A little cabanon in the Drôme.

Today's Word: mousse (moos) noun, feminine

    1. moss 2. froth 3. mousse 4. foam 5. apprentice...

...and the funny expression: se faire de la mousse = to get all worked up about something

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

What you say is what you get. This was a truism at my house when I was a kid. I always wanted to be a writer but didn't begin to say I was one until I moved to France... far from the Valley of the Sun.* That is when I began to feed my fuzzy brain a steady diet of "je suis écrivain... je suis ecrivain!" My cerveau processed the info and, just as Mom had said you reap what you sow in your mind's fertile rows.

I became a writer! I'll be talking about this subject on Monday—at Shakespeare and Company bookshop—and don't think I just said that blasé-ed-ly. Here, I'll try again: I'll soon be talking at Shakespeare and Company!!!!!!

Back to What You Say Is What You Get. This works the other way too, mind you: what people tell you is what you become if you begin to believe it. So be careful what you "let in"—lest you become imprisoned!

But back to another positive example.  We've always called our son "Maximouse". It is a term of endearment (Max + Mousse—"mousse" being a random word choice... just something that made us smile when we said it). And wouldn't you know that "mousse" also means (in the third or fourth sense of the word) "apprentice"? Coincidentally (or not...) Max began to take an early interest in cooking (chocolate mousse?) and, week before last, apprenticed at a local restaurant. Since, his father, his sister, and I, have been the spoiled rotten recipients of his nouveau gastronomy...

Last night we had another verrine... this time, inside the pretty glass we could see sweet layers of Nutella, poire, and la crème fouettée with colorful sprinkles on top. And, night before last,we had homemade crème anglaise!

On Friday, when we said goodbye to Alexis, we celebrated the young man's internship with champagne and saumon fumé. Max had made his first verrine (hmmm, I wonder: does verrine come from "verre" + "vitrine"? ...for the idea behind a verrine is to see through the glass (verre)  "window" (vitrine) to the colorful layers beyond); this time, Max had composed his verrine with layers of chopped surimi, whipped guacamole, la crême fraîche... topping off his entrée with salmon mousse and decorative dill!


I leave you with a view of Max's îles flottantes (little meringue islands floating on cream... ) Meantime I'll be practicing What You Say is What You Get (or the subconscious and the power of suggestion...):

"I can eat cream and stay sleem!
I can eat cream and stay sleem!"

(These days, I've noticed, my self-talk has a slight French accent....)

"I can eat cream and stay sleem!"




Meet-ups: We'd LOVE to see you!

 Blurb Kristin will be in Paris on March 1st at Shakespeare and Company (Talk begins at 7 p.m.) Jean-Marc (only)  will be in the Bay area next month and elsewhere in the States... meet him!

French Vocabulary & Sound File
listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these words

Download MP3 or Download WAV

J'adore la mousse au chocolat! I love chocolate mousse!

un écrivain = writer
Je suis écrivain = I am a writer
le cerveau = brain
la verrine = a layered entree or dessert served in a see-through glass
la crème anglaise = English cream, a custard sauce with vanilla or rhum
le saumon fumé = smoked salmon
le verre = glass
le surimi = imitation crab
la crème fraîche = sour cream
une île flottante = floating island

*Valley of the Sun = Phoenix, Arizona, my home town

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Maria Cochrane

As a man thinks in his heart, so he becomes - Prov 23:7
Hi Kristi - and I also maintain that what we think in our heart, we say. But I believe there is a lot of truth to the possibility of reprogramming our heart by our words. So rehearsing and saying God's truth about us - out loud, penetrates our hearts and transforms us!




Looks and sounds delicious, Kristin. Does this mean you're now off the hook with cooking?

By the way, I love (the other) Jules' quote. The mind is indeed amazingly powerful. See you Monday evening!


So...have you read "French Women Don't Get Fat" yet? You CAN eat cream and stay sleam. ;-)

Amities sinceres,


Bravo, Max!

Kristine, Dallas

Beautiful fixin's (as we call it in Texas) from Max.

And there are a couple of things that inspire me: If you think you can do a thing or you think you can't. You're right ~ often attributed to Henry Ford.

Also, when I am really struggling John 15:5 is my all time favorite scripture. It reminds me that in order to really bloom where I am planted I often need to be pruned.

All the best,

Johanna DeMay

Bonjour Kristin,

Bravo pour Max! Obviously he is an artist, like his mother. Perhaps he will also have a bit of the writer in him, and some day he can publish his own famous cookbook!

Since you have du saumon fumée around, I'd like to share a little cooking invention with Max. Recently I brought home some smoked salmon from Oregon. I broke it up and put it in a spinach quiche. It was delicious!

BTW, as a potter, I have to compliment you on the lovely bowl containing the île flottante!

Best to all of you,



Here's a fond memory of Mousse au Chocolat...

When I was a young teen-ager (in the 60's)on a visit to Belgium with a group of kids, we were lunching at a cafeteria style place. I helped myself to the 'chocolate pudding,' and ended up going table to table telling the other kids "Ya gotta try the pudding!" The pudding was, of course, mousse au chocolat.


Amen, Maria.

I've also lately been the blessed recipient of my 16 year old boy's growing interest in "la cuisine". The last great thing was a homemade rub applied to a salmon filet, grilled to order, on a bed of rice pilaf accompanied by steamed broccoli accented with shredded cheese.

I have all those cooking shows on TV to thank for this. He loves to watch them and then 'experiment.' Here is one father who is thankful for what is programmed on TV. Now, if they would just cancel that dreaded WWE. Ugh!


Looks like you have a chef in the making! Great job, Max.

Kristin Espinasse

Candy, How many of us can understand your enthusiasm for the mousse au chocolate!

Johanna, Your salmon quiche sounds miam-miam good! Thanks for your note about the bowl (it is a part of our dwindling plate set that we got for our marriage)...

Kristine and Maria, thanks -- and I enjoyed the idea about pruning in order to bloom!

Tom: Great to hear that you are getting similar treatment! Max loves the cooking shows too!


I love the cute name..."Maximouse" Do you have one for your daughter? We call Tara (T-Bone) and our son Collin (C-Man). It's funny how these family names stick. Tara has a cousin Tori and when they are together we call them "TNT". The saumon fumé and la crème fouettée look delicious!
I have read the book "French Women Don't Get Fat" and I still wonder how they do it with all the butter, baguettes, chocolate, wine, etc.

jan greene

We are packing our cases for Paris demain! Can't wait to meet you and be cheering (silently)for your wonderful talk. As for our messages to ourselves. The ideas that work deeply for me, "no failure, just feedback". And, 139 Psalm,"your hand will lead me and your right hand hold me fast". All will be well. See you soon! jan

Jules Greer

Beautiful post Kristi,

You gave me everything I love this morning = my dream cabanon, my favorite saying, and a feast of Max's latest creations. I have truly received what I always say, "I am blessed...Thank You God!"

I know you will be wonderful on Monday...Shakespeare and Company!!! I can hardly wait to see the video. You are ready for this, you have worked hard for many years and this moment will be your enjoy every minute.

Kristine, thanks for reminding me that after all of the pruning I have been through this year that I can look forward to a banner summer of beautiful roses - so now I will take my own advice and say, "I am now moving into a my season where I will bloom like a beautiful rose...



Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Congratulations Max! There is nothing quite as satisfying as preparing a lovely meal for family friends. Everything looks fabulous! Kudos to you for turning your apprenticeship into something you can also enjoy at home ... now and for the rest of your life.


Hi Max,

MAXIME is the French form of Latin 'MAXIMUS', meaning 'The Greatest'. I can well imagine the latin ending [us] being pronounced "à la française" and becoming “Maxim[ouss] - or Maxim[ouce], perhaps?- quite a lovely way to call you!

Toutes mes félicitations for your beautiful 'floating islands'. I do like the idea of those “îles flottantes” made by you, “le mousse” .... bearing in mind that “un mousse” is a ship's apprentice, “un jeune marin de moins de 17 ans”.
“Le mousse” de la chanson enfantine “Il était un petit navire” was the youngest of “les matelots” and might have been your age perhaps?
In a nice and friendly way, I'll call you “moussaillon”, but, “un moussaillon” who has already become the Great Master of floating islands in your Mom's kitchen!

“Je te fais mousser”?... yes, I know, 'I am praising you', but without any exaggeration!...
-> “faire mousser quelqu'un” = to praise somebody (in an exagerated sort of way)
-> “se faire mousser” = to blow one's own trumpet, to show off.

No doubt champagne will be best to celebrate your successful speech on Monday but today, would you agree that "le mousseux” is the perfect 'French Wine of the Day'? This lovely 'sparkling wine' might be considered by Jean-Marc as "second class", because it looks like champagne but it isn't. Ah! What you see is not always what you think!.. and not necessarily what you get!
talking about which,
in our household, what you see is ALL you get... do you see what I mean?



Talk to them like close friends.


Sleem!-You made me laugh out loud!

How's Smokey Dokey? Everything OK?


Are you sure you did not give Max subliminal messages so he would start cooking gourmet dinner for you???

Good going, and the displays are scrumputous! Seeing your pictures I would not worry about sleemness! : )

Love to all,


Kristin Espinasse

Newforest, Thank you for so many delightful terms. We learn so much from you... et moi aussi, je vous fais mousser -- also, without exaggeration.

Roseann, Smokey is in fine form, merci!


Max, je suis fort impressionnee par tes habilites cuisinieres a un si jeune age ! Qui sait ou ces interets t'ameneront dans la vie ? Entre-temps, j'espere que tes experiences te font grand plaisir. (Je vois bien qu'elles font grand plaisir a ta famille !) Bonne continuation ! (Et je m'excuse si j'ai fait des erreurs. Ca fait bien trop longtemps depuis que j'ai passe du temps en France !)

Suzanne JONES  Cincinnati, Ohio

Kristin . . . Can you be an "écrivaine" or must you call yourself an "écrivain" and abandon your gender? My dusty old Larousse doesn't offer a female form, and you know how important le and la can be! Hard to imagine that a female writer would be interdit! Sz.
P.S. Merci pour tes mots d'inspiration française trois fois par semaine!

Marianne Rankin

Alexis didn't stay very long-was he between semesters, or something?

Max can come cook for me any time! Seriously, I am most impressed with his progress.

Max, ce qui distingue ce que vous avez prepare n'est pas seulement les ingredients des plats delicieux. C'est le soin que vous avez mis, le temps que vous avez pris - la presentation qui fait ressortir la beaute de la nourriture. On peut, et doit, vraiment deguster votre cuisine.

I have read "French Women Don't Get Fat" (worth reading), and its sequel, "French Women for All Seasons," which includes more recipes.

I later read a magazine article which mentioned this book, and the writer said she wasn't sure that the principles in it would work in the USA. For one thing, Americans snack a lot. For another, their portions are much bigger. And they drive more and walk less. I suppose if you can "live" more like the French, you might avoid getting as fat as some Americans. Kristin, you don't look fat at all.

Newforest, I always like the details you provide on the French language, and the idiomatic expressions, such as "se faire mousser," that would be hard to learn otherwise.

Have been neglecting weather reports. For a number of days, mid-40s during the day, mid-20s at night. Snow flurries today.


How lucky you are to have your kids come of age in rural France! Thank God, my girls are grown. Were Max a teen in the US today, even or especially, in private school, champagne would not be the alcoholic beverage of choice. And, alcohol would be a welcome choice over the other popular intoxicants. My daughter, a veterinarian, chose to live in a small community so that our granddaughter, now four, would have the outdoors, animals, gardening and strong values to support her through her teen years. Obviously, you and your hunka burning love husband have done a very good job with your children.


...come from "verre" + "vitrine"?
C'est probablement "Terrine en Verre" = verrine.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Suzanne, good question about the feminine of écrivain. Yes, if I remember correctly, the feminine does exist (although my dictionary shows only femme-écrivain (no e). Maybe Newforest can help us out....

Cheryl Jamison

Go Max! We're so impressed! Hugs to all.



One of my favorite things to make when I was a chef in the 90's was Chocolate Mousse Torte. My husband at the time love to take one to work. Once he threw away the bottom of the torte pan thinking it was disposable, which of course it wasn't. Since then I have made it for my fellow firefighter's at work. They love it!!

I like when you add references to food, since cooking is still one of my favorite things to do. My younger son also loves to cook. He makes sure his older brother stays fed when I'm at work.

Well I have to get back to painting my son's room. Have a wonderful night!

Candy in SW KS

Bravo a Maximouse! (Makes me think of "Mighty Mouse"!) How wonderful to have a chef in the family. Thank you for the photos of his chef d'oeuvres! when do you leave for Paris? Anyone going with you? And how is precious Smokey doing? Days like this make me soooo ready for spring - a beaufiful sunny day in SW KS. Safe travels dear Kristin and have a wonderful time.

Devra Long

My "self-talk" today will be; I can speak French ou je peux parler francais!
Max; bravo! Mon mari Walter does all the cooking in our home and for his 5oth birthday we took a short course at the Cordon Bleu in Paris;loved it!
Kristin; enjoy yourself Monday and can't wait for the video, wish I could be there in person!
Beautiful sunshine day in Madison, Alabama

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Candy, We drive to Paris on Sunday, Jean-Marc and I. Smokey is doing fine. Thanks for asking. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Chris Golding

Jean Girodet has no doubt: écrivain n.m. Pas de forme pour le féminin. On dit: Une femme écrivain. (Dictionnaire Bordas des pièges et difficultés de la langue française)

He is not necessarily right, though. Language changes over time....

Sandy Maberly

Yes, I would agree that verrine is a combo of the words terrine (a layered dish) and verre.
I picked up a couple of verrine cookbooks when we were in France a few months ago and also found some great sets of verrine glassware with which to assemble the goodies. There are many different varieties of verrines and the finished products are "oh so impressive" when seen by unsuspecting guests at the dinner table.
Bravo, Max, on your entry into the world of "haute cuisine"!!


What a mouth-watering entry today. Yes, you can eat ice cream and stay sleem -- but only in France. Une boule in France is so much smaller than what is considered a "small" at my local Maggie Moo"s. As for the "French Women Don't Get Fat," it works as long as you really work the principle. Portion sizes are the key. That and eating fresh, not processed, food. But also the French move so much more than Americans. In an e-chat with my Parisian friend this week, she said that her daily work commute from her apartment at Montmarte to the office near Orsay she walks at least 30 minutes through metro stations and on the street, plus the walk to and from a restaurant at lunch. How many of us walk a minimum of an hour a day?

Good luck at your talk. And congratulations to Max for the delicious feast he created. I would love to taste the îsle flottante.

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Best of Luck to you Kristin at Shakespeare & Co. I know you will do great. Looking forward to seeing the video. Isn't it wonderful to have a budding chef in the house. My youngest has graduated and is a chef, although right now he is continuing his education. Oh the wonderful things he has made us. I wish I could get him to cook every night!!!!! Love to all.

Fred Caswell

Way to go, Max! Perhaps you remember when you first shaved a carrot.

Kristi, hesitating to question your French definitions, a check into a very thick Larousse dictionary showed a somewhat lengthy definition of "fraiche", all representing senses more or less opposite of "sour" as in "creme fraiche".

You will do well in Paris for you have worked so very hard and long on you way to becoming a very talented femme ecrivain. OO

Rod Crislip

I hate to be my mother but it is Since his father,his sister, and "I" have been spoiled...


Thank you, Rod...I'm also a grammarian :).
Kristin, I wish I could be there for your talk. I know it will be fun and productive. I'll be in Paris March 12-17 and wonder if there's any chance you'll be back during that time?

You continue to me an inspiration in so many ways. :) Lorrie (

Betty Bailey

How lucky you are to have a budding chef in the family. I first saw floating islands in an old Katherine Hepburn movie (with what's his name) and it looked yummy. I don't know why I never tried it.

There was a time when movies tried to educate us in the fine foods of the world. Quiche was featured by Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief. Now we are learning from you and votre famille. Merci!


Hi Suzanne,
About the word “'écrivain”, there is no feminine form. The word is masculine. A woman writer is “un écrivain”.
The word “écrivaine” started to get used in the eighties in certain francophone countries. It is NOT recognized in France by the French Academy. A woman writer is “un écrivain” or “une femme écrivain”. Of course, when a woman writer speaks about herself, there is no point for her to add the word “femme”.

Hi Debra,
If you wanted a variation on the same theme for your 'self-talk', why not adding a few extra sentences on your list? For ex:
-> Je sais parler français.
-> Je suis capable de parler francais
-> Je fais des progrès en francais!
Have a lovely time!


Hi Kristin,
Fred's remark made me think a bit more about 'sour cream'.
“La crème fraîche“ may be very very slightly sour, but not as sour -and not as thick- as 'sour cream'.

Here in Britain, the equivalent of “crème fraîche” is 'fresh cream' and it can be either 'single cream' or 'double cream'.

-> 'single cream' (18% fat) - cannot be whipped
-> 'thick single cream' (18% fat) = homogenised single cream, so, thicker, but cannot be whipped.
-> 'double cream' (48% fat) - can be used as it is (poured over fruit... yummy!) or can be whipped then spooned or piped on to desserts & cakes...
-> we can now buy pots of 'crème fraiche' (39% fat) - the fresh cream used in French cookery.

By the way, if you had on a regular basis, large helpings of Devon or Cornwall 'clotted cream' (55 to 60% fat), and no "promenade à pied ou en vélo", I think your sleeeemness would suffer!

Have a relaxing weekend!

Devra Long

Newforest, I am delighted that you wrote to me; I will happily add your sentences to my self talk!!!


Hi Kristi,
I agree that you can do anything you put your mind to... and are willing to do the work that helps those thoughts become reality. I'm afraid that sleemness may require longer walks for a while with Max's amazing talent's blooming! (May I just say-Wow! Max your dishes look and sound amazing!)
Have a good week end,

Kristin Espinasse

Cher Fred Friends, thanks for the help with crème fraîche and for the grammar help (Rod, Lorrie those who wrote in via email; the grammar police, as one of our regular emailers-come-friend calls himself, are always appreciated! I update the posts as soon as I receive word about the words in question :-)

Newforest and Devra: I enjoyed those self-talk sentences, too!

Betty: perhaps we will all be paying more attention to the food, next time we watch a classic film! Thanks for the tip!

Sandy: thanks for terrine + verre. Yes, thats it! Glad to learn it!

Mille mercis encore for your support and cheers.  Without you, I would not be doing this talk on Monday. I will certainly take you all with me in my heart. You have given me extra courage!

Arnold Hogarth

Well damn - You're at Shakespeare Monday and I have to leave Paris tomorrow - Sunday. Would have loved to meet you . . . Maybe next year. Good luck on the talk . . .


yes, I need those self-talk phrases, too. Thanks, Newforest.


Hi Julie,
I added a post in "CINEMA VERITE", specially for you (you asked me a specific question, do you remember?)
I gave you an answer and lots of links. I think you'll enjoy the illustrations.

... Off to this week's new gallery in "CINEMA VERITE", ready to explore the new treasures Kristin photographed for us.

Bon week-end Julie.
I'm sure your French is improving.
"Je suis sûre que ton francais s'améliore"

(change "ton" into "mon"... and that's it, you've got an extra sentence to add to your 'self-talk'list!)

jan greene

Oh no!! The plane was canceled from Boston due to the air traffic control strike in Paris. We will not see you give your take! We are 'desole' sorry! With you in spirit.

Pat Cargill

Yea You, Max! Your cuisine looks delicous! Good luck Kristin in Paris.

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