My Dublin: All About Shopping!

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Dublin, especially on Grafton Street, has its share of chain stores that can make the city feel very similar to other European cities. But I found some great new-to-me shops in Dublin that are centered around Irish design and products.

Here are my favorites, in addition to Avoca, the Irish department store that I wrote about here

Kilkenny Design Centre - This is the most touristy of the bunch, but it's still worth a stop. It's a large store with a wide range of Irish designers and well-known Irish products like Waterford crystal. I loved the Orla Kiely display - she has designed some of my favorite Kate Middleton ensembles and Carole Middleton wore one of her dresses when she visited Prince George in the hospital. 

Industry - If I lived in Dublin, I would dream of buying everything for my apartment here. It's just cool and gorgeous, with a range of new, upcycled or vintage items from all over the world.

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Irish Design Shop - I absolutely loved this shop and Catherine shot here for our National Geographic assignment. I wanted to buy things for my kitchen, like these cool mixing bowls.

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Jam Art Gallery - Focused exclusively on Irish art, this is a tiny, fun shop to stop by for a few minutes. There are two locations - the one on Patrick Street that I visited and a newer one in Temple Bar, closer to the tourist center. They're incredibly nice here!

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Daintree Paper - There is a cute little coffee and cake place I liked called The Cake Cafe in Dublin and we walked through this cool paper shop next door as we were leaving. You'll see brides-to-be designing their wedding invites or moms creating baby shower invites so it's a nice snapshot of local life. The papers are gorgeous and you might pick up a sheet or two. The paper is also ethically sourced, something that you never hear about when it comes to paper (food and clothes? yes. But paper? not really).

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Powerscourt Centre - This place blew me away because I never knew it existed! I love visiting Powerscourt Estate outside of Dublin, and this gorgeous mansion was the family's city home, now a collection of shops and restaurants called Powerscourt Centre. You walk in and are greeted with lovely fresh flowers for sale, and a sign detailing the history of the mansion. From there, there are a few levels of shops to explore. My favorite shop was Article on the first floor for cool European design - when you go in, look up at the ceiling to see the designs of the former sitting room. Upstairs, you can explore the bridal shop and salon and see the architecture of the former ballroom. It is so lovely.

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Cow's Lane Design Studio - Close to adorable cafe Queen of Tarts, Cow's Lane Designer Studio is run by a group of independent artists that switch off working at the shop. There is a wide range of jewelry, artwork, clothes and scarves, hand-poured candles and other fun items that might strike your fancy. Every Saturday, they host the Cow's Lane Designer Mart, featuring many of the artists that have products in the shop.

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My Dublin: Queen of Tarts

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I had one free day in Dublin before I met up with National Geographic photographer Catherine Karnow. And it was a doozy - pouring rain. I did the Hop On-Hop Off bus tour on the green bus, and on my 8th visit to the city, I was glad to  finally do it. It is the best overview of the city and if you get the right charming Irish guide, truly funny.

Afterwards, I had a few hours to kill. Sometimes the rain can be quite atmospheric and I wander around with a book in my bag that I want to read (and....sometimes spend more time on Instagram). I always dream of finding the perfect coffee and cake shop to crack open the book. Like a British chick lit book come alive.

You guys.

Queen of Tarts is that shop! There are two locations, a five-minute walk from one another. I love the newer one on Cows Lane. Everything is made fresh each morning and the vibe is just so relaxed and lovely. If you see the Queen of Tarts herself, Regina, say hi. She went to culinary school in New York and returned home to open her dream shop. After my first visit, I knew we had to shoot it and write about it for our National Geographic project.

Here is the final report - 10 great foodie spots - check it out if you're headed to Dublin. We worked so hard to come up with this list, visiting so many places and talking to a ton of locals. I am in love with every place on that list. And it's a mix of fancy and casual - includes an ice cream shop, a coffee shop and a wine bar.

Just order the carrot cake at Queen of Tarts. Trust me.

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My Dublin: Irish Tradition at Avoca

Avoca is an Irish-owned department store that has been hand-weaving throws, rugs, scarves and more at their mill in County Wicklow (the same way it has been done since 1723!). Here, it is all about pure Irish tradition and heritage. There are several locations around the country, but I love the Dublin location for its top-floor cafe, its "hidden" garden and the gourmet food hall on the bottom floor. It's a wonderful place to browse and find a great gift that you can only find in Ireland, just off the madness of Grafton Street. 

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A West Side Trek to Gotham West Market

When Gotham West Market opened a few months ago, I knew I had to get there soon. It has a lot of what I love about New York: great food and chefs, cool but under the radar location.

It's been referred to as a "food court" and with that, I picture Auntie Anne's soft pretzels, Chick-Fil-A, and the general scent of fried food in the air. This is no food court - it's a smorgasbord of incredible, many New York-centric, vendors, eight to be exact.

The Brooklyn KitchenYou'll want to browse at The Brooklyn Kitchen, an offshoot of their original store in Williamsburg. There are tons of made-in-Brooklyn items from pickles and peanut butter to salmon and cheese, but just tons of great products and a fun slate of cooking classes. 

Inside Brooklyn KitchenCourt Street Grocers, another Brooklyn implant, serves sandwiches. El Comado is fabulous for tapas from Chef Seamus Mullen, who does incredible tapas at one of my favorites, Tertulia in the West Village. And foodies are trekking here specifically for ramen from Ivan Ramen, his first opening in the U.S. (there are two in Japan).

It's an easy walk from Times Square on the far west side of Manhattan, technically in Hell's Kitchen. If you only have a limited time in New York, I'd skip it. But if you're on a return trip or interested in seeing what's new in NYC, it's definitely worth it!

Gotham West Market: 600 11th Avenue between 44th & 45th St

My Favorite Toy Shop in Manhattan

I have been shopping for baby and toddler gifts at Dinosaur Hill, a magical toy shop, ever since we moved to NYC and I stumbled upon it in the East Village. I am not a parent yet and they make it so easy to find the best, age-appropriate gifts!

I love the range of classic gifts that I know from when I was little to newer items that any kid would love. It is a really special place and has been open since 1983, an eternity in this increasingly homogenous city.

Dinosaur Hill: 306 E. 9th Street between 2nd and 1st Avenue