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.)

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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

Valentine’s Gifts for the Whole Family

A Valentine's Day Gift Guide for The Whole Family: Young Kids, Teen Girls, Teen Boys, The Man in Your Life & The Woman In Your LIfe by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal

{Updated to include video from Twin Cities Live. Scroll to bottom of the post!}

Every year when streams of pink, candied, heart-shaped confections start making their way into the aisles of my local store, my cynical self decries the need for a holiday such as Valentine’s Day.  It is not as if I don’t have plenty of love in my life, I just don’t know why I need to measure it in mass-produced Hallmark greetings. Valentine’s Day has, like most holidays, become so commercialized and overdone that my heart begs for simplicity.  I have to remind myself that at its core, Valentine’s Day is a not-so-gentle reminder to cherish the ones you love. 

When I started to think about my family this year, I knew I wanted for the focus not to be on gathering more “stuff”, but on having experiences together.  I wanted to take old standbys and make them new, show the kids a classic spin on their beloved gadgets, and in general just spend the day together.  In the end, I created a little gift guide for all the people in the family.  While I did still include some “stuff”, I tried to make it all very purposeful and built around a theme of activities together, though I think many of these could be done without having to buy a thing unless your budget and desire allowed.

I am going to cover young kids, teen girls, teen boys, the man in your life and the woman in your life.  So, suffice it to say, this is going to be a long post! Hold on to ‘yer hats, folks! And, just for ease, there will be a quick source guide at the very end of the post. If you are looking for something in particular, it won’t hurt my feelings if you scroll all the way there!

Let’s get started:  Continue reading

The Found & Foraged Linky Party: Vol. 12

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe this is the last time I am hosting Found & Foraged!  I must have been in complete and utter denial, because I didn’t even write a post!  All of the sudden at around 7:35 PM this evening, I thought, gosh, I should check out Found & Foraged tonight over on Kyla’s blog.  And, then suddenly I said, “Doh!” and I completely started freaking out, because THIS is my last week.  Denial is a powerful thing, isn’t it?!
By the skin of my teeth, I am here to share the very last features from our little trio!  As I mentioned last week, never fear, because the party will rage on over at House of Hipsters starting next week!
Before we get started, I have to say how much I have loved getting to know you all!  One of the main reasons we started this party was to meet other creatives.  I have loved the sense of community this party has and how supportive you all have been, not only to us, but to others, too!  I am sad not to be hosting anymore, but excited to follow along over at HOH! 
{If you participate in our separate Instagram challenge, no worries #foundforaged will continue on as usual will all three of your hostesses at the ready on Saturday mornings with our favorite picks!}
But, back to our linky business, here are the final features from all of the ladies! Continue reading

Make Me Weekend: Paleo Friendly Chicken Posole (GF & Dairy Free)

Paleo Friendly Chicken Posole (Gluten Free & Dairy Free) by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

It may come as a little shock to the system to see me blogging about food.  While I’m no stranger to the cocktail recipe, I haven’t yet ventured into talking about food in the blogosphere.  If you’re wondering why now, I have to back up a little to explain.

At the Alt Summit, one of the most impactful sessions I went to was a roundtable led by Eden Hensley Silverstein.  Eden challenged us to think about what we really want to be known for and to let that be our blogging guide. While I don’t expect to be known for being an amazing chef, the whole reason I started this blog was to share the journey I am taking towards doing things my own way. Year Without Fear has always been about breaking free of fear to try those things I have always wanted to do.  Sometimes for me the goal hasn’t always been one I set out for myself, but one that was thrust upon me, and this food journey is definitely one of them.

I am not a chef. In fact, I don’t even play one on tv, but I am a woman who has food allergies and a mom to a child who deeply struggles with her own food allergies. If you are one of those women, I think you can relate, and even if you don’t have an allergy-filled family, I’m sure you can identify with wanting to find recipes that are on the healthier side that your family will actually eat. 

This is why I have decided to add food as a blogging component.  I will share more of our allergy journey as we go along and how I went from a woman, who was once accused of not even knowing how to boil water, into a woman who loves dreaming up & creating new recipes and allergy-free adaptations for her family.  For today, though, let’s jump right into this recipe.   Continue reading

The Real Deal on The Alt Summit: Do’s, Don’ts and Lots of Pretty Pictures

As most of you all know, I recently went to the Alt Summit.  I have been dying to share all I learned and also my most favorite pictures, but obviously last week did not go as planned.  Now that I have returned to health, it is time for the Alt mega post you’ve all been waiting for. (What? Just me?)

As a first time Alt goer, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. The only conferences I have attended in the last 10 years revolved around child abuse and neglect and while I always came home inspired and ready to take on the world, the weight of the work was ever present.  My experience involved black suits and scholars. The only swag was a tote bag emblazoned with something you would never want to carry around in public.  I knew Alt catered to a somewhat different demographic…

The Real Deal on The Alt Summit: Do's, Don'ts, and Lots of Pretty Pictures by Grace Ray of The Big Reveal

In the weeks leading up to Alt, I vacillated between feeling very confident in who I am & what I do to outright freaking out that my shoes were not edgy enough and how many times I could apply self tanner before I looked cartoonish.  It was a tragicomedy every day.  Why didn’t I get my brows done? Perhaps I should have started exercising… None of this is important.  All of this is important. It was hard to keep my head from full on spinning.  

Somewhere about a week before, my pragmatic side won out and I decided in the grand scheme of life this was one of those experiences that should be savored for the fun and anything in preparing that made my forehead crinkle should be left aside. I decided to refocus on why I do what I do and let that be my guide.

The Real Deal on The Alt Summit: Do's, Don'ts, and Lots of Pretty Pictures by Grace Ray of The Big Reveal

I imagine there are going to be many people like me that as a first timer need a reality check about what they should worry about and what they shouldn’t, so I thought I would humbly share what to expect and pepper it with all my favorite pictures from my time in SLC.  I know not everyone approaches things from the same side of the social-anxiety-ridden-nerd-taco fence that I do, so I tried to keep my thoughts as one size fits all as possible.   Continue reading