Hotel Nia Review - SF Bay Area Staycation

Everyone needs a little getaway, sometimes you escape from life in your own backyard. Hotel Nia my favorite Silicon Valley getaway for a staycation. The hotel is located in Menlo Park which is pretty central in San Francisco Bay Area. I discovered Hotel Via back in June when we collaborated for a little overnight stay. I remember pulling up to the property shocked with how gorgeous it looked from the outside.

We took off for Hotel Nia after ending a 3-day production at my house and it was literally the perfect little weekend getaway that the family needed. When you arrive at Hotel Nia you’re greeted with the best smiles and warmest welcomes. If you have an electric car or Tesla they also offer on-site charging which is amazing!

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One of the things that I find so unique about Hotel Nia is the interior design. The hotel captures a modernist style accented by organic and natural materials, custom furniture, and thought-provoking artwork. (source)

The hotel features 250 guest rooms, 9 suites, including the Nia Suite, and 12 meeting rooms and event venues events. Unlike other hotel properties, Hotel Nia crafted over 12,000 feet of naturally lit indoor/outdoor event space.

The outdoor space is as charming as the interior. It’s rare to find a hotel property in the Bay Area that has this much charm and function when it comes to an outdoor space. I love it because sometimes you just want to escape your hotel room for a moment and breathe in a whole new experience. Hotel Nia has all these look nooks and crannies to do just that in their courtyard space.

I rarely getaway with the girls these days. It’s not that I don’t want them to come along with me on my adventures. It’s mostly that a lot of the work related travel I do is often times last minute, during the week, and we have to make sure we prioritize their school attendance. The other factor that makes it hard for us to travel is our pup Zoey. Hotel Nia is dog friendly and they were able to accommodate the size/weight of our boxer unlike other properties that might have size/weight guidelines.

If you’re bringing your furbaby, Hotel Nia offers incredible pet amenities such as in room dining for your pup and other snacks and treats like Stella & Chewy’s dog treats and Open Farm grass-fed Kefir. They even had Bowser Beer, a non alcoholic dog drink.

Porta Blu is the hotel’s on site restaurant showcasing a tasty Californian coastal cuisine using only high-quality local ingredients. They basically make food similar to the type of food I make at home which is awesome!

One of the amenities that seem to be a must for me when booking a hotel in the pool. I’m such a water baby and when our daughters travel with us they practically live in the pool especially when the weather is amazing. You can rent out the cabanas at Hotel Nia by letting the front desk staff know. You’ll want to reserve the cabanas at least 24 hours ahead or you can reserve the cabanas when you reserve your room. There’s a full-service bar and food options from Porta Blu so you don’t have to go hungry by the pool.

Hotel Nia has become my ultimate favorite staycation destination especially in the Bay Area. They impressed me the moment I walked in with their beautiful smiles, warm attitudes, good food, and the aesthetics and amenities they offer make it the perfect home away from home. I’m already planning our next little staycation at Hotel Nia during the holiday season just to get away and to have other people take care of me.

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P.S. When you book your room at Hotel Nia, ask for the bikes and take them out for a ride.

How to fit alcohol into a healthy lifestyle

Is alcohol bad for you?! I think the default answer that pops into our minds is yes but I don’t necessarily believe that’s the case. If we’re consuming a lot of anything then yes, it probably is bad for you. This stands true for not just alcohol but anything; croissants, smoothies, carrots! Obviously eating 10 croissants or having 10 cocktails a day is harder on our bodies than eating a ton of something deemed ‘healthier, like carrots for example, but you get what I’m saying.

Since summer’s almost over you might be having some thoughts about those poolside cocktails, positive or negative! This blog is going to touch on what a healthy limit looks like, alcohol from a caloric point of view, identifying dependency and strategies for cutting back. 

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Healthy Limits 

The key when it comes to alcohol is finding your own unique balance! The balance between indulging in a drink or two at a summer pool party or a patio dinner vs. binge drinking every weekend. The balance between a glass of wine at the end of the evening and an unhealthy habit like dependance or reliance on alcohol. 

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It can be hard to know what a ‘healthy limit’ is. You might guess it’s based on weight and body size. Your own personal limits are based on the rate that your body metabolizes alcohol which is impossible to really measure other than through trial and error. Most people know how many drinks it takes them to feel ‘drunk’ or how many will push them over. This is influenced slightly by body size but also the liver size and the number of specific enzymes your body produces! 

Let’s talk about enzymes for a hot minute. When someone is lactose intolerant they are not producing enough of an enzyme called lactase. Genetics play a similar role for alcohol and some people have different amounts of the ADH and ALDH enzyme (source) . So if you are low in these enzymes you won’t be able to metabolize alcohol as fast and your tolerance will be lower! 

Know that everyone’s limits very! By definition, binge drinking is over the healthy limit for everyone. By definition binge drinking is: 

“a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.” -The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism  

This might seem vague. Is an unhealthy limit based on your enzymes or what the NIAAA says?! I keep coming back to the importance of knowing what your body can handle. 

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While social media glamorizes drinking with pretty cocktails, healthy/skinny alternatives, and elaborate bath time setups featuring a crisp Sauv Blanc, or a velvety rich Cabernet Sauvignon and a lit candle, drinking still has serious consequences. We’re all aware of what it can lead to so I don’t have to list it down, but I think it’s important to have a gentle reminder that alcohol can be an addictive substance and some very horrible things can come of intoxication. 

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From a Caloric Point of View 

Unfortunately, alcohol does add calories and those calories add up. If you have body goals that revolve around a certain caloric intake then make sure you’re considering the fact that alcohol has 7 calories per gram! This might sound confusing but don’t worry about the science. Basically, 1 ounce of pure spirit is going to have 90-120 calories. Yes, even those ‘0 Carb’ drinks are still probably 90 calories minimum. And the biggest catch..alcohol molecules digest similar to carbohydrate! So even though it might not spike your blood sugar, alcohol still follows the same metabolic pathway as a carbohydrate. Stressful, I know! I’m only telling you ‘cause I love you and I think you deserve to be well informed! 

If you’re looking to make healthy choices opt for something lighter or low calories. You can also make your own and choose soda water and fresh citrus like lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit as your mix. Alternatively, you can use a diet soda or a sweetener like Mio or Crystal Light sometimes I even mix my spirits with kombucha or a probiotic drink for a healthier cocktail. Give sparkling wine and kombucha a try for brunch option with the girls or even Gin and Kombucha.

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One of my favorite spirits happens to be Mezcal which is an agave-based liquor. The flavor profile is very different than Tequila because it is typically smokier. There are also lots of rumors going around saying that Mezcal is healthier because it's viewed as an aperitif which stimulates the appetite. Using mezcal as an aperitif and digestif is nothing new. It helps with digestion, as well as the regulation of blood sugars. Mezcal is also naturally gluten-free.

Alcohol Dependency

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a nice glass of wine at the end of the night is a perfect way to end a long day. For me, it doesn’t matter if I’m celebrating a super accomplished day or a long and stressful one. The drink isn’t a way to forget or hide, it’s an opportunity to slow down, reflect and enjoy. I could spend this same hour of my evening with a cup of tea, or a bit of CBD. It’s the act of slowing down not the drink that accompanies it. 

When that drinking becomes a habit and that habit becomes a dependency, then the relationship is no longer healthy. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • “Am I thinking about this drink all day?”

  • “Would I be upset if I was completely out of this alcohol and couldn’t have my nightly beverage?”

  • “Has weekend drinking become evening drinking?”

  • “Has an evening glass of wine become an evening bottle?”

If you’re feeling uneasy with your answers to any of these questions that’s okay. You are supported. 

Cutting Back

If you feel like your relationship with alcohol isn’t at a healthy stage it may be time to implement some boundaries to help you restabilize that relationship. You 

Helpful Tips:

  • Don’t keep any extra alcohol in the house 

  • Buy only what you need when necessary

  • Gift/regift unwanted bottles 

  • Talk with your spouse about your decision to not drink/drink less. Ask for support. 

  • Visit your local AA meetings 

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Know yourself and your limits

At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation and self-awareness. Drinking a glass of wine is good for you, drinking an entire bottle could do some damage and can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Find a healthy balance for yourself based on your body and lifestyle needs. Enjoy those end of the summer cocktails if it suits you and don’t forget to mix in some water and nourish and love up your body the next day! 

Behind the Scenes Day 2: adidas XPRESSIVE 2019 campaign

Behind the Scenes Day 2: adidas XPRESSIVE 2019 campaign

Just like the first day, the second day was also broken up to parts. The morning was spent photographing 2 other talents in the different location before we moved onto another location to photograph me with the girls. By this time my cold was at its worst. In between takes I found myself closing my eyes and sipping on tea until they needed me for the photos.

One of the best things about being on set with the fam is being able to show them how much goes into a production. It creates a deeper sense of appreciation for the content we see in advertising, the movies we have grown to appreciate and even the work that their dad does for his photography business and for my blog.

The last few scenes of the shoot we moved into the house to capture shots of me hanging on a chair sipping on some tea while reading a book and hanging with the girls while working on my laptop. A scene that’s not too far off from life at home.

I love on-camera talent work. It gives me a chance to work with different people that I normally wouldn’t work with in my day to day life. It challenges me to think collaboratively and to use my voice especially when it comes to expressing my needs for the day. Something that I need more practice with especially since becoming a mom. Ya know everyone’s needs generally come before my own.

Do you love seeing the behind the scenes content? Let me know.

Behind the Scenes Day 1: adidas XPRESSIVE 2019 campaign

Behind the Scenes Day 1:  adidas XPRESSIVE 2019 campaign

It was May 2018, I got an email from someone I’ve worked with in the past at adidas for gifting products to me to try out, test, and provide feedback for. The email read, "Hi Jo,I finally have more details to share with you! We’d love to feature you in our SS19 Xpressive campaign for our Core line to launch in March 2019. Below is an overview of the campaign creative and product to be featured.” You can probably imagine my excitement and the emotions that I felt reading that email. I remember my hands shaking, my body trembling, and I was in shock with a bit of confusion trying to understand what that all meant. Was I going to be an adidas ambassador? What did they mean by featuring me in a campaign? Where is this all going to live? What does this mean? Why me? Why not me?

How to Get the Kids Into a Back to School Routine

Thank you to JCPenney and Shopstyle for sponsoring this post. 

School is back in session! As a Mom who works at home it’s been lovely to be able to spend flexible time with my girls at home for the summer. At the same time...I am so ready! I’m looking forward to everyone having a structured routine and my house being a little quieter during the day.

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I am excited for them though! Airis is heading in sophomore year and Olivia is going to be a fourth grader. We’re all getting a little anxious and excited. It’s time to start winding back into a routine that we can take with us into the new school year. 

We’re implementing this in 5 ways:

1. Tackle the Sleep Schedule (Morning & Bedtime)

The girls have been staying up past their regular school bedtime all summer which is totally fine with us. I have a teenager who sleeps in and a young one that gets up earlier, whatever works for them is fine with me. But when September comes around and they are both forced into the 7am wake up call it can be a stark adjustment which leads to tired and cranky kids, and a weakened immune system. No one wants to have sick kids after week one of school! 

I’m getting the girls back into a normal routine by slowly scaling bedtime back to their normal times. 9:00PM lights out for OIivia and since Airis is a teenager, she has a little more flexibility.

2. Back to School Shopping

A little back to school shopping is definitely motivating for everyone! It sets to tone for a fresh year. Whether you have boys that are pumped about the new sneakers or backpack, or girls that are into the new trends and perfect outfits, shopping will get everyone excited. 

Airis is coming into her own style and fashion sense and I love seeing her self expression come through as she gets older. She’s gotten into hoodies and classic sneakers like the adidas VI Court Sneakers.

Olivia seems to be picking up her style sense from me. She’s a bit sportier than Airis and loves to be in clothes she can easily run around in on the playground. We get typically like to pick her up an assortment of cotton t-shirts and she loves ones with graphics and positive messaging just like her mama. She’s often in joggers because it keeps her warm in the morning and its loose enough to keep her cool in the afternoon. The adidas Grand Court K unisex sneaker is one of her personal favorites becaues she can wear it with jeans and her athletic apparel. 

JCPenney is definitely a favorite in our household since they totally cover the bases with their trendy options and range of sizes for kids and adults. The prices for brand name items are hard to beat and we definitely find consistent price drops of 50% or more which makes it easy on the budget. You guys know I’m an adidas girl and they have so many sweet adidas options, I love seeing my girls rock the brand too. 

Plus JCPenney is having a back to school for the whole family sale and featuring 25% off adidas from now until 8/18 2019.  

3. Pick Up School Supplies

No one wants to be the kid in class on Day 1 without the crayons. Well maybe it’s not that big of a deal. You and the kids will most likely feel more at ease if you pick up the annual supplies in advance!

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Don’t feel like everything needs to be new! For kids this can be a difficult conversation but talk with them about recycling, sustainability, and waste. Put a positive spin on their re-use! Empower them to go through their own teacher-provided supplies list, set out things they already have and highlight what they absolutely need.  

4. Establishing Their Morning Roles

Morning time can be hectic. Everyone is getting ready, eating breakfast while packing lunch, and the hubby and I are racing for the last cup of coffee or matcha. To help combat the chaos it’s important and totally fine to put some responsibility on your children! Make it clear what they are responsible for in the morning, obviously this will be age dependant. If you are used to making their lunches but you think they can tackle it on their own then maybe this year would be a great year to transition! 

shop these back to school looks  here

shop these back to school looks here

Let them know that you expect them to pack their lunch. Assure them that they you will be there to stock the fridge and pantry with healthy snacks and ingredients for them. 

Other roles and responsibilities might be: 

  • setting an alarm (the night before)

  • getting dressed (or setting out an outfit out the night before)

  • brushing teeth/hair before bed

  • putting away their own laundry

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5. Write New (school) Year Resolutions Together

August and September months kind of feel like the New Year right?! The lax vibes of summer are coming to an end and many of us, whether in school or not, are ready for a fresh routine and anticipating the possibilities of the rest of the year. Sitting down with your kids and goal setting shouldn’t feel like a punishment or too serious, it’s a fun activity to allow them to do some introspection of their past school year and the year ahead. 

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Setting goals can also help them stay on track throughout the year. If they miss the mark on something it’ll help open up a valuable conversation around it. Post the list in their bedroom so they can refer back to it as they progress. Then in January, the New Year would be a great time to reassess and write some new goals or intentions!

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School is right around the corner or already here for some of you! I hope you have fun implementing some of these tips and getting back into the school routine in a sustainable way that makes the whole year run smoothly! Would love to hear your tips in the comments below!

photos by my talented parter in crime, Jonathan of Encarnacion Photography

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