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I participated in my first Foodie Penpal exchange this month. What fun! After being paired up by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean, I had a blast choosing items to send to Lisa. The rules are simple: keep an eye out for the email announcing your recipient; reach out to that person to determine likes, dislikes and dietary restrictions; then put together a food-themed box for them for no more than $15, postage excluded. I chose to do a Seattle theme, so my box for Lisa had Theo chocolate, cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery, homemade jam, homemade granola and Simply Sinful caramel corn. I really hope she enjoys her goodies!

My delightful box came from Kayla of Keep Moving Forward. I loved our correspondence beforehand– she’s so sweet and kind– and opening the box was like Christmas morning. I got yogurt pretzels, coconut oil, coconut water, Justin’s honey almond butter, homemade raspberry peach jam, Solstice Goji bars (made in a town near Kayla’s college) and champagne! In a can! With a straw. I had never seen that before and it definitely made me smile. Actually, the whole box made me smile, and the experience as a whole was a lot of fun. Though I don’t have any dietary restrictions and tried not to list likes or dislikes (I wanted a surprise), I felt like Kayla really did a phenomenal job of choosing gifts for me. She took some time to look at my blog, saw that I tend toward natural/organic/unprocessed foods and shopped accordingly. There was a lovely handwritten note describing why she included certain things; for example, the almond butter is a great pre-workout fuel, coconut oil is a healthy oil for cooking and baking and drinking coconut water helps you stay hydrated. I learned about a few new products and enjoyed some of my favorites, like raspberry jam and yogurt pretzels. How did she know? Awesome job, Kayla!

The exchange is open to blog readers and bloggers; you can try it for a month without having to commit beyond that, so give it a go if it sounds like fun. After signing up, you’ll be sent the information about who you’re sending to and who’s sending to you by the 5th of the month. Your box must be in the mail by the 15th, and bloggers get to reveal their goodies on the 31st of the month. Take a look at the Foodie Penpal page on The Lean Green Bean if you’d like more details, or for more reveal photos and stories. As I mentioned, the experience was very positive for me; I had a blast shopping for Lisa and was so excited to see what Kayla had chosen for me. Big thanks to Lindsay for coordinating this program for more than 1300 participants in the US and Canada! I look forward to future Foodie Penpal exchanges.