New video + saupoudrer + "quitte à le faire"
Lèvre: lip in French, new video (recipe demo with Smokey)

Retrecir: A Suprise in our Renovated Bathroom....

roulotte gypsy trailer caravan wheels france tiny home (c) Kristin Espinasse
While filming Smokey (trotting the flower-flanked trails at a nearby calanque), my video recorder broke! For now there is a grand total of three clips at my YouTube channel. Thanks for taking a moment to view them and to subscribe to the channel. (Photo of Jean-Marc in a gypsy trailer we once tried to buy. Wish we hadn't let this one pass us by!)

rétrécir (ray-tray-seer)

    : to shrink

A popular film, Honey I shrunk the kids, was translated by the French: Chérie, j'ai rétréci les gosses.

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

Arrivant dans notre salle de bain, j'ai realisé que tous les éléments avaient rétréci. Arriving in the bathroom, I realized that all of the elements had shrunk!


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

I'd just as soon park a trailer at the edge of our property—and live there—than go through the tortures of renovation. Such flighty thoughts consume me, lately, as I watch giant tractors blaze past Mas des Brun, with a grumbling preview of what's to come. 

But fleeing from the chaos is not the solution. Last time I avoided a chantier I returned to find our bathroom had shrunk!

Two or so years ago, back in our former vineyard in Sainte Cécile, most of the major renovation was past us. We were now putting in wood floors in our upstairs bed and bath. The project was my husband's idea, after he could no longer look at the floor tiles there (I kind of liked them, and grew convinced they were some sort of Provençal classic—even if they were pink and flourishy, and even if you risked spraining an ankle each time you walked over the loose ceramic squares).

One day Jean-Marc breezed into the small guest bedroom where I had been holed up for the duration of the floor project (I secretly hoped to live there forever, and not have to deal with the towering mess down the hall. In fact, couldn't we just board up that side of the house, and forget about it? Just how much room did we need anyway? Besides, I wasn't getting a good vibe from the former bedroom... which was a wreck, what with the furniture piled high and wobbling with books, lamps, and whatever could be tossed up there so as to make room for the floor boards to go in. On occasion, I would venture into the room, take one look at the dusty heaps, and run out again).

When the work was nearly done, Jean-Marc was excited to tell me that the last floor board had been hammered down and would I like to see the results? 

Entering our bedroom, I had to admit the place looked much warmer minus the white and pink tiles. So far so good....

But I'll never forget walking, like Alice in Wonderland, into our newly finished salle de bain. Stepping past the carpentry tools, over the saw-dusted threshold, an astonishing new world appeared. Crossing the small and narrow bathroom, it seemed as though I was walking through another dimension.

Soon the spell broke and I realized this wasn't some sort of other world, something was seriously off, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Then, when I went to turn on the faucet, I didn't feel the knobs right away. On close examination, the knobs were there, only they were a foot lower than before. Le lavabo was now below my hips!

Quickly I spun around and, just as suspected, I saw how les w.-c. had shrunk, too. If it were any lower to the ground it would be a turkish toilet!

Alarmed, my eyes darted over to the tub. Rushing up to it, I saw how la baignoire now reached below my knees! My eyes swept back over to the sink, where I now noticed how the foot of sink had disappeared beneath the wood planks.... Looking around in a daze, I realized what had happened, but it was too late to go back now—the floor of our bathroom and all that was attached to it had been submerged!

Jean-Marc, who now towered over the sink like a giant in a doll house, didn't seem fazed by the petit error.
"Well, what do you think?" my husband smiled, eager for a rewarding word.

What did I think? What did I think?

"I think the plumber forgot to unbolt the toilet... and the sink, and the tub before the carpenter raised the floors!"

"I couldn't get a hold of the plumber," Jean-Marc snapped, quickly growing defensive. "And if you are not happy with the results, then why don't YOU organize these projects!"

With that, the disgruntled giant stomped out of the room. I watched as saw dust flew up from beneath his heels, adding another dusty coat to all our junk that was crammed, stacked, and teetering in the corner of the room. I wanted to close my eyes and believe that on opening them, presto!, everything would be back intact—including our standard-sized sink.

Instead, I went to sit down on the edge of the tub, to collect my thoughts.... only the tub edge was not where it used to be!

As I sat sore on the floor, shaking in frustration, I had to admit he was right. If I wanted things done to my standards (or at least standard sized), I had better get off my butt and participate.


Post note: here we are now, two years later, faced with another renovation project. You'd think we'd have learned from experience, but it seems we're off to a "passionate" start, what with our first project (talked about in the previous post).

French Vocabulary

le chantier = building site, a place that is under construction

la salle de bain = bathroom

le lavabo = sink

les w.-c. = toilet

la baignoire = tub



  roulotte gypsy trailer caravan wheels france tiny home

 While we'll probably not move to a trailer at the far end of our lot, my mom, Jules, would sure like to! Look at the cozy bed in the back. She could read her novels and peek out the back window... to see how the arm-flapping, mouth-flapping, couple in the house on the hill is doing during renovation.

roulotte gypsy trailer caravan wheels france tiny home (c) kristin espinasse
The slow life near the sea... Wouldn't this roulotte be a cheerful addition to the olive field?

roulotte gypsy trailer caravan wheels france tiny home
Happy trails! See you very soon. If you have enjoyed this edition, please forward it to a friend.

Metro cuff
Paris Metro Cuff! It also makes a wonderful conversational piece -- to wear on your wrist.  A wonderful "conversation piece" for your wardrobe. Order one here.

  French christmas music
French Christmas Music: "Mon Beau Sapin", "Saint Nuit", "La Marche des Rois", "Petite Ville Bethléem", "Il est né Le Divin Enfant". 
Order CD here.


basal cell carcinoma post op photo forehead skin cancer
One year ago... the fur is fake, the scar is real. Wish me luck for this Friday's dermatologist appointment in Marseilles. (The other spot on the tip of my nose seems to be growing.)

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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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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David Simmons


Here's a solution:

I'll bet some enterprising "gitan" in France has developed cute and comfortable houses just like these.


Helga Tomala

Thank you, for sharing. I enjoy your posts so much.
Best wishes & blessings with your Dr. visit.

suzanne dunaway

I can't believe your smart husband let the carpenter raise the floor without knowing it would ruin the height of the sanataires!! Did you saw him off at the knees?

Don't forget--you want STRAW (paille) NOT HAY for your garden. Hay is full of seeds, and paille is full of nutrients and NO seeds. Think of chicken coops done in straw, NOT hay or the poor chickies would be wing-deep in weeds.!

Cyndy Witzke

Good luck at the dermatologist, Kristin. (Do the French call him a Dermo? (We loved the abbreviation Veto when living in Paris, because vetrenarian was so hard to say!)

Perhaps you should be buying sunscreen by the 20-litre pail? ;-]

joie in carmel

I want that little trailer. You could have made it your sanctuary to write in. A room just for inspiration. The colors are wonderful.
I can't find that ad for buying the French Christmas CD from Amazon. Could you post it again please if possible.
Yes, renovations are so much fun. I did a kitchen about a year ago in my tiny house. I even had to give up half the living room. The fridge was in the LR and I cooked in a bedroom on a hotplate and toaster oven for two and a half months. Then decided to put in new carpet in most of the house. I still do not have everything put back. So hopefully your home will not be attacked this time.


So sorry about the new renovation project.... I suspect that you both learned so much from the first one that hopefully this one will go a bit smoother?

You will be in all our thoughts today as you head to Marseille.


Chère Kristin,
Bon chance at the dermatologist. You are always in my prayers and speaking of prayers, I have sympathie et l'empathie for your renovation project...
Recently I purchased the book, Les Roulottes by Jeanne Bayol, sort of un amuse-bouche to assuage my fantasy of owning one of those colorful caravans. I could park it in at my daughter's home (n'aurait-elle pas aimer ça!)and my grandsons could bring their friends to visit their gypsy grand-mère! Bisous de Louisiane, Cindy

Julie Farrar

Bon chance at the dermatologist. I have my annual appointment soon and hope she doesn't find any new spots on my face.

In the future, I think if you see a gypsy wagon for sale by the side of the rode you should buy it. Some things are too cool to let your sensible self take over. It would be a wonderful little writing hut (or hiding place).

I have no comment on the bathroom fiasco since I'll soon be starting a home renovation and I'm sure husband and I will have similar arguments ("If you don't like it, do it yourself").


i so enjoy your stories and your photos. it is as though a good friend brings a smile to my face, igniting my own memories of younger days in france, every time i read your email. thank you, and bonne chance at the doctor's.

Jeanne in Oregon

I am laughing at the memory of the door hooks I asked my then boyfriend to install in the ladies room at my work. I had painted and decorated the room, but there was no table or other flat surface available to place a coat or purse, so door hooks seemed the perfect answer. He happily obliged when I requested his help installing them, and it wasn't until the job was complete that I realized how differently we looked at such things. The hooks were somewhat straight, but one was high and far from the right edge of the door and the other was lower and quite close to the left door edge. My need for symmetry having been unmet, I realized the only way to assure that we would both be happy with future projects (or renovations) would mean I would have to be involved.

Today we have been married 14 years, have completed many projects both within and outside of our home, and my world has the symmetry I need while my husband's is satisfying for his worthy accomplishments.

Jeanne in Oregon

I didn't notice your photo and the information about going to the dermotologist until after I posted my earlier comment. Praying all will go well for you. God bless.


Jean-Marc didn't seem "phased" should be "fazed".

We empathize with you, as we are currently undergoing renovations made necessary by Superstorm Sandy.

anne wirth

First off, I love your most recent petit video. Smokey does steal the show.
How about Smokey with Jean-Marc or the kids?

Ah,yes, I can remember renovations without my input first. Jean-Marc has a "good heart" but needs a women's mind to temper it. I am sure you couldn't laugh at the time but it sure sounds funny to me. You were all ready for your old age.

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
Love the gypsy trailer! I know Jules would love it. Good luck at the dermatologist. My mom has just gone through surgery for two basal cell carcinomas. One on her forehead and one on the tip of her nose. She had a Mohs procedure and the doctor had to go down 5 layers to get all of it. She is now going through the plastic surgery part. Thanks for posting your experiences with skin cancer. We all have to be really careful in the sun!

Pat - Portland Oregon

Renovation projects can make or break a marriage! We've been married 40 years (this Sunday :) and have learned more than we ever wanted to know about ourselves and each other through the many remodels in our various homes. In some ways it does get easier because of the 'knowledge base'. Good luck. We look forward to going through some of these with you and Jean-Marc.
I hope your comment under your picture was from a past post and relating to a previous dermotology visit.

Diane Young

My prayers are with you as you go to the dermatologist. My nose finally got normal looking after the skin graft from behind my ears was used to cover the excavation. Years later you would never know it happened. Remember, use PF 50 under your makeup 365 days a year.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I see a plumber in your future!

bonne chance
at the dermatologist visit. You are the veteran now, ready for anything. Nonetheless, I hope it is nothing.

I read Mas des Bruns, seeing terms I should have known. ha is hectare, I knew that. But I did not know a and ca.
a is are and ca is centiare, logical.
Hectare is 2.47105 acres
So 50 a is about 1.24 acre (on-line convertors are so very precise...).

I feel better about how much work your husband is taking on for planting those new vines. Not so much to age three years per year as he once put it.

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Dear Kristin, Praying all goes well at the dermatologist's appointment!
Bon courage!

Judy, Western Canada

Hello Kristin. I hope all goes well with your nose today. I wrote in my 'professional capacity' as a camera person...Don't you also own a point and shoot camera, a little one? I know you've written about one. If so depending on it's age, etc. it will take pretty good or even quite good HD video. Have you tried that? Do a little demo for quality check of course, but maybe you can continue with your YouTube adventure :O) Btw, I love that gypsy caravan. I continue to love reading your posts.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Dear Kristin,

Good luck on Friday. Thanks for being so honest about your health. You have informed a lot of people.

Since reading your posts after the last year --- I always wear a lot of sunscreen --- and I live in Oregon!

Be well!


Dear Kristin, All I can say about you and your husband's exchanges during renovations is: hahahaha :). My husband and I have never gone through the process, but with other household fix-it projects, our conversations are similar. So nice to know we aren't unique!

Love the gypsy trailer. It does look like a delightful hideaway for Jules!

And my prayers go with you to Marseilles for your dr. appt. Please keep us posted.



You didn't mention a word about your appointment to me yestrday on the phone....I am praying for you right now. I'm so sorry you have to go though this strong. Now I understand why you kept saying you were so stressed with everything (the kids, JM, the tractors, the cold weather with no heat in the house.) Buckel up Sweetheart, looks like you have a big ride aheah of you. Breathe deeply and recall your hard-earned wisdom of days past.



Buy a space heater to carry from your bedroom down-stairs to the cold kitchen and bathroom. I saw a cute one at the store yesterday for $50 - it was an attractive black cylinder about two feet high. Perfect for you. Order that silk underwear I told you about last month. Buy a ski hat to keep your ears warm. Release Max from your grasp - when you were 17 you drove all the way from Seattle to Phoenix by yourself and then went out and rented yourself you own apartment. I remember when you and Heidi were that age - that was when I found out they were really God's children - whart a relief that set me free.



Georgia Schall just north of San Francisco

Hi Kristin!

Thanks for sharing the pics of the whimsical trailer! It is beyond cool! And I loved looking at the videos again! So much fun!

I will be thinking of you this Friday when I go back to the Dr. to have the stitches removed from my nose due to a skin cancer.

Bon chance, Kristin!


bon chance chere amie!
and to quote a phrase I learned here
"haut les coeurs"

Bill Facker

Kristin, sending best wishes for your Dr. visit. Aloha, Bill

Christine Dashper

Thinking of you for Friday Kristin. May all be well
xx Christine

Diane Heinecke

Kristin, I love your honesty. Whenever we have even small repairs around the house or the computer has problems,we are not the same people. I grow horns and get irritable and sarcastic. My husband throws his hands in the air and says, "Then you do it!" I'm sure this happens in many homes, but at least you don't try to hide Real Life. Thank you for that. I will be praying for you concerning your upcoming doctor visit. Your forehead in the videos and in photos taken recently looks perfect. Did you have plastic surgery or has the scar faded so nicely? Courage!


Our dear Kristin,
In our prayers (and always,hearts) for this Friday's dermatalogist visit.Such a scary necessity,but one we just can't stick in a closet someplace and hope it'll go away.
All WILL be well!
You're beautiful from inside out!!!
You gave all of us such a wonderful laugh at your descriptions of your renovations project!
Anyone who's been married awhile will have found themselves in exactly the same shoes. This roughly translates into "speak up or shut up"! Oh my! Our first one had us perpetually p.o'ed 24/7. Please God not to live through that episode again(!!)
THANK YOU for starting our day with smiles!!
LOve, Natalia XO

Sandy Vann

Catching up on your blog and wishing you
much strength and cheer with your Dermo appt.
Bon courage! Our hearts and thoughts are with you.

Your mom's recommendations for keeping warm
sound perfect...take good care. We are at last settled for a few weeks or so in a lovely apartment in Salon and able to unpack those bags we dragged over! Enjoying the Christmnas decorations and lovely fetes all around...Aix marches and chansons in the cathedral, good cheer. May it fill your heart with hope and optimism as you face the doctor Friday and the renovation.

Hugs and best, Sandy and Terry


Good Luck Kristine

Karen from Phoenix

Sending loving thoughts your way. xoxo


Health tip is here:

"Black seed oil..Anti-tumors: Counteracts or prevents the formation of malignant tumors..." and more is here:

Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Dear Kristin,

After 25 years in the same house, my husband and I can't put off doing some renovations any longer. I've always heard that construction projects at home (inside or outside) tend to be extremely hard on marriages, but I did not understand why until I read your story in today's post. I can see the same thing happening to us, and I can well imagine how it would drive me crazy! I admire your resilient spirit and will try to follow your example. (How did it go, using the dollhouse bathroom in the long term)?

I will be thinking of you tomorrow and hoping mightily for the best news!

With a big dose of encouragement, Leslie


..seems that the dosage of Black Seed (Nigella Sativa) is discussed here:

Kathleen from Connecticut

Bon Chance on your surgery.

Yes renovations can be stressful, but somehow we managed quite well and things turned out really great. I was the one with the vision and my husband basically went along with my decisions. I am the artist; he is the lawyer, so maybe that is why.



Many good thoughts sent your way....over the waters to your special place on earth.......keep your spirits up and stay positive....all who read your wonderful writings are thinking of you !


I hate the process of just hanging a picture, so I sympathize with renovations, a necessary evil for most home buyers. I will be thinking of you on Friday and am saying a prayer now.

Bob Carlson

As a professional remodeler for over 30 years, I cannot fathom why your builder would raise the floor so much! At the most, a new hardwood floor overlay should only add 2 inches to the floor thickness.I think this guy needs to come back and do it right for you. I wouldn't recommend a wood floor in a bathroom, honestly. The first time it gets seriously wet, the wood will swell up and buckle.
Love your newsletter, and as a cancer survivor myself, I wish you a speedy recovery.

carole Fitzgerald

Dear Kristin , bonne chance at the dermo. After 30 years we are finishing our second reno in 12 months . I have to say it has transformed the way we live in the house. More light , more colour, lovely hot pink Laura Ashley wallpaper in the powder room. Duck egg blue in the Master bedroom. It is a cross between Hamptons, white timber and French decorating , Chandeliers, wall sconces , Armoires ,strong paint colours . Paintings, picked up in Italy and lots of books and china , linens . Etc Oh the joy of it all . Jump in and enjoy it, see it as an Artistic exercise and plan , plan ,plan. Write it all down in a scrapbook titled my dream home. Get Jules to help It is the most fun thing I have done, messy, but the outcome is beyond my wildest dreams. Enjoy, Love Carole .p.s I feel you are unsettled since your move and this might give you a focus.

Jens from Copenhagen

Dear Kristi,

Good luck tomorrow in Marseilles. Will think of you here in Copenhagen (with a light snowfall these last days).

Julia - Falling Off Bicycles

Love and positive thoughts for you, Kristin. Last night I dreamt I was visiting you and Jean-Marc at your home. It was an odd dream, but you were as charming as ever!



Salut Kristin: Je suis en retard, j'espère tout s'est bien passé en ce qui concerne ta visite chez la dermatologue.
Bonne journée!


Oui, j'espère que tout s'est bien passé en ce qui concerne ta visite chez la dermatologue. je reviens pour te dire que, dans ta photo, malgré la grande cicatrice sur ton front, tu restes toujours belle.


Hope all went well at the dermatologist's appointment...or can be quickly and easily rectified.

judi dunn

... Kristin... I am praying that it was a bonne visite with the derma... on Friday... You are in my nightly prayers, for never having any more 'bumps'! Have a wonderful week... loved the cake video.. Judi Dunn, Tallahassee

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