My new book is available now! One reason to buy it today...
culotte de cheval + new "prix amical" for book!

Tips for entertaining + book update!!

Caveau (c) Kristin Espinasse

Exciting book update at the end of this post! First, take note: Cousin Audrey, from Banneret, and Caroline, from Rouge-Bleu, will be pouring their wines in Portland at Pastaworks (Hawthorne, Saturday 03/15 from 3-5 PM & City Market, Sunday 03/16 from 3-5.PM) Don't miss this!

sans façon(s) (sahn fah-sahn)

    : no, thank you
    : unceremoniously

A guest at last night's dinner party taught me a new way to say "No, thank you!" (when the hostess offers an extra serving. Here's an example:

Audio File: Download MP3 or Wav

Hostess: Est-ce que tu voudras encore du gâteau?
Guest: Sans façon. 

You need only say those two words--with a nod and a smile--and you'll be a perfectly fluent guest (if not a perfectly fluent French speaker ;-)


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Last night we ate at Pascale and Patrick's place. It was my first time meeting les Franco-Luxembourgeoises--after Jean-Marc disappeared daily, last year, to their home near Le Beausset!

"Yep, he's a cellar squatter," Patrick smiled.

I laughed picturing Chief Grape moving in, however lawfully, on another's cellar space.  I knew my husband was only borrowing their cave, to process all those grapes gleaned from a neighboring vineyard the week we moved to Bandol. But it was good to finally meet the wine buddy and his French wife, a funloving hostess who made the four-course dinner seem as simple as posting a letter (as the French say). 

We sat around the fireplace enjoying apéros, including olives from the estate and wine from the oranges amères that grow nearby. While the guests drank le vin, I savored as many olives as I could before being called over to the dinner table, where the others were headed to await their seat assignments.

Saperlipopette! The first course was so simple and lovely I wondered Why didn't I think of that?

In a beautiful blown-glass bowl an all lettuce salade was topped with avocado halves--the halves filled with orange fish eggs. The colors! And the texture of the salty, crunchy oeufs against the melt-in-your mouth avocats. Délicieux!

The main dish was veal with a coppery cream sauce. "That's saffron from the garden," Patrick explained. "Pascale is really into harvesting it for cooking!"

Sans déconner? You can grow your own saffron and avoid the store bought kind! Here was another tip to file away in my dossier "Astuces pour Recevoir." (Now to find it and dust it off....)

The meat was served with a side of steamed grains--a mixture of bulgar, soja, and quinoa. Tak! tak! (check! check!) I think I could manage this... My thoughts spinned as I tried keeping up with the hostess's savoir-faire. Though I couldn't make veal, I could substitue the dinde I'd recently made... (the lemon-drenched turkey had been an accidental success when sprinkled with rosemary... then drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar and set on a bed of figs and red onion!).

Pascale and Patrick's meal was just the inspiration needed to jump-start our first dinner party after the kitchen renovation (party is tonight, renovation is ongoing...). If only I would continue to pay attention, I might walk away with a grocery list and a few more pointers, like this one:

"Here's one for vegetarian guests," Pascale announced, setting down the most exquisite "cake" I have ever seen. Imagine an unadorned birthday cake--only all ingredients are sauteed vegetables (carrots strips, onions, cabbage...)--all held together by delicate sheets of choux.

I'll bet she lined a cake pan with the steamed cabbage... then tossed in the fried veggies, cooked it all, then carefully flipped that pan over for the beautiful "cake effect". And so went my thoughts, pedaling and pedaling, in hopes of one day working it all out--the puzzle of cooking and entertaining.

Gosh the food was delicious! It was hard to muffle those non-verbal éclats of enjoyment, no matter how many times I concentrated on chewing quietly. But this was France, not China (is that where it's okay to hum while you eat?) and remembering one's manners is important no matter what country.

I'm at the end of my story now and I failed to tell you about the lovable characters seated round the table. One day I'll work this out too--the puzzle of putting together a story. For now, I leave you with a handy and oh-so-soignée expression that the lovely Valérie from Toulon (seated one seat over) taught me):

"We say 'sans façon'," she said, nodding her head, encouraging me practice....

Oh goody! That meant the next time Pascale offered a slice of cake, I didn't have to say 'no'! ...I could say sans façons... nevermind it meant exactly the same thing: no more gâteau for me.

*    *    *


la cave = wine cellar
sans déconner? = no kidding?
un apéro (apéritif) = drink
une orange amère = bitter orange
le vin = wine
saperlipopette! = hot diggity!
un oeuf = egg
un avocat = avocado
astuces pour recevoir = tips for entertaining
le savoir-faire = know-how
éclats = fit  (fits of laughter, enjoyment)
soigné(e) = well-groomed

1-Capture plein écran 14032014 101251


(Sample page... I have filled my book, First French Essais, with insights into France and French life, such as the excerpt above. I hope you will learn a lot more than vocabulary by reading this book!)

Thank you for ordering my new book! First French Essais made it to no. 38 on Amazon's Top 100 list yesterday--giving this tender book of essays and photos the chance to be noticed by readers outside of this blog! 

This is a crucial week for book awareness and I very much appreciate all you are doing to help get the word out to new readers. Many of you have bought more than one copy of my latest book. Others, who prefer to read via Kindle or Nook, have offered to buy a paperback for a friend (while waiting for the ebook version to come out).

Looking at the impressive ranking (no. 38!) it's easy to believe that thousands of books are flying out the door, but the bottom line is this: 301 copies have been sold. While this is extremely encouraging, there is a long way to go to reach those readers who are completely unaware of my stories.

You can help me shine the light on this book! If you have not yet bought a copy of First French Essais now is the time. Please don't wait for the ebook to come out. Consider buying a copy for a friend or family member. There is always an occasion to give a gift and what better cadeau than a book?

Thank you for listening. I am deeply grateful for your warm and lively and lovable support! Click here to order.


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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Ann Mah

#38! Go Kristi!!! I'm so thrilled for you and now off to spread the word some more! Allez!


Go Kristin! That is great news.

Tim Averill

Lauren and I got our copy ordered this morning! Can't wait to dig in.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Such a tasty blog entry, Kristi! Just when I needed some inspiration! Bravo on reaching #38 with First French Essais!


Ordered your book yesterday ! Can't wait !If yo ever make it to San Diego I'll help host a book signing for you. All the best. Mark




You have surpassed all of my dreams, we all have dreams that we never get to, but somehow our children intuitively seem to sense the path and pick up where we laid our dream down so long ago.

One of my favorite stories is about when we lived in Aspen back in 1976 and I was convinced Heidi was going to be the one to carry my dreams on to conquering France. I had somehow ended up renting a condo right next door to a beautiful French lady who took on the job of introducing Heidi to the language with lessons . I always marvel at how life seems to place the right people at the right time in your life. Then when it was time for Heidi to go to college I was all over her to be a t.v. reporter, learn the skills of writing etc. She did end of with a degree in mass-communications. Kristi ´s career on the other hand was never really identified, I just wanted her to make it through high-school as her grades were worthy of grounding each semester. I don´t know why, but like most mothers I put most of my focus on the first born, and probably wore her out before she was even able to think of her OWN DREAMS. FRANCE, FRANCE, FRANCE --- FRENCH - FRENCH - FRENCH WAS MY DREAM and I was too busy surviving to find my way there, so I did what most moms do - transfer.

Little did I know Kristi was soaking in all of the drama around France as we progressed through our life.

It´s funny, my career was real-estate - and now Heidi is a Broker. Along the way Kristi picked up the scent and has shown us all the way to live our dream in France. I am forever thankful for every single word she types into our lives each week. I have more than I ever dreamed…..I even have French grandchildren….!!!! And of course Jean-Marc calls me Mom with true love in his heart. I am blessed.

Thank all of you for supporting Kristi in her dream - I love you for all you give to her life.



Marcia Douglas

So... how does sans façon translate? Or why do they say that, because when I use Google translate, it says "without ceremony", which doesn't make sense to me, lol.

Kristin Espinasse

Mom, what a touching note. Tears are rolling down my cheeks!

Thank you, Mark. Fingers crossed for a book tour one day! Jean-Marc says he will drive us in a motor home. Mom says we need only hook up a side car buggy and she will come with us....

Marcia, good question. I think we just have to trust that it works as is: sans façons = no thanks (when politely refusing seconds)

Dianne de Poitiers

If you haven't discovered yet, you're in for a treat. All sorts of discoveries await you.
Sans façons is at

Kristin Espinasse

Ann and Victoria, thanks for the cheers
...and Tim, for the book
...and Cynthia, for the foodie enthusiasm...
Dianne - love WordReference. Just added the needed second definition to todays word: unceremoniously.

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

I am really looking forward to the arrival of your latest book which will be delivered to our backdoor by the cheerful UPS man. Bonne chance with the sale of this new book....can't wait to hold it in my hands and begin reading.

Sevahn Merian

Just ordered my copy of your new book! It arrives first day of spring! Congratulations Kristin.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Love this post & the food! Just ordered the book from Amazon. Can't wait!

Stay well!

Ellen in B.H.

Hello, Kristin & Family,
Jules' insight is incredible. I think it was Carl Jung who said, "Nothing has as great an influence on the life of child than the unlived life of the parent." Fortunately, both you and your mom are living beautiful and fulfilling lives.
Today is payday, so I have just ordered my copy of your new book. Very excited and so happy to support your wonderful writing!

Jill Ferrie

Congrats, Kristi, on reaching #38! Can hardly wait to read First French Essais. Wish I could be at the April meet-up. Enjoy.

Susan Wardell

Love your work! 2 little corrections in what I read today: avocat for avocado, not avocate, and apéro has an accent aigu! I love the way you share your life with us!


Very excited to get my book which should arrive early next week!!! Félicitations Kristin!!!

Debby howell

Two superstars today: Kristin and Jules. Jules, your post was very beautiful.
From Debby Howell, a mom and fan of Kristi

Eileen deCamp

Congrats Kristin on reaching #38! My copy will be here Tuesday! Can't wait! I will take it to the beach for my birthday read! I love Jules sweet comments! What a proud and loving Mom!I am liking the word saperlipopette!

Lynne Sullivan

My book is on its way from Amazon -- can't wait to spend an afternoon reading it.
AND, to Susan Wardell, thanks for the corrections -- small, but important, and perhaps I won't make these tiny mistakes myself.

Karen Rollston

Question: is Sans façon an expression only in Provence area or would it be recognized/acceptable in other parts of France?

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

avocat, both avocado and lawyer?
Is that why people in France have un notaire for much legal business?

Congratulations on your book doing so well first day.

Karen from Phoenix

#38 FANTASTIC!!! As all the others have said I can't wait for mine to arrive from Amazon. I hope your book reaches out into the world, because there would be so much joy if they are reading your books.



Our dear Kristi,
YAY!!Number 38!!!!!!! So proud of you and SO well deserved!!!( and! ordered mine yesterday!!!)(will order another for my Kindle!)
As you know by now,I always love EVERY one of your stories;today's especially reached out to me,though,because I really like to cook,and you not only gave us some delicious ideas,but(once again) painted pictures with your words of how everything looked(as well as describing your gracious host and hostess).
Totally wonderful!
Natalia XO


the cake must have been good, Kristin, and "sans facons" is an old fashion way of saying " Yes I do!"
or "Don't mind if I do"...

Sue in Seattle

Hi Kristi,

I was hoping to go to the wine tasting at Vinum in Seattle next week only to find out that it is for "Trade Only". Since I'm not in the trade, I won't be able to attend. Maybe next year there will be a wine tasting here that's open to the public:) Thank you for your wonderful blog!


If I read Jules' comment on Facebook, I'd give it a "like". Way to go, Mama.

Jacqueline Bucar

Loved the menu but you left me hanging! What did she serve for dessert?

And does Sans facon have a positive connotation? Just seems like an odd expression (without a way).

Kristin Espinasse

Jacqueline, One of the guests, Valerie, brought dessert. It was from the patisserie: individual chocolate cakes with ganache filling. Re sans facons, it does seem like a strange thing to say. But Valerie assured me it is used. However, a guest for lunch today told me that it is a little fussy, and not used everywhere.


Hi Kristin
I ordered my book today. Keep climbing!

Gordon Lyman

Marvelous post Kristi.
Jules' comment was indeed very heart-touching.
What a family of loving readers you have collected around you!
Thanks for letting us share in your life with each post..
We look forward to reading your book. K will read it aloud so I can enjoy the sound of the French words.

GL (and K)


Hello Kristin, I always enjoy your posts, especially the photos of the beautiful landscape and your family and the descriptions of your memorable (to me, anyway!) meals. Have you thought of occasionally including a recipe in your posts? Ev


Thank you for your posts.

However, what does 'façon' mean? It looks like it is related to behaviour or manners, and normally 'sans façons' means 'informal' for a meal or 'unpretentious' for a person.

So, maybe the Toulon vernacular means 'let's just be informal (and allow us to self-help)' ie. 'no pressure, please'

Sherry from Kentucky

Mine will be here on Thursday. I can't wait.


Cumquat wine.... would love to try that. I make cumquat brandy with my small récolte d'oranges amères....

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