Calin: A Hug in French, Family Reunions and My Break in the States

Dogs in golf cart
Some friendly characters encountered back in the Southwest, USA.

BLOSSOMING IN PROVENCE BOOK REVIEW by PERFECTLY PROVENCE
"The book’s chapters weave through the realities of being a mother, wife, and daughter living in an adopted country with different rules, cultural norms and language nuances." Read Carolyne Kauser-Abbott's review of Blossoming in Provence.

TODAY'S FRENCH WORD: Un câlin

    : a hug

Rien ne vaut le sentiment d'être avec sa famille--et un câlin.
Nothing is worth the feeling of being with one's family--and a hug.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse


Salut! Ça va? My two-week congé is over and I am home now in France--back to the murmur of French, to the scent of the Mediterranean Sea, to bright yellow mimosa and extended family. Sunday's cousinade, or gathering with the cousins near Aix-en-Provence was a joyous occasion even if I am still queasy with le décalage horaire. Surely jetlag was responsible for the confusion when my aunt-in-law, Annie, said I could set down the dirty dishes dans le potager. Now for me, potager means "vegetable garden," but who am I to question the authority of une véritable countrywoman?

Balancing a stack of dessert plates I was headed to the garden when doubt stopped me in my tracks. This time I consulted Cousin Sabine…
"Dit, Annie tells me the dirty dishes go in the potager???"

"Ah," Sabine laughed, "Maman is referring to le comptoir! We call that le potager. Voilà dear reader, an old-fashioned term for you the next time you're referring to the kitchen counter!

I spent a lot of time at the kitchen counter--er, le potager--back in the States, where my daughter Jackie and I had the chance to spend time with our American family. This short and sweet réunion de famille began with a brief stop in Denver, where my sister Heidi nurtured us back from desynchronosis or time zone syndrome. While filling up on everything from homemade tacos to spaghetti and meatballs, I savored time with my nephew and niece, Payne and Reagan, who came home from college CU Boulder for a visit before Jackie and I ubered back to the airport, direction Californie. I was headed to the desert on a very specific mission: to hug my dad.

From cousinade to "calinade"
While family back home often reassure me the phone is marvelous technology, rien ne vaut une bonne câlinade--nothing compares to holding your loved ones close. So, after, several calins back in Colorado, it was time to hug a few more family members. My little sister, Kelley flew in from Washington State, followed by Heidi, and we spent 4 memorable days in Palm Springs with Dad and belle-mère Marsha, enjoying lots of time at le potager, chatting at the kitchen counter, and lots and lots of hugs! But the best was seeing Dad looking so fit, healthy, and happy, grâce à son épouse, Marsha, who is also a doting hostess to us girls. And it was great to finally enjoy our "coffee with Kristi" as Dad calls our father-daughter chats, in the same room instead of on different continents, technology permitting.

Over breakfast of fruit and Raisin Bran, I watched Dad toss blueberries directly from the carton into his bowl. "Dad, don’t you wash the pesticides off those berries?" My father smiled: “I think the body does a good job sorting these things out.  I'm not worried.” I like Dad's relaxed attitude and realize all the stress of keeping my food clean is more harmful than a handful of unwashed berries. It's these bits of no-nonsense wisdom—and Dad’s endearing presence I miss so much...and the fact I can’t see the blueberries--those little things he does daily that speak of his philosophie de vie. So I soak in as much together time as possible and make a vow with my sisters to visit more often.

While chasing each other in golf carts, accompanying Dad and Jasper to the dog Park, or gathering around the potager/comptoir…we all seized the chance to laugh, shed a few tears, and encourage each other. All of these are important for an expatrié, for anyone living an ocean apart from loved ones. Yes, the telephone is a marvelous invention (and Whatsapp and FaceTime, too) but those warm hugs are vital. Rien ne vaut un bon câlin!

COMMENTS - To read the comments or to leave one, click here. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my story.

Heidi Kristi Kelley Dad Marsha Jackie

Heidi, Me, Kelley, Dad, Marsha, and Jackie.

Kristi Heidi Kelley sisters
A sister sleepover, with Heidi (center) and Kelley (right)

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

First study the French terms below, then click here to listen to them


salut = hi
ça va = how are you?
la cousinade = reunion of cousins
le décalage horaire = time difference, jet lag
le potager = kitchen garden, kitchen counter (in old Provençal)
dit = tell me
la réunion de famille
= family reunion
la câlinade = a made up word for hug fest
le câlin = hug
la belle-mère = stepmother (can also mean mother-in-law)
la Californie = California
grâce à son épouse = thanks to his wife
la philosophie de vie
= life philosophy 
rien ne vaut = nothing equals 

REMERCIEMENTS/ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 
With much appreciation for your donations to my French word journal. Merci beaucoup! 

Odile G.
Dan St G.

Sherry P.
Bill and Mary
Martha and Charles M.

Thanks again for your blog and amazing photos. Odile

I look forward to reading your stories and looking at the beautiful photos, and appreciate the time and care that you put into trying to make everything just right. Be of good courage! Peace and all good, Sherry

Love the blog and stories of life. It's also a good media for Martha & I to keep up with you folks. Thanks again for all the good reads. Charlie and Martha

RELATED POSTS
Don't miss the story about my belle-mère, Marsha.
And a favorite memory "Joie de Vivre" about Dad's visit to La Ciotat

Desert landscape
In addition to seeing my family, the scent of the desert and its familiar landscape brought me back to my roots. This year marks 30 years since I said "I do" and permanently moved to France from the Arizona Desert.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


Faute de Frappe: Funny Surprise After My Dad Hits the Wrong Button

Autumn fall leaves salon de the in lyon france
By the time the leaves turn gold in Lyon, we'll be meeting up with part of my American family. Read about our virtual meetup in today's story, and pick up a host of new French words.

TODAY’S WORD: UNE FAUTE DE FRAPPE

    : typing error,
    : error made when hitting the wrong button

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I wish I had a written transcript of our accidental family video chat, week before last. The surprising live conference began when my dad tried ringing me via Messenger and, d’un coup, several family members burst onto the screen--POP! POP! POP!--one by one appearing before us en temps réel...

POP! - My little sister manifested from her living room in Washington State. I could almost hear the crabs snapping their claws on Shaw Island where Kelley and her husband Brad (also visible) catch them.

POP! - And there was my daughter in Lyon, hair tied back and wearing stylish non-prescription glasses. Was she at school?

POP! - Then suddenly my husband popped onto l’écran! Beyond Jean-Marc's seatbelt, just past his left shoulder, I could see the familiar landscape of the Southern French Alps as he drove north for a week of hiking and biking. 

These sudden POPS were followed by a couple of POTENTIAL POPS as Jules, Heidi, Max, my nephew Payne, and niece Reagan were being automatically dialed up in La Ciotat, Denver, and Boulder. Mon Dieu! I felt the need to warn my mother and my sister of their imminent exposure. Au fait.... Was Mom entirely dressed? (Slim chance in this heatwave!) And Heidi…Just where would she be? Hopefully not in the W.-C.! No use transferring my own insecurities onto others--besides it was too late, here we were, THE ORIGINAL POPS, staring at each other, wondering what the heck had just happened. Indeed, qu'est-ce qui vient de se passer?

UNE FAUTE DE FRAPPE...
"Hi Dad. Hi Everyone!" I giggled. “Dad, did you accidentally hit the ‘Family’ tab?” (That's the name of our Messenger chat group. We use it for sending each other photos, updates, and milestones. But this time, with his unintentional frappe, Dad was teleporting his kin into a live conference!)

"I don't know,” my father replied, in his characteristic innocence and étonnement. “I was just trying to call you." Dad was referring to our weekly appel, the one he’s affectionately dubbed "Coffee with Kristi”, but today's call with all the gang was more like Happy Hour! All we needed was champagne… and sparkling water pour moi.

As we smiled at each other, a little tongue-tied from the surprise, Brad chimed in with news about his and Kelley's upcoming visit to France, and would Jackie be available to dine with them in Lyon? 

Jackie lit up, "Oh, I’d love to! Avec plaisir!" And just like that the screen came alive with conversation.

I sat back and enjoyed seeing my family’s faces, thinking it amazing how quickly we’d all showed up to this unscheduled party. And how easy it would be to reach everyone again if ever in need or—soyons fous!—just spontaneously.

Maybe that’s what Dad was thinking when he “accidentally” hit the wrong button and POP! POP! POP! POP! he got a sudden burst of smiling faces in return. It all just goes to show that, sometimes, it pays to throw caution to the wind… and hit the Family Button.

This one's for you, Dad, OUR ORIGINAL POP❤️.  


COMMENTS
To leave a comment, or to read one, click here. My Dad, who is hopefully reading, enjoys a brief weather report so please include one along with the city you’re writing in from. Merci. Click here to comment.

Dad and family
Une faute de frappe led to everyone in this picture (except Max) being virtually teleported into our live video conference. Left to right: Max, Dad, Brad, my belle-mère Marsha, Jackie, Kelley, Me, and Jean-Marc. 

Below: A screenshot of the message I sent after our chat ended. (Re “Marsha joined the chat”: Dad shares his account with my belle-mère Marsha.)

Screenshot of video chat

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

Click here to listen to the French words

une faute de frappe = a typing error
d’un coup = all at once, in one go
en temps réel = real time, instantly
l'écran = computer, phone screen
Mon Dieu! = My God!
le W.-C. = water closet (bathroom)
au fait = by the way
Qu'est-ce qui vient de se passer? = what just happened?
un appel = phone call
l’étonnement = surprise
pour moi = for me
avec plaisir = with pleasure
Soyons fous = be a little wild, be a little crazy
la belle-mère = stepmother

REMERCIEMENTS

Mille mercis to the readers listed below who have recently sent in blog donations, or purchased our memoir--or bought postcards! Your contributions go a long way in not only backing this journal but also in inspiring me to maintain my writing momentum during the summer break. Your support means a lot, and I'm truly grateful. Amicalement, Kristi

Sue W.
Joan C.
Joan L.
Patty C.

Leslie B.
Judith L.
Sandra D.
Kitty W.P.
Suzanne P.
Jacquelin H.
Marshall & Caroline M.

"Our dear Kristi, wishing you & Jackie many more delightful getaways! xox" Patty C.

"…avec des câlins pour la façon dont vos splendides écrits nous enrichissent." Kitty W.P.

365666129_2139106209779351_6294804017322448205_n
My son Max, up to his usual shenanigans--cuz Mom can't have enough hats!

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


Joie de Vivre + A must-visit beach in La Ciotat, close to Paradise!

Parc du Mugel

My dad and Marsha arrived late Tuesday night--despite the national strikes!  I am taking the next two weeks off to enjoy every minute with family. Today's post was written during their last visit in September of 2014. Photo taken at Le Parc du Mugel in La Ciotat, where today's story takes place.

TODAY'S WORD: joie de vivre (jwah-deuh-vee-vruh)


    : love of life


ECOUTEZ
: listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

La joie de vivre est une façon d'embrasser l'existence avec confiance, sentiment proche de la félicité telle que la professait le philosophe grec Épicure qui enseigna l'art de se préoccuper de ce qui crée le bonheur. Joie de vivre is a way of embracing existence with confidence, a feeling close to felicity, as professed by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who taught the art of preoccupying oneself with that which creates happiness.

Try Exercises in French Phonetics and learn how to pronounce French.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...

    by Kristi Espinasse


Seated under a giant fig tree overlooking the turquoise sea, my belle-mère and I are amazed by the spectacle playing out before us.

"I can't believe he's doing this!" one of us smiles, shaking her head.
"He's so stubborn," says the other.

Moments before, while undressing at the restaurant table, Dad paused to reconsider his plan. That's when he opted to keep his orange T-shirt.... Only, it isn't really long enough to hide his brand-new Fruit of the Looms, the whiteness of which is blinding!

And the color of the T-shirt only makes him an easy target for wandering eyes. But how could anyone's eyes wander after spotting the man striding out to sea in his pill-white undies?

"The French don't care!" Dad argued, justifying his decision before walking away--bare-legged--from the lunch table. He had made up his mind the hour before, while observing a group of 80-year-olds splashing in the crisp blue sea. Amid the falling leaves of autumn, the silver-haired bon vivants were another striking contrast of the changing season.

To think one could swim at the end of September! Such a display of joie de vivre tickled Dad's soul, creating a thirst for salty water. That thirst grew until he shot up from the table with a pertinent announcement. "I'm going swimming!"

That he did not have his swimsuit with him suddenly became a non-concern. Instead, tough luck turned to pluck as Dad disrobed--beginning with his sandals and chaussettes.

Still lean and standing tall beneath waves of platinum blond hair, the former marathoner met the water. A splash and my father disappeared sous mer, causing the water to ripple and the sunlight to dance over the waves. 

As the Mediterranean sparkled and mesmerized, my thoughts drifted out to sea. One day, I hope to be as dear and innocent and carefree--as the man I once called Daddy. It's there somewhere, l'insouciance, swimming in these genes. 

*    *    *

Dad and me walking in cassis

Dad in his bright orange T-shirt and those socks he discarded before swimming :-)


BLOSSOMING-IN-PROVENCE


Read another story about my Dad, in the book "Blossoming in Provence". See the chapter titled Attentionné, or "Thoughtful".


French Vocab
bon vivant = one who loves life (eating, drinking, living)
la chaussette = sock
sous mer = under water
l'insouciance (f) = carefree attitude 

Cassis beach

Another of the beaches along Le Cap Canaille, in Cassis: La Plage du Bestouan.

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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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


Favorite French Words & next winetasting!

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Last winetasting in September is on the 28th at 5pm. We would love to see you so don't be shy--nobody here bites! Email [email protected] to reserve your seat on the front patio. 

mimi (me-me)

    : cute, sweet, nice pretty

--from the word mignon. Mimi, in casual talk, means "kiss" (un mimi sur la joue = a kiss on the cheek). And in childspeak mimi means chat. (See a whole list of babytalk here)

trop mimi = too cute
c'est mimi = so sweet (or nice or pretty or adorable)
fais-moi un mimi = give me a kiss

FAVORITE FRENCH WORDS!
Today I need your help. I'd like to spend time with my Dad and Marsha, who've just arrived. So I need you to share the word of the day. Let's make that our favorite word of the day. What word or phrase comes to mind when you think of a delightful French term? What French word makes you smile? To share a favorite French word, click here

Dad and Kristi 2014

Aw, c'est mimi! A sweet moment with my father. Going to enjoy every minute of his visit. Spending time with Dad and my lovely belle-mère, Marsha, will be a mini-vacation. See you sometime next week....

Love you More pillow. I bought that pillow for Jean-Marc. I like to put it out when we have wine tastings. It breaks the ice and lends to the cozy and inviting atmosphere. Get your own Love You More pillow here. Give it to a parent or your sweetheart or your child. Maybe you need one for yourself?

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


Un mijoteuse: a must-have for cool weather comfort!

Windowsill

No picture of a crock pot to illustrate today's word. How about a windowsill, which is sort of in theme with the corresponding story (the first sentence anyway). P.S. This snapshot was taken in Ménerbes.

une mijoteuse (me-zho-teuz)

    : slow cooker

Also: crockpot, crock pot, or cocotte

Audio file / Example Sentence: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence (he's recorded it for me while harvesting grapes at Chateau Pibarnon... you can barely hear the vendengeurs in the background :-) Download MP3 or Wav file

Une mijoteuse c'est un "appareil électroménager fonctionnant comme une casserole chauffée à feu doux, permettant la cuisson durant des heures quasiment sans risque de bruler la nourriture." (-Wiktionnaire)

A slow cooker is an electric appliance that works like a casserole heated over slow fire, allowing for hours-long cooking, practically without risk of burning the food.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Slow Food

An upcoming visit from my dad and my belle-mère has motivated me to dust the windowsills and dig out the crockpot, two things I don't think about doing very often.

Oh, I like the slow cooker alright. If I didn't tend to complicate things I might use it more often. But after learning that some ingredients need to be sauteed first--and that all food must be room temperature before adding to the crockpot, I realize one-pot cooking is too detail-oriented for me!

That's sure not how Dad made it sound--years ago, when he was a bachelor once again. Back then he raved about the one-pot method of cooking. "Just toss everything in, put the top on, and set the timer. Nothing to it!" Dad would then leave for his 8-hour work day at Boeing, and return home to the warmth and comforting aroma of beef stew.

"You've got to have one of these!" Dad urged, offering to buy me one if I didn't mind carrying it on the plane back to France. Back then I must've preferred to bring back loads of peanut butter, Carmex, 501 jeans, and any number of things besides a 13-pound crockpot!

Meantime I discovered France's version of the one-pot cooker: la cocotte minute! Funny how it works in the reverse: meals are ready in 30 minutes instead of 8 hours. I soon discovered that no matter what you put in a pressure cooker it tasted like a French grandmother's secret prized recipe! What a wake-up call. Anyone could cook!

But I never felt completely comfortable using the cocotte minute (having read about a female athlete who received 3rd-degree burns after the pressure cooker exploded). So when my cocotte minute bit the dust after 10 years, I began wishing for Dad's slow cooker. 

Certain they didn't exist here (never having seen them anywhere in France) I almost gave up, until my dear friend Doreen (remember The Dirt Divas?) brought one back from England for me. It was huge! "How did you get it here?" I asked.

"Dave drove it back in our station wagon!" (I see, the English use crock pots, too!)

While it wasn't as big as Dave's station wagon, it was large enough to make chili for our entire harvest team. I think that's what Doreen and Dave had in mind, after noticing me panic before each harvest season.

They even offered a lengthy cookbook along with it! And therein lies the problem: l'embarras de choix. But it isn't the "embarrassment of choices" that's disheartening, it's all the ingredients and steps! Specifically, it's that bit about having to precook stuff. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a "one-pot" meal? The thought of all the splattering and extra equipment led me to use le four for last night's one-pot meal: gigot de 7 heures. But it's a shame to heat the entire oven for one medium-size casserole. 

Yesterday, in a last-ditch effort I googled "Do you need to fry meat before slow cooking?" and realized I'm not the only têtu, or stubborn mule, out there!

And today I'm googling "do you really need to follow a recipe when slow cooking?" I think if I could just cook au pif--or by guesswork--then my crock pot would earn a permanent place on the kitchen counter.

Meantime, if you can offer any inspiration -- some very basic delicious recipes for the slow cooker --then I'll quit kicking my hooves in the ground. After all, this mule is hungry for some comfort food! 

P.S. crockpots do exist in France! They're called mijoteuses :-)

Comments or Recipes
To respond to this post, or to add your favorite crock pot or slow cooker recipes, click here.

   

Check out this best-selling crock pot if you are in the market for one. You're purchase helps support this free French word journal. No matter which item at Amazon you choose, by using this link to enter the store, you're purchase will count towards this blog.

 

Jackie and Grandpa Kip

Jackie and Grandpa Kip. Favorite picture of my dad and my daughter.

Jackie

Photo of Jackie taken last night, in front of the fig tree. The kids love it when we have visitors--for the savory meals that suddenly appear on the dinner table! (Max, if you are reading, come home from Aix tonight. THERE'S FOOD!) 

... come to think of it, this 3-quart crockpot is half the price and perfect for my fledgling for his studio apartment.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


Fudging in French... + dessert recipe

La Charlotte de L'isle - patisserie in Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse
Forward this post to a French friend. Today's edition, on fudge, is a reverse-dictionary entry: instead of translating a French word, we'll begin with English. This is dedicated to all of our French readers--so happy to know you're reading. You keep me on my toes! (photo of a sweets shop taken in Paris)

fudge (n) (fuhzh)

    : espèce de caramel mou (a kind of soft caramel)

fudge (v)

    : tricher (to cheat)

chocolate fudge cake = le moelleux au chocolat
butter fudge = le caramel mou 

Get your copy of the printed archives of French Word-A-Day. Click here.

 Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Le Fudge est une confiserie anglaise... réalisée avec du beurre, du sucre, du lait et généralement parfumée avec du chocolat ou de la vanille...

Fudge is a candy (or confectionery) made with butter, sugar, and milk and commonly flavored with chocolate or vanilla.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse 

The Accidental Confectioners

After my father left early yesterday morning, I remembered an unfulfilled goal I'd set before he arrived: I was to pick Dad's brain a little each day--ask him all about his life and that of my ancestors.... Only, si vite que ça, three weeks had gone by and, poof, he and my belle-mère Marsha were gone!

I sat there in bed last night, eating the last two squares of fudge I'd found in the fridge. As the chocolate melted in my mouth I began to remember one story I'd gotten out of my dad: how surprising it had been to learn that he once loved to make fudge!

My dad, just like his mother was, is a skips-dessert type--so it was amusing to learn that the two enjoyed the bucolic pastime of candy-making. 

"In the 50s," Dad explained, "it was kind of the new fad. Everyone was making fudge."

(Later, I would google "fudge" and better understand why my no-dessert grandmother knew how to make this decadent confiserie: historically fudge came into public consciousness after it was made at college campuses to raise money. Among the first universities to participate in a fudge auction, were Vassar and  Smith college. My grandmother Annette was at Steven's Finishing College (for women), probably making fudge like the others. I wonder.

Dad went on to say that it was easy to make fudge, you only needed three ingredients: cocoa powder, butter, and sugar! "Mom and I just mixed it all together, heating it. Next we let it harden."

As Dad spoke, I looked over at my belle-mère, Marsha, who listened along with me. Wouldn't it be a fun project for Jackie (who would be spending the month of July in the States, with Dad and Marsha) to make fudge with her grandfather? It would be a wonderful souvenir. At the very least it would be an activity Dad and Jackie could enjoy together (should fly-fishing prove unpopular).

Marsha lit up as the two of us hatched a plan to get grandfather and granddaughter in the kitchen together. Locking eyes with my belle-mère I whispered, "I think we have all the ingredients here now--for a healthier version!"

 And just like that--illico presto--stepmother and stepdaughter (make that belle-mère and belle-fille, for isn't that much better?!) were in the kitchen-turned-laboratoire.... for a trial run.

I reached for the coconut oil, the cacao, and the honey as Marsha nodded in agreement: this should work!

My belle-mère agreed that coconut oil would be a perfect substitute. We discovered that both of us used it on a daily basis: Marsha uses it in her morning nutribullet -- and I use the organic coconut oil as a daily moisturizer.

I measured one cup of the oil, before transfering it to a bowl for mixing. Because it is summertime, the oil is almost liquified, so it wasn't necessary to heat it first.

Next, Marsha measured out the chocolate powder (I found a box of 100 percent cocoa powder in the cupboard), before carefully folding in the powdery chocolate (which tended to rise like a puff of smoke as Marsha stirred it. Atchoum!).

After, I measured out 3/4 cup of honey, then poured it into the bowl. That's when the intensive stirring began....

After a few minutes Marsha passed the bowl to me. "Your turn!" Having passed the bowl back and forth a few times we'd whipped up an almost pourable fudge! I grabbed a plastic spatula and Marsha guided the flow of chocolate into a cake pan (we had no wax paper. This was the best we could do!).

I remembered a bag of crushed pecans that had been in the fridge for months. Marsha and I stuck our nose in the bag and determined the spiced nuts were unspoiled--and ready to become the perfect fudge topping. On they went! Marsha then set the pan in the fridge for a few hard-to-wait-out hours. 

"Do you think it's ready yet?" Marsha asked for the third time. Finally, she fudged, pulling out the pan and lifting out a square for us to sample before dinner. As the chocolate melted in our mouths we locked eyes. C'était réussi! The fudge was a success! 

"It tastes kind of like a Mounds bar," Marsha noted.

"It's delicious," I agreed. "But I wonder if Dad and Jackie should stick to the classic butter-sugar-chocolate recipe?"

"It's true that not everyone will like this version," Marsha agreed. "You might have to be used to the healthy substitutions (of coconut oil and honey) in order to have a taste for it."

The real test came after dinner, when the fudge platter made the rounds at the dinner table.... and the accidental confectioners were delighted to see that everyone reached for seconds!

***

Tip: though refrigerated for a few hours, the fudge melted quickly on our fingers. Marsha suggested serving it alongside ice cream -- something that would help preserve it for a few more minutes :-)

Update: after Dad and Marsha's departure, when I ate those last two comforting squares, I noticed the chocolate didn't melt as fast. So an extra day in the fridge helps. I leave you with the recipe:

Healthy Fudge

  • one cup organic coconut oil
  • one cup chocolate powder (unsweetened, 100 percent cacao)
  • 3/4 cup honey 
  • toppings such as crushed nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit...

Mix all ingredients together. Pour onto wax paper (or into a pan). Note: To loosen the chilled fudge, Marsha set the pan in an inch of warm water--for a brief moment! Then she was able to cut the fudge and lift it out of the pan.

Healthy fudge (c) Kristin Espinasse
We sprinkled crushed spiced pecans on top (made by our friend Phyllis Adatto, of French Country Wines. That's the deep pan we used to set the fudge (normally we would have used a cookie sheet and wax paper...) The pan's diameter was the right size -- small enough to allow the poured fudge to pile up for a thick enough square. 
Healthy fudge (c) Kristin Espinasse
I set the fudge on a pretty pottery dish that Marsha's son, Michael, gave us -- 15 years ago, while on a mission in Europe.

Comments 
To comment on this post, click here. I'd love to know your ideas about what to add to this fudge recipe. Or come back after you've tried the recipe--and tell us how to improve it! Click here to comment.

French Vocabulary

si vite que ça = as quick as that
la belle-mère = step-mother (also means mother-in-law)
la confiserie = sweet, candy -- also "sweets shop" 
illico-presto = pronto 
la belle-fille = step-daughter (also can mean daughter-in-law)
le laboratoire = laboratory 

 

DSC_0072
This recipe would be great to make for the holidays, so keep it in mind. (Here is Marsha and Dad. Picture taken on Christmas, 2009).

  Dogs of France and Europe (c) Kristin Espinasse

End of post photo--to leave you with a smile.The only reason this one is titled "Homeless Dog" is because of the poubelle or garbage can that lends to the imagination. But how many homeless dogs do you know who take the time to put on a shirt? Besides, this dog wasn't dumpster diving, he was practicing the fine French art of gleaning!

Looking forward to sharing a "Dogs of France: Part 2" edition with you sometime. Meantime, enjoy this photo of a "dressy" character I ran into at a ski station on Mont Ventoux. To see the Dogs of France (and Europe!) post, click here and share it with an animal lover.

Check out these helpful posts:

Thanks for forwarding this edition to a friend :-)

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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2.Paypal or credit card
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


What is a "nappe" in French?

Dad and straw hat (c) Kristin Espinasse
The family hat. John bought it for Mom, in Mexico. Mom left it to me, in France. Marsha borrowed it in San Remo, and yesterday, while sitting out in the morning sun enjoying our coffee together, Dad asked: may I use your hat?

une nappe (nap)

    : tablecloth, sheet (layer)

la nappe phréatique = ground water, water table
la nappe de mazout = oil slick
la nappe de brouillard = layer of fog

In English--nappe refers to either the ability of a liquid to "coat the back of a spoon" or the act of coating a food (i.e. to nappe a leg of lamb with glaze). --Wikipedia

Dad in straw hat (c) Kristin Espinasse
While at the market in San Remo, my belle-mère Marsha saw this tablecloth. Les coquelicots! Poppies! It would be perfect for the faded metal table we use, on the front porch, where we have breakfast and dinner these days. Plus, it's plastified! You can use a sponge to clean it. And we did, when I spilled spaghetti sauce last night, and when my young friend and upcoming novelist--10-year-old Madeleine--spilled hot chocolate. These self-cleaning nappes are formidable!

That's all for today's word (more pictures below), you can read more about the word "nappe" in these stories from the French Word-A-Day archives: 

brader = to discount
coussin = cushion 
brusquer = to rush, hurry, hustle 

Now for more photos of Italy, where we spent the weekend with Dad and Marsha... 

Jean-Marc washing cherries at the fountain in St Remo Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc rinsing giant cherries in the fountain. He bought them at the market stall, after Marsha mentioned they were excellent for gout. 

Italian laundry in St Remo (c) Kristin Espinasse
Who needs one more laundry photo? There are so many, but it's hard to resist! Clotheslines remind me of the slow life, simple times, and eco-friendliness. Plus, they force you outdoors, if only for the time it takes to etendre le linge or hang out the wash. Depending on zoning laws, it may be illegal to hang out your laundry in your neck of the woods!

Dad and me (c) Marsha Ingham
My turn to wear the hat, and Dad has his trusty cap. Above, more laundry in the streets of San Remo, Italy. 

Plants and lace and charming Italian window (c) Kristin Espinasse
I love window vignettes! You'll find hundreds of them on this blog, including this one from a 2006 blog post on "10 ways to say No! in French". If you are a pushover, like me, that'll be a helpful article to read!

Forward this edition to a friend, and help spread the French word. Thanks! For more words, buy the book

Beach in St Remo Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse

 A clever floor runner! We also saw these coffee sacks used as wall paper at a local wine bar in San Remo. Repurposing is alive and well in eco-friendly Italy. To comment on a photo, or text, click here.

Superette or maraichere in Badalucco Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse

 Les poivrons, les haricots, de la laitue... peppers, beans, and lettuce in the hilltop village of Ceriana. The Italians love their produce and almost everywhere you look you'll find a kitchen garden. 

Photographing (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse

The camera lens turns on the photographer. Jean-Marc's iPhone rivals my Nikon D-60. Look at the crispness of those stones!

Flowers and church in Badalucco (c) Kristin Espinasse
Wonderful flowers outside what looked to be a nunnery facing this church.

Lunch at Il Ponte in Badalucco Italy - Kristin Jean-Marc Espinasse

At Il Ponte Restaurant where Jean-Marc and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Ten years later and we brought these sweethearts with us to enjoy an unforgettable meal. No menus at Il Ponte. Just sit down and let Sergio bring you course after course of Ligurian deliciousness!

Jean-Marc and Dad talk to Il Ponte owner (c) Kristin Espinasse

Mr Sacks (Jean-Marc's side-kick ) came with us, of course! If only we had snuck a Tupperwear inside, we could have brought home leftovers!

Romaine lettuce for the garden from Badalucco farmers market (c) Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc and my dad. Time to drive home to France. Will the market lettuce (lots of baby romaine to plant) make the three-hour trip?  

Trompe l'oeil in Badalucco Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Did you enjoy your virtual travel to Liguria? It's not far from Nice, so next time you are in France why not cross the border and wander up to the magical hills of Italy's hinterland?

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

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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


sejour + how to say "a nice change of scenery" in French

Vespa (c) Kristin Espinasse
My family and I stole away for a two-day séjour in Italy. C'était dépaysant, as the French say--or a nice "change of scenery".

un séjour (say-joor)

    1. stay
    2. living room, family room

bon séjour = have a nice stay
une carte de séjour = a residence permit
le titre de séjour = green card
le séjour linguistic = language study vacation
la salle de séjour = the living room 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

My dad and my belle-mère love the area where we live, here near Bandol. They'd be happy swimming in the sea and working in the garden for the duration of their trip. But it seemed to me that they should take advantage of their séjour by seeing one of our favorite, not-so-far-away places....

"Why don't you two take our car and visit Ventimilli?" I suggested. Only, almost as soon as I said it, I realized that I had the urge to visit Italy, too! "Better yet, why don't we go together?" 

So on Friday we left our teenagers to dog sit, and we drove three hours east to Italy, where the Friday farmers' market was underway.

Jean-Marc and Mr Sacks (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks (lower right corner) came with us, too! And that's Jean-Marc about to buy the pair of olive green moccasins. We tried talking Dad into a pair, but he clung to his well-worn sandals, which he duct-taped back together before this trip.
Kristi and Marsha
Me and my belle-mère, Marsha, split with the men and wandered through the crowds, ending up at a peaceful park. I'm wearing the hat Dad bought me, and Marsha is wearing my mom's chapeau. Mom is tickled to share her things with Marsha, and asked me to tell my belle-mère to use her easel (both women paint) and her kayak, too. Quelle chance that my moms like each other so much.

Chit-chatting (c) Kristin Espinasse
The slow life in Italy. In the park we enjoyed these circular benches which surrounded all the palm trees. Just as charming were the Italian ladies who chatted about tout et rien

  seaside eatery - Kristin Espinasse
We stopped at a seaside eatery for pasta and when it was time to pay the waiter pointed to the bill and said "This (here) is tax and not the service (or built-in tip). You can leave the tip on the table." It was just an old trick to extract extra cash, Jean-Marc warned my dad. When confronted, the waiter changed his story, indicating that if we wished to leave extra (for the tip is indeed already included in the total price, as a service charge) then we could leave it on the table.... 

Italian woman (c) Kristin Espinasse
If the woman with a T-shirt on her head finds out I took her photo she might clobber me. But what she doesn't know is that she is a work of art. This is one of my favorite images from our trip--it re-ignites a passion for portrait-taking (only boldness is lacking, and to ask a stranger permission is to destroy the photoworthy moment).

The sea, beyond, was rough and when Jean-Marc and Dad went out for a swim they were carried down the coast by a rip tide! They easily reached the shore (near the little cove you see just beyond).  

antiques shop in St Remo, Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
The next day we visited St. Remo, where another busy market was underway--and there were several antiques shops like this one....

Brocante or antiques shop in St Remo Italy
And this vintage boutique with the hand-painted shop sign.
 
Ring the buzzer (c) Kristin Espinasse
 I hope Dad doesn't mind all the photos I snap of him. So sometimes I'm sneaky... and pretend to focus on something else, like a set of door buzzers....

"For my door buzzer collection," I answer, when Dad looks curious about where I'm pointing my lens.

Dad and Marsha in St Remo (c) Kristin Espinasse
 "Dad and Marsha"--whoops, I mean, "a colorful Italian walkway" -- yes, that's what I'm focused on here, and not these sweethearts. 

supermoon 2013
We were looking at the night sky when Dad mentioned something about the supermoon--apparently this was the night to see one! This snapshot won't win the "supermoon" photo contests, but this is how the lune appeared on June 23rd in the town of St Remo, Italy.  

Forward this edition to a friend, and help spread the French word. Thanks! For more words, buy the book.

French Vocabulary: la belle-mère = step-mother (also mother-in-law); le séjour = stay, vacation; quelle chance = how lucky; tout et rien = everything and nothing; la lune = moon 

Mailboxes in Europe "the hedgehog" (c) Kristin Espinasse
"The inchworm and the hedgehog" - Another whimsical mailbox to add to the collection

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


To spring for the bill (or how to say "it's on me" in French)

Quincaillerie or hardware store (c) Kristin Espinasse
An old hardware store in Les Arcs-sur-Argens... and another one in today's vignette.

c'est moi qui paye (say-mwah-kee-pay)

    : it's on me

Example Sentence:
Non, mais tu rigoles? C'est moi qui paye!
Don't be silly. I'm paying for it! 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"I think the translation is 'hardware store'," I say to my dad as we enter our town's old quincaillerie.

My belle-mère nods her head: "I used to love hardware stores...."

As Marsha looks around the small boutique, I can see nostalgie in her eyes: "My kids would each choose something--they loved hardware stores too!"

"They sell all kinds of things here," I point out. "Look there's a wicker panier... and a potato peeler... and some curtain rods.... And over there you can get a new key made. It's the everything store," I say, as our eyes comb the walls of the narrow shop, filled to the brim with machin-trucs, or doodads. 

Speaking of dads, I feel a little guilty for dragging mine into the "everything" store, after our latest shopping sprees: we've been to the butcher's--for cordon bleu and beignets de courgettes--and to the market for a hat and a dress!

"You shouldn't have to pay for everything," I say to my dad, as the shopkeeper adds up the bill (we've bought furniture polish, a static duster, and a can of WD-40 that Dad wants to use to repair the creaky doors on my car).

"We have such a lovely free hotel..." Marsha says, "it is the least we can do!" my belle-mère's twinkling eyes meet my Dad's, and the latter can't help but agree. The shopkeeper seems to agree too and he snaps up two more bills from Dad's wallet

 As the transaction comes to a close, the shop's cat, "Fefield" (from Felix and Garfield--his family couldn't make up their minds) looks up from his post beneath the canned paint. He stretches his legs and yawns as the sentimental tourists leave his shop.

***

French Vocabulary

la belle-mère = step-mom

la nostalgie = nostalgia

le panier = basket

le machin-truc = a doodad or whatchamacallit

 le beignet de courgette = zucchini fritter

  How much is that Dad in the window? (c) Kristin Espinasse
Dad and his morning coffee. He's in the family room, where Marsha is answering an email to her grandson, Aaron. I can hear her giggling reading Aaron's message. 

DSC_0281
Three shades of bleu: sky blue, t-shirt blue, ping pong table blue. (Dad and Marsha love playing ping pong with their grandchildren).

DSC_0283

That hat Marsha and Dad bought me. It's hanging on the window, waiting for another stroll out to the garden, or a picnic. Speaking of lunch... I'm off now to see about those left-over cordon bleus... See you next week! Enjoy your weekend :-)

 

Jackie and Grandpère Kip (c) Kristin Espinasse
A couple of fish, poolside. Love this snapshot of Dad and Jackie (taken in 2003 when Jackie was 5 years old). By the way, did I tell you my dad is a famous actor?

(Just kidding--but he is a star in his daughter's heart!)

Droguerie in Orange, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Is there a difference between a droguerie and a quincaillerie?

Chez Eugenie - Bazar - Mercerie in St. Tropez (c) Kristin Espinasse
Then again, a bazar / mercerie seems to carry the kind of things a droguerie or a quincaillerie carries... are they synonyms of each other: quincaillerie - mercerie - droguerie? (Photo taken in St. Tropez)

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


How to say "snapshot" in French + photos from Sanary-sur-Mer

Raviolis Pates Fraiches in Sanary-sur-Mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Soda Pop". The cliché, above, was an accidental self-portrait taken while focusing on the bigger picture. It will remain a whimsical and wonderful souvenir of my visit with Dad. Note: Pop and I aren't really drinking sodas (and I never call Dad "pop", except to name this photo): that's a can of water in my left hand and a camera in my right. Dad's holding a can of beer. Did you know you can walk around a seaside town in France, beer in hand? But you cannot drink beer at a snack stand unless you have ordered food. It's French law, according to the snack stand owner.

un cliché (klee-shay) 

 

    : snapshot

Other ways to say snapshot: un instantané or une photo

 Note, un cliché, is also:

...une figure de style qui consiste en l'emploi d'une expression « stéréotypée » et banale à force d'utilisation dans la langue. A figure of speech consisting of a stereotypical expression that becomes banal after overuse in a language. (Wikipedia entry for cliché)

Jean-Marc and Kristin Espinasse (c) Marsha Ingham

Les hôtes. The hosts. For the first time in a long time it feels like summertime. Having family come to visit means pulling oneself away from the computer and stepping outside to enjoy life. Jean-Marc said to me the other day, I'm really enjoying your Dad and Marsha's visit! They are so fun, helpful, and discreet.

Marsha and Dad in Sanary sur Mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
My belle-mère, Marsha, and my Dad in Sanary. They're pretending to be part of this still life trompe l'oeil. They enjoy life as kids do--having found each other later in life, some 25 years after Dad and my mom divorced. They've been married 19 years now.

My mom is a big fan of Marsha's and says that Marsha is the best thing that ever happened to my Dad. (See a photo of Mom and Marsha, near the end of this post). 

Cinema or movie theater in Sanary sur mer (c) Kristin Espinasse

"Cinema ABC..." I love to listen to my Dad read signs as we stroll along the sidewalks of Sanary. 

Dad and me in Sanary-sur-Mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Dad and me. I love photos of walking--ever since seeing a black and white photo of my grandparents in Greece. Marsha snapped this cliché: a souvenir of a father-daughter moment, a visual I'll enjoy forever and one I'll pass on to my own grandchildren. 

More photos, below, after a message from our longtime sponsors:

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Dove and trompe l'oeil in Sanary sur mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Another trompe-l'oeil in Sanary. This one's a turtle dove or a pigeon... which reminds me of how fascinated we were watching a municipal worker walk out to the docks and pour a giant sack of bird seed in one long, neat row. Arriving from all four corners of Sanary, pigeons swooped in and settled beside their free lunch. Talk about a soup kitchen for pigeons!

chihuahua in sanary sur mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Marsha spotted the chihuahua in the window of an elegant residence overlooking the port. "Be careful of what you think you don't want--you might just end up with one!" Marsha giggled. Having only ever had big dogs... a certain Papillon name Ladybug pitter-pattered into her heart several years ago. 

chihuahuas at the market (c) Kristin Espinasse
One, two, three, four more chihuahuas at the market. These guys are not for sale (just the nightshirts, for 10 euros) yet have the effect of stopping shoppers in their tracks. 

DSC_0302
Marsha and Dad bought me the khaki-colored one hanging near the end.. and a dress too! I put it on the dress when we returned from the market, before we sat down for Father's Day lunch. Happy Father's Day week to all who celebrate. I am so lucky to have spent the day with my dad this year. We have 10 more days together and I'm off now, to profiter--or make the most of every moment with him and my belle-mère Marsha.  

DSC_0419
Notice the name of the boat... and enjoy this end quote: Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser direTo live well, love well and let others say what they will. (Quote found written across a modest picket fence in Italy)

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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