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Male model from Pittsburgh discovered on Instagram featured on 'The Ellen Show'

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

It's no secret -- be careful what kinds of photos you post on social media, because they could change your life.

When Matthew Noszka from Pittsburgh posted on Instagram a shirtless photo of himself next to a deck he had built, he received a direct message from a representative with renowned talent agency Wilhelmina Models that ended up taking him from the construction site to the catwalk.

He talked about his unexpected, virtually overnight success in the modeling world on "The Ellen Show" today, speaking with great humility and gratitude for what he's been able to do so far. He's already worked with the likes of Nike and Calvin Klein and recently walked in his first New York Fashion Week, he told host Ellen Degeneres.

He's been a natural in front the of the camera, flexing and posing in his underwear for some of the ad campaigns he's booked. Reading magazines like GQ and practicing different poses in front of the mirror have helped, he said.

Prior to being discovered on social media,  he was a student at Point Park University playing basketball and working in construction and waiting tables on the side.

"I guess it worked out," he said bashfully. 

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Forced bulbs begin to sprout

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog budding hyacinthThese hyacinths are getting ready to push up out of the bulb. Photo by Doug Oster

In the dead of winter I met Denise Schreiber, greenhouse manager for Allegheny County Parks, at a greenhouse to pot up some bulbs which didn't get planted in the ground.

It was fun to learn how to put the bulbs into cold storage and now we're seeing the results.

The hyacinths and daffodils have started to sprout. I've taken them out of the box, given them some water and I don't think it will be too much longer until they bloom in the greenhouse.

I can't wait to bring those flowers inside and enjoy the blooms before the flowers appear in the garden.

Here's the video of us planting the bulbs-

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Snowdrops blooming! Nature's little miracle

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog snowdrop miracleSnowdrops announce the start of the spring. Photo by Doug Oster

Can you believe it? Two days ago these little flowers were covered with a foot of snow. Snowdrops herald the beginning of spring. Some years that's January 15th, others February 15th and now they've started to appear as we thaw out from a brutal end of winter.

Snowdrops are small bulbs planted in the fall and are one of the first flowers to bloom. They will form a nice colony in a few years and love to be split up right after they are done blooming.

The stems are only a few inches tall and invite gardeners to get on their hands an knees to enjoy the blooms. In July they would be overlooked as tiny insignificant flowers, but in March they are the star of the garden.

I might seem strange to be planning now for fall planting, but this is the time to write down where early bloomers are appearing and more importantly, where they aren't. I like to draw a little map for myself so I'm reminded after another long gardening season where the bulbs need to go.

As the sweet smell of spring lingers in the air and the sun's angle warms the greenhouse, the endless possibilities for the season await us.

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Late winter is the perfect time to prune shrubs and trees

Written by Doug Oster on .

By Doug Oster / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

20150304-dohomespruning2-1Sharp tools are an important part of pruning. Photo by Doug Oster


As Dick Till gets ready to prune a hawthorn tree, he explains why the end of winter is the perfect time to prune woody plants.
“The insects aren’t active,” he says, noting that insects are attracted to fresh pruning cuts. “And there are no disease spores flying around in the air which can land on a fresh cut and infect the tree.”
Mr. Till, assistant district manager and certified arborist for Davey Tree Expert Co., also says that trees and shrubs have an abundance of stored energy and will grow quickly to callus over the pruning cut in the spring.
He’s carrying a pair of long-handled loppers, a bypass hand pruner and a folding pruning saw as he carefully navigates an icy parking lot on his way to the hawthorn. The first thing he looks for are interfering branches. In this case, a smaller branch is crossing a larger branch.
“You pick the more desirable, dominant one and remove the one that’s rubbing against it,” he says.
Sharp tools are important; they ensure a good cut that will heal more quickly. As he smoothly saws through the smaller branch, he hold its end so the bark doesn’t tear. When he’s close to completing the cut, he gives the saw a quick push for a perfect, clean cut.
This tree was pruned a couple of years ago and has sent out water sprouts in response to those cuts. He’s going to remove those, too. Mr. Till carefully inspects the area where the sprouts are attached. When he prunes them, he won’t make a flush cut. He leaves a little bit behind so the tree can heal properly.
He points to the raised part of the stem where it meets the trunk. “It’s called the branch collar or branch bark ridge,” he says.
It’s important to step back in between cuts to observe the overall shape of the plant. It’s easy to start cutting away inside the plant only to realize later it’s been cruelly disfigured.
At the bottom of a struggling ash tree are lots of branches emerging from the trunk.
“These are called epicormic branches,” he says. They are the tree’s last-ditch effort to survive. He’ll saw those off, but he doesn’t hold much hope for the tree as it’s been infested by emerald ash borer.
Even though most deciduous trees and shrubs can be pruned right now, some should be left alone. Mr. Till talks about spring bloomers. “Any time you cut off the ends of the branches, you’re going to be cutting off the flowers.”
Spring-flowering plants that should be pruned right after they bloom include rhododendrons, azaleas, crabapples and dogwoods. Although a hawthorn also flowers in the spring, Mr. Till says, it was more important to prune it while it was dormant.
Mr. Till moves to a dogwood, and even though it’s also an early blooming tree, he trims out some interior branches to improve its shape.
Regardless of the blooming season, deadwood should be removed as soon as it’s discovered. He points out some dead branches as we walk under a huge zelkova tree. As we stare upward into the canopy, I ask when is the right time to call an expert.
“The rule of thumb is, if you have to climb up in the tree you should leave it to the professionals,” he says.
Sounds like good advice indeed.

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FashionAFRICANA debuts clothing line at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

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For 14 years, FashionAFRICANA has strived to broaden the standard of beauty through fashion and the arts. This year, it did it with the debut of a ready-to-wear fashion line, a collaboration between FashionAFRICANA, Pittsburgh-based designer Diana Misetic, leading African handmade fabric company Mariama Fashion Production and the There Is No Limit Foundation, a non-profit that provides educational and employment opportunities to women in Africa.

The Pittsburgh fashion community got its first glimpse of the collection on Friday at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh's Hall of Sculpture in Oakland.

The event got off to a fashionably late start -- but the fashions were worth the wait. Models sauntered around the cavernous hall to classical music performed by the Duke Quintet and wore colorful, tastefully tie-dye dresses. The soft hues were beautiful, and the silhouettes (belted and paneled dresses, for instance) were modern and flattering. Adding to the showmanship of it all were exquisite headdresses blooming with oversized florals by Pittsburgh-based milliner Gina Mazzotta. The goal is to turn the clothes into a mass-produced collection that the public can purchase.

After the fashion show, guests were treated to a dance performance by Kizomba Feeling Pittsburgh, which was rich with palpable sensuality.

The evening also recognized women who exemplify the mission of FashionAFRICANA through their lives and careers in fashion. This year's honorary chairs were Pittsburgh-based fashion designer Kiya Tomlin and Mariama Mounir Camara-Petrolawicz, founder of Mariama Fashion Production and co-founder of There Is No Limit Foundation.

FashionAFRICANA is produced by founder Demeatria Boccella, along with co-producer Darnell L. McLaurin

Photos: Above, models wearing pieces from the debut collection and members of the FashionAFRICANA team pose for a post-show picture. Below, models wear dresses from the debut FashionAFRICANA clothing line and headdresses by Gina Mazzotta.

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