I’ve been all over the world but I had never been to Texas (changing planes in the airport doesn’t really count). Earlier this year we decided that Texas was too big of a state to be ignored and we took the family on vacation.   We were ready for an adventure – to visit some of my husband’s family and to see some of the many sites that make Texas famous.


I’ve gathered up some of our favorite memories from our trip and want to share my list of 10+ things to see and do in Texas. Maybe, like us, you’ve never been and you’ll see what you’ve been missing.  Or maybe these photos will bring back memories of your own travels through the lone star state.  It was sure worth the trip from Virginia!


Texas - with view of Mission

1.  Good ole American nostalgia – The Dr. Pepper Museum.

I thought I’d throw an unexpected one out first.  We had no idea we’d be stopping in to visit the home of  America’s oldest soft drink brand.  I was drawn in by the 100+ year old building in the old manufacturing district of Waco. We learned about how a young pharmacist invented this drink and served it at the old corner drug store.


Dr. Pepper Museum - Waco, TX

Now and then – over a century ago.


Dr. Pepper facility vintage photo

Speaking of days gone by, I stopped to take a picture of this 1960′s era sign in Waco.  Kim’s Hamburgers continues the tradition of old Texas diners.


Vintage burger sign in Waco, TX

2.  San Antonio River Walk

Paseo del Rio, also known as the River Walk, is a beautiful destination I heard about many times.  The cypress tree-lined walkways follow along the San Antonio River.  You’ll find many shops and restaurants along the way through downtown San Antonio. It happened to be SO cold the evening we were there, but I can imagine how beautiful it would be in the spring and summer!

 The Riverwalk at night

3.  San Fernando Cathedral

The San Fernando Cathedral played a role in the 1836 siege of the Alamo (it is 800 yards away).  The cathedral was founded in 1731, and is the oldest continuous religious community in the state of Texas. The impressive stained glass windows were added in 1920.   Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral in 1987.

  San Fernando Cathedral   San Fernando cathedral stained glass       Airplants

We stopped to notice the cool air plants in the trees – so amazing how they grow without soil.  Not something we see back home in the cooler state of VA.

4.  SeaWorld San Antonio

Definitely a fun day outdoors – although when we were visiting there happened to be a rare “arctic blast” passing through Texas!  The kids enjoyed the roller coasters and we all enjoyed the dolphin and killer whale shows.


Recycled penquin sculpture at Sea World, TX

We were taken in by two fantastic sea-life sculptures on exhibit at the the park – both made from plastic marine debris!  The Washed Ashore Project is a non-profit organization that teaches environmental issues through art.  90% of the debris collected from the beaches by staff and volunteers are petroleum-based plastic.  98% of this trash is then used to create marine-life sculptures.  Over the past 4 years, over 12 tons of debris has  been collected and more than 45 sculptures have been created.

Washed Ashore project Sea World, TX       Recycled sculpture at Sea World, TX   Dolphin show at Sea World, San Antonio TX   Being silly at Sea World, TX     Rollercoaster quotation   Rollercoaster, Sea World

5.  The Alamo

The Alamo was originally known as  Mission San Antonio de Valero and founded in 1718.  The Battle of the Alamo (1836) played a pivotal role in the Texas Revolution – the fight for Texas’ independence from Mexico.  The popular battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!” was used by Sam Houston when he defeated Gen. Santa Anna a few weeks later at San Jancinto, winning independence for Texas.

The Alamo  San Antonio, TX

5.  The Five Spanish Missions of San Antonio

Visiting the individual missions brought back memories of our time living in the Monterey Bay, CA area.   The Old Spanish Missions of San Antonio date back to the 18th century, and were established as an outreach of the Spanish government and the Catholic church.  Four of five are still active Catholic parishes.

Mission Conception Texas

Mission Concepcion (1731)

Mission San Jose - San Antonio, TX

 Mission San Jose (1720)

Mission San Jose Indian Quarters and kiln

Living quarters for the Native American Indians – with kiln.


Mission Espada - San Antonio, TX   Unusual wooden door at the Mission Espada

Mission Espada (1731)


6.  South Congress (SoCo), Austin

South Congress Ave. in Austin is a happening, eclectic strip of restaurants and shops.  Diane Cook, a mixed media jewelry artist (who loves vintage finds and who is a contributor to my book),  had mentioned the shop Uncommon Objects many times over the years and I knew that if I ever made it to TX, I’d have to find this shop!  Uncommon Objects is even listed as a source in The Missing Link, as Diane found the gorgeous art deco brooch focal for her “Green with Infinity” necklace in this shop. I could have stayed in the shop for hours – it was packed with all sorts of treasures – more than I could have imagined.  I really liked how the items in the shop were grouped by color – so there were whole sections of blue, pink, red….

Uncommon Objects Austin, TX

Uncommon Objects store window

Vintage Blessed Mother statue at Uncommon Objects

Store window in Austin, TX

We stopped in the landmark shop – Allen’s Boots.  I felt like I just couldn’t leave TX without stopping by this massive boot-lovers shop.  I can’t believe I made it out without splurging on a pair!


Allen's Boots in Austin, TX

7.  Space Center Houston

We traveled on to Houston to visit my husband’s sister and her family. Space Center Houston was a must-see while in TX.  We’re not the only ones – the center recently reached it’s 17th millionth visitor milestone.

NASA space suit

NASA robotics on the Intl. space station

NASA space shuttle control



8.  Kemah Boardwalk

The Kemah Boardwalk, along the shores of Galveston Bay and Clear Lake, is just about 30 miles from Houston. Even though it was chilly, the 60-acre boardwalk was a great destination for the 6 cousins to get out and about and have fun.  They rode the wooden roller coaster, double decker carousel and battled the fierce winds of the hurricane simulator.


Kemah Boardwalk   Kemah Boardwalk hurricane simulator Carousel at Kemah boardwalk

Have you ever seen a 28-foot double decker carousel?

At the wooden rollercoaster   Kemah, TX

 My husband with Melanie, one of his six sisters.

9.  Fredericksburg, The Texas Hill Country

We were advised to take the scenic drive to “Texas hill country” by several people.  We were glad we stopped by Fredericksburg, a town founded in 1846 by German immigrants.  It was the warmest afternoon we had during our TX trip – perfect for a stroll along main street.  Our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson and naval Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz are both originally from Fredericksburg.

Shops in Fredericksburg, TX   Turquoise jewelry in a shop window, Fredericksburg TX   Boots in a shop window in Fredericksburg, TX

Once my husband discovered the National Museum of the Pacific War, it was the last I saw of him for the afternoon.  As a fellow graduate of the Naval Academy, he is incredibly interested in Admiral Nimitz  and his museum,  recognizing him as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet during World War II.

Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, TX     Admiral Nimitz home in Fredericksburg, TX     Outside of the Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, TX     Exploring outside of the Nimitz Museum, Fredericksburg TX

I know there is so much more to see and do in Texas.  We’ll have to save the rest for another adventure in the lone star state!  Thank you for coming along this sight-seeing journey with me.

Here’s to more adventures in 2015!

- Cindy xoxo


Cindy Wimmer Cindy Wimmer is a jewelry designer with a passion for combining vintage elements with modern wire design.  She is the co-founder of artBLISS, hosting jewelry and mixed media workshops in the DC area. Her best-selling jewelry design book, The Missing Link, was released in the Fall, 2013.


Merry Christmas!

by Cindy on December 25, 2014


Handmade card by M.B.

A special handmade, hand-stamped + colored holiday card featuring copic inks and mercury glass paper
by a dear artist and friend, Maureen.


Wishing each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas,

Happy Holidays, and all the best this holiday season!

XOXO – Cindy







A New Wire Design

by Cindy on November 25, 2014


Designing with coiled wire by Cindy Wimmer

Looking for wire jewelry ideas and inspiration?  My last project as Step by Step Wire Featured Designer 2014 can be found in the Oct./Nov. issue. I’m sharing a project with coiled wire –  a technique I’m drawn to time and time again.  To create this project, I drew inspiration from the Majorette link that is featured in my wire book, The Missing Link.  I changed the ends of the link, added two types of metal, and added a coiled strand of wire.

Coiled wire variations by Cindy Wimmer

Here you can see I took a prototype and made variations.  For one, I carefully shaped the wires into a bangle bracelet.  It’s a good idea to tumble this one to help work-harden and reinforce the curved shape.

Coiled wire bracelet by Cindy Wimmer

For the tutorial, I show you how to create a one-of-a-kind wire bail.  I pulled out a special, Hilltribe silver flower pendant that I’ve held on to for years.  It was time to show it off on its own special bail.  This project is versatile – you can mix the wire or not.  Add chain or add leather.  In this project, I used micro-fiber instead of leather cording. Hope you have fun with this one and add your own personal twist!

Wire necklace by Cindy Wimmer

 Thank you for stopping by and visiting my little corner of web.

Cindy Wimmer, jewelry designer

Cindy Wimmer is a jewelry designer with a passion for combining vintage elements with modern wire design.  She is the co-founder of artBLISS, hosting jewelry and mixed media workshops in the DC area. Her best-selling jewelry design book, The Missing Link, was released in the Fall, 2013.




Unexpected Findings by Michelle Mach

Welcome to Day 3 of the Unexpected Findings Book Blog Tour!

I am so excited to be celebrating the release of Michelle Mach’s brand new book, Unexpected Findings:  50+ Clever Designs Featuring Everyday Components.  Michelle hits it out of the jewelry design park with this jam-packed book.  She takes an in-depth look at the hardworking components that we need and use in our designs: everyday findings.  What I find so inspiring  is that together with her book contributors, Michelle puts a whole NEW twist on those findings.

Michelle grabs the reader right from the Introduction page with this question -

“Beads are the stars on the jewelry stage.  They’re the ones twirling, singing and shouting while the findings scuttle backstage, working the lights and opening and closing the red velvet curtains.  Ever wonder what would happen if their roles were reversed?”

Why yes!  We could all use a fresh outlook, a little inspiration.  As jewelry designers, we tend to keep a good stash of essential findings on hand.  I found it fascinating to turn page after page of the book and see how Michelle and her contributors used findings in all-new ways (and are there ever such beautiful designs!).    I’m thankful to Michelle for presenting this challenge to me as one of the contributors to Unexpected Findings.

Some of my favorite features you’ll find in Unexpected Findings:

  • A comprehensive description of jewelry findings  A thorough description is provided as well as lots of photos.  You’ll learn about findings you never even heard of  before.  I worked with one unfamiliar component in one of my projects – a pin converter!
  • 50+ jewelry designs Complete with full-page photos and detailed project instructions.  I like how Michelle also includes design variation suggestions and plenty of tips so that you can vary the project in countless ways.
  • Loads of resources Michelle describes the tools you’ll need, basic techniques to get started, and helpful tips learned from years of experience.  Shopping resources are provided so that you can find that special bead or buy the findings you see used in the projects.

When you visit each stop on the book blog tour, you’ll get a sneak peek of many of the projects.  I’m thrilled to finally share some of mine with you…. it sure seems like ages ago when I worked on these and mailed them in.   I have an additional project in the book that I will leave for you to see in the book. :)

Vintage Revival by Cindy Wimmer

 ”Vintage Revival” – pin converters are used in this design both for the vintage brooch focal and for the multi-strand clasp.

Pin Converter necklace by Cindy Wimmer

In “Branching Out”, a spacer bar is used as a bail.  The beautiful focal is by Heather Powers of Humblebeads.

"Branching Out" by Cindy Wimmer


I sure love making wire links and chain (wink, wink).   In “Downtown Arts District”, I used wire S-clasps to create handmade chain that is befitting of one-of-a-kind beads.  Lampwork by Shirley Zhu of Shirley Glass Beads.


Downtown Arts District by Cindy Wimmer


Thank you for joining me on the Unexpected Findings Book Blog Tour. I am so happy that Michelle Mach’s book is hitting the bookstores and is available online.  It is going to be a staple reference in many studio libraries, including my own.  To celebrate, Michelle is offering some fantastic prizes you’re going to love.  Please join in and good luck!


Unexpected Findings Giveaway Prizes:


Grand Prize: $50 Etsy Gift Card to be used at any Etsy shop where gift cards are accepted!

First Prize: Fun with Findings Kit. Everything pictured above, plus more!

Second Prize: An “Unexpected” Mystery Pack of Findings from Michelle.

The giveaway is open to all visitors .  One comment per person per blog post for a maximum of eight chances to win if you visit and comment on all eight book-related posts during the September 15-19, 2014 period.

Please help us spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Michelle will contact the winners by email this weekend (Sept. 20-21) and post the winners to her blog next week (Sept. 23). Remember to leave an email address in your comment for her to contact you, if you win.


Blog Tour Schedule - September 15-19, 2014

Monday, Sept. 15
Michelle Mach

Tuesday, Sept. 16

Lorelei Eurto
Erin Siegel

Wednesday, Sept. 17
Cindy Wimmer - You are here. :-)
Erin Prais-Hintz

Thursday, Sept. 18
Andrew Thornton

Friday, Sept. 19
Denise Yezbak Moore
Molly Schaller


Cindy Wimmer

Cindy Wimmer is a jewelry designer with a passion for combining vintage elements with modern wire design.  She is the co-founder of artBLISS, hosting jewelry and mixed media workshops in the DC area. Her first jewelry design book, The Missing Link, was recently released last Fall.


Seen and Done in Shenandoah Valley

by Cindy on September 17, 2014


As many of us fall back into our routines and hustle and bustle that a new school year brings, I wanted to take a moment and look back. I’ve been absent here nearly all summer.   For the first summer in years, I put down my jewelry tools and didn’t bring them along anywhere.  It felt good to take a break.  I’ve enjoyed seeing what many of you have been creating by keeping up with you on Instagram.  I’m going to take a couple of blog posts and share photos taken along the way over the last few months….for those that stumble across my blog one day doing a search on one of the places I visited, and for myself so I can remember these warm days when we’re bundled up to our chins in winter coats.

For one adventurous week, I took all of the boys to the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia.  It is beautiful.  We’ve been there several times, for robotics competitions, antiquing, and en route to my husband’s childhood home.

Shenandoah Valley  Harrisonburg, VA

Two of the boys attended robotics camp at James Madison University, learning LEGO Mindstorms EV3 programming.

Lego robotics, programming

Advanced EV3 Programming Camp

The small groups created pneumatic LEGO designs.   

While two of the boys were immersed in robotics, I took the other two to see some of the sights.  There is truly so much to do in what I initially thought to be a land-locked part of the state.  Take the small town of Staunton – just miles from Skyline Drive.  We took a stroll down the main street, lined with old architecture (and a few antique shops), and spent some time at a sprawling park.

Downtown Staunton, VA

Staunton, VA

Staunton, VA

vintage swimsuits

Cool vintage bathing suits in one of the antique shops.

wiindow shopping

 Gypsy Hill Park.  Staunton, VA

Gypsy Hill Park is a huge park situated on 200+ acres.  There were once springs here, which were used in the mid 1800′s to supply the city with water. The park was named after the gypsies who would camp near the springs.

Swans - Aristotle quote

When leaving Staunton, I stopped to take a look at a fairly well known abandoned building.  You can’t walk around this private property – which was closed in 1996 – but I managed to take a few photos from a distance.   The DeJarnette Center (formerly the DeJarnette State Sanatorium) was founded in 1932 as a private pay unit of Western State Hospital.  The center was named after Dr. Joseph DeJarnette – the physician who served as superintendent of WSH from 1906 to 1943. DeJarnette was known for his support and involvement in  the unfortunate eugenics movement. This building has been the subject of many amazing and creepy photos.   A really incredible collection, as well as more information, can be found in this The Forgotten America post.

Dejarnette, Staunton VA

The abandoned DeJarnette Center Western State Hospital, Staunton VA    cindywimmer.com

One thing you’ll want to do in the Shenandoah Valley is to visit one of the local caverns.  Luray is a popular destination, but we had been there a handful of times.  I sought to find a cavern that we had never visited, and got lucky with the nearby Grand Cavern in Grottoes.  It is the oldest “show” cave, operating tours since 1806.   

Grand Caverns, Grottoes VA

Years ago the tours would take several hours – not the place to be if you have claustrophobia!  We found it fascinating that the cave was visited by both Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War – there are 200+ verified signatures on the cave walls.  Dances were held during this time in the Grand Ballroom chamber.  Captain W W Miles of the Fourteenth Calvary Regiment of PA visited and signed the wall on September 26th, 1864.  Not long after on December 17th,  Captain Miles was killed by a Confederate ambush while on a reconnaissance near Millwood,VA.  His signature is immortalized on the cavern wall…

Signatures on the cave wall at the Grand Cavern, Grottoes VA    cindywimmer.com

There is so much natural beauty in the valley – and one of our stops included the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison.  It was a super hot day so the tall trees provided a welcome shade.

Aboretum Harrisonburg, VA

Aboretum Harrisonburg, VA

Aboretum, Harrisonburg VA

The kids had a great time cooling down at the Massanutten Waterpark. This is a four-season resort so we’ll have to come back in the winter to ski.

Massanutten Waterpark

Massanutten Waterpark

Saving one of my favorite day trips for last – the lavender farm.  I had never been to a lavender farm – the White Oak Lavender Farm was a treat for someone who loves the smell of lavender!  Tours, a gift shop, farm animals, and pick your own lavender all in one beautiful smelling place.

Lavender field

White Oak Lavender Farm

White Oak Lavender farm

That’s it for my Shenandoah Valley round up.  Have you been to any of these places?  Which one of these stops would you most like to visit? Thanks for stopping by…. my next travel stop will be New England.  But before that…an exciting blog hop featuring the new book, Unexpected Findings by Michelle Mach.


Cindy Wimmer

Cindy Wimmer is a jewelry designer with a passion for combining vintage elements with modern wire design.  She is the co-founder of artBLISS, hosting jewelry and mixed media workshops in the DC area. Her first jewelry design book, The Missing Link, was recently released last Fall.


How to Make a Wire Link Chain Bracelet

July 25, 2014

Looking for a new project this summer?  Learning to make your own handmade wire chain is a great foundation for jewelry designers.  Only a handful of tools are needed and there’s no need to solder, making this a great project to work on whenever time allows.   I like to wear my handmade wire chains in […]

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New Wirework Jewelry Tutorials in Step by Step Wire Magazine

July 3, 2014

Wire jewelry tutorials published in the summer 2014 issues of Step by Step Wire magazine by Cindy Wimmer. Learn how to make a spiral wire bangle and coiled wire links in these two tutorials.

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How to Wire-Wrap Buttons to Make an Easy Pendant

June 1, 2014

Learn how to make a wire-wrapped button pendant. You can use this technique on other flat beads such as a lampwork disc.

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Won’t you join us? artBLISS 2014 has a jewelry workshop just for you!

May 14, 2014

 We’re excited to announce the artBLISS doors are open for registration. artBLISS jewelry workshops is celebrating its 5th anniversary and we would love for you to join us!  It’s hard to believe 5 years have gone by since we hosted the Inaugural Event, a gathering of top-notch instructors and fellow jewelry designers and friends.  We […]

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Lucketts – fresh vintage finds

March 20, 2014

  I’ve been so excited to share pictures of a recent excursion to Lucketts, a destination I’ve blogged about many times before.  Life kinda got in the way, but here I am finally with photos to share.  Funny thing is it’s snowing again today… so please enjoy a few last pictures of the snow, and […]

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