Kids’ Almanac (December 20-27)

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Still from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

I realize that living well is an art which can be developed. Of course, you will need the basic talents to build upon: They are a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings, and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. That people who may differ from you in political stance, sexual persuasion and racial inheritance can be founts of fun, and if you are lucky, they can become even convivial comrades.

– Maya Angelou


Find crafty gifts that kids can afford at the Treehouse in New Paltz

If you like gift-giving but find it hard for the whole family to appreciate the shopping experience, I found a wonderful solution that I want to share with you: the Treehouse. From the moment we ascend the stairs to this incredible gift shop (it’s on the second floor – get it? It’s like a treehouse!), I feel a sense of whimsy. I love that I will see new items that weren’t there last time I stopped in. My kids love that the owner, Kathy Preston, actually talks to and engages them during our visit, sometimes pointing out a detail that distinguishes one handcrafted piece from another when two things look similar. This especially delights my son, who always challenges the idea that no two pieces at the Treehouse are the same.

My kids are also thrilled that they can shop here with their own money! Preston has a $20-and-under corner that features a rich variety of items that suits anyone’s price point.

What’s the connection between the welcoming atmosphere and the beautiful art for sale? I attribute it to Preston’s approach to her business: “Not only am I a mom who has a business, but I’m an artist. In fact, 14 of the 25 artists I have in the shop right now are working-artist moms.”

The shop is beautifully stocked. Everywhere I look I see interesting, gorgeous items. Where does this incredible inventory come from, anyway? “All of the artists live here. At least ten of the artists live in Ulster and Dutchess Counties, and the others are nearby. The artists are what make this shop possible to be here, because of the enormous talent we have right in our area.”

In the eight months since the store opened, Preston has celebrated the sense of community that she feels there. “I love being in downtown New Paltz; everyone has been so welcoming, and it’s great to see businesses working together,” she says, citing as an example the recent New Paltz Downtown Unwrapped event.

That sense of community extends to the customers, too, as Preston shares some information about each artist while I compare their earrings in the mirror or hold up an ornament for a closer look. Her daughter is also an important part of the Treehouse community: “Nora is old enough now that I can have a shop like this. She also enjoys helping me dust and clean while she’s here.”

The Treehouse is not a co-op; it’s a gift shop that sells one-of-a-kind art and home décor. Preston puts out a call for artists every two months, and rotates the stock regularly. It’s so easy to check off holiday lists at the Treehouse, and maybe you’ll find something lovely to treat yourself.

She’s open every day through Christmas Eve, then daily from December 27 through the 31st. Then Preston’s taking some time to produce more of her own art, so January means the beginning of winter weekend hours.

Shopping at the Treehouse is more than just getting a fantastic wall hanging or a unique necklace, and it goes beyond supporting a local business. Each purchase supports local artists, which really means local families.

The Treehouse is located upstairs at 5 North Front Street in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 802-1197 or find it online on Facebook at Treehouse New Paltz or at


Global Transol in Kingston offer fast, cheap alternative for sending packages overseas

It’s true: I am often late – always have been. I am a frequent late arrival to events, and the deadline for this column is only an hour away. But my record on mailing international packages was even worse. Birthday gifts to my godchildren in France would arrive weeks late. I was challenged by the tiny spaces on the customs forms, daunted by the long lines at the post office; and I paid a great deal for the privilege to ship overseas, with a long delivery time at that.

But now that is all a distant memory because Global Transol came into my life, and I think that it is the best international package delivery company in the whole world. It’s like my own personal E-Z Pass of shipping, it’s that effortless. My packages are cheaper to mail, and they arrive faster than through the post office. And there’s no line! I just drop the boxes off at its offices in Tech City in Kingston.

The folks at Global Transol always say that no package is too big or too small, and they really mean it. I’m a regular person. I never have more than one regular box to ship. I don’t have pallets of tomatoes or shipping containers of widgets to move from one country to another, but Global Transol does all of it. It ships anywhere in the world: anywhere. I was surprised that the address on the package to my friends in India last month included the phrase “Next to Phone Booth,” but to Global Transol, that’s business as usual, and my friends received my box only a few days later.

It’s so refreshing to pay less for the shipping than I do for the gifts. If you have anything to ship internationally this holiday season – or any time – I highly recommend Global Transol. I think that it’s magical, easy, cheap and fast. I’m getting giddy just thinking about it! Tell Bernard that Erica sent you. Global Transol is located at 250 Enterprise Drive in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 790-5277 or visit




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