Vineyard tour & lunch Châteauneuf-du-Pape with my Little Sister
"To get an eyeful" in French: An accidental trip to a “Naturiste” beach

Heartwarming in French: Ana & A Gift for the Birds

Ana and Loca
Today's story is part wedding anniversary, part birthdays, part peanuts, and part people. You have already read a little about Max's girlfriend, and today you'll learn more about Ana (and why we love her).

Are the photos in this newsletter appearing? If not, view all of them here at the blog.

TODAY'S WORD: “Qui réchauffe le cœur”

 : heartwarming, that which warms the heart

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

This week marks 29 years since Jean-Marc and I walked the matrimonial carpet at La Paroisse Saint Antoine de Padoue in Marseilles, inching our way down the cathedral's central passage toward a no-going-back "Oui" or I do!

It is hard to believe almost three decades have passed since tying the knot here in France. I had to laugh, recently, overhearing my husband make a dermatological appointment for each of us, proof we are barreling toward retirement ensemble.
"Chérie," my husband says, putting his hand over the phone. "C'est pour un contrôle, oui?"
"Oui," I nod. Yes, just a checkup.

After making the dreaded yearly appointment, we rejoined our grown kids, including Ana (Max's petite amie whom we've adopted along with her two dogs) on the front porch, for a celebratory lunch. I've got my sunhat on, for prevention and to keep my rosacea at bay, and Jean-Marc has cranked out a fabric awning over our terrasse. These days even he can't tolerate le soleil

As I'm setting the table, Max calls out, "Maman, il y a des vers dans les cacahuètes!"
Worms in the peanuts? Mon Dieu! I beeline over to where the kids were enjoying an apéro, to find the jar of nuts slithering. I'm so embarrassed for Ana to see this! As for my kids, it wouldn't be the first time they've found expired food chez nous. And my son is quick to point it out! Honestly, now that it's just Jean-Marc and me at home, the food doesn't circulate as often. (I can't speak for my own Mom, who lives in a studio around the side of our house, with her own pantry and fridge.)

"Max, please toss those peanuts into the compost!" I urged, before escaping to the kitchen to recompose myself. But it was too late, all my sloppy and negligent parts had spilled out into the light of day. Gone was the cool urban housewife-writer I may have been trying to impersonate; in her place, a negligent nut (that is to say I should've been seated outside with my family, instead the lively nuts took center stage). 

Returning to the front patio, still red in the face (not from rosacea this time...) I found Max, Jackie, and Ana on the ground, beside a few small piles of peanut shells. Nearby, dans les parages, a flock of familiar doves paced back and forth in anticipation.

"What are you guys doing?" 

"We are preparing the peanuts for the birds," Ana explained, heading The Stale Peanut Initiative.

"But you don't have to bother with that..."

"Ce n'est rien," Ana assured me.

"But the worms..."

"The birds love them!" Ana pointed out. Beside her, Max sat on the gravel, using the kitchen scissors to cut up the rubbery cacahuètes--and Ana and Jackie were using their fingers to break up the peanuts. As for the slithering vermin? Même pas peur! The industrious trio was too busy feeding the hungry to worry about a few unsavory visitors.

In the end, the kidults cracked every nut (even this one, who overcame the embarrassment). Those stale legumes became fodder for the doves that have been struggling since the drought. It was heartwarming to see these young people salvaging those peanuts. They could have easily chucked them into the compost, instead, they considered the birds.  

“Look at those beautiful kids. You and Jean-Marc are truly blessed. Happy anniversary!” Jules raised her glass and sipped some champagne from the apéro, as I updated her on all the activity out in the yard. 

After our 29th anniversary lunch, a day after Mom’s 77th birthday, I brought out the chocolate cake Jean-Marc had chosen for Jackie’s birthday and we sang Joyeux Anniversaire to our daughter who recently turned 26. What a week of special days! It was a lot to keep up with. No wonder those worms slinked by unnoticed. This cool urban housewife’s been busy with more important things, like writing about all these blessings.

    COMMENTS: To comment, click here

Les Tourterelles and Izzy the Beagle.


Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me pronounce these words:

Qui réchauffe le coeur =
= together
Chérie, Cheri = dear
pour un contrôle = for a checkup 
La petite amie = girlfriend 
la terrasse = patio
le soleil = sun
Maman, il y a des vers dans les cacahuètes! = Mom there are worms in the peanuts!
= before dinner drinks and munchies
chez nous = at our place
ce n’est rien = it’s nothing
la cacahuète = peanut 
même pas peur = it doesn’t scare me
la tourterelle = dove, turtledove
Joyeux anniversaire! = happy birthday! 

Mom walking Kristi down the aisle
Mom walked me down the aisle in her black tuxedo. To the right, my French mom, Christine, who hosted me during my 1989 exchange program in Lille, France.

Kristi Ingham Jean-Marc Espinasse
September 24, 1994. At the evening celebration and dinner, after our church wedding

Sincere thanks to readers who recently sent in a blog donation, jumpstarting the fall season of future stories and vocabulary. I appreciate your help in publishing this journal week after week. Ça réchauffe le cœur! --Kristi

Rob B.
Ginny B.
Ellen H.
Marcy W.
Kathleen B.

"Thanks for the time you take to write your blog and share your stories." Marcy W.

"Thanks Kristi for always making France come alive and transporting me there." Ellen H.

“Bonjour, Kristin. How impressive that you remember my aspirations to learning several languages. I have recently begun an online class (live, with other students!) in Norwegian with hopes of improving my conversational abilities. Maintaining my low level of French is mostly reading your missives, for which I am truly grateful! This year I did get to use my Spanish in Mazatlan, and my Japanese in (you guessed it) Japan, and those fluencies added a great deal to the enjoyment of both trips. Even decades after my formal studies, I have somehow been lucky enough to remember a surprising amount. "Foreign" languages have really added a lot to the quality of my life, and thanks for being part of it.” Ginny B.

Kristi and Jean-Marc Espinasse 2023
Here’s to our anniversary! I loved my Mom’s comment after she realized how long Jean-Marc and I have been married:
“29 years? That’s a record, Honey. Most people have married 3 or 4 times by then!” Sacré Mama Jules. (Jules, you are one of a kind, xoxo)

Click on the book cover, above, to discover a new, French-themed read for the week.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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Catherine Berry

Such a heartwarming post. Congratulations all round.


Quell jolie histoire et tu es pleine d'humilité - pas anécessaire - la meilleure chose c'est ta joie de vivire et celle de ta famille ! Merci! Margot

Suzanne Dunaway

Felicitations!!! Beautiful you two, three, four, Jules, doggy, copine, tourtourelles, (pas des cacahuetes), la vie en rose!!!

Karen in Northport, NY

Best wishes for all your celebrations. I laughed about your buggy peanuts. I'm a bit jealous that you only get them in outdated food. We have "pantry moths " just waiting for any grain based groceries to arrive. They make a nasty, webby, wormy mess unless you keep up with the pheromone traps. And, ooohhh, I do. Thanks for this week's smiles.
Weather? Fall, here, has been A LOT of water. Tropicals and the usual west to east. Also windy and chilly. They are predicting better next week. 💕💕💕

Christine Webb-Curtis

What a joyous week. Felicitations a tous.


Our dear Kristi,
MERCI ,ma chere, for this week's truly wonderful post ,that, once again, has wrapped itself around our hearts.
What a gift you have!! You make your fortunate readers feel like welcome participants in your lives and with your beautiful family.Such gorgeous pictures!! You and Jean Marc absolutely radiating happiness-- then AND now!Felicutations on your 29th anniversary!
You are an example for all to follow!!
Max,Ana and doggies( and if course dear birthday girl Jackie) are a blessing and gift in your lives- just as you are in theirs.
Thank you for sharing all of this with us.
You made my-- and everyone else's -- day!!
Arms tight around you all.
Natalia. Xo

Chris Allin

Beautiful American girl studies in France, meets gorgeous young Frenchman …
Yours is a love story dreams are made of.

You both are aging like fine wine ~ better and better!
Happy Anniversary. ♥️


Congratulations Kristi & Jean-Marc - bravo on sticking it out. Marriage isn't easy, but it's worth the hard work!! What a beautiful family and life ♥


Seriously, how do you not look any older today than you look in you wedding photos??!! You are absolutely gorgeous inside and out. Happy anniversary.

Chapoutot Elisabeth

Je vous suis depuis quelque temps et je suis ravie de lire vos "chroniques", lesquelles sont toujours très très très agréables !
Juste un petit truc... pour votre Anniversaire de Mariage, ou quelque anniversaire que vous souhaitez, il vaut mieux un "Joyeux Anniversaire" au lieu de "joyeuse"...
Avec toute mon affection à vous et votre famille.

Debbie Lesser

Happy Anniversary, Kristi and Jean-Marc! And thanks for continuing to share your heartwarming stories over the years. Having recently started my own blog, I now know how difficult it can be to compose one's thoughts enough to put something on paper that is informative and entertaining. Keep up the good work!

Frances in Napa, CA

Happy Anniversary to you both!! Congratulations.

Love this story - I would also have fed the worms to the birds!

Thank you!

Julie Farrar

Joyeux anniversaire! and I'm stealing your word "kidults"!


Waouh, Kristi! Toutes ces fêtes pendant une semaine! Comment vous ayez bien bénie!


Un ménage ravissant Bravo

Patricia Sands

Celebrations abound! Félicitations à toute la famille!

Karen Cafarella

What a fantastic week of celebrations. Love the story.


You two are beautiful young lovebirds ( referring to the current photo).
And you were such lovely children when you married.
I just was so warmed by the story of the wormy Peanuts.
You always manage to make my day brighter.
Blessings to you my dear friend ❤️

Stacy Lund

Joyous Anniversary to you, dear Kristi, and Jean-Marc!

Once again, you have warmed my heart with your words and wisdom. You have grown more beautiful with time! Grateful you’re still sharing your stories with us.

Sharon Marchisello

Belated anniversary and birthday wishes!


Blessings indeed. What a fun time and happy celebrations to all.


Happy anniversary! What a good way to celebrate- with family and friends who love and appreciate all you do to enrich their lives. I like the way the peanuts turned out to be nourishment for the birds instead of compost. Great way to turn things around. We need to do that more in our lives-see the potential in even the smallest of things😍

Gwyneth Perrier

Happy anniversary et félicitations ! Such a lovely post, as usual. I love this story of turning an embarrassing moment into something incredibly positive.

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