Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Easy Cookies for a Crowd

School events, holidays, potlucks and parties are busy enough without making yourself crazy with complicated baking. This cookie recipe is easy to modify and makes a bunch of small cookies. I usually make three kinds of cookies from one batch. Divide this dough into portions and add different ingredients and you'll have a batch of cookies for any occasion.

Tools: Blender / Vitamix or Food Processor or by hand, Oven, 

Baking Pans: 2 to 4 large cookie sheets - as many as your oven can handle at once

: about 12 dozen
Baking time: 6 - 8 minutes. Assembly time including overall baking time, about 45 - 60 minutes
Oven 400 F (preheat for at least 5 minutes)
  • 2 Cups Butter softened
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 4 eggs large - beaten
  • 1 1/2 C. Sugar - Mexican Moreno sugar, organic "white" sugar or light Brown sugar (or a combination)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 Cups flour - unbleached white or add in some whole grain if you prefer, though the texture will change.
  • 2 t. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 sea salt

    Optional ingredients:
  1. 1/2 C. colored sugar - roll teaspoon of dough in sugar before setting on baking sheet.
  2. 1 C. Chocolate drops - add to dough or insert large drops on top of single cookie
  3. 1 C. powdered sugar - when cookies are warm from the oven, put them in a paper bag and gently turn them in the sugar until completely coated. Repeat process again when they are cool if desired.
  4. 1 C. dried fruits and nuts - add to dough
  5. spices - 2 t. cinnamon, 2 t. ginger, 1/2 cloves for spice cookies. Adjust amounts to taste.

    Mix together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

    In a mixing bowl whip butter with sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and beaten eggs and whip for a few more seconds until everything is mixed. Reduce mixer speed to low and pour the dry mixture in gradually. The dough will stiffen, so you may need to finish mixing by hand. Note that the dough should be just dry enough to roll into little balls. Don't add all of the flour at once. Put in enough to get it to a fluffy, soft texture that is more on the wet side than the dry.
    If you want to make more than one variety of cookie, divide the dough into portions and add the optional ingredients or plan for them depending upon the cookie you want.

    Drop by small spoonfuls on greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 6 - 8 minutes and remove onto a rack to cool.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Color Consulting and Interior Lighting

Color and light are part of any interior design or home remodel project. Here are some of my recent blog entries from my blog

Nature's Lovers - Green and Purple in Your Home
Landscape artists often refer to the color combination of violet/purple and green as “Nature’s Lovers”. Not only do purple and green look good together on an artist’s canvas, they can look amazing together in your home. From soft gray violet to deep amethyst purples, painting your walls your favorite shade of purple will go with more colors than you might think. Here’s why . . . .READ MORE

Are Color Trends a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? According to Ford Motor Co., and PPG Industries (Pittsburgh Paint), car buyers in the U.S. still vote with their wallets for the color silver as the most popular car color in the U.S. for the 9th year in a row. Colors trailing behind silver are white, then black. The rest of the automobile color line-up varies by city and region.. . . READ MORE

Painting Your Garage Door Trim
When color consulting with clients who are choosing exterior paint colors I often suggest they don’t call attention to their garage. This advice doesn’t work for every house or every client, but it’s worth considering. Here’s why. . . READ MORE

Interior Lighting and Your Eyesight - Do you need stronger glasses or more light?
Even though you’ve gotten a bit older, it’s not necessarily true that you need stronger glasses (though a doctor has the last word). Sometimes, the lighting in your home is the problem. Though a room may seem well lit to one person, another person may perceive the same room as poorly lit. . . . READ MORE

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to My Roots: Mexican-American Style Clay Ornaments

One of the strange things about life is that things from my earliest years of life come back into my life in different ways. This seems to happen more lately. Maybe it's an artistic cycle of some sort.

How it happens is interesting. I get "stuck" in one aspect of my artistic work, so I do something that is very easy for me. Which is why I buy 100 pounds of clay now and then so I can play with making terracotta tiles or tile-like ornaments.

I've been a little stuck lately so out came the clay. I ended up making clay crosses, clay Jewish stars, and clay birds. Just in time for holiday gifts. It's fun. Making decorative clay pieces like this reminds me of some of the Mexican-American or Chicano crafts I would see growing up in Southern California. It's comforting to me as well as somehow seems to open the gates of creative flow within me.

So if you're stuck in some aspect of art (or life) maybe this approach will work for you. Not that you have to make terracotta ornaments. Sometimes I'll make hand-patterned fabrics to wear as sarongs or paint ties for my husband. Whatever it is, it's something I can completely relax with. Opening the kiln is always fun. Kind of like baking bread, but with a more permanent result.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Helvetica - How a Letterform Became Part of All of our Lives

The movie Helvetica is a documentary about a type-face. Before you yawn-off (or click-out), wait a minute. Helvetica is a good movie. Really. At least for anybody interested in any of the arts, design, architecture and fashion fields.

Back in the mists of time when signs were actually hand-painted, I used to paint Helvetica as a letterform (type-form) on advertising billboards. (I was a billboard painter.) Helvetica was always a bit awkward to paint as it's roots were not from the brush and chisel roots of all of western languages letterforms, but from the machine age.

For more of an explanation about the roots of letterforms you must see the movie. Besides setting up the history of typography well, Helvetica the film has interviews with a variety of graphic designers who have completely opposite or divergent opinions about design from each other along with examples of their work so the viewer can make their own judgments.

Listening to contradictory opinions and design theories warms my heart. Strange -- but it does. I love that artists and critics do have strong opinions. And that they change those opinions. Been there, done that, over it is a credo that sits side-by-side with the purity of obsession over one thing for the rest of one's life.

About a week after seeing the movie Helvetica I was working with a designer on a logo I recently did for our family business, She was going through her list of fonts when I saw a name that intrigued me. "Let me see the font Switzerland," I asked her, wondering if what I thought I might see would be something funny.

I did see something funny. Switzerland looked almost exactly liked Helvetica. I don't know the history behind the Switzerland font, but I get the joke. Helvetica is a German made (and owned) type font that was originally supposed to be named after Switzerland. They changed the spelling slightly for the times. It was a marketing ploy of some type (see the movie). In response, somebody made a competing type form they titled Switzerland. A subtle joke tucked into a list of fonts. That's the kind of meaning in an everyday object that keeps the art world inspiring.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Teaching an Art Workshop October 24th and 25th in Bend, Oregon

A6 - Atelier 6000 in Bend, Oregon near the Old Mill District is a wonderful printmaking studio with a bright and light energy. It's a wonderful place to practice your art form.
Here's the class info:

When: October 23rd (evening artist talk); October 24th and 25th
Where: 389 SW Scalehouse Ct., Suite 120, Bend, OR 97702
Call: 541.728.8527 for cost and additional details.
Cost: $115.00

Class Info:
Bring flowing creativity into your artwork. Cristina is teaching a art workshop at Atelelier 6000 focusing on using painting and optionally mono-printing to work with the concepts. Invite freedom and flow into your art and jump-start your creativity in this exciting class that breaks down the barriers between the artistic practices of painting and printmaking. Veteran artists Pat Clark and Cristina Acosta will demonstrate their process and techniques for you. You’ll learn to combine painting and printmaking techniques to create something new and different. Not only will you be inspired, informed and empowered, you’ll have accumulated class techniques and processes to inform a portfolio of unique drawing and painting outcomes.

Cristina Acosta is teaching a residency Oct 24 & 25 from 10 a..m. - 3:30 pm entitled Printmaking as a Vehicle to Painting. Registration is underway. Cost of the workshop is $115. For a description of the workshop check out the website at

Thursday, October 15, 2009

University of Oregon Board of Visitors for the School of Architecture and Allied Arts

Attending the University of Oregon and graduating with a BFA degree in Painting was a wonderful time of my life. I put myself through school working as a window and sign painter along with some generous scholarships that enabled me to finish a studio degree in painting. Frank Okada, Ron Graf, Morales and others were professors that made a deep and lasting impact on me and the art I've gone on to create.

I'm proud and honored to have been invited to serve on the Board of Visitors for the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts. I encourage readers with the funds to donate to consider this college as a worthy cause. Here's some of the info about the BOV from the U O:


University of Oregon Board of Visitors

What is the Board of Visitors?

The Board of Visitors was established in 1987 as an advisory group of distinguished University of Oregon alumni and friends representing the departments and programs of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. Our goal is to support the school in developing the highest quality of its educational programs by establishing strong connections between the school and the professional community.

Who are the Board of Visitors?

Members of the board are accomplished professionals with a shared commitment to make themselves available as professional resources for students and faculty; to increase professional and alumni outreach and communications; and to assist the school in attracting investment in research, instruction, and service.

A&AA Board of Visitors

(I'm the woman second from the top on the right side in the tiger stripe sweater)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thinking About Color Changes

The changing colors of the season inspire me to write about color. Here is a list of my most recent articles about color from my blog

Blanca, The Color White - I was looking at the color white last week and realized that for me, white had became a symbol of global interconnection. How did a color I see every day suddenly have a new meaning? Here’s what happened. . . . .

Color and Design Concepts - Repetition and Variation (and a Snake) - Good design snakes our attention. Here’s why. Looking at too much of the same thing can turn a good thing into a nothing. That is, nothing you’d notice or want to look at. Too much of the same thing sends our brain to sleep. Maybe not literally, but our attention drifts and we’re on to the next thing. Our human brains are on the alert for differences. That alertness informs us when. . . .

Color Meanings, Color Symbology and Color Psychology
- You may not know this, but you were covered in color symbolism, meanings and psychology from the day you saw your first pink or blue baby blanket. Scientists, religions, governments, mystics and artists have always assigned meaning to colors over the centuries of human kind and there’s no way to get away from those meanings. . . . .