By Cristina Acosta

Cristina Acosta is an artist, author and color expert: Beautiful paintings, artisanal interior design and delicious recipes.

Gingerbread cookie recipe

Vintage Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Make these gingerbread cookies a few days ahead then invite friends to a decorating party during the Christmas holiday. These spicy gingerbread cookies are a vintage 1970’s gingerbread cookie recipe my sister Alisa and I have been making since we were young teenagers. It’s a family tradition we would love to pass to you. These cookies taste great when they are fresh and soft and also age well. They make great shaped cookies, but because they rise a teeny bit they won’t work for a gingerbread house.

These cookies age very well, lasting for weeks if well wrapped.

Time:  To mix: approx 15 min. To roll out and cut: about 5-10 minutes per tray.
To cook: approx 10 – 13 minutes at 350 F

Tools: Large mixer or very strong arms, a whisk and stout spoon. Rolling pin,
Cookie sheets, Oven. Cookie cutters or a cup to create shaped cookies.

Yield: Depends on the size of your cutters. With 4”-5” tall gingerbread people cutters makes about 4 – 5 dozen.

Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ¼ Cup dark molasses
3 large eggs
1 cup butter, softened
1 T. baking soda
1 t. sea salt
2 Tablespoons ground Ginger
½ Cup finely chopped dried crystallized ginger pieces (I put chunks in a blender with 1/4 C. flour and grind till  pieces are between the size of a rice grain and a petite green pea)
1 t. ground allspice
3 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
7 to 8 Cups approx. white unbleached flour

Mixing:
1.    In the mixing bowl combine butter and sugar until whipped.
2.    Add the molasses and eggs. Beat until smooth.
3.    Mix the dry ingredients together with 3 cups of the flour. Add to the wet mixture until mixed. Use a mixer on medium for 2 minutes or so.
4.    Add in flour a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is stiff.
5.    This may become too much for your mixer and you’ll have to add the last cup by hand. Don’t add the last 1/2 cup if mixture feels dry.
6.    Dough is stiff. Use immediately, or wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Rolling and Baking:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 12 minutes
1.    Lightly flour your work surface and with a rolling pin roll a baseball-sized chunk of dough until it’s about 1/8” thick. Cut with cookie cutters or the rim of a cup dipped in flour.
2.    Spray pans with non-stick spray or smear them with a thin layer of butter
3.    With a pancake spatula put cookies on pan and cook.
4.    Re-roll scraps and cut more cookies while the others bake. Cool on wire racks.

Frosting:

With a mixer beat the following ingredients till stiff. Spread frosting across cool cookies with a knife. While it’s still wet add candy decorations to each cookie.

Ingredients:

4 C. confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
¼ t. cream of tartar

Candy Decorations: Chocolate drops, colored sugars, raisins nuts, etc.

By Cristina Acosta ©2007 – 2015

Color expert Cristina Acosta talks about white paint colors

Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year is a Safe Bet for an Election Year

Will the 2016 election year be a white-out or a clean start? It’s impossible to say what the future holds, and one color that can swing in most any stylistic direction says it all – White. Benjamin Moore Paints, a U.S. paint coatings company based on the East Coast recently announced their choice of the “Color of the Year.” Welcome, Simply White OC 117, to the top of the color sample pile.

Simply White is a beautiful warm white paint color (which means it has a golden yellow undertone). Is it intrinsically more amazing than the other 250+ shades of white in the Benjamin Moore color palette? No. Similar Benjamin Moore whites, such as Snowfall White OC-118, Mountain Peak White OC-121, Cotton Balls OC-122, and Cloud Nine OC-119 are just as lovely.

Just like a menu listing or a book title, the name says it all. Can you imagine “Cotton Balls” as the color of the year? It’s a name stuck in the baby’s bathroom. Mountain Peak and Cloud Nine carry names just a bit too aspirational and over-reaching for a country dealing with the many shades of gray born of economically doubtful times.

So, Simply White it is. Its a gently optimistic name defining a white the color of whole-milk. But don’t let the name fool you. Layer whites of texture and shape and various temperatures (bluish whites, peach whites, mauve whites, etc.) and white can transform from a neutral clean slate to an aggressive assertion of pure dominance. Context is everything.

How you use a color is as important as which color you choose. Like the twenty six letters of the English alphabet, it’s the combinations that count. How a color is placed in a room, the quantities of that color, the architecture of that room, the latitude and longitude of that room, and the time and place that room occupies in human history are all influencing how the person or people in that room perceive the color.

If you are a real estate developer or a car manufacturer, learning that white is the new “It Color,” in the world of design might give you some peace of mind. Nothing about the phrase, “paint it white” seems risky or edgy. It’s been done before. And it never seemed to really bother anybody. Investments are safe and bets are hedged. If thoughts of beige and gray add to one’s free-floating anxiety, white is the panacea.

And, there is a lot to be anxious about. Global climate change, economic downturns, water scarcity, rising sea levels, species die-offs and human greed have weighted all of us with uncertainty. It’s time to settle in, minimize distractions and make changes that reduce pain and suffering. “We” is no longer just humanity. All species are connected.

Though there might be a bit of hubris defining the “color of the year” for 318 million Americans, anticipating what those Americans will want next year is not only fun, its big business. Hubris becomes self confident forecasting. Billions of manufacturing dollars follow the color trends and predictions, trickling down to the colors in our homes and on our backs.

A blank white screen or piece of white copy paper is an expanse with the potential to be filled with absolutely anything. White appears simple and open with unlimited possibilities. Solutions are just a page away. Simply White is a perfect election year color defined by an American company projecting a reservedly optimistic future.

Color Wheel from Paint Happy by ©Cristina Acosta

Complementary Colors – Tips and Ideas

Remember that opposites attract and you’ll start to get a grip on the concept of complementary colors.  But like any relationship of opposites, the passionate pop of togetherness can be festive and passionate or garish and out-of-control.

What exactly are complementary colors? Simply, they are colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel or color circle, a schematic that presents pigment colors in at the least, their primary and secondary relationships. Color circles or wheels dating to the 1700’s help artists and scientists visually understand the color experience (check this Wikipedia link). The complimentary colors opposite each other on the color wheel are pairs, for example: Red is opposite (complements) Green, Blue is opposite Orange, Yellow is opposite Violet. Science and history aside, here are some practical tips for using complementary colors in real life.

  • Follow the 80%-20% rule: Create dominance of one color over another by using  about 10%-20% of one complement against 80%-90% of the other complementary color. In the photos below, you can see how the red and green of the cup and grass change dominance due to their visual ratio. This is a 2-dimensional example that shows you how colors work in a contained area (print, painting, a computer or tv screen).
Green Dominates the Red Complementary Color
Green Dominates the Red Complementary Color
Red dominates the Green complementary color
Red dominates the Green complementary color

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing complementary colors for architectural spaces is a different challenge. When using complementary colors in a room or an area where multiple wall colors are visible from different vantage points, the percentages of color will vary with a person’s vantage point. My 80%-20% rule is a guideline, not a mandate, and like any design or art “rule,” can be broken successfully. As a architectural colorist I find that playing with the ratios of various colors is a exciting balancing act that shifts as you walk through a room or in and around a large architectural space.

Cascade Middle School Colors by Cristina Acosta, architectural colorist.
Cascade Middle School Colors by Cristina Acosta, architectural colorist. Note how the complementary colors of blue (turquoise) and orange balance each other.

For color consulting, contact colorist Cristina Acosta. 541-389-5711 [email protected]

 

 

Bears in Love, ©Cristina Acosta, 36" x 36", mixed media on wood panel

Galleries Representing Artist Cristina Acosta

Thank you to the beautiful art galleries representing my original paintings. If you see an image on this website and you’d like to see it in person, and you live near any of the art galleries listed below, they can order it for you subject to availability, or commission a piece just for you.

If you do not live near a gallery, you and/or your interior designer or architect can order directly.

Size is no object for commission pieces. As a former billboard mural and lettering artist, back in the day when those billboard signs were hand painted,  I painted 12′ tall by 24′ long outdoor billboard paintings forty hours per week. I am very comfortable creating institutional and corporate large to mural-size painting and would love to work with you.

Galleries Representing Cristina Acosta

The Grand Teton Gallery, Jackson, Wyoming: http://grandtetongallery.myshopify.com/

Terzian Galleries, Park City, Utah: http://terziangalleries.com/

Alpine Home, Tahoe City, California http://alpinehomefurnishings.com/

Northwest by Northwest Gallery, Cannon Beach, Oregon: http://nwbynwgallery.com/

Spirit Gallery (and home furnishings), Truckee, California: http://www.spirittahoe.com/gallery/

Bellatora Jewelry & Art Gallery, Truckee, California: https://www.facebook.com/bellatoratruckee/

Galleries representing artist Cristina Acosta are independent and locally owned. 

Cottage Cheese Yogurt Breakfast Pie by Cristina Acosta

Resilient Pie Recipe: Cottage Cheese Yogurt Pie

Raise chickens and cows and you’ll need some good recipes to use up your eggs and milk. During the 1980’s I owned a small  ranch east of Bend, Oregon. Twenty acres of volcanic rimrock, juniper tree lined ridges and flood irrigated grasslands were topped with a collection of small sun-bleached wood buildings garnished with eighty years of bailing wire and cast off ranching equipment. I bought the old ranch and discovered about 100 feral chickens lived in rafters and pecked around the old milking barn. Without an actual chicken coop to corral the eggs, I carried a bucket of water to test the eggs I found trailing the chickens. If the eggs lay flat submerged on the bottom of the bucket, they were fresh. If the eggs tipped up, I pitched them towards the barn cats.

Mrs. Creasy down the road left gallon glass jars of fresh raw milk from her Jersey cows in her porch refrigerator with a money can nearby. Neighbors made proper change before taking a warm gallon or two home.

With eggs and cream to spare, I adapted a vintage pie recipe from scratch to accommodate abundance or less. I often made this pie recipe in the evening so it could chill before cutting – it makes a lovely breakfast pie served with fresh or cooked berries. You can use yogurt or sour cream as desired; full, low-fat or nonfat dairy as desired. Adjust sweeter as desired. Etc. If you are short an egg, or have an extra, no worries.  This resilient recipe does well with change. Make it yours.
————-
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup yogurt
4-6 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
Zest and juice from one small lemon (About 3-4 T juice, 2-3 t zest)
Mix all of the ingredients on med to high in a blender or food processor.

Crust Is Optional!!
Pour mixture into a graham cracker OR cookie crust OR No Crust! And cook.

  • No crust option: Shallow ceramic or glass ovenproof pie pan or brownie pan and butter the inside. While the oven is preheating, place a larger pan with about an inch of water in it. Place your crustless pie pan in that water bath.
  • OR Pour into a graham cracker crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-70 min. A test knife in the middle should barely come clean.
    If you are cooking small dishes, reduce baking time about 10-15 min.

Topping: Fresh or cooked fruits are delicious. I made the marion berry topping in a skillet.

Fruit Topping:

2 cups of fresh or thawed berries, peaches, cherries, etc.

1 cup water or juice (orange juice is good with berries)

2 T. flour or 2 t. cornstarch blended in a little liquid, then added to the pan.

Sugar or other sweetener as desired, such as: 1/4 C. to 1/2 C. brown or white sugar, 1/4 C. honey or stevia to taste.

Add all ingredients in a saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil, stirring as the mixture thickens. When it’s thick, remove from heat and chill. It will set up even more.

Triptych of "Young Bear and Birds" by Cristina Acosta.

New Bear Paintings

I’ve been obsessed with painting bears this year. When I was a young teenager, a black bear regularly visited our mountain home, eating the dog’s food on the back deck. The bear was trapped and relocated as it had became too comfortable with us human neighbors.

"Spring Awakening" by ©Cristina Acosta
“Spring Awakening” by ©Cristina Acosta

And our careless human ways with food and trash were corrupting the bear. One morning it leaned up against the sliding glass door enough that the frame bent in towards the house. It stood down before there was any breakage. Recalling sitting in the living room and looking up to see a black bear’s belly pushed against the sliding glass door lodged in my mind as an iconic memory.

Since that time I’ve seen bears occasionally in my travels and outdoor activities. They always fascinate and frighten me when I’ve been close to them. The times I was close enough to look into the eyes of the wild bear I felt I was seeing into another universe.

These new paintings play with those memories. The space of the painting is mostly in two layers: a surface layer that is flat and the other visual layer that the figure of the bear occupies is one-dimensionally painted.  As much as I like the visual and intellectual play of space, the metaphorical meaning is my motivation to paint the bears with this interplay of visual space. The sensation of two universes separating our beings, two types of understanding that we as humans can only imagine.

 

Contemporary Hispanic art Guadalupe by Cristina Acosta

Contemporary Hispanic Spiritual Religious Art

Contemporary Hispanic retablos are altars that celebrate the North American madonnas of La Conquistadora and the Guadalupe and others that Cristina creates with precious metals, beeswax, oil paint and 22kt gold glazed antique ceramic mosaic on antique wood panels.

Retablos range from 18″ tall to over 52″ tall.

Artist Statement:This religious art is my expression of spirit, ancestral family and of my faith in creation. Raised within the traditions of Catholicism, I’ve created these retablos (altars) to explore the archetypal sacred feminine in the form of the Marion figures that blend the European image of Mary with the Native American Indigenous female creations figures. I do this by presenting the traditional madonnas of La Conquistadora and La Guadalupe with American Indian symbols. As I am a blend of Spanish, Native American and Anglo, creating Marian figures that represent this blend of cultures naturally flows from me. I’ve been making altars for over 30 years and consider them a visual rendition of my spiritual practice. When I paint them, I meditate on aspects of the divine and let the image change and flow as my inspiration moves my hands.

These contemporary Hispanic retablos are part of the traditional lineage of all of my ancestors. Because I work from traditions rather than repeat them exactly, these retablos fit into a concept that is the New Mexican Spanish tradition of the ex-voto. An ex-voto is a tradition of creating an image to commemorate life’s blessing with an altar sharing the blessing. My expression of the divine feminine is my way to express my gratitude for the blessings of life.

La Conquistadora with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden by ©Cristina Acosta
La Conquistadora with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden by ©Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe with Crown - The World is Her Heart
Running Mediation - The Feminine Divine by ©Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe with a Tear by ©Cristina Acosta
Our Lady of Czestochowa by ©Cristina Acosta
Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta by ©Cristina Acosta
La Sirena Azul The Blue Mermaid by ©Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe by Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe with Child by ©Cristina Acosta
La Sirena Verde The Green Mermaid by ©Cristina Acosta
Eve and the Tree of Knowledge by ©Cristina Acosta
Conquistadora at the Center of the Universe by ©Cristina Acosta
Our Lady of the Winter Snows by ©Cristina Acosta

 

 

Isabella Acosta Barnajumping ©Cristina Acosta

Build Resilience by Finding Your Edge Then Pushing Past It

The word edgy has gotten a workout the past few years. Originally describing nervous and jumpy people, the word has morphed to include daring, provocative and trend setting. Transformative ideas are often described with attributes of the edge: Leading-edge, cutting-edge, pushing-the-edge.

Though edges are often paired with  thrill seeking, intellectually, physically or emotionally – thrill seeking is only one aspect of the practice. Consciously working with your edges with positive and compassionate intentions can increase your resilience. And resilience is one of the keys to a fulfilling life.

Resilience is the strength we use to pick ourselves up and move on from the stumbles, falls and blows of life. Resilience gets us past the bad things that happen to us and puts us on the path to our best life. Resilience transforms surviving into thriving. If you want to increase your resilience in any way; emotionally, physically, intellectually, practice working with your edges, whatever they may be.

Finding edges is an adventure in itself. It doesn’t have to be all difficulty and pain that bring us to the edge (though that is certainly one way), joy, curiosity, adventure and love also can challenge our edges.

Life gives us plenty of accessible ways to expand our edges and increase our resilience. Formal education and self-study can help us transform and grow intellectually as we push the edges of our intellectual skills and comprehension. Sports can do the same for us physically, the efforts resulting in a body that can do more than ever before. Cultivating compassion towards ourselves and others can help us expand the edges of our consciousness as we grow emotionally and spiritually.

Whatever the edges are within yourself that you identify and seek to expand, remember that one person’s edge is not another person’s edge. Edge-finding is not a competitive sport.

Here’s an example: I don’t like heights. Several summers ago I took my daughter and her friend on a float down the Deschutes River, where it meanders through the town of Bend, Oregon. Floating the river through town, we stopped to climb onto a footbridge arching the riverbanks. A small group of young people and kids were climbing onto the bridge railing to jump into the river below. My then ten year old daughter and her friend joined in. They jumped in, swam to the edge and jumped in again about three times before I jumped even once.

It took me about twenty minutes to jump off of an eight foot tall span of bridge. A very long twenty minutes. And I was proud of myself. My daughter and her friend were polite about my excitement, but didn’t understand it. Their edges were somewhere else entirely, not even on this trip.

Playing with your edges consciously and compassionately is a form of spiritual practice. Finding those edges and pushing at them in small and large ways keeps them flexible and open to growth.

Practice playing with your edges and not only will you have a new set of adventures to experience, you’ll be developing your resilience.  Your capacity to thrive and enjoy your life despite the tough stuff will increase. Make playing with your edges a part of your consistent practice and the choices you have in all aspects of your life will expand and deepen.

 

Cristina Acosta and Isabella Acosta Barna

Aging Openly and Other Awesome Side Effects of Going Gray

I call the short little inhaling gasp some people make when surprised the “in-suck”. I named it because I used to hear it so much. Consequently, the term needed a much shorter name than, “the short little……” blah, blah, blah.

Stay in shape; take good care of your skin and teeth; take your vitamins; wear contemporary styles; these are some of the usual tips for aging gracefully.

Do all of the above and you will most likely age beautifully, extending your “youthful” qualities several more years than you might expect. You’ll feel good and you’ll look good.

I’ve done all of that, continue to do that and highly recommend it. Feeling youthful is awesome. But I’m not young, I’m middle age, and there’s nothing like the reality check of the in-suck to remind me of that truth.

Here’s a typical example of the in-suck experience:  I’m at a concert, in my dance groove and having a great time. I feel a gentle tap on my backside. When I turn around, the cute 30-something guy behind me draws his hand back and gasps. One big in-suck.

Age is age, and eventually, if we’re lucky (and not dead), it catches up with us. So, I dealt with the in-suck for quite awhile, thinking of it as my own little reality-check. But those days are over.

The unexpected, positively awesome side effect of letting my hair grow gray naturally has been a complete exit of the in-suck from my life. No longer does a younger man tap on my backside and gasp in surprise when I turn around, a much older woman than he was expecting. My new gray hair is my emissary, gently announcing my middle age status from all directions and distances.

Who knew I’d be grateful for that, but I am. I swore I wouldn’t stop dying my hair until I was at least 70. But I’ve changed my mind. I am growing older and I’m in to it. The reinvention of middle age takes focus and creativity, and I don’t want to spend my energy trying to be something I used to be or am not. My gray roots had become distracting to me. I’ve opted for aging openly, it’s my new adventure.

 

California State Bear Flag paintings by Cristina Acosta

2015 New Paintings of Animals and Plants

Woodland Series: Mama Bear and Cub with Crows
Woodland Series Raccoons by Cristina Acosta
Desert Series: Desert Tortoise with Prickly Pear triptych
Desert Series: Jack Rabbit and Ocotillo by ©Cristina Acosta
California Series Desert Bighorn Sheep
Woodland Series: Chickadee by Cristina Acosta
Woodland Series - Bird by Cristina Acosta
Ocean Series: Otter with Sea Star by Cristina Acosta
California State Bear Flag paintings by Cristina Acosta

A lifetime spent living with nature in the mountains or coast has come to full circle when I moved to the Southern California desert this year. Inspired by the three West Coast climate zones that have nurtured my life, my new series of paintings is divided into three themes: Desert, Woodland and Coastal.

In the same way that the past and contemporary segments of my life all fit together to form today, I’ve designed these paintings to all fit together. Like tiles on a backsplash, the similar sizes and shapes of the paintings and the color palette choices encourage many different paintings to be put together. A 2′ or 3′ square painting can become a mural that could fill an entire wall! If your wall is not terribly big, you may want to mix a few 12″ wide paintings into the mix and create diptychs and triptychs.

When I look at these paintings I see things from my past experiences: years in my tile business, my experience as a billboard mural painter; years of drawing every animal that walked onto my old ranch in Oregon; years of nordic ski racing, stand up paddling on rivers, lakes and ocean, and horseback riding. Put them all together and they add up to these paintings. They flowed out of me so easily that I made 43 of them this past year and realized I had a new series.