Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Packing for the hospital

Good Morning Bloggers!!!
I am one week away from my due date. I am so so excited. I am really trying to be prepared and have everything ready. The lack of energy that I have is a bit frustrating and holds me back a bit. I miss that second trimester energy. Nothing was out of place at my house.
SO my task for the last few days has been to get packed for the hospital. This is what I have so far
Mommy Bag
Comfy pants
Sweat Shirt
Thick socks
Nursing Bra
Items to shower with
Lip balm
A blanket my grandmother made me to use for nursing
Still need to pack

Baby bag  I used my new Monkey Beanz Diaper bag. Mine is the second one in the green one.
2 Onesies
2 Outfits
Warm outside suit. (It is very cold in January in Maine)

This is all I have packed... is there anything you think I might be missing?? What did you wish you had packed or was happy that you had packed?? Was there something that saved the day?? Help this first time mommy!!!!
That is it for me time to go get this house in order...
Peace Love and Fair TRADE!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Stuff!!!

Hello All!! So sorry I missed you last week. My hands were so swollen I could barely type. I am 2 1/2 weeks away from my due date!!! I am so so excited!!!!

Monkey Beanz has really been expanding. If you are looking for gift ideas here are a few gift sets that we have put together.

Baby Gift Set Includes: 1 Monkey Beanz mobile (your choice of style), 1 pair of luxurious fair trade baby booties and a fair trade chocolate for Mama all presented in our Canvas Reusable Fair Trade Apple Tree Tote.

We also do a gift set for toddlers that is in the same bag that includes 1 Monkey Beanz toy (your choice of drum set or tool set), 1 pair of Monkey Beanz Thai fisherman pants (your choice of color) and a fair trade chocolate all presented in our Canvas Reusable Fair Trade Apple Tree Tote

This bag is my new personal favorite!!!

Okay last but not least... I just purchased these for our baby on the way...

I cannot wait for little Spencer or Lily to show these off!!! Check out http://www.monkeybeanz.com/ for more of our amazingly awesome Fair Trade products. We will also be posting even more items soon!!!!

Happy  Holidays to everyone!!! Be safe!!!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Open House ... Great Last Minute Gifts

Just a heads up for anyone in the Portland area looking for some great baby and mama gifts.  Check out the Holiday Open House at The Boutique at Maine Medical Center in Portland.  Trust me, this is not your average hospital gift shop.  I went in a couple of weeks ago to talk with the buyer about providing some Monkey Beanz product and was amazed at the feeling of the shop as soon as I walked through the door.  You feel like you are in a very upscale children's boutique and completely forget about the hospital bustle in the other side of the door.  Very easy to browse through and the staff is quite knowledgeable if you have any questions about what you might need.  Plus, the new buyer has expanded the inventory to include an increased number of local businesses like these beautiful organic slings made by Denise Jacobsohn of Slings and Baby Things and currently, a variety of Monkey Beanz fair trade infant mobiles which were already creating quite a stir in the shop when I dropped them off!

The Holiday Open House is tomorrow, Thursday, December 17th from 10-8.  Go take a peek, you won't regret it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

8 Days of Hannukah Fair Trade Deals!

Celebrate Hannukah Monkey Beanz style ... every day is a new deal!  That's right, eight days of fair trade deals ... we've got discounts, freebies, free shipping and more.  All you have to do is check back each day.  Or, if that feels like just a bit too much (as it would for me, so feel no shame!), sign up for the Monkey Beanz newsletter to get a heads up on the next day's deal.  You can also become a Facebook Fan or follow Monkey Beanz on Twitter to get updates about the deals.

So, without further ado, here is the info you want ...

Day 1 of Hannukah is about to end so hopefully you snagged your fair trade infant mobiles at 25% off!!

We will kick Day 2 off with an amazing freebie gift of choice when you buy either our baby or toddler fair trade gift sets which are such great gifts for baby showers, birthdays, holiday or just to have on hand because you know sooner or later there is going to be another baby gift to send out!  You will get the choice of our too cute recycled kids embellished journal or a set of fair trade recycled cotton gift wrapping paper.  Just add the gift set and freebie gift to your cart and enter day2deal in the coupon code form at checkout and the price of the journal or gift wrap will be knocked right out of there!  Ooh, doesn't that feel nice?!

Check it out and spread the word.  Not to toot my own horn but these gift sets rock.  The canvas totes are perfect for so many things.  I use mine for grocery trips, library outings, snacks, sippy cups, hats and mittens when the frigid morning air has warmed up a touch for a few lovely minutes.  And the fair trade goodies inside make a truly unique eco gift set.  From luxurious baby booties to Thai fisherman pants for kids, the Monkey Beanz Fair Trade gifts sets are a gift that will be appreciated by any parents you know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Preggo Post time!!!! I am officially 35 1/2 weeks pregnant!!! A month to go..well I hope...
My venture this week, dealing with the idea of being a "stay at home" mommy. Money is so tight right now so the idea of me giving up my full time job as a bakery manager is really scary but staying home is very important to both of us. Thank goodness for Monkey Beanz or we would be in a lot more trouble. So here are a few money saving techniques my husband and I are doing...

1. Cloth Diapers: As I posted before we are going to be using cloth diapers
2. Breast Feeding
3. My husband and I have become bulk shoppers (this is hard for us, we are very much "foodies")
4. We will continue to have just one car
5. We have netflix so we can watch the instant view instead of renting or going to the movies
6. Using the library instead of buying the books we want to read
7. Only getting clothing at thrift stores (thank you to my friends for all of the hand me downs we have been recieving for Spencer/Lily
8. We started making our own cleaning products a long time ago, I love it!!!

I have faith in us!!!! I am open to any other money saving tips... bring it on ladies!!!

Oh and we finished our nursery finally!!!!

Have a great week everyone
Peace love and turtles

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Ideas to Help Keep Kids Calm

As I've mentioned before, our 5 year old has a personality that leans towards the anxious side of life.  So I am always on the hunt for tools that I think might help her cope with some of those feelings and that might provide her with resources for the emotions throughout her life.

My latest brainstorm came today when I reconnected with a fellow Portland business owner.  I met Sarah last winter at one of the Boston Cultural Survival Fair Trade Bazaars where she was selling some of her amazing pottery.  After many months of wanting to get over to her shop here in Portland, I finally made it in today to look for some holiday gifts.

Her shop, Earth & Soul, is a lovely space showcasing her pottery as well as a variety of art from local and international artisans.  While I was chatting with Sarah, and her lovely 6 month old daughter falling asleep in her baby carrier, I asked about the pottery classes she teaches in the studio in the back of the shop.  I found out she offers classes for kids 5 and up. 

I immediately pictured Sasha pounding, molding, squishing the clay to form amazing shapes and figures.  For those of you who have never spent time around Sasha, she definitely got her daddy's artist genes.  She produces hundreds of drawings, stories and various creations every week.  She has taken art classes before and absolutely loved it but she has never experienced pottery (unless we broaden the term to include play doh).

Every kid loves playing in the mud, the feeling of that goop gushing through your fingers - it is so primal, brings out the caveman/woman/kid in all of us.  Since there are currently no classes in "How to Mush Muddy Goop into Art,"  I figured pottery class is the more civilized version.

My hopes for the class is it will take Sasha's natural artistic passion and give her a place to reach that primitive place inside to find some calm and nourish her inner worrier.  So I am so happy that I happened to step into Sarah's shop on this spring like Maine December day.  Thanks Sarah and I will report back on Sasha's pottery adventures once she settles into class after the new year.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Holiday Spirit is Here

My mom started a holiday tradition last year of taking my daughters and me to see the local production of The Nutcracker which I used to go see in New York City with my grandparents when I was younger.  This was the first year that both girls came as last year Marisa was a bit too young to sit through the show.  I was amazed at how good they both were and I just smiled through most of the show watching how much they enjoyed the music, the dance and the costume.

Speaking of which, oh wow ... the costumes just blow my mind every time I see The Nutcracker performed.  This show makes me want to sew just so that I could be a part of creating the outfits for The Nutcracker.  Watching the dancers move in the gorgeous dresses and flowing fabrics ... it just reeks of beauty and grace.  The strength of the dancers is astounding and really does feel like you are watching art in action. 

Before seeing the performance last year for the first time as a parent, I had forgotten how many roles kids play in the show and that makes it so much fun for the girls to watch.  So I think there may be some more dance classes in the future for the girls and maybe this time next year I'll be posting pictures of my girls as little reindeer in The Nutcracker!

After the performance, we walked downtown where the girls oohed and aahed over the lights decorating the trees and shops.  The four of us ducked into a local coffee shop and got big mugs full of hot cocoa.  I love this tradition and am so grateful for my mom, her relationship with my daughters and the wonderful memories that they will have forever.  It may have been raining today as we stand on the brink of December but, snow or no snow,  I am now officially in the holiday mood. 

What makes it feel like the holidays are here for you?  Any traditions you have with your kids or from your childhood?  Share, share, help us all bring that much talked about holiday cheer!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pregnant during the holidays!!!

Hello it is time for my Sunday Preggo Post (that is what I am calling it these days).
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! I had a fabulous time with the Family!!! After Thanksgiving comes Christmas.. I will be 2 weeks away from my due date during Christmas so I am getting everything ready now. I obviously have all of the children in my life covered with Fair Trade gifts from Monkey Beanz. There goes this months check!!!

For the adults in my life I am giving out baskets filled with homemade goodies. I have started to prepare now since I am sure I will not be in the mood in a few weeks. Here is some of the things our baskets will consist of...

1. My special pumpkin bread in a jar dessert (sorry I don't have a picture to share)
    You can use any pumpkin bread recipe you can find. This is my favorite http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Downeast-Maine-Pumpkin-Bread/Detail.aspx i just add a handfull or 2 of chocolate chips.
The next step is to put about a 1/2 of the mix into a jar, I like to use 12 oz jars. Put them on a cookie sheet and carefully put them in the oven.. (that is 350 degrees) I would love to give you an exact bake time but honestly I usually just throw them in and keep my eye on them, I believe it is around 15 Minutes. When they come out put the lid on and it will seal shut. I am putting this in the basket with these intrustions
" Heat up in microwave for 30 seconds. Put a scoop of Vanilla ice cream in the jar then drizzle with Caramel and sprinkle with pecans.. ENJOY"

2. Another really cool thing we are putting in the basket is hot drink mixes. I found some christmas themed bags to use for this. In the baggie I make up different combos that will make yummy hot drinks. Here is one of my favorites.
Chocolate Mint Coffee Mix
In the bag put 2 T. plus 2 tsp. sugar
2 T. Instant coffee granules
2 T. Powdered coffee creamer
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 peppermint candy, crushed into fine pieces
Then attach a gift tag with these directions:
To make one serving
1 1/2 T of mix
6 oz. boiling water
Whipped cream (optional)
Place the mix in a mug. pour boiling water over the mix until dissolved. Garnish with whipped cream.

Those are just a few things that we are putting in our baskets. It will feel so good to put so much love into each thing we make for our friends and family. Here is to a stress free holiday!!!
Peace love and cookies

Friday, November 27, 2009

Monkey Beanz Black Friday Sale!!!

Yup, everything on the entire website is 20% off - no minimum orders, no tricks, just straight up money in your pocket.  Remember, orders over $100 get FREE SHIPPING. 

Hmmm... Black Friday shopping without getting dressed and leaving the house ... I like it.  Get yourself a plate of leftover turkey and start shopping!

NO COUPONS!!   JUST SHOP MONKEY   VNCB104-2.jpgBEANZ    11/27 - 11/30 


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mamas of worry warts ... a must see for you!

Sure, we parents may moan sometimes that our kid have nothing to complain about ... no bills to worry about, meals to cook, school activities to take care of ... but we also know that being a kid just isn't always all that easy either.  Granted, that fact may only be remembered on really good days but still, the knowledge is in there somewhere!

I am a firm believer that kids are born with their personalities and it is part of our job as parents to encourage the "easier" aspects of their personalities and also to help them learn how to deal with some of the more difficult parts of themselves.  My five year old is a worrier, an anxiety producing machine if you will.  Yes, I will admit, she got it from me but at least I can often understand my anxieties if not actually stop them in their tracks.  We have tried many ways to try to relax and let some of the worries go but bedtime remains a difficult time - just lying there with nothing but her own 5 year old mind running rampant with concerns about life or, say,  dead ducks in the hallway (no idea where it came from but that caused about a week or so of absolute terror for her.

This last month I rediscovered something that I used as a child that had gotten lost in the black holes of my memory.  Worry Dolls!  I loved my worry dolls, the details of the handmade clothes and faces, the way I could tuck them all up in their little pouch at night, the way they made me feel more grown up than just wanting to cradle a stuffed animal.  As a parent, I can now appreciate them even more for their beautiful simplicity and cultural tradition. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the worry doll legend, here is a quick recap:
As the legend of the Highland Indian villages of Guatemala goes: Before going to bed tell one worry to each doll, then place them beneath your pillow. While you are sleeping, the dolls will take your worries away.

My daughter now keeps her pouch of worry dolls by her bed and is often comforted just by knowing her pals are there waiting for her worries. 

Monkey Beanz is now offering a fair trade worry doll gift set that includes a pouch of worry dolls and a hardcover copy of Anthony Browne's Silly Billy, an adorable story that is the perfect introduction to your child's new worry dolls.  You can order this great fair trade gift with or without our durable canvas fair trade shopping bag!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cloth Diapers

SO as always I will start out my post with mentioning that I am now 34 weeks!! 6 Weeks to go. My complaints this week .. Heartburn!!! I never knew heartburn could possibly feel this bad. Otherwise I am pretty happy besides a quick battle with the flu last week.

I have been getting everything ready for when our little cutie arrives. This including our cloth diapers, I am actually really looking forward to this venture. I get a lot of doubt from my friends and family which I find quite odd, I have never been someone who gives up on anything but I will use their doubt as encouragement!! It is important to me because of many reasons.
Here are a few facts that I have found (http://www.rpi.edu/~cummia3/Portfolio/SaniSolar_3_files/SaniSolar%20Poster.pdf)

1.The US uses apx. 27.4 billion disposable diapers per year.
2.100,000 tons of plastic and 1.3 million tons of
wood pulp, amounting to 250,000 trees, are
wasted in the production of the annual 27.4 billion
disposable diapers.
3. An average baby uses 5,000 diapers before potty training, almost all of which end
up in a landfill making up 3.4 million tons of waste
4. It is estimated to take 250-500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose (GROSS!!)
5.It costs Americans on average $350 million annually to dispose of single-use diapers
in landfills.
6. The average family spends $800 per year on disposable diapers. (This is also a huge reason for my husband and I to use cloth diapers)

So here are some things that I found to make using cloth diapers easier.
Use a 5 gallon bucket with a cover, this way you can keep it contained until it is wash time. I also plan on keeping a little bit soapy water in the bucket, this is something that was personally suggested to me. For number ones you can just throw the wet diaper into the bucket.
For number twos it is suggested that you clean it off as much as possible, this can be done by using the toilet to shake off the as I like to call it doo doo.
When it is time to do a load of laundry you can run them through the wash just like any other piece of clothing. (You may want to use a detergent that is less harsh than what you use on your clothing) You can use a mesh bag as a liner in the bucket which you can just pull out the liner and throw it all together in the washer.
BIG TIP: USE COLD WATER!!! This will prevent stains.

Now really does that seem that hard!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thai Chicken Soup for the Sick Around Town

Thought our 5 year old was over the flu but the fever came back last night so we clocked another day on the couch.  The little one has stayed healthy through it all and I am desperately trying to fight it off myself.

Since I know I'm not alone in the sick family community, I thought I'd share what we make on our house for sick ones big and small.  Ka-tom, or what I like to call the Thai version of a cross between oatmeal and matzo ball chicken soup.  It is so easy to make, has a million variations for all tastes and levels of sick tummies and just feels good inside.  It is pretty much just rice soup - boil a pot of water and add cooked rice (we always have a cooked rice in the rice cooker but that step may add a little planning for some) and simmer it, stirring and adding water as needed until it is the perfect consistency of mush.  It can be plain, or you can add meat, fish, veggies, egg and the savior of all, Thai fish sauce.

 Stir it all up, spoon it into a bowl and let the warm goodness heal your insides.  Enjoy!

Photo note:  this is the traditional Thai way of serving it, the grated fresh ginger is incredible in it though I always have to get my eggs cooked a little more for my taste!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Things I Love About My Thai Hubby (and, for you skeptics, no I don’t have any hubbies of other ethnicities!)

1) that he knows lots of little tricks like toothpaste being the perfect way to soothe a burn

2) his kind Buddhist heart  (I know, cliche, but it is true)

3) that he will not stop tickling our daughters until they say, “Stop, Daddy!” in Thai

4) that he is the main chef of the house and cooks us amazing Thai food

5) his superb mango cutting skills (seriously, you’ve never seen a mango cut like this - no mess, no juice ... he makes it look so easy!)

6) that I can go to the local temples in Thailand to offer up thanks without feeling like a western wannabe Buddhist

7) that, within a year of living in the US, he had more friends than I did here even though it is my native language, culture and he had never left Thailand before

8) that he is the perfect go-with-the-flow complement to my oh-my-the-world-is-ending personality and that some of these are actually rubbing off on each other

9) that our daughters are officially part of the BuJew community

10) that he thinks of any meal without rice as not real food and feels like I am doing our kids a disservice when I bust out the mac n cheese and fish sticks on nights he’s not home for dinner (come on, they’re organic!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why don't we want those toys, Mama?

So we are not usually much of a tv family.  The girls get a cartoon as a treat not just because they're bored.  We don't quite land on the fully anti-tv family end of the spectrum but I like to think we do pretty well most of the time balancing out the tv time.  My confidence as a mama soars when I read statistics like these from a recent article in the LA Times stating that preschool kids watch an average of an entire day of television a week!!  I don't think my girls would even be able to sit still for the 3-4 hours a day needed to reach that level.

However, to fully contradict myself, the past two days have witnessed a ridiculous amount of Noggin and Animal Planet that has me grateful that my children would usually prefer to really play, rather than sit in front of a screen.  Unfortunately, my 5 year old has been sick - 102 fever, tummy aching, hacking cough - and stuck at home on the pull out couch (or as we like to call it, The Sick Bed).  And so we are on day 3 (and I think the last since the fever is beginning to creep down) of jammies, tv, books, and sleep.

Throughout these hours, I have discovered yet another reason to be thankful that my kids are not huge tv watchers, especially as we are coming into the holiday season.  The number of commercials right now pushing products for children to demand from their families for the holidays is atrocious.  I realize that we live in a society of consumers and that businesses are struggling and it is, after all, their job to turn a profit.  Hey, I'd like to turn a profit too ... here's my plug for Monkey Beanz fair trade gifts for families!  It would, however, be nice to see a little bit of variety in the onslaught of images and messages that are thrown at our kids.  Perhaps a few commercials for some nice natural toys, some wooden dollhouses, cloth dolls - surely even Toys R Us must carry a few of these products.

So as Sasha and I were watching yet another episode of Charlie and Lola, there was a commercial marathon of big pink plastic dollhouses with dogs and talking dolls.  And out slips from my unedited mouth, "Wow, aren't you glad we don't have any of those in our house?"  And Sasha cocked her fevered little head at me and said, "Why, Mama?"

So then I had to formulate my dislike of certain aspects of the toy world into language for a 5 year old.  In all honestly, this was not that hard.  I was able to use the toys we have here that we enjoy and encourage creative play to contrast with many of the electronic toys (i.e. it is much more fun to create an art project together than to listen to a game tell you what to do by yourself).  Also, because Sasha has been a part of the journey with Monkey Beanz, she has a basic understanding of fair trade and the awareness of where our products come from and who they help. 

It is these conversations as a parent that reinforce for me that kids do actually "get it."  If we give them the knowledge in a way they can understand and relate to, there is so much about the world we live in that they can begin to think and learn about.

Off the soap box now.  I may have to set up a rant of the week day for the Monkey Beanz blog.  I'm open to suggestions!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Luxury for Baby's Feet

I am so excited that these booties have finally arrived! 

These fair trade baby booties are made in Vietnam by a Fair Trade Federation company employing about 45 disadvantaged women in Hanoi.

The booties are two tone silk with traditional Vietnamese design and measure 5" from heel to toe.  They are fully lined with a padded soft corduroy and canvas soles - so comfy you will want them for yourself.  Seriously, I am a cozy footwear fanatic and the thought of these on my feet during the Maine winters is truly delicious.  The only thing slightly better is the image of a chubby little baby cruising around town with the most luxurious footwear around!

Have a baby, know a baby, think you might one day?  Scoop these up ... the babies will thank you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

7 months and Counting

Happy Monday everyone. Can you all belive I am 32 weeks pregnant!! Just 2 more months to go.
This so far has been such a great experience (well most of it). I am so excited about the idea of being a mom. I also know how fantastic of a father my husband Nick is going to be. He already is!!!

So on my mind this past week has been parenting, what morals will we teach Lily or Spencer?  Clearly I am very much a supporter of Fair Trade. It will be important to me for my children to understand that not everyone lives like we do. There is so much poverty and struggle out there, not that we are rich by any means but in comparison to some cultures we absolutly are. This is why Fair Trade IS so important, it is really us doing our part to make sure we are not supporting sweat shops. Obviously it is going to happen without us even being aware of it. I am so excited that I have great toys for my children that I absolutly know are fair trade..well because I work for the company that pays the wages!!!!!
So there is my weekly fair trade rant!!! Help to support fair trade, even if it is just one cup of coffee or preferably an item from us... !!!!
Thank you all for listening.. peace love and fair trade
P.S. The crib sets are coming soon!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What? We should play with our own kids???

I'm sure many of you heard about the controversy over Disney's Baby Einstein series and their claim that the series will make your baby smarter.  Unlike those of you in touch with the outside world, I actually had not heard about it until I listened to the story on NPR's Talk of the Nation last week. 

I was absolutely speechless (well, not exactly but that gets the message across in a much more polite way!) listening to the topic being debated.  I am also quite sure that the talented Neil Conan shared my opinions as host of the show.  Poor man, I felt bad that he was not able to speak to the idiotic claims and parents feeling the need to make their baby smarter in the first place.

Now, I know that tv and video games have taken over for many kids in the US (I'm not that naive) but is there really such a large portion of mainstream American parents that do not realize that plopping your baby/toddler/preschooler/child in front of the tv for these videos is not going to aid in their healthy development as much as actually playing and interacting with your own children?!

I am not anti-tv at all - I've been known to put on some Olivia or Charlie and Lola so I can make dinner or get some e-mails out.  I just find it a bit unnerving that playing with your kids is not commonly recognized, and practiced, as the healthiest way to promote normal development.  And out of curiosity, why is it exactly that we are trying to "make our babies smarter?"  Are we claiming that we were all not particularly smart babies and are trying to make up for our own loss of infant intelligence?  I can double check my facts, but I'm pretty sure babies have been developing just fine around the world for quite a number of years and we have managed to churn out some pretty smart people out there. Enough of my rant ... get off the computer and go play with your kids.  I will if you will.

For some fun ways to play with your kids and encourage some fun in the house, check out the Monkey Beanz fair trade soft drum set and fair trade soft tool set or the always popular fair trade counting book.  No guarantees on IQ boosts but I bet you and your kids will have a good time together and, I'm no expert, but I'd say that is pretty important to raising a smart, healthy family.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Hi Monkey Beanerz... I cannot believe it has been so long since I have written!!! Well I am back!!!!
I am now almost 7 months pregnant. The baby is kicking and moving about as we speak which gives me this amazing feeling that sometimes is very overwhelming for me... is it possible to already be completely in love??? My only complaint about being pregnant at this time is the hormone situation. I get very overwhelmed with life at times, almost so much that I cannot deal with it. I get angry, I get anxiety, I yell!!! It is awful. Who is this person?? What can I do to make it stop?? ahhh well I feel better already.

Monkey Beanz has some great things happening!!!!! It will all be here soon enough my friends. Stay tuned. Now time to go study about what to do during child birth.. Peace love and Monkeys

Nyki Greene

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

http://sites.google.com/site/hendersonvillekidscorner/_/rsrc/1236626661448/classics/cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs-nashville-tn-fun-places-to-eat-with-kids.jpg = GOOD   http://cinemovie.tv/cinemovie/images/stories/MoviePosters/cloudy-with--chance-meatballs-movie.jpg  =NOT SO MUCH

So this is my first, and likely my last, foray into movie reviews which shows you just how strongly I feel about this one.  Sure the general rule of thumb is the book is always better than the movie ... but not all movies completely remove all appealing aspects of a story.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the movie can barely be said to be based on the story of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the book.

I loved this book as a child - read it over and over and got totally absorbed in the grandfather telling the story of the land of Chewandswallow.  The image of the giant pancake closing down the school stays with me to this day.  As with many of my childhood favorites, I've been able to rediscover so many wonderful children's books.  I remember the day I found Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in the library several years ago and became giddy with excitement as I described the story to my daughter.  We have read it many times (of course, we now own our own copy) and have shared many laughs and silly reenactments of the giant food raining down on the people of Chewandswallow as they escape on their boats made of bread.

So I was thrilled when I heard they made a movie from the book.  I immediately put all those great images from the book into wondrous animation and imagined experiencing Grandpa telling the kids this dreamlike bedtime story in the larger than life world of the theater.  Regrettably, I had not seen any previews, read any reviews or heard anything at all about the movie ... like that they had turned my childhood book of imagination and fantasy into your run of the mill action cartoon flick with some big meatballs thrown in.

I mean, come on, there are no "bad guys" in the real Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, no evil greedy mayor, no romance subplot, no family tragedy to overcome in the final cheesy ending moments.  Oh, there are so many ways they could have made this into a really fun kids movie, encouraging imaginations to run wild ... but they didn't.  They churned out another animated movie with no originality and a dependence on the same old bad guy/good guy story line.

We very rarely go to the movies and this was our first time going all together as a family and all I can say is, I'm glad we own the book.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fair Trade in Action

A working shot of my sister-in-law, Watcharee (far left) meeting with one of our craftswomen about final patterns for our new Monkey Beanz crib bedding sets and diaper bags!!

Anyone who has had any experience with Thai culture knows the importance of family to Thais and Watcharee has gone above and beyond what most siblings in this country would consider helping out.  Really, we would not be able to create our new products without her help.  I hope that we will able to grow this business with her along for the ride to continue to support the people of Thailand including our own Thai relatives.  Thanks for the support and go to Monkey Beanz to sign up for our newsletter for announcements of new product arrivals!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fair Trade Month Kick Off

I will start off with my number one excuse for not blogging for several weeks since it is actually pretty exciting.  We have been having some "issues" with our current website program and I've been toying with the idea of switching for some time so this seemed like as good a time as any.  After several days of scouring websites and online forums for reviews and comparisons, I chose which program to switch to and I have to say, this is one of the best decisions I have made.  I love the set up of the new site and that is what I have been doing  day after day these last couple of weeks and I think we are just about ready to make the switch.  I'm hoping I will get it up and running this weekend.  Yay!!!

In any case, I though that the first day of October, aka Fair Trade Month, would be a good day to get back into my blogging and share some thoughts...

The question:  What is Fair Trade?  I get this question a lot and have answered it so many times, I could probably do it in  my sleep.  If you are reading this, you probably already know the cookie cutter answer - fair living wages paid to employees, comfortable working conditions, ability for workers to have vacation and sick time or leave of absence to care for their family.  These are all inherent aspects to the fair trade movement and the foundation to any fair trade business practice but there is something more beneath those facts that I feel lies at the focus of Fair Trade Month for me.  In a word - awareness.

I recently had a parent in my daughter's school ask me if I only had fair trade or green products in my house for the kids to play with.  Umm ... no.  While it would be wonderful to live in a time when there were more options for fair trade products, organic products etc, I don't believe that this is an all or nothing issue.  I don't think that in order to call myself a proponent of fair trade, I need to rid my house of all non-fair trade items just as I don't think that I need to buy only organic food for my family to say I believe in the benefits of buying local and organic food.

I would not have been able to start and run a business that took advantage of others for my own profit or sell products to parents that I would not want my own children to play with.  Yet, that remains true even when I give in and buy the girls those inflatable Spiderman swim tubes that surely say Made in China on the bottom.  I do my best to support companies that are doing more with their business than simply trying to turn a profit but if  were to clear out everything in our house that is not organic, local or fair trade ... well, it would be a lot easier to pick up around here, I guess!

My goal for Fair Trade Month is to promote awareness.  Awareness of other people and cultures,  Awareness of where our food comes from.  Awareness of where the products around us come from.  Not to create guilt at all the mass produced, chemically enhanced items that may be there but just to be aware of what is around us.  To make changes where it is desired and possible and to be okay with knowing that just taking that moment of awareness is, itself, making a change. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Feeling like a grown up

Well, Sasha got off on the school bus this morning and Marisa is happily playing at preschool and I am sitting in a Wi-Fi connected local bagel shop with my MacBook and actually getting several hours to work!  I never thought I would be so excited to have time to work.  Then again, I never thought I would start my own business either or have two kids at the age of 30 so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at life anymore.

So now that I have time to work, I also have time to get this renewed energy and motivation to really get Monkey Beanz to the level of the vision I've been working towards for the past couple of years.  Not to sound cocky, but I so believe in our products and the fair trade foundation of the company and know that the more we get it out there, the more people will respond.  We have had such great success with our customers thus far and have been doing great with expanding our wholesale accounts (a big round of applause for Nyki!), one of which has already sold out of their first order and is ready for more!

While it may not be mainstream yet, more and more people (and parents in particular) are spending more time thinking about what we are putting into our bodies and our minds and those of our children as well as the significance not just of the final product but the process that has taken place to get the product into our home.  I love being a part of this and being able to offer a place for families not just to be able to shop for products they love and feel good about, but also a place that can offer an added layer of awareness for children about the world they are growing up in.

One of my other hopes for this year is to be able to spend some of my new solo time working on products and projects that will take the same Monkey Beanz ideals of fun, play, imagination and awareness and create a greater focus on global and cultural knowledge for children.  One of the greatest lessons for me as a mother of bi-cultural children is that it is never to early for kids to learn about the world and the people, and problems, in that world.  These lessons are so valuable as they form their own ideals and can be made age appropriate so that they can still begin to grasp that knowledge of the vastness and diversity of the world.

I've been thinking a lot recently about our family and our own diversity and how these impacted our decision to begin Monkey Beanz.  I don't want to get too long winded already so I'll offer up this post as a preview of my thoughts and posts to come.  As always, happy to hear comments, and experiences.  Off to enjoy my locally brewed fair trade coffee and promote Monkey Beanz!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Good Morning lovely people!!!! Happy labor day. The weather is perfect here in Maine.. some would say it is too cold.. NOT ME!! I love Fall so bring it on. We started on our nursery this week, so far we have a changing table, I cannot wait to have a baby shower and see the lovely things people get us.. I know I sound greedy, I can't help it!!!

I am very excited about Monkey Beanz. Julia and I are working very hard to make it a full time career for both of us. Here are a few of my goals.

1. Gain 3 more wholesale accounts this month (for this I have hit the road.. so far so good!!)
2. Become a regular blogger
3. Get creative with new ideas
4. Create a schedule for myself that would help me get more work done
5. Have an office for Julia and I by the middle of 2010, this is a distant future goal.
Well I will accept any advice from anyone.. no matter if it is good or bad..bring it on
Have a great Monday
Nyki Greene

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to Blog - Organize or Let it Flow?

Well, I'm feeling pretty good so far in my quest to blog.  At least I haven't given up yet, right?  My current confusion is actually stemming from my creative juices not just beginning to flow but to explode in volcano fashion - ideas spewing forth lava like and running amok.
So now, my self-doubting blogging self overthinks this and begins to stress.  Do I choose a topic for a particular day of the week: being a mom and running a business issues on Monday, general parenting on Tuesday, fair trade issues on Wednesday, children's book reviews on Thursday, Monkey Beanz updates and product info on Friday?  If I do this, can I write more than once in a day?  What if I miss a day - does that throw the whole schedule off?
And perhaps now, you are starting to understand why it has taken me so long to actually start and continue this blog.  Yes, yes, I am an analyzer, an overthinker, one who spends too much time in her head, I second guess everything.  But wait, this is my new beginning!  My Monkey Beanz New Year! 
So what is the conclusion?  There isn't one and I will still keep blogging.  I have so many ideas that I will write about on any day whenever it strikes my fancy (and my kids are off at preschool/kindergarten or in bed) and perhaps even sometimes when it doesn't. 
Tomorrow is the first morning that I will experience having both children in school at the same time for several hours and I'm hoping to get over my shock for long enough to blog about it.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 31, 2009

How Quickly They Grow

So cliche and yet so true ... I can not believe how fast our girls have grown up.  This is the first year that both of them will be in some kind of school program and my belly is abuzz with butterflies about it.   Tomorrow we have not one but two open houses to go to in hopes of calming the fears of the little ones and big ones alike.  We'll start the morning at Marisa's preschool, an easier feat for the nerves as we've been part of that family for three years with Sasha.  Then onto the big one ... kindergarten!! Oh my - my baby is a school girl!!
Thursday will be the first day that I will drop them both off and have several hours with no one to care for and play with.  While I have big plans for productivity this school year, I have a hunch that this Thursday will be spent walking in circles around the house and a nagging feeling that I am missing something very important. 
While Sasha is pretty nervous about starting school (I think we have every book about starting kindergarten from all libraries in Southern Maine), I am so excited for her to start her journey.  It is so incredible as a parent to remember the day she was born and all we've gone through and think about all that she has ahead of her. 
This all reminds of a book we were given when Sasha was 2 that Sasha refers to as "the book that makes Mama cry."  Someday by Alison McGhee is a simple and moving written from a mother's perspective to her daughter about all her hopes and dreams for her little girl.  A wonderful book for the permanent collection and a great gift for any mother.
Well, now that I've gotten myself all sentimental on this Monday morning, its time to start one of our final summer lunches on the playset.  I'd love to hear some anecdotes from parents about starting school and how things are going for everyone as these first weeks of school get underway!

21 weeks and counting...

Hello internet friends!!! It has been A LONG TIME since I have blogged.. I have really missed it. It is so nice to just sit down and let write about whatever poors out of you!!!

I am in domestic bliss.. 5 years ago I would have never guessed that THIS would be the life that makes me happy but I have to tell you.. I am really enjoying it. I love the married life (my husband rocks), I am really enjoying my pregnancy (after the first trimester of course), and I love having a house to take care of.
I always thought I needed a big time career to feel succesful, that is not the case anymore.. my family makes me feel succesful and have that sense of worth!!! Do not get me wrong.. I love to go out!! Meeting up with girlfriends for some wine, music, chatting.. is the best way for me to unwind. I have a new appreciation  for getting out. Also date nights are the best!! I love connecting with my husband once a week (soon to be once a month).  Anyways I am going to keep this short and sweet and get off my soap box a little early today, I am heading out into the world today to tell everyone about Monkey Beanz!!! Thank you all for listening to my happy rant today.

Wish me luck

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back on the Blog Train ... again

This is it ... my year of the blog.  I know it's not New Year's but with summertime coming to an end and the school year about to begin, fall often feels like more of a New Year than the dead of winter (at least here in Maine!).  So as I prepare for Sasha to begin kindergarten (still in shock over that), here are a few of my Back to Work, Back to Reality (so there is no doubt, yes this is to be read to the beat of the En Vogue tune) resolutions:

1) Blog, blog, blog - I've been pretending that I have this blog for too long.  It was too easy to just not know what to blog about as it is a "business" blog.  However, so many things are integral aspects of our company as well as my life that I actually have now formulated a blog plan.  Perhaps they can add that to the list of workshops offered at the SBA and SCORE offices for starting a business: writing a business plan on Wednesday night, blog planning Thursday night.  Seriously, I could have used it about a year ago.   I wonder if I'll have to revisit my blog plan annually as well ... hmmm ... thoughts?

2) Social Networking - I would like to become slightly competent in the SN world.  I have now signed up for a Ping.fm account and hooked it up to the Monkey Beanz Twitter and Facebook accounts so I'm feeling really good about my abilities today.  Now I can really put the iPhone to good use since my justification for the purchase and added monthly cost was that it would clearly enhance my ability to multitask running a business and raising kids!  If you happen to be reading this and are not yet fans or followers or whatever you may call yourselves of the Monkey Beanz networks, hop on the bus and join since clearly the action is starting!

3) Etsy!!! - After over a year of way too many customers suggesting that I get MonkeyBeanz on Etsy, I have finally done it!  Unfortunately, that is about all I have done.  So, after hours of post kids in bed nights spent perusing the Etsy forums for advice on how to promote your Etsy site, I plan on actually  taking some of the great advice.  Here is my first attempt:  Check out Monkey Beanz on Etsy!  See us, love us, heart us, perhaps even make a purchase - then tell all your loved ones and maybe even a few not so loved ones.  Okay, maybe I didn't need to spend hours ruining my eyes at the computer screen to do that, but like I tell the kids - practice makes perfect.

4) Wholesale - This has actually already begun to get on its way but we are on a continuous hunt for any suggstions or, better yet, connections to some shops that might be interested in carrying some great fair trade Monkey Beanz products.  Any ideas are welcome - any time, day or night (thank you World Wide Web).

There are other resolutions but this post has tuckered me right out and I'm beginning to get anxious about the idea of others having all this knowledge about my goals for the year!  Plus, many of the others are boring, "business-y" things like organizing files and record keeping and I am trying to keep in mind that this blog is not actually a journal and thus, there should be at least a minimal level of editing for entertainment purposes.

Whew, first post of the Monkey Beanz New Year completed!  Don't forget I'm new and a little insecure at this blogging thing so send some comments, some love, maybe even some not-too-harsh critiques.  Here's to success at Resolution #1 and some of you coming back again!

Monday, July 13, 2009


So here I am 14 weeks pregnant and loving it!!!! Well most days.... I AM still VERY tired but I no longer have food aversions, actually I want to eat everything!!!! I have been loving things that are salty, spicy, sweet, sour, fruity, cheesy.. well I think you get the idea.
It is amazing to me what a woman's body is capable of, we can grow a human life in our stomach THEN after our bodies morph into a birthing machine we are able to feed our baby...AMAZING!!!!! It could be that my hormones are just out of control but I get so emotional just thinking about it. I feel so lucky!!!!

I think about our baby all the time.. will it be a boy or a girl.. will he/she look like me or my husband... will he/she keep me up all night... and the biggest one.. will my baby be healthy!!!???
I think about everything I put in my mouth, everything I don't put in my mouth, I think about the pollution, the government.. yes the government.. will it get better or worse. What will my child have to deal with as an adult. AM I CRAZY!!?? IS THIS NORMAL!!??

One thing that I will be working on soon is the nursery!!! I will obviously be decorating it with our new nursery line that is coming out soon. Bee is in Thailand right now!!!! I love the idea of having a nursery that is just bright and colorful. I cannot wait to show everyone, it is just so different from anything else you have ever seen!!!!!!
OOHHH and just a reminder I am hosting a trunk show at my house in Falmouth on Thursday at 6, if you are able to come just email me and I will send you directions nykijean@gmail.com

That's it for me... Peace, love and pickles!!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fair Trade Rocks my World!!!!

Fair Trade!!!!!! Fair trade is an organized Social Movement and market-based approach that helps producers in developing countries and promote sustainability. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.. this is the description from Wikipedia.. this is also MY favorite description!!! I love Fair Trade and I feel completely excited that my new career is based so much on Fair Trade!!!

We have a fantastic relationship with many people in Thailand. Their talent is unbelievable and if you have ever recieved any of our fantastic toys or the georgous clothing you have seen for yourself!!!
I will forever buy my fair share of Fair Trade products, it is something very important to me and my husband. I look forward to making my children aware of what it is and its importance.
It is important to me because it keeps me open to the world!!! Seriously look at anything in your house.. I bet it says made in China.. you do not know the condition of their work environment or how much they are getting paid... BUT if you look for goods that are fair trade it is guaranteed that they make a good wage and work in the best environment possible. I don't know about you but that makes me feel a whole lot better!!!!!!!

Well thank you so much for listening to my rant... see you soon Monkeybeaners..
Get in touch with reality and shop Fair Trade.. trust me.. you will love how it makes you feel!!!!
Peace and love!!!
Nyki Greene
Monkey Beanz Inc

Monday, June 8, 2009


So as our followers know... I am pregnant!!! This is my first pregnancy. I recently had my first doctors visit and found out that I am 9 weeks!!!! It has been a trip so far... morning sickness..sleepiness... sensitivity to ALL smells... hormones...

All I want is pasta, Mexican and pizza... not good!!!! I just discovered Fish oil which has been great for me!!! I love it!!! Ginger has also been a very good friend to me.

Now about Monkey Beanz.. Julia and I have been hit with a burst of inspiration.... we have been working really hard on creating new products. Also we have the trunk show stuff ready to go so let us know if you are interested!!!! It is 10% off.

Well folks that is all for me today.. time to go scarf down some ginger tea!!!!
Peace love and pickles

Nyki Greene

Monday, May 25, 2009

Its me again!!!

Hello its Nyki from Monkey Beanz again!!!!!! I just have to tell you about my weekend... I GOT MARRIED!!!! It was so incredible!!!

Now that the wedding is over I look forward to working extra hard on the new nursery line... so keep your eyes peeled, it is going to be like no other line!!!

Thank you all for supporting Monkey Beanz, it means a lot to Julia and I!!!

Have a fantastic week and talk to you all next Sunday!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Hi Everyone my name is Nyki Greene, I have just started working with Julia and Monkey Beanz!!!! I couldnt be more excited!!!!!

We are working on so much right now.. a new nursery line to come out hopefully this summer.. we are also looking into a trunk show really soon ( I will let you know more details very soon).

SO let me introduce myself, like I said my name is Nyki Greene well it is actually Nyki Spencer but I am getting married Saturday so I figured I would start using Greene already. I started working with Monkey Beanz because for it is an amazing product.. the idea of it is fabulous and because I would like to start working mostly from home.
Thank you all for reading my introduction and I look forward to meeting all the Monkey Beanz shoppers/fans real soon!!!!!!!!