{Recipe} Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes with Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream Icing


If you have been around here often enough, you might have gathered that I have a secret love affair with cinnamon. I add it to any recipe that I can get away with. And here is the kicker…hubby cannot hardly stand the stuff. UGH! Makes me feel like I don’t even know the man…

I digress…

Here is one of my latest baking creations and I hope you love it as much as we did!

(This recipe makes around 14-16 cupcakes, you might need two 12 count muffin pans.)


Ingredients for the cupcakes:

  • 1 2/3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter
  • 1 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of peeled and chopped apples

Ingredients for the icing:

  • 1 stick of butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions for the cupcakes:

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line your cupcake (muffin) pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Melt your butter in a microwave safe container.

Put your melted butter into a large mixing bowl and add in your granulated sugar and whisk vigorously until completely combined. It will be very gritty. Whisk in your egg until combined. Now add in your applesauce, milk, and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Add in your apples and fold until mixed in.

Add in your dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do Not over mix the batter.

Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on cooling racks.

Directions for the icing:

In a stand mixer or hand mixer using the paddle, cream the butter and shortening on medium for about 3 minutes. Turning the mixer down to low, add in one cup of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Scrap the sides of the mixer frequently so that everything mixes completely. Slowly add in all of the powered sugar in the same fashion until it is well combined. Once all of the powdered sugar is mixed in, add in your cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.

Turn the mixer speed back up to medium and mix the icing for at least 2 minutes.

If you want, buttercream icing can be put onto the cupcakes with an icing knife or you can use a decorators disposable bag with a decretive tip.

This is a pretty stiff icing, so once it is on the cupcakes, it will not fall. So…be creative!

{The dollop that you see on top of the cupcakes is praline sauce. I had an idea, made the praline sauce, added it to the top of the icing and then I realized that it was reeeeeeaaaallllly too sweet. But, if you want to do the same… You will need 1/2 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Melt the butter in a pan, adding in the brown sugar, stirring constantly. Bring to boil. Let it boil for a minute. Remove from heat, let it cool before putting on top of the icing. It will make your icing run if you apply it before it is cool enough.}

Once you have your cupcakes iced, they will be good at room temperature for up to 3 days.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, feel free to let me know how yours turns out!

In His Grace.


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{Product Review} Elementary French from Middlebury Interactive Languages


Have you ever heard of Fancy Nancy? If so, you just might have a young girl like I do. Do you happen to have a little one that loves French?! If so, then I have the program you have been searching for!

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a delightful program in which Ana got to review their French Courses, particularly their Elementary French 1: Grades 3-5. Sheer heavenly joy for my little budding, just 10 years old, petit mademoiselle!

We have never used an online course for foreign languages before. I am so pleased with how incredibly easy this program is to use. Not just for me, the teacher, but for Ana as well.

This program is entirely online, so all you need is a computer (with a microphone) and access to the internet.

Each course is broken down into semesters, or 18 weeks. For the Elementary French that averages out to about 2-3 lessons a week.

The cost for this course work is $119 per semester without a teacher or add on an additional $175 per semester with a teacher. Each paid subscription is to be used with only one child (student).

The age range for Middlebury Interactive Languages is from K though 12th Grade. Since Ana is in 2nd/3rd grade, I felt good with all she was able to accomplish with this program.

Now the fun part of the review, where I get to share about all the entirely too cool things this program can do! First and foremost, if your schoolroom is anywhere close to where you (the parent) hang out while the kiddos “do school”…be prepared to pickup on the songs!

This language program will talk to you, play videos for you, record your voice for you, and then test you on everything you have read, heard, and done! Magnifique!

Once I got the program set up for our use, Ana jumped on to begin her French lessons. I kid you not, once I told her we were chosen to do this review, she questioned me every.single.day about it. I do believe that this is by far one of her most favorite school classe she has ever done!

The course begins with introductions about the program and how to navigate through the system. After a few brief explanations about how to do the required work, Ana was off to dive into French head first.


All of the lessons are located on the left side of the screen. The student is able to slide through the images to select the correct lesson. This is a plus that we really liked about this program. If Ana wasn’t completely confidant in how she did in one of the lessons, she could always go back and practice over again. Increasing her ability to not only “get it right” but to bolster her confidence as well. Win/Win on the self-paced, go back and practice if need be ability.

There are such fun stories to listen to in your chosen language. I have never heard Little Red Riding Hood in any other language before and I have to admit, hearing it in French…well, it sounds so darling as La Petit Chaperon rouge. And I heard it a lot. Seriously, the program will let you pick any section to replay, over and over and over and over. :)

Once the student has listen to the story or the song, they get to play games or complete activities. Which I have finally learned, after all of my homeschooling years, fun learning is the only true learning! There are matching games, fill in the blank games, and many more.

After a few rounds of gaming, the student is then encouraged to practice speaking the words or phrases from the current lesson. This was incredibly difficult for Ana. Not that it was hard to work in the system but for the fact that she is fearful of making mistakes and being laughed at. (Brothers can be the worst sometimes!). After much encouragement from me, she has gotten better at practicing her French by completing the speaking sections of her lessons.

There is a calendar in the parent administration that shows you what lessons are to be done on what day. We did not stick to the calendar lesson days, Ana pretty much did as many lessons at a time as she liked. There is also another section in the admin where you can view the lessons, quizzes, tests, and assessments. I like to see the progress being made, and the grade average is nice to use as a help tool.

This program is amazing and has helped Ana in learning a second language with ease. She enjoys her French course so much that she has taken it upon herself to get her lessons done without much prompting from me.

The songs are catchy, fun, and are excellent ways to teach. I have learned to count to 10 and learned some names of body parts. Even my youngest son, Joseph, who is 6, has learned to sing most of these songs. He is throughly entranced as well by this program. I think he has enjoyed Ana’s French course work as much as she has!

None of us have any complaints about this program, we all have learned a whole lot of French and we have learned it while having fun.

Middlebury Interactive Languages has numerous languages that they offer and at so many different levels. Please visit my fellow TOS Review Crew members to see what they used and how it worked for them.


Find Middlebury via social media at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Middlebury-Interactive-Languages/141015515949753
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MiddInteractive
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/middinteractive/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/b/110371351490550861545/110371351490550861545/posts

I hope you enjoyed our latest review and I hope you visit again soon to see what else we find to talk about!

In His Grace.


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{Product Review} Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses


As we really get rolling with the school year I am so pleased that we are still finding  new programs to use.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses is an online program that Isaiah and I recently got to review from Standard Deviants Accelerate.

The only thing you need is internet access and a computer. How wonderful is that?!

As a homeschooler, I often wonder if I am doing my utmost to produce the best people for the world. In areas of schooling I often doubt my abilities to teach certain subjects well.

With this new program that we reviewed I have found that I feel more comfortable in my own skin as I let others guide my youngster in different subject areas.

SDA has so many options for school too. We picked just two subjects to mainly focus on for this review; Biology and History.

Each parent (or teacher) has access to the administration side of the program. From there, the admin is able to set up the class for their student(s). As you create a class, you are then given an access code for your particular student to access your class and your class only. This is a wonderful way to keep track of all the lessons, tests, and grades for each student.

Once you have each class setup, you have the student go into the program and create their own personal account. Once that is done, then you give the student the class access code and then they can begin working independently.

Each lesson is done in a few different parts.

Your student will sit and watch a video for the days a lesson. Once the video is over, there is a vocabulary section to complete, then the student will need to diagram (this is some of the important facts learned during the lesson). From this point there is a quiz to review the facts just learned. The last section to complete is the written work.

Each video in SDA is of young people talking about the daily lesson. They are full of facts, silly jokes, and (in my opinion) typical teenage behavior; all the while teaching important facts in regards to the subject at hand.

Isaiah truly was not overly impressed with the videos. He thought they were goofy, but on the flip side, he also said that he “got” most of the jokes and they were age appropriate. He also was a bit overwhelmed with the length of the videos. He said he felt, “like they were throwing a slew of information at him and he was expected to know all of the answers”. His temperament would prefer shorter videos therefore less info at a time, in return making it easier to regurgitate the information in a more efficient way. (He also is still learning to be a “note taker”…..)

Other than that, he liked the program and was able to set it up himself with little assistance from me. He worked at his own pace and is managing to carry a decent passing grade in the courses. He never had any issues with the layout of the site. The lessons are set up well. The site has all of the lesson sections set up as a menu across the top for easy maneuverability between sections.

The subjects available to the parent (or teacher) are:

  • Arithmetic for Grades 3+
  • Fundamental Math for Grades 4+
  • Earth Science for Grades 6+
  • Nutrition for Grades 6+
  • Algebra for Grades 7+
  • Biology for Grades 7+
  • Chemistry for Grades 9+
  • English Comp. for Grades 9+
  • U.S. History for Grades 9+
  • AP Biology  forGrades 11+
  • AP Chemistry for Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. Government & Politics for Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. History for Grades 11+
  • AP Eng. Composition for Grades 11+

The suggested age range for this program is 8 years old through adult.

The cost for SDA Homeschool Courses for one student per one course is $99 a year. Or you can pay $24.95 a month for one course. There are the AP classes and the cost for them is $14.95 a month per student. SDA-HSC-Pricing

Isaiah would complete one lesson a day, for each class. Each lesson would take him between 30-45 minutes to complete. Depending on the lesson for the day, and how much he was able to retain from that one lesson, would tell me just how well he was doing in each class.

One wonderful thing about Standard Deviants Accelerate is that I can see each quiz and chapter review Isaiah has completed. The program shows me his progress as well as his grade average for each class. Pretty awesome way to keep records for end of the year paperwork!

Isaiah still has a ways to go to complete any of the classes he is currently enrolled in but I see these classes as a very nice addition to the physical text books we already have here at home.

Please visit Standard Deviants Accelerate via these social links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SDAccelerate
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SDAccelerate
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SDAccelerate/
Google+: https://www.google.com/+Sdaccelerate

Please visit the TOS Review Crew blog to read what my fellow reviews had to say about Standard Deviants Accelerate.

clickformorereviews600x160_zpsc2cf0855I hope you enjoyed our latest review and have now found a product you MUST check out!

In His Grace.


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Fragrance Friday {Scentsy Pick of The Week} – Goody Goody Gumdrop


For a few years now I have been selling Scentsy smelly stuff and pretty household decorations to those around me. I LOVE the scented wax and all of the pretties that go along with them!

So, today, I am going to share my pick of the week from the current Scentsy catalog, along with the product link on my direct selling site.

– This week I have chosen Goody Goody Gumdrop as my Scentsy Pick of the Week –

I hope you find something you LOVE and please feel free to message me with any questions about the Scentsy products or the company itself, I would be happy to help!

You can visit my Scentsy site, Mama Loves Smelly Stuff, any time to check out the current specials, place an order, set up a party and so much more!

In His Grace.


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Lilla Rose Sale {Mama Loves Hair Pretties} Save 10% – 15% Off


Amazing Gift buying opportunities going on right now over on my personal Lilla Rose website.

Every item over on the site is 10% OFF!!

Or you can save up to 15% OFF by selecting keywords, Black, Brown, or Brass!!

Check out these awesome prices, grab some gorgeous gifts, and get some shopping done the easy way…online!

Visit my personal site now to get on these deals, because the sale is over at midnight Saturday, October 18th!

LR-MLHPLet me know if you have any questions about the Lilla Rose products.

I hope you find a beautiful new hair pretty to get for yourself or to give as a gift!

In His Grace.


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{Product Review} iWitness Books and Apologia Educational Ministries


I am constantly amazed at the products available for teaching our children. I have a secret love-affair with the Apologia company. AH-mazing products that cover a variety of subjects. The newest product we have had the privilege of reviewing is part of the iWitness series from Doug Powell.

We were blessed to get Old Testament iWitness, New Testament iWitness, and iWitness Biblical Archeology from Apologia Educational Ministries recently and they are crammed full of Biblical facts. These fantastic and fact filled books are just what my 13 year old son, Isaiah, and I really enjoy!

With so many amazing products available for homeschoolers, it is still incredible for me to find something new.

The first thing you notice about these books is that the design is gorgeous! Each book is a beautiful glossy paperback with great detail. I love them! Inside each book it is designed to give the impression of a scrapbook, which makes it seem more personal. Which makes sense, due to the name of iWitness, and it works well and is a totally awesome idea.

Since there are three books, I would like to tell you about each one in some detail. All three were wonderful and each had specific qualities we enjoyed. Recommended age range for these books is 11 years or older. They are also nice for read aloud usage and discussion.

A bit about the author, Doug Powell. He has a Master of Arts in the field of Christian Apologetics. What a fascinating field of study. (Honestly, I had no idea this was even a field of study…how cool is that?) He also holds awards for his graphic designs, has written each of the books in the iWitness series, is an app creator, and a musician. He sounds incredibly blessed and from these works, amazing talented.

old-testament-iwitness_zps0651d71c The Old Testament iWitness ($14.00) book is based on the written works of the Bible. Everything having to do with all of the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. In the book, Doug breaks down why we have these particular books in the Bible as well as how they made it into the Bible. He also talks about how some books are still used to this day by The Roman Catholic Church yet the Protestant Church chooses not to.

Interesting details include the fact that there was detailed criteria for a written book to even be considered to be a part of the Scriptures. One such criteria was there was an unbroken chain of prophets, so no writing after the time of Malachi could be included, because there was no prophet to write under the power of inspiration. (How knew? Amazing fact!)

Also, a lot of the Old Testament is indeed an account of the history of the children of God. The kings were listed, most of the judges were listed, the prophets were listed, and most books included specific breakdowns of family history too. A very important detail because of the direct correlation between King David and Jesus.

In this Old Testament iWitness book there was also places referenced in “school” history books that are directly referenced in the books of the Old Testament. There are places, times, and even dates that show the Bible is an incredibly accurate timeline of our past.

The New Testament iWitness ($14.00) book continues on with the historic timeline. This book new-testament-iwitness_zps0ef0bdafalso speaks about some of the written works that did not make it into the Bible. Due to amazingly small details some important works may have been left out of the New Testament.

Or that was what I was led to believe until I read more from Doug Powell. The books chosen still had to follow certain rules (or criteria) to be considered for Scripture. The “canon” (Greek for “measure” or “rule”) is what is defined as the teaching that we as Christians should measure our lives. Any book that held that teaching is considered to be inspired by God and it became part of the Scripture.

An interesting fact we learned was that the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) had very little variances between them. Incredibly small nuances include the minute details about the man’s life (the one writing the particular book) but more than 55% of these three books include the exact same words, stories, and historic details that speak about Christ and his life. Many scholars think that Matthew and Luke might have actually used Mark as their reference source when they wrote.

My favorite fact is the sheer number of copies of the original manuscript of the New Testament than any other ancient writings. In relative comparison there are 5,813 copies of the New Testament versus 1,757 copies of Homer’s Illiad…Amazing!

iwitness-biblical-archaeology_zpsa3f98043The iWitness Biblical Archeology ($14.00) book was totally fascinating to read. It was full of real life photos of archeological digs showing the artifacts that were found on site. There are Biblical references that talks about an item and then to see the photos of said item…incredible. Just one more link in the chain of truth of the Bible.

This book shows pictures of places specifically mentioned in the Bible. Some of these places are still physically able to be seen today. There are also numerous historical events that coincide with artifacts and writings. One such artifact is the Taylor Prism. This prism was discovered in Nineveh (modern Nebi Yunus, Iraq) that speaks of a battle of King Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the siege of Jerusalem. This battle was also recorded in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and the book of Isaiah.

With all of the pictures and the museums that these artifacts are located stirs in me a desire to travel and see these amazing items myself. I am so pleased to be able to be given an opportunity to learn more about the Bible thorough this book.

Apologia does it again with this iWitness series. It is fact based, full of incredible detail, and an enjoyable read. Fun facts that we can count towards History class or Biblical Studies class.

Our only issue is that some of the fonts used were a bit hard to read. Other than that, we both enjoyed reading these and discussing what we learned. Also, it was entirely too cool that we were able to open our Bibles and see for ourselves where certain items were talked about and  written.

There are more iWitness books coming soon from Doug Powell and Apologia and we are looking forward to them.

Follow Apologia via these social media links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

Find out what my fellow Crew members had to say about these products:


I hope you enjoyed our latest review and you stop back soon for our next product!

In His Grace.


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Fragrance Friday {Scentsy Pick of The Week} – Huckleberry Sage


For a few years now I have been selling Scentsy smelly stuff and pretty household decorations to those around me. I LOVE the scented wax and all of the pretties that go along with them!

So, today, I am going to share my pick of the week from the current Scentsy catalog, along with the product link on my direct selling site.

This week I have chosen Huckleberry Sage as my Scentsy Pick of the Week

I hope you find something you LOVE and please feel free to message me with any questions about the Scentsy products or the company itself, I would be happy to help!

You can visit my Scentsy site, Mama Loves Smelly Stuff, any time to check out the current specials, place an order, set up a party and so much more!

In His Grace.


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Alala Clothing and a $200 Giveaway


Alana makes me want to exercise more, lol!

Check out these comfy yet cool looking workout clothes…

I think they are really awesome and I feel the urge to put on my running shoes.

How about you?

Feel free to join in their Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $200 gift to their online store. You are going to need a Facebook account to join in the giveaway. See below.

Enter the giveaway below, and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In His Grace.


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21 {Free or Cheap} Fall & Autumn Homeschool Crafts, Printables and 1 Experiment for Preschool & Early Elementary

With so many wonderful ideas on Pinterest nowadays, it just seems easier to gather a bunch all in one place for easy access.

So, after my (waaaaay over my time allotted time-budget) perusing on the ultimate collection place of goodies and crafts ( ** clearing my throat ** …uuuummmmmm….Pinterest) I have some cute looking projects for you to check out.

We have crafts, printables, and one experiment that just look cool that seem best suited for little ones and some for early elementary kiddos.

Enjoy and let me know if you use any of these. I’d love to see how they turned out for you!



Free Leaf Identification Coloring Pages

Free Apple PreK/K Pack

Free Fall Printables – Pumpkin Coloring Pages & More

Free Fall Math Printable Pack

Free Fall Writing Papers

Fall Nature Hunt Printable

Fall Scavenger Hunt Printable

Happy Fall Coloring Pages

Fall Themed Printable Journal

All About Leaves Unit Study Printable Pack

Pumpkin Unit Study

Fall Leaf Scavenger Hunt Printable

Apple Do-a-Dot Printables

Free Autumn Printables

Fall Leaf Shadow Matching 

Pumpkin Pack


Fall Leaf Color Sort Felt Mat

Candy Corn Craft and Printable

Candy Corn Catapults

Leaf Bowl Salt Dough


Apple Cider Experiment (anything done with vinegar and baking soda is sure to entertain!)

Have fun and stop by all of these wonderful blogs and websites to find more of their awesome goodies!

In His Grace.




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