YOU GUYS IT’S HAPPENING!!!!!! Today, my twin sister, Lucy, and I turn forty. It feels so nuts to say that. (I keep thinking about what my childhood self would think!) Anyway, this past weekend, I had a party at home, and the weirdest thing went down…

The party started at 6:30 p.m., so the boys were still awake. They tried their hardest to sneak upstairs to join!

And it worked ;)

We’ve never hired a caterer before, but for this milestone, I really wanted to soak it all up and be present with my friends, so we decided to go for it. My food-writer friend recommended the wonderful Ana Ortiz, a former restaurant pastry chef. Here, she was preparing a winter salad with fennel and citrus, and she made everything feel so effortless.

Toby made the placecards!

This year, the guests were all women. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt such a strong kinship with women and wanted to be surrounded by that magical energy of book-loving, joke-telling, lipstick-wearing ladies.

(A selfie with the soup group!)

For dinner, we had delicious roast chicken, creamy mashed potatoes and “schmaltzy onions.” Sometimes the best meals are the simplest, don’t you think?

Alex had planned to go to a friend’s house while we had our ladies’ dinner. “I’m not here,” he said to the first few people who arrived, as he gathered his shoes and jacket. “I’m a ghost.” Fifteen minutes later, he was mixing everyone martinis — and of course he stayed all night. I was so glad he did! Here he is, giving a toast, which was extra sweet because he hates public speaking.

Some friends — including Gemma! — also gave toasts and brought down the house.

But the craziest part of the night was seeing mentalist Ryan Oakes. YOU GUYS IT WAS BANANAS.

Look at the expressions! It was MINDBLOWING. We were trying to reverse-engineer his tricks, but we couldn’t. He guessed people’s phone numbers, figured out words they were thinking, and made a shot of tequila come out of nowhere.

At first, we were SUCH moms. I kept thinking, ‘I’m so nervous for him! I’ll clap no matter what!’ My friend Alex said, “I was rooting so hard for him, imagining him as a seven-year-old working on his tricks.” But when he killed at every single one, our amazement took over. “More like sleight of hand-SOME,” joked my friend Lucy. “Should I quit my job and be a mentalist?!”

Finally, we had flourless chocolate cake, and as I blew out the candles, I teared up, feeling so lucky to be in a world with such amazing women — these friends and neighbors, this Cup of Jo community, and the people out there who are raising kind children, sharing their light, and doing such good work in the world.

Thank you so much for reading. xoxo

P.S. Two birthday realizations, and a foolproof present for $1.

(Photos by the lovely Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo.)