Nevena Staresinic

We asked our Imagine Pittsburgh Neighbors for a few of their favorite things about the winter holidays in the Pittsburgh region. From now through the new year, we’ll be sharing them with you. Here’s what globe-trotting Nevena Staresinic, now of Highland Park, has to say.

As one who has traveled widely and lived most recently in Africa, I have grown to love spending Christmas and New Year’s holidays in warm parts of the world; it’s so unreal with no cold and no snow.

A "badnjak," or oak branch, is part of the centerpiece at the Staresinics' holiday table.
A “badnjak,” or oak branch, is part of the centerpiece at the Staresinics’ holiday table.

But here in Pittsburgh for the past two years, it’s taken me some time to get used to celebrating Christmas in December. As Orthodox Christians, my family celebrates according to the Julian calendar, which means our Christmas Day is Jan. 7. When I was growing up in Belgrade in what was then Yugoslavia (now Serbia), our favorite holiday was Dec. 31 (the more traditional New Year’s Eve), which kicks off the season for us: it means Santa will soon becoming to our house! On Jan. 6, we bring a badnjak (oak branch) into the house and place it on the fire. Some families avoid eating meat or dairy until Jan. 7, instead making a special Christmas Eve meal of cod with potatoes, prebranac (a layered bean and onion dish), meatless sarma (vegetable stuffed cabbage), djuvec (a rice and vegetable casserole), nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and cookies made without dairy and eggs as a way to call attention to the humble beginnings at the center of the Christmas story.

The greeting on Christmas Day is Mir Bozji! Hristos se Rodi! (Peace of God! Christ is Born!). The response is Voistinu Hristos se Rodi! (Indeed, He is born!). The Christmas table centerpiece is cesnica, bread baked with a silver coin baked in; it brings luck to the one who finds it. On Christmas Day our special meal includes pecenica (spit-roasted pig), meat sarma, baked ham, sausage, roasted potatoes with parsley, and desserts galore — nut roll, cheese strudel, apple strudel, log torte, drum torte, fresh and dried fruits and, of course, strong, dark Turkish coffee. We toast our loved ones with slivovitz (plum brandy) or warm vruca rakija (a potent blend of whiskey and slivovitz with honey and spices). After dinner, Christmas Day is spent receiving and visiting friends and family.

This is also the time of many families’ slavas – the annual feast days and glorification of a family’s patron saint. Then of course, there’s also Orthodox New Year’s Eve on Jan. 13, with more celebration, city concerts and fiestas on New Year’s Day. We practically just feast and celebrate throughout January!

What are some of your favorite holiday things? It can be a personal and reverent tradition at home or in a place of worship, or something raucous and public, like snow tubing at Boyce Park, skiing in the Laurel Highlands, or taking a New Year’s Day plunge in the Mon. Does the way you celebrate now differ from the traditions you grew up with? Or if you opt for no traditions at all, how come? Let us know via the Imagine Pittsburgh Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Looking for a new job or career advancement in the new year? Check out the job search engine and other resources at ImaginePittsburgh.com/Work.

 

Chaz Kellem

We asked our Imagine Pittsburgh Neighbors for a few of their favorite things about the winter holidays in the Pittsburgh region. From now until the end of the year, we’ll be rolling them out here.

As a Pittsburgh native, manager of diversity initiatives for the Pittsburgh Pirates and keeper of a break-neck social schedule, Chaz Kellem knows the region better than many. His professional work creating and implementing hundreds of community initiatives, speaking engagements and serving on nearly a dozen nonprofit boards keeps him on the go. So when this man makes holiday suggestions, listen up!

“Visitors to the region should be sure to visit the downtown area to take in the holiday lights and sounds,” Kellem said. “Between the Christmas trees all over town (at City Hall, the Highmark Building, Point State Park and elsewhere) to ice skating at PPG Plaza and the decked-out store windows, it’s a great overall experience. I love this town!”

Chaz in a Box
Chaz Kellem clowns around during stuffing of Pittsburgh Pirates’ holiday gift bags.

Chaz also appreciates the holiday pageants, concerts and programs staged by regional high schools and theater/production companies. On a personal note, “There’s something special about waking up on Christmas morning, looking out of your window to see snow or frost from the cold, smelling the food being prepared, and seeing holiday lights.”

He also urges folks to create new rituals of their own. “Traditions had to start with someone at some point in time…why not now. Starting new traditions locally and with friends/family here can make for amazing years to come.”

What are some of your favorite holiday things? It can be a personal and reverent tradition at home or in a place of worship, or something raucous and public, like snow tubing at Boyce Park, skiing in the Laurel Highlands, or taking a New Year’s Day plunge in the Mon. Does the way you celebrate now differ from the traditions you grew up with? Or if you opt for no traditions at all, how come? Let us know via the Imagine Pittsburgh Facebook page or Twitter feed.

 

 Find a job, advance your career in the Pittsburgh region at ImaginePittsburgh.com.

 

Bonnie Pfister

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 jobs open right now across the 10-county Pittsburgh region? You can find them on the powerful job search engine of ImaginePittsburgh.com, which scrapes thousands of corporate websites and search engines nightly to help you advance your career in Pittsburgh.

Here’s a recent sampling:

Engineering Manager at ModCloth’s Pittsburgh office. The individual joining this startup will manage the engineering team. Three years of experience and basic technical knowledge of the technology ModCloth uses to inform decisions are required.

Line Technician at Bayer in Saxonburg, Butler County. This role is responsible for operation and upkeep of custom production equipment and automation, performing mechanical and electrical maintenance repairs, trouble shooting and solving advanced technical problems when necessary. The position will provide technical training and guidance to more junior personnel in the manufacturing department. The successful candidate will have a technical associate’s degree and several years of experience.

Analytical Chemist II at PPG Industries. The successful candidate will analyze materials and products in the Wet Chemistry group with responsibilities for functional group, particle size, gravimetric, and flashpoint/firepoint analyses.

Network Engineer I at BNY Mellon. Proactively and reactively monitor and support this financial institution’s core network infrastructure. This position requires knowledge of Packet Analysis tools and CCNP/CCNA Cisco certifications or equivalent.

Metrics and Analytics Specialist at PNC Financial Services. This position is primarily responsible for developing, reporting and performing statistical analysis in support of the anti-money laundering surveillance group. In addition to excellent oral and written communication skills, the successful candidate must also have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field.

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly ImaginePittsburgh.com eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

Phil Cynar

10640093_lHere in Pittsburgh, we’re raising green tea, carrot juice and fresh fruit smoothies to HuffPost’s Laura Schocker for her Dec. 18 article, “What Pittsburgh Can Teach the Rest of the Country About Living Well,” which appeared in HuffPost Healthy Living.

We clink our glasses and cups – brimming with healthy beverage of choice – to her for including Pittsburgh in the series of how people, in cities and countries worldwide, pursue health and happiness.  It was refreshing to see that although Pittsburgh is no Muscle Beach on the Mon [River] or a haven for fitness fanatics, it is – using Schoker’s words – “a hidden gem” where living well and being happy don’t necessarily come from a populace dominated by six-pack abs and teeny waists.  Yes, Pittsburghers have some work to do on shaping up, but things are improving.  Miles and miles of riverfront trails for hiking, biking and walking, as well as lots of lush green spaces for outdoor recreation practically year-round, make it easy and appealing to get out and get moving.

And, as Schocker wisely notes, there are other equally important factors that influence wellness and happiness, and Pennsylvania’s second largest city does not come up short on those factors, of which other cities should take note, as should those individuals considering a new  soft landing place for “great jobs and a great life.”

Check out her nine lessons from Pittsburgh on living well and being happy here, and then check out ImaginePittsburgh.com for the region’s plentiful live, work and play options.

Find a job, advance your career in the Pittsburgh region at ImaginePittsburgh.com.

Bonnie Pfister

We asked our Imagine Pittsburgh Neighbors for a few of their favorite things about the winter holidays in the Pittsburgh region. From now until the end of the year, we’ll be rolling them out here.

Carla Leininger
Carla Leininger

Carla Leininger handles web marketing for Eaton Corp. in Moon Township by day, but is well-known by music lovers across the region for Global Beats, which celebrates 10 years of producing world music events featuring live music and DJs. A long-time DJ of the Brazilian Radio Hour on WRCT 88.3 FM each Friday night, she recently became the station’s international music director.  When asked last spring for a favorite setting in which to take her picture, she chose Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, so one of her holiday favorites should come as no surprise:

“One of my favorite events at this time of year is the Phipps Conservatory’s Winter Light Garden, Flower Show and Candlelight Evenings, when glowing candles light the walkways and live music fills the air. This year the event continues through Jan. 12, 2014.

“A recent tradition within the Brazilian community is a party at the house of Kenia, singer of popular Brazilian music and jazz.  It’s in part a fund-raiser for the less fortunate (this year for the Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce) and we have a blast in the process.  Since a lot of us are far from our families, this party has become our way of uniting and rejoicing with our fellow Brazilians in the loving spirit of the season. We play Christmas music in “samba” style and everyone grabs an instrument and/or dances. We look forward to it every year. Feliz Natal!”

What are some of your favorite holiday things? It can be a personal and reverent tradition at home or in a place of worship, or something raucous and public, like snow tubing at Boyce Park, skiing in the Laurel Highlands, or taking a New Year’s Day plunge in the Mon. Does the way you celebrate now differ from the traditions you grew up with? Or if you opt for no traditions at all, how come? Let us know via the Imagine Pittsburgh Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Bonnie Pfister
Anne Marie Toccket in Peru
Anne Marie Toccket at Machu Picchu, Peru in 2012

Stop into The Big Idea Bookstore & Café on Bloomfield’s Liberty Avenue right across the street from the West Penn Hospital and meet Anne Marie Toccket, an entrepreneur who has traveled around the world but choose Pittsburgh as the place to call home.

The Big Idea is Pittsburgh’s first — and now one of three –“B corporations” — organizations that have a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment as well as shareholders – the Big Idea is also the gathering place for an ongoing workshop of young writers, the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup Group and – come Jan. 4 – a screening of Doctor Who.

You can check out Toccket’s profile and those of all the Neighbors at ImaginePittsburgh.com, a virtual concierge that highlights live, work and play options in the 10-county region. On the site you can look for a job among the thousands gathered by our powerful job aggregator, sign up for updates about the region through our social media channels or RSS feeds and take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh!” quiz to be matched up with Neighbors who may share your interests and have tips on what’s fun and engaging to do in the region.

You can also watch her video below or here.