New Artwork & New House!

I can’t believe two months have gone by since my last blog post! I don’t think I’ve taken a break this long since I started my blog three years ago. Things here have been a little hectic lately and our plans for the future have changed quite a bit, so let me update you and tell you what’s been going on.

Firstly, the sad news- After two years of trying to build a house in King county WA, we’ve come up against many obstacles with the permitting office. While our building permits are almost complete, we were being asked to do some nearly impossible tasks in order to get the permits finalized, such as widening and paving over a mile of road which we and many others use and drive on daily as it is with no issues.

Eventually we were able to talk them down to adding some pullouts/turnouts in a few spots along the road, but even that will be a costly and difficult job. We didn’t even know going into this process that we could be asked to make improvements to the road that runs through the whole neighborhood and not just our own property, but apparently in King County they can ask that of us. Even the fire chief came out and told us that the road was good and accessible, but it seems like the person in charge of our permits is looking for anything they can to make this process more difficult and costly. Even though we have a perfectly buildable piece of land, they’ve had to look offsite for additional improvements they can ask of us.

While we could’ve keep working with them on this and probably still get the permits, after a while we started to ask ourselves why we are doing this. Since Anthony’s job is remote and we both work from home, we no longer need to live in King county, the county which Seattle is in and a place known for its difficulty to build a house. We can find land in a different county or even a different state with even more acreage at a lower cost and not have to jump through as many hoops to get permission to build.

After this experience, we have decided that since we’ve already spent two years trying to build a house, we don’t want to let anymore time go by living in a small apartment while we figure out were we want to go next and begin the building and permitting process all over again. So, we decided to move right into a house that’s already built, put our land up for sale, and maybe consider building the house we designed later in life when we have a better idea of where we want to live long-term.

The house we found is on the edge of the forest near Olympia, WA and we’re so much happier and more comfortable here. We’re now much closer to all of the beautiful Washington mountains and only an hour away from the coast. Our bunny, Violet, is running and leaping for joy, fully enjoying all of the space she finally has. Anthony has his own private office and I have a big beautiful kitchen to work in and my own embroidery studio.

I’m so excited to get back to posting recipes and making more embroidered artwork from this new space.

Here are the latest art projects I’ve been working on over the past couple of months:

Lake George- a gift for a friend

Lake George- a gift for a friend

Mittens the cat- a gift for a friend

Mittens the cat- a gift for a friend

Baby Sadie- an outlined portrait and my first commissioned project

Baby Sadie- an outlined portrait and my first commissioned project

Wolf Pup- a practice project for a baby woodland animal series I’m starting soon

Wolf Pup- a practice project for a baby woodland animal series I’m starting soon

If you’d like to commission a portrait of your pet (or baby!) send me an email at elleriberaphoto@gmail.com or you can purchase a commission option directly from my shop and then I’ll email you and we can go from there.

My plan is to keep working on the baby animal series so that I have some new pieces to add to my shop, as well as to photograph and film videos of some of my favorite new recipes, so keep your eyes peeled for some new posts here on my blog in the upcoming weeks! ❁

My new favorite craft: needle painting / embroidery

Violet the rabbit, 4”

Violet the rabbit, 4”


I’ve always loved crafts- specifically the kitschy, grandmotherly ones like embroidery.

I first discovered embroidery when I was around seven or eight years old. As a child of the 90s, I was always sewing clothes for my beanie babies and the craft kit section at Joann Fabrics was one of my favorite places. I remember my first embroidery project was stitching an outline of a kitten in a basket, using all pink thread, onto a light green tank top. I proudly wore my kitten embroidery and told anyone who would listen about how I stitched it myself, but embroidery was only one of several craft hobbies I had at the time, and my obsession with making fairy dolls out of yarn and fairy houses out of shoe boxes came next, so many years passed without another embroidery project.

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After this past year of no longer being on Instagram, I found myself with fewer time-wasting distractions. With my only remaining social media being Pinterest, it was only a matter of time before I would start looking at embroidery projects and become inspired to pick it back up again.

The first project I worked on this past year was a little patch which I made for my Mom. I didn’t draw a design for this one, I just freehand stitched some bluebells using a french knot technique. It was a very simple project, but it was my first time using several new stitch techniques and I learned a lot in the process.

After spending more time learning about embroidery, I came across the work of an embroidery artist named Vera Shimunia. Her artwork mainly consists of colorful landscapes which she renders using thread and a technique called needle painting or thread painting. It’s essentially using threads to create the look of brushstrokes, and I had never seen anyone do this before, so I started learning all about it and I was really excited to practice the technique myself.


Inspired by an original design by embroidery artist,  Vera Shimunia . 4”

Inspired by an original design by embroidery artist, Vera Shimunia. 4”

For my first needle painting landscape project, I decided to try to replicate one of Vera’s designs so I could learn more about how it works before attempting to draw and then embroider my own design, so I stitched my own version of one of her beautiful moonscapes, using her artwork as a reference.

After completing this project, I finally felt like I was starting to understand the technique a bit more and realized that needle painting is just a study of light and shadow, just like photography or life drawing.

I was feeling ready to draw my own designs so I decided to try making a portrait of my rabbit, Violet.

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I started by doing a couple of practice sketches on paper, using a photo of her as a reference. Then, after practicing for a bit I drew the outline onto some fabric using a pen. I began by placing stitches around the tips of her ears and worked my way down.

This was my first time using a blending technique called the long and short stitch, where you blend different colors and tones of threads together by laying them down in a series of long and short stitches. An embroidery artist named Trish Burr has written a many books on the technique and also has some very helpful videos available.


A few inspiring embroidery artists:

  • Chloe Giodorno - beautiful densely embroidered teeny tiny woodland creatures

  • Emillie Ferris - masterfully realistic pet portraits with insane amounts of detail

  • Vera Shimunia - amazing landscape thread paintings using rainbow-hues and a brilliant understanding of light

  • Trish Burr - delicate and detailed birds & flowers, many teaching resources for those who want to learn needle painting


The reference Photo of Violet

The reference Photo of Violet

After embroidering three very different subjects in the past year, I had the most fun working on the portrait of my rabbit, Violet, so I plan to continue to practice pet portraits and focus on learning and improving my realistic portraiture rendering. Someday, I’d love to offer custom embroidered pet portraits and other embroidery pieces here on my blog.

If you’re mostly here for the healthy vegan recipes, don’t worry! I will be continuing to make and share my most favorite recipes alongside occasional posts related to my artwork, plant-based nutrition, and updates on our house-building project, which should hopefully start in the spring. ✿