Update from Kristi + Rester dans les parages = to stick around
The Members of our Family + recipe reminder: "La Tarte Tomate"

A few recent photos, "the best days of our lives", and a strange French word for hoarding

Grotte st marcel bidon ardeche pools cave underground
A grotte (La Grotte Saint-Marcel) we visited in Ardeche, on a recent getaway in a rented camping car.

Last month I didn't have the guts to tell you that I had planned on taking the entire summer off from faithfully updating this French word journal. Instead, I promised, "I'll check in with you in June..." Let that be a lesson that putting off the inevitable only takes the joy out of borrowed time!

This pause kind of feels like borrowed time, but now that I've confessed I'll own it: I will cherish this summer and all that's in it: my 74-year-old Mom, our 84-year-old dog (in human years), our seemingly 100-year-old chicken, my kids (grown now, but coming for a visit soon), and my husband, who somehow fell to the end of this list....

Speaking of years/age/time... I will share with you a favorite phrase I've begun repeating each day. I hope you will too, even if you don't feel it. "These are the best days of our lives!" I love singing this reminder to my Mom, who I am happy to report, is on DAY 11 of regular walking. You could say our late afternoon stroll is one of the blessings this summertime break is giving us. 

Another is good food!

"I feel like I am at The Ritz!" Mom says, every time I bring her lunch in bed. I am now taking the time to prepare a meal for Mom each day. I began this vacation by baking chocolate chip cookies, which we ate every day (until day 9 of our "challenge"). Since, we are enjoying (in the place of cookies) seasonal fruit: les cérises, les abricots, les pêches et les figues... As for lunch, we are having a lot of grilled and chilled items that can be saved in Tupperware and arranged colorfully on a plate the next day. I love having on hand grilled eggplant, grilled salmon, as well as potato salad, lentil salad, chickpeas, boiled eggs--and I have found some delicious cooked shrimp at Monoprix... Admittedly, crumbled feta ends up on just about everything! It all tastes delicious on a hot summer day, and the effort is minimal when you plan ahead. 

Apart from planning, I am clearing out. I have been sticking to a "7 things a day" goal for ridding our home of stuff or "le superflu." Even on days when motivation is at its lowest, I can still manage to clear 7 pieces of paper out of a pocket or a purse or a sack. Even a small receipt counts and it all adds up, doesn't it? I now realize that even if I cleared 7 things daily for the rest of my life I would never run out of le superflu (and we are not hoarders! This brings up an interesting (if useless) French word for today: la syllogomanie = compulsive accumulation). 

Speaking of superflu, that may be the theme of this petit sabbatique: identifying and eliminating the excess in my life in order to focus on and spend more time with the essential. I can assure you that this blog is an essential. And that makes you, dear reader, an essence--an indispensable quality of it. After all, I wouldn't be here writing today if it weren't for you. Merci beaucoup!



P.S.: my husband is back at the top of my list...after he almost got thrown out with the slow-cooker. Ouf!
For some juicy summer reading, click here to read our passionate vineyard story, in our memoir "The Lost Gardens".

I'm also taking a break from social media, WhatsApp texts, email, and the rest... for a good rest. Take care and enjoy your July/August as well. Hugs from here, from Smokey and me. (My Mom, Jules, took this photo.)

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. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Ally Davis

Enjoy your summer!


Love reading your messages and learning the French words. Thank you for the great and inspiring message about these being the best days.

Sometimes we get caught up in grieving for the past and neglect to enjoy the present.

Your message reminded me of this lesson.

I have visited Provence twice and Paris twice. Loved all of those trips and the French people.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Best wishes to your mom!



Norman Silbert

Cela ne vaut jamais la peine d'avoir trop de conscience - personne ne l'apprécie. Profite de l'été sans culpabiliser!


Your Mum is only 74. That is not old. That is in the second year of North Americans born after working to preserve Europe. She is not old.

GwenEllyn Anderson

Here's one of my favorite songs to remind me of your theme here: Heather Pierson's Make It Mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzOu9FFaM8s

Lorraine Flett

Wishing you a timeless summer - one to treasure and bring out to cheer yourself in harsher times. Enjoy just 'being'...making memories, existing in the moment. Living near the sea, having a garden, seeing your loved ones, eating summer food, sitting outside in the evenings....bon ete!
L etc

Suzanne Codi

Charlie is going to be 75, and acts like he's 50,despite the COPD slowing him down ( just a little)That's not old!!! 90 is old (ish). Anyway, you're only as old as you feel, as they say. Glad your Mom is feeling well enough to walk daily, one of the best exercises! And yay for taking a break from social media and your wonderful blog. As one of your readers Norman Silbert said, profite de l'ete sans culpabiliser, and profite de chaque jour aussi. All your readers will miss your writings, but we want you to enjoy life to the fullest. Have a great summer, and bises to all of you, Smokey too! xo

Nyla Witmore

You will emerge rested and wiser. If you by chance visit Colorado, consider another rendezvous at the “Cheese Importer” in Longmont.

Marianne Rankin

I am just a couple of years younger than your mom, and I firmly believe that age is mostly a state of mind. I still run 5Ks and swim laps (a mile and more) at the pool. Such goals can be built up to over time.

Is your mom okay? I was concerned when I saw she was getting meals in bed. Or is that just treating her?

Wishing all the family a wonderful summer!

Cynthia Lewis

...so glad to read FWAD this morning! Thank you! Have a very special and happy July and August. For that matter, every season is unique in its own way. Thinking of you and sending my best wishes to each member of your family...


Enjoy your summer. Treasure every moment with your mother. I lost my mother at the ripe old age of 89, 3 years ago, and I often think of all the things I wish I had done with her (before she succumbed to Alzheimers) and all the things I wish I had said, more times. Your mother may not be old, at 74 (at 67, the closer I get to 70, the less 70 sounds "old") but you never know what tomorrow will bring. And you're both living in the South of France. (my dream). My husband and I be exploring the south of France, from west to east, in mid September, searching for our own retirement destination. Perhaps our paths will cross. For now,these are the best days of your life. Indulge yourself and your mother with all that is around you. Be well. Look forward to your emails in the fall.


I am in the same mindset this summer! Not making “lists”. Just surrendering and going with what comes up each day. It all gets done eventually and right now, as a teacher, I am
clearing out mentally, emotionally and physically going where my body takes me after a surgery and riding injury this year. I love the French word for “stuff”!
Enjoy your summer!


Love catching up with you, Kristin. How wise to take some time off and to be decluttering as well. We have begun doing the same in anticipation of downsizing in the next few years. I love the feeling of simplifying our lives and passing along le superflu that will hopefully be useful to someone else.

With this blog post, you have also inspired me to go to our local fresh produce place to see what I might find for a fresh Provençal-style meal! Doubt I will find des figues, but perhaps a few abricots?

Je vous souhaite de bonnes vacances - toi, ta mère, et ton bon mari!

K. J. Laramie

Thank you always for your breezy, inspirational, positive attitude.

Melanie Barker

Beautiful music! Thanks for sharing!


74 is definitely not old. I thought “old” would begin at 80. Now i am 80 and definitely not old. Maybe old begins at 90.

Kathleen Bidney

It is good to hear from you again. Enjoy your summer, relax, recoup and energize. I am glad that Jules is starting to walk - it is a great exercise. I do a brisk walk every day. Today it was hot and muggy mais c’est la vie. I am one year younger than your Mom.
The best to you and the family and Smokey and all of your animals. The picture your Mom took is gorgeous .

Suzanne Dennis

Kristi, Enjoy a beautiful summer with your family. Treasure each day. Since you can buy those beautiful Dupuy lentils, have you tried Debra Madison's Lentil salad with feta cheese? It's from her Greens cookbook and I can send you the recipe. It's a perfect accompaniment with grilled salmon.

Looking forward to hearing from you in the autumn.


Bonnes vacances!!


Bonjour Kristi,
J’étais si heureuse quand j’ai vu Le Mot Français du Jour dans mon inbox aujourd’hui! Merci pour son retour à tes liseurs. Tes plats d’été ont fait une vive impression sur moi—j’ai faim mais personne ne me donne un petit déjeuner au lit, alors, je dois le préparer moi-même!

Martha S.

Awwww! So happy to hear you're taking a well-deserved break! Enjoy your time off!

À a prochaine!

Sharron Meyer

I agree!


I have missed you and will continue to miss you.


Thank you for checking in with us. Your blog is my break from reality to fantasy, imagine living in France. Enjoy
You amaze me, how you always look so beautiful. You are truly blessed.



Thank you Muriel - I am also 74 in just a few days. Anyone who gets into their 70's can proudly call themselves a "survivor". Or so a friend told me when I turned 70.


Glad to hear you are having a delightful summer. You will start writing again when it feels right to you. Don't worry - just enjoy each day with your family. Thank you for checking in with us - it was a very nice surprise to see you in the emails today. Surprise us again in the Fall.


Hi Kristi:
Enjoy your summer! Good program you have to chip away at "le superflu." As Thoreau says "Simplify, simplify."
For me (also 74) the chief foe of aging is psychological. I've started to prefer the term "ageful" over "old." Google translate gives me something like "plein avec l'âge" for the concept. Does this sound right?

Marti Hinman

Dear Kristi, Just when I said to my daughter, that I was missing French Word-A-Day, I opened my emails to find yours! Very healthy to take time out of routine must dos, time to enjoy the beauty of Nature with loved ones.

When I was very young,I often heard my mom say, "Today is the best day of one's life, enjoy it and be grateful of another sunrise to another sunset, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown. She also believed in exercise, healthy eating and positive thinking. She lived to 103! healthy years. (in La Paz, Bolivia)

Like so many of your readers, I truly appreciate your continued effort to share with us your life in that beautiful corner of the world, plus the very useful French expressions we can't learn from textbooks.
Enjoy your Summer🎉

Karen Cafareella

Enjoy your rest and relaxation and clearing out. Our souls need that time every once in awhile.


Have a beautiful summer, Kristi, and do enjoy your family. We'll be here when you are back.


Your message is an inspiration to do the same this summer!
Enjoy your essentials through the coming months!!


Enjoy this time off with your family!!!
Bonnes vacances !!!


Hi Nyla,
I'm Barbara's husband, a long-time regular reader of Kristi's blog and a resident of Prospect in Longmont.
Mike Maloy

Judi Miller

Enjoy your “vacation!” I too am in the process of cleaning out the superflu!! Feels good!!

Frances in Napa

Enjoy every moment, and we look forward to hearing from you when you are back with us.


Our dear Kristi,
Anytime you have the inspiration to check in with us, your fortunate readers, your always wonderful words are received with open arms AND hearts!!
Have a joyful vacance with your family!
I am 74(going on 75)and in two months my beloved hubby and I will be celebrating our 56th anniversary.
God has graced us in so many ways.
To have your beautiful mom with you to share in your life is truly a gift!
I lost mama too long ago and there's not a day that I don't miss her and thank God for the blessing of her presence.
Arms around you all, ma chere.
Natalia xo

diane hart

74 is just the leading edge of the Baby boomers. I'll be there Sept 29.

I was my mom's b_day present.

Until recently was playing singles Tennis. ( tendonitis in hand is stoping me for the moment. keep moving=keep living

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Here's to a wonderfully restful and happily fulfilling summer en famille, dear Kristi -- doing the same here in Canada as some regions begin to risk re:opening again, tho' with wariness still of a covid 4th-wave.
I ADORE the photo Jules captured of you and Smokey-Dokey. Once our current heatwave 'leaves Dodge,' this 76 year old here will emulate your dauntless mother and start an outdoor walking routine.
Affectionate best wishes to each and every one of you. Thanks for this June-visit with us today!

Andrew Kleeger

Bien sur, there must be a fascinating story behind almost throwing out one's mate with the slow cooker ... but perhaps that line was just a teaser for another issue?


I love that you and Jules are walking daily. I need to take up challenge of getting rid of 7 things a day! Starting with my desk!! It gets so messy too fast!! 😀

Enjoy the rest of your summer, Kristi!


Bonjour Kristi - enjoy your summer spending time with your family and Smokey. We will be here when the summer is over! Merci for brightening my inbox today!!

Patricia Sands

Bonne idée! Profitez de tous les jours!


The gift of time! Happy Summer Kristi!

Leslie NYC

Bonnes vacances!

Gail in AZ

Enjoy your break and time away from social media. May it enrich your life in countless ways. I love "these are the best days of our lives!" I am going to remind myself of that as well. :) I am inspired (and challenged!) by your 7 things to clear out in a day. I'm also inspired by your meal plan preparations! Wow! As you know, it gets very hot here in Arizona as well. Planned meals that are cool and nearly effortless are in order. Thank you so much!


Beautiful Kristi, enjoy your much needed summer sabbatical with your favourite people and pets! :) Sending a big hug from New Zealand's North Island, where we are experiencing a midwinter chill amid plenty of sunshine.


Beautiful ! in joy your lovely summer , family, memories, lives!💜🦢💜
I love The Lost Gardens!

Mary-Jo Johnston

I'm so happy that you are taking time for yourself and all those you hold dear. Enjoy your well deserved rest. Happiest of summers to you. We will all be here when you are ready to come back.


Yay! Sounds like a great break from writing. What's more fun than cleaning out the clutter and doing meal prep to keep life easy and delicious!
Big hugs!

Janet Markoe

Hi Kristi - You continue to be an inspiration! First of all, at 74 I do not feel old because, as some of your readers above have expressed, I take advantage of retirement time to play tennis, enjoy the outdoors walking, cycling or occasionally kayaking, participating and serving in Bible studies, church and a book club, socializing, and just having fun. But where I needed the inspiration was in dealing with the “superflu.” It has been over a year and a half since my dear husband of 51 years passed away, and getting rid of his things plus a mountain of “stuff” accumulated in our house of 40 years is something I continue to put off. I never could find THE day to deal with it, partly due to having to assume all his responsibilities plus my own. Rather overwhelming. But 7 cleaning tasks a day might be doable and satisfying. Another goal mentioned is to appreciate every day, taking sweet memories of all the past blessings as one finds joy in a “new normal” (something made clear in a Grief Share class I took). God is good, and as we lean on Him, He will direct our paths and enable us to be content all circumstances. Blessings on you and your family as you enjoy a great summer, Janet

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi! You've been in my thoughts. I'm delighted to see you looking so peaceful and radiantly happy. This summer break/rest is a grand idea. Thank you for inspiring me to do the same - like when we were little. XOXO


I have adopted the 7 things a day rule. Thanks.
I will have to live a very long time to clean this house out.

Carolyn R Chase

What a delight to hear from you. It's always a treat I savor to spend time reading your adventures and reflections. Hope that your sabbatical summer is being relaxing, refreshing, and rewarding. Looking forward with anticipation to any moments you are willing to share with us at some point.
Thanks, Carolyn

Patty C

Dear Kristi, lovely to hear from you. 7 things a day, yes. drop social media, yes (but it never lasts long). eat simply, fresh vegies, fruits--yes, but i often fall back into fast, easy carbs.

have a marvellous time with your family. i too am 74...born in 47! switcheroo!

a metta meditation
may you be safe, & free from harm & suffering
may you be healthy in body, mind & spirit
may you be happy and live with ease and well being,
knowing peace in this good rich life which is ours.


Cerelle Bolon

Enjoy your 'vacation', Kristi! You deserve it.
I am to be 84 in November and my brother will be 83 in October. We marvel that we are still here and have determined that ALL our time now is BONUS time, and that we, being blessed with this, will enjoy every minute and be thankful for our blessings. I think that the times you spend with your mom and your children and MOST Of all, Marc, will be forever treasured. I know that the years I spent with my parents as they grew less able, were times that slowed down and we had a chance to talk and remember things, (and learn things that went into our family tree). I wouldn't give up those times for anything. Then when Bill grew more ill, we also found we enjoyed our times together to reminisce about our wonderful adventures in France, our collections and the stories that went with them, our beloved dogs and how we enjoyed all of them. My brother and I are the last of our line that I have traced in some lines back to 700 and in this country to the early 1600s. All things come to an end, but enjoy every moment of NOW and thank God for giving us the gift of life and love.


Hi Kristi,
Have a great summer! It is nice to take a break and focus on family and just enjoying life! We just returned from a fun trip with my son and family at Disney World in Florida. So great to see the granddaughters and spend time with my son and daughter in law!

Suzanne Dunaway

Wonderful, all. And I have the same foods in my kitchen. The only difference is that I've taken to puréeing weird leftovers, as in hummus and gazpacho, a full curry dinner liquified with chicken broth (chicken was not 100), strange combos of whatever is in fridge never to be tasted by man or beast again.
We have loved our discoveries during this crisis/virus/pandemic. Also cleaning house, sometimes more than 7 per day!
If only the anti-vacs would wise up.
LOVE your mama, what a pistol! Good photographer, too.

Cathia gantz

The lentil salad is on the internet-/I simply searched “Deborah Madison lentil salad.” Thanks for the tip!

barbara michels

Bon chance pour votre ete.

Deborah Auclair

I must admit that I do not read every single post. However there was comfort knowing that they were there. Having taken some time away from social media as well, I was unaware of your absence until now. Then a bit of panic set in when I began scrolling back and did not find you. I was worried......but then I found your latest posting here. I am happy to have found you but happier to see that you have decided to take some time off.
As I enter "the September" of my life as well as the September of this year, I too have come to realize the value of time quietly and simply spent on occasion. As for decluttering......if you bring in 4 items into the home then you must remove a minimum of 4 on that same day.

I will be sending my contribution as well to you.

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