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)

Kristin espinasse christmas nativity scene santon gift dog
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

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE 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!"

Sea-urchins rose wine south of france

...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


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

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.


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

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


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Bonjour, Kristi et famille,
Thank you for your suggestions on how to simplify and enjoy the good life!


That last photo of you and Jean-Marc together is beautiful. The photo and your mantras together make a perfect start to the New Year. I would love it if you could let us have the French for your mantras: "Keep it Simple" "Go with the Flow" "Use what you have" and "Be yourself!"
Very best wishes for 2017.

Debbie Houston

Happy New Year, Kristi! As I read your journal this morning, I realized I Knew most of the the French words you present. I have learned a lot from you over the years!

Chris Culp

Chère Kristi,
Bonne Année et je te remercie pour tous tes commentaires utiles. J'adore ce blog.
Bonne semaine,


Happy New Year and the best of everything! Please give Smokey a hug from me.

Adeline from Reunion Island

Meilleurs voeux pour une nouvelle année! C'est reparti : amour, amitié, santé, bonheur et réussite pour tous en 2017! Et pour mon mari et moi... notre premier petit-enfant (prévu en aout)! nous allons devenir Papy & Mamie, nous sommes en-chan-tés! quelle année!!
Portez vous bien toutes et tous et belle année aussi à Smokey!

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Perfect attitude for the New Year, Kristi -- I know you'll make it "simply special"! Love seeing you, JM, and your friends in these sweet photographs.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

Your post today brings with it an overwhelming sense of peace. What a beautiful way to start the New Year ~

Ellen A.

You are more beautiful than ever, Kristi, and Jean-Marc looks much more relaxed (ever handsome, of course). Wishing you and your children and friends a joyful new year full of happy surprises and good health.

Nyla Witmore

Do not forget even more advantages using GREEN TOMATOES... less acid for tender tummies, more vitamin C, sweeter taste than red ones. Braise or fry with scallions or shallots in butter or oil (or mixture of two) and throw in other veggies. Carrots add much needed color compliment. Who says tomatoes must be used only when red?

Delores DeMay

I do love the photo of you and your husband....handsome all the photos of your life.......and the 1 pot meals, food to me is a condiment for great conversations at the table....and you have mastered's to an amazing, inspiring and successful year for all of us........Merci

Frederick Caswell

Thank you, Dear Kristi, and great photos, especially the last of you and Jean-Marc. Beaucoup d'amour a tous from Nancy and her old man!

Rose Tarbell

Bonjour! Taking a moment to wish you and your family the happiest of new years. Thank you for sharing your French life with us these past years and for your beautiful Instagram posts. I live in Mesa, Az and always look forward to your photos of a lush and colorful life at your home and around France (which is in stark contrast to my 360 view of mountains and desert). Merci Beaucoup!

Art Moreau

Bonne Annee!!!


Sunny warm Provence looks so tempting, while Paris freezes.
Sunflowers and sea urchin fresh-picked. Irisistable.


Our dear Kristi,
Such beautiful words,pictures and recipes!(YUM!)
No better way to start the New Year,especially with the feelings you grace us with of peace, harmony and inspiration to carry us through each day.
Thank you!!
Bonne Annee to you and your dear family!
We keep all of you in our prayers.
Natalia. Xo

Kathleen from Connecticut

Oh the sun flowers. How I would love to see them instead of the incessant fog and -1C - 2C. Yes, simplifing life sounds so good. I hope that I can maybe do this sometime during 2017, but then I might get bored.
You are so lucky to have wonderful food in your garden in January. I have been looking at the sea urchins in the market, but have yet to buy any. I wouldn't know how to open them or how to eat them. We would have had oysters for Christmas and/or New Years but they are so difficult to open. I know that the French eat lots of them for the holidays.
Happy New Years.


Beth Fiacco

Dear Kristi - I love this post and your ability to keep it simple! That is sometimes difficult for me but I'm trying.. The pictures are lovely as always. Happy New Year to you and your family!


Kristi, I love these photos, and especially the one of you and Jean-Marc. You look radiant and so relaxed! These days, I'm all for keeping things simple and using what we have. It's an invitation for us to think -- and see -- creatively. Happy New Year!

Victoria  Stone

Hi Kristi
I just love syncronisity
I knew Barbara and Charlotte
when they lived in Healdsburg
CA many years ago! My son Loren,
now 21 and Charlotte used to
play together along with
Christian and Sarah Conner.
It truly is a small world.
Victoria Stone


So what is the difference in patates and pomme de terre? I was always taught pomme de terre.
Have the French shifted to the cognate patates?

K.J. Laramie

Thank you for sharing your sunny day and sunny disposition! Such wisdom and grace.
I just realized how close you are to the hostellerie where we stayed in 2008 when we climbed to the cave of Mary Magdalene. A special part of the world, La Sainte Baume! You are very special, too, as I come to know you through this wonderful blog. PEACE AND JOY TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN 2017. LOVE from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Diane Young

Merci for sharing your guests and "potluck" type meals. They sound easy and so good. C'est formidable! Bonne Annee and bonne chance in your new home.

Karen Stafford

Bonjour...I have been reading your journal for months now...and want you to know that I really enjoy your candid, down-to-earth style. You seem like a very sensitive and genuine person...and this shows in your writing. I wrote down "avoid hate de" to go over with my French tutor when he comes back from France in a couple of weeks. Tell Jean-Marc that I appreciate hearing his french pronunciation. May light surround you as you embark on your new life! Happy New Year.

Jacqueline Archibald

We spent Christmas and New year along the coast at Six Four. Bought and tried our first oursins. Even managed to find a couple in the sea whilst paddling.
We tried 2 au natural and the rest my husband put in spaghetti to make a delicious sauce. Their flavour are amazing and I urge everyone to try them at least once.
Bonne annee et bonne sante. X

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