Why The French Won't Give You The (Entire) Recipe
My Life Philosophy (A Love Story)

Sobriety does not equal Foolproof entertaining


I wish you cheerfulness. That is what we all need to offer and to receive. That is true courtesy which enriches everyone, beginning with the one who gives it. This is the treasure that multiplies in the exchange. We can sow it along the roads, in the tramways, in the newsstands; it won't lose one atom of itself. It will grow and flourish wherever you toss it. (French translation and credit below)

TODAY'S WORD: Recevoir

    : to receive
    : to entertain

ECOUTEZ/LISTEN to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
Download MP3 or Wav
Je vous souhaite la bonne humeur. Voilà ce qu'il faudrait offrir et recevoir. Voilà la vraie politesse qui enrichit tout le monde, et d'abord celui qui donne. Voilà le trésor qui se multiplie par l'échange. On peut le semer le long des rues, dans les tramways, dans les kiosques à journaux ; il ne s'en perdra pas un atome. Elle poussera et fleurira partout où vous l'aurez jetée. -Alain, Propos sur le Bonheur

Improve your French pronunciation


    by Kristin Espinasse

Sobriety Does Not = Foolproof Entertaining
...it equals so much more

There was a time, early in my marriage when, not knowing any better, I would prepare for a dinner party in the most exhaustive way. I would wake up that morning with no clue of what to cook--rush to the grocery store, filling my cart so high that I would have to let everyone in the line behind me pass me, par politesse. Returning home, worn out before the day began, I would put away the groceries, put away my toddlers (who were also in the grocery cart), and begin to clean my house. Having cared for the kids all day while tossing menus around in my head, I would prepare myself before preparing dinner (usually something in the pressure cooker--a metaphor for my emotional state?). I will never forget the night my English friend Caroline arrived, pausing outside my kitchen window to witness the chaotic scene: the sink was full of pans and the countertops were piled with cutting boards, utensils, vegetable scraps.... 

And I will never forget the day I threw a plate across the room at my husband. It was all TOO MUCH! I wanted to go home to America and let my sister resume the cooking and entertaining. I could lie on the couch and drink beer!

(Today, February 3rd, I celebrate 13 years of sobriety! May I never go back to being a beer-guzzling couch potato who dreamed of marrying a prince. Clearly God had a better plan for me. Even if--3 years into my sobriety--He put me on a vineyard and turned my husband into a winemaker! Poof!)

Challenges, challenges. Back to entertaining. It was my friend, Alicia, stockbroker by day and Malaysian Martha Stewart by night, who taught me the most precious lesson: prepare as much as you can in advance! Days in advance! 

I have lost touch with my friend but I will get back with her one day - as I try to do better at maintaining my friendships (something I am not very good at. This has nothing to do with not loving my friends. It may have something to do with being "a solitude"--or a recluse or a hermit or an introvert...or an alcoholic? But we should be careful not to label one another. Don't you think? As my Mom always taught me: what you say is what you get).

Meantime, this week I reconnected with several friends - over one dinner party and one luncheon (both at my house) (both in the space of 4 days!). And while Alicia's tip has transformed my life (I use the tip for packing and more), it could not save me from The Argentinian Ants!  I watched as they marched into the kitchen, foiling my best organizational plans!

Yesterday's lunch with Corey and Yann and Anne and Kirk would be a test! There was no way I could prepare the quiches ahead of time... or the ants would get to them as the pies cooled in the oven. The best strategy would be to prepare everything an hour before my guests arrived -- and to sit down quickly for lunch before the meal cooled down (inviting the ant invaders)!

I won't go into the painful comedy involved in getting soup and quiche ready in under an hour - but I can tell you that by the time my friends walked up the driveway, I had ants in my pants from nerves gone haywire (and probably, simply, from having ants in my pants!)

You see, no matter how much progress I have made, I still get very disheartened over that still-elusive state of peace and calmness. You would think I would have "earned" it after practicing 13 years of sobriety. But truly, there are days I ask myself if a glass of rosé would do me more good than harm?

At those times when I wonder if a glass of rosé wouldn't be the lesser evil (compared to this tension), I tell myself this: Look back. Look back over the last 13 years. More than beginning to write, I began to pick up the pieces of that plate I threw across the room. 

Still picking up the pieces, "sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly," I can now begin to fill my plate and offer the goodness to others. Ants and all.

Thank you for reading and for the encouragement you have sent in over the years. It means so much to me.


To comment, click here.

Read about yesterday's lunch and see photos at Corey's Tongue and Cheek blog (lunch entry is right here.) And thank you, Corey, I am so touched to see your post! And thank you for teaching me to make soup and quiche and to just be oneself. You are so fun to be around.

Anne and Kirk, thank you for the wonderful photos from yesterday's lunch- posted to your Facebook page or to mine

Thanks also to Sandra and Patrick for the lovely cake platter. The tart is from Anne and Kirk, and the antique stack of music is from Corey see Corey's French Brocante at Instagram.


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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Jens from Copenhagen


Hope a joke is permitted:

Smokey definitely looks like he's already had a glass or three of Jean-Marc's rosé! :-)

Jackie Sand

Huge congratulations on what you have mightily accomplished


Hi Kristin!

Love the photo of you and Smokey! Are you standing up or laying down?

Congratulations on 13 years of sobriety! You should be so proud of yourself! That is a huge accomplishment!

I just hosted a dinner party for 12 friends from our days in Brussels and I was so STRESSED! I returned from wedding planning with my soon to be daughter in law in Atlanta on Wednesday and our party was Saturday. My husband said, "don't worry...I'll clean, etc." You know how that goes....I got back to clean, shop, run around like a crazy woman! Have you ever had a panic attack just making a recipe? I kept counting down the hours before the guests would arrive as I was getting everything prepared. We also had 4 couples staying overnight. Our second oven is a good place to hide unwashed dishes by the way. Dim lights and candles hide the undusted furniture! :-)


Congratulations Kristi!
One day at a time! Happy anniversary !

Audrey Wilson

Who loves his Mum then ??What a character he is !!
Whatever the cost ants & all ,your dinner/lunch looks delicious
We've all been there & had disasters . Like the time we had invited some rather important guests , who arrived as I was cleaning the silver !They had got the date wrong, so it was grab basins & rush down to the local Chinese restaurant !! it actually turned out to be a great evening

Robyn Mixon

Kristi--this is the most beautiful story you have written. Your kindness and your tough talk to yourself are in contrast here--but as always, your goodness shines through. We all have our challenges and I love seeing how beautifully you frame yours to help us all. Thank you!

Brian Bond

Hi Kristi. Congratulations on 13 years of sobriety! That is a fantastic accomplishment!! Your strength and courage to look ahead and tackle things day-by-day is a wonderful thing. Your joy of life, your openness and your willingness to share part of your life with all of us opens a door and let's us peek into how others (you and your wonderful family) live. This gives us all a dream to shoot for.

Petrina in Brittany

Well done Kristi! Love & many congratulations, you are so lovely.


Oh, Kristin, that could have been me writing today's piece!! I know EXACTLY how you feel!

All I can say is that, as the years go by and the joys and trials of life slowly wear you down to what you feel is breaking point, you arrive at a sort of "no-man's-land" where things just don't seem to matter any more and you feel a bit lost. Then, suddenly you're on the other side! Priorities change! and it's PEOPLE that matter and not being perfect in everything you do! Peace comes into your heart and life becomes much more enjoyable in every way.

Bravo for the 13 years ... God bless! ♥

Barbara Zarcone

Good Morning from New London, CT
Thank you for your Cheerfulness, your posts have been the highlight of my day.

Warmest Regards,

Maureen Winterhager

Congrats from one ex-junkie (cigarettes) to another. Most admirable.....MORE admirable than giving up fags.......It's sociable to drink a glass of chilled rosé.......NOT to smoke....any more anywhere!

Patty Cargill

Dearest Kristi, everything we love about you shines through in today's post. Beauty within, beauty without, your life is a lovely inspiration in many ways. You are open and honest and willing "to go there," there being that difficult or demanding place where others would turn away, ignore, or pretend is not there. Brave it is, but there is more. Brave with big heart, brave with generosity of spirit, with imagination and sparkling candor, you have let us share your journey and inspired us by example. I am afraid to make that Big Decision you made 13 years ago today despite evidence it would be a good thing. I fear many things that might open my life, even in its 60th decade, to greater possibilities--but working on it.

I am glad to have found your French Word a Day many (?) years ago. Congratulations on this 13 anniversary and best wishes for many, many more. Sending love from rainy SW Virginia (the foot of snow finally melted!)

Geraldine Ventura

Dear Kristin, Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us who have had similar situations. And congratulations on your sobriety anniversary. This may well be your greatest accomplishment! I have learned over the years to use only recipes that I can prepare ahead so that I enjoy my guests instead of being "stuck" in the kitchen, because I have had hostesses who barely had time to visit as they were "stuck" in the kitchen. God bless you!

Cindy Mc

Bravo chère Kristi! xoxo


There is nothing that happens to us that a drink will make better. Congratulations from a friend to Bill.
Burt from Rochester,NY


You get more amazing with every blog I read. You are so totally honest with everything you share that you are the most relatable person I know. Most people, putting themselves out there publicly, wouldn't show their "warts". You do in such an honest way, that we can relate to you as we can with few others. Bravo, Kristi, for all you've overcome and all you've accomplished.


I loved this post today... a work of art, like your life.
We all have struggles. Embracing them as you do, with cheerfulness, love and compassion, we can transform our life from the mundane to a work of art. The examined life is worth living.
Sending you cheer!

Sue J.

brava on the 13, Kristi.


Many, many people have learned inner peace by the simple act of walking across Spain to Santiago de Compostela as a pilgrim. Probably sounds strange but by living a very simple
life as a pilgrim you are freed from many distractions and as you walk hour after hour your mind works on all the issues you've stored away over the years. As if by magic the issues become resolved and inner peace begins. Lots of good books by pilgrims available that describe this process. Might want to check it out.

Tom B, Atlanta GA

Congratulations, Kristin! One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time if need be. You are a wonderful role model for so many.

Warm hugs,



You bring cheer to my day with your lovely writing style! And cheers to 13 years, and happily ever after! May God's richest blessings surround you with His love and peace !

Sandy Lewis

Congratulations on 13 years, and to many more! And, I think you got the prince!


Congratulations, Kristi! To your good advice to yourself (Look back), I would add: look around and rejoice in all the good cheer that surrounds you today. You're doing great! I used to get all spun up when preparing for something like a dinner or special event, and recently I noticed that I wasn't making myself nuts anymore. I can't quite figure out why that is, but it's probably a combination of trusting my friends (my guests) to be their most nonjudgmental selves (and they always are), and trusting myself--knowing that I am doing my best, and finding that OK. I wish you a fine day today and every day.


Thank you for such a wonderful entry. You truly are a shining star leading the way for many of us.


Congratulations on 13 years. My dad, who has been sober for almost 23 years says you have to take it one day at a time, whether it has been 1 day, or 25 years. Keep doing what you are doing. As far as entertaining goes, I find cooking a stress reliever. It is the one time my brain shuts off to everything else in life. I just concentrate subconsciously on what I am preparing. I'm not sure how to suggest for you to make that happen. But having had your food, you are a great cook..... Just enjoy the process of it.

Have a Wonderful day!!!!

catharine ewart-touzot

well it seems that you have learned some very important lessons/rules of life over the years. Some of it comes with age, some with an acceptance of ourselves I think. You as a new bride were not just a new bride but a new bride then mother in a foreign country; having also been down that road, I suspect that it is more difficult than living in a place where you know the language, you know the customs, and you have friends and family to help through the learn/living process. But then I would not change anything, and neither would you I suspect, and now you see how you have progressed along this road of life.


I enjoyed reading your heartfelt post today. Thank you.


Congratulations! A writer, wife, mother, Daughter, sister, friend, entertaining phenom, , , , , you are very accomplished and a wonderful example of what one human can do with a life. And guess what?? There is more to come.


I'm new to your blogs and book. I'm so glad to have discovered you and your writing. Keep going, and never go back on your sobriety! Meditate, yoga, self-hypnosis--anything for tension except alcohol.


Bravo, Kristi! You pulled off this beautiful lunch in less than one hour, bien sur, but even more, you continue to pull off living the life that you deserve: enriching your beautiful family and friends each day, and they you, as well as your legions of readers who love you and pull for you and share your victories and fears with you. A rich life indeed. Bravo!


I oh so enjoyed your post today. Congrats to you. I am truly inspired by you. Thank you!!!


Thank you for your post today. So much you wrote echoes my sentiments.
Frantic entertaining, feeling and being more of a solitude but loving my friends,
Always wondering, trying to improve and understand. Thank you for putting
it in words I could understand. Congratulations on 13 years.


Congratulations Kristi on your continued sobriety! Well done! 👏🏻. Always remember that true friends do not come for the food or the clean house, but for you. Give them a calm, confident, joyous you. That would make any friends heart soar. ❤️


Your stories and photos always inspire me, but today's post really made me stop and reflect. I have an unusually busy, stressful day ahead of me. Your words of humility and your courage in admitting your struggles, are an important reminder to me that everything doesn't have to be perfect. Thank you and I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


Gosh, you remind me of my younger self. I used to get so stressed entertaining and ended up never enjoying my own parties or guests. (And I didn't drink or have children!!)
Finally I grew old enough (mature enough?) to realise and embrace the following:
It does not have to be perfect.
It does not have to be homemade and/or organic.
No one is judging me, at least not as harshly as I judge myself!
People are very happy and most relaxed with the simplest of foods.
It is OK to BUY some of the courses, or indeed, ALL of them, if need be. (i.e., lack of time, headache, fatigue, cold, period, mood, whatever...)
When more than 10 people get in help.


Who knows who you will inspire with your honest (and beautiful) words. Thank you.

Brenda Pfeil

Kristin, As everybody here is identifying with you and the stress of entertaining, so do I. That Martha syndrom is a killer. Funny that even in the Martha/Mary story in the Bible Martha needed to be reminded to be more like Mary. I think we Marthas will always be a work in progress. But "chapeau" to you because you keep pressing on. That's great.
I'm sharing below a super supplement that really helps calm me down without making me groggy, in fact the opposite, it makes me focussed. I have chronic Lyme and rely on herbs, oils and supplements to live as normal a life as possible. This one really is helpful.
Thank you for being transparent. That's what we love about you.

L-Theanine is a relaxing and nondietary amino acid found pretty much exclusively in teas from Camellia sinensis (alongside Green Tea Catechins and Caffeine) and is known to promote relaxation without sedation. It appears to be effective at this as well as reducing stress at standard dosages.


Dearest Kristen,

You are a shining example of great inner strength.

I have found peace in life is one of the most important accomplishmeets in this lufe...but not always easy. It's that feeling of knowing everything is ok in our life.

The daily stressors in life are so easier handled if we have peace.

One of my greatest stress relievers is my faith in God. ..some days I just give my problems to him by telling Him I am leaving things in His Hands.

But, meditation and staying busy with positive activities also helps.

My Mother had the addictictive powers of alcoholism in her life and it brought her to a very sad end, when she died at age 67.

I often think about the things (weddings, graduations, birthdays, special moments) she has missed since that time 22 years. ago...she would be 90 in July has she lived.

She could not overcome her disease...but, others like you CAN.

I admire your strength and determination in beating this disease.

Stay strong, pray and stay busy.

During life we all have hills to climb and hurdles to jump...the main thing is to live life to the fullest and be good examples to others. ..you are one of mine!

Hugs to you. ..love your writings and photos. ..please continue writing!

Linda D.

Congratulations, Kristi! One of the the things I so admire about you is that you keep on keeping on - with a smile, an honest grace and an open heart. Don't worry about becoming the perfect hostess. People come to spend time with YOU.

As for stress-free dinner parties, there are as many ways to entertain as there are stars in the heavens. Find *your* way, and the stress will lower its volume. Sometimes I hire kids to clean up after me as I prepare. (I pretend to be Julia Child.) Sometimes I cater part or all of the meal. (and I like to cook...but not for 24! lol) Often, I prepare much in advance. Find what works for YOU - and that can change, depending on circumstance. (like that Christmas dinner for 24)

When I feel the stress bubble up, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it's just a meal with friends - and that's something I can look forward to sharing. Miss Perfect Pants can go take a hike! <3

Sending big hugs on this special day!

Cheryl in STL

Dear Krisin,
I see a lot of myself in your post today. I've never struggled with alcoholism but I can certainly say "Brava" for your 13 years of sobriety! I see myself alongside of you in the kitchen, dealing with kids and a full sink. I have found myself working hard at maintaining friendships and I know how valuable they are. I so appreciate your willingness to share your life, the struggles and the joys, with all of us! Enjoy your day today and soak up some of that glorious Provençal sunshine!

Carol K USA

I totally agree with everything said here so far....
and wonder...about the ants?
My son visited recently and asked if I had mice in my cupboards....? I sprinkle large amounts of whole cloves throughout the cupboards to keep the ants at bay.
They hate powdered chalk also and cayenne pepper.
Anything that messes up their breathing will keep them
out. Diatomaceous earth works ... But it might only work on certain kinds of ants.
Maybe you can check into what type they are and what smells they hate? There should be a way to keep them
outside where they belong? i've put little lines of powered chalk along doorways and windows to see if they will cross it.
Best wishes to you ...CarolE


congratulations and wishing you 13 more, and 13 more after that, and 13 more after that ... (one cheer-filled day at a time)


Bon courage! 13 years is quite an accomplishment :) After losing loved ones under tragic circumstances, I too struggle not to turn to alcohol to numb my grief. I know it is only a "quick fix" that only digs the hole deeper. I remind myself that we all have demons to struggle with. Here's to finding some inner peace, and those who help us along the way!


Kristi, you are an inspiration. I have nothing brilliant to add to the thread other than to salute you on your 13th. As others have written, it's a day at a time.... I too used to fret over every daily detail...from shiny shoes to pretty flowers to gourmet dinners. It was exhausting! I still am a ocd but have reached the point where I want to really enjoy my time with friends and family. They aren't examining my floor for crumbs and seem pretty content with a simpler meal than something from Gourmet magazine (rip). So take a breath, think of all of us who love you, and carry on. Thanking you for your honest and beautiful writing.

Sue Lennox

Be still, Kristi, and be loved,


Congratulations on 13 years! Yes, One day at a time! You are an inspiration to all of us. Keep your wonderful stories coming - they give us American Francophiles a warm, beautiful window into a very special place in our world.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Congrats on 13 years of sobriety, Kristin. What an accomplishment!

Chances are you do not judge your friends when you visit when they entertain. I bet you are even compassionate and offer assistance if things go less than smooth for them. Try and remember that the next time you entertain ... as will I (grin).



Congratulations Kristi! Thirteen years of life not numbed to the sometimes painful, sometimes “meh”, and sometimes so beautiful! You’ve shown up for it all and embraced it with the impressive spirit God gave you without altering the intensity of a single minute! Try to remember that a thing only exists in relation to its opposite and so you would not know the beauty of life without also knowing its ugliness. Not so comforting when trudging through the challenges but with patience and perseverance, the challenges abate and transform into ease. Stay beautiful, God is smiling on you! Much love, Robin

Barbara Blizzard

Congratulations on your success. My son explains to his friends that he is allergic to alcohol and just as you would not offer nuts to someone allergic to them, you should not offer him a drink. Seems to be working. Keep on building.


Congratulations on your sobriety. You are a wonderful person and not drinking while living where you do is not easy. I commend you-- and love you also, of course!

Alice shupe

Bravo Kristi! God truly has a sense of humor and He has surely cared for and carried you these 13 years. Merci for your honesty and vulnerability. I relate to your scenarios of preparing for guests both with young children and now as empty nesters. I always remind myself that true hospitality is about welcoming people and not "entertaining" them. That said advance preparations makes one a more relaxed hostess- and I will have that glass of rose :)


Hello Kristi,
Ever since learning that you too were living a life of earned sobriety (on the occasion of your 10th anniversary) I have paid even closer attention to your words and photos. You are marvelous! I do wonder whether you have support from others who are following the same path? I can't imagine there's a meeting around the corner!
I have just had my 8th anniversary of sobriety. And I still sometimes ask myself during hard times whether a glass of good red wine wouldn't fix me up. So far, thank goodness, the answer has been a resounding "NO!"

Karen Watterson

BIG congratulations on 13 years! A great accomplishment, especially married to a winemaker! Wishing you all the best from Maine.

Tom C

Amen, sister! Congratulations on your sobriety, one-day-at-a-time. I think we all strive for that peace and calmness, and sometimes in striving, we are working too hard to find it, and it blows right past us. It's there for the taking, and I am just learning that now as I started practicing mindfulness along with my work in AA. Sometimes, it's all about one-breath-at-a-time. Peace, sister!

Catherine Reilly

Happy Birthday, Kristi!!! You are SO brave and SUCH a great example for so many!!! Hugs from snowy Colorado Springs!!! Cathy

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, you always inspire me! How you manage to juggle so many items at the same time AND stay sober! It's your inner strength. You've got it, you know that. BRAVA!


Hi Kristi,
You are an inspiration. I send you a hearty congratulations on 13 years!! I look forward to marking the same for myself one day.

bien amicalement,

Judy Smith-Lamothe

Thank you for so candidly sharing your real life. It would be so easy, looking at you, (you are beautiful, your husband is handsome, your children are beautiful as well, even your dogs are beautiful, you live in France on a vineyard!) to assume that you have the glorious life. But I read that you are real, you have challenges, heartache (losing your other dog) and those lovely photos of delicious and mouth-watering dishes that you prepare sometimes come with preparation angst! Thank you for telling what might be happening behind the scenes and heartfelt congratulations on 13 years of sobriety. You're an inspiration. Fondest regards, Judy

Leslie Riley

Congratulations Kristi on your sobriety anniversary ! That is a wonderful accomplishment. Your friend is correct, as you mentioned, to do as Mapuche as possible ahead of time. Graciously accept the offer of assistance from your guests, to bring something, or to help when they arrive. It is a bonding experience to work alongside others in the kitchen. As a loner/introvert myself, I find such interactions draining, but rewarding. Jesus is all about relationships, not hiding out or remaining apart, as I too frequently do. Seeking His strength instead of trying to do it all under my own, is key for me. And take advantage of prepackaged stuff (salads, etc.) to help out. It's taken a long time for me, but to echo what others have said, your friends are there to spend time with you, everything/anything else is "extra." Go easy on yourself. Love your blog and books. Mthanks so much. Take care and God bless you. Kiss for Smokey.


Congratulations, Kristi! I must say that I tend to feel very nervous about entertaining guests. For that reason, I usually try to host just two to four people at any one time. I'm continuing to learn while staying within my comfort zone. Thank you, also, for the reminder to avoid labeling ourselves as a 'hermit,' 'introvert,' etc. Although those terms can be empowering, I know that I sometimes turn to them as an excuse to avoid getting out and becoming involved in my community. I think there has to be a good balance between the two and even a shy introvert has to step out of her comfort zone. It sounds like you have found that balance. Thank you, as always, for your words of wisdom.

Gail Accuardi

I believe in your cheerfulness and applaud your strength. And if you were an extrovert, we might not have your writing and that would be a loss for all of us. G

Cynthia Rowden

Kristi - I haven't commented for years (since you launched the idea of blogging about your past, and so many of us felt compelled to tell you what to do). Congratulations on your anniversary - you have obviously benefited from your strong will and persistence.

I checked Corey's blog, which I have been reading on and off for years. I never knew you knew her, and it is always a surprise to find these connections.

Having seen her pictures of your dining table, you obviously get stressed about entertaining needlessly, since you so warmly welcome and feed your friends. Your table decorations and the swirls of pesto in the soup speak to a very talented hostess and cook, so you should not have any fears about entertaining. Now let ME tell YOU a story. I recently went to a reading by Gabrielle Hamilton, a chef who has written Blood, Bones and Butter, and had her own history of demons, which she seems to have exorcised. She talked about getting into cooking since she loves the idea of welcoming people into her "home", and taking care of them. I thought I'd be brave and ask a question, namely, how can you prepare a lovely meal and feel nothing but anxiety while you are making it, and exhaustion when you have finished preparing it, so by the time the guests arrive, you are simply frazzled. And her response (to a room of over 300) - why do you bother? Everyone had a good laugh. But the truth is, we do like to share our homes, and a good meal. Good friends don't care about "cheffy" foods and fancy preparation - they like a nice glass of something to drink, and to know that someone cared to put some food, even if they didn't make it themselves, on a plate just for the pleasure of sharing their company. That is what your friends want, and they surely don't want for you to be stressed or anxious about their visit. You don't need to get stressed (easy for me to say), since you have wonderful skills, and your friends will just love you for the time they get to spend with you.


Congratulations on 13 years of success a crushingly difficult path!! Thank you so much Kristin for sharing your story - it gives support and hope to all of us who are also travelling the same road either ourselves or with loved ones.


Congratulations! As always, thank you for your honesty and all you put into everything you do. Trouble with that glass of rose, 1 is too many and 6 is not enough. Today I was thinking about the idea that pain is part of life but suffering is optional. And how to avoid some of those suffering pitfalls.
Wishing you much joy on the road of happy destiny

Marie Fagnou

Bonjour, as always I enjoy reading what you write!
Continue providing excellent reading material,
À bientôt!
Marie from Saskatchewan, Canada


Congratulations on your 13 Real Years! I suffer from the same entertaining stress as you I think, and the introversion. My husband insists on having about 20 people for every holiday dinner. I'm 52 now, so I've finally learned that the family at least shall accept me and my house as we are, dust and all. And I've let go of my perfection issues enough to share the cooking with my husband and kids. Good luck on your journey. You're coming along nicely. <3

Thomas Johnson

Hi Kristian Congrats on the 13,but remember that all we really have is today, It took 13 years to get here,why screw it up now. Keep you higher power close and and the bottle far.May the next 13 bring more light.A fellow friend of Bill W's

Randall Epp

As someone who now has 14 years of sobriety, I congratulate you on staying away from that first rosé for 13 years. I can tell from the lingo in your article that you're an AA member, so I'm sure you've heard it all. Just stay away from that first drink because it's ALWAYS the first of many. It must be a challenge to be married to a vintner and still stay sober, but I know of lots of couples were the alcoholic partner abstains, while the other "normy" continues to drink in moderation, the way most people can and do. I'm one of the lucky ones, in that the obsession left me pretty quickly, and hasn't returned, except in the form of fleeting twinges that (touch wood) have never lasted long enough to be a serious threat. Alors, bon courage ! Et je vous remercie d'avoir partagé vos pensées sur votre blog,

Dave Kapsiak

Marvelous as always- love the photo of you and Smokey

Joanne Ablan

Bonjour, Kristi,
"Wishing you always:
Walls for the wind,
a roof for the rain
and tea beside the fire.
Laughter to cheer you,
those you love near you
and all that your heart
might desire."
An Irish Wish

Jan McCarthy

Congratulations Kristi! such an accomplishment, daily.


Thirteen years is an amazing accomplishment. Congratulations, Kristin!

About that "still elusive state of peace," may I refer you to John 14:27 and Phil. 4:6,7? It really is possible to have that peace in the midst of a household hurricane or anything else that comes our way.


Your words were a beautiful thing to read today.
You are an inspiration. We never know what is going
on in other's lives, and how far a little understanding can go.

Congratulations. 13 IS a lucky number

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Argentinian ants? Are they annual visitors to your home, early this year due to warmer weather? I hope they return to their outdoor home soon. Treize années, c'est bien fait.
My father was alcoholic and never stopped until his grief at my mother's death stopped him eating and drinking, and he died of a broken heart a few months later. His six children do not drink alcohol at all, for what was lost by his choice. We loved him for what he did (the chef of our family, while my mother cooked every day). But we mourned greatly the parts of life he slept through. Your choice has made your life richer and from the view of one of your readers, made your marriage stronger, two independent people come together.


I'm still chuckling after reading your post...you could have been writing about me. I too learned the hard way to do as much ahead of time as possible but to actually put it into practice is still elusive. I do clean up, or make a valiant effort to do so,as I'm cooking but to clean up the house and such, I am always fooled into thinking that I have far less to do than what the reality is. Believe me, I have leaped out of the shower as guests are coming up the walk or raced through the house vacuuming at the last moment. I have been in the basement wrapping presents as I hear the footsteps of guests overhead. Each Christmas , I believe , has brought me closer to a heart attack as I'm tossing my things into the spare bedroom or literally sweeping things under the rug. A cousin taught me to cook the holiday turkey the night before and this is the best advice I ever got.Good luck to both of us!

D. R.

Congratulations on 13 years.

Pati Aine

Congratulations on your sobriety. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs. While we all have our own obstacles to overcome, it is a blessing to have others who share their lessons with such grace.

Ann Ballance

Congratulations on 13 years--lived one day at a time. The road is not easy; your grace and humor are much appreciated.


Congratulations on 13 years!!
Special thanks for sharing your triumphs, flaws, and especially your appreciation of day to day simple pleasures.


This was one of your most touching posts. I copied the
quote about the gift of cheerfulness into my wisdom book.
I can relate to your journey. An artist is a person constantly at war between her need to express herself and
her need to be left alone. Be very very gentle with yourself, especially in all the myriad ways we "slip." It is so sweet how you send love into the universe and it returns to you in the kind posts I read
here.Your courage is hailed and supported.

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Celebrating you today, my soul sister! I commend your commitment to being real, your willingness to show up each day, imperfectly perfect. You, my longtime friend, are such an inspiration to me!
What does equal foolproof entertaining? Leads me to contemplate why I so rarely entertain (the pressure, the stress) and what I miss out on: connection. I too have this “better” version of myself in mind that is peace filled, present and carefree. I’m learning better to show up as I am and reap the bounty of being with others, which enriches me most times more than playing it safe.
I wish you cheerfulness, such a simple courtesy and lovely gift to scatter. I love you!


Congratulations on your 13 years.


Our dear Kristi,
Congratulations on this wonderful anniversary!
We send hugs and tears of joy at your success!
One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt:"Example is the best lesson there is."
That is exactly what you have gifted us with more than once,and today is another most special inspiration for those who hope for the courage to do exactly as you have.
You could not know how many lives you have touched(and do touch),with each story.(THANK YOU!)
We are so blessed to have you in ours.
Natalia XO

edie schmidt


Loved the photo at the beginning of your blog.
I also have entertaining anxieties, so I really have to plan in advance. I've also found that if I make some sort of casserole, stew, etc. it's a lot easier than trying to do more than one main dish. I also like to think about color on the tables,and napkins. I usually have some fun with the centerpieces which can distract from worrying about the cooking! I do like the idea of remaining cheerful and in the end enjoying the guests.

Edie from Savannah


Congratulations ...what a wonderful accomplishment. It is stories like these that give me hope and inspiration. Keep doing a great job!


I've enjoyed your blog so much over the years! Thank you for sharing, vulnerability and all. Your stories give me hope!

Linda Karber

Dear Kristi,

Thank you for sharing your life with us. It is always a bright spot in my day when I see French Word A Day in my inbox! Congratulations on your 13 years! 🎂



Sorry you can't enjoy the fruits of hubby's labor
but your rewards look like they are in abundance. Now we know how you stay so slim-no alcohol-definitely a reward every time you get dressed and go shopping for those slim sizes.

Karen Cafarella

Dearest Kristi,

Congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment. You should be so proud and I know so many are for you. We want to be so "perfect" when we entertain but the truth is no one is watching. Everyone just wants to spend time together.

Sending big hugs!


Kristin, you are an amazing and gracious inspiration.
Congratulations on thirteen years. You bring so much delight to so many, as well as a lovely bit of insight into a family life in France. Merci!

Edwina Roberts

Bravo! Ants and all, you got it done 🍴🍽🍝👨‍👨‍👧‍👦😴

Marjorie Cannon

Well,13 is a lucky number for you.
Congrats on your tough journey thru those years!
I'm cetrtain friends love being in your home and sharing with you.


Jan Leishman

When I go to dinner parties, I am so grateful that someone else has done the cooking! Guests are there to enjoy your company rather than gourmet meals. You don't have to be Martha Stewart/Julia Child - they are coming to see Kristen - and love the idea of not having to prepare their own meals. No need to resort to 'little helpers' - just pause and breathe deeply. People love you for who you are. Thanks for sharing - it helps put my own dinner party nerves in perspective!

Kathleen from Connecticut

Congratulations, Kristi...13 years is so great. A glass of rose would not have calmed you down, it would have just masked your anxiety. From what your friends wrote, you did one heck of a job with your meal and your timing. I can't believe that it would have been warm enough to eat outside, although we have 50F right now at 9:30 pm. Very unusual.
Pat yourself on the back, go for walk and smell the floral and fauna. Relax and play with Smokey. He is good therapy. Love the picture of the two of you and of the delightful presents which your friends brought.



Congratulations. And thanks for sharing.
We can eat, live good, love, all without the fuel.


Marianne Rankin

Dear Kristin,

Congratulations on 13 years of sobriety! Folks who have not achieved that will never understand the courage, determination, and perseverance required to have reached that milestone.

Always remember, when tempted to fall off the wagon, that there are many, MANY people who are rooting for you, and wish you the best always. Some days are awful, but they are still only 24 hours long. Hang in there!

I'll bet that when you started on your "journey," you never would have imagined reaching the 13-year mark. I was present when a dear friend of mine reached her 10-year mark and beyond. You WILL be able to reach 14, 15, 16 . . .

As for stress and chaos and pressure, welcome to the club! I feel it all the time. I don't know many people who don't. Some days I want to clone myself so I can get more done.

The advice to plan WAY IN ADVANCE is sound. It's how I operate to the extent feasible. That in itself relieves pressure. If a quiche doesn't turn out, or dogs make a mess, or kids get sick, there is cushion time.

I wish you and your family wonderful moments of friendship and relaxation!

Mary Paulson

Congratulations Kristi!
Loved it! loved it! loved it!
You have a way of cooking up a bunch of thoughts and deliciously serving them on a page like non other!!!

Patricia Sands

Bravissima, Kristin, on reaching the magical 13! I always view that number as the luckiest in many ways. As always, thank you for sharing the special gift of communication that is uniquely yours ... touching, honest, meaningful! I had lunch this week with a very dear friend and we celebrated her 30 years of sobriety. I have no doubt one day you will do the same! Onward! Bises

Diane Young


What you have now - sobriety - is the most wonderful type of hostess gift. The serenity tastes heavenly, and the food is so secondary.
Give thanks for letting go and letting God be the host.


Kristi, what a rare and precious bijou tu es!!! Toujours!

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