by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer and Instructor, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

With the winter blues upon us, I must plan loads of fun events to keep myself charged through the less inspiring chilly months. You know, it's like a battery running low, not all pistons are firing! You want to just tunnel under the down comforter and sleep until winter has passed and the springtime buds are blooming again. Of course snuggling under a warm cocoon is impossible as the ringing phone and the kids looking for their lost socks loudly remind you. That's what Calgon (one bathtub and "take me away") moments are for ...

Here's one of my fave get-togethers, guaranteed to provide loads of laughter and escape for an evening or two. Plan your own Bead Along. Get together with your beady pals and play. Whether you can meet once a week or once a month, commit to a six-session schedule. Your first session is the planning phase. Everyone brings their favorite beading books and magazines and you decide which project to start. This is the hardest part! There's a deeply rewarding bonding process that takes place when you're all in the same boat, making the same project, muddling through the trials and tribulations of a new bead stitch together! The more advanced folks can alter the pattern/project if desired.

Once you decide on a project, get all your supplies and materials. Order everything together so you get a better price on larger quantities than placing separate orders.

The theme for your Bead Along can be warm and sunny such as Tropical Breeze or Sandy Beaches. Put umbrellas in your drinks (even if it's ice tea) and munch on delish Coconut Shrimp (see recipe below), apply self tanning lotion and start beading.

Here's a great design idea for wine charms to get you going on your first Bead Along project! Have fun! Must Haves:
  • Refreshments/munchies
  • Tropical music--anything Jimmy Buffett, Beach Boys, steel drums or Hawaiian
  • Table space to spread out
  • A great beading project
  • Self tanning lotion (optional)
Coconut Shrimp Recipe:

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

These crispy shrimp are rolled in a coconut beer batter before frying. For dipping sauce, I use orange marmalade, mustard and horseradish mixed to taste.

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 24 shrimp
  • 3 cups oil for frying
  1. In medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer and baking powder. Place 1/4 cup flour and coconut in two separate bowls.
  2. Hold shrimp by tail, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Dip in egg/beer batter; allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) in a deep-fryer.
  3. Fry shrimp in batches: cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, remove shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Bead Along," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Hahahaha--Love the letter--Calgon moments and one tub--As opposed to Cialis and two tube? Never did understand that commercial--One big tub seems more appropriate"
- Annette

"Loved the ideas and loved, loved, loved the recipe! ;-)"
- Judy

"What a great idea! I love this article and the recipe was a very nice bonus! Thank you!"
- Katie in Maine

"It was fun to read about. I wish I had more time to devote to my beading and beading friends. This is great for people who love to bead and have lots of free time. Unfortunately, that's not me. I run a nonprofit breast cancer organization that I founded 23 years ago, with my first diagnosis, and it's a 24/7 job for life. I will say that my Bosom Buddies group loves to bead and about once a year we make pink bracelets to sell to support the group. For me, beading is my therapy and it brings in some much needed dollars for Bosom Buddies."
- Bobbi