Friday, January 28, 2011

The New Yinzer - The Workshop of the World

I have always been fascinated with the South Side of Pittsburgh, a place that is as colorful and diverse as the people that live there. I remember going to the Beehive to get coffee with friends while still in high school and thinking it would be a ‘cool’ place to live (except for dealing with the drunk people peeing and puking on your property).
Over the past few years, the South Side has changed considerably, to say nothing about the past decades. I am not just talking about a new bar or dance club opening up—there’s been the dismantling of the glass and steel industries, the newly created shopping plaza, and also the new bike trail.

Historic Roots
The South Side has a long and rich history. In 1763, King George III of England offered John Ormsby nearly 2,400 acres along the bank of the Monongahela River. This was payment for Ormsby’s service during the French and Indian War.
The land would be divided into four subsequent boroughs: South Pittsburgh, Birmingham, East Birmingham, and Ormsby. The boroughs were annexed to the City of Pittsburgh in 1872.

In the early 1800’s the South Side helped establish Pittsburgh’s reputation as the “Workshop of the World.” There were 76 glass factories in the South Side alone; then in 1854 Benjamin Franklin Jones and James Laughlin became business partners and formed the American Iron Works.

During the latter part of the 1800’s there was a surge of immigrants who came to work the South Side mills from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and the Slavic nations. The immigrants went on to build their own schools and churches, where they could continue their native customs and speak their native languages. I think that this diversity is what makes the South Side such a unique place to visit, as many of these places are still in existence today.

Today’s Residents
Recently, I talked with a few people that have either lived or still live in the South Side. I found their stories indicative of the rich and diverse community that the South Side continues to be today.

Curtis Schmitt was born and raised (until the age of 16) in the South Side, and his father worked at J&L Steel. Mr. Schmitt claims that, in his eyes, the decline of the steel mill was the biggest tragedy to hit the South Side. Children and families could walk and up and down Carson Street with little to no trouble. Not that you cannot do these things now, but depending on the time of day you go down to the South Side, you are either weaving in and out of shoppers or inebriated people. Mr. Schmitt also stated that you just felt like you knew everyone—he knew all of the people that he went to school with and you’d walk down the street and would know the people you ran into. Also, according to Mr. Schmitt, the South Side was not divided into the Slopes and Flats while he was growing up there. You simply said what street you lived on and people just knew it was the South Side.

Sean Soisson, (a man in his late 20’s or early 30’s) has lived in the South Side for over three years now. Sean moved to the South Side not because of the history, bars, or location, but because he needed a cheap place to stay and his friends had room. He moved to the area called by the locals as ‘The Hollow’ which is the back most area of the flats. It isn’t your typical South Side flat area—“its hidden, quiet, and generally friendly,” Sean says, “I am close with many of my neighbors, but it definitely took a little while for them to warm up to me. It’s a nice mix of elderly people whose families have been there since the first houses were built.”

One of the many benefits of living in the South Side for Sean is that it is close to his work in Oakland. His band performs at many of the bars located on Carson Street and he likes how everything is close—the groceries, the bars, the coffee shops, etc. However, like many that live in the area, he too dreads the Friday and Saturday night mayhem of trying to navigate throughout the neighborhood, or finding intoxicated people vandalizing your car or urinating on your property. Sean even noted that one night while going back to his house, he saw a fairly expensive car pull over and a man get out, open both doors of his car (as if to create some sort of barrier around him) and urinate right in the middle of Sarah Street as other cars drove past him as if nothing was happening.

I also chatted with Stacy Piscitelli. She and her husband moved to the South Side in 1996 and don’t plan on moving. Piscitelli told me that several factors made them lean towards the South Side—close proximity to work, the historic buildings and homes, and the overall electricity the neighborhood has. The Piscitellis love walking out their door and going to the shops and restaurants, the movie theater, or the South Side Square to catch a band. Being able to walk to the post office or grocery store is also a plus.

While some things may have changed over the decades, apparently the neighborhood feel is still there—as Mrs. Piscitelli states, “Walking our dogs we have met and become friends with many of our neighbors throughout the area.” She is afraid, however, that the increase in rental properties will eventually drive down the value of the homes in the area.

Legacy and Evolution

While all of the heavy industry is now gone from the South Side, the legacy that remains is a vibrant neighborhood, rich in ethnic charm and Victorian homes and businesses. It is because of people just like Curtis, Sean, and Stacy.

What I learned through these interviews is this: the South Side of Pittsburgh is a place that draws people in. Whether you go to the South Side Street Spectacular, or want to get a cold cider from Piper’s, sandwiches from McCoy’s, relive the past in the Groovy store, or just have a night of drinking and dancing at any one of the bars that line Carson, there is a certain energy that fills this part of Pittsburgh. Some stay for a short visit. Others never leave.

* * * *
Nicole Sebula is an editor at The New Yinzer. When not editing TNY, Nicole works full time at the University of Pittsburgh. Nicole published her first book My Crazy Life and is now trying to figure out subject matter for a possible second book.

Musings For Moms: Fresh Starts And Resolutions

So here we are again, another year behind us and fresh starts and resolutions ahead. Two of the top resolutions it seems every year are to get healthy or go to the gym. I know, for me, the most exercise I get is walking the few blocks to and from work and chasing after a very active 18-month old. Clearly the chasing is a little crazy at times, but it isn’t a consistent workout.

I used to belong to a gym and I used to go on a semi-regular basis. I have to say for me, that this is a dead and done idea. I just don’t have the will or motivation to get into gym clothes, drive a few miles to a gym, and get my workout on. Then there is also the issue of what to do with my son if I went to the gym. While many of the establishments offer child care services, and some even offer free child care, I think it would be difficult for me to drop him off in there. Not that I would doubt the employees capabilities in watching my son. I would just be thinking about him, and if I happened to hear him yelling ‘MOMMA’, well, my workout would be over.

The gym can also be very intimidating for a lot of newbies. All the muscle bound people, grunting loudly as they pump iron. When I was a member a few years back, I had friends that were also members, and I went at absurdly early times on the weekends. This cut down on some of the grunting and overly muscular people. Another reason I don’t want to go back, I do not want to end up looking like looking like Kelly Ripa, she is very toned to say the least.

Before the holiday’s I saw a commercial for a new video game, ZUMBA. If you don’t know what ZUMBA is, it is a dance fitness workout developed by dancer and choreographer Alberto ("Beto") Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. And let me tell you, it gets your heart rate up and be prepared to sweat. I got the video game for my Wii and I must say, I enjoy playing the game.

Wii Zumba is the perfect solution for new moms to single women, to moms whose kids are grown and out the door. The novice workout (which is where I am right now) is only 20 minutes long. I can definitely fit the entire workout in during the little guys nap time and still have time to shower and do a few other things before he wakes up. The workouts are segmented into several sections, a warm-up, two higher energy routines, and a cool down. Each segment is only a few minutes long and you get a few second breaks in-between the end and start of a new routine. This is where I down some water, because you definitely will need it.

The game also gives a workout calendar so you can either take their suggestions on when to work out or create your own schedule. I have noticed that it is a three-day a week work out. In my opinion, three days a week isn’t too bad especially for those who aren’t used to working out. As I stated before, I am still a novice at the game, and I cannot wait to see what else the game has to offer once I get a little better at the technique and skill levels.

Zumba is just one of the ways I have come up with to squeeze in a decent workout, while watching my son (or while he is napping). Sure there are other things to do, walking with a stroller, or going to the park, but I find this to be a higher impact workout. Feel free to email me your workout regime with napping babies or while they are awake.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 11:27

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Musings for Moms

Musings for Moms: Persistance Is a Must

Written by Nicole Sebula
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 16:11
Today’s Musings for Moms column is about persistence. All moms must have to have it and as a new mom, I am discovering if you don’t, you are leaving some important issues to chance. As you can imagine, leaving things to chance is not a good thing for new moms. Furthermore, this is not going to be my typical type of article; this is going to be more of a letter from the heart.

You see, I gave birth to an amazing little boy in August. My pregnancy was actually pretty smooth until the last few weeks when walking became increasingly difficult as the bulk of my pregnancy weight was putting added pressure on my back and knees.

My issues didn’t start until after the little one was born. About a month after his birth I had a hemorrhaging episode. I was freaking out, thinking this could not be normal but it only lasted a few minutes and stopped as if nothing happened at all. I called my OBGYN and she told me that this was “normal” as my body is trying to regulate itself.

This sounded believable so I was ok with the answer. Until a few days later it happened again. This time it was much worse as I ended up in the emergency room at Magee. I was stuck with many needles, ultra -sounded and a few other things and again told this was normal. Ok, I thought maybe I was over reacting… but still in the back of my mind I knew there was something seriously wrong.
I had several more episodes calling my doctors office after they would happen. Finally I decided to go in for a second opinion. Basically the second opinion made me feel even worse afterward. And of course I had yet another episode that night. I was home alone with my son when it happened. When my husband came home he found me curled up on our bedroom floor. He said my lips were blue, which I am thinking cannot be good. I called my doctors office again and the doc on call told me to go directly to the ER again and she would personally send down a resident to look me over.

My blood count dropped to 5 (take my word: this is seriously bad) and my blood pressure was dangerously low. This “little episode” resulted in an overnight stay in the hospital. I again went through a battery of tests which revealed something this time, a polyp in my cervix. I would undergo outpatient surgery to have it removed.

Of course I would be discharged first then have to come back the next day for the surgery. My arms were already messed up from the IV’s and all the blood tests they were running that it was pretty difficult for them to find a place for the new IV the day of the surgery. There were complications and I ended up staying a few more nights in the hospital for observation.

I was to return to my OBGYN’s office three days later for follow-up. I didn’t make it: I had yet another episode which again landed me into the ER. This time my blood pressure was extremely low and one of the doctors in the practice actually came down to the ER to treat me. I was getting them scared I think. And guess what? I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in the process of landing myself a week-long stay at the hospital.

During the week I spent most of my time in the 2800 wing of Magee. I must say that the nurses and aides on this floor are some of the nicest I had. Also during this week, I had a hemorrhaging episode in front of my nurse. Not one of my finest moments, but this time someone actually saw what was happening to me.

I ended up passing out from all the blood that I was losing and they had to call one of those ‘Code’ deals on me. I felt like I was in the middle of some medical drama except this was my life and not a TV show. I scared a lot of people, ended up in the ICU (again a great group of nurses helped me out while I was here) and finally had an answer to my problem.

I had an aneurism in my uterus that was causing the problems. This however is something very rare apparently as no one has ever heard of such a thing. I am out of the hospital now and have to go back in two weeks to make sure what they did to fix the aneurism is actually working. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that it will work.

The point of all this, be persistent. If there is something not right with you, keep bugging your doctor’s until they figure it out. Granted my arms were like pin cushions for two weeks and I am walking with a slight limp right now because of the angiograms I had. But if I didn’t keep bugging my doctors and running to the ER, I probably wouldn’t be here right now writing this article for
I want to thank all of those who treated me while I was at Magee, there were many and they were all great. Also, I want to thank all of you that donate blood. I had to get eight units over the past two weeks and without the donations I most certainly would have been in some serious trouble.

Nicole Sebula is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer for

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 November 2009 06:57

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Football Fans Diet

Greasy Super Bowl Party Suggestions
Published by nsebula at 6:28 am under Contributors, Footballer's Food, Preseason Week 4

By Nicole SebulaFor The FFD
PITTSBURGH - Hello there fellow FFD readers. How about those playoff games? I really thought Philadelphia was going to pull it off at the end there when they scored two touchdowns in the matter of minutes. It would have been great to see an interstate Super Bowl. But I digress, Arizona and THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS (is it obvious that I am a Steelers fan?) are going to Tampa for the big game. Although, if you think about it, two of the Arizona Cards coaches are former Steelers’ coaches, one Card player was a Pitt footballer, and I believe there is at least one more fellow on the team that went to high school in Pittsburgh.

Now for the past two playoff games I have given tailgating and home snacks that were moderately healthy. I am a firm believer that everything in moderation is good (when it comes to food). If you deprive yourself of something, you will just want it that much more and end up binging. No one wants that. I think the Super Bowl is a good day to take off from the healthy and go a little to the ‘dark side’.

Pittsburgh is a great city for a variety of meals… Here are a few of my suggestions for your Super Bowl party (If your not lucky enough to be heading south to Tampa, that is).
Primanti Brothers Restaurant is one of the first things everyone seems to think when they think Pittsburgh. And while their sandwiches not the most figure friendly, they do have vegetables on them, so how bad can they be, right?! Get a few sandwiches for take out and add them to your spread.

Another item, that is relatively easy is the Pierogi. Who doesn’t like dough filled with potato (or any of the other yummy fillings) smothered in butter and onions or deep fry them and throw a little bays seasoning on them with a little sour cream on top. Granted, again not the most figure friendly of foods but the Super Bowl only comes around once a year.

Another easy one, Islay’s chipped ham bar-b-q’s. This one can just be thrown into a crock pot and left to cook itself. Simple ingredients too, chipped ham, Islay’s sells ham bar-b-q sauce available at the grocery store, and some buns. If you want your sauce a little hotter or sweeter you can add brown sugar, hot sauce or vinegar to appease your taste buds.

Enough food for now, you will need something thirst quenching to wash it down with… Pittsburgh also offers a wide variety of beers. Iron City is a popular and cost efficient beer for large gatherings. There is also Penn Pilsner (which is one of my favorites) which is a little more expensive but it is a good quality beer.

Whatever you decide, I hope these suggestions are helpful in your planning. Now go enjoy the big game, scream at the television when a bad call is made, and don’t worry about one night of fatty foods, tomorrow back to healthy.

Food for Playoffs Week #3
Published by nsebula at 11:11 am under Contributors, Tips

By Nicole SebulaFor The FFD
What an exciting weekend we just had in the world of football. Every home team (except for the Pittsburgh Steelers) lost. So much for home field advantage, I suppose. This weekend should prove to be even more exciting as the winning teams match-up to decide who will be making their way down to Tampa for the Super Bowl.

Hopefully all of your guests/fellow tailgaters enjoyed the suggestions from last week. To keep things fresh and not boring I have a few more healthy snacks that will score big in the hearts (and stomachs) of your friends.

Let’s start out with something hearty. It’s going to be cold in most of the country this weekend and why not eat something that, as they say, sticks to your ribs… Chili. Chili is an excellent meal for either tailgating or that at home shin-dig. It can be made hours ahead of time and only gets better as the time passes. It also can be a very healthy meal, depending on what you put in it. Using extra lean ground beef (or if you wanted to try something a little different ground turkey or chicken) is preferred when making chili. If you really want to make healthy chili, make it vegetarian style.

Chicken Kabobs are perfect for the tailgating crowd as well as those at home. You can make them on your indoor grill too (if it is a little too cold to fire up the barbie). Not only is chicken a great source of protein and healthy, you can mix and match vegetables and fruits (I like pineapple and tomato on mine) or do all chicken. You can add a Greek or Indian flare to your flavorings to add something extra and unexpected to your kabob. It’s all up to you and how easy is this dish to clean up… just toss the sticks and your done.

If your craving chicken wings but don’t want all the fat (or the mess of the bones) how about grilling up some chicken tenderloins and putting your favorite hot wing sauce on them. It will cut down on a lot of the fat (because these bad boys won’t be fried) but not on the taste. You can also do this same thing with shrimp.

My last idea for this weekend, munchies, every party needs some sort of munchies. I am suggesting a low fat spinach and artichoke dip. If you use low-fat mayo and cream cheese you can cut a lot of calories and use tortillas or baked pita chips instead. Also it is my thinking that if you watch throughout the rest of the game, a little fat here and there will satisfy your urges and needs and you will not overdo it down the line.

Enjoy the games this weekend… they should be as exciting as last weeks.

How to eat healthy on game days
Published by nsebula at 10:42 am under Contributors

By Nicole SebulaFor The FFD
PITTSBURGH - Hello fellow football fans. Here we are, in the most exciting time of the season, the playoffs. We also find ourselves in the New Year and many of us have decided eat healthier this year. But how can that be possible when all of the best football foods are high fat, high carb and down right scrumptious.There is no way we will be able to give up the nacho supreme or the grilled meat delicacies, or is there?It doesn’t matter if you are going to watch the game from your personal command center (you know where you have your favorite recliner and large screen HDTV) or if you will be donning the layers and going to the game. These tasty and healthy alternatives will work in either setting.

Instead of the double cheeseburger filled with all of the fixings, try pulled pork sandwiches on whole wheat bread. I know that there is actually a good healthy recipe on the Food Networks website. The good thing about this recipe too, you can control the heat. That is you can make these pork sandwiches as hot or mild as you and your friends like them.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I love potato chips and dip with my pulled pork sandwiches, something about the salty and spicy I guess. But how about we sideline the chips and try tortilla chips with a zesty bean dip. Definitely a lot less calories and tastes better too, not to mention, no greasy hands from the chips.

Another good, healthy side dish is broccoli slaw. Not only is broccoli beneficial to your diet, it tastes delicious too. If you are not into broccoli though, you can make several other salads for your meal. Something like mixed greens with a mustard vinaigrette would be good or a healthy version of coleslaw would work. By healthy I mean substitute vinegar and olive oil for the traditional slaw dressings.I hope you liked the suggestions I have come up. The idea is to make for a healthier football game, without losing the taste, just the extra calories. Enjoy the playoffs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My First Interview...

My first interview regarding 'My Crazy Life'

Thanks Bethany!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Release Party Information - UPDATED

I want to thank everyone who made it out on Friday for the party... Much appreciated

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Crazy Life

I am happy to announce that a series of short nonfiction stories of mine have been published and limited copies are now available on Amazon and Barnes_&_Noble and on the Publisher's_Website

You can find the book by either searching on my name or typing in the title 'My Crazy Life'. But I set the links to go right to the book...

Official release date is December 27th 2008. I am hoping to have a few book signings in the Pittsburgh area shortly after the 27th release. Once I have those set up I will provide the information for those of you interested.

Thank you for all of your support!