la panne

tribute to reader Gus + Bonnes résolutions du Nouvel An

Fanny at Chez Panisse - a book by Alice Waters
A Francophile might like this book cover, and a foodie or kid-at-heart might enjoy the content. Read the reviews for Fanny at Chez Panisse here. Meantime, learn about another panisse in today's column, a tribute to Gus Elison!

Bonnes résolutions du Nouvel An

    : new year's resolutions

Audio File: our son, Max, just woke up and I talked him into helping me record today's sound file (after my own attempt to pronounce the French words might have misled a language learner! Listen to 17-year-old Max: Download MP3 or Wave file
(Did you want to hear my version? You did didn't you?: Download MP3 or Download Wav)

Quelles sont vos bonnes résolutions du Nouvel An?
What are your new year's resolutions? 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I did not plan on making a list of new year's resolutions until, tout naturellement, a list began to form....

More Deep Belly Laughter

It was while stumbling onto a video that made my sides split with laughter that I realized DAILY LAUGHTER was a perfect goal. To fully appreciate the video, you'd have to be someone who, like me, got a little freaked out about GMOs last year, had a health scare/surgical snafu and decided to learn more about raw foods, followed a few too many juice guru videos... and ended up able to laugh about it all (...and still make le jus vert for Jean-Marc and myself each morning!)

Goal Number 2 Trust Your inner cuistot! 

Then, yesterday, New Year's Day, I set out to make the chickpea flour-based "winter farinata" (La Cucina di Terresa's) when a change of plans led to an innovative, au pif moment... and I began to accidentally make a southern French savory side dish: les panisses! I'll be frying those up for Max and me at lunchtime (tant pis for Jean-Marc and Jackie, who are away!), and may share the recipe (or a video?). I've got some leftover salmon that I'll spread on top, and some miam miam good confiture d'oignon that a lovely teacher, Youlia, from the Ukraine, offered me on New Year's eve (she had spread her homemade onion jam on top of foie gras, for a sweet/savory combination). 

Goal Three: Bring Joy into another's Life

The most recent new year's goal came after receiving this touching letter, from a reader's daughter:

Dear Kristin,

We both admire a special man. His name is Gus Elison, he is my Dad. On January 2, 1925 he became the oldest of three children. Because of the economy and being so close to Christmas, Dad never had a real Birthday Party. That is until 2013. Kristin, you have meant the world to my Dad, will you help me with a request to have Birthday Wishes from around the world? 

Dad means the world to me, and he is that rare breed of man that has made this world a better place.

Thank you for bringing joy into his life,

Mary Gotz

Thank you, Mary, for letting us know about Gus's 88th birthday today. Bon anniversaire, Gus!

To anyone reading, please join me now in sending greetings and birthday wishes to this venerable member of our French Word-A-Day family: Gus Elison.

Click here to write your birthday wishes to Gus in the comments box.

More about Gus:

=> We first learned about Gus after my mom selected him among nearly 2000 entrants for the antique key giveaway. Do not miss both Mom's and Gus's (original comment) here

=> Next, we met his lovely French wife, Paulette, and saw these photos.

=> What a surprise when Gus and Paulette came to visit me in France, and introduced us to the beautiful Jeanne.

=> Another member of our French Word-A-Day family, Herm, wrote a special poem for Gus. Herm, if you are reading, could you please post that poem in the comments box?


Thanks again for leaving Gus Elison a birthday wish. Click here to share your message


tout naturellement = very naturally

le jus vert = green juice 

le cuistot = a cook

au pif = to cook by guesswork (pif = slang for "nose"), to eyeball it (when measuring), to play it by ear

tant pis = too bad, tough luck! 

miam miam = yum yum

la confiture d'oignon = onion jam

bon anniversaire, or "bon anniv" for short :-) = happy birthday

Thanks for sharing French Word-A-Day with a friend, classmate, teacher, family member or anyone who loves France!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Dorothy Judd

To Gus: Happy "day you were born day" from Hanover, NH, USA.

Jens from Copenhagen

Joyeux Anniversaire, Gus, from sunny Copenhagen, Denmark. Best of luck and enjoy your birthday today.


Happy Birthday Gus, from Rowayton, CT!!

Avad Fan

Bon anniversaire, Gus, from Richmond, Virginia (maybe not around the world but warm wishes anyway)!

maria bergman

Dear Gus,
Wishing you a Wonderful Day surrounded by those who love you!
You must be a very special man! Best Wishes from Warwick, RI!


Bon anniversaire Gus, from UK. Enjoy your special day!

Carole Sendmeyer

Gus, we hope you have a very happy birthday in 2013 and many more. I grew up with various close to Christmas birthdays (sister on Dec. 27, mother on Jan. 2 like you), son on Jan. 6) and when I finally realized how my sister tended to receive recycled Christmas gifts (still wrapped in Christmas paper often) instead of true birthday gifts, I always tried to make those celebrations truly birthday ones. I remember you receiving the key, and like you, my husband and I had the provilege of visiting chez Espinasse last year. Faithful readers and French Word of the Day family members Carole and Floyd from Indianapolis.


Happy Birthday Gus, best wishes for the year ahead! From Australia

Russell Laird

Happy Birthday, Gus, from the Upper East Side of Texas :-)

Sandy Maberly

Any friend of Kristi's is a friend of mine! Penblwydd hapus, Gus and best wishes for many more......from Eglwysbach, a small village in Northern Wales.


Happy 88th Gus from Halifax,Nova Scotia,Canada

Bonnie L

Warm birthday wishes to Gus, from the very cold Boston area!

Hank Sweet

Happy Birthday from England Gus

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.

Gail deel

Happy Amazing Birthday Gus !!!
From Gail, Florida, USA


Happy Birthday, Gus! From another January (6) birthday celebrant now living in Paris .... But born in Oregon.

Marian: OH

Joyeux anniversaire et bonne santé from mid-west Ohio

Peter. From Devon

Gus, you are obviously much cherished! Happy birthday and New year etc.

Marie-Louise in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

Happy birthday, Gus and bonne anniversaire! From a Francofile in Virginia Beach.

Barbara Felicetti

Best wishes Gus from the two- and four-footed in our house in Ardmore PA


Happy Birthday Gus! May all of your birthday wishes come true!

Best wishes for a great birthday and a spectacular New Year!

Reese, from San Francisco.

Karen Whitcome (in Towson, Md)

Happy New Year and a very Happy Birthday, Gus. I'd love to hear what you think of all of our worries about health and good living someday. Something tells me that you might hold a key to that to!!!

Much happiness to you and your family.

-- Karen from Towson, Maryland


Happy birthday Gus! Hoping you and your beautiful wife had a great day and will be celebrating many more together. Best wishes, Brittany from Korea

Karen Whitcome (in Towson, Md)

Thanks for the Juice Weasel belly laugh, Kristin! A great start to my day!!

Pat Cargill

Happy Birthday, dear Gus, Holder of The Key, a most auspicious position in the French Word a Day famille!

Metta Blessings

May you be safe
May you be healthy
May you be happy
May you live with ease, knowing peace in this new year.

From cloudy Roanoke, Va

Carolyn Kruse

Bon anniversaire, Gus! My mother was born on January 3 in 1926. All the best for a wonderful year ahead (from outh west Florida!

Roslyn Cutler

Happy Birthday Gus. Best wishes from Ros in Melbourne. 🌺

Sue J.

Dear Gus -- Wishing you cake, champagne and everything you could wish for. From Sue in Chicago.

Betty Rosbottom

Happy Birthday,Gus, or Bonne Anniversaire as they say here in Paris. Hope you and your wife have a wonderful celebration today!

Susan d rolfs

Bon anniversaire from the colony francaise, louisanne

Have a fabulous day



Bon Anniversaire Gus from Pittsburg, KS

Tim Averill

Happy Birthday, Gus, from Beverly, Massachusetts USA. I was born on July 3rd, so I always think the fireworks are to celebrate my birthday! Have a wonderful day!



Happy birthday Gus from Damascus, Oregon. Wishing you a wonderful day filled with joy and laughter. God bless you.

Kristin Espinasse

Bon anniv, cher Gus! There is so much more to know about you. Your humble character and spirit of gratitude touches us all. It was such an honor and a gift to receive the letter from your daughter, Mary. Hug the beautiful Paulette and enjoy your friends here, as well as those closer to home. P.S. big thanks to Mom for knowing a hero when she sees one!

Bernie Lamach

Have an enjoyable Birthday, Gus It's a great accomplishment to have a productive and thoughtful family. Take it from one who has a few years on myself as well.
Bernie Lamach, Florida [email protected]

Greg Nicholson

Bon Anniversaire Gus- Hope you have
a fantastic day

Wanda Decker

Have a terrific birthday, Gus, and a special new year. Wanda

debra ashe

Happy Birthday from Winston-Salem, N.C.

Greg Nicholson

Happy Birthday wishes from Minnesota
May it be a great day

Pati Aine

Best wishes on your birthday ans through out the coming year.

Pati Aine

Deb Morgan

Gus - Many happy returns and Happy New Year, too!
Hingham, MA

Adrienne, Pendleton, Indiana

May you have the happiest of birthday celebrations today, Gus, and many more in the future! Sending well wishes from snow-covered little Pendleton, Indiana, USA

susan standke

Best wishes and the best of health to you on your birthday.....enjoy and thrive!!!!Susan from california

Becca Hillyer Claudé

Bon Anniversaire, Mr Gus !
avec admiration,
Becca Claudé
Joiselle, France


Bonne anniversaire d'Atlanta ...

Ou il pleut at il faut retourner au travail. Dommage!
I hope the sun always shines on you. I think January 2 is a birthday full of new promises!

Cindy McDonald

Happy Happy Birthday cher Gus! My dad was born Dec 25, 1925. Meilleurs vœux for a super birthday and a beautiful new year... Cindy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Bill in St. Paul

Happy Birthday, Gus from overcast, snow-clad Minnesota!!

A fan!

Bonne Anniversaire Gus! From Crozet, Virginia where there is snow on all the surrounding mountains.

Deborah Carter

Wishing you a very happy birthday, Gus and many more to come! Your gentle spirit has shone through in your thankyou letter and various comments on the FWAD blog, and gained you friends around the world, all wishing you well! Greetings from Melbourne Australia, from Deborah.

Jackie Durham

Happy Birthday, Gus, from Reston, VA


Happy Birthday, Gus, from Southeastern Pennsylvania!

Mary Helen

Feliz Cumpleaños, Gus, from Peabody, MA.

Mary Jeanne Reich

Happy Birthday to you cher Gus! Heureux Anniversaire, Nos voeux les plus sinceres, de Bonheur et surtout Bonne Santee!May God Bless you and your family!
Bonjour a Paulette!
We live not to far from you in The Villages, Fl. 1 hour north of Orlando....
Have a great Day! Lots of hugs from this french girl.......

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Happy Birthday, Gus! Such touching words from your daughter. I hope you all have a wonderful celebration today!

Cheryl in STL

Happy, happy birthday today, Gus from sunny and cold St Louis!

Linda R.

Happy Birthday, Gus, from Portland, Oregon. (I just happen to be visiting my daughters ... otherwise the greeting would come from chilly Cut Bank, Montana.) May you enjoy your special day surrounded by family and friends, the best gift of all.

Tina in INdiana

♫ ♫ Bonne anniversaire Gus!!! ♫ ♫

Marcia Stoub

Happy Birthday,Gus from Minneapolis,Minnesota.
Have a wonderful day and a joyous and peaceful 2013.


Happy birthday Gus from chilly Mission Hills Kansas

Laura Purdy

Bonne Anniversaire,Gus, from Toronto, Canada! You look like such a nice guy...I wish I knew you. At least I'm part of your French-word-a-day family, thanks to Kristi!

Becky Farley

My husband Frank and I had the privilege to attend the wonderful April 2012 wine tasting at Kristin and Jean-Marc's. There we were able to meet you, Paulette and Jeanne. Oh, what a wonderful time we had. I wish I could tell you how many times Frank has told the story of how you won the key. He especially loves to tell how you said, "my heart went flip-flop", when Paulette took your hand at mass. We send our best wishes to you and your beautiful wife Paulette.

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Gus :……..joyeux anniversaire et une bonne santé !!

Poem for Gus

In the autumn of their fruitful life
After many years of struggle and strife

A charming couple stands holding a key
A picture-perfect scene of mutual harmony

The key’s so special, they hold in their hand
For it came as a gift from a far away land

It could be the key to their true love and trust
As life together, which they agree, is a must

More than just a piece of old hardware
It has future memories for them to share

They’ll always remember the package in the mail
And cherish this key, IT’S NOT FOR SALE!

My 2013 resolution. As I recover from recent heart surgery, I’ll plan follow the words of the Libby L. Allen song. Green side of Grass

Sorry....this links don't seem to work

Susan Dautel

Happy Birthday, Gus, from upstate New York. It's snowy and cold here, but our hearts are warm! I agree with you that Kristin's posts are things to look forward to. I race through all my other emails, but save the Word-A-Day until I have time to savor it. Often it turns my desk lunch at work into a little "stay-cation"! Happy 88th!

Rick Spring

Happy Birthday, Gus! And many more! How many things have you found "the key" will open?

Rick Spring
Okmulgee, Oklahoma


An infinity of blessings to you on this, your special day! May you have many, many more special days.
From a Maryland Francophile


Happy Birthday, Gus from San Francisco, California And many many more birthdays to come.

Jan  Hersh

Dear Gus,
May you continue to thrive in love and happiness.
Greetings from Punta de Mita, Nayarit, Mexico where we are on Holiday with family.


Happy Birthday Gus from Los Altos Hills, CA. And what a gift you received! We all should be so lucky and blessed to have family members that love us so deeply as to go to the trouble of doing what your daughter did for you. You have much to celebrate today and all through the year. Thank you for inspiring all of us to better people..... Warm regards, Robin


bon anniv Gus! have a wonderful day and all the best to you and yours in 2013!

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Happy Birthday, and new year to you, Gus. Enjoy your special day. Someone asked last year how you met your lovely wife, Paulette, and I missed the answer...have you told us?
Best greetings from Cambridge, Ma, where it is very cold and snowy today.


Bon anniversaire and Happy Birthday from Georgia, USA!

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

Dear Gus, May your day be filled with many blessings and much love. Happy Birthday to you, Young Man.

kathleen fidler

Bon Anniversaire from New Jersey, Gus! We share a birthday so I know how overlooked it can be--but it is always made special by our loved ones. May you have a perfect, wonderful day, and many more.


Janet smajstrla

Happy birthday, Gus, from Texas! Enjoy your special day.


Hi Gus. My daughter's
BD is Dec. 31st, and we understand the being 'left over'. Happy many more years, Gus and take care.

Julie from Edinburgh



Tres Bonne Anniversaire Gus......from arizona

Vivian Langley

Joyeux Anniversaire,Gus Vivian, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Dave Domingue

Bonne anniversaire, Gus, et Bonne Nouvelle Année from another holiday baby in the heart of French-speaking Louisiana, Cajun Country. I hope your day is filled with love and laughter and the presence of those you love. Best wishes for a coming year of health and happiness.

Annette Heath

Joyous birthday wishes to you Gus, and even more wishes for a wonderful 2013 filled with new joys and good health. You sound like a wonderful gentleman who makes the world a better place!

Annette Ledoux Heath, Norfolk, Virginia

Gayle Markow

Dear Gus, Wishing you a very happy Birthday and a great year! Gayle from San Francisco.

and Kristin, So glad you are drinking your daily jus vert despite an early mishap with the concept. I've been drinking an almost daily jus vert of kale, cucumber, celery, and apple, and definitely feel the better for it.

:-) hugs,


Bonne anniversaire, bonne année et bonne santé, Gus-envoye de Lake City, FL, pas loin de vous!

Palmyra Zurits

Tres tres bonne anniversaire Gus, feliz cumpleaños Sr. Gus le enviamos felicitaciones desde Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. Our warmest birthdays wishes to you Mr. Gus, sent all the way from Tijuana, Mexico!


¡Feliz Cumpleaños Señor Gus! Con Cariño, Alanna en Tejas

Angela Sargent

Bon Anniversaire Gus, in Normandy on a break at our cottage in Normandy - living in England. Have a wonderful day and what a kind daughter you have.


Alyssa Ross Eppich

A very Happy Birthday to you, Gus! You and I are Capricorns! Bon Anniversaire!

Julie Farrar

Bonne anniversaire, bonne année, et bonne santé from bitterly cold St. Louis, MO. What a wonderful family you must have to think that you should have a "worldwide" celebration.

As for resolutions, I'm still working on them. I believe the first week of the new year is still soon enough to form ones.

Mary Holden

Happy Birthday, Gus!
Feel better soon, poet Herm!
Thank you for this wonderful playground of geography and happiness, Kristi!

All of Gus's ancestors--the people who helped bring us all here today--are somewhere smiling!

Jean(ne) in MN

Happy Birthday, dear Gus, and may that key open a wonderful new year of 2013! From the icebox of Minnesota.


Gus, Bon Anniversaire from Syracuse NY! Yes, it is snowing here- again...

Sharon Inger

Gus, Bon anniversaire de Cape Cod Massachusetts. Nous avons un peu de la neige, maid il fait du soleil!

marjorie recinos

Happy, happy birthday Gus, from the other "key winner" in Newburyport, Ma. where it currently is 14 degrees farenheit. Wishing you good health, love, happiness and warm days!
Best, Marjorie

Natalie Loughran

Happy Birthday Gus - have a wonderful day and be sure to eat lots of cake!
Best wishes from London, England.


Anita Mires

Have an absolutely fantastique birthday, Gus!

Elizabeth Lincoln

Happy Birthday, Gus- you are the same age as my dad, whom I love dearly, as your daughter clearly loves you. May the coming year bring you many moments of joy! From chilly, windy but currently dry Portland, OR.


Bon anniversaire, Gus, and congratulations on being 88 years young!

Susan from McLean, VA

Mary Qualls

Bonne anniversaire Gus! Mary Qualls, San Luis Obispo en Californie


A very Happy birthday, Gus, and may you have many more wine tastings in France. I enjoyed meeting you and Pauline at Kristi's for wine tasting last spring. (I wish we could make it an annual event)
Besr wishes from Prince Edward County, Ontario

Laura Isenstein

Happy Birthday Gus!! Many wishes for a continued good life full of health, love and happiness! From Cottonwood, Arizona


Happy 88th Birthday Gus from Hacienda Heights, CA. What wonderful stories you must have about your travels especially your visit to France and our friends at French Word A Day. Hope you write your own blog one day soon.

Louise Tramontano

Happy Birthday Gus from Charlotte, North Carolina

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