Howth is Magic

July 6, 2015

orange-sails-ireland-howth Last week, when Nora and I were up in Howth filming one of our neighborhood guides, we happened upon the most magical scene. For all the times I’ve stood on the west pier in Howth, I’ve never seen anything like it. At least fifty sailboats, decked out with identical orange sails, dancing their way into the harbor. We both stood there mesmerized. The grey blue sky and the burnt orange sails just zig zagged, one by one, into the harbor. You can see a dreamy little video on my Instagram as well.  sailing-ireland-howth-harbor howth-harbor-sailboats aquabat-howth-ireland Orange sails, mint sailboat, doesn’t get better. Ireland’s Eye is the island in the background. It seems to have burned in the last few weeks, that patch in the front is usually vibrant green.  howth-sailing-ireland


howth-harbor-sailing sailboats-howth-harbor sailing-ireland-howth I’m always telling you about Howth, here’s what to wear to a seaside coffee date, the best blooms to see in Howth, a family photo session in a Howth park, incredible panoramic views from the cliffs, a cruise from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, and golden hour in the harbor.



Happy Weekend!

July 3, 2015


Happy Friday, happy weekend, and happy almost Fourth of July! And while we’re at it, how on earth is it July already? After a very long delay (by our standards, we usually have our summer flights booked by April), we have finally booked our flights to America for this coming Monday. We waited longer than we typically do because we were trying our hardest to by a house before we left. And we have nearly done it! Or so we think. Of course, everything could fall apart at the last minute (we’ve heard such horror stories!), so we’re not in the clear until we have keys in our hands. But for now, we’ve signed every last piece of paper in sight and we’re hopping on a plane on Monday. We are really looking forward to spending time with family and friends before my sister gets married in August.

This is the first time in seven years of living in Dublin that we’ve stayed into July and it has been such a treat. Of course, the recent heatwave has been a huge bonus! But we’ve been loving the long evenings in the sunshine. I’ve been heading out for lots of evening cliff runs (that image above is from one!) and wearing bare legs, which still feels so strange in this country!

But how about you? Did you have a nice week? Any excitement? If you’re in Ireland, I have a feature in the Irish Independent about cafe owners around the country and you might enjoy it for a little weekend reading!

See you back here on Monday, and thank you for spending the week here with me. Wishing you some beautiful sunsets and even a few fireworks!

Dublin Cafe and Patisserie / Eathos on Baggot Street

July 1, 2015

Eathos Cafe, Dublin, Ireland There was a really happy accident that happened to me a few weeks ago. Nora and I were wandering around Baggot Street, waiting for Cocu Kitchen’s line to calm down so we could take photographs in peace, when we spotted this brand new, absolute gem of a cafe and patisserie, Eathos. It had only been open a month so it was such a fun little discovery!

We were lured in by the gorgeous treats in the window and figured it would be a good spot to undo all the healthiness points we worked up eating salads for lunch. Little did we know, we could have combined both a healthy lunch and exquisite treats without moving a muscle. Good information for next time!

Eathos patisserie, Dublin We had a little chat with one of the co-owners, who explained that their team had been working on the recipes for a year! Their pastry chef had been painstakingly concocting the pastry array for so long, and it’s still always changing. But in addition to their pastries, they have a whole selection of really healthy lunch options and yummy specialty teas and 3fe coffee. Another fun tidbit? Their salads are made fresh each day, in the early hours of the morning, never leftover from the day before. That’s a fact the Eathos team is very passionate about.

Eathos Cafe, Dublin, Ireland Eathos cafe, Dublin, Ireland The interior is light and bright, but we chose to sit in the back patio/conservatory room. It’s such a great use of what would otherwise be an unusable space about nine months of the year. They essentially made a plexiglass room and covered the walls with wooden cladding, painted a lovely shade of blue. There are a few square tables for two and then a big round table that would be perfect for a special occasion. patio-eathos-dublin eathos-patio-dublin-ireland

eathos-3fe-coffee healthy-food-eathos-dublin The only problem with sitting in that bright back room is that you are located in the furthest possible location from the stacks of treats in the front of the cafe. And that’s really the only way to choose a treat. The words on the page of the menu just don’t do those treats justice. We walked to the front for a browse before making our final decisions. chocolate-brownies-eathos-dublin When faced with many options, on a menu or stacked on platters, I panic. More often than not, I choose the absolute wrong thing. This time, my luck won out and I chose the absolute right thing. A gooseberry financier with strawberry, blackberry and mascarpone. Truth be told, I have never had a gooseberry in my life. Couldn’t even tell you what they look like! But these gooseberry financiers are heaven on a fork. Financiers are usually shorter, but I really liked the extra moistness that the height added, and the gooseberries added little bursts of tartness to the cake. Final points were awarded for generally not being too sweet, which often happens with treats that look this perfect.  gooseberry-financiers-eathos-dublin eathos-patisserie-treats Meanwhile, Nora ordered a chocolate tart with a white chocolate centre and raspberries and crushed pistachios. Also totally delicious. That creamy white chocolate centre was everything you wish white chocolate would be. And the plates, those colored plates!

eathos-baggot-street-dublin The team at Eathos (all of whom, by the way, are really nice and friendly) is hoping to open a few more sweet cafes around the city, making for even more opportunities for their sweet treats. For now, you can find them at 13A Baggot Street Upper, Dublin 4.


In Season / June Blooms

June 30, 2015

poppies-dublin A few nights ago, while Michael was away in the countryside celebrating a friend’s birthday, I took myself on a flower photo walk. It’s one of those things I like to do when I have a few hours and I need a brain break. It makes me feel like I’m giving myself a little treat, moseying around the neighborhood scoping out what’s blooming in the little front gardens.

I try not to look like a weirdo when I’m carrying my camera around the neighborhood, but on this particular night I failed miserably. My rule is that I always stay on the sidewalk and I try to make it obvious that I’m taking photos of flowers, not houses or people. As I write this, I realize this totally makes me sound like a total weirdo. Anyhow, about ten minutes around the corner, I spotted a few amazing peonies and was crouching on the sidewalk, earphones in my ears listening to a fascinating Fresh Air episode about the Colorado River, oblivious to the world, when I realized the owner of said peonies was standing on her step asking me what the heck I was doing! She even said she thought I was some kind of private investigator, which gave me reason to make a new rule. Never wear a dark baseball hat when out on photo walks. Oops!

Luckily for you, but maybe not so lucky for my neighbors, I wasn’t deterred. And seriously, these poppies are worth looking like a weirdo!

poppies-dublin-summer poppies-dublin-2 roses-dublin This bush was full of both pink and yellow blooms. How do they do that?  pink-rose-dublin red-rose-dublin yellow-rose-dublin-summer This yellow rose is so soft I turned it into my desktop wallpaper. You’re welcome to as well, just click this link and save the photo to your computer. Then right click on it to select it as your desktop wallpaper. I’m sure there’s an easier way to do that, but that’s how I manage to make it work! hydrangeas-ireland hydrangeas-dublin-2 hydrangea-dublin-3 daisies-dublin daisies-dublin-2 I think these little guys are technically weeds, but I love the way they grow from cracks in the sidewalk. bumblebee-ireland japanese-maple-dublin lavender-ireland thistle-dublin roses-dublin-pink peonies-dublin peony-dublin-ireland And there’s the amazing peony that aroused the suspicion of the neighbor. Totally worth it, isn’t it incredible?

You can see what else was in bloom around my neighborhood in February, March, MayAugustSeptember and October. If I manage to capture the rest of the months, I might just make an Irish blooms calendar. Would anyone be interested?


“The day is always redeemable.”

June 29, 2015

michael-sutton-beach Or so said my husband last weekend, after a particularly rocky start to Sunday.

It was a lethal combination. Hours of tossing and turning all night led to oversleeping ourselves right through the start of church, because the one of us who is the alarm clock was the one of us who finally shushed her brain to sleep as the birds were starting to chirp and the early Irish sun was well over the horizon. A rush out the door wouldn’t have caught half the service, so we made a new plan. Breakfast, a workout, our favorite coffee stop, a few errands.

But it was one of those days that starts rocky and stays rocky for a while. A surge of hormones, a poorly timed suggestion that landed as criticism, and a burst of disappointed tears sent me to the car in defeat.

irelands-eye We rode in tense silence, grudgingly determined to at least get our coffee fix.

Wearily, I practially whimpered, no stranger to heightened drama in these situations, “Is it redeemable?” I was too worn out to even give the question much oomph.

Michael knew exactly what I meant. “The day is always redeemable.”

And so, as if by magic, with that proclamation the day started to turn. The edges curling upward into the barely-there smirk that prefaces a smile.

The day is always redeemable will be the mantra on those rocky-getting-rockier days that come along every so often.

kite-surfing-sutton-beach sunset-ireland kite-surfing-ireland-sunset We finished the day with a sunset beach walk (I should remind myself more often that beach walks have never not improved all of life’s bumpy moments), and a trip to the pub.

Wishing you redeemable Mondays around the world.


Cocu Kitchen for Healthy Lunch in Dublin

June 25, 2015


Welcome to Dublin’s newest healthy lunch spot, Cocu Kitchen! I had seen inklings of Cocu Kitchen a few months ago when it was getting ready to open and I was excited to finally have a chance to try it out with Nora last week.

I’ll start this little Cocu Kitchen story by telling you that on their opening day not that long ago, Cocu Kitchen donated all of their proceeds to FoodCloud, a Dublin-based charity that helps businesses redistribute leftover food to the hungry. So we start with that awesome building block. Then we add to it a menu full of healthy, filling salad options and a good dose of Scandinavian-inspired minimalist design and we get a really successful little food counter-cafe.   cocu-kitchen-healthy-options When we arrived at 2pm on a Friday, the weekday work crowd was still lining up out the door, so we walked around the block and ogled beautiful Georgian doors while it quieted down. When we finally had the place to ourselves (just the way we like it for snapping a few photos), we munched ourselves full on Vietnamese Chicken salad with leafy greens and peanutty dressing.  cocu-kitchen-menu The portions were big, the salad dressing was delicious, and the vibe was altogether fresh. It’s so nice to have a decidedly healthy option for lunch (or breakfast, actually) in the city!  cocu-kitchen-vietnamese-chicken-salad

Thanks to Nora for snapping so many lovely photos of me with my mouth full! 😉 Yum yum!

Cocu Kitchen / 9 Baggot Street / Dublin 4 /

Photography / Family Photos at Malahide Castle

June 23, 2015

phillips-under-tree A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing 18-month toddler Elsie Grey and her parents, our dear friends Naomi and Andy, in the Malahide Castle grounds. I photographed Elsie when she was just a few weeks old, and her shock of dark hair has lightened and grown so long! She squeals as she toddles along, her legs going faster than her body is even ready for.

I keep looking at these photos (and these of my niece and her parents) and thinking our friends are all such babes! And they make such cute babies!  nomes-elsie-x2 andy-elsie-small cosy-andy-2 In true Irish form, it downpoured for a little while, so we took cover under the giant trees. Elsie wasn’t sure she was ready for a photo shoot, but she had a snack and a snuggle with her dad and decided she’d put up with me. cosy-andy-03 andy-elsie-shoulders andy-and-elsie phillips-family-04 phillips-family-06 phillips-family-10 I love Elsie’s grip on her dad’s ears! Ha!  phillips-family-x2 naomi-elsie-03 elsie-flowers nomes-elsie phillip-family-03 naomi-elsie-02

phillips-family-photography Such a handsome family. It’s so fun to see how Elsie and Eabha, born just a few weeks apart, have grown in the last year and a half. Just about polar opposites in the looks department, but such cute little friends! And it’s been wonderful to see how the little girls have each grown to be so like their parents. This last photo is just how I think of this little family. Big laughs together!

You can learn more about my photography here and see past shoots of (teeny) Éabha, Elsie, Julius, Sam and Nicholas, as well as one-year-olds Eabha and Aoibhe


Long Irish Summer Evenings and Our Favorite Chipper

June 22, 2015

michael-walking-portrane There are so many things I didn’t realize I would love about Dublin when I agreed to move here nearly seven years ago. For instance, I hadn’t a clue that one of my favorite things are the long Irish summer evenings. We certainly suffer through very short Irish winter days, but our reward comes night after night in June and July in the form of sunsets at 9:30pm, leaving light in the sky until well after 11.

The long nights sneak up on you. Before you even realize it, it’s 10pm and you haven’t even started making dinner!

Last week, Michael and I hopped in the car around nine and headed north of the city to our favourite little chipper by the sea, Piper’s in Portrane (pronounced port-ran, oddly). It’s well below under the radar, I’m sure about 95% of its customers live in the little town. We always get a few sideways looks when we walk in. But it’s our favorite fish and chips, and the best value we’ve ever found. Just €10 for a giant plate of fresh cod and chips, which was more than enough for two of us to share. In fact, we couldn’t even finish the last of the salt and vinegar sprinkled chips.

portrane-chipper-ireland pipers-chipper-portrane We discovered the chipper eight years ago when I was visiting Michael for the first time in Dublin, the year after we graduated from college. Michael had come back to Dublin after graduation to spend the summer working before heading to southern Spain to play professional basketball for the year. It’s so funny to think back on that time. Dublin still felt so far away from Maine, like another world. When we had to say goodbye to each other, I never really knew if I would see Michael again. We talked on Skype nearly every day, and we wrote each other emails and letters I saved in a folder, but the geographical distance still felt so vast. Needless to say, goodbyes during that phase were an ordeal! Little did I know, or even allow myself to hope, that we would be engaged just four months later and married almost a year to the day later. Life is the funniest, especially in retrospect. pipers-portrane-chipper fish-and-chips-portrane-pipers I came to Dublin in August before Michael moved to Spain (without knowing a lick of Spanish!) for my first visit to the city. I had been to Ireland before, but only to the wilds of the west coast with my family when I was about fourteen. During that visit, we stayed in a family friend’s mobile home by the sea for a few days and discovered this little chipper just a walk down the road. Other than a pub, conveniently located only a hundred meters from the chipper, there’s very little else in the town other than a long, blue-flag beach.

I’m not the biggest connoisseur of fish and chips, but I dare say these are the best going. We’ve since brought family and friends to confirm that it’s not just the sweet memories making the fish taste so delicious. If you make it to Piper’s, ignore (or appreciate?) the baffling mixture of Native American and clown decor and head straight for the pony-tailed curmudgeon behind the counter. Order fresh cod and chips, when it arrives ten minutes later, sprinkle on a generous dose of salt and vinegar. Ask for an extra plate, there’s no hope you’ll be able to finish it on your own.

Then walk it off. We certainly had to!

beach-portrane blue-flag-beach-portrane

The beach is wide and long, especially at low tide. And we were the only souls there, which is exactly how I remember it from eight years ago. emily-portrane-2015 life-bouy-ireland (In case of a water emergency, just send someone a half mile from the shore to find the life preserver in the bushes!) michael-portrane-beach michael-portrane-2015 Michael was cracking up, telling me about the kangaroos that live out on Lambay Island. Kangaroos? Turns out they’re wallabees, as confirmed by the interwebs, which is equally perplexing.  footprints-portrane-beach Hope you’re all enjoying the longest of these summer days, wherever you may be.

Nectarines with Fresh Cream and Mint

June 18, 2015

nectarines-mint-cream It was only as I asked Michael to pick up whipping cream from the grocery store tonight that I realized the power that one ingredient has in bringing a festive feeling to an evening in our family. Cream has become sort of a thing in our little extended family here in Dublin. It’s the one thing a family dinner or a celebration can’t be without. In fact, we’re all so subconsciously aware of it that each one of our families arrives to my in-laws with it in our bags, no matter what we’ve been asked or offered to bring for a meal.

It’s an odd thing, certainly, that freshly whipped cream is the symbol of celebration (large or small) for our family, but it always signifies that we all have just a little extra time to sit around the table with coffee and dessert, chatting and laughing. It’s also something a little quintessentially Irish that each of us Americans has latched onto over the last few years in Ireland and taken on as our own tradition. It’s slow, and authentic and a little decadent.

I don’t think I’ll ever stand with a hand mixer over a bowl of cream without remembering the exact bowl my mother-in-law reserves for the cream in her house. It’s the one in these photos, deep blue and high-sided so you don’t get splattered, chipped a little from years of use.

nectarines-mint-dessert Tonight, it’s just the two of us, still squatting in my in-law’s house while we wait for our house buying process to sputter to a halt. Dinner was quiet because we’re running out of things to say to each other that don’t start with “When do you think we’ll have the keys?” While Michael enjoyed the last of the evening sun, I stood at the counter and chopped nectarines and mint. I got out the old-school hand beater, poking a skewer into the electrical outlet so the ancient two-pronged appliance would rev up. Ten minutes later, cream and the smallest two person celebration of a normal Thursday evening in an Irish summer.  summer-dessert-nectarines summer-nectarines-dessert This isn’t really a recipe, but I dare say that if you chop ripe nectarines and a few sprigs of mint, and serve it in little bowls with dollops of freshly whipped cream, it may as well be one.  nectarine-cream-summer-dessert coco-dessert Coco would like me to make a small edit. Celebration for three, please, not two.  nectarines-summer-dessert There’s no trick to this, but the cream has to be fresh, and you must whip it with just the smallest amount of white sugar. And you must be ready for a little celebration and that extra bit of time over the table.

Bon apétit!