Kids’ Almanac (November 22-29)

Kingston Model Railroad Club’s annual Open House runs weekends through Sunday, December 2 (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

“To live in this world

you must be able to
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”
— from In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver


Buying Delightfully

To me, Buying Locally feels more like Buying Delightfully. Simply walking into Marc Anthony’s shop, The Green Palette, is a fun experience. First of all, I loved being able to park right there, which is very handy when I’m with my kids. When I entered the store, I was excited about what I saw: awesome details like a crafted tree in the middle of the space; as well as what I heard: actual records! Anthony has two turntables set up to play music from his record collection. Just that alone makes it a winning cultural experience for my kids because they never get to see records in action. The shop invites your gaze from all directions. The space is filled with eye-catching displays of pieces of every size and every price point, from small earrings to outdoor wicker chairs and a bed handcrafted in Indonesia. In the back, you see a puppet theater made from an old palette, covered with bark and moss, where Anthony performs puppet shows using dolls made from recycled materials, and a children’s craft area, where he leads activities for children to create art from reclaimed common household items.

Since The Green Palette just opened up, I asked Anthony about his background. “I grew up in Long Island and then lived in New York City and New Jersey. I was a Spanish major and during my last semester. I dropped out to pursue my dreams in furniture design and sales.” Anthony is passionate about sustainability and creating new from old. “In 2005, I went to Bali for a client of mine to seek out furniture. We found a small family factory there that made furniture out of reclaimed teak. I was so inspired by what I saw that I convinced my client to purchase a container’s worth of furniture into the States.” Anthony imports items twice a year. You can buy the furniture he already has on site, or you can order new pieces that arrive in a few months at a discounted rate. I asked Anthony how Green Palette got started. “I have a small showroom in Tribeca that I used to do sustainable furniture design consultations with clients. Then over the summer I moved with my wife and kids to New Paltz, because my wife got a job teaching at SUNY New Paltz. I decided to open up The Green Palette in town so I didn’t have to commute to the city and can be home with my two kids. The Green Palette allowed me to reach out and show the community my passion in sustainable design. I hope to showcase sustainable functional art and garden pieces and LGBT gift items.” I don’t ordinarily hear an emphasis on children at gift shops, but that’s one more element that separates The Green Palette from other shops. Why the focus on classes and activities for children? “I believe the biggest impact we can make is with our children. Teach them new habits in how they see garbage. The idea was finding trash and using it to develop a lesson plan in an artistic way. I have always been very good with children I have a natural ability to play with them and at the same time teach them how to think.” Anthony’s committed to doing this both in the store, as well as off site: “We are hoping to roll out our Recycled Pallet Puppet Theatre to homes so parents can host us at parties or for extra teaching seminars. We also hope to have more events at the store relating sustainable materials intermixed with mathematical lesson plans for kids to enjoy.” Keep The Green Palette in mind for your kids next summer, too: “We will have a summer workshop at our store, for summer 2013. Every two weeks we will have new topics of sustainability lesson plans for children to be part of. They will run Mondays through Fridays for 3 hours and will cost $150 per student.” What does Anthony do to sustain himself? “I’m vegan, I love funk and anything live music, and my hobbies are poetry writing and hiking.” The Green Palette is located at 215 Main Street in New Paltz. To learn about upcoming classes and activities and more, call (845) 594-8476, visit, or read the store’s blog at


Art of the Heirloom

Speaking of sustainability, I am so grateful to Ann and Dan Guenther for their recommendation to take the kids to Unison Arts Center for the Hudson Valley Seed Library Art of the Heirloom: Cultural Seed Savers exhibit. I’m already a big fan of the Seed Library’s work and mission to offer heirloom and open-pollinated seeds — “no hybrids and nothing genetically engineered.” We’ve been to Unison countless times for concerts and other performances, but I was wary of bringing young children to an art gallery. It turned out to be a fantastic experience for us, and I hope you bring your families, too! Here’s the positively brilliant tie-in between art and seeds: “Artists are cultural seed savers, selecting which kernels of beauty, color, and form to keep alive and pass on to future generations.” You can usually just stop in during Unison’s office hours, so that made it easy for us to get there, we didn’t have to plan ahead too much. Vegetable and plant-inspired artwork hangs on all four walls, all different sizes and styles, and on the front wall, a display of the art-based seed packets is arranged. At first, my kids did a cursory look around, then declared their desire to leave. I took a page out of the Guenther’s book and asked which three pieces were their favorites, which started to actively engage them. I took pictures of the kids with the ones they liked best after I assured our daughter that yes, of course she could have more than three favorites. Finally, we loved comparing the original artwork to the final product on the seed packet, which meant a few more laps around the room trying to match them up. I am looking forward to surprising our kids by gifting them with their favorite packs for growing their own seeds next summer. What a great, concrete way to get them enthused about gardening as well as raising awareness about where our seeds come from, and why it matters. Unison’s office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Art of the Heirloom runs until December 5. Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public. Unison Arts Center is located at 68 Mountain Rest Road in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-1559, visit, or go to


Skydiving Santa

This cracks me up, because a skydiving Santa probably doesn’t make too much sense in many parts of the country, or the world for that matter, but he fits right in at Hurds Farm, which is located near the renowned Blue Sky Ranch skydiving and parachuting center. On Friday, November 23 at noon, Santa parachutes down to the Hurds Family Farm Evergreen Plantation. Give your kids a bit of unique, local flavor for getting into the holiday spirit this year with a campfire, hot cocoa and s’mores, cow train rides and gifts. Hurds Family Farm Evergreen Plantation is located at 76 Hurds Road in Clintondale. For more information, call (845) 883-7825 or visit




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