Weekend Joys

What I love most about weekends is being able to spend them with Jordan. No work separating our time together. Just me, my love, and occasionally the baby (dog) if she is feeling energetic enough to join.

This weekend we went quickly to Kehl, Germany (eight minutes from the apartment) for some errands, and then drove to Colmar which was about 50 minutes from Strasbourg. We drove through the villages along the way, rather than taking the highway, and it was endlessly spectacular. Colmar is so, so stunning. Truly a fairy tale city. It was very much like being in the Beauty & the Beast story. It was absolutely packed with tourists but was no less enjoyable.

We took the trip just the two of us because Rukia was sore and exhausted from a long walk the day before. She did so well on her own – we have a camera to watch her and she slept the whole time she was in the apartment. I am so proud of my baby and how well she is adjusting.

The photos below begin with Friday evening apero by yours truly, followed by dinner at an amazing vegan restaurant around the corner from us. And then progresses through to Kehl, the medieval village (Seleste I think?) and finally a gorgeous castle on the mountain before the Colmar pictures. Jordan is texting my mother in the cell phone photo…Haha buddies!

Outstanding, isn’t it? Honestly, the pictures do this city no justice. It’s even more spectacular in person. Every single corner of this city had me pulling out my phone to take more photos.

Our blue skies turned grey and we left before an afternoon rain, I’m sure, but it was the most lovely day. The restaurant we went to was reasonably priced for a tourist hotspot and was very delicious.

If you’re ever in the Alsace region, a visit to Colmar is very necessary. I understand why Jordan said it was his grandparents’ favourite city. I cannot wait to go back.

Hope you are having a beautiful weekend, wherever you are reading from!


Strasbourg Life

Here are a few meals I’ve made over the last few days:

All fresh market purchases: spinach, red pepper, and mango salad (in a white wine dressing), bruschetta made by me on some artisnal bread, and garlic eggplants wrapped around roasted peppers and rockfort cheese with basil.
Spaghetti tossed in a white wine, cherry tomato, and chevre (goat cheese) sauce, and then some lightly cooked spinach thrown in at the end.
Moroccan carrots (a favourite dish of Jordan that I tried for the first time), Alsacian flam with the best caramelized onions of all time, fig, goat cheese, arugula (rocket) salad, and drizzled with balsamic glaze.
This particular meal received the comment: “I could honestly eat these two things, every day, for the rest of my life.”

And there is nothing quite like walking to the terrace of a brasserie and relaxing with some Rosé for the evening. Even Rukia has taken to French life, being exceptionally behaved while at the terrace, and walking off leash through the city, trotting along happily. Strasbourg looks good on her.

Honestly, it is still difficult to believe that I’m back in and building a life in France. When I was taking the train from Strasbourg to Paris (to get Rukia), I was reminded of the beauty of Europe. Farm land, beautiful, old farm houses, medieval towns scattered along random hillsides… I fall more and more in love with what this country shows me.

We are planning to go to Colmar tomorrow, which is part of the Alsace region and about an hour drive away. It looks absolutely stunning. I can’t wait for our first family weekend.

As for tonight; dinner out for Shabbat at a vegan restaurant down the block. Shabbat shalom, friends.



My New Favourite City?

It hardly seems real that I should be here in Strasbourg, France, reunited with Jordan, and strolling through the most beautiful city. I say to him quite frequently, “Am I dreaming?” The entire first day felt like I was floating on air.

I have already unpacked my luggage and organized the apartment. It really feels like home. It’s spacious, well decorated, has plenty of storage space for both our belongings, but lord, it’s been hot. I’ve already ordered a second mini AC. This heatwave + the top floor apartment + two giant windows – one that gets direct sun in the morning, one in the evening – and hot pot lights… well, you’ve got a sauna. Thankfully, opening up the two balcony doors in the morning let’s the air circulate through which keeps it relatively cool through the day. Jordan is not as sensitive to heat, but very much like the cold, I am like a lizard to my environment. My skin becomes like a radiator. When I read “heatwave” in the news, I did not anticipate this. Thankfully today has been so much cooler, and all windows have been opened to let in the beautiful, fresh breeze (and the sounds of birds and church bells).

Now, our home is complete with the arrival of Rukia. She flew over Sunday night and I picked her up from Paris CDG yesterday. It was a nightmare thanks to the animal neglecting company that is Air France, but that’s another story for another day. But she’s all fine now; catching up on her rest, getting used to her new surroundings (she can already lead me back to “home”), enjoying the market and the produce scraps discarded on the floor (she hates mango!), and sleeps right through all the endless church bells of this city. Again, it hardly seems real that I have my Canadian dog here with me in France. Our little family, our new life, a new chapter… our little home is complete. Papa Jordan is already spoiling his baby.

There are quite a few photos in this post. They’re from the first day walking around Strasbourg and a few from the market with Rukia. I destroyed my feet with a bad pair of sandals but it was hard to focus on the pain when you’re surrounded by endless beauty. This city is truly a dream – and SO different from Paris. It’s quiet (silent – only gets busy in the evenings in the city centre), so, so safe, it’s completely spotless, and every building is different from the one before it. It’s hard not to take a picture of everything.

My beautiful man opened up a bottle of Rose champagne famous in the Alsacian region once I arrived and it was like JUICE. Absolutely splendid!

Have I mentioned that the market is literally right outside our apartment building? You can see our apartment in the photo I took from across the street. It happens every Tuesday and Saturday. Market stall owners are so friendly, welcoming, they encourage you to try their products, and the prices are absolutely phenomenal – this is a whole different world from my market experiences in Paris. I got eggplant, spinach, onion, peaches, plums, and a mango (that tastes like manna) for 3,40EUROS! Once I realized the prices these people were charging, I went to a few other stalls… Okay, I went a little crazy. But, needless to say, I’ve got a pretty fresh and phenomenal meal planned for tonight and I only spent about 13EUROS.

Even drying my laundry on my balcony of my apartment in France that overlooks a cathedral and the spire of a beautiful church, with a bright blue sky as a backdrop, birds soaring overhead, was such a beautiful experience. I am relishing in everything I can. This place is perfect. Life is simply perfect. And it can only get more beautiful from here on.

I am so happy.


The Day Has Come

This is it: today I fly to Strasbourg to begin my life with my soulmate.

Most people run off to another country to escape their life back home, but I assure you, I have nothing to run from.
I have a family that is loving, supportive, compassionate, and selfless.
I have the most outstanding set of friends who bring out the best in me.
I was working a job that paid really well and had me in a role working with the most vulnerable students; a passion and a daily reward.
I was in Canada, a country of opportunity.
I had no complaints, except for the fact that I was uninspired. And I was not with Jordan.

I always felt European (which makes sense, having been born from immigrant parents), and I’ve always been drawn to building a life on that side of the ocean because I find it endlessly inspiring, breath-taking, and the mentality of Europeans on what it means to truly live was the mindset I always kept for myself. Not to mention, all my favourite American writers – the authors that inspire me to be a writer – became expats in Europe and wrote some of their greatest novels while living a life on that side of the planet. My turn!

When Jordan was given a professional opportunity that would set him on a path to the success story he truly craved for himself, the decision to move was an easy one. I wasn’t done in France, and I have had (and continue to relish in) my own professional success; I was ready to see him smile, be more proud of himself, and feel more secure about the life we were building together. He earned this, he deserved this, and I was so proud of him and excited about all the growth opportunities that appeared to him. How could I not support the man I love?

When you love someone and want to have a prosperous, content, and amazing future together, you both take turns making sacrifices. My sacrifice, this time around, is stepping out of Canada and leaving a family who, while happy to see me following my heart, are themselves heartbroken at not seeing me once a week, as we usually do, at not being a drive away if I need them, at not being able to hug and hold me whenever they desire. And my friends all made me feel so loved as they held me tight and told me how much they will miss me, as well. There are people here who love me (and who I also love) who I am leaving behind.

But making the sacrifice was not a difficult decision, because I am so sure about a happy future with Jordan. It’s just so easy and comfortable with us. It has been from the very start. It has always felt normal and right when we are together. He is my very best friend, and we encourage one another to be better every single day, we push each other to be our best selves, we support one another in all our endeavors, and we both want the best for each other. And, ultimately, we want the best for our relationship.

This is really the best for us right now, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m going back to the country I love into the arms of the man I adore, and we are going to start our forever.

Not to mention, my friends who know me best always told me I wouldn’t stay in Canada for long… I’m a wild, free-spirited bird, after all.

Who in life can say they’ve had all their dreams in life come true?
Who can say they followed their heart without fear, and jumped in with both feet?
I can say it with certainty. I have. I did it.
And I am so blessed.


To New Visitors

First time reader or long time lurker? I’ve noticed a spike in my stats and many of them are from countries where I don’t even know anyone!

Let me give you a bit more information about me:

My name is Claudia (cloud-yuh, hence ‘Cloud’). As of the date of writing this post, I am 31 years old. I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (about 40 minutes from Toronto). I love being Canadian! I have an endlessly supportive set of parents (as seen in my Featured Photo) and an older brother who is 39 and is my best friend.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English & Philosophy (License Professionnelle in France).
I have a Bachelor of Education with Primary & Junior Specialization, and Senior English Specialization (Masters 1 in France). You can read about more of my teaching certifications here.
I am currently working on my Masters of Library and Information Studies (Masters 2/Specialized Masters in France). I’ve been in the program since 2017; it is all online and part-time and anticipate completion late 2020/early 2021.

I worked in education for nine years with a specialization in Special Education (working with highly intellectual students, and ending with alternative education, where I was working one-on-one with an expelled student). I was given a role of Special Education Resource Teacher (leadership role in Special Education that oversees a team of Educational Assistants), but I just recently had to step down from the job in order to begin my life in France with my love. I have worked with children of all ages (3-17), but I will always have a special place in my heart for Special Education work, both with Gifted children and High-Needs children. It is one of my passions.

In August 2018, I moved to Paris, France to fulfill my dream of calling myself a Parisian. I ended up meeting the love of my life, who makes me a better person every single day. At the end of June 2019, I will return to France, specifically Strasbourg.

I have a lot of tattoos, but unless you meet me in the summer time, you would have no idea they even existed. Most people I meet in Fall/Winter are completed shocked then they discover one slipping out of my sweater! Tattoos are not as taboo these days (especially in North America – everyone has one!), and I am walking proof that they’re just another form of self-expression, like a beautiful accessory piece or an eye-catching handbag. My tattoos do not define me, so do not define me by my tattoos. Human beings deserve respect and compassion without compromise, and a tattoo should not be a means for criticism and judgement.

I love to write, I love to read, and I’m very much an introvert – though, again, most people find this fact about me to be rather surprising! That is because I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable so I go out of my way to talk to strangers or bond with the friends of others. By ensuring that they are comfortable in an unfamiliar or otherwise not ideal environment, I am also forcing myself out of my comfort zone and teaching myself coping skills for my social anxiety.

I am a Francophile, through and through! Though according to a DNA test that both my parents took, I am also:
90% Italian
7% Turkish
1% French
1% Spanish, and
1% Greek

Italian was the first language I learned how to speak, English the second (and my strength), and I speak at an A1/A2 level of French.

I am not religious but I am extremely spiritual. I believe that the energy you put into the universe is the energy you will get back. As such, I make an effort to be endlessly positive, optimistic, compassionate, supportive, and understanding. Like all human beings, I often falter. But being able to recognize where you fall short and making an effort to move forward is the best thing you could do for yourself. With my students, I always told them that the goal of the day was to become a better version of yourself than when you walked in, in the morning. I am constantly on the path to betterment. I am consistently trying to improve who I am and the Claudia I put out into the universe.

Some interests:
I love to travel! My parents started traveling with my brother and I at a young age. Some of my favourite cities I’ve visited include: Tokyo, Japan, Milan, Italy, and of course, Paris, France.
I absolutely adore fashion, but what I adore even more is getting great deals on brand name items! I love to thrift shop and shop at consignment shops.
I also really like nerd/geek culture and used to cosplay!
I am a vegetarian and passionate about animal rights; I’ve adopted three animals and I chose vegetarianism because I love animals more than I love eating them.

My dreams in life were to own a home (I did it on my own a day before my 25th birthday; I sold it 5 years later), and to live in France (I did that too!), and my goal in life is to be a professional published author.

Has that given you a little bit of intel into who I am? Do you feel like you better understand and know the woman behind lifeofcloud.net? It’s important for me to state: you don’t really know me until you really know me. Just like the game telephone, impressions of me can be distorted through others or through assumptions of my character.

If there is anything else you’d like to ask me about myself, do not hesitate to comment. And if you’d like to make it easier to follow along, you can “Follow” this blog at the bottom of this page (it’s a blue button) – you’ll get an e-mail every time I post.