Simplify: Reclaiming Your Home

Modern Princess Bedroom

R.I.P. Beautiful Bedroom

When it came to how our home was laid out and how we were using our space, it didn’t occur to me until recently that we were truly wasting a lot of what we had.  Back in January, we had a pretty significant water leak in Lulu’s room which ruined her lovely, freshly decorated space. While we were completely bummed out and entirely exhausted by the excruciatingly long process of insurance people, repairmen and contractors who never seemed to actually show up even when they swore on their children and all the saints in Heaven that they would really, really be here at 8 o’clock this time, it did give us plenty of time to pause and reflect on what we wanted to do next with her space. 

The natural inclination would be to redecorate and turn it back into her bedroom once again. But, after having her crash in the guest bedroom for a while, it suddenly occurred to us that it didn’t have to be a bedroom. One day while we were having to move our halfway done craft from the kitchen table so we could actually eat on said table, I had a sudden brain blast that her bedroom could become our art studio.  As soon as I pitched it to her, she was completely sold. We both got giddy with the idea of having a dedicated space to craft, to play music, to create and to not have to put away projects in the middle or to disrupt the entire family by leaving them out (which is frankly our preferred method.) 

So, the plan for the last month or so was to have Lulu move into the guest room as is and for us to create a creative studio in her room.  It seemed like a great plan, except her dresser and clothes would have to stay in her original room, because there wasn’t any room in the guest bedroom.  But, we agreed it was a small price to pay for the added studio space.  That is until we went over to my friend Jen’s house. Continue reading


Simplify: Ridding Your World of Physical Clutter

Ridding Your Space of Physical Clutter

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why your space is so cluttered?  Honestly, it is not a question I have asked myself a lot.  I mainly have just looked around my house, potentially said a few unladylike words, and then been depressed by the endless cycle of cleaning.  No matter how much cleaning I did, it always was a hot mess of misery within a few days and I would curse the house, living with dirty people (sorry, kids), and start the process all over again. I recently decided it was time to dissect why the current plan isn’t working.

I hear this struggle time and time again on the interwebs, from friends, and family.  And, I’m not sure anyone has the perfect answer.  Perhaps the answer is different for everyone, but after observing our routines, organizational systems, how we use spaces, and our enjoyment of our house, I came to one staggeringly simple solution. We have too much stuff. Plain and simple. And, I wonder if you do, too.

A few years ago, I had a friend who was constantly complaining about being overwhelmed by her house, so I volunteered to come help her find new organizational systems.  As an outsider to the mess, it was easy to instantly see she simply had too much stuff. Unfortunately, the sentimentality of our own things sometimes blinds us to the truth. 

Once I realized this hard, simple truth I set out to remedy it.  I have been going room by room and ruthlessly eliminating.  If you are ready to get to it, here are a few things that help:

  1. A cup of coffee (because really? I don’t do anything without coffee first.)
  2. Tennis shoes (because this is going to be a workout.)
  3. Good tunes (I’ve been alternating between a mix Laura made me and a few dance playlists on Spotify to keep me motivated and simultaneously work on my karaoke skillz.)
  4. Two bags and a basket (one bag for trash, at least one for the Goodwill, but if you are doing your job you will probably need lots more, and finally a basket to hold things that belong somewhere else in your house.)
  5. An empty car trunk (to immediately take your giveaway bags to.)

Before I got started, I thought about the areas that make me the most crazy and picked my top one.  Once I completed that one, the joy I felt and deep sense of relief were contagious and before I knew it, I was going room by room.  My goal was to get rid of two thirds of the belongings in our house. That sounds a little crazy, I know. But, I knew for me if I held out a lofty goal like that I would be able to more ruthless.  

For each item I touched, if I hesitated to know immediately which pile they belonged in, I asked myself this question, “Is there a way I can live without it?”  I realized for so many of the items there was.  When it came to sentimental items, like pictures the kids had made, I knew I could easily take a photo.  But, more often than not, my answer was give it away, give it away, give it away now. (To no one’s surprise, the Red Hot Chili Peppers song was stuck in my head on permaloop.)

Today I’m hitting the kitchen hardcore.  I don’t wanna (because that place scares me), but I’ve got a latte in my hand, my yoga pants on to keep me zen about the whole thing, and French dance music (it’s much harder to get sidetracked singing the lyrics). 

Last week, your one big assignment was to name the place in your house that is making you loco.  This week, it is time to tackle that bad boy. I know you are thinking, but, Grace I don’t have time.  Yes, you do.  I promise you. Borrow that time from watching TV, checking Facebook, pinning on Pinterest. Put the kids to bed and get on it. Take two hours this weekend and dive in. I don’t want to have to tough love you, but someone once tough loved the heck outta me and it gave me the necessary kick in the boot I needed to get it done. And, once you do, it is going to feel so good.  (The keys are don’t stop till you finish that one space and immediately take the giveaways out of your house.)

And, please tell me about it. Leave me a comment below and make a commitment to taking back one room, one drawer, one space in your home for you. Because you are worth living in a space that makes your life richer, happier and easier. 

Till next time,

Grace


Simplify: A Challenge for April

Steps to A Life of Simplicity by Grace RayFor as long as I can remember in my adult life, I have craved simplicity but never fully achieved it. For the past two years the word simplify has continued to ring in my head like an alarm with increasing intensity.  I have desperately craved a life free of physical, spiritual and mental clutter and while I have been making some great strides in that direction, I am going to devote my April to that one concept: Simplify.

Our lives have gotten so overwhelmed, whether it is jam packed schedules or jam packed houses, it is all too much.  Our lives of abundance have become a life of overwhelm. And, I, like I’m sure many of you, am ready to make a change. I am going to fully commit my month to completing this mission I started, because  I have finally cracked the code and I want to share it with you.   Continue reading


Lately

Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal BlogI know it seems like I am taking a blog hiatus, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Truth be told, I’ve been doing an enormous amount of work behind the scenes for a new and improved blog and business.   Let me explain.

First, I am going to B-School!  Wahoo!!!  For those of you who don’t know what B-School is, it is a business school for creative entrepreneurs led by Marie Forleo.  Marie is a gorgeous genius and innovator. For the last several weeks, I had been inundated by commercials and recommendations for Marie’s school on the interwebs and was dying to take the class. The investment was significant, though, and I was having a hard time asking the hubs to make the leap with me. But, one successful woman entrepreneur after another kept stacking up finally culminating with me finding out Hilary Rushford was also a B-School grad. I had barely finished watching her webinar before I ran down the stairs with a crazed look in my eyes and breathlessly proclaimed to my husband that I was going go to B-School. (Luckily, he is used to the crazed look by now.) Class started two weeks ago and I am up to my eyeballs in glorious brainstorming, scheming, and dreaming. 

Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

Unfortunately, just days in, my little Lulu got all kinds of sick with bronchial & strep business and after being out of commission for about 8 days straight, she finally made enough of a recovery to head back to school at the end of last week. I don’t need to tell you what it is like to try to accomplish anything other than taking care of a sick kid.  There is something hardwired in fever that turns a normally independent and rambunctious child into your new appendage. You want to make yourself coffee? Hope you can manage not to burn yourself while holding a 46 pound fever-ridden sack of weepy kindergartener. You want to write a blog post? Hope you can type with one hand while your laptop balances precariously on the one square inch of couch your kid is not currently inhabiting. (I clearly can’t.) How about go to the bathroom by yourself?  Really? Do you even have to ask? Not a chance.

Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

My poor sick lovey was suction cupped to my side for more than a week, which compounded by trying in vain to keep up with my school work, meant zero posts and abysmal social media presence.  Let me put it this way… I didn’t post on Instagram for an. entire. week. (I know!) I’m pretty sure Instagram itself felt the significant loss of all my likes. (What? I can’t help it. I follow some pretty amazing photographers.) And, to top it off, when I tried to write a post and my computer inexplicably crashed losing all my work, I dissolved into tears and a string of words unbecoming of a lady flowed forth from my mouth like a mighty flood. (I am the granddaughter of a sailor after all.)

Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

In all seriousness, it wasn’t all bad.  We did do our fair share of quiet crafts and painting. And, last Sunday, when we had a break in Lulu’s fever, we decided to take our atrophied muscles out for a gentle walkabout. We ended up at the Conservatory which is where these lovely flowers are from.  Sadly, by that night, though, the fever had returned and another doctor’s visit was required.  We are, however, officially on the mend and as of today officially on spring break. Over the break, I’m going to do my best to keep my obsessive social media posting to a bare minimum though it will likely still feel like a lot given my recent absolute absence. 

Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog Lately by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

As I enter week three of my B-School, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future and I would love to know what you would like to see more of here. More home? Less home? More DIY or less? More fashion? No fashion? More personal stuff? More inspiration? More Nate Berkus? (Just wanted to see if you are still reading.)  So, please leave me a comment, because comments are my crack. 

Till next time,

Grace


Happy Birthday TBR & 15 Things You Don’t Know About Me

Happy Birthday to The Big Reveal Blog and 15 Things You May Not Know About Me

One year ago today, I tossed my hopes and dreams out into the interwebs and launched my little blog home The Big Reveal.  You guys know what an amazing ride it has been. I thought about talking about how it has grown and all the amazing moments I have had, but you all have been through it.  You have celebrated with me. And, since I have gotten tagged a couple of times on Instagram to give the facts about me, I thought I’d play along here instead.  Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about me: 

  1. I once managed the United Nation’s Year of Mountains calendar. I worked for a small non-profit focused on providing indigenous mountain people with sustainable sources of income. As part of my role, they foolishly let me work with the UN. Bwahaha!
  2. Despite swearing I never would, I once competed in a pageant. I won and went to compete in the state pageant where I came in 4th place to a woman who went on to become Miss America.  I think we can all agree I was technically 4th runner up to Miss America. 
  3. My degree is in Opera Performance. Just for the record, aside from being able to style wigs, do stage makeup, and hit really high notes, the degree was not actually as useful as you’d imagine.
  4. If you follow along on FB, you may already be aware of this, but I have an actual Spock ear. I used to hate it, but now rock it proudly. Happy Birthday to The Big Reveal Blog and 15 Things You May Not Know About Me
  5. I met my husband at a job interview where he was doing the interviewing and I was hoping to score a job. Spoiler alert: I did. He was on a team of people interviewing me, so he didn’t have the ultimate say, but I’m sure it probably helped that he thought I was cute.
  6. There is some part of my brain that cannot wrap itself around how to use a video game controller. I literally cannot figure out how to press the buttons. I can, however, dominate anyone who ever goes against me in Guitar Hero. It is my super power.
  7. I can drink 8 shots of espresso in a day and not bat an eye. In fact, I recently drank 2 and fell asleep while sitting up moments later. I have just a wee bit of a caffeine problem.

    Happy Birthday to The Big Reveal Blog and 15 Things You May Not Know About Me

    My daily quad espressos.

  8. I was the founding Executive Director of my own non-profit which still exists (and is one of the proudest moments of my life).
  9. I always have a song playing in my head.  It is like a soundtrack to my own life. (Please tell me this isn’t a sign that I’m crazy.  Anyone else have this???)
  10. In addition to several food & drug allergies, I am the proud owner of multiple medical conditions, including, but not limited to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Reynaud’s, and a heart arrhythmia. (Remind me to tell you the story about being coated in what looked like Cheeto dust and put into what amounted to a human oven all in the name of science!)
  11. In 10th grade our gym class learned rhythmic movement. I choreographed and performed an entire interpretive dance to “I Need A Hero” from St. Elmo’s Fire.  I feel mortified even saying that.
  12. I am permanently banned from Toys R Us in my hometown. I didn’t do anything criminal, but let’s just say I’m not as good at throwing a baton as I thought I was. 
  13. I once had a crush on Lance Bass from N*Sync. I have no excuse for that. 
  14. Growing up I was confident I was either going to become Whitney Houston or a missionary in Africa.
  15. My name is not actually Grace. (And, this one is definitely a story I have to share.)

Continue reading


Weekend Wearables: Vol. 3

Weekend Wearables: Date Night featuring Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog with Photos from the Walker Art Center Arboretum

{Edited: After a couple of requests, I added some of the original photos to the end of this post.}

Last week when I did a last minute segment on Twin Cities Live, I wore a dress that I got a ton of questions about.  And, because it was the deal of the century, I had to share it with you.  But, first, I have to tell you a funny little blogging story. 

After getting emails over the weekend about the dress, I decided rather last minute on Sunday to take some photos and make it a post. I conned my husband into taking the pictures between basketball games and church which meant we had less than 30 minutes to make some magic. Now, I’m a sucker for natural light and while I was hoping to come to the arboretum, we just didn’t have time to trek into the city.  And, in my infinite wisdom, I decided we should take our photos out on a frozen lake instead. In my mind, I could see this really bright dress juxtaposed with the frozen icy lake and it just seemed so perfect. 

But, nature thought otherwise. The wind chill was somewhere in the -20 range.  Ever try to take a picture in just a dress when it’s -20? I had frozen tears streaming down my face, my husband was just indiscriminately shooting without even looking through the lens in hopes he could escape the arctic misery, and an appropriately dressed ice skater complete with face mask whizzed by and sarcastically said, “smart” in my general direction.  Suffice it to say it was not one of my more stellar decisions and one I think my husband may still be holding against me. 

Needless to say those photos ended up on the cutting room floor. Frozen teardrops and smeared eyeliner are not as attractive as you would think. And, so, we met over his lunch break at a much more suitable, and, dare I say, magical location. 

Weekend Wearables: Date Night featuring Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog with Photos from the Walker Art Center Arboretum Continue reading


Last Minute Oscar Party Ideas

Last Minute Oscar Party Ideas by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

If you’ve procrastinated like I have, you have just a few short days to throw a fabulous Oscar bash together! I put together 5 keys to soiree success just for you. 

Check out this segment from today’s Twin Cities Live with Steve Patterson and special guest host Blue Ribbon Baker Marjorie Johnson and little ole me!  (BTdubs, there has never been a more adorable woman than Marjorie.  She has a standing invitation to all parties at my house!)

Feel free to jump over to the Twin Cities Live page to see some of my sources for party decor and games. But, since I didn’t get a chance to tell you all about my cocktails, let’s dive in.  Continue reading


Parsnip, Carrot & Red Cabbage Winter Salad

 

Parsnip, Carrot & Red Cabbage Winter Salad with Lime, Rosemary & Walnuts

Before we jump into this delicious side dish, I have to pause and say a heartfelt thank you for your comments, emails and texts from Monday’s post.  I really appreciate each of you and love that this is a forum where I can be brutally & boldly honest without you running for the hills. I do have to apologize, because I didn’t realize how grim I sounded until I scared my own mother half to death. I had already talked through my plan to change my schedule to two posts with her, so the fact that I made even her fear I was stopping the blog, is really saying something.  Couple that with the exclamation ridden texts I got from a couple of friends and I realized I just might have freaked a few people out.  (Insert embarrassed emoji).  I am not and will not go anywhere.  I love my blog baby so deeply.  It is my third child. Seriously. (You should see the awkward family photos with me cradling my laptop.)

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s jump into this recipe.  With a 15 year old, 6 year old and a husband to say we have varying food tastes in our family is an understatement.  Add to it two people with a long list of allergies and some days I wonder if the best solution is just to serve water for dinner. (It’s not, just in case you’re wondering.) For the kids, I often simplify things, because their taste level is sometimes hospital-food-level bland. But, the hubs and I crave something more interesting.  Enter the side dish.  Continue reading


The State of Things

Not Pinnable At All

 

Never in the history of posts have I struggled more with the idea of publishing than this one, but here it is.

Some people go to the Alt Summit and come back crazy inspired and some people come back from Alt and have a complete identity crisis. I am stuck somewhere right in the middle.  I would be doing a disservice to our relationship if instead of laying it out there, I just slapped up another pretty post I hoped you would pin. I hope you agree.  Continue reading


Currently Crushing: Pretty in Pink

Currently Crushing: Pretty in Pink by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal

 

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I have been a little obsessed with all things romantic.  Pulling things together for my Valentine’s Day segment on Twin Cities Live meant I spent an excessive amount of time window shopping. All that exposure to sweet and syrupy things left me more than a little obsessed with a blushing pink. This peachy pink shade is so delicate and lovely.  I was dying to find something in this shade to wear.  

In my former profession, I rarely wore a lot of color.  Because the interviews I would do of children would often times end up being shown in court, I did my best not to stand out, so that the words the kids said could be the focus. As I’ve entered this new world, I’ve pretty much embraced all the colors and this pink hue is no exception.

I’ve found a few ways to wear it, a few ways to incorporate it in your decor and paired them all with a couple of acceptable-to-use-all-year-round-heart-shaped lovelies. (Just click on the thumbnail picture to go to the link!) Continue reading