Saturday, January 31, 2009

Don't Sell Your Inspiration Short

During the early years of my life as an artist, people would look at my work and often ask me, "How can you possibly part with (or sell) that painting?"

My desire to make a living from my art meant that I had to make peace with the reality that to make a living I have to sell my work. Seems like such a simple concept, but ironically many people think that creating art for money somehow sullies the purity of the art.

It is strange that art is afforded this expectation even though God/religion and money/power have been hand-in-hand for centuries. It's as though some people think that art work has no relation to real work. I know of many talented professionals in other fields who would never think of working for free or heavily discounted unless the work was pro-bono for a worthy cause. Yet, I know many artists, (including myself, before I got a clue) who will give discounts to wealthy people or corporations (who can certainly pay) for a variety of reasons that mostly boil down to low self esteem combined with a feeling of scarcity.

The fact is that in the world we live in, money is necessary to support anything. Here are a couple suggestions:
  • For Collectors - Before you ask an artist for a deep discount, be aware that a synonym for discount is disregard. When you ask a creator to discount deeply (they are not some big box retailer or corporate chain) consider the possibility that you are asking them to disregard the value of their work (sometimes to the degree that the artist will have to stop working or will have to stop innovating so as to create "saleable" pieces). Be sensitive.
  • For Artists - Remember that your work has value. Be aware of how your prices fit with comparable work and don't undersell or oversell yourself. It's easy to think that price alone matters. If you want to give away work, gift a non-profit agency, they are always looking for help.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recipe: Creamsicle Flan

By Cristina Acosta ©2007, 08, 09 Read more of my recipes on my website,

Creamy orange custard with a caramel topping is my variation of the traditional flan. Oranges are one of my favorite fruits and like the citrus flavors of lemon and lime, oranges are great with dense creamy dairy flavors. Read this recipe through before you make it, so you have an idea of what to expect. It's not difficult, it just has some steps that can be intimidating the first time (like making the caramel).
Growing up in Southern California there was always someone we knew who had an orange tree growing in their yard. I remember traveling through Redlands along roads bordering orchards of orange trees in full blossom. The fragrance seemed to brighten every molecule of air. This flan tastes like the scent of orange blossoms early in morning when the air is fresh.

Tools: 1 ½ qt. saucepan. Ramekins – 4 soup (10 oz) size or 8 small (5 oz) dishes; OR a 9" glass or ceramic pie pan; blender / Vitamix or food processor (or by hand with a whisk); stovetop; oven; large pan to hold water bath for ramekins or pie pan.

Time: About 15 minutes to assemble. 25-30 minutes to cook and 4 to 6 hours to cool. (Cool in refrigerator.)



  • 3 T. water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Apx. 1 T of fresh orange zest*


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice concentrate (from the frozen cans)
  • 1 to 2 heaping T. of orange zest * (You’ll need 2 to 3 oranges to get enough zest for this recipe.)


  1. Sprinkle orange zest on the bottom of each ramekin
  2. Combine sugar and water in saucepan.
  3. Over medium-high heat cook mixture, swirling occasionally until mixture is a clear, light to medium amber color.

Tips to Make Caramel:

  • Don’t stir it. When I stir it I more easily burn the mixture.
  • The mixture will go through stages of being foamy, then crusty. Keep swirling pan. (Swirl – Pick up pan off the stove and gently swirl mixture side to side and in circles)
  • When the sugar mixture flattens down and becomes clear amber immediately pour into the ramekins. Swirl the mixture around the bottom and ½ way up the sides of the dishes.
  • Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350. Put in a large pan for the water bath. Start a pot of water boiling that will fill the pan with enough water so that when you set the ramekins in the pan the water is ½ way up the sides of the ramekin.

Custard: (I use a blender, adjust these directions for your tool of choice)

  1. Crack eggs into blender and turn on low to mix well (15-30 seconds). Don’t get them frothy.
  2. Add all other ingredients. Mix till well blended, but not foamy.
  3. Pour into the caramel coated ramekins and put them in the water-filled baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. With smaller size ramekins cook for lesser time. Note: custard will appear loose in the center when the time is up. Don't worry it will be solid by the time the dessert is completely chilled. Don't overcook or the final result will be rubbery.
Remove from oven and cool for 4 to 6 (or more) hours.

To un-mold the dessert:

  1. Set chilled ramikens in a shallow dish of warm water for a few minutes. The idea is to have the warmth of the water re-liquefy the caramel. Loosen the edge of the flan with a knife and flip the flan onto a dessert plate. Pour the caramel on top.
  2. Return the ramiken to warm water to re-liquefy as much of the topping as you can and pour over the flan.

Serve alone or with Hot Chocolate Cookies for a delicious contrast in flavors.

*Note: Fresh orange zest is essential to the flavor of this flan. If you don’t have a zest tool, use a cheese grater on the small-hole side. Be very careful to only get the orange part of the peel. The white part is bitter and will ruin your flan.

vitamix_aff_5200_sm.jpgI Love Using My Vitamix!

Vitamix is more than just a big blender. It's a powerful tool in the kitchen and a powerful tool for a healthy diet. Vitamix recipes and techniques enable you to eat up to 10 fruits and vegetables along with whole grains that are recommended by experts and you'll love the ease and simplicity of the Vitamix.
I use my Vitamix several times a day to make whole food juice, soups from scratch, sauces. smoothies and more. If you're a foodie, you'll love how the Vitamix emulsifies sauces and gravies, grinds grains, purees vegetables & fruits and even mixes a mean margarita or frappuccino!
Read more about why I recommend buying a Vitamix.

Start your 30-day no-risk in-home trial today and you'll get FREE Standard Ground Shipping when you click this link!

OR Call Brenda at Vitamix 1-800-848-2649 x 2305 code 06-003174

Choosing Paint Colors Home Decor Licensing Who is Cristina Press Philanthropy Hand Painted Ceramics

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Looking for the Perfect White?

Going into a paint store and asking for their best-selling white will rarely result in the best color of white for your home. Just because a certain color is a paint store employee favorite and easy sell, doesn't mean it's right for you. Take just a little extra time to choose a white and you'll be happier with the results. Here are some tips for choosing the best white wall paint color:
  • If you're choosing a white trim paint color, choose the white after you've decided the wall colors in your home. Put sample color swatches of white against the other sample colors.
  1. For a crisp look, choose a white that pops out from your wall colors.
  2. For a subtle and serene look, choose a white that is soft and subtle against the wall color samples.
  • Whites are either basically cool or warm (color temperature). Sometimes the paint company will tell you the color temperature on the samples. Benjamin Moore paint company has a fan deck of over 100 "whites" with either a "W" or a "C" near the color number to denote a warm or cool toned base. If it's not obvious, ask the paint store professional to point out the difference.
  • Cool whites are bluish, greenish or purplish. Warm whites are yellowish, orangish or reddish. (Sorry about all of these "ish" endings, but I hope you get the idea.) Choose the color temperature you like, but be aware that a North facing or shady room will tend to turn a white to the cooler side and a sunny room will enhance warmth.
See examples of my color consulting portfolio and articles on my website. Call me to schedule a color consulting appointment in Bend, Oregon or a phone appointment if you don't live in Oregon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ricardo Montalbon - Artistic Pioneer

I was surprised and saddened to learn that the actor Ricardo Montalbon has recently passed. I subscribe to the LatinoLA newsletter (I was born in Los Angeles). The author, Abelardo de la Pena, mentioned that the actor Ricardo Montalbon died at the age of 88.

Ricardo Montalbon was admired by my family. He was a successful Latino who projected elegance and kindness during personal appearances. I always felt that the racism of the time toward Mexican Americans and Latinos in general, limited the opportunities Montalbon had to share his artistic gifts. Nontheless, I knew after reading Pauline Kael's (the late film critic for The New Yorker magazine) reviews of Montalbon, that his talent was not completely unrecognized.

The news of Ricardo Montalbon's passing reminded me of a photo I'd seen years ago in my father, Joaquin Enrique Acosta, Jr.'s box of memorabilia. My dad passed a few years ago from Alzheimer's. He was a highly educated and accomplished Chicano (rare during that time as the legacy of Mendez vs. the Board of Education resulted in most of his generation in Southern California attending sub-standard segregated schools for Mexican-Americans).

I found these photos of my dad with Ricardo Montalbon and other of the elites of the 1970's Southern California scene, including Timothy Cardinal Manning, actresses Loretta Young and Ann Blythe. My biggest surprise was to see that Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield was also part of the crowd. (I now live in Bend, Oregon). I don't know the occasion for this event. My parents went to many political/social fundraisers so I presume the event was either a fundraiser or an event in honor of something/someone.

It's beautiful how somebody I didn't know could touch my life positively. We all have that gift to be a role model for others even if we're not a famous actor. Thank you Ricardo Montalban for being such a wonderful artistic talent and role model. I lit a candle for you.

Photo credit: Marjorie W. Gilfillan, Culver City, Calfornia.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Friend Invented FootGaming

Today's paper had a piece about obesity now being a reality for 25% of the U.S. population. Children are especially prone (they "inherit" their parent's habits) and about one-third of all youth 18 and under are either overweight or obese. My daughter, Isabella Acosta Barna is on the Youth Advisory Board for a Healthier Generation as a member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance is fighting childhood obesity.

My friend, Judy Shasek, has put her uber creative self to the task of getting America up and on their feet. She's invented a mouse pad that you can stand on to play video games such as Bejeweled and other common games. She called her invention, FootGaming. FootGaming has huge potential in education and recreation markets.

Isabella and I helped her out with a video she produced to introduce FootGaming. It was a lot of fun to be actors. Here's a clip of the FootGaming video.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beware of Matchy Matchy

Have you seen the TV ads of homeowners bringing their lamps and teddy bears (or whatever) to the paint counter of a big box retailer? They look so relieved when the friendly paint store employee informs them that, "Yes, we can match this color!"

They may be relieved at the paint counter, but that doesn't always mean they're going to love the paint color on the walls of their home. Though looking for paint colors that exactly match a favorite object may seem like the best solution to finding the proper hue, the wall color may not look as good as you imagined when the paint is on the walls in the 3 dimensional space of your home. This is because your eye perceives a paint color differently depending upon the amount of color, the light conditions and the paint tints and base used to achieve that wall paint color.

Here are a couple tips to guide you when you're looking to experience a favorite color on your walls:
  • Take your favorite object to the store, but don't exactly match the color. Choose a color that is either 1 to 3 shades lighter or darker. Now the color of the object and wall will relate, but not try to replicate each other (much easier than the near-miss of trying for a color match). The colors of each will be enhanced.
  • Sample 2 to 3 versions of the same color. If you want a purple bedroom, sample a dark, dusky eggplant purple, a deep reddish purple and a lighter blue gray purple. Testing limited variations of the same color will educate you on which direction to go with a color you love.

See examples of my color consulting portfolio and articles on my website. Call me to schedule a color consulting appointment in Bend, Oregon or a phone appointment if you don't live in Oregon.

Read more of my Choosing Colors blog entries.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama Inauguration Family Fund Raising Party. Include the Kids!!

The Inauguration of President Obama this Tuesday is a party to take your kids to. The youth vote made a big difference in this past election, trumping race, according to The Wall Street Journal's review of the book by Gwen Ifill, The Break Through - Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.

Our daughter is a high school freshman. In 4 short years she'll be eligible to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election. If you are connected to any young people, I encourage you to include them in this inauguration. Whatever their politics may be (or become), expose them to the political process now so that they become conscious of their ability to effect the change they want to see.

In my town, Bend, Oregon, there is a wonderful Inauguration Party that is also a fund raiser for the Boys and Girls Club. Bring the family, we'd love to see you there!!
You are Invited to Celebrate
The Inauguration of President Obama!

Tuesday, January 20, 6:30-9:30

Family Fun, Games, Pizza, Cake, Music, Big Screens to be part of the National Event

At the Boys and Girls Club for the Boys and Girls Club

(across from the library in downtown Bend)

Come out and Celebrate this Historic Event
And contribute to a great community organization!

Dress: Patriotic; whatever that means to you

You may bring your own champagne and a snack to share.
(Pizza and other beverages will be provided)
Collecting donations. Suggesting $10., but no amount to large or too small!

Hosted by Janet Navarra, JoAnn Engel, Sissy Keillor and Ruth Williamson

Friday, January 16, 2009

Two Top Health Foods are Southwest Favorites. Try My Mexican Slaw

The New York Times ran a piece titled, "The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating" by Tara Parker-Pope. The author details nutrition lists from noted nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden who wrote The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.

Cabbage and pumpkin seeds are 2 of the foods making the list of the "11 Best. . . " If your thoughts of cabbage stop at coleslaw, I have a recipe you'll love if Mexican food is a favorite. Not only is my Southwest Slaw nutritious, it tastes wonderful and it's beautiful! Serve it as a side dish or salad, or put it on tacos and tostadas (my favorite!) or even hamburgers. Be sure to stop by my website and try some of my other recipes.

Southwest Slaw

Time: About 15 minutes
Tools: knives & whisk or fork, salad bowl, (optional) Food Processor or blender such as Vitamix
Yield: 1/2 Cup per serving. Approx. 6 servings Yield depends on how much you put in the bowl.

Dressing Ingredients & Instructions:
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 crushed fresh garlic clove
  • fresh squeezed juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Mix ingredients in the Blender or Vitamix on medium, increasing to high for apx. 20 - 30 seconds. Or, mix by hand with a whisk or fork. Pour into salad bowl.

Salad Ingredients & Instructions: (Salad amounts are very approximate)
  • 1/2 head (or more) of red cabbage (or mix red and green cabbage), chopped for slaw.
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup or so of chopped green onion or finely chopped white or yellow onion.
  • 1 to 4 fresh serrano or jalepeno peppers finely chopped. Use fresh mild anaheim chilis if you don't want much heat.
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  • Optional: 1 ripe avocado (another food on the list), peeled and chopped
With a knife or using your food processor or Vitamix, chop the cabbage, cilantro, onion and peppers until they are the size you want for your salad (smaller pieces, like a chop-salad are best).

If you use a Vitamix, put the variable speed on 4 and after twice quartering the cabbage, drop it in chunks of 2 into the machine. Scrape out the chopped vegetables before adding more. Chop the cilantro into 1 or 2 inch pieces before adding to the Vitamix so that the stems won't wrap up.

Put the chopped vegetables into the salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Add avocados (optional) and sprinkle with Pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately. ¡Que rica!

For more of my recipes see my website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Will the Color Gray Pave Your Path to Serenity?

Some interior designers and color forecasters are touting gray as the new "it" color -- the color that is guaranteed to update your home. I've read pieces claiming that the color gray is calming and will soften the mood of any room. Don't believe it.

Yes, it is possible to use gray in such a way that it does create an inviting and serene interior design color palette. And yes, the color grey can meld well with other tones (remember the famous 80's mauve and gray combo)? I have created many color plans for color consulting clients using gray and the result for them was beautiful. The key concept is "for them".

Gray may not be your serene and calming color. In fact -- if the color gray is all wrong for you, you'll find yourself dissatisfied, depressed and unhappy with any walls you paint the color grey. You'll hate it. So much for serenity.

Any of the national paint companies offer thousands of colors. In the Sherwin Williams line there are over 200 colors of green. In the Benjamin Moore line, there are over 400 colors of green. As for the color gray, if you include brown-grays, green-grays, yellow-grays, dark grays and light grays, you're going to find hundreds of potential colors that could be considered "gray" in one trip to the paint aisle of any paint store.

Colors shape the mood of any environment, and there are many books and studies written about the effect of color. If you're interested, I encourage you to read everything you can about color. But if you're going to paint a room in your house, put aside those books and think about how color effects you (and the others in your home).

If you can't get out of your head to what a color really feels like for you, take some time to notice color during the next couple of days. Take a few notes or some quick cell phone photos of what interests you. Don't second-guess or edit your impulse to note a color. Look at your favorite clothes and ask yourself if the color could possibly work in your home.

When you've found the colors that work for you -- then you can fine tune them at the paint store and not get yourself confused with the latest fashion trend.

See examples of my color consulting portfolio and articles on my website. Call me to schedule a color consulting appointment in Bend, Oregon or a phone appointment if you don't live in Oregon.

Read more of my Choosing Colors blog entries.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Home Design -- Color Choices are Part of a Melody Line

Have you ever found yourself looking at 2 or more paint colors or other home decor colored items and been completely confused as to which color is the best choice?
Recently, I was working with a color consulting client when a concept came up regarding how to use color to accent part of the architecture. We were discussing the idea of either using a deep lush red that cross-pollinated with another accent red surface in the room, or choosing a color that cross-pollinated with a subtle green in that same room.

The issue wasn't which color would be "best", though that would seem to be the question. The real question was, "How does this color work with the melody line of color we've already established?"

The answer to that question has to take into account a variety of design elements: warm vs. cool color balance, texture balance, and the age old question, "How much is "enough?" We decided that considering the other colors, shapes and textures in the home, the subtle green was the best choice. Why that color choice answer surfaced is due to a web of interior design concerns that are beyond the scope of this blog entry.

My point is that you need to be aware that every color in your home that links to another color is part of an overall melody line of color. Keep that concept in mind when you get stuck between 2 color choices.

Read more about my color consulting portfolio and examples along with my home decor articles on my website.