Country lanes, cornstalks, scarecrows and sunflowers are the epitome of late summer.

Sunflowers are even better when they’re edible (and not in the usual sense). 

Such as chocolate cupcakes decorated with Oreo-cookies-turned-sunflowers, idea courtesy of Hello Cupcake, a treasure trove of cupcake projects by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

The original recipe called for vanilla cupcakes (all the better to showcase the green cupcake liners, I assume), but you can never have too much chocolate at our house, so aesthetic considerations took a back seat to gastronomic ones.

The little ladybugs are red M&Ms, decorated with a bit of black icing. My piping skills are still in their infancy, so said ladybugs look a little battered.

That’s probably in keeping with the theme of late summer, when a lot of things are looking a bit frayed around the edges, including yours truly.

I found this set of four appetizer plates on eBay a while ago, featuring sunflowers and scarecrows. There are two of each plate. I don’t know much about the history of the pattern.

They’re by Maxcera and there are still two sets available on eBay in case you’re interested. 

The salad plates are Southern Home’s Capri Buttecup from Belk (discontinued) and the dinner plates are from Pier 1 a couple of years ago. They’re calling them Bradford Dinnerware now and have them in limited quantities. 

The sunflower napkin rings and rooster tablecloth are from April Cornell; they were both part of her “attic sale” earlier this year.

The iced tea glasses are Amber Julia depression glass by Tiffin-Franciscan, one of my favourite fall patterns.

I took the cupcakes with us to a friend’s house whence we’d been invited for a dinner party and where they were gratefully received. It made a nice change from taking a bottle of wine! And much better for the waistlines of our household.

While I’m sad that we’re at the end of summer, there is something quite exciting about the fresh start September brings.

Invigorated by the cooler temperatures. I look forward to sweater weather, braised food and fires in the fireplace.

Back in Canada now, I’ve been “fallifying” the house. I’ve changed over the kitchen china to fall patterns and swapped out the cushion and throws in the family room. Outside, we’ve filled the windowboxes and planters with chyrsanthemums, black eyed susans, kale and ornamental pepper plants.

The climbing hydrangea on the Coach house has been beaten back into submission. The porch has been thoroughly swept, cushions vaccuumed and front door adorned with a bittersweet wreath. 

I found a cute little wagon at Home Sense that I lined with a piece of plastic and filled with chrysanthemums, kale and two of the fall forest figures which adorned our Thanksgiving table a couple of years ago.

The first rendition had the fox and bear.

The fox came to a sad end, however, when I left the golden retrievers unattended on the porch while engaged in the wrestling match with the climbing hydrangea. A combination of climbing either the stepladder or full extension ladder, while plying clippers and branch loppers was consuming my full attention; Mr. Fox’s tattered styrofoam remains were found on the porch. All four dogs swore they were innocent and there was much paw-pointing. Mr. Racoon bravely stepped in to the role, on the understanding that at no point would he be left alone with four not-figurine-friendly canines.

You wouldn’t chomp on an innocent racoon, would you, Clementine? 

Oh, no, Mum! Of course not!

I quite like how the wagon fills the space to the left of the front door.

For the right side, I’ve purchased a set of tall lanterns from Pier 1, which were deeply discounted this week. I haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with them yet, but it will include some kind of candle and some fall-themed fillers.

That’s been the fun part. Simultaneously, we’ve been tackling the end-of-summer task of clearing the naturalized area in our back yard of garlic mustard weed, a nasty invasive plant that produces neither garlic nor mustard as far as I can tell. Our property borders a conservation area that is chock full of the dratted stuff and we inevitably get our full share of the bounty. By late summer, the flower has turned to a very sticky small seed, about the size of a sunflower seed. It sticks to golden retriever fur like crazy. The plants pull up really easily so it’s not as bad as it could be, but it takes a few days of steady work. Our backs can only take a couple of hours of it at a time. We cleared about 25 wheelbarrow loads yesterday and were back at it again today.  A couple more days should do it. We’ve blocked off a cleared area for the dogs to use, however, Taylor is indifferent to barriers and wiggles her way through with impunity, deaf to shouts to “Get the heck out of there”!!!! Yesterday morning she came back so thickly coated with seeds that she looked like she’d been breaded. Of course, she’s the woolly sheep of the four. Grrrr.  It took me half an hour of steady brushing to get her cleaned up. And this was before coffee. I was not pleased. She’s been put on leash arrest now until the clearing is complete.

Time to make a cup of tea, gather a book and spend some time on the porch while the weather is good.

Happy Labour Day!

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.