Friday, November 20, 2009

Jen's Bridal Shower

In early September, I hosted one of my now sister-in-law's Bridal Shower in Austin, Texas, and put together what I think was a lovely little line-up of goodies and games...starting with the handmade invitations. The bride's color scheme included black, champagne, chartreuse, and a sort of merlot burgundy - plus, she likes pink, so I tried to incorporate those into anything I did.

I purchased the shimmery champagne damask stationery in sets of 10 per pack at Papyrus, stamped and glittered the ring cutout, cut and pasted the scrapbook paper stock, and hand-tied the bow to the front. On the inside, I printed and glued the top and bottom on normal print paper, then slid the cloud-edged map print outs under the bottom panel. The picture doesn't quite do it justice, but it was a lot of fun putting it together from 'scratch'.

The Bridal Bingo cards were one of my favorite aspects of this project, because - out of instigated necessity and sheer OCD perfectionism - I personalized each and every calling card. Each card was peppered with images of the bride, groom, and flower girl (my daughter!), as well as an image of the proposal site, and items related specifically to them (i.e., Jen's affinity for the Apple brand, James' name over his favorite color). This naturally omitted irrelevant items including "nosegay" or "Vegas", which come standard on most bridal bingo games, but are completely obsolete in this case.

As a bonus, I printed a section behind the bingo cards for guests to bestow good wishes and advice in writing. This doubled as a keepsake that could be bound or displayed in some small way in the future. Normally, those old bingo cards would likely end up as unused rubbish after the shower. The bingo sheets were inserted by two opposite corners onto a single black sheet of card stock, which also worked as a firm surface for writing those wishes or placing the bingo markers (Hershey's kisses). Simple and sublime!

Another part of this project that I particularly enjoyed was that I was able to compile over twenty recipes from invited guests (but didn't get a photo of the finished product!), and present it to the guest of honor, complete in a chartreuse binder album and with plastic sheet protectors for when it gets messy.

Other games not already mentioned included a Door Prize via the nearest birthday or anniversary list, which the guests passed around at the beginning of the event. This list was also compiled just for the bride-to-be, for future reference! We also had a lot of fun playing Bridal Pictionary, and the Famous Couples Matching game, which included such duos as Peanut Butter & Jelly, Zeus & Hera, Bert & Ernie, Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette, and of course Romeo & Juliet, etc.

Finally, my absolute favorite were the prizes! These consisted of simple stationery items from Hobby Lobby ($1.99 each), a guest soap set and a Willow Tree praying angel figurine (both of which were re-gifted), a small Ikea vase ($2.99), and silver heart measuring spoons purchased online at
beau-coup. I wrapped all in plain, inkless packing paper, embellished with satin ribbon I had lying around, and a pea-colored embroidery thread I'd had from a custom necklace I'd made years ago. Since a couple of our games, like Bridal Bingo, lasted for more than one round, I also gave a few pieces of my Fire Wire Gems jewelry from old collections as prizes.

All in all, it was a great event, and one which I had a great time organizing and hosting! It was a lot of work; particularly since I was in the middle of an out-of-state move. But I think everyone appreciated all the details of the big picture, and I hope to have the opportunity to use these resources again!

What is there more kindly than the feeling between host and guest?

~ Aeschylus

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Civais Media Group Launches Redesign

Civais Media Group announced the official redesign and re-launch of, a new e-commerce website featuring handmade wire and gemstone jewelry. The new site features everything from shopping carts to wish lists, customer account access and order tracking. And the contemporary and streamlined presentation lend well to Fire Wire Gems’ dynamic and progressive designs.

Fire Wire Gems chose Civais Media Group to provide Big Commerce site design and consulting management to help optimize marketing and site traffic. Visitors to can now purchase quality handcrafted jewelry without linking to Etsy’s checkout capabilities. Now, Fire Wire Gems can be a successful business online without having to research and develop web design and e-commerce expertise.

“I absolutely love the new site, and I’m so excited that my customers can remain on when they want to make a purchase,” says Angelica Epelbaum, Designer at Fire Wire Gems. Civais Media Group has enabled me to become a better business owner by allowing me the time and energy to focus on MY business!"

Civais Media Group offers the next big thing in internet retail: “big commerce”, or hosting solutions for small business owners. Instead of fitting your new business into a mold that doesn’t quite fit, Civais Media Group customizes your software based on your needs in order to reach more customers and sell more products – without HTML editing for the client!

James Gonzales, Account Manager at Civais Media Group says, "It's been a tremendous pleasure working with Fire Wire Gems, and we are happy to continue to provide support and service when needed."

Based in Austin, Texas, Civais Media Group partners with businesses large and small to provide state-of-the-art web design, search engine marketing, consulting and execution. The company is privately held.

Check out the Press Release HERE!

When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.

- Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So Long Overdue, But...

It's been months since my last post, and I apologize to both of you - dear followers - for my procrastination. Apparently, I am very busy and important...if not perpetually distracted! Much has happened in the past 5 months, and I have a lot of news on a few different projects going on right now. It's very exciting, and I am finally feeling fulfilled, with my volunteering and activism.

First, I was able to meet with the City of Plano Environmental and Sustainability Department, where we swapped ideas and established a few priorities. They have put me in charge of coordinating the efforts of the Apartment Recycling Volunteers. Though it's not a paying gig, I'm confident that the experience and successes will grant me a nice notch for my resume. In my opinion, apartment recycling is something that is essential in becoming environmentally responsible as a society.

Having lived in so many multi-family properties, I am well aware of the incredible amount of trash these places create on a weekly basis. Since committing to recycling about 2 years ago, I've learned that our little family creates twice as much recycling as normal trash, alone. If we had a compost, we'd produce even less trash.

Initiating recycling at all Plano multi-family properties is a formidable challenge, but I am excited to take it on, and I'm even happier to lead it. Over the past couple of weeks, I have researched, submitted, and published a proposal, which can be found here, and am really eager to receive feedback.

Next, in accordance with, I have made my first step as an official activist, participating in a Health Care Rally at the Dallas office of Senator John Cornyn as part of a nation-wide effort to support President Obama's Healthcare Program. I was able to read a speech which I'd prepared, regarding my personal story with the costs of healthcare in America. This speech can also be viewed here.

Another active-activist organization which I've recently become interested in is They are planning meetings with senators in each state with MomsRising members to broadcast and educate our representatives of the healthcare crisis as it stands, which negatively affects hundreds if not thousands of their consituents every day.

While my first rally was a great experience, I couldn't help but feel like we didn't make much of a dent, despite our petition which we delivered; particularly considering the politics Cornyn endorses. But, we did receive much attention, from both passers-by and the media, and if my participation - or my story - was able to show someone else that anyone can be a part of a movement towa
rd progress, then it is all worthwhile.

Moving forward, my husband Vadim and I are always working diligently at home to improve our lives, as a family. We recently embraced our inclination to change, which has previously daunted us as we rarely could relate to our friends and neighbors. We thrive in our adaptation to the new and the different - particularly within new challenges and striving for knowledge and happiness. Stability is said to be routine, but routine is relative. What works for us has not been demonstrated to work for others.

This past week, we took advantage of the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip to Colorado, of which we'd heard so many great things, where we always thought we'd end up, but we'd never visited ourselves. Our ideals were solidified in the majestic Rocky mountain views in Denver and Colorado Springs, and now we're planning on moving out there before the end of the year! While I'm bummed about having just begun in my activism here, I know we truly belong there, and I'm so excited about our new adventure together.

I hope you take a moment to check out the organizations I've mentioned in this post, and to perhaps take another to find one that hits closer to home for you. If I can do even the smallest thing toward a greater good, then surely anyone can. Thanks again for reading - and I promise not to let so much time pass between posts!

You have been asking what you could do in the great events that are now stirring, and have found that you could do nothing. But that is because your suffering has caused you to phrase the question in the wrong way…. Instead of asking what you could do, you ought to have been asking what needs to be done.

~ Steven Brust

The Paths of the Dead

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Well, I've actually not been as accountable as I'd hoped these past couple of weeks, but I have, in fact, made much progress...believe it or not! I will say, however, that all the brilliant and important things I planned to do which didn't happen are simply postponed...and that should absolve my guilt a little, right?

First, we've started paying back a student loan of my darling husband's. This is quite an achievement because it is actually a consequence of our new-found accountability, which can only be surmised as adulthood; the same milestone of maturity, mind you, which I have evaded all my life up to this point, and for good reason: paying bills is so unrewarding!

The positive side is that we're conserving and not consuming as much. Even though we have to drive our recycling 10 minutes away, we're actually accumulating twice as much recycling than regular garbage, and that seems pretty significant. We're also reconsidering multiple trips in order to conserve gas, which means less eating out or impulsive shopping trips to places we have no business Target.

Furthermore, staying home has made working on FireWireGems all the more convenient. Last week, in fact, my jewelry had their own proper photo shoot, thanks to the creative collaboration of Olga and her German house guests, Nick and Lina. I now have awesome pictures of my merchandise which are better than I could have hoped for.

I have posted the new photos onto my *new shop* at, and I am working hard each day to upload them, and new content, onto my website, Please remember: any and all feedback is so much appreciated! I'm pretty anal about the aesthetics and grammar, so it's easy to overlook something on the larger scale, like navigation, or something.

Milla is potty training first thing tomorrow, Lorenzo is doing really well for a tortured pre-teen, and our troublesome Loki is enjoying the lovely weather in the back garden/ fenced-in concrete slab lately.

Finally, my darling husband has made the miracle-of-miracles decision to go back to school! This has been a long time coming, and while I can't take the credit for planting the idea (although I have gently suggested it from time to time, dammit!), I am so happy for him to finally find what he wants in this life, or more importantly, how to achieve it. Maturity strikes again! And more gratitude to Charles for all of his encouraging support, of course!

Perhaps that's what all of this capricious change has been about: growing up. It is my perspective that we are each where we're supposed to be at the exact time in our lives when we're supposed to go through it. Good or bad, up or down. I just want to let other "adulthood-adverse" people know that it might not be so bad, once they find the need to grow up, too.

No one really told me that, and apparently their examples weren't too tempting. Not only that, but I probably would have been a bit better off if I'd not fought it for so long. Who knows? I sure did have fun while it lasted, though. Now if only I can still keep the party going while balancing a checkbook...

Thanks, everyone, for reading, and for your feedback on the website(s)!

The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.
~ Lao Tsu
, Taoist Philosopher

Sunday, March 8, 2009 is Live!

My new small business website, is finally live! While it is still in need of some tweaking, I am so happy it is finally up and running!

Ironically enough, once I finished adding the content, I decided the color scheme wasn't to my liking anymore, so that will probably be one of the first changes. In any case, I'm not griping about it because it works, at last! Please take a moment to check it out and leave me some feedback!

I will be adding pieces as they're created, along with additional pages for future collections, etc. And, each month we'll feature a different special price or deal for you to take advantage of! I can make custom pieces, and custom-fit any piece to your style.

Thanks again, to everyone who helped make this happen; particularly my brilliant husband, Vadik!

I would really appreciate comments, or send me an e-mail, and let me know which pieces you like or don't! I am always open to feedback!

Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that's exactly what it is, and what nurtures creative thinking.

~Anita Roddick, Activist and Entrepreneur

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fire Wire Gems Jewelry at Auction for Charity!

So I recently started a jewelry company which I'd been lagging on for various logistical excuses over the past couple of weeks, but I am happy to report that my small business, Fire Wire Gems finally received the swift kick in the rear that it had apparently been lacking for the past few weeks in the form of a brilliant charity event here in DFW...

The Russian Banya (or BYOB day spa) is hosting a "Save the Boobies!" Breast Cancer Benefit this weekend, including a silent auction, etc., and they actually targeted local small businesses to donate services for auction. Me and my big mouth eagerly volunteered to help with the good cause, and subsequently, some easy publicity. Not only that, but they accepted my admission of one uber-nice piece of handmade jewelry to auction off!

So, for all of you who actually live in DFW: you are absolutely obligated to attend this event, if only to schmooze with me, and also of course because half of the proceeds are going to this incredible charity. I will be there on Sunday night as soon as the party starts, and I know it's going to be an awesome night ~ Kamryn has whipped up some super cool entertainment, and the food is so good! Again, bring your own beverage, and make a reservation in advance!

And, for those of you who might be curious as to the actual pieces that I submitted for the auction, you can (*hopefully*) check it out on my website first thing Sunday morning...and because I love you so much, I'll give you a sneak peek here...

These are completely handcrafted from sterling silver wire and multifaceted garnet and retail for approximately $130.00. However, you are welcome to post a silent bid on the set at the Russian Banya in Carrollton all day and well into Sunday evening!

I also want to send a huge THANK YOU to Kamryn at the Banya for setting this up and providing the opportunity for me to participate! I look forward to hopefully seeing some familiar faces there on Sunday night! ~ be there or be square! ~ And, as always, comments are totally welcome, and at this point, highly anticipated...

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?"
~ Rabbi Hillel

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tattoo-Style Swallow Quilt Holders on

I recently finished this project that has taken just about forever, it seems! And, I've published the entire process for creating these quilt holders on the website, You can follow the hyperlink, or copy and paste this link:

The beautiful quilt, comprised of eighty colorful and unique needlepoint butterflies, is hand-sewn by my mother, the uber-creative, Ms. Barbara Moncivais! It was actually a gift to my daughter, the adorable, Miss Milla Epelbaum. My mom has made one amazing, customized quilt for her precious grandchildren, now totalling six. I believe they are just about the coolest gift you could ever get from your grandmother, because they are truly handmade from the heart, and more than any expensive electronic gadget or wish list video game that your parents refuse to buy you, these quilts are absolutely priceless and irreplaceable. But enough about her amazing quilt! This post is about MY creation, dammit!

The process was pretty simple, which is why I chose to post it on And thankfully, we have all the materials and power tools necessary to pull it off! Vadim did a superb job with cutting them out, although he thinks he's much too humble to admit that. My only roadblock was figuring out how to hang the swallows AND the quilt from the back of the birds, themselves...what hardware would do both jobs easily? Once I finally found the answer (or at least, the theory that worked!), I just had to purchase the relatively cheap eye hooks and framer's wire from Michael's, and voila! Project complete!

I do need some feedback from you oh-so-loyal readers, though, because I am seriously considering selling these. I have a couple of concerns/ obstacles (most notably, the recent Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (or, CPSIA) for small businesses, resellers, crafters, and charities, which states that all products designed for children up to age 12 must now be tested for lead; however, there are exclusions and stipulations that are and continue to be defined), but more than anything else, I realize there is a market for these puppies and I happen to be in a position to supply it!

I actually took forever to make 'em due to my own personal dysfunctional time-management strategies (or the lack thereof) when it comes to my crafty brain farts. If and when I actually create these for profit, I estimate they'll take 5 days to mak; however, once I get an assembly-line production going, the supply for demand should not be an issue...and I can make them in virtually any form!

So please let me know how much you think they're worth, or how much you'd be willing to pay for them...and be honest! I really want your constructive criticism, if you have any, and of course, your blunt estimates - for better or worse - and I do appreciate your opinions! Please just click a button in the Poll to the right and that's it!

Thanks in advance!!

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.
~David M. Ogilvy

Getting Started

I am totally pumped and completely motivated to finally be, what seems to me, on the right track in my tumultuous life, at long last! I won't bore you with all the complicated details, but basically, my confidence and commencement as a public artist and philanthropist has been a long time coming.

To be brief, I am working on a few projects simultaneously, and these will be the subject matter for my posts, and hopefully a bit of encouragement for your own creativity and/ or volunteerism. Hell, if I can do it, truly, anyone can!

I really appreciate any support and comments anyone is willing to offer because, more than tooting my own little horn here, I hope to somehow embolden others in their own time and community, so feedback is essential.

Timing is everything, everything happens for a reason, and reason is the ally of intuition. With those tenets in mind, I'll close this, and hopefully each post with a relevant quote; starting with the following...

Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.

~Buddha [Likely paraphrased]