Get a Sneak Peek at the
HGTV® Dream Home 2017

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This year, HGTV purchased an existing three-bedroom, three-bath home on the beautiful coastal St. Simons Island, Georgia. Architects, contractors, and designer, Brian Patrick Flynn, descended on the home and began the incredible renovation that transformed this hidden gem into a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, HGTV Dream Home. As the design unfolds, viewers will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win the home and prize package by entering daily on HGTV.com starting December 28, 2016. HGTV will give the home away to one lucky winner in March 2017.

As the exclusive hardscape sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home 2017, Belgard is proud to offer a sneak peek at this coastal retreat. Once registration opens, we’ll offer a full virtual walk-though of the outdoor living spaces. But for now, here’s a little taste of what you will have a chance to win in 2017.

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes starts at 9 a.m. ET on 12/28/16 and ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/17/17. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, visit www.hgtv.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “HGTV Dream Home Giveaway 2017”, P.O. Box 52915, Knoxville, TN 37950. Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a Home & Garden Television. HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. Photos ©2017 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Festive Backyard Lighting Ideas

For the next few weeks, it may seem like you’re holding a constant “open house” between planned events, holiday gatherings, family members visiting from out of town, or college kids home for winter break (not to mention their friends who might drop by). Keep your outdoor living spaces company-ready with these festive lighting ideas.

Decorative String Lights

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Today’s string light options are literally endless. Instead of choosing holiday-specific string lighting, you may want to consider choosing decorative string lights that can stay up all year long. Decorative string lights not only add a festive atmosphere, the chosen style can help define the design scheme of your outdoor living space. World Market offers an eclectic mix of string lighting options that vary from whimsical holiday themes to designs inspired by various cultures around the globe.

Classic String Lights

BEL14-136_Christmas CardYou can’t go wrong with classic string lights. They’re available everywhere and are great for wrapping around posts, lining porch ceilings, framing doors, or decorating walls to create an instant party atmosphere. Because of the simplicity of their design, they can be used alone or in combination with other lighting options without conflicting with an existing design scheme.

Hanging Lanterns

Whether you choose store-bought lanterns or decide to take on a DIY crafting project, hanging lanterns around your outdoor living space is a shabby-chic way to add festive outdoor lighting. Lanterns can use either real or battery-operated candles. Just be sure to keep safety in mind with real candles and remember to extinguish them at the end of the night. For DIY ideas, a quick search on Pinterest will get your creative juices flowing.

Colored Bulbs

Colored bulbs are a fun way to turn any outdoor light fixture into a holiday-themed decoration — including sconces, post lights, tabletop lamps, and flood lights. Home Depot offers a variety of colored bulbs for both interior and exterior lighting. Mix and match colors for a vibrant look, or choose all one color to create a stylized monochromatic lighting design.

Unique Gifts for the Outdoor Living Enthusiast

Everyone has that one person on their list who’s tough to shop for, year after year. If that person loves spending time in his or her outdoor living areas, ditch the thought of gifting yet another ugly sweater and take a look at these outdoor living gift ideas.

lanternsIndoor/Outdoor Lanterns

Whether outfitted with real candles or battery-operated flameless candles, lanterns add charm and ambiance to outdoor living spaces. For a wide variety of styles and price ranges, check out the selection at Pier 1 Imports. They also offer remote controlled LED candles, which come in handy when guests drop in unexpectedly. Press a button and voila, you’re ready for company.

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heaterTabletop Heaters

Nope, this is not a lamp. It’s actually an outdoor-rated 1,200-watt tabletop electric patio heater. It emits a soft glow with the look and feel of a lamp, but also heats up to 115 square feet of surrounding space. Home Depot has several styles available of both electric and butane tabletop heaters, as well as larger patio heaters. For more information on the model shown, click here.

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gms_res_bel2015_patio_walls_firepit_megalafitt_westonwall_westonfirekit_002_previewFire Pits

Various styles of metal and ceramic fire pits can be found at big box stores like Home Depot or Walmart. However, if you’re ready for something a little more permanent, Belgard’s Weston Stone® Firepit is available in five color blends, installs quickly, and will be the favorite gathering spot in the backyard for years to come. Click here to find a contractor or dealer.

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bbq-accessoriesDeluxe Grill Accessories

Don’t get the same old barbecue tool set again this year; go for something with a little more pizzazz, like a motorized steam-cleaning grill brush, a handle-mounting grill light, and a blue-tooth connecting grill thermometer that can pair with your phone. At Brookstone, you can buy these cool grill accessories separately or in bundles. And if you hurry, you can get a discount with the promo code: THANKS.

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santa-letter-indoor-outdoor-pillow-cSeasonal Throw Pillows

Let’s face it, outdoor living is not just for summer anymore. Now that outdoor living has become more of a year-round activity, you can actually find seasonal outdoor throw pillows. Pottery Barn has a nice selection of holiday-themed or wintry designs of both indoor/outdoor pillows and decorative seasonal pillow covers.

Planning an Outdoor Thanksgiving

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Incorporating your outdoor living areas into your Thanksgiving Day plans can help multiply the space you have available for entertaining and provide additional activities to help keep your guests entertained. Depending upon the weather in your part of the country, your outdoor living spaces can be used in a number of creative ways.

outdoor-kitchen-prepOutdoor Cooking

Much of the country is expecting unseasonable mild temperatures this Thanksgiving, offering a rare opportunity for outdoor dining and cooking. By either smoking or frying your turkey outdoors, you free up the inside oven for cooking side dishes or keeping prepared dishes warm. You can also use the grill for a variety of side dishes or appetizers — like roasted veggies or grilled stuffed jalapeño peppers.

The “Enclosed” Porch

If the temperature prohibits outdoor dining and entertaining, you can create additional heated space by temporarily enclosing a screened-in or open porch with heavy gauge clear vinyl sheeting. The sheeting will eliminated wind and hold in heat. The enclosed space can be heated with space heaters, but be sure to keep them a safe distance from the sheeting or anything flammable.

S’mores Bar — Yes, Please!!

Let’s face it…how many kids really like pumpkin pie? Not many. And how many like s’mores? Just about all of them. No matter what the temperature, people of all ages will love heading outdoors to roast some marshmallows after the big meal. If you want to really have some fun, take your s’mores experience to the next level by setting up a s’mores bar with some new and interesting ingredients. Here are a few ideas to get your started.

  • regular and pumpkin-flavored marshmallows
  • graham crackers
  • Ritz crackers
  • Vanilla wafers
  • milk, dark, and white chocolate bars
  • strawberry slices
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Grated coconut
  • peanut butter
  • Nutella

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Have a happy Thanksgiving!

How to Cook a Cajun-Style Deep-Fried Turkey

Before we get started, don’t be intimidated by the word “Cajun” in reference to food. Many people have the mistaken impression that Cajun cooking is all about seeing how high you can get on the Scoville heat scale. That is inherently untrue. Although some dishes, like sauce piquante and boiled crawfish, will definitely leave your mouth tingly, the overwhelming majority of Cajun and Creole cooking is more about intense flavor versus intense heat. When talking about a Cajun-style deep-fried turkey, the description is more about the cooking method than the seasoning. In fact, this blogger lives in south Louisiana and regularly fries turkeys for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we like to try different flavor profiles. A family favorite is one we call the “Casian” Turkey (which is Cajun-fried, but marinated and rubbed with Asian flavors).

The Equipment

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You will need a 30-quart fryer, a propane burner, a meat thermometer, a turkey rack (which goes inside the bird), and a turkey lifter (which hooks to the rack to lift it). You can buy the full setup online from Academy, Walmart, or other big-box stores. Next you will need about 3 gallons of peanut oil, which is the best choice for frying turkey because it has a high flash point (less likely to catch fire), high smoke point (ensures good flavor), and can be used multiple times before disposal — in case you’re frying more than one. In Louisiana, neighbors often like to get together and take turns using the oil. Basically, men love to cook when there’s danger involved, and there’s an excuse to get together and drink a little beer. If you’re making an event out of it and frying multiple turkeys, you may need a little extra oil.

The Bird

Your turkey should be no more than 14 lbs. If you have a lot of people to feed, you can fry more than one and can even experiment with different flavor profiles for each. Make sure every turkey is completely thawed. This is very important. Frying a frozen turkey is VERY dangerous. The ice reacts with the hot oil in an explosive manner. Once thawed, a turkey is completely safe to fry. Just be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey.

The Fill Line

Remember that the turkey will displace the oil when you place it into the fryer. Do not overfill the pot with oil. You want enough oil so that it will cover the bird once submerged, but not overflow the pot and catch on fire. Many turkey fryers come with a max fill line, but you can determine the exact amount you will need by placing your thawed turkey in the empty pot and filling it with water until the top of the turkey is barely covered. Remove the turkey, allowing the water to completely drain out of the turkey and back into the pot, then measure and mark the water line.

The Marinadecajun-injector-creole-butter-injector

The flavor profile is completely up to you, but you will need to generously inject your marinade into the meat of the entire bird. The recommendation is 2 oz. of marinade per pound of meat. You can create your own marinade, or for a variety of marinade flavors that each come with an injector, visit the Cajun Injector website. For our “Casian” turkey, we add a little dry sherry to a basic teriyaki marinade.

The Rub

Insert the turkey rack through the cavity of the turkey (neck side down), pat the skin of the turkey dry with paper towels, then generously rub the bird with your favorite seasonings. For our “Casian” turkey, we make a rub with salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger, and a little bit of curry powder. Too much curry will take over, but you can be generous with the garlic and ginger.

The Fun Partslhcb_04_fry_174d

Set up your frying station OUTSIDE on a flat surface, a safe distance from structures and wooden decks. To avoid oil stains, do not place the fryer on top of concrete pavers. Heat the oil to 350° F. You can actually begin heating the oil while preparing the bird, but don’t leave the pot unattended. Hook the lifting tool to the turkey rack and slowly lower the bird into the oil. Cook the turkey about 3 to 4 minutes per pound, until the dark meat has an internal temperature of 175-180° F and the white meat has an internal temp of 165-170° F. It takes about 45-60 minutes to fry a 13-14 lb. turkey. When the turkey is done, slowly lift it from the pot and place it in a pan on paper towels to drain. Let the turkey stand for 15 minutes before carving it.

Turkey photos by Oxmoor House, courtesy of Time, Inc.

Hardscape Lighting Ideas

November 6th marks the end of Daylight Saving Time, when it’s once again time to turn the clocks back an hour. With darkness falling earlier in the evening, it’s time to explore a variety of outdoor lighting ideas that add ambiance, increase safety, and most of all allow you to get more use out of your outdoor living spaces. Whether you’re lighting an existing outdoor living area or planning a new one, here are a few ideas on how to light up your space.

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This lovely outdoor living room uses lighting techniques inspired by nature. The focal light emanating from the fire is enhanced by votive candles and low-voltage hardscape lighting that’s built into the walls of the outdoor fireplace. In the surrounding landscape, ambient in-ground lighting reflects throughout the picturesque waterfall. Uplights used for the shrubbery and trees add an ethereal glow.

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Fire can be used in a number of creative ways. This outdoor living room uses a European style fireplace and fire bowls that are all operated off of gas and can be turned on remotely. For additional fire elements, tiki torches are placed around the backyard to add a festive design element that coordinates with the “fire” design scheme.

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This design incorporates a variety of antique brass light fixtures, including attractive pathway lights in the planter beds and coordinating low-voltage hardscape lighting along each wall.

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Columns lights will both dress up a wall and provide additional lighting, as illustrated with the seat wall pictured below. This design also includes hardscape and overhead lighting in the bar area that allows for increased visibility behind the bar, without overpowering the fire pit area.

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Strategic use of pathway lights adds both character and an element of safety for a walkway or patio. The color of the light fixtures selected below incorporates complementary tones to those in the pavers, creating a cohesive design.

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In the poolscape below, low-voltage hardscape lighting was installed in a pattern that complements the sweeping arches throughout the design. To improve the safety, lights are installed on all steps and elevation changes, in addition to the seat walls. All lights in the hardscaped areas face downward, with upward lights facing the trees. The combination creates a subdued and cozy atmosphere.

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Belgard Elements, like the Bordeaux Grill Island pictured below, can be ordered with low-voltage hardscape lighting pre-installed, which adds to the look of the piece and also fulfills a utilitarian purpose.

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String lighting can be a festive way to add additional lighting and comes in a variety of styles to complement a wide range of design schemes. The outdoor pavilion below incorporates simple string lighting that creates a festive atmosphere without detracting from the richness of the rustic design elements. Additional lighting comes from pendants, sconces and hardscape lighting.