Foodie Pen Pals

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When I was younger, I had many pen pals. Some were assigned in school, in hopes of teaching us the art of letter writing, others were friends who had moved away. We would decorate our letters, send each other pretty cards, and sometimes even send each other small gifts. It always filled me with that irreplaceable little kid joy, inspiring me to eagerly write back as soon as possible.

My favorite pen pal was my grade-school friend Shindy, who moved to Osaka, Japan with her family. We wrote each other often and I always looked forward to receiving her letters. She wrote on cute colored paper that was printed with Japanese animal characters and she’d additionally decorate the sidelines with her doodles. We’d tell each other about our lives and the new cute boys that we liked.

As we got older, the correspondence slowed down and eventually stopped. I often wonder where she is now and what her life is like. Fortunately, whenever I want to travel down memory lane, I can look back at a scrapbook where I’ve kept all of her letters. One of these days I’ll have to dig it out again.

Now, as adults our mail is much less exciting. It’s mostly filled with bills and junk mail, with holiday and birthday cards being the highlights the year, breaking up the same old mundane Con Edison, Visa, and community fliers filling the box.

But, now all that has changed – I’ve signed up to participate in Foodie Pen Pals! Lindsay, author of the Lean Green Bean blog, created this wonderful program for bloggers and readers alike. Each month I’m assigned one pen pal to send foodie goodies to, and different separate pen pal is assigned to send ME foodie goodies. It’s a spectacular idea! Who doesn’t love getting real mail?

This month my pen pal was Jennifer. She has a healthy eating blog, eats gluten free products, and is an illustrator. Receiving her box on my doorstep made my day. I had been moody for no good reason that night and then realized I forgot to bring in the mail. Low and behold, a cute brown box was all that I needed to brighten my night!

After tearing off all the tape, I open the box like a little kid on Christmas morning.

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It was decorated to the nines! Every inch of the inside flaps were drawn on with doodles, words, and even included a recipe.

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Jennifer really went all out and it made me so happy. This box brought back fond memories of my pen pal days with my friend Shindy. Even though I’ve never met Jennifer, nor had read her blog till she was assigned to be my pen pal, she put so much energy and effort into making my first month in program a wonderful one. She brightened my day, and quite possibly brightened my week.

The exuberant effort didn’t stop at the flaps of the box. Jennifer stuffed the box with delicious gluten free food! The only guidance I gave her was that I ate gluten free and requested anything she sent me to be GF. I also hinted at my love of chocolate. She happily obliged and sent me some her favorite GF packaged goods, along with a cute hand drawn sign.

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In addition to the fun sign, Jennifer sent me:

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Rob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix – I’m really excited to try this and I know my husband Adam will love the result too.

Tinkyada Pasta Joy, Brown Rice Pasta Shells – It’s great to have a recommended pasta other people also enjoy as there are so many on the market to choose from. These would go great perhaps used for a Mac’n’Cheese!

Boulder Canyon Rice & Beans snack chips – I’m surprised I haven’t dug into these yet! They look tasty and are relatively healthy considering they’re chips.

Cashew Cookie LaraBar – I’ll admit this survived only one day before I ate it for breakfast and therefore forgot to take a photo of it. It was my first taste of LaraBars, but I’m sure there will be more in my future. While the calorie and fat content is a little high, I loved that there was only TWO ingredients in the whole entire thing: cashews and dates. That’s it. I saw they sell these in bulk at Costco, so I may be stocking up on them for our trip to Hawaii this summer.

Lindt Chile Chocolate Bar – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love chocolate. I also really enjoy interesting flavor combinations with chocolate. So to some this fusion of chile and chocolate together might seem odd, I’ve had this chocolate bar before and it’s delicious.

Ghiradelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree Chocolate Bar – If you can’t go wrong with one chocolate bar, you certainly can’t fail with two chocolate bars. I’ve also had this bar before and loved it. I’m really looking forward to savoring both bars!

If you haven’t gotten the picture yet, I’ll reinforce that Jennifer is awesome. Check out her blog and also her Illustration Facebook Page, Hung Up Studios. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jennifer!

If you’d like to see what I sent my other Foodie Pen pal, Heidi, check out her blog here.

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Are you interested in joining the Foodie Penpals program?

Here are the rules, and where you can sign up:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

– Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

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