Video Interview: Jean-Marc with Kristi at the vineyard in 2009
La Chandeleur: Candlemas, Santons, Crepes (and a Sobriety update...)

Manger son Chapeau + Change a habit not a spouse :-)

Fashion hats shopfront in Paris France
The expression "manger son chapeau" comes from "avaler son chapeau" which is from the English "I'll eat my hat if..." Have you ever said this, dear reader? Ever had to eat humble pie? Enjoy today's story, and please help get the word out about this journal by sharing it with a friend. Merci!

Today's Expression: Manger son chapeau

    : to eat humble pie

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here to open audio file

by Kristi Espinasse

Over tea, I listened to a friend muse about a little ceramic pot she recently moved. "It was on that kitchen shelf for years. Then, sur un coup de tête, I moved it over here beside the stove, and now it is as if I am seeing it for the first time.”

The subject segued from shifting things to shifting habits. Mon amie shared another example: "I don't know why, but I always peeled my tomatoes raw, at the sink, when everyone else boils them (the skin comes off easily that way). I knew this but I stuck to my own system until recently when I tried the other way. Et c’est très bien!

I loved this conversation and the idea that a simple tweak in one’s habitude can improve one’s life, and I had an example to share with my friend.

Admitting my frustration about sharing la salle de bains with my husband, I confided about something Jean-Marc does that really annoys me: après la douche, when he’s done showering, he hangs the wet bathrobe over my clothes on the bathroom portemanteau. To add insult to injury, he often prefers my terrycloth peignoir over his own. Imagine the shock when I get out of the shower and hurry to reach for my robe in freezing winter and it’s all wet. Next, I go to put on my pajamas (hung on a peg beside my clothes and the robes) and...NOM D'UN CHIEN! They’re all damp!

Recently, after reaching for a wet robe and wet clothes for the énième time, I had an epiphany: If, after wearing them, I returned my in-between clothes* and my pj's to the closet (where they actually belonged...), they wouldn't get wet anymore! And just like that my years-long grudge went poof

Then came the humble pie moment: the realization I had been blaming my husband this whole time when the source of the frustration was my own lack of discipline or organization. And then there was the irony: I am always reminding my messy family "Everything has a home! The keys have a home, the coats have a home, the papers have a home..." Didn’t my clothes have a proper home, too? 

To motivate my husband to reach for his own robe the next time he showered, I began placing his bathrobe on the peg nearest the bathroom radiator. Imagine my surprise when he returned the kindness—placing my own robe beside the heater. Neither of us said a word about daily switcharoo, which made it all the more mysterious and endearing.

Bon, the moral of this story is: Change your habit not your spouse.


*"In-between clothes": clothes that are clean enough to wear again. Because it is best to air them before returning them to le placard, they often get left in various places: a peg in the bathroom, on a chair in the bedroom, on a hook behind the door...or in a pile on the floor. Where do you leave yours?:

  • derrière la porte?
  • sur une chaise?
  • sur un valet?
  • sur le lit?
  • par terre?



manger son chapeau = to eat humble pie
sur un coup de tête = on a whim
mon amie = my friend
et c'est très bien = and it's great
une habitude = custom, habit
une salle de bains = bathroom
après la douche = after showering
le portemanteau = coat rack
le peignoir de bain
= bathrobe
nom d'un chien!
= dammit!
le déclic = the aha moment, the realization 
énième = nth, umpteenth
le placard = the closet
derrière la porte = behind the door
sur une chaise = on a chair
sur un valet = on a valet
sur le lit = on the bed
par terre = on the floor
When “Pour le meilleur et pour le pire”, for better or for worse, means sharing a bathroom with your husband. Photo of Jean-Marc and me taken in 1994, in Marseilles.

Smokey in the kissing booth
Photo from the archived post Pronunciation Fears: Most Difficult French Words to Pronounce.

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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.

Caro Feely

Bravo Kristi! Laughing out loud once again at your wonderful light touch with a serious message beneath it. Thank you!

Leslie NYC

Timely post. I am a night owl who dreams of being an early bird. For some reason, I woke up with excitement and energy today as if it were Christmas morning. This happened at 5:30, in the dark!
Made coffee, sat down to this post. Can I, too, make a small change that improves everything?
Maybe! It feels great so far!

Nan Reinhardt

Love this story and the message--yes, you can only really change yourself, not anyone else. Merci!


Merci pour le message. I leave my "in-between clothes" sur le lit. I'm guilty of not putting them in a more proper place. d\
J'adore Smokey and his free bisous booth - I'm sending him a zillion virtual bisous now!


Love it, Kristi. You write beautifully. Just thinking about you and Jean-Marc reminds me of when you bought the vineyard. Before it was bought, JM told Charles he wanted to buy a vineyard. Charles said, "when pigs fly, I'll help you in this vineyard." A few weeks after, JM called and said, "the pig has flown". I loved it!


Hi Krist,
Great story today! I always fume about the toilet seat being left up but then I look at all my cosmetics, etc. cluttering the counter...haha


I am a clutter bug, but since reading today’s blog, have a renewed spirit. I can and will organize and de-clutter in 2022! Spurred on by other readers, I am also making the effort to rise earlier! Merci, Kristi et tout le monde!


Bravo Kristi!! That story reminded me of my own bete noir I had with He-Man. Oh, decades ago in our old house we shared a closet for 30 years. His clothes I put on the top rail because he's taller and mine on the bottom rail, and our longer things we shared the other half of the reach in closet. Well, back then I was working full time and had my skirts, and blouses hanging on my lower rail and He-Man would go running or cycling and come home and toss his muddy, or soiled shoes into the closet getting my clothes dirty all the time. I would be so mad!! Most of my things had to be dry cleaned. One day after a dozen+ years of this nonsense I was putting clothes away in the closet and the thought occurred to me to switch our positions in the closet!!! Voila! Problem solved!!!
Why it took so long for me to think of that I have no idea! 🤣

Several years later we remodeled and he got his very own closet. He has his own closet in this house too.


J'ai partagé ton blog avec mes amis mariées! Whether they speak French or not! I know they will aimer your humor, wisdom, photos and getting out of their own habitudes!

Mon enfer prive is the kitchen counter and sinks! Oh la-la. I live with my two grown sons and we've had a few talks about it...then, I let it go. They know my expectations, they do their best (which is much better than before) and I do the finishing touches and deeper cleaner. Makes cooking/cleaning easier, our relationship better and I don't fuss about it anymore!


bisous et bonjour a La C!:)


julie camp

Kristi, you are so dear.


Smokey est tres mignon!! Les bisous! Merci pour vos mots!

Jennifer Taylor

My husband calls those clothes in transition. We have many hooks in the closet so clothes are on every hook. I don’t know where they are transitioning to! Lol

Karen in NY

Bridge building is my favorite thing ever. Warm story for a cold day. Thanks. My not ready for hamper clothes go on the back of a chair. Sometimes the chair falls over. Hiho.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

What a great story today, Kristi - our everyday epiphanies in the cause of domestic peace! My in-between clothes end up fluffed and draped in many layers at the end of the bed, forming a convenient bulwark from which I can gently pull a co:ordinating piece at will. It's far more convenient than walking around the bed to the dresser or closet. And it makes gettin' clothed a cinch for old bones that like to be seated throughout.

Soon after my grown son moved home 15 years ago, we agreed we'd 'not sweat the small things, and 'most everything IS a small thing.' This policy works well: it turned two fussy adults into kind and tolerant house-mates. The unspoken little kindnesses between us are lovely, just like your sweet bathrobes-near-the-heater duet is for you and JM.

Now, having chuckled through this magical blog, I'll refresh my environmental awareness hereabouts. Time to see which 'tolerated' glitches I can change --
simply to make them go >>pouf!<< too, without a flutter of comment or fuss.

Bless you and yours, notre chère famille-amie les Espinasse! 💕

Kristin Espinasse

Kitty, Each and every comment here is a delight to read, and yours is the icing on the cake. I have always loved the way you write. 💕

Celestine N.

Another great read, thank you, Kristi! My heart leaped when I read how you went above and beyond changing your habit, which was to care better for yourself, by then putting Jean-Marc's towel and robe near the heater so he could be extra blessed. And, then he reciprocated. Three blessings in one new action. I love it!

God bless you and thanks for leading with a great example of how to give the higher Love.

Stacy Lund

I just love it when conversation leads to a shift in thinking - or seeing things through a new lens. You are such a master at turning these ideas into gems. Thank you, dear Kristi, for sharing and in doing so, inspiring me! xoxo


Great story today about compromise that many of us don’t have. When I was married I just complied. I leave my clothes on Le coffre en cèdre at the end of my bed. They are what I put in as soon as I get home.

K.J. Laramie

Lovely. Heartwarming! Another tre introspective message. 👍


I just love the picture of Smokey (it is Smokey, right?) and his free kisses!!!

Diane Covington-Carter

Love it! And thanks for the reminder to send to a friend. Am going to forward now.
Your wedding photos always bring a smile.

Suzanne Dunaway

Well a terrycloth robe for valentines would be a good answer to and perhaps two pegs!!!!

diane hart

just loved the story and the readers comments


bonjour, Kristi: I so enjoyed today's blog as I believe it pertains to all of us! I leave my clothes sur le chaise & my husband does as well (on different chaises(?). But, I too, believe everything has its place & when it isn't, I get a little cuckoo! I really am trying to read & study my French; it takes much time & practice. In the meantime, un bonne di & merci pour vous card! Amicalmente, Ann


Thank you, Kristi,
I always love your wonderful life stories. This one reminded me of my life with my husband and the compromises that made our lives better. Thank you! Judi


On the bed. Like an extra blanket. xoxo

Patricia baker

Such a heart warming story , with wonderful messengering and reminders. I look forward to reading your blogs and seeing your beautiful pictures of family and neighboring regions. Thank you . Pat from Houston, Tx

Joan Miller

Merci Kristi! Your messages are so heartwarming and true! Joan M. Crown Point, IN.

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