7 gifts you can buy Mom at Import House

When you think of the Import House on 68 N. Court St, “Mom” is not the first person who comes to mind. But with Christmas approaching, the countdown for finding Mom the perfect gift is in full swing. Intricate tobacco and hookah pipes, glass-blown bongs and wild tapestries don’t exactly scream “Mom.” Lucky for you, this local emporium is not limited to these options. Walk inside and you will be overwhelmed by a plethora of local and often fair trade merchandise that your mom will be delighted to unwrap on Christmas.

Here are seven gifts you can buy for your mom this Christmas:

1) Silk-woven Scarves: $32

Import- Scarve

2) Wild Berry incense sticks and cones: 10 for $2

Import- Inscents

3) Stress-relieving coloring books: $10-$20

Import- Color

4) Athens’ own Herbal Sage Tea Company loose leaf tea: $9

Import- Tea

5) Seeking Balance candles: $15


6) Powers Family Farm soap: $7

Import- Soap

7) The fanny pack: $10-$20

Import- Fanny

There you have it folks, Christmas gifts for your mom are made possible thanks to Import House.

Volunteers help Passion Works artists flower

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?

The holiday season brings people together.

Thanksgiving, in particular, enables family members across the United States to gather around the same table to enjoy a smorgasbord of fall-inspired delicacies, to celebrate their gratitude for one another. This Thanksgiving, Court Street Stories wants to place the emphasis on showing thanks by giving back to those in the community who appreciate it most. Passion Works Studio is one place where your presence and time is valued.

Noah Hogan shows off his bird house, a project he has been working on for two weeks.

Passion Works Studio is a nonprofit organization— located at 20 E. State St. in Athens— that employs adults with and without disabilities as artists. And volunteers are always needed.

“We love the student volunteering aspect of this place,” says Alyssa Cardwell, the lead production artist at Passion Works Studio. “Our artists love that they get to meet new people, share their stories, artwork and a few laughs even. It’s a great connection.”

Cardwell says the studio serves three specific purposes:

1. It’s an art therapy program.

“It allows our artists to express their creativity and get their expressions out there for the community to see,” says Cardwell.

2. It gives artists a sense of individualism by offering the opportunity to make money.

“When their artwork sells here, they get 50% of the profit,” Cardwell explains.

The other half goes toward the studio to fund materials and operating expenses. Artwork can range from a painting or drawing on canvas, paper, sculptures— you name it. Another way artists can make a profit is by working on the Passion flowers that are displayed all across campus, most notably in coffee shops like Donkey and Front Room. Cardwell best describes this intricate piece of art as an involved process.

“Each step is done by one of our artists, and they get paid an hourly rate,” Cardwell says.

They work, hands on, from start to finish. All she does is drill the petals into a wooden block and the rest is the artists’ creation.

Artists also can make money earning a designer fee. Their drawing or painting can be mass produced and printed onto products like jewelry, mugs and tiles if they create a stellar image.

“When we see a strong piece like that, we think it would be cool to make multiples of it by putting it on a magnet or mug [for example],” Cardwell says. “We pay those artists a designer fee for that image so we can use it over and over again — they get a pretty decent compensation for that image.”

3. Community integration.

“Here at Passion Works we are very much involved with the community. We have a lot of art installations on Court Street, buildings at the university and the Essence of Athens, [which] pushes for this beautification of Athens through the arts,” says Cardwell.

The studio invites members of the community in to boost awareness about the group of people who are bringing this art to life. Just recently, a group of home-schooled children came in to assist the artists in making holiday cards. Together, they made cards to send to their relatives. They also formed friendships in the process.

Artist Sarina loves to incorporate the colors pink and purple into her pieces.

At Passion Works, volunteering most times just means sitting down with artists, helping them however they may ask and then walking away having a made new friends. Building genuine relationships is what makes artists’ spirits thrive, even if it’s just for an hour each week.

Madeline Keener, junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Ohio University, began volunteering in the middle of September 2015, initially because of a story she pitched to Backdrop magazine.

“I was working on a story for a publication, and it was about a man who is actually one of the artists at Passion Works. [Volunteering] was another way to get to know him and observe him,” explains Keener.

That story was submitted in the beginning of October and Keener still goes to volunteer every Monday she can from 8-10 a.m. She says it’s the feeling she gets after spending some time with the artists that keeps her coming back.

“After I volunteer at Passion Works, I feel happy. I have a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for these people that always welcome me with smiles and high fives,” Keener says. “It just really brightens my day to be able to just hang out and get know these artists.”

Getting started at Passion Works Studio is quite simple. Visit the website and click on the “Get Involved” tab and then select “Volunteer.” Print out the one-page paper, fill it out and then bring it into the studio for a brief orientation. You could start that very day.

“To me it’s [just about] being there for them and providing them a way for their voice to be heard and feel like they are a part of this community,” says Cardwell.

Nate Ruess makes history at Ohio University


Photo taken by Maddie Schroeder

Wednesday October 14, frontman of the band fun., Nate Ruess, dominated the stage at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium with The Band Romantic. Saint Motel started the night off with chill vibes and indie tunes that members of the crowd gladly swayed to. When Ruess hit the stage, though, the audience’s response was overwhelming. The energy was so alive and vibrant that Ruess did something he never had done before in his career as a performer. Get the scoop on what the famous singer did exclusively at his show at Ohio University at Backdrop magazine.

The nine best group costumes at HallOUween

The band, Boys Like Girls and pop star idol Taylor Swift once said, “Two is Better than One,” and participants in this year’s HallOUween followed that motto by grabbing a buddy or two to coordinate costumes with. Here are the nine best group costumes spotted at this year’s celebration:

1) Beanie Babies

Court Street 1These cuddly gals were extra warm for the festivities taking place on Court Street. Maureen Mierke, Ashley Balasko and Madeline Keener are juniors and roommates at Ohio University, and they hit the town looking cute, comfy and cozy.

“The three of us decided to be Beanie Babies. We bought onesies from Walmart, and instead of just being the animals we made little red, heart-shaped tags like the ones beanie babies used to have on them back in the 90s,” Keener said.

Job well done ladies.






2) Ice Cream Cones

court street 9Pretty please with a cherry on top? Best friends and roommates Julianna Hausman and Cristina Sicard teamed up to form a sweet duo — ice cream cones! This was their backup costume they pulled together at the last minute when their costumes did not arrive in the mail.

“My roommates and I came up with it last minute when our original costume idea didn’t come in the mail on time,” Hausman said. “We crafted everything ourselves and my roommates bravely spray-painted the cherries.”

Sweet and original. This pair created a memorable costume.





3) Feminist Bookstore Owners from Portlandia

court street 7Alumnae Sara Portwood and Amanda Puckett came back to Athens with new identities: Candace and Tony from the TV series “Portlandia.

Portwood says the construction of these costumes was fairly simple because all they had to do was collect odd clothing from Goodwill and buy some wigs.

“We put together the feminist bookstore owners in the TV show, so we carried around relevant literature and were pretty in character with feminist ideals all night,” Portwood said.

These graduates still got the Athens HallOUween spirit.






4) The Nightmare Before Christmas

court street 6This couple’s costumes was the talk of the party at Palmer Place. Junior at OU Savannah Williams and her boyfriend, Jason Violet went as Sally and Jack Skellington  from the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s the couple’s favorite Halloween/Christmas movie and they even had a third member of their costume, but he was not able to attend the party.

“Not pictured in here is our dog who we dressed up as Zero, the ghost dog from the film. Our two costumes were store-bought, though the makeup made up for it in a total of around four hours of preparation,” Williams said.

Four hours well spent, they truly look animated.



5) Grease

court street 8Again, two is better than one, no? Junior Samantha Pelham tagged along with sophomores Allison Huedepohl and Stephen Withers and went as characters from one of their favorite movies: the famous 1978 musical, “Grease.”

“I went as Sandy from Grease, the iconic, all black with the leather jacket, red lipstick Sandy, and I actually ran into two of my good friends who were going as Sandy and Danny, as well,” Pelham said. “We had a blast because we had Danny, the blonde Sandy and then the brunette Sandy who was kind of stringing along Danny’s Rizzo.”

These three did a fantastic job pulling off an edgy group costume.





6) Owls

Court Street2These ladies are the wisest of them all. Annie Chester and Alena Kilmas, juniors at OU, flocked down the streets of Athens as owls at this year’s event. Chester was scrolling through Pinterest for costume ideas when she stumbled across two girls dressed as owls and another picture with owl glasses. She combined the two ideas and together her and Kilmas rocked the Pinterest-inspired costume.

“I’m an experienced sewer so I cut the fabric and then used a sewing machine to put it all together,” Chester said. “We decided to be owls because it is such a random costume idea and we wanted to be something weird. Plus it makes a good pun: Hall(owl)ween!”




7) Breaking Bad

court street 10She doesn’t even go here! Yes, that’s right. Both Megan McLaughlin and Becky Townsend are juniors at The Ohio State University, but came to Ohio University as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White from Netflix favorite, Breaking Bad. Together, their costumes took just about 15 minutes to make since they only had to shorten the sleeves and slice the legs off of hazmat suits they ordered off Amazon. Paired with tall socks and even a pair of goggles from McLaughlin’s chemistry lab, these two portrayed these mad scientists in a stylish manner. Even though they were missing an important addition to their costumes.

“We attempted to make this blue rock candy that resembles the meth from the show but it was a total fail,” McLaughlin said.

These Buckeyes were fierce this HallOUween weekend.





8) Blades of Glory

court street 4Perhaps the most creative couples costume of the evening was Lindsey Lemons’ and Brennan Wozniak’s idea of going as Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy from the movie, Blades of Glory. This couple looked epic the entire night, but in the Bird Arena is where their costumes shine. The couple didn’t go all out for nothing either, they had a competition to win.

“Last year we were an adorable Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and we entered in a couples costume contest. We took 2nd place in the DP Dough contest and won $50, but we want to take first this year and win the big bucks,” said Lemons.

Hopefully the couple accomplishes their goal!




9) Gerald from Hey Arnold!

court street 5Unfortunately, Kellen Becoats was unsuccessful in recruiting his friend to be Nickelodeon’s own football head, Arnold. However, the OU junior was adamant about going as Gerald, having grown his hair out just enough so that he could try and reach the cartoon’s towering fro.

“I didn’t have my partner [Arnold] because my roommate likes to watch me suffer in pain,” Becoats said. “Not having my Arnold made me have to explain my costume more, but most people loved it. I even ran into an Arnold and another Gerald, so it was worth it.”

Becoats owned this solo costume and is the exception to this article about group costumes.



Once again, creativity flooded the streets of Athens this weekend for HallOUween 2015.

Chelsea’s Real Food Truck: The Veggie Sandwich

Love hearty, wholesome food that is free from any artificial preservatives or additives? Chelsea’s Real Food Truck can satisfy such cravings.

Chelsea Hindenach conceptualized her business two years ago and has been serving delicacies, free of both dairy and gluten, to locals at the Athens Farmers Market every Saturday since. This week, Backdrop magazine featured her staple menu item, The Veggie, in their “Dish of the Week” column. Check out what Backdrop has to say about this earthy favorite.

Pumpkin spice lattes: Athens style

Love Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Check out the coffee crawl Backdrop magazine did and read about the eclectic varieties three of Athens’ local coffee shops offer. The typical warm, coffee-inspired latte is too mainstream for Athens, see what Donkey Coffee, Fluff Bakery and Court Street Coffee have created instead.