter and halloween costumes are welcome. This is a family-friendly festival with activities such as live music and pumpkin painting.

Zombie Farms

In its 10th year in business, those that enjoy adrenaline should make their way to Zombie Farms. Zombie Farms is a haunted trail in Winterville, Georgia. This year’s theme is “The Clown Mother.” Only open on Friday and Saturday nights, plan ahead as tickets do sell out. Ticket prices are $25 online and $28 at the gate.

Animal Wellness Center of Athens Fall Festival and Open House

This event is one for the animal lovers. From Oct. 27 to 29, AWC Athens will welcome the community to their facility for a Fall Festival and Open House. The center is located off of Atlanta Highway and cares for pets medical and boarding needs. At the festival, there will be fall photo options for pets, snacks, raffles and an employee pumpkin-carving contest.

Clarke County Sheriff’s Office Fall Festival

Mark your calendar on Oct. 28 for a free fall festival hosted by the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. Support the ACC Government’s departments from 6-9 p.m at the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office Training Center. At this festival, expect to walk through a haunted house, ride on a hayride, get your face painted and play some games. Admission is free but attendees are encouraged to bring a canned good to donate.


UGA Pi Beta Phi house updated after 2-year redesign process

Lesley Randall

Aug 31, 2022 Updated Aug 31, 2022

A renovated common space is pictured at the University of Georgia’s Pi Beta Phi house in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)


After a multi-year project, the Pi Beta Phi house on Milledge Avenue has undergone what some might call an extreme home makeover. Liz Toombs, owner of PDR Interiors, led the redesign with a goal to bring youthfulness into the house.

“The chapter wanted the space to represent them more, being young women. We really tried to focus on brightening and lightening the look,” Toombs said.

The house was redesigned and reconstructed in order to make a viable and comfortable home for Pi Beta Phi members to utilize. Despite the changes, the home still embodies a traditional sorority house look. From practical bathroom finishes to an enormous sunroom, the house depicts elegance while weaving in modern youthfulness.

With large televisions, speakers in many rooms and sound systems to match, the house includes some of the latest technology to date. However the house also comes with a homey feeling through furniture and decor.

The renovated chapter room is pictured at the University of Georgia’s Pi Beta Phi house in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)


“It’s so hard to pick a favorite part of the new house, but if I had to pick one thing it would be hanging out with everyone in the living room,” chapter president Bella Galdabni said

Nods to the sorority colors of wine and silver blue and the University of Georgia’s red and black throughout the house are important for keeping tradition in the chapter. For many members, tying together different colors and symbols embodies what it means to be a Pi Beta Phi at UGA.

“We tried to make it look like young women lived there, but also [represent] Pi Beta Phi [by] using some of their symbols and their colors and also weaving in UGA’s colors and symbols,” Toombs said.

This project did not happen overnight. In fact, it took almost two years to fully complete the changes. Last school year, members of Pi Beta Phi were living in a house that was only halfway available for use due to the interior redesign. Now, sisters are living in one of the most updated homes on Milledge Avenue.

“They lived through the addition going on. They had access to their bedrooms and a very few number of common spaces were set up, but they did not have their big functioning kitchen and they did not have a lot of gathering space,” Toombs said.

The renovated kitchen is pictured at the University of Georgia’s Pi Beta Phi house in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)


Now, the Pi Beta Phi house is fully accessible with brand new renovations that are popular in the sorority. To most, the wait was worth a freshly remodeled house with an updated kitchen, large bathroom counter space and comfortable study rooms.

The large sofa is a highlight for many.

“We have a really large sofa in their living room and I loved that. It is great for using it during recruitment or if everyone is just gathered in the living room to watch TV together,” Toombs said.

The furniture piece has already brought sorority members together after a busy recruitment process.

“After long days of recruitment, some of the sophomores and I would all pile up on the couch and watch movies or just talk for hours. It has been fun for me to get to know and spend time with the younger girls living in the house,” Galdabini said.

A renovated common space is pictured at the University of Georgia’s Pi Beta Phi house in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)


A redesigned house for the Pi Beta Phi community was long-awaited, exciting and rewarding for many involved. For Toombs and PDR Interiors, this project is one of the largest and most fun to date.

For Pi Beta Phi, a long construction process has finally given way to a breath of fresh air each time they step into their new home.

Q&A: MePlusTea owner Precious Jones

Lesley Randall

Feb 14, 2023 Updated Feb 17, 2023

Precious Jones, owner of MePlusTea, holds a picture frame with decorations about the planet and sustainability at the Athens Farmers Market (Courtesy/Precious Jones).


MePlusTea is a local tea company that began in 2017 with just a few blends, and the ultimate goal to prioritize health. A variety of its’ hand-blended loose leaf teas are now sold in many stores throughout Athens, as well as sold by the cup. There is also an online store to purchase the blends.

Blends are created to suit different moods, illnesses and time of day. All of the teas are hand-blended, and many of the plants used are locally sourced. Precious Jones called herself the “founder, owner, marketer, packager, everything” of MePlusTea

Lesley Randall: What is your favorite part about MePlusTea?

Precious Jones: My favorite part is I actually get to do what I love. Like it’s not a job. It’s waking up doing what I love and knowing that not only am I helping myself, I’m helping the community, I’m helping my family as well as others and just sharing the love through tea.

LR: What initially sparked your interest in tea?

PJ: Medical herbs has always been a way of life for my family. In 2017, I quit my full time job and decided to take a leap of faith. After much research on the various loose leaf tea types, I believed the timing was perfect to blend my knowledge of locally grown medicinal herbs with loose leaf teas.

LR: Where is MeplusTea served?

PJ: We are in Bear Hug Honey, Community in downtown, The Olive Basket and then by the cup Seabear, Revival Yarn and [Choco Pronoto.] We are also at the Athens Farmers Market every Saturday.

LR: How has your company changed from the beginning when you first started?

PJ: Well, mostly it is growth. We started with five blends and then working with herbalists and spiritualists and everything we developed a whole other line. The tea.potthecary lines are the herbs that we got ourselves or you know, we’re getting from local growers. And those are formulas that’s been in our family for generations. Then we have the loose leaf tea line, which is mostly on the tea bases, but we blend those herbs with it. So we’ve grown from just having five blends to have been 40.

LR: Where do you envision MePlusTea growing in the next five years?

PJ: I envision growing our own acreage so that we can grow more of our own and focusing on the health and well being as well as the team.

LR: Do you have a permanent source for your products or do they vary?

PJ: I do have a permanent supplier that I work with that works with small family farms in China, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Japan.

LR: How do you create different blends and know what works best together?

PJ: Start with a tea base or an herbal base. And then from there we build in the loose leaf herbs that we mostly grow ourselves or either that we get from local growers that grow oranges. Then we blend those with the teas that we get from the supplier and that’s how we create our blends.

LR: What is your favorite blend to drink?

PJ: It would definitely be the ‘Peace and Love’…It’s one that helps me relax.

MePlusTea is a local tea company that began in 2017 with just a few blends, and the ultimate goal to prioritize health. A variety of its’ hand-blended loose leaf teas are now sold in many stores throughout Athens, as well as sold by the cup. There is also an online store to purchase the blends.

Blends are created to suit different moods, illnesses and time of day. All of the teas are hand-blended, and many of the plants used are locally sourced. Precious Jones called herself the “founder, owner, marketer, packager, everything” of MePlusTea

LR: What is your favorite part about MePlusTea?

PJ: My favorite part is I actually get to do what I love. Like it’s not a job. It’s waking up doing what I love and knowing that not only am I helping myself, I’m helping the community, I’m helping my family as well as others and just sharing the love through tea.

LR: What initially sparked your interest in tea?

PJ: Medical herbs has always been a way of life for my family. In 2017, I quit my full time job and decided to take a leap of faith. After much research on the various loose leaf tea types, I believed the timing was perfect to blend my knowledge of locally grown medicinal herbs with loose leaf teas.

LR: Where is MeplusTea served?

PJ: We are in Bear Hug Honey, Community in downtown, The Olive Basket and then by the cup Seabear, Revival Yarn and [Choco Pronoto.] We are also at the Athens Farmers Market every Saturday.

LR: How has your company changed from the beginning when you first started?

PJ: Well, mostly it is growth. We started with five blends and then working with herbalists and spiritualists and everything we developed a whole other line. The tea.potthecary lines are the herbs that we got ourselves or you know, we’re getting from local growers. And those are formulas that’s been in our family for generations. Then we have the loose leaf tea line, which is mostly on the tea bases, but we blend those herbs with it. So we’ve grown from just having five blends to have been 40.

LR: Where do you envision MePlusTea growing in the next five years?

PJ: I envision growing our own acreage so that we can grow more of our own and focusing on the health and well being as well as the team.

LR: Do you have a permanent source for your products or do they vary?

PJ: I do have a permanent supplier that I work with that works with small family farms in China, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Japan.

LR: How do you create different blends and know what works best together?

PJ: Start with a tea base or an herbal base. And then from there we build in the loose leaf herbs that we mostly grow ourselves or either that we get from local growers that grow oranges. Then we blend those with the teas that we get from the supplier and that’s how we create our blends.

LR: What is your favorite blend to drink?

PJ: It would definitely be the ‘Peace and Love’…It’s one that helps me relax.

Taste Test: Cool World Ice Cream Shop

Lesley Randall

Feb 3, 2023 Updated Feb 5, 2023

“Nana’s Banana Puddin'” from Cool World Ice Cream Shop in Athens, GA. (Photo/ Lesley Randall)


When I walked into Cool World Ice Cream Shop, I was overwhelmed by the swirly blue and green floor, the striped window valance and the blue neon signs on the wall.  

As I made my way through the store, the decision on what to order became difficult. There is an abundance of gourmet ice cream flavors, specialty ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes and large ice cream sundaes to choose from on the menu. 

I chose a single scoop of their homemade “Nana’s Banana Puddin’” ice cream. 

The description noted that the ice cream was swirled with marshmallow cream with chunks of vanilla cookies. 

The mixture of the ice cream and marshmallow swirl created a perfect creamy and fluffy texture. I could eat an entire cup of the marshmallow swirl on its own.

The ice cream itself tasted like my mom’s banana pudding except in ice cream form. Hot take, but it was a little better than banana pudding itself. 

I was pleased with the amount of cookie chunks that were  in the ice cream. The chunks of vanilla sugar cookie were small and soft which I enjoyed because they did not overpower the ice cream.  

The ice cream was extremely sweet. While I know desserts are supposed to be sweet, this was so rich in sugary flavors that I couldn’t even finish one scoop. 

Overall, I rate “Nana’s Banana Puddin’” a 4.2 out of 5. I loved each bite, as it reminded me of my mom’s banana pudding, though the extreme richness was a little much after a couple of bites. 

Tweed Recording: Athens’ stepping stone into the music industry

Lesley Randall

Sep 20, 2022 Updated Sep 23, 2022

Students at Tweed Recording Audio Production School in Athens can learn the audio recording and production skills necessary for a career in the music industry. (Courtesy/Tweed Recording)


What started as an in-home recording studio in Mississippi is now a major audio recording school, giving students in Athens preparation in all areas of sound engineering.

With a career that began as recording throughout the day in his own home and working in a pizza kitchen at night, Andrew Ratcliffe, CEO of Tweed Recording Audio Production School, is a self-taught recording artist and instructor. Ratcliffe found much success in his in-home recording studio where other musicians began to utilize his space and equipment.

“We had a lot of bands and a lot of musicians showing up. We charged like 10 or 15 bucks an hour and bands started using our facilities and that became the first version of Tweed Recording,” Ratcliffe said.

When Tweed Recording took off, a new space was needed. It was nothing but expensive to open and build a recording studio. Different ideas were thrown out to subsidize the cost before the final decision was reached — they would open a recording school.

“We could give back to people and kind of teach the way that we’ve learned,” Ratcliffe said

Ratcliffe’s first plan was to stay in Mississippi. Roadblocks were constantly delaying the process to open up the school in his home state, so ultimately Ratcliffe decided to head to Athens.

One of the main reasons Ratcliffe chose to open Tweed Recording in Athens was due to the history of the Classic City and the small-town music community. However, Ratcliffe “didn’t come here to try to ride the coattails of the history of Athens,” he said.

The goal for Tweed Recording was to be a part of the future of the Athens music industry.

“We started construction in 2018 and took in the Lamar Lewis Shoes store and a bar, so now it’s all in one building. We went back and built in four studios and a classroom,” said Melissa Bateman, director of admissions at Tweed Recording.

The school began offering an Audio Production Certificate in January 2021. No more than 24 students can fit in the space, but only 12 students will be accepted to the program in a typical semester, according to Ratcliffe. This is to ensure the ability to utilize all equipment and one-on-one time with instructors.

Tweed Recording also offers sessions and workshops for high school students and Athens locals.

In each semester, students take 18 weeks of classes, six hours five days a week, learning various components of recording, producing and navigating as a sound engineer.

Classes range from sitting in a classroom listening to lectures to actively recording music for a band in town. Tweed Recording is heavily hands-on, where students actively practice things like running cables and learning how to build their own in-home recording studio.

Studio recording one and two are introduction courses to the studios. Students learn how to practice recording etiquette, how to set up a server and how to run cables. Three weeks of the program focused on commercial recording, Ratcliffe said.

Other classes include an audio electronics class, a sound design class and a music business class. This variety of classes is designed to prepare students at Tweed Recording for any type of future in sound engineering.

An understanding of the basics of building a recording studio is imperative for future sound engineers, but building a recording studio is expensive. Tweed Recording teaches its students how to build an in-home recording studio with simple items.

In March 2023, Tweed Recording is beginning its first semester teaching a new program, Live Sound Production. An impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a major shortage of employees in live sound production, according to Ratcliffe.

Tweed Recording has a large venue to teach live sound production and Athens has a plethora of venues that need the help. Classes for the new program will be Monday through Thursday, from 5-9 p.m.

“On Mondays we’ll actually be doing kind of an apprenticeship-based experiential thing [at] the Georgia Theatre and some of the places here in town that have flying speakers and different sound stations to kind of give them different looks of what my sound looks like,” Ratcliffe said.

Tweed Recording serves as a stepping stone into the future of the music industry. One of Ratcliffe’s main goals opening Tweed Recording in Athens was to aid in the future of the music industry and training a new generation of music professionals is the perfect way to do so.

Athens nonprofit opens educational sex trafficking experience

Chanda Santana, founder of DIVAS Who Win Freedom Center, a nonprofit that seeks to help women overcoming sex trafficking, addiction and prostitution, cut the ribbon on the Freedom Experience, an immersive walk-through educating individuals on the steps to and through sex trafficking, on Sept. 23.

The walk-through experience was broken into seven phases providing context to the steps that lead to, through and toward surviving sex trafficking. During the walk-through, individuals wore headphones, listening to a narrator and seeing different visuals like props and real photographs.

The walk-through of the seven different phases added “a closer look into the creative and evil minds” of a trafficker, Santana said.

“The mission at DIVAS is to support folks like my family … Women who are overcoming substance use disorder, prostitution and sex work and those who are survivors of human trafficking,” Santana said.

Substance abuse is common among sex trafficking survivors. DIVAS Who Win serve over 150 women each month on average struggling with substance abuse and trauma from sex trafficking, according to its website.

In order for DIVAS Who Win and the Freedom Experience to serve the community, people must not turn their heads the other way, Santana said. The Freedom Experience aims to create an educated and supportive community surrounding sex trafficking and its survivors.

Santana wants to “create a platform where women can develop intentional victory and success,” she said.

Creating a community around and among survivors is one of the main goals for DIVAS Who Win, and the Freedom Experience directly serves this goal. Not only does the community lift one another up, it provides safety and security, something many of the survivors have never felt.

The walk-through is one way to educate the community about the sex trafficking process. Santana’s daughter is the victim of sex trafficking in Atlanta in the exhibit. Learning through the phases, individuals will understand that the path to sex trafficking begins in childhood and the healing will continue on long after being freed.

Natasha Ganem, leadership coach at Lion Leadership, said “the community needs to be awake” in regards to the sex trafficking crisis. The Freedom Experience will provide crucial community support and education, according to Ganem. 

As Santana and Ganem brainstormed about how to get people to engage in the Freedom Experience, the first thought was groups, like businesses, clubs and sororities.

The one-to-many effect means that once one group attends the Freedom Experience walk-through, they challenge another group to attend, creating a domino effect. Ganem compared the challenge as similar to the ALS ice bucket challenge.

“We want individual community members to come and engage in this experience so that they are aware and it provides that 20 minutes that might just change the trajectory otherwise,” Ganem said.

A dream goal for Santana is to have a Freedom Experience walk-through in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The airport in Atlanta is one of the largest sex trafficking hubs in the world. Santana believes providing an educational walk-through for frequent travelers is a way to prevent sex trafficking and add awareness in the airport.

Only 28 minutes of an educational walk-through during layovers could save someone’s life. Understanding the signs of a trafficker, how to help and what to do is important in major hubs like airports.

The Freedom Experience is one step closer to the ultimate goal of DIVAS Who Win. A walk-through brings people in, creating an engaged community. The Freedom Experience is a crucial step in the progress of DIVAS Who Win.

“You have the power to muster up the courage to come to the experience. What I’m really encouraging is that Athens, Georgia, gets to be this beautiful, creative, innovative space where your ideas around this experience are wonderful,” Santana said.

Looking forward, DIVAS Who Win plans to expand further. By 2025, the goal is to have a home where survivors will live, rent free, for two years. In those two years, survivors will gain all the tools necessary to survive on their own.

Rehabilitation, therapy, work experience and community will be provided for survivors within this home.

“Being a part of this experience is incredible because we get to help people get into trauma meetings, AA meetings and [access] resources,” said Tashawna Willoughby, who serves on the board of directors for DIVAS Who Win.

Santana constantly preaches about community. She strongly believes that, with an engaged and educated community, DIVAS Who Win will thrive. Community support is a necessary tool in the growth of DIVAS Who Win and the Freedom Experience is the stepping stone to reach the community.

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