Marine Corps Air Station Officers’ Club Gets a Facelift

MilitaryBase1

This Memorial Day, the Officers’ Club of the Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, NC, will enjoy the recently completed upgrade to the grounds of their facility, including a new patio, fire pit, and walkways.

MilitaryBasePatioThe project marked the second of a three-phase plan to upgrade the exterior of the facility. The first phase included the construction of a Lafitt™ Rustic Slab patio three years ago (shown at right). The second phase included the new circle patio and fire pit (shown above), along with two stair-stepped walkways, one of which connects the fire pit area to a third concrete slab patio that will be converted into a paver patio in the third phase.

The new circle patio and walkways were constructed with Lafitt™ pavers in limestone, with a coordinating color of Country Manor® retaining wall block used to construct the fire pit. Graduated walkways, which include Grande Slab steps, radiate from either side of the circle patio, connecting with a higher elevation on one side and a lower elevation on the other. Construction of the fire pit included a gas starter switch, which is located inside the building.

“The main challenge with this project was building a step to the lower patio that would be wheelchair accessible,” said contractor Bert Horne with Dreamscape Hardscapes.

Garden to Grill Ideas

Edible gardens are one of the hottest trends in gardening today. What makes a hot trend hotter? Why fire, of course. So as summer heats up, forget the boring salads and heat up the grill for some flavor-boosted ways to make the most of your edible garden. Following are a variety of fruit and vegetable ideas to add to your grilling repertoire for delicious additions to your summer meals.

GRILLED VEGETABLES

Grilled lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lemon and topped with manchego cheese and bacon crumbles. (photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo)

Grilled lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lemon and topped with manchego cheese and bacon crumbles. (photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo)

Lettuce: I know what you’re thinking…grilled lettuce?! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Grilling lettuce creates smokey, charred, caramelized goodness. Recipes abound for this latest craze. For best results, be sure to choose a sturdy lettuce and brush the grill with olive oil.

Corn: Grilling corn can be done multiple ways. You can wrap it in foil. You can leave it in its husks. However, how about laying it on the grill bare? Doing this will ensure that your corn will have tiny and delicious charred bits. Once you finish grilling the corn, bust out the butter and lather it on as you please.

Asparagus: Fun fact: grilled asparagus cures sadness. Okay, that may not be completely true, but grilled asparagus makes a truly delicious addition to any meal. To protect your sanity, however, use a mesh tray or grill basket for this task. If you want to up your asparagus game even more, make your own garlic and rosemary aioli sauce for basting or dressing your freshly grilled asparagus. You’re welcome.

Grilled bell peppers, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with goat cheese and basil. (photo by Beth Dreiling)

Grilled bell peppers, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with goat cheese and basil. (photo by Beth Dreiling)

Bell Pepper: No matter what color, they all taste better on the grill. The cool thing about bell peppers is that they are extremely versatile. Whether part of a shish kabob,  stuffed with just about anything, or simply tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette, roasting a bell pepper over a fire brings out a sweetness that enhances any dish.

Jalapeno Peppers: The bell pepper’s zesty cousin, these little fellows kick everything up a notch. If properly de-seeded and de-veined, roasting jalapenos will mellow their intensity. Stuff them with a variety of cheeses or other ingredients and either wrap them in foil or use a special roasting rack. For extra fun, wrap them in bacon, ’cause bacon makes everything better!

Grilled eggplant and tomato salad drizzled with lemony vinaigrette and topped with fresh mint. (photo by Iain Bagwell)

Grilled eggplant and tomato salad drizzled with lemony vinaigrette and topped with fresh mint. (photo by Iain Bagwell)

Eggplant: If you like eggplant parmesan, you’ll fall in love with grilled eggplant. The awesome thing about eggplant is that it will really soak up the flavor of bastes or marinades. So go to your local gourmet oil and vinegar store, do a little online shopping, or use herbs from your garden to make your own infused oils and vinegars and experiment with different flavor combinations. The same is true for a variety of squashes.

Tomatoes: You may argue about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, but you won’t argue about how good it tastes grilled. For best results, choose firmer tomatoes, cut thick slices, and brush the grill with olive oil. For added flavor, top with your favorite fresh herb.

grilled fruit

Grilled watermelon with blue cheese, basil and prosciutto. (photo: Jennifer Davick)

Grilled watermelon with blue cheese, basil and prosciutto. (photo by Jennifer Davick)

Watermelon: Grilling watermelon? This must be a typo. Before you judge, try it yourself and see why this summer will be the summer of grilled watermelon. You can grill with or without the rind on it. When grilled, the fruit sugars caramelize to create a unique flavor. Feel free to add balsamic vinegar or arugula for an extra flare. Just make sure to keep a close eye on it, for the water can spew and potentially burn you when exposed to so much heat.

Apples: Now for an actual fact: apple pie is an American classic. What happens to the apples during the making of apple pie? That’s right, they are cooked. Now use that logic, and apply it to the grill. The grill will both sweeten and soften your apples for a most excellent treat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg for that apple pie flavor.

Peaches: Surely you will be enjoying ice cream this summer. Now that you’ve discovered the beauty of grilled fruit, throw some peaches on the grill, then add them to your summer ice cream. Sweet and delicious ice cream plus sweet and delicious peaches, what can go wrong?

Jerk chicken with grilled pineapple salsa. (photo: Hector Sanchez)

Jerk chicken with grilled pineapple salsa. (photo by Hector Sanchez)

Pineapple: Unless you live in Hawaii, it’s unlikely you’ll have any pineapples in your edible garden, but they’re so amazing on the grill, it’s worth a trip to the grocery. Whether served as a side dish or as a hamburger topping, once you try it grilled, you’ll never want pineapple any other way.

Bananas: Again, not your typical grow-at-home fruit, but makes an incredible dessert. Place it directly on the grill with the skin on. Once the skin is brown and the banana is soft, slice it open, sprinkle with cinnamon, and top with condensed milk. Voila!

Images Courtesy Time Inc.

Serene Walkways

This time of year can be quite hectic, with lots of end-of-school activities, vacation planning, and community events. Sometimes you just need to take a moment, take a deep breath, and relax. Shut off the world for a few minutes and take a walk through some of our favorite serene Belgard walkways.

Welcome Home: Imagine driving up to this entrance. The curving Urbana® Stone walkway and friendly, colorful garden says, “Come on in, take your shoes off and unwind.”

Belgard 2010 ~ Northfield Minnesota & WisconsinWalkabout: The park-like setting created by this Mega-Arbel® walkway and natural garden would be the perfect place to breathe in the fresh air and clear your head.

2520333f18ff8fb76cac19e5a47415cfNature Trail: By leaving the paver edges in their flagstone shape, the Mega-Arbel® walkway below takes on the look of a woodland path. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.

7f49f675cb863267f535984fee82de39The Wind and the Waves: Summer is almost here! You can practically feel the sand between your toes and the wind in your hair just looking at this tailored Catalina Slate™ walkway.

Old World Charm: With mature gardens and the clean lines of Urbana® Stone, this walkway takes you to another time and place.

3340e651af1bf04b4f4a67b587a18e33

Product Highlight:
Belgard Elements Kitchens

The outdoor kitchen craze continues to sweep the nation, and there’s no quicker way to build a stunning and durable outdoor kitchen than with the Belgard Elements Collection. Belgard Elements are modular outdoor kitchen and living room pieces that are built in a factory setting using Belgard pavers and retaining wall blocks, shipped in pieces on a pallet, and quickly installed on site with the use of a forklift. This quick and easy installation method saves time and money, allowing the construction of an outdoor kitchen in minutes or hours that would take days or weeks to build from scratch on site. This means fewer headaches and a shorter disruption of your daily life.

Bristol Series

Bristol Kitchen2 There are two styles available for outdoor kitchens, the first is the Bristol Series (shown above), which is constructed with tumbled Weston Stone® and trimmed with the flagstone look of Arbel® pavers. The combination of these hardscapes creates a striking look that blends well with any style of home or landscaping. The countertop is made of polished terrazzo, for a maintenance free surface that resists outdoor stains and cleans easily.

Bristol ColorsBristol Options

The Bristol Series is available in two color palettes: the warm earth tones of Gascony Tan or the cool gray tones of Cotswold Mist. There are a variety of pieces available within the series, including a grill island, brick oven, and a selection of straight and L-shaped kitchen pieces that can include accessories like sinks, burners, grills, appliances, and stainless drawers or cabinet doors. Accent low voltage hardscape lighting can also be installed prior to delivery.

Matching LIving Room PIeces

For those who want to create a more expansive outdoor living space, the Bristol Series also includes modular living room pieces, including an outdoor fireplace with option hearth and wood boxes, as well as motorized water features. And because the Bristol series is constructed with Belgard Hardscapes, patios, garden walls, fire pits, and seat walls can be constructed with the same materials to create a cohesive outdoor living design.

•  •  •

Bordeaux Series

Bordeaux MaterialsThe Bordeaux Series is slightly smaller and more lightweight and is constructed with Lamina™ stacked-stone veneer. The smooth limestone finish of Cordova Stone™ is used both for trim accents and the countertop surface. The combination of rustic stacked-stone and beveled limestone creates a contemporary look that complements both rural and urban settings. The smaller footprint of the Bordeaux Series allows for installation in locations with tighter access.

Bordeaux options

The newest series in the Elements collection, the Bordeaux Series currently includes grill island and brick oven kitchen pieces. The grill island comes outfitted with a stainless gas grill and matching cabinet doors.

Matching Living Room Pieces

Living room pieces available in the Bordeaux Series include an outdoor fireplace and optional wood boxes. As with the kitchen pieces, the Bordeaux living room pieces offer a smaller footprint and height and are a more lightweight option than the Bristol Series. Both the Bristol and Bordeaux fireplaces can be constructed as gas-burning or wood-burning.

•  •  •

InstallationInstallation

Belgard Elements are shipped in pieces on pallets and installed on-site with the help of a forklift. The site must have adequate access and be properly prepped to support the weight of these structures. To find a Belgard Authorized Contractor in your area who can help you design and install your Belgard Elements Kitchen, visit our contractor locator page.

Old Fashioned Mother’s Day Backyard Picnic

Summer Vacation Picnic SceneMother’s Day is fast approaching and families are trying to find the perfect way to say “Thank You” to Mom. What better way to do that than an old-fashioned picnic? You don’t even need to go anywhere to do it. Simply grab your picnic basket and head to the backyard. This is a super easy and endearing way to show your appreciation for that one woman who has always been there for you. Unsure of what to pack in your basket? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Her Favorite Things

Keep it simple. Think finger foods. Possibilities include tea sandwiches, antipasto plates, or whatever quick meal you know your mom will enjoy. This shouldn’t be hard; after all, think of all the times you came home from school and had a homemade snack from Mom waiting for you. Does your mom have a strong affinity for Chinese food? If so, go to the nearest Chinese restaurant and grab some of her favorites, like egg rolls or potstickers. Maybe she’s more into salads. Salads are quick and painless to make, and even quicker to find ready-made at your local health foods store. The point is that you will be spending a special afternoon with your mother.

Fun and Games

Pack a fun little game with you, such as a deck of cards or a travel-sized chess board. If your mother enjoys being active, plan on some fun yard games like badminton, croquet, or cornhole toss. These activities will be especially fun if you and your mom love to compete with each other, and they work well for both intimate and large gatherings. When in doubt, pick any fun activity that your mom loves to do and bring the necessary materials.

Special Jams

Are you a musician? Bring a guitar with you and play some songs for your mom. Maybe even write her a song. Any mother who says she wouldn’t like a song made just for her is either extremely humble or a liar, or both. Not musically inclined? That’s fine, too. Make a playlist with some of your mom’s favorite tunes and play them on a portable speaker.

Treasured Memories

No matter how you decide to plan your picnic, make it something that your mom will always remember. You should know your mother better than most people. Make it a unique experience for her. Fill it with items that you know your mother enjoys. Also, don’t forget to pack chocolate and flowers. But, that should go without saying.

Upgrade Your Curb Appeal

Research shows that one of the top ways of increasing the value of your home is to boost your home’s curb appeal. Anything that can make a home stand out in a positive way will automatically increase the perceived value by others, but can also affect the homeowner’s own personal sense of fulfillment, creating value for the homeowner as well. Even simple changes can make a big difference. Dramatic changes can be a bit more costly, but can also pay bigger dividends in the long run.

A World of Color

MLRS_RES_BEL2013_Edger_AngliaEdger_Patios_LafittRusticSlab_001One of the easiest ways to add character is to add color. Landscaping, whether do-it-yourself or professionally installed, is a quick and easy way to add curb appeal. The options are literally endless and can range from simple flower gardens to multidimensional vertical gardens. Pathways and walkways also add a charming element. The photo to the right shows a simple, yet colorful flower garden with a stone Anglia Edger border that coordinates with the Lafitt Rustic Slab pavers of the walkway. The clean lines and sweeping curve of the hardscapes combine with the tasteful flower selections to create an understated, elegant look. Other garden ideas that will boost your curb appeal include container gardens and built-in planters.

Show Your Personality

When guests arrive at your home, they should immediately get a sense of the type of person who lives there. Are you carefree or conservative? Whimsical or stylish? From clay pots to antique doorknobs, every element you choose can combine to illustrate your personal sense of style. The following image shows a home with a unique sense of curb appeal. All of the elements of the design combine to create an earthy feel, including the natural wood shutters and door, the stacked stone veneer, and the man-made creek. The eclectic plant and flower selections in the garden create a random look that appears both natural and manicured. The Bergerac pavers of the walkway and Celtik Wall of the steps both emulate stone textures that combine with the landscaping and architecture to create a country-cottage atmosphere.

Belgard 2010 ~ AmcorSmall Touches Can Make a Big Difference

The right accent item can go a long way in upgrading your curb appeal. The objective of using an accent piece is to create a focal point to your landscape design that will draw the eye and add dimension and character. This accent item doesn’t need to be grandiose, like a fountain or gazebo. Inexpensive ideas include building a stone mailbox, picket fence, or wooden arbor.