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For as far back as we can remember, we have been spending time in Palm Springs / Desert during the Summer with our family. We know what you are thinking … IT’S SO HOT! Yes, you are absolutely right! We are aware that we are a little bit crazy to spend a week in the over 100 degree heat, but there’s really nothing like spending all day in the pool and playing games in the air conditioning when we get sick of that. Another thing we love to do while on these family getaways is to cook Side by Side as each member of our family gets to show off their skills in the kitchen (whether they be for grilling, chopping, or even for cleaning). This week we worked as a team to eat most of our meals in the comfort of our own home away from home (otherwise known as Club Intrawest). For this Food Fridays post, we will highlight the dinners we have enjoyed both out and in over the past couple of nights while in Palm Desert and hopefully give you all a few tips that you can use while away with your fam.

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It’s crazy how our family keeps growing! Not only do we now include spouses on this family vacay, but the kids come too (Obviously!!). When coming up with a plan for these nightly dinners, our biggest piece of advice is to make something the kids will enjoy as well. Who doesn’t love pasta? This dish was especially delicious with it’s two types of noodles (elbow macaroni and bow tie … which Ava loved because it resembled Minnie’s bow), ground turkey, tons of tomato sauce, cut up broccoli, and fresh Parmesan cheese.

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With all of the amazing restaurant options in town, it would surely be a waste to eat every meal in. So we ventured out a few times to try out the local cuisine. Matchbox is a family favorite for its delicious pizzas, fresh salads, and fun happy hour specials. Seriously though, if you go there, you have to get the honey, fig, and arugula pizza. It’s to die for!

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The Cliff House met Scott and Lauren’s expectations and more! Scott’s grandfather happens to live close by and treated them to a really yummy meal of beef short ribs atop mashed potatoes, steaks, carrots cooked to perfection, and the best of the best in comfort foods … tomato soup. It was the restaurant, however, that treated them to this slice of cake heaven to celebrate their 4th anniversary. What fun!

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Another great thing to do while on vacation is to make use of the BBQ. There is absolutely nothing bad we can say about grilled chicken and corn on the cob. Having all hands on deck helps a lot as well. For this meal, while the guys were out grilling, us girls were preparing some yummy sauteed veggies (carrots, onions, garlic, and Brussels sprouts).

This week has truly been a special one for us, bringing back many memories of previous trips to the desert and overall just a really nice time spent with our family. We love that we have had the opportunity to share in so many home cooked meals as well. Are there dishes you like to prepare when away from home? Do you have tips to add or places for our readers (and us) to try while in this specific location? Feel free to post a comment below or share your thoughts and recipes with us through email at sidebyside.design@yahoo.com. Have a great weekend from Side by Side Design!

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Summer cooking calls for a really important tool … the grill! For us, this week happened to be full of dinners where this handy tool was used. While Tami attended a BBQ’d dinner, Lauren prepared one on her very own back patio. Correction: her husband actually did the grilling, so we can say that since Lauren marinated the chicken, she and Scott cooked Side by Side. Here are the steps they took to make a delicious Greek salad (using this recipe for the chicken):

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1. To make the marinade, mix 1/4 cup EVOO, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper.

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2. Place chunks of chicken (about 2 pounds) in a bowl and pour marinade over them. Mix to coat really well, cover and place in the refrigerator, and let marinate for a couple of hours.

3. Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat.

4. Create your chicken skewers and place on the grill. Be sure to turn them a few times until chicken is cooked through and is nice and brown on the outside (about 10-12 minutes).

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5. While Scott was out working on the chicken, Lauren prepared a Greek salad. This consisted of romaine lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, avocado, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese. She also made her own dressing by mixing lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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We hope you have enjoyed this edition of our weekly Food Fridays post. Sharing these recipes helps us to be innovative in creating our own recipes, and more likely borrowing them from others who know best (aka Pinterest). Do you have a new favorite recipe to share? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at info@sbsdesignla.com or leave a comment below by clicking on the speech bubble icon.

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Recently, Tami and her beau decided to get away for a little vacation. When trying to choose the right location they had a few things in mind; sand, sun, and total relaxation. Not to mention they are both really into good food (Who isn’t?) and wanted to make sure they had plenty of it. The Sun Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico came highly recommended for its all adult atmosphere and all inclusive opportunities. They figured it was a no brainer and booked their trip! After ten days in this fabulous city, Tami feels extremely comfortable guiding those less familiar towards creating a memorable experience in Cancun. We have broken this post into three parts that we feel encompass all of your travel needs. After all, what else is there besides a great place to stay, what to do and see, and delicious things to eat? Here are Tami and Phil’s recommendations broken down into these three categories (with a few side tips along the way):

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First things first, we started our trip off right. It’s never too early for a shot of tequila!

Where to Stay

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The Sun Palace was just as much of a dream as we hoped it would be. Each room has its own jacuzzi, and you can’t beat the view!

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Another bonus: You can have breakfast delivered to your room each morning. Even if you decide to go down to the restaurant for breakfast, we highly recommend ordering mimosas to your room … because you can! As we mentioned, this hotel is all inclusive. Another great tip we discovered along the way: Ordering room service ahead of time for the mornings of your all day excursions will ensure that your stomach is full for the full day ahead.

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Hands down, the best part of this place is the beach! We spent most of our days lounging on their comfortable chaises and taking dips in the warm water.

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Lunches were spent out by the pool at the “snack bar”. We enjoyed fish and steak tacos, nachos, boneless buffalo wings and shrimp ceviche …

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… and then we would spend the rest of our afternoon at the pool enjoying the upbeat music, entertaining conversations with other guests, and our favorite drink … “The Mango Tango”.

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The hotel was also really good about providing night time activities. We especially recommend attending the karaoke nights! We had so much fun singing (once) and an even better time watching the other guests be brave!

Where to Eat

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The Sun Palace Resort has five restaurants open for dinner. Our favorites were the Italian Restaurant and the Steak House. We absolutely loved the food and made the most of our endless options of steak and seafood.

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Another thing we took advantage of was not one but two special dinners on the beach. We found these experiences to be well planned and extremely romantic. Plus it gave us a reason to get dressed up!

What to Do / See

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Believe it or not, we did actually leave the hotel from time to time. In fact, we signed ourselves up for two full day excursions. The Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza were definitely a sight to see. The hotel set us up with a great tour and we are forever grateful for the guide that shared his insight with us and the memories we made.

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Another amazing experience we had was our snorkel tour through Aventuras Mayas. We had the opportunity to snorkel in three unique locations; an open freshwater sink hole (or “cenote”), a beautiful water-filled cave, and the ocean. What a great day!

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This trip was truly one we will never forget. We feel so fortunate that we were able to go away for so long and to such a perfect location. According to Phil, his top tips in visiting this location are; be friendly and talk to other guests (you can meet so many different types of people, don’t be afraid to order extra food … snacks … drinks … it’s all included, and bring along all of your favorite technology (The hotel had free wi-fi, we were able to watch movies on our Chrome Cast, and you can’t beat the power of a selfie stick!). We hope you have enjoyed this look into our getaway, our tips, and will consider using all of this information the next time you visit Cancun. If you have any tips of your own to share, we would love to start a dialogue below. Leave a comment by clicking the speech bubble icon.

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In our previous editions of Wrap With Scraps, we have talked about how we reuse materials from past projects to enhance the look of wrapped gifts and homemade cards. The many scraps we have lying around come in handy when it comes to making cards and tags for various occasions especially when we are in a pinch for time. Lately, we have been going to lots of different types of events and have wanted each Bride and Groom, graduate, and engaged couple to feel loved. Due to the nature of these events, we used fancy shmancy scraps that sparkle and shine and that we have been holding onto for a special occasion.

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This card stood out among the many at our cousin’s bridal shower. We included shiny gold paper with a floral print and sparkly white letters to make it extra special and unique. It just so happens that our cousin lives three thousand miles away and specifically asked to not receive large gifts that she would have to transport home, so it was even more important to us to make a statement with our card.

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This special card complete with black velvet scraps of specialty paper, the same gold shine from the first card, a bit of lace and some sequins was gifted to our sister (and college graduate) Maya. We are so excited for her to move onto the next chapter in her life and equally excited to hear all about her recent travels abroad!

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When coordinating a wedding of a client, we like to give a card that matches the overall look of their event. This card was just as exquisite as the special couple we made it for.

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Last weekend, Tami attended a friend’s engagement party and did not want to show up empty handed. A nice bottle of wine and a matching tag was the perfect gift. A little sparkle and lot of shine made this tag fancy shmancy.

Next time you find yourself attending a bridal shower, an engagement party, a wedding, or even a graduation, don’t go running off to the craft store to replenish your supply. Remember these tips: Keep scraps handy (you never know when they will be useful), sequins and rhinestones are great to have on hand, and a fancy shmancy card or tag will always make a loved one feel special. With these tips in mind, your gifts are sure to be remembered for more than just what’s inside.

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It is definitely not easy coming back to reality after ten days at an all inclusive resort in Cancun (post coming soon)! What was even more difficult for Tami was getting back into the swing of things especially when it comes to cooking. Her refrigerator was bare bones empty and to be honest she wasn’t really feeling up to shopping and preparing meals for the first few days. This week, however, Tami put herself back together, restocked the fridge, and visited her old friend Pinterest for a brand new recipe (which wasn’t hard after all of that beach time pinning).

To make your own lemon chicken with asparagus and potatoes, just follow these steps:

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1. Start by making the sauce. Combine 2 tablespoons of each; olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and Dijon mustard with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and sea salt and pepper to taste.

2. Work the mixture into both sides of 6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs with your fingers.

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3. Melt two tablespoons unsalted butter into a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned chicken thighs and cook on both sides until golden brown (about 3 – 4 minutes per side). Set the chicken aside and transfer the juices from the bottom of the pan into an ovenproof pan.

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4. Preheat the oven to 400.

5. Cut 2 cups baby red potatoes in half (or quarters depending on the size) and season with salt, pepper, and sliced up lemon. Cook in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

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6. Wash and trim 1 pound of asparagus.

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7. Add the chicken and asparagus to the pan and roast until the chicken is all the way cooked through (about 25 – 30 minutes).

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We hope you have enjoyed this edition of our weekly Food Fridays post. Sharing these recipes helps us to be innovative in creating our own recipes, and more likely borrowing them from others who know best (aka Pinterest). Do you have a new favorite recipe to share? We would love to hear from you. It’s been a year since we started these Food Fridays posts and we would love some feedback. Also, our comments section is back up and running and we couldn’t be more excited to hear from our readers. Leave a comment below by clicking on the speech bubble icon.

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