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The party was held in Montecito at the home of my dear friend Genevieve Reitman. When my girls called her with the idea, she immediately said yes and put her brand of magic on it by creating a table that was like walking into a dream sequence in a movie. Before me was a huge, round table that sat 20 people. The room was lit only by candles, and the flickering flames bounced off the crystal, creating more light that looked like a thousand stars glistening—simply breathtaking!

I was overwhelmed and a bit nervous that all this attention was directed at me, and I couldn't run away to my safe place, in this case the kitchen, to be alone with my thoughts. I was so moved and touched that my girls did this for me and my "love friends" drove all the way up from L.A. in torrential rain to be there. My friend Jan even flew in from Dallas in a thunderstorm, then drove through it to be there!

When it was time to have dinner, I quietly took my seat (because I was speechless) next to my mother. At this point, I stopped to give thanks on how lucky and blessed I am to be the age I am and still have my mother with me. I was surrounded by good, solid, decent, loving and fiercely loyal friends and family. I listened to the words as each person one by one got up to speak and toast the newest chapter in my life.

I had always categorized my life in chapters, one for each decade, and wondered how to label this one. "The Final Chapter"? "The Way-Over-the-Hill-and-Beyond Chapter"? "The Year of 'The Clapper'"? "Where Do I Go from Here?" "Why Do I Feel So Young Inside But Can't Get My Jeans on Without Holding onto the Wall?"

As I sat there and listened to everyone, I realized that this was the beginning of my "Dream Come True" chapter.

I am about to embark on a new venture that has been a lifelong dream of mine. A dream that, frankly, I had given up on until now. It occurred to me while I was listening to my friend's toasts that I am ready for this next big adventure. I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this point in my life. I have been blessed with a supportive, patient and loving husband for 25 years, children that are my life's blood, close family bonds and friends that are my friends in the truest, purist sense of the word. It's because of my family and friends that I'm prepared and ready for this new opportunity. I've never been busier, had so much responsibility or fun, and I've never been more ready!

Stay tuned for a big announcement soon!

In honor of this memorable evening I had, I would like to share with you the recipe for Arianna's outstanding cheesecake. She made two of them for my birthday, and when I tried to smuggle them out of the house the next morning, I was busted! I heard a rather stern voice booming from across the room as the gentleman of the house asked, "You're not taking that cheesecake home with you, are you?" Guess not. Maybe next year.


Sending big bowls of birthday wishes!

Love,
Cristina

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