For this final cake of 2013, I found a recipe for vassilopita, a Greek New Year’s cake that includes a coin for good luck– whoever ends up with the piece containing the coin is supposed to have a lucrative year. My friend Erin dissuaded me from including an actual coin in the cake to eliminate the possibility of an unknowing stranger choking on it. This was wise; it would have been a terrible way to go out with an otherwise positive project.
A bunch of my wonderful Nashville friends and I met up at The Stone Fox on New Year’s Eve to celebrate my 50th round of cakebarring. Katy, my cakemate for Round 1 and so many rounds since, was there, along with some of my oldest friends: Kathleen, Rita, Russell, Mary Claire, Anna, and Ginny and John, who unknowingly hosted Round 2 at their moving away party back when I was too nervous to let people on to what I was doing. Rita and her sweet boyfriend Dean even brought 50th cake decorations, with a tiny “50″ tiara for my head. The Stone Fox was the perfect place to spend New Year’s, a cozy converted house with booths, big tables, a twinkly bar, and a stage for that night’s DJ special Sparkle City. But between the dancing and the drinking and the running into people we all seemed to know from growing up, there wasn’t actually that much cake given out. I gave one giant piece to a friendly group visiting from Flagstaff and San Diego, and a few pieces away to friends from elementary and high school. I tried to catch a group in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot on the stage, assuming they were my kind of people. “We’re alcoholics,” the guy said, “so we really can’t have any cake.” The pretty girl with him told me she was getting married in 12 days and had sworn off sweets. “You look amazing!” I told her. “Thanks, girlfriend!” she said, and high fived me.
Katy turned to me, somewhere before or after midnight. “It doesn’t even matter that we didn’t give out that much cake,” she said. ”It’s that all these people know about the blog and wanted to join you.” For someone who spent a lot of my growing up time feeling excluded and eccentric, this was a very very sweet thing to say. Maybe this is why cakebarring has turned into more than just a boy baiting project; Chrissy has referred to it as more of a hospitality movement.
It’s definitely been one sugar high of a time, y’all.
I started this project on this day of last year hoping I might find a boyfriend by baking a cake every weekend and taking it to a bar. To say it didn’t work wouldn’t be totally accurate. There’s no boyfriend, but it’s not like nothing came of all this craziness.
This baking caking barhopping mission has forced me to evolve into this kind of grown up who’s more confident, a better writer, and hopefully more culinarily inclined. Before last year, I had never felt comfortable in bars. I was just this person who loved baking birthday cakes for my friends and wanted to write. And I was also really tired of being single. So 50 cakes, 41 bars, and 5 billion calories later, I’m proud of myself for making an effort to take my dating life into my own hands by embarking on this insane baking spree, willing myself into bar after bar, and approaching people I was interested in talking to. I went on almost as many dates as I have in the past 26 years combined, building up an impressive collection of phone numbers and text messages from guys I met in bars while making small talk over cake. This so-called strategy was the means of facilitating so many new relationships and experiences. I never would have guessed that the blog, the majority of which I wrote around 7 in the morning before heading to my reality TV job, would lead to amazing opportunities like writing for the Huffington Post and chatting with Ryan Seacrest and Rachael Ray. 12 months ago I would have been at home writing thank you notes. I still write thank you notes– I just spend more time with people my own age.
On a more serious note, I can’t not mention how necessary and comforting the routine of this project became to me and my best friend Chrissy in the aftermath of her cancer diagnosis back in June. Cakebarring brought a certain brightness into our apartment, buoying us along during moments of uncertainty. I am forever grateful to her for suggesting I try this, and insisting I keep going with the project when I felt like putting it on the back burner in May; we had just been told she had serious inflammation in her brain, and the boy I was dating had told me in so many words we couldn’t be together. “It will be so good for your writing,” she said. “It will lead to something.” I’m so glad I listened.
I could never have gotten through this year without so many people– especially everyone who reads the blog, and especially all my mom and dad’s friends who send me nice messages about it. I have to thank Chrissy first and foremost, my in-house cake decorator and most encouraging champion, who spent so much of this year taking care of me when I should have been taking care of her; there would be no cakebarring and no fun without her. My other amazing/kind/loving best friend Katy was with me for round 1 and round 50, and so many of the cakes in between, a round the clock cheerleader for the project, who would drop everything just to go buy sprinkles; she’s a treasure. I am so very grateful to my best and only sister Madeline, who provided above and beyond help with everything from coaching me at bars to baking second cakes to doing my hair for the Rachael Ray package– she always gives me the best notes of all. I owe everything to my sweet sweet parents for not only their bottomless well of love and support and deep rooted chocolate inclinations, but for teaching me by example the most meaningful lessons of all: to live your life as a kind and generous person. And then there are all of my incredible, selfless, funny, and sweet friends from LA and all over the place who would stay up so very late to join in the boy baiting mission. My utmost thanks to Ginny, John, Dave, Emily, Marcella, Alex, Elizabeth, Ashley, Stacy, Savannah, Jen, Kristen, Sean, Andy, Nick, Monica, Vlada, Katie, Katie 2, Georgia, Chris, Sarah, Emily, Andra, Carrie, Natalie, Sam, Becky, Vin, Petra, Katie O., Liz, Michelle, Ashlei, Val, my cousins Jobie, Laura, Lindsey, Amy and Emily, my sweet Nana Myrna, Emma, Jenny, Annabeth, Connor, Mike, Emily, Justine, Jen, Lauren, Mara, Tobie, Anna, Mary Claire, Rita, Dean, Christine, Hunter Claire, Adam, Ziona, Mallory, Neely, Anna, Nikki, Dani, Lauren, Kathryn, Peter, Heidi, Stephanie, Emily, Jalika, Rachel, Allison, Kathi, Monica, Marco, Ashley, Alicia, Christiana, Jonathan, Iliza, Mike, Jennie, Avery, Hannah, Claire, Elizabeth, Meagan, Kelly, Russell and Kathleen. This list is purely chronological. Thank you to my bosses– Rabih, Chris, Fernando, and Michael– for believing in me, and especially Chris for so much free therapy. Thank you to my writing klub– Savannah, Hannah, Tobie, Joel, Ethan, Annabeth, and Alex– for all your huge and valued help. Thank you to Sarah and Brian for all their notes, suggestions, and kindness, and to Sarah for so much other help– you are the most raised right person I know. Thank you to Bo for eating my cake, and turning me in to Ryan Seacrest. Thank you to Anna at the Huffington Post for making so many things possible by giving me the opportunity to write more about this project. Thank you to Lauren and Hettie at KPCC, Fidel at the Daily Dot, Jennifer at the New York Post, Tracy Moore at Jezebel, and my friend Sarah for interviewing me for the LA Times. So much gratefulness to all my other friends who asked thoughtful questions and sent encouraging emails– Valerie, Cindy, Judy, Chris, Susan, Miranda, Natalie Nicole, Gina, Adam, Sherry, Ms. Howerton, and everyone I’m forgetting. I’m so appreciative for my creative and clever aunt Christi who made my beautiful business cards, and my other creative and clever aunt Stephanie who sent me so many of the baking supplies I used to lure boys around Los Angeles. Thank you to my incredible friend Mrs. Lewis for so many uplifting and reassuring phone calls this year, which always ended with me feeling a zillion times better. And last but absolutely not least, I have to thank my surrogate family in LA, who has fed me, emotionally and literally, over the past five years. Thank you thank you thank you, Melanie, Larry, Evie, and Henry, for “adopting” me into your incredible (albeit sugar shunning) warm, caring, and creative family. I am so lucky to have you.
Thank you most of all to the guys who ate the cake– those I fibbed to about why I had it, and those who I was honest with about my cakebarring scheme. I really appreciate you eating into it.
This really isn’t the end, although I don’t know what’s next for the blog. My dad has suggested cakeplaning. I’ll have to figure it out.
This year I went to St. Nick’s, Golden Road Brewing, Mohawk Bend, Bigfoot Lodge, Crown and Anchor, Bar 107, the Surly Goat, the Happy Ending, Lola’s, 1642, Bar Lubitsch, One-Eyed Gypsy, Villain’s Tavern, Good Luck Bar, Thirsty Crow, Edendale, Sassafras, HMS Bounty, SPiN LA at the Standard Hotel, Oldfield’s Liquor Room, the Pikey, the Red Door, Hinano Cafe, Hemingway’s Lounge, the Phoenix, the Woods, the Brickyard Pub, the 3rd Stop, Wellesbourne, Basement Tavern, La Poubelle, Village Tavern, The Daily Pint, and The Griffin. I also went to Yellow Jacket Social Club in Austin, Texas, Dusty Fry in Oklahoma, a wedding in Wisconsin, No. 308 in Nashville, and tried cakebarring at the Hollywood Bowl and a food truck on Venice Boulevard. My last four cakebarring excursions were carried out in Nashville, Tennessee, at Santa’s Pub, Paradise Park, The Pinewood Social, and The Stone Fox.