Belgard ‘Joins the Vision!’
to Honor War Dogs

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The War Dog Monument of the Cedar Hill Pet Memorial Park in Cedar Hill, Texas, was built to honor police and military dogs. The design incorporates Holland Stone cobble pavers for the plaza and walkway and Castle Manor™ retaining wall block for the donor walls and monument pedestal.

Four years ago, a dedicated group of individuals led the charge to save the oldest pet cemetery in Texas from extinction. Cedar Hill Pet Memorial Park, located just south of Dallas, was in a state of disrepair and slated for the property tax auction block.

“There are no laws in the state of Texas that protect pet cemeteries,” said Theresa M. Brandon, founder of the Cedar Hill Pet Memorial Project, Inc., the non-profit created to save the property, renovate it, and maintain it in perpetuity. “This is prime property in an industrial zone, and it was a community asset that was in danger of being forgotten.”

Brandon took notice of the property’s plight following the untimely loss of her own two-year-old dog and formed the non-profit to save the final resting place of over 5,500 beloved animals, which includes a few “famous” residents, such as performance and circus animals, as well as the late actress Jane Mansfield’s dog, Wendy.  But it wasn’t enough to buy the property, Brandon needed a plan to maintain it long-term.

One of the group’s board of directors at the time, Nic Collins, developed the idea of the War Dog Monument as a way to generate awareness for the park, while at the same time honor the value that pets add to people’s lives.

“Nic was a former Air Force officer who flew missions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Brandon said. “He often transported dogs and their military handlers and recognized the special bond between man and animal.”

Brandon then created the “Join the Vision!” campaign to market the War Dog project and raise the necessary funds needed.

"Enduring Valor" was modeled after Titus, a

“Enduring Valor” was modeled after Titus, a Belgian Malinois in service with the K-9 unit of the Cedar Hill Police Department. The statue rests atop a Castle Manor™ Wall pedestal.

In 2013, the group contracted international artist Susan Bahary, sculptor for a number of war dog monuments around the world, to create “Enduring Valor,” a bronze statue in the likeness of Titus, a Belgian Malinois in service with the K-9 unit of the Cedar Hill Police Department.

“People really got on board with the War Dog project,” said Brandon, who helped garner donations of building materials from local businesses, as well as professional services from HRO Architects, Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers, E-W Associates MEP engineers, CWR Structural Engineering, and Berkenbile Landscape Architects. However, finding a hardscape contractor was a stumbling block for the project until Brandon discovered Belgard.

“We reached out to many companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and received lots of ‘yes, we’ll help you’ to only tell us later that they were sorry they couldn’t help,” said Brandon. “In desperation, I searched the internet and found Belgard and placed a call requesting information. I was told that, yes, they could help us and that their project manager would also help us locate a construction company to build the project and would stand with us until it was finished. That was music to my ears.”

Belgard production manager Chad Akin introduced the group to Josh Thomas, vice president of PavePro in Grand Prairie, Texas, and the project began to come to life in time to meet the looming deadline of the planned dedication ceremony.

“Belgard delivered exactly what they promised during a time when we needed nothing short of a miracle,” Brandon said.

The project was completed in two phases. The first phase, completed prior to the May 2014 dedication ceremony, included two arched Castle Manor™ freestanding walls that flank a Holland Stone cobble plaza, centered on the statue of “Enduring Valor.” The ceremony was quite the community event, attended by dignitaries from three surrounding cities and incorporating a parade of over 60 vehicles, live K-9 demonstrations, and a performance by the Brass Quintet from the Marine Corps Field Band stationed in New Orleans.

After additional fundraisers held by PETCO stores across Dallas/Fort Worth, the second phase was completed in September of 2015 to include a striking Holland Stone paver walkway, leading to the monument.

“The walkway, in the form of a cross, was designed to represent the hilt of a sword and travels up to the statue of the dog, which represents the blade that our police and military wield in our defense,” Brandon said.

In addition to the successful completion of their War Dog Monument, the Cedar Hill Memorial Project, Inc., also succeeded in having the park declared a historical landmark, to guarantee its protection in the future.

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.

Fire Pit Design Ideas

Fire pits appeal to people of all generations and backgrounds. There’s just something about sitting around a fire that brings people together. Get ready to create your family’s favorite gathering spot with these fire pit design ideas.

Coordinated Design

Squared angles and textured stone create a coordinated look for this rustic fire pit. Using the same retaining wall product to build the fire pit, seat walls, retaining walls and steps creates a cohesive look and blends various elements of the design together.

Products: Mega-Arbel® pavers, Celtik Wall

Products: Mega-Arbel® pavers, Celtik® Wall

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Room for All

This extra large fire pit and surrounding open patio area includes plenty of space for seating and standing and is the perfect setting for large family gatherings. The only thing missing is a guitar.

Outdoor living space located in Coeur d'alene, Idaho designed by Gibson Landscaping, includes multiple Patios, Firepit and Driveway. The project utilized the following Belgard products manufactured by Sierra Building Materials of Stockton, CA Mega Arbel - Coeur d'alene Blend (custom color)

Product: Mega-Arbel® pavers

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Secluded Getaway

The curved retaining wall creates an element of privacy, turning the area surrounding this sunken fire pit into an intimate nook for sipping coffee with the sunrise or enjoying an evening glass of wine.

Belgard 2010 ~ Northfield Chicago

Products: Mega-Arbel® pavers, Anchor Highland Stone® wall

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Maximizing Small Spaces

A rectangular fire pit is an excellent option for a narrow patio and allows space for larger furniture pieces without sacrificing walking area. Gas-burning pits are a better choice for placement less than ten feet from the home.

Products: Belair Wall, ???

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit wall), Weston Stone® (fire pit base), Mega-Lafitt™ pavers

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Elements of Nature

This design combines the natural elements of stone, wood, fire and water to create an attractive gathering spot that complements the surrounding wooded landscape.

Products: ???, ???

Products: Weston Stone® wall, Bergerac® pavers

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Bold & Beautiful

Vibrant reds pull this design together, with red brick used for the fire pit, bar, columns and porch fascia that coordinates with the red tones of the patio’s eco-friendly permeable pavers.

Product: Subterra permeable pavers

Product: Subterra® Stone permeable pavers

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Destination Spot

By placing this fire pit and surrounding seat wall at the far end of the property, this area becomes as destination spot for intimate gatherings. Hardscape and landscape lighting provides additional ambiance and visibility.

4D Schusters Belgard Photography 2009.

Products: Bergerac® pavers, Weston Stone® wall

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For more fire pit ideas,visit the Belgard Fire Pit Pinterest Board or visit our contractor gallery to locate a Belgard Authorized Contractor near you.

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.

The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

Are you the ultimate backyard tailgater? If so, you need an ultimate outdoor kitchen to match. An outdoor kitchen that doesn’t just say you’re an occasional griller who has mastered burgers and dogs, but a grillmaster whose steaks are the perfect medium-rare, who has his own home brew on tap in the outdoor kegerator, and who isn’t afraid to sport his “King of the Grill” apron.

So what are the elements of an ultimate outdoor kitchen? Here a few of the pieces we’d put in ours:

Grill

Whether it’s gas or charcoal, there is one thing fans of both can agree on – it’s all about the grill. This outdoor kitchen MVP has the biggest job during your tailgate so make sure you invest in a grill that you will love for years to come.

Brick Oven

The grill’s lesser known sidekick is the brick oven. Slowly building up its stats as a player to watch, the brick oven is perfect for homemade pizzas, appetizers and anything else you want baked with that wood-fired taste.

Sink

Every great chef knows the importance of hand washing, especially when you’re handling raw meats. Running inside can be incredibly inconvenient. Install a sink in your outdoor kitchen to save time and trouble.

Mini Fridge

Remember those college dorm room days of grabbing sodas from the mini fridge? It was so nice to have a cold beverage right at your fingertips. Installing a mini fridge in your outdoor kitchen is just as useful, especially when you’re entertaining, because it’s also great for storing prepped foods and condiments.

Kegerator

Whether you’re a home brewer or just a fan of your local craft beer company, a kegerator makes enjoying a cold, refreshing beer easier than ever.

Bar Island

With cold beer on tap, you’re halfway there to making your outdoor kitchen your friends’ new favorite bar. A bar island creates the ideal gathering place to cheer on your favorite team.

Lighting

Creating the ultimate outdoor kitchen and then ignoring lighting is like fumbling what could have been the game-winning touchdown. Consider overhead lighting for when overtime and the setting sun collide.

Ice Maker

The clutch player in our ultimate outdoor kitchen, the ice maker is always ready to go so your indoor freezer can take a knee.

Product Spotlight: Mirage Pavers

Mirage® Ardesie Pavers

Mirage® Ardesie Pavers

Belgard recently partnered with the leader in Italian porcelain tiles to bring the Mirage® Porcelain Paver to the U.S. market on a national scale, bringing European outdoor living design options to the modern American home. Mirage allows homeowners to create an exterior design that is an expansion of the interior space, which is a common design trend today. An added benefit is that the outdoor porcelain paver line complements the Mirage indoor tile line, as well as a lines of wall veneers, pool coping, and stair steps, which allows for the development of harmonious, flowing designs.

Mirage® Quarziti 2.0

What exactly is a porcelain paver?

Mirage porcelain pavers have a similar look to indoor tiles, but are thicker and more durable. Indoor flooring tile is typically about 1/2 inch thick, whereas Mirage pavers are available in 3/4 inch thickness for patios and walkways and 1-1/4 inch thickness for driveways. More economical than natural stone, Mirage has a non-slip surface and won’t absorb stains like travertine. Mirage is also resistant to breakage, fading, and the corrosive effects of rain, pool chemicals, deicing salts, and other chemical agents.

Mirage® Sundeck Pavers

Mirage® Sundeck Pavers

Design Options

Mirage pavers are available in a variety of interpretations of stone, wood, and concrete textures, as well as a variety of modular shapes, with many large stock sizes that coordinate with today’s design trends for larger pieces. Additional designs and sizes can also be special ordered, including large slabs for steps and outdoor kitchen countertops.  Mirage also provides the unique installation flexibility to install over sand, grass, gravel, or concrete.

Maintenance Consideration

The true beauty of Mirage is that it’s virtually maintenance free and incredibly durable. It wards off all stains including red wine, acid, and oil. The color will never fade, and it never needs to be sealed. There is only minimal color variation from unit to unit, unlike with natural stone, which can vary greatly. And unlike natural stone, Mirage won’t discolor or allow moss or mold growth. Ten years from now, if you want to add a section, the color will match. If a paver should crack or chip, it can easily be removed with a special tool and replaced. Mirage can be cleaned using any type of cleaner and can withstand pressure-washing without deterioration of the finish. Mirage is also frost free and resistant to thermal shock caused by freeze and thaw cycles in colder climates.

Mirage® Officine Pavers

Mirage® Officine Pavers