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I can't even with all the excitement Dom and I have had in the first 3 weeks of the year!
On Friday Dom got the call that his transfer was officially approved and we are moving back to Florida!!  We will be moving to Bradenton, all the way across from West Palm Beach!  I absolutely love the west coast of Florida (hello, sunsets!), so I couldn't be happier!
I can't believe I am even typing those words.  When we got to Pennsylvania and realized even more how much we were meant for Florida Dom inquired about transferring to his medical school's Bradenton campus, but was told it is almost impossible. 

When I heard that, I heard the "impossible" part, but Dom heard the "almost."
See, Dom has this thing about not taking "no" for an answer.  Sometimes it drives me crazy, but sometimes it's my favorite quality of his!  To make a long story short, after consulting with the dean of the school and professors, he petitioned to the president of the whole medical school for a transfer.   The dean didn't think his argument (based on the fact that his company, MonoMano is based down there) was strong enough, but he sent it anyways. 

{His new campus.  I mean come on!}
But...she said yes!
However, that wasn't enough.  The president agreed to accommodate Dom if possible, but due to accreditation regulations he could only transfer if a spot opened up at Bradenton.  Also, to account for the fluctuation of students in the begining each campus accepts a certain percentage more than they can.  So we needed even more students to drop or fail out so Dom could take a seat and they would still be within their numbers.  It was SO hard waiting, but it was so worth it when we got the call!!

Dom and I will be moving down at the end of May.  We haven't decided yet if we will be living in Bradenton, where the campus is, or in Sarasota which is a few miles south.  It's also crazy to think that 10 months after we packed everything up and moved up the coast we will be doing the same thing again.  Starting over again will be hard, but we know we are both meant to be down south.  Once you know what you want your forever to be you want it to start right away!  It will be a little hard, but it's worth it.  Either way we are both absolutely thrilled! We are finally starting our real lives together, engaged, and in the Sunshine State.  I could not be happier!!

2014? I seriously love you.


Family and Cocktails: A Vacation for the Books

When I got back from Puerto Rico I jumped right into all the engagement talk, but I didn't get a chance to write about the first part of our vacation and New Year's Eve!

The first few days of the vacation were really fun because Dom and I had a chance to spend time with just his parents.  Usually when we see them we're stopping by for a few hours before we fly off somewhere else, so it was rare and awesome!

Soon after arriving we found our favorite restaurant in Old San Juan, Aquaviva.  The food was incredible (we went again New Year's Day with Dom's brother and his girlfriend when they arrived), and the drinks were even better.  Dom's mom and I had these coconut martinis that basically tasted like pina coladas, martini style...but better.  The men enjoyed oyester shooters while we watched. :)

The next day, in between sunning and tanning, we headed to the Cathedral of Rum...aka the Bacardi Factory!  Any excuse to day drink rum is fine by me.  It was also really cool to see how it is made, and all the different flavors they have.  Unfortunately I couldn't try them all, but between the 4 of us we did alright!

We also had an amazing time exploring Old San Juan.  If you've read this blog for more than .2 seconds, you know that I absolutely love color.  The streets of Old San Juan are literally flooded with color, and I have about a million pictures of each street.  Just when I thought I found the brightest one, I turned the corner and found another.  Those streets are definitely my happy place!
Fortress of El Morro
Inside the lookout!  My brother and I have many pictures in these growing up!

Our New Year's Eve was really low key and perfect.  After dinner we stayed at the hotel, made our own drinks and sat outside by the pool and talked!  To me there really isn't anything better than being by the water with a cocktail and spending quality time with the people you love!  Plus, there's a lot to be said for just relaxing.  Not rushing anywhere, just being.

 Thankfully we started to rush a little, and made it inside for the countdown...which was also exactly when the downpour started!

We started 2014 getting as much sun as possible, then picked up Dom's brother and his girlfriend who flew in for the weekend! That meant more food, more drinks, more family time (and now they're officially family-to-be!) Yay!
Those Marino genes are mighty fine if you ask me!
We brought them back to Aquaviva in Old San Juan for dinner, and then we walked around, saw a parade, and waited forever in line for some delicious melt in your mouth churros.  Those turned out to be not the best decision...oops! ;)

The next day we found my parents and drove over to our house on the other side of the island, and you all know what happened next! :)

After this vacation I'm not sure how it's going to be possible to vacation any other way.  While family vacations make some people groan, I don't think I could pick any people I would rather be with! 



 *If you missed the first part of our engagement story you can read it here!

After the cruise and our celebratory dinner, we went back to our house where the surprises kept on coming.  When we came down from changing out of our fancy clothes, we found our first "married" towels waiting for us!

It was so crazy and amazing seeing Mrs. Marino on the towel and knowing that would be me!  It still hasn't hit me that I'll be a Mrs.  They're displayed in our bathroom now, but I don't think I'll ever be able to use them.  They're just too perfect!

Then, Dom disappeared and returned with a final wrapped gift.  I knew immediately it would be good, since it was a Lilly bag!  Inside was the sweetest note (signed, Your Fiance!) but what was inside was better.
When the Lilly Resort '14 collection came out I obsessed over everything, and while sitting at the table I said offhandedly that one of the dresses would be perfect for my rehearsal dinner some day.  Dom already knew he was going to propose, so he immediately logged on and bought it!

I am so excited to wear it next year! :)

The next day was filled with sun, cocktails and an explosion of wedding talk!  It was so weird to talk about my actual wedding, not my imaginary one on Pinterest.  The excitement didn't stop there, though.  My family had some surprises waiting for us too!

They planned for a photographer to come take family pictures of both families (since it's so rare for everyone to be in one place), but the first hour was just for Dom and me to take engagement pictures! I love that we got engaged and took our pictures within 24 hours.  You can really see the excitement in every photo.  Plus, the beach is a much nicer backdrop than snowy Pennsylvania! 
We just got the proofs back a few days ago and I can't wait to share them all!

While we were getting our photos taken, my father had Chef Oscar, one of the head chefs at an amazing restaurant on the island come and cook us dinner! It. Was. Amazing.   My mouth is literally still watering thinking about it!  At some point I knew what everything was, but let's just say there was a ton of fresh seafood, mango, avocado happiness, and gluten free flan-cake.  That's really all you need to know, right? ;)

After dinner my parents gifted us gorgeous crystal and diamond champagne flutes for our wedding!
It's going to be so hard to look at them for the next year and a half and not use them!!

Needless to say, it was so hard to get on a plane a few hours later and end the most amazing week of my life.  Thankfully,  I was able to replace my sadness with wedding planning!  It was truly an amazing week, and I am so thankful I got to spend it with the people I love most in the world!

Linking up for Wedding Wednesday!
Love Always, Nancy J


An Open Letter to the Night Clerk at the Courtyard Marriott

 My savior, my bestie, my partner in crime.

I really wish I had thought to look at your name tag, but let's be real, you and I both know I wouldn't remember it today anyways. 
Let me begin by saying that I promise I am usually a very upstanding citizen.  I work, go to school, smile at strangers, and am a generally very happy person.

When we met, at approximately 2:12am Saturday night I was not myself.
You might have guessed, but I had consumed a drink or 8.

Usually when I meet someone for the first time, I introduce myself.  With you I didn't feel like that was necessary, so I skipped right into telling you I'm really old and boring now and must have forgotten my drinking limit. You could have judged me and sent me away, but instead you laughed with me at my oh-so-classy situation.

Okay, you were probably laughing at me, but we can just pretend.

You see, Saturday night started like any Saturday night.  A bunch of people from work were getting all dolled up and going out to Pittsburgh to celebrate a few people's birthdays.  I thought I had thought everything through.  I met some friends at work, we all piled in one car and headed out together. 

We got to the first bar and met up with the group right before they were planning to head to another bar.  So my drink went down quickly.  You see, Night Guard At The Courtyard Marriott, it was 18 degrees out and I was in a little dress and heels.  I was only thinking of the cold when I had that drink!  I'm sure your manly self has never had to fight the cold in such an outfit, but you can understand my dilemma. 

Once we made it to bar two, I knew I must get warm, and a whiskey shot seemed to be the only way to go about that.  Then the nice bartender gave me a double so I had to be nice and take it.  You see, it all went down from there. 
See, new friend, I have a system when I go out.  I figured if I stopped drinking around 12:45 and started pounding water, I would be good to go around 3, which is when we were planning on being back to our cars.  However, my one friend (whose boyfriend was our ride) decided she wanted to leave early, when I was in the peak of my whiskey intake.  My fiance was at a poker night with the guys, and in a very similar state to me, so as we grew closer and closer to our cars, I knew it was time you and I met.

My friends all offered to let me stay with them, but they all live far away, and I knew you were the one.  I had to see you.

As I walked semi-straight up to the desk, you kindly gave me the best rate you could, knowing I'd feel only regret upon waking up.  I said thank you, smiled and went on my way, thinking this was the last I would see you.
I headed up into my room and went spread eagle on the bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to stop it from spinning.  Moments later, my phone rang.  My other savior, Tallie, had woken up to see my thousands of voicemails and was on her way to rescue me!!

Once again, I stumbled up to you and said, "HI I don't know your policy but my friend is rescuing me can I have a refund I promise I didn't touch anything." All in one breath.  You laughed again and refunded me for the room, and pretended not to laugh when I tried to text but fell asleep sitting up.

You, my new friend, saved my life by having a room (and my bank account since a night at a hotel is most definitely not in my budget).

Next time, maybe we can try and save my dignity too.  If you see it, I think it's on Carson Street somewhere between 14th and 16th.




This is one of the posts I really wanted to get up before the new year, but it just didn't happen!  If you follow me on instagram (@robinavocado) you have probably noticed me posting fun little moments from my day using the hashtag #livingcolorfully2014.  From the start of the year I had a good feeling it would be a good one, and I wanted to be intentional about paying attention to the little things that make me happy each day.  

It could be something as big as getting engaged, or as little as grabbing 15 minutes together on the couch on a busy day.  No matter how big or small, I want to pay attention to what makes me smile, inspires me, or is an example of living colorfully every day this year.  Will I miss some days?  Probably.  But, in the first 2 weeks of the year I have already felt more happy and positive due to searching for the little happies in each day (the ring on my finger helps too ;))!
Every few weeks I'll share a few of my favorite Living Colorfully moments on here.  I would love it if you joined in too!  You can use my hashtag, or #yourblogname2014 or really anything you want!  Just tag me so I can see.  On the days when I share my little moments I would love to share my favorites of yours as well!  

Here's to a new year with lots of colorful moments. :)


Five On This Wonderful Friday!

I can't believe this week has gone by so quickly!  So many happy things have been crammed into these 7 days that it's almost impossible to pick five!  These are just some of the things making me smile this week.

1. Getting engaged. Duh.

2. Getting our engagement photos last night!  More to come soon, but I absolutely adore them!

3.  These precious bride and groom bears from my friend and bridesmaid (although she doesn't know it yet ;)), Tallie!  They are the perfect addition to our house!

4. The only downside to this last week was when my luggage got lost on the way home! That sucker was packed to the brim with 49.5lbs of my favorite summer clothes, shoes, hair products, and very sentimental items!  I tried not to panic, but the airport we flew out from was a tiny one in Puerto Rico that doesn't scan bags and only flies out three days a week!  There were so many times it could have fallen through the cracks, but 3 days later they delivered it to my door!  I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little misty.  Mostly because this adorable towel from my future mother-in-law was inside!

5. The semester started on Wednesday!  Life just got a million times busier with wedding planning and now school, but I love putting my time and energy into things I love and am passionate about!  Life is beautiful this year and I'm so thankful. :)

*Thank you so much for the love on yesterday's post! I'm doing my best to get back to all of you by the end of the weekend! You are the SWEETEST! :)



I can't believe I'm writing this story.  In bed.  With my fiancĂ©!
The happiest day of my life finally came last Friday in the little town of Rincon, Puerto Rico.

After an amazing few days in San Juan with Dom's family (which I will be writing about soon) we headed over to Rincon, where my family is from, for the last few days with both our families together.  My father's birthday was Sunday, so Dom's parents were amazing actors and decided it would be fun to book a sunset cruise to celebrate his birthday.  Little did I know the cruise had been booked for months!

There were about 20 people on the cruise, but the little boat that brought you to the catamaran only fit about 10, so the 9 of us headed on the first ride over.  Once we got there we started taking a million pictures by the back of the boat.  After taking a bunch my dad said there was something weird about Dom and my picture and he wanted to retake it. 

I had no idea my life was about to change forever.
I got to the back of the boat, and instead of posing next to me Dom took my hands and said, "I want you to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say..."

" matter what I promise to always live colorfully with you." 
And then I blacked out.
Okay, not really, but to be honest I don't remember what happened after his speech!  I remember him going down on one knee, but don't remember him asking me to marry him or saying yes.  Apparently I said yes before he even finished the question! What can I say? I was excited! I am so thankful there were 7 people and a million cameras documenting it!

Then there were tears and hugs, so many congratulations, and once the rest of the people got on board the cocktails started flowing!  

Fun fact: The actress who plays Detective Collins on Law and Order SVU was on the catamaran too (I was one of the only ones who didn't know who she was apparently!) and she came over and asked to see the ring and congratulated Dom and me.  I wish I had known who she was before we got off the boat!

For the next 3 hours we cruised around and watched the sunset, all while talking everything wedding and staring at my bling!

The ring on my middle finger is my promise ring from Dom.  I am seriously loving the upgrade! ;)
The ring is absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I've always wanted.  Even more, I loved hearing how Dom picked out each diamond himself, and knew immediately which setting he wanted.  He knew exactly what I would love, and it is just perfect!  Even now I'm trying to type but it keeps sparkling at me!  

After the cruise we headed to a restaurant by the water to continue the celebration.  Over cocktails and some of the best seafood I have ever had I got to hear the stories that lead up to that night.  It turns out Dom has been planning this since July, and asked my father for his blessing in September.  Dom's mother also had been my own personal Frodo and had the ring in her purse the whole vacation!  She was too worried to leave it in the safe, so regardless of if we were at dinner or the beach, it was with her.  Needless to say she was relieved it was finally out of her hands!  It was so much fun to hear everyone's stories and share in the excitement of the day!

I can't believe how lucky I am to get to be Mrs. Marino.  Dom is one of the greatest men I know, and I don't know why I get to be his forever, but I am so happy.  Friday, January 3rd was the happiest day of my life, but little did I know the engagement surprises were just beginning! That fiancĂ© of mine had quite a few more surprises up his sleeve... ;)

Love Always Nancy J


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