Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Kitsch Alert: Sweet and Salty Bark

The other day, while searching new holiday treats to make with marshmallows and cereal (the possibilities would appear to be infinite), I came across a how-to video that made me cry with joy.  Candy sushi.  I know, right???  So while I await just the right opportunity to serve candy sushi (a state dinner for the Japanese Prime Minister?  Perhaps Kodomo No Hi, or Children's Day on May 5, a Japanese national holiday?), I settled upon a recipe that I had torn from Country Living some time ago.  Last night, my friends and I got together for our annual Christmas baking evening, which becomes less and less ambitious each year, and yet, somehow more and more fun.

After several rounds of prosecco and pomegranate seeds, we brought forth the four simple ingredients:

a sleeve of Saltines, 2 sticks of unsalted butter (nod to Paula Deen--I tried to cut that down to 1.5 but it really seems to beg for the 2 whole sticks), 1 cup of light brown sugar, and 1 and 1/3 cups of semisweet morsels.

Trial and error being the best teacher, I went at it again this morning, for my own improvement on the original recipe, which happened to come from country superstar Tricia Yearwood.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and crushed saltines.  [The original recipe calls for them to be kept whole, but I like masking what that salty crunch is coming from.]

2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together and bring to a boil for about  5 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour over the crackers, trying to cover all the crackers evenly.  Put the cookie sheet into over and watch closely (learned that the hard way).  Bake for about 5 minutes, or until just bubbly.  Turn the oven off.

3. Remove cookie sheet from oven, and scatter chocolate chips evenly over the crackers.  Place the cookie sheet back in oven for a few moments, to speed the melting of the chocolate.  Remove from oven, and with a butter knife or spatula, spread the chocolate over the whole crackery mess.   Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, until it's completely cold.

4.  Break into pieces.  Eat.  Yum!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Better Than Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Our favorite company is Patagonia.  They produce the finest outdoor apparel available.  Our son, Zander has been field testing products for them since he was 12.  Every new item blows us away not only in regard to quality but more so with the expanding company ethic.

In response to today's Cyber Monday and last week's Black Friday, they've created this new campaign called The Common Threads Initiative to highlight the environmental cost of consuming and to encourage us to not buy what we do not need.  Reduce, Repair, Reuse and then Recycle is a great mantra to pass on and a simple pledge worth taking.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We Have a Question

What a failure the so-called Super Committee and all of Congress and the Senate have been to every American.

Why couldn't they do this?  We think it's pathetic.

Simon Abranowicz' Why? was done for The Fox Lane High School Auction benefiting The FLHS Art Gallery taking place on December 6 but the connection to yesterday's news was too hard to pass up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

1st Dibs

Introspective Magazine, the online publication from 1st Dibs just published a lovely profile on Bill written by Susanna Salk.  You can read the interview and story here.

The cover features Andrea's photograph done on our honeymoon in Greece in 1989.

Hope For the Future

Casey Tierney, our friend and the Photo Director of Real Simple magazine sent us this photograph of her daughter, Ella, in her Halloween costume.  Ella told people that she was, "Patti Smith, a rocker from the 70s who was very important".   We think it's one of the best costumes we've ever seen and confirms, all is well with the youth of today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Holidays Are Coming...Two great ideas

We are always on the lookout for meaningful ways to mark the holiday, and two recent ideas that crossed our desks strike just the right note in the spirit of our times. 

The first suggestion came via Jayni Chase, a Bedford neighbor and founder of CEE (Center for Environmental Education who urges us to kick the habit of buying cheaply made and foreign stuff this year, instead keeping holiday gift dollars within the community with things like gift certificates for services such as haircuts, car-detailing, or house-cleaning, tickets to a local theater or dance production, a gift card to a local, non-chain restaurant, or jewelry and other items by a local craftsperson.  Jayni says,  "Christmas/Hanukkah is now about...encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams."

In a similar red, white, and blue vein, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, no longer content to wait for our government, has teamed up with a group of community lending institutions to provide financing to small businesses that need support in order to grow and hire.  With $5 million in seed money from Starbucks and the proceeds from donations and sales of a $5 "Indivisible" bracelet available online and at Starbucks everywhere,  Create Jobs for USA will make loans to help create jobs in underserved communities throughout the US. 

We like the way Jayni and Howard are thinking!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"In a Blog Eat Blog World, We'd Like to Turn Your Attention To..."

The Daily Edit on A Photo Editor--Rob Haggart's great blog on photography that we just discovered. 

Rob recently featured Bill's recent cover story in Bon Apetit magazine--a magazine that's taking some chances and looking quite beautiful of late thanks to Alex Grossman, Creative Director and Alex Pollack, Director of Photography. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Photographer's Album

A week after his lecture in Athens, Bill spoke to the Bedford Historical Society at the magnificent 1787 Courthouse in Bedford Village.  The lecture opened the Society's Antiques Weekend which really was the last thing Bill ever thought he'd be approached to open.

Signs announcing the lecture were posted through the village including one which read, 'See the World with William Abranowicz'.  It made us think about Shackleton's expeditions and slide presentations by photographers like Frank Hurley which were done in a similar way, so maybe a talk to the Historical Society was not too far fetched as it turned out, it was great fun.  

The talk, entitled A Photographer's Album Recollections of Published and Personal Images included a review of over 30 years of images from around the world and benefited the Properties Fund which is used to preserve the historic buildings and landmarks in and around Bedford Village.

Bedford looks as beautiful as it does thanks in great part to the BHS.  It's efforts over the last 95 years to preserve our history continues with some great plans for the near future that will combine new technology with this beautiful history. 

Special thanks to Peter Michaelis, BHS Board Chair, for his photograph and Lynn Ryan, BHS Exec. Director for organizing the event.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

If The Times Says So, It's True

This morning's New York Times brought us a wonderful story on Eve Ashcraft, the color master we wrote about a few months ago.  If you have not seen the story, you can read it here.  We've been slowly implementing Eve's recommendations for our house and will be finally done in December.  It will be a massive change for us.   And watch for Eve's new book The Right Color coming from Artisan next month.  It features many of Bill's photographs.  Also from Eve this month is a new line of paints from Fine Paints of Europe.   We told you about Eve but if it takes the Times to fully convince you...

The photograph is from the Greenwich, Ct. Barn mentioned in the Times pieces.  One of Bill's images from a story on James Turrell's installation for German Architectural Digest.

Monday, October 17, 2011

THE WAY HOME / Jeffrey Bilhuber

The Way Home / Reflections on American Beauty is Jeffrey Bilhuber's new book from Rizzoli featuring Bill's photographs.  We think it creates a new vocabulary within publishing's interiors and design category.  While there's been a movement to the 'completely unstyled' room, The Way Home maintains an elegance and beauty.  It continuously references painting and history and the storytelling of each of the twelve families' home is without domestic fictions or desired lifestyles -- it's truthful, personal, and full of Jeffrey's wit and zeal.

It was an honor to have photographed The Way Home and we wish Jeffrey the absolute best of luck with its success.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

That Fabulous Demos Family

I just returned to my hotel room from a great day at The Athens House of Photography.  It's wonderful to see a new venture in Athens.  As of today, AHOP gets added to my short list of things to do in this great city.  Aurleia and Iason Demos along with Nina Stavropoulos have created something I can only describe as an ICP like exhibition and learning space where photographers including the highly esteemed, John Demos, Constantine Manos, Nikos Economopoulos, Herbert List and George Giorgiouo have been exhibited.  Giorgiou is currently part of the MOMA New Photography exhibition in NY but AHOP had him first.  The space is 10 months old, is lovely and the plans for the future bode well for the (very much alive) photography community here.  It's an honor to have been exhibited and lectured here.  I hope to be back to visit again very soon but any visit to Athens will now include AHOP.

Alixandra Fazzina

I met the photographer Alixandra Fazzina at my Athens Center of Photography opening the other night.

Alix is a photojournalist with a fine art background and one look at her work reflects that.  She lives in Islamabad, which immediately struck my suburban New York, news-junkie sensibility--A British woman choosing to live in what to me seems to be one of the most intense cities on earth.  Her award winning book, A Million Shillings Escape From Somalia chronicles the exodus of people along the smuggling routes from Somalia to the Arab Peninsula.

Her new project follows children as young as 12 who escaped Afghanistan by themselves for very inhospitable cities like Athens and London.  When I think of our 15 year old daughter, it floors me to consider such a plight.

To paraphrase Alfred Stieglitz, I am glad Alixandra Fazzina is out in the world.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Music That Terrified Me When I Was a Child

Our son, Zander, posted a new show featuring Greek Orthodox Music.  He writes:

I distinctly remember the type of sounds you are about to hear from my childhood. Walking down ancient streets at night with my family during the summer, we would hear these alien sounds emanating like ghosts from Greek Orthodox churches, the sound of cantors leading hymns and melodic prayers, propelled by the unearthly acoustics of these sacred structures.

I would tell my parents that I was terrified of this music–but it was not true fear, now that I think of it. It was, in fact, a feeling that I was witnessing something of the supernatural. No human, I thought, could produce these rich, deep tones. Religious music often is designed to have this effect. A feeling of spiritual transmigration through sound.

This mix features recordings new and old, from a variety of sources. The first half of the show is devoted to modern recordings of hymns from various annual feasts, and the second half delves into some more obscure, Byzantine chanting which is sure to inspire in you a similar feeling of awe as I felt when I was a kid.
You can listen to the show here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In Athens

Just as I was leaving New York for Athens yesterday, I heard a report on CNN about new, large protests against the Greek government's austerity program--taxis, the metro and airport had been shut down.  Thousands of people were in the streets.  The announcement, brought chills to me, was I about to board a flight for a hornet's nest?

The announcer said the protests had gotten violent and were the largest seen since the tragic protests of two years ago when 4 people were killed.  The continually looping video accompanying the report showed a single scene of  protesters shaking a barricade-- hardly violent.  Then, the announcer got a local reporter on the phone live from Athens who stated the protests were very large but peaceful marches but that CNN had no doubt gotten a single clip of tensions, called it violence and was showing that clip over and over.  I felt anger but thankfully the local reporter called out the network on live TV.  

Greeks have been asking me how the world now sees them.  Without Athens and its enlightenment, the Arab Spring would not have happened, that the movement Occupy Wall  Street would not be happening and that as Louis de Bernieres writes in the introduction to my book, Hellas, "...economic crises come and economic crises go."  It can't be soon enough for the Greeks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Athens Exhibition, Signing and Lecture

If you are in Athens, the show at the beautiful Athens House of Photography features 25 years of work from Greece.   The opening is Thursday, October 6 at 8pm and the show runs through December 4.

Bill will be lecturing and signing copies of The Greek File and Hellas there on Saturday, Oct 8 at 5pm.

If you can't be in Athens, Bill will be lecturing in Bedford NY on Saturday, Oct 15.  Details to follow.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Like most, we sat dazed on September 11, 2001.  The next day I took this photograph of our children so our friends in Greece could be assured all was fine with us. 

We remember that day and all that went with it.  We'll never forget.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Irene Upstate Devastation

Margaretville, NY, where we have a home was nearly destroyed during Hurricane Irene.  The devastation is beyond words.  Homes, farms and businesses are being condemned daily in surrounding upstate communities.  Relief and volunteer efforts are underway.  We hope you can help.

Local groups offering community support 
The Fleischmanns Community Church is accepting donations, canned goods, diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, bleach, cleaning supplies, and masks for the people to use while they are cleaning. The MARK Project (845 586 3500) is helping to locate temporary housing for displaced families. The Margarettville Fire Hall is serving meals (Call Via Christine DuBois at the Fire Hall during business hours, 586-6288, to volunteer for food preparation and serving). The Shandaken Fire House on Route 28 is taking donations of food, water, coffee, clothes, and other basics. The Belleayre Mountain Ski Center has also been accepting donations of essentials and providing meals and shelter.

The Catskills Irene Relief Resources website lists emergency relief efforts, including referrals for donations and volunteer opportunities, organized by county. 
NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York) is working to mobilize groups of volunteers to assist in area farm cleanup and relief efforts. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Lea Kone (email: / phone: 585-271-1979 ext. 502.
Applications for emergency federal disaster funding: or call 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
The Watershed Post continues coverage of the hurricane and flooding with updates on bridge and road closings and recovery efforts.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Blue Osa

The monkeys, macaws, and other jabbering creatures of the jungle make sure you don't sleep through sunrise over the grey sand beach at the Blue Osa, twenty minutes outside of Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.  As the sky lightens to yet another spectacular day at around 5:45am, the Blue Osa, an ecologically conscious yoga and spa sanctuary set on western shore of the Golfo Dulce, is bustling in its own gentle way.  People are moving about, preparing a glorious breakfast of fresh starfruit juice (picked from trees on the property), homemade granola, crepes, and eggs, while others are raking the leaves from under the spreading branches of the trees that dot the lawn (even paradise needs a little grooming).  Aaron, the resident yogi, is saluting the sun from a spectacular open air studio oriented towards the sea. 

Bill and I and our daughter Maxie had the pleasure of a week at this small --Adam Dolle designed--treasure last week, while Bill photographed it along with his long-time collaborator, stylist Peter Frank.

Some of the photographs, like the one here shot as evening and quiet descend over the casita where guests gather for meals and drinks, can be found on the website of Blue Osa

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Birthing / Rising Season

We don't love the ever present laptop in life, but we do know a great thing when we see it.  Recently, Andrea discovered the Nest Cam.  We've been watching live images and listening to the sounds of a bald eagle's nest in Decorah, Iowa.  It's birthing time for birds of prey in North America and like those dream machines we see in hotel rooms that simulate rain or the sea, the Nest Cam does the same.  Raise the sound, set it to full screen and take a step outside.

On a separate but somewhat related note, we recently got an email from Mayami Tatsuta an Art Director from McGarry Bowen that Bill's worked with.  Mayumi is organizing an benefit for the earthquake and tsumani victims in Japan.  Called Japan:Rising, the event will be at Milk Studios on April 28.  You can bid on Bill's photograph Birth of a Saker Falcon at that event.  For more information, contact Mayumi.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Watch The Hellas Book Trailer

We've just posted a trailer to Bill's new book, HELLAS Photographs of Modern Greece.  You can view it on YouTube by clicking here.

The book has had feature stories on it in British and Greek Editions of Conde Nast Traveller as well a number of other really positive mentions including House Beautiful (number 1 on their top 10 favorite book list) and Elle Decor.

Coastal Living magazine just published an eight-page feature on the book which you can view by clicking here.

An exhibition of photographs from HELLAS is being planned by the Onassis Foundation for June in New York.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paris on Two Pairs of Panties

Arriving at JFK on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 28, was like walking into a living tableau of Rodin's "Gates of Hell."  JFK was Purgatory, a writhing mass of puffy brown and black down-coated travelers, sweating as they aggressively wheeled ungainly suitcases through the narrow and irregular passageways between lines.  Lines to check in.  Lines to drop off bags.  Lines to nowhere.  You got on a line and then tried to figure out which line you were on.  All along the edges, lightweight Coleman cots, scattered as if blown to the boundaries of the great terminal by the wind, strained under the weight of exhausted and storm-stranded travelers prostrate with bags squeezed between their knees or clutched to their chests in the rigor mortis of sleep.   The scene was worthy of Salvador Salgado. Bodies strewn everywhere. Every electrical outlet filled with the chargers of depleted electronics.  Garbage piled up well past the containers meant to hold it all. The people behind the counters at Panini Express looked like Red Cross workers after Katrina--pale, withered, exhausted from grilling mozzarella and ham, and filling plastic noodle bowls with hot water for cranky foreigners.

Despite walking into this Terminal of Babel, Maxie and I were in high spirits.  We were so happy to be on our way to Paris, after our Monday flight had first been moved to Tuesday morning because of the snow, then back to Monday evening, then cancelled completely.  My husband, an experienced traveler, found what may have been the only way to Paris Tuesday, a Royal Air Maroc flight to Casablanca, which would connect with an Air France flight to Paris.

We sat crosslegged on the grimy carpet at the gate, flipping through People Magazine together and passing the IPad back and forth for games of Scrabble.  All the while, the electronic sign never wavered from its conviction of a 5:45 departure even as we were finally shuffling aboard at

Trouble with the baggage, the flight attendant mentions almost as an aside, long after we board, and long before we'd would finally take off.   We sat  long and hard on the plane at the gate. By the time we took to the air, we were well asleep, blissfully ignorant that "trouble with the baggage" meant our baggage.

Had they mentioned that much of the flight's luggage never got put aboard, would it have turned out any differently?  Could we have done anything about it at that point?  Besides, the attempt to locate our single suitcase packed with all the nice things we'd collected to keep us warm AND fashionable in Paris ate up a good part of our long day's stay Wednesday at the airport at Casablanca.

We were so close to our destination. Paris, France is just a 7 hour flight from JFK, and yet by the time we pulled up to the gate at Casablanca, we may as well have been on the way to Thailand or the Maldives.

The international standard for airport employees to address any customer with a problem would appear to be to foist them off on someone else.  If you go to the Air Maroc desk, then you are directed--with great authority--to the Air France desk.  At the Air France desk, you're dispassionately asked if you have been to see the Air Maroc people.  Where you need to be is always the place you are not, and the person you need to see is the one you just came from.   In this way, we the travelers get to meet so many more of the personnel with whom you have cause to meet with on a long
dispiriting holdover.

Our first order of business was to find out about a connecting flight to Paris, as ours had left hours before.  Those of us lingering around the one desk that all official employees pointed us towards as our solution begin to realize that with only one employee behind that desk, responding to every inquiry with
"the system is down," loosely translated as "You're out of luck here, sister,"  it behooves us to seek help elsewhere. We form a mob of angry travelers seeking redress, and a flight to Paris. An officially outfitted young man appears and enthusiastically leads us through an maze worthy of Casablanca at a fast clip.  After what we've been through so far, we can't help but be suspicious. Why does he care so much? We wonder if we're being scammed, and if he will demand Dinars to release us.

But he does lead us to a window where ticket agents can help.  They're flustered and confused but we push our agenda.  The next flight to Paris is sold out, they tell us, as is the one after that, but we can be put on a waiting list. By this point, my optimism was nearing its limits. I tell my daughter how smart it was of us to pack a carry-on valise with pajamas and a change of underwear as it appeared that we'd probably be spending the night in Morocco.  I was still imagining with great hope, however, that, as promised, our suitcases would be delivered the next day to our hotel in Paris (the aeronautical version of "the check is in the mail.")

Remarkably, after several hours killing time watching the yards and yards of fabric-clad people shuffling in leather slippers through the airport, several dry
baguette sandwiches and countless rounds of Scrabble later, we learn that we have made it on the flight!   Just to keep it real, however, the first announcement we hear as we reach the gate is that the flight is
delayed. As my friend's mother used to say in lieu of actually laughing at a joke:  "That's very funny!"

The plane was well on its way when we woke up.  Next stop, Paris. 

So, we arrive, but our luggage never does.  My daughter is thrilled to have free license to shop.  I lay in bed mornings simultaneously chastising myself for yearning for my material possessions while keeping a running list of everything I remember packing.  I bought my daughter new things, but each night, I rinse out my undies and bra.  Still, we have our boots and coats, toothbrushes, pills and contact lenses, and all of the sights of Paris awaiting us. 

At Charles DeGaulle on our way home, we can see that our small valise bulging with the purchases we'd made would be unlikely to squeeze into an overhead bin.  We would have to check it, I said, and we dutifully added our bodies onto a  line which snaked endlessly through the airport with no discernible forward movement.  But travel makes you smarter.  My daughter suggested we unstuff the overnight bag, add the bulk to the shopping bags we were each holding, and carry it aboard with us.  Smart girl.  That's what you can learn from a trip to Paris.