i dabble down thoughts a little here and there. sometimes in moleskines, regular notebooks, napkins, desks, the sidewalk, whatever calls to me. lately, though, i haven't had that feeling; the feeling where i've gotten that bright idea and i just have to pen it down. however, these are from the times that i have had that feeling, so i thought i'd share some of them with you. enjoy. 


mooing cows and feeble fences

Never have I heard so many birds screaming at once. And never was I told the population of birds amongst neighborhoods was approximately nine million.
fly away
  I pretend to be some cool photographer or something as I walk down the sidewalk in my jean shorts and t-shirt. Maybe that's what cool photographers wear. I don't know. 
Though I don't look very cool, constantly shielding my camera and avoiding any water droplet in the area. I was also never told that every sprinkler in the US turns on at 6am.
I pass no one until I notice a woman trimming her bush. Such an odd time to be trimming a bush. Or maybe that's just me. Maybe it's not so odd for people who regularly wake at obscene hours of the day.
I continue on to the park, my giddiness at that glorious sunrise ascending with each step. That's gonna be my shot in a matter of minutes, I tell myself. On and on down the path, seeing only old ladies in slightly awkward hats and toned people running around. I cross over to the grass and head up the hill.
who doesn't want to live on meadow wood
 My shoes soak through from the sogginess of the grass, but it doesn't matter. I can live with wet feet. I'm on the top of the hill now, breathing in the fresh air, looking all around me, and having to wait a minute to take a shot. It's so beautiful and routine and lovely. It's so amazing and awe-inspiring.

 Four shots, then I'm back down the hill, thankful to be back on cement and not standing in an inch of water.
Every step ends in laughter for me. I can't help it, it's just so amazing to be able to walk and breath and feel and photograph. So I laugh out loud. And I probably look like a psychological weirdo to the old lady who just passed me. It doesn't matter though, because today I'm not worried about what other people think of me. Even those old ladies in slightly awkward hats that you know everyone tries to look cool around.
A few trips around each pond, sneaking behind the ducks and snapping a photo before it thinks it's dying, and I'm back on the trail, headed for the loveliest neighborhood. It's full of flowers, and old houses, and cows, and awesome mailboxes. Someday I'm gonna live there.
an awesome mailbox
(awesome mailbox)
"Morning," nods an old man passing by. I reply with a "good morning to youfine sir" giggle, skip.
Sunflowers and feeble picket fences and cows that whip their tails. One cow even seemed to enjoy getting his picture taken. And he mooed at me about seven times within 30 seconds. I liked that cow. Even though he looked like he was going to hurt me. I named him George.
My camera told me I only had 10 shots left, so I decided I probably shoudn't finish them off with pictures of cool mailboxes. Because every mailbox I passed was cool. And I passed a lot of mailboxes.
And now I return home, satisfied and a bit achy and wondering what time it is. Finally reaching the door of my home, I kick my tennis shoes off and examine the blisters I got from walking an hour in wet shoes. Next I pull out my memory card and scan through some of my photos. And lastly, I toast a piece of toast, for toast solves all problems.



pick yourself up off the ground

i sliped the heavy skates on, laced them up, and attempted to walk across the colorful rug to the entrance of the rink.
how am i supposed to do this? i thought. this is impossible!
i grabbed onto the black support railing. other experienced skaters flew past us, round and round they went, laughing and having fun. the music playing was upbeat and dance-able. i pulled myself along the rail, letting out the occasional high-pitched scream whenever my foot slipped or i lost my balance.
don't fall, grace, don't fall. this is fun. it isn't the least bit terrifying at all.
a friend came over and told us to point our feet out and push. i tried applying this new information, and instead panic shot through my body.
i can't do this. nope. this truly is impossible.
just about four hours later, we were skating in the middle, far away from the bar, flying around with everybody else. it felt good, i felt confidant.
and guess what? i only fell down twice, but i got back up. i kept on skating, not afraid of falling down again.
xo, gracie


while silence is lovely, there's nothing wrong with talking it out.

hexagon bokeh.
it's been a bit quiet around here. we've been taking an unannounced break to breathe, reevaluate, and relish in our last few days of summer as school is coming back soon. on my run this afternoon, the sky was darkening and the clouds were growing, and a few browned leaves fluttered to the ground. a chilly breeze landed on my shoulder and the flower buds were beginning to hide. autumn is coming. maybe it's already there where you are, but in central texas, this is a much awaited time. maybe i can wear a sweater soon (one of the little things that we treasure.)

i think that each of us at AOU have been grateful for the silence. if you think about it, life isn't as loud as one may think. i've seen a few movies where there isn't much music, and the conversations are spaced, and while it may seem awkward and dull, it's very realistic. the soundtrack to our lives may not be theatrical, it may not be full of suspense or romance, but it's there. we may not converse out loud, with a friend or the person we love, but sometimes we talk to ourselves. and yet, after awhile, it's nice to get back to the people who care.

so we're coming back, with a new freshness and a new season, and maybe a sweater to boot. 
what are you looking forward to this autumn?
xx, jocee.


DIY look books

Pencils, paper, textbooks... and clothes! It's back-to-school time already (can you believe it?), so my sister and I decided to make a look book with a few different outfits for the fall. This is a sample of our experiment. What do you think? You can make one yourself!

Here's what to do:

1. Brainstorm like crazy. Think of every possible crazy-cute outfit you can make from your wardrobe. Put together some options and lay them out.

2. Gather a few props to make it look like a real catalog, if you want. Props can be super fun-- things like cameras, school books, pencils and paper, nerd glasses, etc. They're all great.

3. Go outside (or inside) and snap away! Have fun with it and get creative.

4. Upload your photos and create collages on pixlr or pic monkey or whatever you use. Add little captions, outfit variations, stickers if you like.

5. Print out your collages and put them together in a book or hang them up in the back of your closet for when you get stumped. Viola!



art journaling

I recently took an online art journaling class & have found my newest hobby. I love art journaling, it's like scrapbooking... but without your personal pictures. My art journal has a music theme. I like creating a page based upon a song lyric, a certain type of music, inspiration I found from music or a song, etc. Art journaling is a great way to unwind and feel creative. (:

xo, Hayley


oh anna sun.

simply a song. and i think that as we reflect on summer (as it's almost gone), we should sing along.
xx, jocee.


a day out

we walked.
we laughed.
we got rained on.
we ate at a local cafe that we just kinda stumbled upon while trying to escape the rain.
we had some fancy but super yummy cupcakes for desert.
and then we went home.

yesterday was our (mommy, little sissy, and i) girls-day-out here on vacation. we spent the day in charleston, which is a super pretty, hipster-filled, lovely city. the day wasn't quite so perfect as i expected it to be, but it was still a fun day in a super fun place.
we should make this a tradition.
xo, gracie


i am alive

life gets so tangled sometimes. my emotions get so complicated that writing them down is utterly impossible. I get so depressed and lonely.
sometimes I try to prove that I've got it all together. but the truth - I most definitely, a hundred percent, for real, don't have it all together.
sometimes I just have to breath. let life find it's way through the darkness it's in. it seems impossible at times. but I have to trust in God.
ya know, I think that's something we here at ordinary utopia strive to foster. sure, life is lovely. it's wonderful and breathtaking and amazing. but it's also hard and terrifying and confusing.
but that part - that hard and painful part - that's what makes the wonderful parts so.. well, wonderful.

i hear birds tweet, i am alive
piano keys pass beneath my fingers, i am alive
i lay awake, i am alive
i breath, i am alive
i close my eyes, i am alive
i celebrate, because i am alive


the woods.

I think I am in love with the woods, especially during the springtime. I love the soft whisper of the wind through the trees, and the creek’s bubbling laugh after a good rain. The smell of fresh wildflowers, the snap of underfoot twigs, the shadows cast by the overhead trees – it’s simply beautiful.

The other day I went walking through these woods, a good friend of mine in tow. We brought our lunches, and had a picnic on top of a fallen tree. {Which, by the way, we affectionately nicknamed “Bart”.} The two of us ate our goodies, all the while giggling, teasing each other, and just enjoying the peace. I leaned back against a tree, with my knees pulled up to my chest. The breeze gently played with my hair and I felt the solid roughness of the bark against my back. I smiled to myself, utterly happy and content. It was at that moment, as I sat there listening to the melody of the woods, that I realized that it’s one of my favorite places ever.

Do you have a special spot?


Words of wisdom

H a v e  l e s s . 
D o  m o r e .
B e  m o r e.

Some words of wisdom.

hugs to you lovelies.


getting ahead.

we all have lives. we all have times in our life where there just doesn't seem to be enough time to do anything and everything. we make commitments, we apologetically decline invitations, and we go and do. and yet, in all that going and doing, in getting things done and checking them off our list, it always seems like there's more to do. and sometimes, we have to apologetically step back from some commitments.

so katie and megan had to.

and that's perfectly alright with us. sometimes, we slip up, too. we forget to post or life just gets in the way, and while we feel bad, it's just something that happens. it's ordinary. i think carlotta put it beautifully: "i don't think i'm behind on blogging, but rather, i feel like i'm ahead on life." and this should be our goal. to be ahead on life. to take risks and learn as much as much as we can, and to share with others so that we can do the same. i guess that's what these girls have done. and i guess that's just how it is sometimes.

now, i'm not saying we should step back completely. i think we should go and do and come and commune and share and kiss people that we adore and try new things to eat and do it all again. i'm saying that while we get ahead, we'll remember to tell the world about it, too.

and that's all i have to say about that.
{pea ess: some new features coming to aou soon! stay tuned!}