Cupcake confession: I'm not a huge fan of them. They are just little cakes. Frosting things individually doesn't always appeal to me, but they're easier to photograph, easier to present. So, I submit to the cupcake and accept its place in the baking world. You win this time, cupcake.
I pulled this recipe from one of my favorite recipe books -- it's a very basic spice cake recipe. It called for buttermilk, but I tend not to buy fancy ingredients. If I can stick to the basics that I always have, I'm happier. Instead, I added about 1/4 of a lemon's worth of juice to the amount of milk, stirred, and let sit while I prepped the other ingredients. It seemed to work just as well. Mostly, the recipe just needs something acidic to help the baking soda work -- you can use either vinegar or lemon juice and regular milk instead of buttermilk in almost any recipe.
For the frosting, I used a can of cream cheese frosting -- someday, I will have the means to make my own frosting, but for now, I just can't use that much butter and cream cheese at one time! -- and I added a teaspoon of vanilla and then about 1/4 cup of real maple syrup. It tasted so good and smelled delicious. However, it did get a little thin, so I let the frosting chill in the fridge while the cupcakes baked.