Enter for a Chance to Win the HGTV® Dream Home 2016

DH16 BRAND GUIDELINES_Sponsor.pagesAs a proud sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home 2016, we invite you to take a virtual walking tour of the Belgard outdoor living spaces of this waterfront retreat in Merritt Island, Florida, then enter for your chance to win this fabulous ultra modern home.

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Drive up to the ample guest parking area, with its arched duo-tone paver design that adds contemporary flair to the classic cobbled look of the driveway’s Old York™ Pavers. Then take the welcoming walkway, flanked by quaint picket fencing and colorful gardens, to the double-door entrance.

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As you make your way to the front door, imagine breezy mornings enjoying a cup of coffee and a buttery croissant with fresh fruit in this cozy breakfast nook, adjacent to the entrance.

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Next, step out onto the expansive multi-level backyard lanai, which boasts multiple seating areas to accommodate both large and intimate gatherings. Colorful hues of Lafitt™ Rustic Slab and coordinating Bullnose Coping don the lanai, step edges and poolscape to create one continuous and flowing contemporary design.

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Explore the various levels of the vibrant poolscape, with paver colors that mimic the natural tones of the surrounding waterfront property. Imagine enjoying a sunset cocktail as you walk down to the dock to greet neighboring boaters.

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To continue your virtual outdoor living tour, visit our Pinterest board for more photos of the HGTV Dream Home 2016.

Click here to enter to for your chance to win this amazing waterfront retreat!

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/18/16. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, visit hgtv.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “HGTV Dream Home Giveaway”- RR, P.O. Box 53445 Knoxville, TN 37950. Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a DIY Network. Photos © 2015 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Holiday Outdoor Entertaining

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Baby, it’s cold outside..but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your outdoor living spaces with family and friends this holiday season. Here are some tips for entertaining outdoors in colder weather that embrace the holiday spirit.

The Fire is So Delightful

There’s a reason that outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor living: there’s just something universal about sitting around a fire. The dancing flames, the smokey aroma, the gentle crackle…fire’s are mesmerizing! This holiday season, it’s time to invest in that fire feature you’ve been wanting. And, be sure and stock up on wood and marshmallows.

All is Calm, All is Bright

Festive lighting is essential to any holiday gathering. String lights and candles will not only create a holiday atmosphere, they provide lighting that’s softer and more intimate than standard overhead lights. For creative ideas on outdoor lighting, check out our lighting ideas blog.

Jingle Bells. Jingle Bells.

What’s a party without music? A boring party, that’s what. If you don’t have a sound system in your outdoor space, don’t fret. There are a number of inexpensive bluetooth speakers on the market that will allow you and your friends to take turns showcasing your holiday playlists. Or set your iPad on a Pandora or Spotify station, link it to the speaker, and you’re good to go. When you’re ready to install something more permanent, look into the Sonos wi-fi system, which will allow you to link together your indoor sound system, desktop computer, any number of devices, and an outdoor speaker system that can all be operated together or in separate zones, all from a smart phone or other device.

Here We Come A-Wassailing

Sometimes it helps to warm your guests from the inside out. Be sure and have warm drinks available, like traditional English wassail, hot buttered rum, or peppermint cocoa. But to make sure they’re warm on the outside, too, it’s probably a good idea to keep lots of throws handy. You may want to consider investing in some tabletop and full-size butane heaters, which are available in a number of attractive styles, shapes and sizes from just about every hardware store. Just remember to keep extra fuel tanks on hand.

Oh, Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

No holiday entertaining blog would be complete without a mention of food. You might want to skip the figgy pudding, though. It’s not that great. Stick to small bites like cocktail meatballs and goat cheese crostinis. The primary issue with outdoor holiday entertaining is keeping food warm in the cold. You may want to keep the food station indoors or use covered warming trays outdoors.

Outdoor Living Holiday Gift Guide

For many people, outdoor living has become so much a way of life, they spend more time on their back patio than in their interior living room. For those outdoor living enthusiasts in your life, here are some of our favorite gift ideas this holiday season.

imageRain-Drum Accent Table

Rain drums, named for the pleasing sound they make when hit by raindrops, have existed in Asian cultures for thousands of years. This cast-aluminum version from Pottery Barn adds old world charm to an outdoor living room and works well as a coffee table, side table or accent table.

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imageColorful Hanging Lanterns

Decorative outdoor lighting adds ambiance to any outdoor living area. This colorful tabletop display of hanging globe lanterns from Pier 1 uses either standard wax or battery-operated tea lights to add a festive glow to any outdoor kitchen or living room. The decorative handcrafted set includes a sturdy iron base and handblown glass globes.

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imageCountertop Brick Oven

With four versions to choose from, the countertop Belgard brick oven can easily turn any outdoor kitchen into a gourmet cooking space without the time and expense of a full custom brick oven installation. The countertop oven is available in copper or silver finish with either a pyramid (shown) or dome roof line.

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imageCajun Turkey Fryer

Cajun cooking is all the rage, and no Cajun holiday is complete without a marinated fried turkey, crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. This whole-turkey deep fryer package from Home Depot has the tools to turn the average homeowner into an outdoor Cajun chef, including pot, stand, propane regulator, turkey stand, and meat thermometer.

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imageCajun Injector Kit

Either the perfect complement to the turkey fryer or a gift idea on its own, the Cajun Injector Marinade Kit includes four different marinade flavors, a marinade injector, dry seasonings and a recipe booklet. Injecting the marinade into the meat ensures that every bite is loaded with flavor.

Fall Back Outdoor Lighting Ideas

This week, we once again had to “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time came to an end. This time of year typically has wonderful weather for outdoor living in most areas of the country — no more hot steamy nights, yet not quite cold enough to send everyone scurrying indoors for warmth. But in order to take full advantage of your outdoor living space once the clock has been turned back, it’s time to invest in outdoor lighting. Here are some of our favorite modern ideas for illuminating your outdoor living space.

Illuminated planters

Flower pot by day, light source by night, illuminated planters are a chic and modern way to shed a little light on your outdoor living space. Outdoor-rated LED illuminated pots are available from a number of retailers in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Or for the DIY-er, a quick browse through Pinterest will help you generate unlimited ideas for your own unique creations.

Pendant lights

Today’s trendy outdoor living rooms and kitchens emulate the look of their indoor counterparts. One of the easiest ways to create an indoor look for an outdoor room is to install outdoor-rated pendant lights over bars, coffee tables, and dining areas. With thousands of fixtures available, design options are endless. In addition, the nature of designing outdoors allows for bolder, and more creative choices.

Hardscape lighting

If you’re planning to install pavers, garden walls, or Belgard Elements kitchen or fireplace units, be sure to plan a lighting scheme prior to installation. Low voltage lighting can be affixed directly into the hardscapes during installation to provide attractive ambient lighting throughout your outdoor living areas.

Hardscape lighting

String lights

Nothing says “outdoor entertaining” like string lights. From bare bulbs to Japanese lanterns, today’s string lights are available in a variety of motifs that complement any outdoor living design scheme and add a festive atmosphere any time of year. To put up permanent string lights, consider having an electrician install outlets into the eaves of soffits and porches with a conveniently located light switch to turn everything on or off at once.

Fall DIY Project: Lavender Pine Cone Fire Starters

ideas for enjoying your Belgard Backyard from
Lifestyle and Entertaining Expert, Alexandra Hedin.

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The outdoors provides the perfect spot for entertaining during the crisp days of fall – but those crisp days also call for a way to stay warm. An outdoor fire is the perfect centerpiece for a fall celebration. A basket full of pine cone fire starters next to your fire pit or outdoor fireplace invites the party to continue as the evening cools down.

Homemade fire starters are easy to make. By making them yourself, you can infuse them with scents like lavender, which is a natural mosquito repellent.

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Here’s what you’ll need

  • Muffin tin
  • 12 paper muffin liners
  • 1 ½ pounds paraffin wax
  • Candle wick
  • 12 dried pine cones
  • Dried lavender blossoms & sticks
  • 8-10 drops lavender essential oil

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Fire Starter StepsHere’s how to make them

Step 1: Line the muffin pan with the muffin papers. Fill each paper half full with cut pieces of lavender sticks. Top each one with a few blooms.

Step 2: Wrap a short length of candle wick around each pine cone and place on the top of the lavender blooms. Make sure the wick is sticking out of the top.

Step 3: Melt the paraffin wax in a double boiler over low heat. If you don’t have a proper double boiler, fill a small pan with an inch or two of water and place a mason jar in the center of the pan. Fill the mason jar with small chunks of wax.

Step 4: When the wax has melted, add a few drops of essential oil. Gently pour melted wax into each cup until filled to the top.

Step 5: Let cool. You can leave the starters in the paper cups or remove them. The paper provides an additional point of lighting when you are starting a fire.

* Hot tip * The wax melts easier in smaller portions. Divide the wax in three equal quantities and work in batches.

For more inspiration, recipes, and crafts visit alexandrahedin.com.

Gourmet Backyard Tailgating,
the New Orleans Way

Football season is outdoor kitchen season! Time to light the pit or Belgard brick oven and prepare to kick off an afternoon or evening of backyard tailgating. And, although the traditional fan favorites of hamburgers and hotdogs will always have a place at the backyard tailgate bash, today’s gourmet outdoor cooks are always looking for unique ideas to take tailgating to the next level.

The above chargrilled recipes were cooked using Schwing’s SOS Shells on a gas pit. From left are chargrilled oysters, veggie medley, and shrimp.

For gourmet outdoor tailgating fare straight from the food mecca of New Orleans, try grilling or baking with Schwing’s SOS Shells. The idea for SOS Shells was born from the New Orleans tradition of chargrilling oysters on the halfshell over an open flame. A popular dish in many New Orleans restaurants, the practice was time-intensive and difficult to duplicate at home until local restaurateurs, the Schwing family, created their stainless steel version of the oyster shell.

Highly conductive, dishwasher safe, oven safe, grill safe and reusable, SOS Shells offer the opportunity for really interesting outdoor kitchen creations, limited only by the imagination. Originally designed for chargrilling oysters, they can actually be used for all sorts of recipes and work extremely well in tailgating situations by allowing for individual portion sizes to go directly from the pit to the plate.

Now, for some New Orleans-style chargilling!

The traditional chargrilled oyster recipe is fairly easy to duplicate — the secret is in the sauce, which can be made ahead of time and even refrigerated or frozen for future chargrilling. On a stove, combine equal amounts of butter and olive oil with lots of pressed garlic and your favorite seasonings. Originally, the recipe called for simple Italian seasoning, but many restaurants have put their own unique spin on the concept by experimenting with different seasoning combinations. Feel free to mix it up with your own favorite flavors. For a lower-fat version, reduce the butter and oil by half and replace with beer. Cook the sauce over medium high heat for a few minutes to allow the flavors to fuse and any alcohol to cook out.

Once the sauce is prepared, load the shells with oysters, shrimp, veggies, or whatever ingredients you like. Place the shells on the grill at medium to high heat, spoon sauce into each shell, and cook until done. For shrimp, look for a warm pink color. For oysters, look for the edges to get curly. Throughout the cooking process, you may want to purposely spill some of the sauce onto the fire to get it to flame up and touch the food. This is what will give your recipes that chargrilled flavor. To follow the traditional recipe, when the oyster edges become curly, top each one with shredded parmesan cheese and allow it to melt before removing it from the pit. Some restaurants also finish with finely chopped scallions or parsley. Again, feel free to get creative.

Remember that once the shells have been placed on the pit, they will quickly become extremely hot and cannot be handled by hand. For safe handling, use tongs to move your shells around the pit or to place them onto a plate. Remind your guests that the shells will be very hot to the touch.

For a finishing touch for your chargrilled creations, have some warm French or Italian bread on hand to dip in the sauce left in each shell once the prepared dish has been eaten. After all, the New Orleans way is to never waste a drop of the sauce.