Category Archives: Gardening

Project: Sweet Bags

Sweet Bags

Created at Aire Faucon’s Largess Night on 6/8/2017

Participants (The Canton of Aire Faucon)
Lady Prudence the Curious (Organizer, donated the fabric and cedar chips, stuffed bags and hand sewed them shut); Lisa Weekly (Host of the A&S Night, dried the rose petals, operated the sewing machine), Rich Weekly (picked the roses), and Richard & Elizabeth Weekly (twin 4-year-olds) – helped pick the roses, turn the bags inside-out for stuffing, and stuffed the bags with cedar chips.

Care and feeding of the sweet bags
The floral bags are stuffed with rose petals. Over time the scent will fade. Adding rose water or rose essence should restore the scent.

The green & white striped bags and the blue bags are stuffed with cedar chips. The scent will fade over time, usually around a decade before completely gone. Afterwards they make great fire starters.

A Bit of History
Sweet Bags are also called sachets, scent bags, smelling cushions, dream pillows, and plague bags.

In use since before 200 BC in China (and everywhere since at least Medieval times), bags of scented woods and herbs have been used to make the world a more pleasant place to live. Throughout SCA period, you would find people wearing some sort of scent bag as an alternate to wearing perfume. And, of course, modern scholars state the bags were used to “scare evil spirits”.

The bags were worn like accessories. The herbs stuffed in them could be dry and fresh. When people started having more than one or two sets of clothing, bags of scents – especially lavender – were stored with the undergarments.

As people got more and more clothing and needed to store winter garments during the summer, cedar became a popular storage method to discourage moths as it affects the young larvae (it will not kill established larvae). The use of scent bags to control pests is more modern simply because historical people did not have a wealth of fabric to protect.

Use of Bags
Rose/Floral Bags – I recommend storing with items you want smelling slightly of roses. I pack them in with my linen and silk embroidery thread. Every time I stitch, the light fragrance enhances the experience. Note the Rose bags will not keep any pests away because everything loves roses, so be sure to put the bags inside a sealed container.

Cedar Bags (green & white / blue) – I put one in with my box of cloth. It gives the fabric a light woody scent. Better yet the fabric doesn’t end up smelling like plastic or mold.

The bags were packed in groups of two to include in largess baskets given by the Canton. Each participant was allowed to keep one for their own use.

Making of
Take scrap cloth at least as wide as your hand when folded in half. Needs to be thick enough to hold the herb/wood chips inside but thin enough to let the scent through.

Fold in half and sew two of the three sides, then turn inside-out and be sure to poke out the corners. No need to finish the edges.

Stuff the bag, leaving room at the top to sew together. Mash the bag a little to verify the stuffing is enough but not too much.

Sew the top together either by machine or by hand.

Special Note
This works well as a kids’ project if the bags are premade. Young children can turn the bags inside out “just like you do with your socks” and stuff the materials. They will be frustrated with the fabric not staying open and may ask you to hold the bag open for them. Choose a fabric which is not flimsy if working with children. Older children can sew their own bags shut as well.

The children can then take the sweet bag home to “scare the insects away from their SCA clothing” if you use cedar chips.

Cedar chips can be bought at any pet store; one bag will last for decades.

Gardening 2016: General Mayhem


I Never Promised A Rose Garden – but I am going to deliver it!

In between taxes during February, March and April 2016, I used my one hour of sunlight per week to work outside. I’ve always wanted to garden to play with. Twenty months ago I got it when I bought my very small house. The yard is big enough for tons of fun, in between being too busy.

My first goal was a rose garden. Which I arranged October 2015. I moved bushes from around the house. The previous owner for some reason had three bushes – one behind the garbage cans, one where it could grab a skirt every time a passenger left a car, and one slowly being overtaken by sunflowers and weeds tuck by the front porch. I dug them up and combined them in one area.

Since the roses wouldn’t bloom until summer, I added crocus, tulips, and pansies for springtime. The crocus popped up in early March for two weeks. Now tulips are reigning with support from the pansies.

Yes, the garden is completely overgrown with spring weeds as well. That needs to get fixed. But my first attempt at putting my mark on my house has worked out well.

The red leafed bushes along the cement should have a continuous display of red and white roses come June. Fingers-crossed!

(ADDITIONAL NOTE 6/2/2016 – My white rose bush got the black spot and nearly died completely back even after spraying with rot-be-gone stuff. I hated doing that as I wanted to be able to use the roses for food this year. But since the white rose bush is in the middle, it was the only way to quickly save the lot. I did this about a month ago. The middle bush is recovering quickly with lots of new growth and both of the red bushes are blooming intense red flowers. The larger bush which wasn’t transplanted is having the best time of it.)

The major problem with the rose garden is the curved corner dips low and constantly floods. I need to get that fixed along with the weeding sometime soon.

The next thing I concentrated on was the ornamental grass in the back of the house. I worked on this most of February and March during the odd moment of free time my day job allowed during daylight hours. As you can see below, I trimmed the tops off.

But reason work was needed on the grass was the entire center had rotted out. Took me three weeks of digging and fighting to clear everything out. One online website on the care and maintenance of Pampas grass recommends trimming with a chain saw, then burning what is left to the ground and let it grow back. No, really – the blog instructed to trim grass with a chain saw while wearing leather to keep the razor sharp leaves from cutting you.

I just went out it with a shovel, hoe, shears, and while wearing a denim shirt and jeans with heavy gloves. My wrists still were slit to heck and back where the fabric gapped, but I did get the center cleared out.

This is what the grass looks from the other side after all the rot was removed.

I hope it will recover. The grass is beautiful and hides my neighbor’s shed which is falling down and covered by a tarp.

The original idea for this post was to tell you all about the herb garden put in near my kitchen … the one I was going to work on in March. I got everything together two weeks before I created this post (for my writer’s blog in March 29, 2016) so I could show pictures and brag about how accomplished I am.

Yeah, no. The next two weeks have been working late every day I had a chance of getting home before sunset … or rain. Spring rains. Lots of them.

So what I have to-be-assembled pictures:

The plot which the previous owner covered with the oh-so “effective” weed tarp. I somehow need to dig through the weeds to the tarp. The problem is the weeds have grown through the tarp. To get this up will require removal of four inches or more of weeds, tarp, and roots at one time. I didn’t realize how involved until I started the first “easy” lift off of the tarp. Nothing moved.

(ADDITIONAL NOTE 6/2/2016 – Still working on this project. Ended up using grass poison to kill the stuff enough to loosen the roots. And when I got through that layer and another two inches of dirt I discovered another tarp. No wonder I can’t get through this!)

On one of the rainy days I went shopping for the assembly kit. The brick borders, new soil, and a turtle big enough to sit on while working the little plot.

(ADDITIONAL NOTE: 6/2/2016 The turtle is still in the back of the car, sigh)

Last year I dug out the dead bush by the front door. I had really hoped to have a full herb garden this year.

We’ll see what happens.

The other big goal this year is remove as many stumps a possible. The house came with close to a dozen stumps everywhere. I have dug two up so far. The previous owner was an older lady who took care of her yard for a while, but it just got away from her the last few years she lived there. So I have inherited a yard with lots of potential, but to reach that potential, I need to first clear the slate.

From the azalea bushes gone wrong. These should have been blooming by now.

To the ever present stumps.

And more stumps, plus the bushes which now run the entire fence.

Oh, and the trees growing THROUGH the fence.

Anyway, one of my ongoing projects is getting my yard in shape. A multi-year project, obviously.

The goals for gardening in 2016 are as follows: 

(1) Get the ornamental grass fixed – COMPLETED late March
(2) get the rose garden fixed
(3) get the herb garden in
(4) get as many of the stumps out of the yard as possible.

I will post pictures as this year’s gardening projects are completed.