It’s been five years since eco-activist-author-shop-owner Priscilla Woolworth relocated from Los Angeles to New York’s Hudson Valley with a goal of learning to be more self sustaining. She settled with her partner in a 1790s house in the hamlet of Taghkanic where she writes her Newsletter, a bimonthly report on people doing creative work to better the planet, and grows all sorts of things, including loofah to use as sponges and Moroccan fennel that she turns into toothpicks.
Priscilla recently earned a certificate from Cornell in medicinal medicine. She also opened The Rabbit Hole, a hutch-sized boutique and online store filled with natural delights from shell-edged bowl covers to Christmas ornaments made from her own homegrown dried okra. “I want to show people what’s possible and easy,” says the woman who, back in 2007, Time magazine labeled a “new green pioneer.” (And if you’re wondering about her last name: yes, she comes by her retail bent naturally—she’s a descendant of the founder of the late, great five-and-dime chain F.W. Woolworth.)
The other week, I caught sight of a curious string of dried orange peels that Priscilla posted in an Instagram Story and asked her to fill us in. “I use dried peels along with twigs as tinder for the fire,” she responded. “It’s a great way to make use of a plentiful domestic byproduct.” I got her on the phone and discovered kindling is but one of several ways Priscilla puts zest to work. Take a look.
Subtly Fragrant Fire Starter
To start fires, Priscilla uses a combination of orange peel, twigs, newspaper, and sometimes cut-up cardboard. “The oils and delicate scent of orange adds perkiness to the fire,” she says. Note the wine cork attached to the string: “I use it to stow the needle, so it’s on hand and no one accidentally injures themselves with it.”
Clementine Tea Lights
Star Garland and Ornaments
Erin Boyle also dries orange slices and turns them into Christmas trees decorations and our friends at The Grit and Polish string dried orange garlands.
During the holidays, I myself make candied orange peel and my own sweet-smelling wine concoction: see Last-Minute Holiday Gift: Homemade Spice Orange Wine. What do you do with your citrus leftovers? Please fill us in.
For more easy holiday DIYs, go to Instant Festivity: 11 Foraged and (Mostly) Free Decorating Ideas from the Editors.