Maser grafitti Dublin | nathalie.ie

I kind of wanted to call this post ‘but, oh, the days are soft’ in honour of this video made by Visit Dublin. I’ve been invited – along with some of my favourite bloggers – to talk about Dublin. Well, more specifically, my Dublin. Which is quite the treat, as it gives me free rein to chat about tried and true favourites and proper not-in-the-guide book stuff. Below is a kind of condensed greatest hits of some my favourite city spots right now.

First, will we get a bite to eat? For years and years, trips to town on a Saturday have consistently meant one thing: Mexican food. Not exactly a typical Dub experience, but it’s part of the fabric of living in the city to me now, and visitors are often surprised by the great options available here. These days, there are many delicious ways to tuck into authentic Mexican food in town. One of my favourites is K Chido Mexico, a food truck on Chancery Street, D7, that serves the best tacos in town, hands down.

It’s run by Theresa and Gus, who have dishing up amazing Mexican eats to Dubs for well over 15 years. They also run a Mexican stand every Saturday in the Temple Bar food market in Meeting House Square, another fave spot – if a Saturday kicks off with some cripsy tacos or a fajita here (Ben and I like to wash ours down with a bottle of tangy apple juice from the Llewellyn stand), then I know it’s going to be a great day.

Other spots definitely worth trying: Azteca, for honest to goodness, traditional Mexican grub, served by Hugo, one of the warmest, nicest guys around who also runs great courses. | Saburritos – formerly known as Taco Taco, this stall was the original burrito joint, here a full decade before anywhere else. | 777: A fun place to splash out on with great vibes and tequila cocktails  – the perfect spot for some hipster-watching too.

Next up, some shopping. Living in Rinsgend, I’ve come to know and love the Merchant’s Market on the East Wall Road. Most big bargains are gone by mid-morning Saturday, but it’s a got a proper car boot buzz and is super handy for picking up random shoot props and the odd vintage camera (or three).

Also most definitely worth a bus ride: The Brocante in D8, third Sunday of every month. Head here for great retro pieces and cool handmades – mid-century maestro Kirk Modern has a stand here, as do Trentanove Lighting, purveyors of cool cage lights. | The Dublin Flea Market, the last Sunday of every month. For a quirky souvernir, pick up one of their posters, created by a different local artist every month.

And now, for something both traditional and unexpected. When I got to thinking about a favourite outdoor space, one with a bit of history, I kind of expected to land on Phoneix Park or the Iveagh Gardens (which definitely ticks the hidden gem box). But then, when I really thought about it, I realised that some of my favourite Dublin memories are from Merrion Square – the bird’s eye view of the city I got from the top of a ferris wheel during the St Patrick’s Day festivities, heading there with my sis and the kids during one of the many family-friendly events that pop up every year, getting a peek inside some of incredible, historic, redbrick Georgian townhouses that line it (most recently for Irish Design Shop’s brilliant pop-up) or simply meeting Ben there for a smoochy picnic lunch. Fun fact: it also houses a great collection of old Dublin lamp posts.


A Week of Healthy Breakfasts with Alpro Tops

As I’ve written before, I’m on a mission to live a little cleaner, eat healthier and, in general, clean my act right up. So when Alpro approached me about their #alprotops campaign, I thought it would be a cool opportunity to team up with them again and talk about breakfasts.

A big part of our new approach is making sure that we have a healthy, wholesome, truly nutritious breakfast every morning. And just as important for me is that there is variety so I don’t get bored and tempted to skip it. It’s been really nice actually making the time to sit down, chat about the day ahead and tuck in.
One of my favorite breakfasts is plain yoghurt and a range of toppings, depending on my needs and moods. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be tweeting a different one every day – and sharing a recipe for one of my favourite toppings of all, home-made granola!

Top picture, from left: Alpro Simply Plain yoghurt, Chia Bia milled chia seeds,  fresh strawberries, sunflower seeds, Linwoods milled flaxseed, almonds brazil nuts walnuts and co-enzyme Q10 mix, pumpkin seeds, fresh blueberries, goji berries, dark chocolate shavings, and my home-made granola mega mix. 

Meet the masters

A tour of the Weirs Service Department | nathalie.ie

I loved shooting and writing this story for beautiful Weirs Magazine. Ben and I spent a morning hanging our at the Weirs service department, chatting to craftsmen who, between them, have over 85 years of experience in the care and repair of watches.

I loved how the natural light streamed in, loved hearing the hum of Grafton Street below (although the lads informed me that not all buskers warrant the open window treatment!), loved shooting in black and white, and loved seeing the craftsmen at work, using pretty much the same tools and techniques as they did in the 70s.

A tour of the Weirs Service Department | nathalie.ie

A tour of the Weirs Service Department | nathalie.ie  

You can read the whole piece online here, or pick up a copy of the mag at Weirs on Grafton Street.

Breathe & Stop

Too Many Tabs

The weeks have been a blur. What am I saying? The months have been a blur. Editing a fourth magazine in as many months, while squeezing in photo editing and a girly trip to Lisbon at the weekends, it feels like I’m only now coming back up for air.

When I’m working on the mags, I pour everything into them. Seeing those little green ticks on the pages as they’re uploaded to the printers brings relief and release – it’s as if I was holding each of those pages in my head, and until they’re safely gone I couldn’t do anything else. But as soon as they are, I’m all, ‘what’s next?’

I hit Feedly and Zite hard, and go back to hunting out content for blog posts, planning shoots, pinning like crazy, reading photo editing tutorials and getting stuck into gear reviews. I go on a mega magazine binge, and start filling my Kindle up with new books. I love the randomness of it all. After weeks of meticulously planning everything, just floating freely though all the ideas out there is bliss (which, ironically, can also be very productive apparently).

Though the topic of over-stimulation is everywhere right now, and, while I do enjoy unplugging, I also  feel very lucky to live in a time where so much knowledge, inspiration and education is out there. And where you can easily look up 90s R&B songs to use as blog post headlines.

Above: Love this print! Buy a version of it here

On repeat: Plane windows

Ever spot a theme or pattern and then suddenly it’s everywhere? Maybe it’s because I’m going on holidays this weekend, but I keep seeing plane windows in my online travels.

Window seat by Max and Friends

Above: Beautiful window seat snapshot from Max and Friends.

Below: Airplane window paintings by Jim Darling.

Airplane Windows: Paintings by Jim Darling Airplane Windows: Paintings by Jim Darling Airplane Windows: Paintings by Jim Darling

Recent work: autumn

Some of the beautiful things I was lucky enough to work on these past few weeks.

Lunch Al Desko | Food photography for Image Interiors & Living | Photography: Nathalie Marquez Courtney | Styling: Jette Virdi

Food photography: A cool lunch al desko shoot for Image Interiors & Living, styled by the immensely talented Jette Virdi.

Still life photography by Nathalie here for Image Interiors & Living

Still lives: Also for the Sep/Oct issue of  Image Interiors & Living. On the left, a holding shot for a feature on de-cluttering, written and styled by Alex aka Hydrangea Girl. On the right, one of the shots that open the different sections of the mag. Styled by our incredible art director Marlene Wessels, who also spray painted these fab vintage plates I picked up at the Merchants Market – can’t wait to use them as wall art!

Camille O'Sullivan | Photography by Nathalie Marquez Courtney | Image Magazine

Camille O’Sullivan: I got to visit and shoot the very cool and eclectic home of Camille O’Sullivan for Image and emerged with quite the girl crush. As soon as I could after the shoot, I hunted out tickets to her next Dublin performance and was lucky enough to get tickets to see a very intimate gig in Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square as part of this year’s Fringe Festival. It was magical, one of my favourite gigs ever. She is a mesmerising, authentic showman. B particularly loved her Radiohead cover, while I just adore, utterly adore, Ship Song.

Snapshots from Lisbon

Lisbon | nathalie.ie

Lisbon | nathalie.ie

Narrow, cobble-stone alleys, swaying, rickety trams, delicious, gooey custard-filled pastries, historic squares, pastel buildings covered in colourful decorative tiles, sunny days on the beach and loud, noisy, messy, joyful nights in the winding streets of the Bairro Alto – Lisbon completely charmed us.

Lisbon | nathalie.ie Lisbon | nathalie.ie Lisbon | nathalie.ie

Three tired girls, one buzzing city, four brilliant nights. We slept here / ate here, here, and here / sunbathed + snoozed here / danced here / devoured all the pastel de natas here.

All pics shot on iPhone or Fuji X100s.

Dreamvibes: Music to work to

Dreamvibes on 8 tracks | nathalie.ie

Do you use 8tracks? I discovered it through Susannah Conway (who has some great mixes). If compilation tapes had an online home, this would be it. I love how people create mixes for all sorts of reasons – there are workouts mixes, mediation mixes, productivity mixes, love mixes, and more. It’a a great way to add a soundtrack to what you’re doing and discover new music – even though I love making playlists on Spotify, the surprise element of 8tracks is great.

Right now, I’m really enjoying writing and editing to Dreamvibes. It’s relaxing, without making you sleepy, and energising – but in a kind of rhythmic, head-boppy way, not a get-up-and-dance-aroud-the-room-like-Jlo way.

The journey to positive fitness

Positive Fitness | nathalie.ie

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to do something about my health, my energy, my fitness. I’m a terrible woman for taking too much on, and getting wrapped up in a project with little consideration to whether or not my brain and body can actually handle it. These words, written by the brilliant Elizabeth Gilbert, kind of sum it up:

I have far more enthusiasm in life than I have actual energy. In my excitement, I routinely take on more than I can physically or emotionally handle, which causes me to break down in quite predictable displays of dramatic exhaustion.

I wanted to find better ways of coping with that. Personally, I want to glow. I want energy, and to feel fit and strong, healthy and happy. Enter Liz, who runs Positive Fitness. She needed photos for the gorgeous site she’s working on, I needed someone to motivate, cajole and basically threaten me to change my habits and move a bit more.

We had a shoot a few months back (sneak peek above) and I officially started my sessions with her a few weeks ago, examining my diet and looking at ways to make it better, then getting stuck into some workouts – Liz is an incredible motivator, and just oozes positivity and energy. We’ve done a big shop, I’ve spent Sunday prepping veggies, planning morning juices and packing tasty, healthy lunches.

Thankfully, Ben and I love good food, so we already cook with decent, fresh, ingredients, which is half the battle. Of course, things have to be changed and substituted – brown carbs for white, dark chocolate for milk, and evening runs to Tesco for a Golden Crisp for, well, not doing that.

There’s no sugar coating how tough it can to change habits, but there’s also no arguing with how much better, and, well, cleaner we feel. Liz is working on a fab new site, packed with lots of info about her approach to health and fitness, so I’ll post that here when it’s live – and keep you updated on our progress!

Podcasts, please

“This is 99% Invisible. I’m Roman Mars.” These words bring me joy. Actual joy. They’re the opening lines of my favourite podcast, 99% Invisible. And when I hear them, I know that the next 15-20 minutes are going to be great; engaging, moving, funny, intriguing. They’ll make me think, smile, and often laugh out loud (sometimes even on the DART or the street).

The Saturday before last, Ben and I went to a talk and live podcast performance (part of the Sounds Alive audio festival) hosted by Roman Mars, the creator 99% Invisible. If you’re not familiar, the show describes itself as “a tiny radio show about design, architecture and the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.”

The subject matters vary wildly from week to week, but they make for consistently fascinating listening. I stick ‘em on walking to work, or sometimes Ben and I will listen to one when we’re cooking. It got me thinking about other podcasts, so I thought I’d round up some of my faves.

6 Brilliant Podcasts | nathalie.ie

99% Invisible. I’ve already gushed about it, but episodes really worth a listen include Cover StoryHacking Ikea, SkyjackingUTBAPHDuplitecture, and Holdout.

Strangers. Featuring true stories, some heart-breaking, some uplifting, Lea Thau’s podcast shines light on both how lives can change over time – beyond what you could ever imagine – and those pivotal split-second moments that instantly transform everything. Favourite episodes include Midnight In Mexico, Two Men and a Baby (I cried at this one), The Long Shadow, and Little Orphan Edie.

Sawbones. Upbeat, funny, and always packed with amazing medical trivia, Sawbones is “a marital tour of misguided medicine.” Presented by Sydnee and Justin McElroy (the former a doctor, the latter one of Ben’s favourite games journalists), it tours all the weird, wonderful, and sometimes just plain mad ways that we’ve tried to fix and cure people. Try VaccinesSelf-Experimentation, Phrenology, and Headaches.

The Dinner Party Download.  Also super upbeat, this weekly culture show features big name celeb guests (Mel Brooks and Daniel Radcliffe are recents) and aims to help you “win” your dinner party by feeding you cool trivia, history, and even a cocktail recipe with a side of history. Fun to listen to while cooking up dinner.

Song Exploder. Confession: I’ve only listened to one episode of this. But it was so freakin’ good I had to include it. The idea behind the podcast is genius – take a song, and get the creator to deconstruct it, and explain how it all came together. Their first episode was about none other than one of my favourite songs, The Postal Service’s District Sleeps Alone Tonight. I won’t spoil it for you, but I was super surprised at where some sounds came from.

Radio Diaries: I’ve just started listening to this, and I’m totally hooked. Like 99%, it’s got great sound design, really immersive, and truly incredible stories. Check out The Long Shadow of Forrest Carter and The Gospel Ranger, both amazing.

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