Friday, June 13, 2014

Join the Club

We’ve all been approached to join some sort of retail ‘club’. From store accounts to restaurant rewards, offers are endless. Just like album clubs in the 80's, free samples are bait for signing up/forced monthly orders (ugh). But there are genuine, greats like Harry & David’s fruit of the month. It's actually instilled faith that a surprise in the mail on a regular basis is a good thing. I opened my mind to other affiliations and discovered many -some good, others not great... and those I just couldn’t pass up. 

Only a few made my 'must’ list -- all relative to personal interests with ties to newsletters, blogs or websites with valuable information based on how I live. Most revolve around cooking and home, as that's my current focus. 

The Gracious Gourmet is just one of the food artisans featured by The Fare Trade.

For specialty culinary delivery, nothing beats The Fare Trade. Carefully selected items from all over the U.S. chosen by award-winning chefs introduce purveyors outside of mass marketed choices. The website content/blog is outstanding. In fact, it surpasses what's on television or in magazines. The best part is that items are in your hands for experimentation so that video tutorials are useful. Learning from professionals at home is fun, as is getting to know the culinary talents selecting each month’s inclusions. If you enjoy cooking classes and mastering skills like me, The Fare Trade is the ultimate treat.

Just a few of the items from the Spring VIP Box via FabFitFun.
At first I wasn’t sold on this. I previously tried BirchBox and wasn’t thrilled with sample sizes of (mostly) familiar products. But,VIP seasonal deliveries from FabFitFun are diverse, full sized and contain items I don't see elsewhere. My spring box included a dry shampoo I love, a headband I didn't, a fitness ball/DVD that travels with me, and new organic kale chip that’s now a staple. The summer box contains a launch from the amazing Sonya Dakar, so I’m psyched about the arrival. I follow FabFitFun online for tastemaker and wellness guru contributions (a bit of daily inspiration). For a mix of skincare, healthy eating, exercise and trends, the VIP box + uplifting emails is the whole package. It’s the only membership delivery service of personal products that I completely endorse. 


Six Boots Collective isn’t really a club, but the CSA program we’ve chosen for the season. A box of produce, herbs and flowers from 3 Middle Tennessee farms are delivered to my door each Saturday. This container of goodness guarantees I’ll stay creative with cooking and preserving. It eliminates considering non-organic items from supermarkets. Locally grown, seasonal items with the bonus of a detailed newsletter including recipes make summer even sweeter. You can pick up their boxes at Nashville area farmer’s markets. CSA’s in any locale are the way to go for the most authentic produce, and an alliance you won't regret.

Naturally dried pears from Nature Box.
For busy days or travel, Nature Box is salvation. With dozens of snacks serving Vegan, gluten free (or just gluten conscious) or sugarless eaters, it's a source with endless options. I like the variety, quality and that things like naturally dried California peaches never disappoint. Items (from $20 per month) are prepackaged for on-the-go energy. For every box delivered, they donate a meal via Feeding America. Snacks you can feel good about all the way around are their trademark, which is another reason to sign up.

Love this mag for so many reasons.. including the intro to Box South. 
 The innovative magazine, Local Palate partnered with Box South - sent a teaser peaking interest for stocking my gift closet for summer visitors. It’s a monthly collection of Southern items including recipes, creative advice and other tidbits. I appreciate Box South's belief in not exploiting general topics like sweet tea or fried chicken, but focus on seeking the most sophisticated and gifted artisans. It’s not inexpensive, but products are special. Like the amazing Nashville-based Batch, which just expanded to feature a monthly Charleston box, it provides opportunity for our regional brands.

Look for unique items like this in the Cocktail Hour Box from MOUTH.
This NYC specialty retailer is known for hysterical comments, inventive culture and passion for what they term as ‘Indie Food’. Mouth offers one time purchases or special occasion deliveries, but also extends discounts on monthly totes full of goods ranging from all pickles to cookies 'for every night'. My pick is the Cocktail Hour Box. Since my pantry is stocked with items most visitors don’t favor (yep, that pesky healthy thing), this is super helpful for impromptu visitors. Every inclusion comes from American small batch creatorsMouth crafts each into a themed/curated collection. Elect to bump up from 3, 6 or 12 months.. and choose when. No crazy commitment -  just cocktail fare, craft mixers and conversation with Mouth's Indie-loving team. I'm totally tempted by their chocolate subscription, but holding fast at the moment. 

Can't wait to get the summer VIP Box from FabFitFun that includes this Goop Favorite from Sonya Dakar.
What do you think about joining a club for the sake of trying new things? Do share your thoughts... and any other clubs/sites you count on.