If you are stopping by for my monthly Foodie Pen Pals Chopped Challenge, it’s not here.

And not for lack of effort.  I dragged my wiggly toddler to the post office more than a handful of times to check the PO Box, but alas the box never arrived.  My FPP Laurel mailed it on the 15th, but without tracking, so it’s anyone’s guess where the box is right now.  All I know for sure is, it’s not here.

If you are jonesing for a challenge post, feel free to check out my FPP page.  The Husband prettied it up for me a few weeks back, adding pictures for each post and everything.

FPP PageHe’s swell.

Big Balls still remains my favorite post.  I had a big ball yesterday for a snack in fact.  I make a version of the peanut butter cookies every few months as well.

At the risk of being kicked out of the program, I’d like to spend today having a brief but frank discussion about Foodie Pen Pals, a program I really really enjoy and highly recommend you all give a shot at least once.

The haps is this:

You sign up at The Lean Green Bean.
You get matched with two other FPP’s on the 5th of the month.
You are to contact your FPP within 3 days.
You are to mail your FPP a box by the 15th.
A box arrives to you from a different FPP than you sent to.

Simple as that, right?

Yeah, except it isn’t always.  On the rare occasion, mistakes do happen.  When the program works exactly as designed, it’s perfect.  But as FPP grows over the years, so does one crucial exponentially increasing variable.  People.  People are not perfect and don’t always do as they are supposed to do in the time frame they are supposed to do it.

For the record this is the first time since last April I have not received a box by the end of the month.  Also for the record, my sweet FPP has offered to re-mail me a box.  She’s a peach.  Maybe it’ll contain peaches.  Who knows?  That’s part of the fun.

But this is not the first time I’ve had some minor issues.

And I do mean minor.

Last June I had a difficult time getting in touch with either of my pen pals.  I had to e-mail the girl I was to send to numerous times before hearing back from her.  Her mom was sick, so no judgement here, but it just illustrates how many variables go into this program.  She read my e-mails just chose not to respond to me.  The girl who was to send to me never e-mailed me at all and I had to search her out.  Communication from her was less than stellar and, while the box did arrive just before the end of the month deadline, I felt like I was begging for it.

Another month, my initial e-mails to my FPP went into his spam folder and it took us a few days to get in touch with one another.  He initially complained about me to TLGB which annoyed me as I’m very punctual and you can absolutely count on me to follow through with my obligations.  Seriously, not a huge deal though.  We connected and I sent him the world’s best brownie.

This month I never received my box, but I also had a heck of a time on the other end as well.  I e-mailed Liz, the girl I was to send to, several times with no response.  I finally had to contact TLGB and she intervened.  I received only one e-mail response from a very confused Liz who did not understand the program and thought she was to send to me.  Never heard from her again.  I did hear from Bethany, the girl Liz was designated to send to, who was also having Liz troubles.  With approval from TLGB, Bethany and I bypassed Liz altogether and I mailed a box to Bethany instead.

I’m actually quite glad for this change as Bethany has been super nice and it’s worked out perfectly.  We have chatted quite a bit now and I’ve even learned some things.  For instance, if your pet tortoise has a fever it requires special injections every three days to cure.  I am all kinds of curious about tortoises now (I do have a small boy who could very well someday want a pet tortoise after all).  I’m waiting on an e-mail back with how one knows the tortoise has a fever in the first place (do you feel its forehead? I have no idea) and will keep you updated.  Maybe I can even get Bethany to send some pictures and write up a tortoise guest post.

I kinda want a pet tortoise now.  And by kinda I mean desperately.

Foodie Pen Pals clearly has some fringe benefits.

My friend Bethany (I know two Bethanys now so SCORE) who blogs at One Girl’s Taste on Life had a rough FPP patch and a month where she never received a package in return at all.

I tweeted the other day about how I wouldn’t have an FPP post this month and one of my Twallowers tweeted back about her last FPP month receiving a wet, moldy and crumbling box.  Whether this was the FPP’s fault or the carriers fault, all I am saying is mistakes happen sometimes.  People.  Such variables.

As a SAHM I enjoy the structured challenge of Foodie Pen Pals.  There are deadlines to focus on and boxes to construct and customize and for me, a Chopped Challenge to devise and execute.  Besides, getting local foods from places I will probably never visit is all kinds of fun.

I’ve also met some great blogger pals.  Calee of Life Plus Running?  She was the first FPP I ever sent to and both my husband and I now consider her a virtual friend.  If we ever met in person there would be drinks and music.  Lots and lots of music.  She does a Sweet Tunes Thursday The Husband is ADDICTED to.

I love Foodie Pen Pals and will continue to be a Foodie Pen Pal for as long as possible.

I just wanted to comment on the other stuff because I feel no one ever does.  I have yet to read an FPP post where issues aren’t glossed over.  Issues happen.  It’s okay to talk about them.  It doesn’t mean the program is at fault, it just means it needs more great people like you to join to make it even better.  Yes, readers too.  Readers are great Foodie Pen Pals!

I will let you know when my box arrives and maybe do something even cooler with it this month.  Just a little later than normal.

– Joanna

P.S.  A big thanks to The Lean Green Bean for organizing Foodie Pen Pals in the first place.  I cannot imagine how much time and effort it takes on her part to keep things running.

P.P.S. Spring for tracking people.  It’s like a buck.

Question of the Day:  If you could have local food mailed to you from anywhere, where would it be?


  1. so sorry you’ve been disappointed by the program.

  2. it makes me sad one of your challenges is not up for this month. I have to agree, it is a great program but a tough one to make work.

  3. I had fun with the program, too, but also some disappointment. It’s no fun when you’ve put a lot of time and effort into something, but someone didn’t do the same for you.

  4. I completely agree with you that when you dramatically increase the number of people that are involved in something, the amount of opportunities for disappointment (intentional or not) will also increase. Obviously that doesn’t mean that you no longer enjoy participating. I like your “frank” approach to this subject because honestly if MORE people knew about the challenges that might arise from participating in a program such as this, that the more serious participants would continue participating (those willing to deal with and conquer the challenges), and the less serious would stop participating.
    The only way things ever move in the direction of working seamlessly is to discuss the opportunities and figure out solutions. You can’t do that if no one ever talks about it in an open and honest way without worry of bruised egos and hurt feelings. Its not personal, its addressing the elephant in the room in a way that will safely lead it back to its (cage? pen? where do they keep elephants anyway?)
    BRAVO I say to you kind lady.

    • Hey Cinnamon, I just wanted to jump in here with some trivia about elephants. (Joanna and the husband have to listen to my stories all the time so I thought I’d share one with you. Hey, I’m retired and no longer have a classroom full of people pretending to write down everything I say – there may be a quiz over this). Anyway, did you ever see a TV show or movie where a huge elephant is tied to a wooden stake in the ground with a rope attached to one of its rear legs? Like me, have you ever wondered why they don’t just yank that stake out of the ground and escape? Well….when an elephant is a tiny? baby they tie it to a stake. It, of course, tries to pull it out of the ground and escape but can’t. Since an elephant “never forgets”, as an adult it no longer tries to do that because it learned a long time ago that it can’t. The hardest part of my job was trying to work stories like this into a lecture about mechanical engineering. haha

  5. I agree with Cinnamon- good for you for putting it out there. In the bigger picture, people can’t take any criticism nowadays it seems. Calling a spade a spade, especially in the world of female bloggers, is often seen as cruel instead of…honest. I am not planning on joining FPP anytime soon, but I sure find your posts and your honest critiques interesting.

  6. I would say you are the BEST thing that’s come out of my foodie pen pal participation, and you sent my best box too! Though, the gal who sent homemade pickled beets was a close second.

  7. The main reason I enjoyed it was sending stuff to others and hearing what they thought…but I only got that once. So, it just made me wonder if no one liked my boxes or if I just had bad luck. It made me sad, so I decided to focus on other things instead. Maybe someday I’ll join up again, but I already ship monthly things to my dad, and at least he’s good with feedback. 🙂

  8. I’m with you on the whole thing. When I participated, it was fun, but I was “burned” a few times, so I decided to cut my losses and just move on. I think the premise behind the program is a fantastic one, but as you said the great number of participants results in the greater possibility of a mishap.

    Sometimes I want to participate again, but honestly I haven’t really missed it since I stopped joining in on the fun. It was fun while it lasted though!

  9. I loved FPP! I only did it for 2 months because I realized I was one of those people that was waiting until the last minute to send it out (I am the worst with mail) and that wasnt fair and I didnt want to be a pain… or add another stress to myself so i stopped. Sadly! And actually, the first month I did it I had a small snag with one of the other people but it all worked out in the end! I dont know how she keeps up with all that, thats for sure! She gets major Kudos!!!

  10. Pingback: A Foodie Friends Chopped Challenge and Caramel Popcorn

  11. I am so glad I found this post. When I discovered the program and Lindsay’s blog, I had high hopes for a cool exchange that were set aloft with all the glittering praise and vivid photos I read on bloggers’ Reveal Day posts. I hurriedly sent out my initial email to my match and lovingly assembled a box based on her likes and such, with a nod to highlight my personal faves, food producers I love, and specialties local to Central Ohio. My match’s parcel was sent out immediately (and with a courtesy email giving her the tracking number, natch) as I was going on vacation and didn’t want it to be delayed.
    In return, I have received nothing, despite having ‘followed up’ with emails to my intended sender, entreating her for shipping or tracking info, like a high school teacher begging a student to get a term paper turned in on time! But this *wasn’t* a mandatory school assignment. This individual elected to participate, entering into, for all intents and purposes, a good-faith agreement that she’d follow through and abide by the rules of the program. Granted, I’d opted not to include my blog’s info as it’s rather rudimentary and largely neglected. But over the month I had been thinking that I might write up a post with pics when my package came. And here I am on reveal day, crestfallen and empty-handed.
    This wasn’t about spending $15 and receiving $15 worth of goods in return (or not). My hopes were that I’d be paired with a like-minded adult with a passion for food, one that would mindfully hip me to something I might not be able to acquire at my local grocery store.
    On a bright note, my package was savored and appreciated fully by its recipient who spent time and effort to write a sincere and thoughtful blog post replete with glittering praise and vivid photos of the carefully curated contents.

    • So very sorry you had such a bad first experience. I feel fortunate most of the issues I had were rather minor. I have often wondered that if FPP’s exchanged with each other rather than sending to one person and receiving from someone else some of these problems might not occur. If a match was less than communicative you just wouldn’t swap at all and no one would be left empty handed. Though it is nice to meet two people per month and that still wouldn’t solve the issues I had with the post office last time. Oh well, I have been enjoying the program immensely anyway. I do find it strange that most bloggers just gloss over problems. A good friend of mine had major issues two months in a row and still her posts were quite positive. I’m definitely a tell-it-like-it-is kinda girl.