To wish + Heureuse année, bonnes resolutions, and to get on one's nerves!
False friends, la déception, and it wasn't meant to be?

Recipe + Hospitality + gardons les choses simples (one pot meal in the Land of 5 Courses)

Bringing in the New Year at a party in Marseilles. Thank you Christine and Thierry, for your wonderful hospitality!

TODAY'S WORD: avoir hâte de

        : to look forward to


En 2017, nous avons hâte de passer de bons moments avec notre famille et nos amis.
In 2017 we are looking forward to spending good times with our family and friends.

ECOUTEZ - Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence in French: Download Avoir hate de

Improve your spoken French with Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristi Espinasse

The last two meals we've had at home with friends represent most of my goals in the new year. "Keep it Simple" "Go with the Flow" "Use what you have" and "Be yourself!" are mantras we hear time and again, but putting them into practice is pas si simple que ça! Until grace the midst of it all. I now realize that la grâce is all I need in the new year. Grace and trust!

When Jean-Marc invited Nico and Carol for lunch, I said, OK. What will we eat?  And, comme d'habitude, my husband answered simply.

"We'll have oursins. I'll go and gather them!"


...and comme d'habitude, I said, "But we can't just have oursins!" After a deep breath, I thought. Well, why can't we?! Just because we are in France--The Land of 5 Courses, doesn't mean the French never have a one-pot deal! Besides, if oursins weren't enough, we could have a little something with them. Gardons les choses simples!

Finally, after all these years, an epiphany: I no longer have to host as the French host. I don't even think the French are hosting as they used to: it is a new era! 

Soon we were enjoying a hand-to-mouth déjeuner on the front porch--on the 31st of December! Jean-Marc stood before a bucket filled with sea water and fresh-caught urchins. Using nifty sea urchin cutters, he easily opened the spiny globes and passed around his favorite sea urchins on the half shell. I brought out homemade Oven French Fries and we all enjoyed reaching into the roasting pan (the oven's roasting pan and not something more refined) for the last crispy bits of patates. It was a delicious moment with good friends. I wish I'd gotten a picture for the souvenir!

In the New Year I will get pictures of all such moments. The images help me to remember--and they serves as wonderful meal planners, too....

Serving Cappellini Primavera. photo: Barbara Barrielle

On January 2nd my longtime friend Barbara, who I hadn't seen in years, came by. I decided to keep to the one pot meal deal, serving the Cappellini Primavera (simply spaghetti--but a fancy name is worth 4 courses!). It was gratifying to make a meal with what was surviving winter in my garden: basil, fennel, parsley, kale, and even a large (if not fully ripened) tomato! Topped with olive oil, lemon, and walnuts this is one meal I will remember to serve again! (Recipe below.)

My dear guests are framed by sunflowers on January 2nd. I am so proud of both my guests and my flowers!

Barbara brought her daughter, Charlotte, born the same year and days apart from our Jackie! When the girls were little, we enjoyed pushing their strollers together, side by side in St. Maximin. The next time we'd see them, Charlotte would be 9... And that was ten years ago! I wish Jackie had been here to talk with Char, who is also half-French-half-American. She is studying political science at Tulane University in New Orleans. Char is  interested in international intelligence and she is putting herself through college with the help of the US Air Force.

What a pleasure it was to spend time with friends who are good at setting and meeting their goals. I encourage you to follow Barbara on Instagram, where she shares travel/food/wine adventures in France and beyond @barbarabarrielletravels . You can also follow at Charlotte @charslit .

While you are there please hit the "follow" button and follow me @kristinespinasse. I have more simple meals and more of the simple life in France to share with you in 2017. Many thanks for reading and for sharing this word journal!

Look at that smile! Love this picture of Jean-Marc, taken after our one-pot lunch, where he served his 2016 Mas de Brun rose. photo by BarbaraBarrielleTravels

Stories you may have missed: The Anonymous Gift We Received + The Accidental Shoplifter


Increase your vocabulary with these words. More tools here.

pas si simple que ça = not so easy as that
comme d'habitude = as usual
un oursin = sea urchin
le déjeuner = lunch
une patate = spud, potato

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You are going to love this easy, quick pasta dish. For the primavera, use any greens on hand. I used kale, parsley, basil, fennel. I also had a green tomato and a small yellow zucchini (the round kind)

-sauté all the veggies in oil. I didn't have an onion, but that--and garlic--would be a nice place to start!
-cook the cappellini (or spaghetti) according to package instructions, approximately 3 minutes. Drain
-toss cappellini with olive oil and half a lemon.
- add extras like chopped ham and walnuts (mussels would be good, so would pine nuts)
-sprinkle with parmesan and bon appétit!

Make it better! Add your suggestions to this recipe here in the comments box.


Shop for necessities or gifts using any of the following links to enter the store.

GROCERIES - including French delicacies like herbs, mustard, cakes


FRENCH COUNTRY DIARY 2017 - the popular and beloved engagement calendar.

Photo of Jean-Marc and me, taken by Barbara. Thanks, Babs!

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