Building Patios for Disabled Veterans

The Tunnel to Towers foundation honors both firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on September 11th, and our nation’s military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. One of the organization’s programs, Building for America’s Bravest, builds single-family housing for disabled veterans across the country.

Belgard has partnered with Tunnel to Towers and Building for America’s Bravest by providing all materials and installation of backyard patios on the 12-15 homes scheduled for construction this year.

“Belgard is incredibly honored to lend our backyard living expertise to the men and women who have given back so much for our country, so they can fully enjoy their new homes,” stated Wade Ficklin, President APG West/Canada and Tunnel to Towers project coordinator.

The first patio was completed in Virginia in March, with pavers donated by Anchor South, an Oldcastle company, and installed by a group of Belgard representatives with assistance from contractor Chris Ianndrelli with All Seasons Landscaping and Irrigation, who installed the base. The 425 square foot patio was constructed with Lafitt® pavers (Bella color) installed in a running bond pattern and bordered with Old York™ pavers (Charcoal color). The design for the patio was created by the Belgard Design Studio, who made recommendations on the products and installation pattern and provided design renderings and materials estimates to help facilitate and expedite the project.

A Belgard team member wets the patio with a hose to activate the polymeric jointing sand, the finishing touch for the first Building for America’s Bravest patio.

“I was proud of how everyone pulled the project together on such a short turnaround,” said Sam Bond, who coordinated the volunteer effort on behalf of Belgard.

Paver installation was led by Ben Hulvey and Brandon Ford of the Belgard sales team for Anchor South, along with additional volunteers from Anchor South and the Belgard retail team.

The group installed their second patio this month, this time for a newly constructed home in Sumerduck, Virginia, with the project led by Belgard sales team members Ben Hulvey and Todd Stiffler. Assistance on this project was provided by Marc Salafia of The Stone Center of Fredericksburg, who provided all of the base materials, and Jim Mauro of M&M Hardscaping who assisted with hardscape installation.

“Jim Mauro was especially excited to have the opportunity to be part of this charity installation because he has a brother who is a firefighter and other family members who are servicemen,” said Hulvey.

This second patio also included a retaining wall to control the slope of the backyard. The project included 940 square feet of pavers:  Lafitt® Grana Slab (Bella color) trimmed with Old York™ Pavers (Charcoal color). Bordering the project is an attractive 272 square foot Celtik® Wall (Bella color).

The second Virginia patio includes a covered area, shaded by an overhead balcony, and a multi-tiered retaining wall.

This same group plans to install three more Building for America’s Bravest patios int he Maryland and Virginia area this year. The remainder of teh projects will be installed by other Belgard teams in various locations across the country. The Belgard Design Studio will continue to work with each group to provide designs and materials needs.

The next patio installation is currently in progress in Pompey, New York, with two additional patios currently in the design phase in Texas. Additional locations planned through the end of the year include sites in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland, Florida, Boston, Upstate New York and Southern California.

Don’t Just Take Our Word for It

Good Housekeeping Seal_Black_FINALBelgard is proud to be the only hardscape manufacturer to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal. So, what does that mean exactly? It means that Belgard is a brand you can trust. And, you don’t have to take our word for it.

How does a product earn the seal?
Those who grew up with Good Housekeeping magazine know that the Seal represents verified quality and reliability. But in the new digital age, there may be those who are not as familiar with the process or meaning behind the Seal. Know that earning the Seal is not an easy task. After a company submits a product to the Good Housekeeping Institute for consideration, it is evaluated in an independent lab by scientists and engineers who rigorously test the product for effectiveness and quality. Evaluation of a product also includes a review of any marketing claims. The product must live up to their high standards in order to earn the Seal.

Why is the seal valuable?
In a marketplace glutted with products that make a vast number of claims, the Good Housekeeping Seal offers consumer guidance for making smart purchases, backed with the knowledge that the Good Housekeeping Institute offers a two-year limited warranty on any product bearing the Seal. The limited warranty reflected by the Good Housekeeping Seal means that if a product bearing the Seal is defective within the first two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the product or refund the purchase price. This is an indication of their commitment to the quality of the products they endorse. We believe in our products so much, we already offer the best warranty in the business, but now you can rest assured that the Good Housekeeping Institute believes in our products, too.

What does the Belgard Warranty cover?
The Belgard lifetime transferable limited warranty guarantees that Belgard products will be free from defects and will maintain a consistent level of product integrity after installation. Once installed by an authorized Belgard Contractor, your Belgard pavers and walls are covered under this warranty for as long as you own your home, and the warranty can even be transferred should you sell your home.

To learn more about the Good Housekeeping Seal and for a complete listing of tested products, please visit their website.

Grilled Chicken Tequila Burgers

grilled-chicken-tequila-burgers-sl-xThis “dad-approved” sandwich has a nice little kick. Picture a juicy chicken burger, nestled under tender bell peppers and onions, dressed with cool Cilantro-Lime Mayonnaise — it will become your new favorite summer dish. (Yield: 5 servings)

Heat up the grill, break out the tequila, and get ready for some mouth-tingling yumminess. Consider pairing it with a Mexican beer, margarita or a refreshing watermelon cocktail.

CILANTRO-LIME MAYO INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

Preparation:

Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate.

BURGER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbs tequila
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • sliced bell peppers
  • sliced onions
  • your favorite buns

Preparation:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350-400°)
  2. Pulse ground chicken, cilantro, garlic and jalapeño pepper in a food processor 3 or 4 times until combined
  3. Add panko, tequila, lime zest, salt, pepper and soy sauce; pulse until combined
  4. Shape into patties
  5. Grill, covered with grill lid 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 165°
  6. Remove from grill and keep warm
  7. Reduce grill temperature to medium heat (300-350°)
  8. Grill sliced bell peppers and onions 4 minutes on each side or unit tender
  9. Serve burgers, bell peppers and onions on buns with Cilantro-Lime Mayonnaise

Recipe by Cara Lyons, courtesy of Southern Living Magazine and Time, Inc.; Photo: Becky Iuigart-Stayner; Styling: Buffy Hargett

Trends in Outdoor Tech

Folks today expect all of the same modern conveniences in their outdoor rooms they have come to rely upon inside of the home. It’s no surprise that a recent national survey of landscape architects revealed wireless connectivity and outdoor stereo systems in the “must have” list for outdoor living designs this year. And it’s also no surprise that outdoor-rated tech is beginning to flood the market. Here are some of our favorites:

speakersRockustics Speakers

With unidirectional speakers, omni-directional speakers, and subwoofers in a variety of styles that look like rocks, planters, and even stone or brick walls, these outdoor speakers can create the perfect sound while seamlessly blending in with your outdoor living design. By placing speakers and dimmer switches throughout your outdoor living area, you can create a balanced level of sound that won’t result in late night phone calls from the neighbors. And, your guests will be entertained just trying to figure out where the music is coming fun. Rockustic also has a couple of lines of traditional mounted speakers, but what fun is that?

waterproof-remoteCrestron Waterproof Remote

Compatible with a variety of home automation system gateways and IR-receivers, this rechargeable “remote on a rope” comes with a charging station and is even safe to use in the hot tub. With several weeks of wireless use per charge, you can control lighting, music, TV and more with ease…and without worrying about wet hands or the battery corrosion that can happen when you leave a remote outdoors.

projectoscreenVisual Apex Screen and LG Wireless Projector

Only 28 pounds, washable, mildew-resistant, flame-retardant, and easy to hang or setup on a stand, the 120″ Visual Apex ProjectoScreen HD is portable and can instantly convert your backyard into an outdoor movie theater. The LG MiniBeam PH550 720p projector holds a charge for up to 2.5 hours and wirelessly connects to Apple or Android devices. Throw some pizzas on the grill, and you’re ready for an unforgettable move night.

wifi-repeater2Ubiquiti Outdoor Wi-Fi Repeater

Unfortunately, kids these days can’t go 32 seconds without an internet connection. If you want to keep them from burning through your monthly data this summer, better get one of these bad boys. Able to withstand wind, rain and snow, simply plug the Ubiquiti UniFi Wireless-N Outdoor Access Point into an external outlet, connect it via your computer to your indoor wi-fi router, and extend your network up to 600 feet. Problem solved.

Grill Gadgets for the Aspiring Grill Master

Let’s face it, every dad is either a Grill Master or aspires to become one. Whenever two or more dads are gathered together, you can be assured that at some point, the conversation will take a turn towards the realm of the grill. There will be debates over rub recipes, gas versus charcoal, green eggs versus barrel smokers, and which type of wood creates the best flavor profile. But what is a Grill Master without his favorite grill gadget? Odds are he keeps one in his car, just in case there’s a grill emergency away from home. With Father’s Day around the corner, now is the time to equip the dads in your life with the tools he needs to work his way up the grill proficiency scale, until at last he can bask in the glory that can only be felt by a true master of the grill. With that in mind, here are some fun gadgets to consider.

Fire-Starter Tools

chimney-of-insanity2Anyone who cooks with charcoal knows that it takes a while until the coals are ready to start the cooking process. Once they’ve reached that “perfect” level of heat, however, the aspiring Grill Master will want to start defrosting everything in the freezer, even after everyone has been fed. After all, the coals are perfect, and it took so long to get to this point. Well, not anymore. With the BBQ Dragon fire-starter fan and the accompanying Chimney of Insanity, the coals will be ready in merely minutes, without lighter fluid.

Bluetooth Temperature Gauge

Now that the coals are perfect, it’s time to start grilling. A true Grill Master knows that entertaining the guests is just as important as manning the grill. In order to tend to both without neglected one over the other, a Bluetooth-enabled temperature gauge is a must! Simply pair the Brookstone Grill Alert gauge with his phone and insert the needle into the meat. If he steps away from the grill, he’ll receive an alert when the internal temperature hits the right level. He’ll never serve hockey puck steaks again.

3-in-1 Tongs

Presenting the Quirky Grill Wrangler. Yes, that’s actually the official name of the product. Is it a pair of tongs, a spatula or a fork? The answer: yes. This 3-in-1 tool can grip chicken wings, flip a burger and spear a hot dog. It’s made of sturdy stainless steel with an easy-grip plastic handle. Hold it closed to use as a spatula, open as tongs, or use the sliding release button to slide out the fork attachment. Voila!

Grill Light

grill-lightIt’s a little tough to get that perfect sear if you can’t see what you’re doing. This nifty battery-operated LED Handle-Mount Grill Light has a pivoting head and an adjustable clamp that allows it to fit onto just about any grill lid. So, you now have a reason to get him to toss that ridiculous head lamp he insists on wearing every time he grills at night. If he’s not ready to toss it, that piece of equipment can go back in the closet with the rest of the camping gear that never gets used.

Robotic Grill Cleaner

grillbot2One of the worst parts about grilling is cleaning the nasty gunk off of the grates afterwards. Some aspiring Grill Masters will try to tell you that the build-up adds flavor, which probably just means he lacked the desire or the elbow grease to clean it correctly. Well, fear no more, there’s a robot for that. The Grillbot is basically the barbecue pit version of a Roomba. Simply place it on a dirty grill, turn it on, and three electric motors will propel it and its mighty brushes around the grill. A chip inside controls movement and speed, and an alarm will sound when the job is done.

Sunset Celebration Weekend Event Recap

The Belgard booth was located in Sunset Celebration Beer Garden and featured a Weston Stone® fire pit surrounded by Lafitt® Rustic Slab pavers and a ???? seat wall.
The Belgard booth was located by the Beer Garden and featured a Weston Stone® fire pit surrounded by Lafitt® Grana Slab pavers and a Shelton Wall seat wall.

We had an amazing time soaking in the sun and celebrating life in the West at the annual Sunset Celebration Weekend held in Cornerstone Sonoma on May 20-21. We occupied two spaces on the event campus, with our company booth and fire pit lounging area by the Beer Garden and the Belgard Wine Bar on the opposite side of the campus. We’d like to offer a special shout out to our friends at Black Diamond Paver Stone & Landscape, Inc., who installed the fire pit, seat wall and patio for our lounging area. Members of the Black Diamond team were also on hand throughout the weekend to greet attendees and answer questions regarding landscaping and hardscape design and installation.

The Belgard Wine Bar was a popular site throughout the event, offering wine tastings to attendees. The bar was constructed with Tandem® Modular Grid surrounded by a paver patio of Lafitt® Rustic Slab.

Our weekend began with Media Day on Friday. Belgard took part in the event by distributing materials to the visiting media representatives and offering refreshing mimosas at the Belgard Wine Bar.

Saturday was open to the public and was a perfect California day — sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Throughout the day, we educated attendees on various pavers and retaining walls and offered tips on outdoor living design and installation, as well as contractor selection. By stopping to ask questions, visitors to our booth were rewarded with an additional wine tasting ticket that could be redeemed across the campus at the Belgard Wine Bar. Additional festivities throughout the event included live music, cooking demonstrations, various product and education booths, food trucks offering a variety of delicious fare, and more.

Area chefs offered cooking demonstrations at the Outdoor Kitchen Stage throughout the event. The outdoor kitchen was constructed with Tandem® Modular Grid, with a surrounding patio of Lafitt® Rustic Slab.

Sunday was an equally gorgeous day with a continuation of live entertainment, wine tastings, festive happenings and lively conversation around the Belgard fire pit. Anyone who missed the event who would like to ask questions from a Belgard expert on outdoor living design is welcome to call 877-BELGARD (or 877-235-4273) to setup a one-on-one consultation.

We’ll see you next year!