Hérisser: from a prickly critter...to a verb to help describe an emotion we all felt last week
Today's French expression: Se donner le mot (also le pointu, manque de chance, la pissaladière...and hangry...)

Ragout: Simple recipe for Provencal stew + kitesurfing in Giens peninsula, near Hyérès

Ragout provencal stew fava beans feve

For those reading our autobiography, The Lost Gardens, see the update at the end of this post. If you have purchased our book-in-progress and lost your passwords to access the chapters, leave a message in the box at the end of this post. 

The beauty of an online book-in-progress is all that can be included in it! I've just added the first photo album to our memoir, and will continue to enhance the story with images. To purchase The Lost Gardens, click here and scroll to the end of the page to purchase.

Today's Word: le ragoût

    : stew

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse

Yesterday I was making a delicious ragoût with the fresh fèves from our garden...when my son invited me to the beach to watch him kite-surf. 

After a busy week, I wanted nothing more than to eat this delicious Provencal stew and then take a nice long Sunday siesta. But I know that stealing away with my son won't be as easy as the years march on, and so, You're on! I said, and we headed back to the Giens peninsula, near Hyérès.

After renting gear, we found the popular kite-surfer beach and hurried to the shore to unravel some important strings. The sandy beach was dotted with colorful cerf-volants and all the kite-surfers wore wetsuits. 

Max kitesurf giens beach plage

Even if the sand was being whipped up into my eyes and the sun was burning down (igniting my fears after a frightful experience) I felt so alive beneath the colorful, kited sky, listening to the joyful voices of those wind-harvesters: Mec! Tu peux m'aider? Man, can you help me? Max said, asking a stranger to help send off his orange and white kite. 

I watched my 23-year-old inch back into the sea, slip his feet onto his kite board, and disappear into the sparkling horizon, his kite flying high with the others. I might have dreamed such a beautiful scene, had I stayed home and rested. But this--this salty scent in my nose, this wind in my hair, these vibrant colors above and the gentle tones below of sand, grass, and charming picket fences--this was real.   

A creature of habit, a creature of comfort--these are tags I need to send off, like a kite. I am first and foremost a creature: I was created to go with the flow of life. And oh, the places Life takes us, when we let go and grow.

*   *   *        

Grass picket fence giens beach kitesurf hyeres

le ragoût = stew
la fève = broad bean, fava bean
le cerf-volant = kite
le mec = guy
tu peux m'aider? = can you help me?

A warm stew to pack for the beach on a windy day!

-Fry some lardons (sliced, fatty bacon), 2 onions, 5 diced potatoes, and garlic
- add the fava beans and cover with water (I like to add a can of tomato sauce).
Add some bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme. Simmer an hour.

Serve with a side of plain couscous (cooks in one minute!) or bulgur and some hard-boiled eggs. We had a nice Compté cheese. Max deemed the meal 'the perfect thing to eat before surfing!' :-)

One day as I rushed to fill platters with charcuterie, hard-boiled eggs and cheese, one of the harvesters meekly asked could she have that can of kidney beans in the cupboard? That is when I learned that part of the harvest crew we had hired were vegan. What did vegan even mean in 2007?

Fast forward, now, to 2012. Sunk down into my driver's seat, I clutched the paper pharmacy sack and wondered, would it all unfold like the last time, when a gigantic surge of energy was both the gift and curse behind my husband's vision? Gazing at our new (old) house (another home in need of renovation) I took a deep breath, stepped out of the car, and headed over to the front porch....

(For those who have purchased our book, read all of chapter two, here.)

To purchase The Lost Gardens, a book-in-progress, click here and scroll to the end of the post.

Reader feedback from Chapter Two:

Dynamite!!!! I more impressed than usual. Your writing seems to have one upped your sharing and it's a good balance back and forth. I'm eager to "follow along" but encourage you to take your time. After all you are living it! --John Hawke

Field of phacelia
A field of phacelia flowers, a soil amendment planted by Jean-Marc the year before he planted his dream vineyard. Thank you so much for buying our book-in-progress. Your support has helped us to begin our book and to keep going, chapter by chapter. Mille mercis!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

susan connors

I have lost my username & password
Please help


Typo: should be stealing not steeling.

Suzanne Dunaway

LOVE java beans...with pecorino in Italy. And RAW! A spring tradition.

Nancy Stilwagen

Have you decided not to put in the list of French words with English translations at the bottom of the post any more? I miss them!

Nina Tasi

Oops! I misplaced the login info . . . je suis desole :(


It’s been so fun watching the kids grow up! Also, I’m thankful for you sharing your life as you grow in so many ways. You are truly an inspiration! Je t’embrasse!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Lorinda. 💕💕


I also need the log-in info. I am so eager to start reading. You truly are an inspiration, as Lorinda said!


So very sorry but I also have lost the login information for reading the book.

Thanks. Jennie

[email protected]

Dave Kapsiak

Hi- sorry, lost the login as well. Greta recipe, I will try.

K.J. Laramie

Please let us know if you are discontinuing the vocabulary at the end of each post. Thank you.


Kristin, you are SO blessed that your son invited you to spend time with him.

Saundra Hendricks

Darn, I have lost my login information.
Please help and I will try not to lose it again.


I know exactly that quandary between the choice of a “looked forward to a map” and choosing to accept an invitation to do something together, from my daughter! The “time is short” thought always wins out and off we go, the two of us! I’m so happy you and Max both had a wonderful day, appreciating life and each other! Off to read your book. Thank you!!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Diana. On my way to fix this now.

Kristin Espinasse

K.J., No, the vocab section is staying. Some days, I dont get it posted right away (or at all). It is up now, so you can check it out.

Laura Isenstein

Hi Kristin,

I subscribed and paid by credit card, but did not receive a password or instructions for access. It may have gone to my SPAM and was deleted.

I can't wait to read about your and Jean Marc's journey of Mas de Brun.

Warmest regards and hugs,


Cynthia Lewis

I'm so excited about the book you and Jean-Marc are writing together! I was able to read the 1.5 chapter, however, now I cannot log in with the username and password which I saved. ... so very sorry to bother you with this. Thanks for your trouble and best wishes!

Sarah LaBelle

On dit toujours cerf-volants (kites) mais le kite-surf pour le sport extrême, par Google translate.
If google translate is more of an authority than the kite-surfers at Giens.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sarah. True... but I wanted to throw in the word cerf-volant -- extra Vocabulary. 😂

Sarah LaBelle

Wise choice, Kristin. I have been seeing cerf-volant lately, as I am re-reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, with the character Mr Dick who flies kites. I read the French Wikipédia article, which is excellent, on the novel, and cerf-volant is there.

Julie Borders

What a lovely vignette you painted, Kristen, about this afternoon with your son. It resonated with me as I have one child left at home, an 18 year old son who will graduate from high school in just 3 short weeks. He is starting his college studies in Madrid, at St Louis University's campus there. I could sense in your writing your peace with making this choice to spend time with your son. I intend to make similar choices if I am so lucky as to be invited to do "whatever" may be striking his fancy at the moment.

Julie Borders

OOps, I'm so sorry. I called you Kristen instead of Kristi! My apologies. It's late and I need to go to sleep. :))


I apologize but I seem to have lost or not received my log-in info. Désolée! Thank you.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)