Gluten-Free Cinnamon Tea Cookies (and Iced Beverages to Pair With Them!)

Thanks to Starbucks for sending along some seasonal flavors and products. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Just in case you didn’t already know this about me, let me tell you now: I’m an iced coffee addict. I love iced coffee any time, all the time, ALWAYS. I never venture away from my beverage true love.

So I felt that I was having an out-of-body experience of sorts when, a few weeks ago, I ordered an iced chai latte at Starbucks instead of the usual. Even the barista gave me a raised eyebrow (yes, my barista knows me. What?).

I was sure it would be a huge mistake, but a valuable one, because it would remind me to appreciate what I already know I love and to never stray again!

Only I loved that iced chai latte. Oh man. I fell for it hard. It tasted like spiced heaven, and I knew on the spot that I would have to tell my beloved iced coffee that she had a new sister wife. I can’t be without either, friends.

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So honestly, it’s a daily struggle to determine if I’m going to go for a chai latte or coffee, but one thing that is NOT a struggle is knowing what to eat while I drink. I recently made Gluten-Free Cinnamon Tea Cookies, based on a recipe from Padma Lakshmi, and they are just the most perfect accompaniment to a chai latte AND they taste great with iced coffee, too!

gluten free cinnamon tea cookies

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Tea Cookies

(adapted from Padma Lakshmi’s Cinnamon Tea Cookies Recipe)

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 10 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda in a bowl and mix.
  2. In another bowl, combine sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla, beating together until smooth.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and mix together until well combined.
  4. Using your hands, make small balls about 1 inch in diameter with the dough. Place these balls on 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, 12 balls per sheet.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just medium brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (but there’s no way they will stick around that long!).

gluten-free cinnamon tea cookies

So yummy, y’all. And if you aren’t on a first name basis with your Starbucks barista like I am, but still want to savor these great flavors, head to the store and pick up some Tazo Chai K-cups. You will be so glad you did (and it only takes a little patience to turn a hot latte into an iced one!).

starbucks iced beverages

Other great iced beverages this summer from Starbucks include individual sized iced coffees and some yummy iced mango green tea. And don’t forget about the carafe sized iced coffees and espressos in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

So what cold beverages are you loving this time of year? Anything else you think I should take the leap and try the next time I head to Starbucks?

My Favorite Resource for Combating Summer Learning Loss: Summer Bridge Activities

This post was sponsored by CarsonDellosa as part of an Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Late last week we had the last day of first grade for my oldest child, Darah, and we pretty much immediately left after that event for our big family vacation. So for us, summer has officially begun!

Darah’s report card came home with her with some specific and helpful suggestions from her teacher about topics to give some extra attention to over the summer to help prevent that dreaded summer slide (a term referring to learning loss that can occur over extended breaks from school).

I’m really grateful for her suggestions, and it gave me a good start, but it wasn’t enough for me to feel as though I had a clear action plan. Searching Pinterest gave me TONS of ideas, but as a result, left me feeling completely overwhelmed about which activities to choose while also making sure that my daughter gets to simply be a kid and relax a bit. I have a really hard time finding that middle ground between overly scheduled days and total bedlam. Just me? 

Oh, but friends, I have a FANTASTIC resource for you if you are looking for some help with your children as they leave one grade and prepare for the next. Carson-Dellosa (whose workbooks I simply adore) has just released Summer Bridge Activities workbooks and they are just exactly what I’ve been looking for to provide specific activities, a generous quantity of activities, yet not so much work that your child feels as though s/he is in summer school.

Check out what’s inside!

summer slide prevention activities

This book is broken into 3 sections (to go with the roughly 3 months of summer break) and each section has 20 lessons, for a total of 60 lessons to work on, little by little, over the entire summer. You can expect daily lessons to take roughly 15 minutes.

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I love that each section covers a wide range of topics and skills (in fact, there’s an awesome chart that shows you which skills are being practiced for each lesson).

The learning activity pages seem appropriately challenging for a child who has gone through first grade, so the material shouldn’t be brand new, but it also isn’t basic (in other words, it’s not a review of the stuff your child was learning during the first few weeks of the school year).

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I also am really impressed with all of the bonus learning opportunities. The book suggests various outdoor learning experiences, science experiments and social studies exercises. There’s even more great material that can be found online for free! And don’t forget about the suggested reading list, as well. I’ve already started requesting some of these titles from our local library. :-)

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Friends, I’m  no stranger to workbooks. I’ve purchased dozens of them for extra enrichment. This summer bridge workbook is, without question, the most thorough and thoughtfully composed workbook I’ve ever seen. I very highly recommend it and I will most definitely be purchasing them in years to come for my girls. And right now you can score 25% off the price of Summer Bridge workbooks by using code SBA25 at checkout.

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I feel so much less stressed about figuring out what I need to have Darah work on over the summer thanks to the resources available through Carson-Dellosa.

Have you started thinking about what you can be doing at home to help prevent summer learning loss? Any tips for the rest of us? 

Carson-Dellosa SummerBridge Infographic

Oribel Portaplay Updates for Toddlers

Friends, please enjoy today’s guest post from my sister, Laura. She’s got a fabulous product to highlight today!

Back in November, I shared about a fabulous little activity center called the Oribel Portaplay Convertible Activity Center. (You can read more about it here). In short, it’s an awesome play table that grows with your child from ages 5 months all the way to 5 years!

Recently, Oribel reached out to me with exciting news that they’ve just released two awesome little attachments/accessories to go with the Portaplay to help extend the functionality of the table and increase play time. Children will now be able to take a break from standing with the new Portaplay Child Stools, which pair very nicely with the new Portaplay Art Paper Roll Dispenser. Talk about a match made in heaven!

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It wasn’t that long ago that I caught myself wishing that the Portaplay had some sort of stool to sit on. My daughter lost interest in sitting inside the activity center and is now much more interested in running around and playing with all of the attachments. I knew it wouldn’t be long before she’d start to want to sit down and play with her toys at her play table, so the stools really came in at a great time! Assembly took all of 5 seconds to do, which was such a relief for me. They snap and lock into place, and they’re supposed to easily snap out to put away, but unfortunately I found it pretty difficult to do.

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I would have loved to have seen the same lock button, adjustability and folding technology used on the legs of the activity center being used on these stools. The Portaplay itself is extremely portable (hence the name), but I find that the stools are not nearly as portable because they do not easily break down. They are very lightweight, hold up to 77 lbs and are designed to comfortably fit children up to 5 years of age. However, since the legs don’t come in adjustable heights I sort of have a hard time picturing a 5 year old sitting comfortably at the table with these stools. The table does get higher, so maybe a 5 year old could actually fit comfortable after all.

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For now, these little stools have been a hit with my daughter and seat her almost perfectly (she’s still just a tad too short and her feet don’t quite reach the floor). The stools come in a set of two and are available to purchase for $39.90.

I was equally excited to try out the art paper roll dispenser. I loved art as a child, and I hope to encourage my daughter to always be creative and imaginative as she gets older. Coloring and doodling is a great place to start!

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There were very thorough details and instructions printed on the box, which is very thoughtful! Luckily, installing the paper dispenser is very much intuitive and easy to do. It snaps right into place just like the toys that come with the Portaplay system do. Simply slide the paper under the arm to help keep it in place and you’re ready to go!

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To pair with the art paper roll dispenser, I would LOVE to see another attachment that would function as a crayon or colored pencil caddy. I really feel like something like that would be helpful in keeping the crayons off the floor and out of the way when kids are busy creating their masterpieces.

You can purchase the art paper roll dispenser here for just $29.90! I’m a little unclear as to if you can purchase paper refills without buying the whole dispenser, but hopefully that is something that will be available to purchase soon!

My daughter has used the activity center every single day since she was just 5 months old. It continues to impress and prove it’s functionality in so many ways, and has provided hours of entertainment for my daughter. It’s something that will definitely stick around for a very long time and will go through future children to come!

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To see other amazing products from the creative minds at Oribel, just hop on over to their website and take a look! You can even snag a discount code just for signing up as an Oribel member!

A Quick Tip for a Fully Charged Vacation Day

Greetings from beautiful Sanibel Island, friends! My family is having the best time hunting for shells, exploring the island, and just relaxing on our big summer vacation. I’m actually getting to do some reading on my Kindle (which happens approximately once a year), and of course, I’m loving taking some great photos of my kids just being kids and being fully immersed in play on the beach.

mophie powerstation 3x at verizon

Verizon sent me a device I had not thought to bring along with me, but that I’m so very glad to have, now. We are using the Mophie Powerstation 3X, and it’s a portable charger that can work with a wide variety of devices. It can keep your phones and your tablets powered up through the day so you don’t have to quit reading that ebook you were enjoying, or quit taking photos because your phone battery can’t hang.

I’m noticing that my phone battery is struggling a bit more than usual down here, and I think it’s because the wireless signals are weaker on the shore, so the phone is working harder to keep me connected. I’m loving having a portable charger because without it, I wouldn’t make it through the whole day without having to head back to our condo to plug my phone back in. That’s just not something I want to have to do while on vacation!

Before you head out on your next family trip, be sure to add a portable charger to your packing list. Your nearest Verizon store has a huge selection of the latest and greatest portable chargers that will help you be fully charged and ready to go, day after day.

LEGOLAND Discount Alert!

I know many of our Stuff Parents Need readers are fans of discounts and saving money, am I right?! (You can definitely count me within those ranks. :)) A couple weeks ago I posted about how much my girls and I love LEGOLAND® California. If any of you have been considering making the trip, have I got some exciting news for you!

Right now there is an exclusive offer on RetailMeNot (if you haven’t heard of them yet, you need to – but that’s a whole post in itself!) for LEGOLAND. You can save $25 and get the 2nd day FREE when you buy a LEGOLAND® California/LEGOLAND Water Park Hopper ticket! Head on over to RetailMeNot and snag this discount while you can. It’s only available for a limited time!

LEGOLAND Water Park