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At long last, we finally made it to Coral Springs to spend time with Ken & Cathy in their Florida home.  Thanks to some “sneaky” discussions between Lindy and Ken & Cathy in December 2008, we coordinated a “surprise” trip to celebrate Ed’s 70th birthday.

We had a blast spending Thursday, 20 August, through Tuesday, 25 August, with the Ken, Cathy, CoCo, Louie and Alex (the latter names refer to their wonderful puppies).  Ken picked us up at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Thursday evening and we quickly arrived at their beautiful home.  Ken and Cathy had done wonders with the outside by adding numerous plants and flowers and removing some original decorative walling. On the inside, they created a gorgeous gourmet kitchen and put beautiful hardwood floors in every room.  Awesome!!

Ken and Cathy planned a delicious dinner.  A real surprise for Ed was that Ken had a delicious stuffed clam recipe that was created by Ed’s mother.  Ed didn’t have the recipe and he hadn’t had the dish in over 40 years so what a treat and a surprise!  FYI, they were delicious as well as a baked pasta dish that Cathy prepared.  Cathy also had made a fresh loaf of banana nut bread.  However, the only individual who enjoyed it that night was Alex, their Springer Spaniel, who managed to snare it off the counter and enjoy a nice hunk before being caught.

As a wonderful surprise, Cathy & Ken presented Ed with a beautiful birthday present – a framed needlepoint that Cathy had made.  It’s an old Italian blessing…

            May your life be like good wine,
              Tasty, sharp and clear.
            And like good wine,
              May it improve with every passing year.

The framing was done so that it perfectly matches our kitchen décor!

●    On Friday, Cathy took us as well as Alex and Louie on a walk through the neighborhood.  According to Cathy, the walk really helps Alex settle down since he’s a bundle of energy.  We walked to a local park and then returned to the house.  Let us tell you – we were all worn out thanks to the heat and humidity!  Alex was probably the brightest one of us as he headed straight to the pool for a quick dip as soon as we returned home.  After we cleaned up, Cathy took us shopping in the local markets, including a great Italian market.  Ed decided to make a Southwestern dinner so he bought all the goodies for making guacamole, bean & cheese tostados and poblano peppers stuffed with black beans and cheese.  Yummy, yummy!  When Ken returned home from work, we all enjoyed the feast!

●    Saturday morning began with Ken and Cathy taking the puppies on their walk.  Ed and Ken then did some morning shopping at the Italian market to pick up 6 lbs. of fresh mussels for a Sunday evening feast.  After they returned and cleaned the mussels, a real treat was in store for everyone.  We went to the Loxahatchee Everglades in nearby Boca Raton and enjoyed an airboat ride.  We all had a blast and we saw lots of wildlife – alligators, a Great Blue Heron, an Anhinga (snake bird) and the Multicolored Heron to name a few.  We saw the Willow tree that Aspirin was first extracted from by the local natives.  We also enjoyed the ride itself as we were able to navigate in very little water and see lots of the natural setting of this unique area.

Saturday evening we went to a wonderful fish restaurant located very near to Ken and Cathy’s home and one of their favorites.  We all enjoyed a delicious dinner along with a nice crisp white wine.  The seafood was outstanding and the service was excellent.  We really enjoyed the evening!

●    On Sunday we drove into downtown Fort Lauderdale to see the area and also pick up some fresh bread from a local bakery there.  After shopping in a couple of stores, Ken drove us north along the beachfront so we could see the various districts along the sea.  Even though it’s not yet season in Florida (it’s still a bit too hot) most beaches were fairly crowded.

We returned home in the afternoon and relaxed for the balance of the day.  Then, Ken cooked the fresh mussels and we had a feast eating them with the fresh bread purchased earlier in the day.  Yum, yum again!

●    Ken took Monday, August 24, off from work so we decided to do a bit of shopping.  First we visited an indoor flea market that was filled with various booths (and also a great bagel store).  We all did a bit of “window shopping” and then Lindy purchased some earrings.  We picked up bagels as well.  Then, we did a quick tour of Ken & Cathy’s immediate neighborhood.  It’s amazing that while being in a secluded residential area they can also access shopping within walking distance.  Of course, no walking to the stores until the weather cools down in winter.

We celebrated Ed’s birthday that evening.  We began with birthday toast featuring a marvelous raspberry martini alla Ken.  Delicious!  Then, Ken prepared two homemade pizzas.  One was a “white” cheese pizza (meaning no red sauce) and the other was a deep-dish pizza with cheese, red sauce, tomatoes and basil.  Both were excellent and there wasn’t a slice left!  We then relaxed in front of the TV and enjoyed a preseason football game featuring Ken & Cathy’s NY Jets.

●    Tuesday it was time for us to return home.  Before leaving we enjoyed a great breakfast at a local diner.  Boy, once again we were stuffed.  Then, we returned back to Ken & Cathy’s to say goodbye to the puppies.  Then, we had lots of hugs & kisses with Cathy before heading out to the airport with Ken and saying goodbye to him there with those same hugs & kisses.


In closing, it was GREAT seeing Ken and Cathy!  We also had lots of time to enjoy CoCo and Louie and to get to know Alex.  As Lindy said, “we’re now in puppy withdrawal!”  We had a wonderful time and we will definitely be back soon!


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 Cathy in front of some of her
beautiful yard displays in the front
of the house
Ken inside his gleaming Volvo convertible
CoCo, the "grand dame" of the family
Louie, the handsome & loveable guy
Alex, the newest & youngest
member of the family
(he's full of spunk; don't let
this picture fool you!)


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The entry and living room
The den which is just off the new kitchen
(you'll see the kitchen in other shots)
Screen-enclosed pool area
A BBQ in the enclosed
pool area that a Texan would die for
The backyard featuring a banana
tree which is actually bearing fruit


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Our air boat
We're in our seats and ready to go
The trip begins
Our guide spots this alligator,
a female that is ~5 feet long
A towering cloud over the Everglades
An Anhinga (also known as a
snake bird due to its neck structure)
A beautiful Great Blue Heron
that's nearly 4 feet tall
A  Multi-Colored Heron
that is almost 2 feet tall
It was a great ride thanks to
Captain Dan - the smart guy
with the two ladies on either arm
Hey Ken - Better keep those jaws open!



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The Pizza Man
The Pizza Man and his Supervisor
Do we get pizza too?
No better way to
celebrate turning 70 than with family
plus a raspberry martini birthday toast
(this martini is one of Ken's specialties)!
Another toast with Lindy
Ed's beautiful (and oh so very special)
birthday present!
A closer view of
Cathy's beautiful needlepoint
Ed's Birthday Pizza
(Hey, this is an Italian family!)
Father & Son - Perfect!


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Ed with his stuffed poblano peppers
and tostados in process
 The guys prepping 6+lbs. of fresh
mussels for a Sunday night feast
The household slogan
Ed with a helper
It's a tough dog life
in the Ruggiero Home
Ed and his favorite puppy

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