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We've done a lot around our place since the last time we posted a DIY project. We even changed places to do a lot around. In the coming weeks I'll be sharing the projects we've finished so far.

Over a year-and-a-half ago we moved from our first Florida home into our second. We had always kept an open mind about finding a house that fit us more, we just hadn't found the right place. After a couple years of casually browsing Zillow and a few months actively searching, we found what we were looking for. In fact, this house is what pushed us into actively searching.

The top items on our list? A house with a pool and one that had some high priced projects done but allowed for a bit of updating. At just over 10 years old, this house offered what we were looking for. The entrance to the home needed to be more inviting as well. Our last house was just kind of awkward. You'd walk directly into the formal dining room with basically no entry. I'll post sometime on how we tried to solve that problem.

The first big project we embarked on was a bit aggressive. But, of course, at the time it seemed manageable. Even with Steph being 9 months pregnant with Penny.

When you walk in it's pretty open and the entry and the family room both have two-story ceilings. There's a wall with a landing on top that separates the two areas but it was... dated. We're not fans of the wall alcoves that are as rampant in Florida as the alligators. Also, mustard and chocolate don't go well together in a food dish OR in paint color.

We knew what we wanted to do with this wall from our first showing. It was something we wanted to do with a wall in our last home—and that's shaker panel. So, right before Penny was born we decided to tackle this project in Dec/Jan of 2015. Penny didn't wait for us to finish.

The first task was to get rid of the alcove and cover up any of the "elegance" of this wall. Notice on the outside of the arches, there's a little embellishment at the top. Instead of knocking that out we had to add an addition under it so that the arch remained level on both sides.

The 2x4 frame to the far left had to be added instead of just knocking out the notch that sits above it. Removing that notch would have made the arch crooked.

As you can see, the alcoves wrapped around the wall to the other side. It all needed to be closed up. We patched up those parts with sheetrock to make it a flat wall.

Next was the hardboard. We used 3/16, 4x8 sheets of hardboard to cover the entire wall. I had to move the ac vent as well so that it wouldn't interfere with any trim boards.

Are those gray walls in the background? We painted most of the house during the same time. What were we thinking? I think Steph and I were both nesting.

9 months pregnant and gettin' things done!

After the hardboard came the trim around the arches. 1x6 boards for around the arches and 1x4 boards for the paneling. It's important to put the bottom board on a few inches above the ground (aligning the bottom of the board a quarter inch or less below the height of the baseboards) so that the baseboards can sit on top of that. I put a 1x4 behind the baseboard to give it something to nail into.

Baseboard and bottom board overlap about a quarter inch.

The arches were the most time-consuming and difficult part of this project. Kind of complicated but hopefully this makes sense.

First, since we planned on trimming the inside of the arches, I used 1x3 PVC boards for the inside top of the arches. You can see them in the picture above. PVC boards are more flexible than wood. But, still not flexible enough for these pretty tight curves. I found out the hard way when my first attempt snapped the board into multiple pieces and smashed a couple fingers in the process.

So, the key was to set my sliding miter saw at a depth to cut about 2/3-3/4 through the 1x3. I then "scored" the board every inch or so along the width. It required dozens of little slices but it took the boards to a whole new level of flexibility. It's like the different between me and Steph doing yoga. Actually, my flexibility is more like the wood but that's beside the point.

Once the board was scored it was easy to position it. Note: don't shoot nails through the score. It'll snap the boards. I also found that out the hard way. Shoot nails through the un-scored part of the board.

It was important to get the inside of the arches in place before the doing the tops of the arches because you have to use the inside measurement to cut the top piece. I used a rectangular piece of 3/4" mdf roughly the size of the arch. I nailed it to the wall using finish nails and traced around the 1x3 that I had just added to get the curve of the arch. I jigsawed along that line. To get the matching curve around the top I used a combo square and slid it along the first curve with a pencil at 5.5 inches on the ruler. Then, I made the second cut to complete the arch.

I also used PVC board for the cross pieces on the inside top of the arch and scored those along the length of the board to get some bend from them.

The thing that makes this whole process work is to diagram it beforehand. Seriously, do all the math to scale before starting. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have noticed that the arches were different widths that needed some serious calculations to figure out. My basic math skills were really put to the ultimate test.

I used a biscuit joiner for all my joints. Pocket holes would have been too time consuming. If you don't do something for tight joints you'll have boards popping up all over the place. You don't want teenage, pubescent panels because once they're up, no amount of acne wash or growing up is getting rid of those things.

After adding crown molding it was time to paint everything but that would have to wait. The above picture was taken on the night of January 18. Penny came the morning of the January 20, 2015. So, construction was done but painting waited until the end of March.

We were more than willing to wait.

After a couple months with that little angel, we went with classic white satin (straight from the can) and semi-gloss on the baseboards and it turned out great. See the before and after.

Before, during our first showing.
Back of the wall.

Now the question is, do we hang something on the wall or just leave it blank? Thoughts?

It's summer so that means family! We've had visitors and life is crazy but we love having family visit and we love traveling to see family. Correction, we love seeing family at the end of traveling. We've been reminded recently of how amazing Jack was at traveling when he was a baby. Penny, not so much. She doesn't stop moving, as many of you are aware. Up and down, wiggling, jiggling, dancing, screaming. She's full of life and energy and planes aren't her thing. Sorry to other passengers. Not so sorry to the passive-aggressive lady sitting behind Steph.

Penny's getting mentally ready for sabotaging the plan ride.

Our summer started in April when Grandma and Grandpa Deekookoo (Jack's nickname for Steph's parents, ask her for details) came to visit for Jack's birthday and we stayed at the Nickelodeon hotel and went to Disney—of course.

Ninja Turtles never looked so good.
We love Disney.
Then, in May, Grandma and Grandpa Marcum joined us for some great fun. One of the highlights was our boating trip on Crystal River. We swam with manatees and saw some dolphins that were wrangling fish next to our boat near the shore. It was pretty incredible.

Jack on the lookout for manatees.

He loved driving the boat.

Pulling Grandma around the neighborhood.

Jack and Penny with Grandma and Grandpa Marcum

At the beginning of June Steph's aunt and uncle, Nettie and Alan Sargent, came and visited with the whole family. There was a bunch of beach-going and we had a blast. That's the second time the Sargents have visited us and we just love having them.

The whole gang at our neighborhood lake.

There was also some big news in the Ellsworth family. Steph's baby sister Brittney married her sweetheart Bret Cardall on June 24th. It was a great day and beautiful wedding. Such an amazing couple and we were so happy to be there with them on their special day.

Bret and Britt Cardall

Steph went to Denver early and wasn't able to be in Florida on Father's day but she didn't miss the opportunity to make me feel really special even if we weren't together. She and Jack Facetimed with me on Sunday morning and sent me on a scavenger hunt that they had set up before they left. I had no idea! Just one of the reasons I love my wife so much–she's extremely thoughtful and takes any opportunity she can to make others feel loved.

We were also able to spend Brynn's first birthday with the family. Brynn is Mike and Lindsey's (Steph's older sister) youngest. She's the sweetest little thing and we were so happy we could be there for her first.

Brynn loved her cake.
And yes, that's another Br name in the family. Brandon, Brian, Bryce, Brynn, Bret and Brittney.

Well, that's a quick update on what's happened lately with us. We can't wait to see even more family members in the fall. Bryant and Bonnie are bringing their kids to Disney and Chris and Julia are joining us for Thanksgiving along with Jordan. Can't wait to see you guys!

So it's been a year. Steph, Jack and I moved to Tampa last January and we're loving our experience. Part of that experience has been spent making changes to our house. Yes, it's brand new but it was bear bones stock. Nothing fancy added. We bought it during construction so adding options wasn't actually an option. We probably wouldn't if we could though. Man that stuff's expensive.

We started with four relatively small jobs to help make our house a home and we began with the facade.

exterior shutters, sconce, door paint, address numbers
The exterior when we moved in.

As you can see, our house didn't look bad. In fact, it actually looked fairly nice. Good structure just not a lot of character. But with just a few tweaks we really made it stand out in a neighborhood with strict HOA rules.

First, we got rid of the generic numbers. Who decided that a: these look good and b: they should absolutely be the default numbers of every house in Florida, possibly the country? I'm fairly certain it's just a big prank. And you can feel the care that they took on aligning these babies. We replaced them with numbers that are from a more geometric typeface. I'm sure you've seen these Home Depot numbers before but they're quite nice and it's one of those little, easy to change details that can really have an impact. I used a clear silicone to attach them so that we can change them later without any hole filling.

adress numbers
Old numbers.

address numbers
New numbers.

Our house didn't come with exterior sconces. It didn't come with most lights in fact. It didn't come with lights in any of the bedrooms but did come with lights in the closets. Cost effective, maybe. Logical, not really. Fortunately it was prewired for exterior lights. We found a light that we loved at It's based in Utah but our neighbor from Spanish Fork works there and took care of us. We also added a couple of spotlights that shine on our two palm trees. Yes, we now have palm trees.

exterior sconce
Matte black sconce.

exterior sconce
Use a clear, globular bulb for more stark light and shadows.

At night with sconces and spotlights on.

The third project was the largest of the four and made the biggest impact. New shutters! Say you're a home builder. You decide you need to cut cost. How would you do it? Paint the shutters directly on the house? CHECK! It's like a forest printed on wall paper; seemingly such a great idea but when you get it up you realize it's not actually a real forest. Thanks for the design tip, Floridian Grandma. We needed to cover them up with "real" fake shutters like normal people.

I did some measuring and found the painted shutters to be quite wide. 25 inches actually. And if you've ever shopped for shutters you'll know that 25"x62" is a VERY custom size. Anything over 15 inches wide is hard to find anywhere. At least affordably. I did find some but the cost for each pair was over $200. We needed three pairs.

Our DIY sensibilities kicked in and that monster called "cost" once again demanded that we do it ourselves. And it just so happens that I love building stuff. Win win.

We opted for a board and batten style because they look great and are very simple to build. It's quite easy to see how to put these together. Lay the vertical boards on a flat surface, use construction adhesive between each, clamp it all together, and screw the two horizontal slats in place from the back. Use screws that will hold but not go completely through the front. Now, of course it ends up being harder than this description because laying the horizontal slats under the vertical boards and getting them straight isn't a cake walk but with a little attention to detail and precise measurements/markings it isn't rocket science either.

After assembling a couple shutters, Steph and I both realized that, from a distance, they looked like a sheet of plywood with a couple boards attached. Trailer park shutters. Not ideal. So I used my table saw at 45ยบ to cut the edges of each board to make a nice clean groove between each. This can also be done with a router and appropriate bit or even a circular saw with a guide.

exterior shutters
No grooves. Not ideal.

exterior shutters
Cutting grooves halfway through the boards.

exterior shutters
Post groove-making. Much better.

After a few coats of black I fastened them to the house using cinderblock anchors and filling the holes in the stucco with silicone sealant before attaching the shutters. That's a must-do step.

Lastly, we painted our door. It went from a dark forest green to the most lively color we could choose; a mustard yellow. In fact, it's called Cut The Mustard from Sherwin Williams. It's a fun color and goes great with the Florida weather but we have some new plans for our front door coming in a future post so stay tuned.

Well there you have it. Four pretty simple things that really transformed the look of our exterior. New landscaping is its own beast but that will come with time and will help transform the exterior even more. Numbers, sconces, shutters and a fresh new color on the front door. That's it and the results are pretty remarkable. See the before and after.

exterior before

exterior after
After. (Taken January 8th. I love Florida.)

Watch for our next project as we move indoors.
Last post-March 8th. That's disappointing. We apologize to the two people that have noticed. Here we go again, though. If you haven't read, we've moved to Florida and we're loving it! We have some great plans for our new house here in Tampa. But before we get started there, let's have a quick update on our lives.

First Jack. What a kid. I'm sure we share our feelings with all you parents; the amazement you feel everyday to watch your child grow and learn. Jack is talking more, saying new words just about daily. It's amazing, the things he soaks up and remembers. We really have to be careful what we say and do. He repeats it all.

Playing at the park. He's such a happy child. (Usually)

Jack has been in swim lessons for a couple of months and LOVES being in the water. Which makes us very happy parents since we love it too. He's great at holding his breath and getting better at paddling under water. He's fearless around the pool which can be scary at times. We have to watch him like a hawk because he'll throw himself in the deep end (or shallow end) at a moment's notice.

He insists he wear his goggles.

He's also a human flashlight. His hair is so blonde it almost glows. And people will ask Steph where he gets his blonde hair and if I was blonde as a child. What? Really? Considering Steph is the only other blonde in our family of three chances are it's from her.

We love swimming together.

Rolling around Disney.

Next, Steph. Zumba and a two-year-old, among a thousand other tasks keep her occupied 25/8. But she takes every day as it comes. She is so caring about our little family and making sure that we are taken care of.

She has an interesting relationship with Zumba. Sometimes it's frustrating, it's always difficult and can be very taxing on her time and energy. She loves it anyway. Kind of like me. She's so good at it and gets amazing compliments that honestly I don't think most instructors EVER get. She's dedicated to teaching and even though at times it can take all of the motivation she has, she sticks with it and puts in the time and effort it requires to be such a good teacher.

Steph is a primary teacher now and she's enjoying it and "her kids". That's what happens when you have such strong motherly instincts. She teaches a group of CTR 6's and is having experiences only a primary teacher can.

So in love.

Then there's me. Just hoping I can continue to fool my company into thinking I have an idea of what I'm doing just so I can keep working with them. Such an amazing opportunity. Great people, great fun but plenty of work too.

I have a shop! My childhood dream was to have a shop of my own when I grew up. And even though I don't feel grown up, I have one anyway. We have a second garage where I've set up my collection of tools; and I love it! It's not extremely pleasant in the summer heat and humidity but I spend time in there anyway. Florida summers won't even keep me from building stuff.

I'm serving in the Elder's Quorum and have really enjoyed getting to know people and making lifelong friends.

I love my family, I love my job and I love Florida. We're so blessed to be having this experience. We miss our families every day but know that we are where we should be.

Soon we'll be posting pics and updates on our house! We've been in our house for almost a year now and have done a few things to make it ours. We also have some (biggish) plans that we hope to get to very soon.  Keep an eye out.
So I started this post a long time ago, and I'm just getting around to posting it.

Back in October, our lives started to feel normal. After buying our home in January, it took us a while to make it our home and feel like we fit in the neighborhood.  We finally had a routine and we were happy.  Then our lives changed drastically. And it happened very quickly. I feel like I'm on the Bachelor when I say this, but this has been such an adventure!

For those of you who want to know about the adventure, tune in! I'm including all details so we can remember it all some day. This all started with Brandon being contacted by a friend he went to school with. He mentioned he had a friend who was hiring a Creative Director, and said it was a great opportunity. Brandon seriously LOVED his job in Utah and wasn't interested, but he decided to go ahead and see what it was all about. He ended up having his first phone interview that evening. From there, he had two more interviews with the VP of the company and then an interview with the President of the company. A few days later he was offered the job! It all seemed too good to be true. The job offered an increase in Brandon's salary, a promotion from Creative Director to VP of Creative, ownership in the company, and performance bonuses every year. We went to the temple and both received the overwhelming feeling that we needed to go to Florida. We still have no clue why, but we feel like we are meant to be in Florida. So we accepted the job and Brandon started two days later. He started working from home, and actually just had his first day in the office at the end of January.

We listed our house for sale the first weekend in November (the weekend after Brandon started his job) and booked flights for the following Thursday to go look for a house in Tampa.

We decided to have a garage sale that weekend as well. We realized that we had a TON of items to sell and it would possibly be one of our last warm Saturdays to do it. So Friday night we literally raided our houses to collect everything we wanted to sell. And it was a success! We sold a lot and made more than we expected.

On Monday morning, we had someone come look at our house and they put an offer on it by noon! We countered to our original asking price, and within 24 hours, we were in contract! Is this real life?!

Our "spider house" halloween decorations

We flew to Tampa that Thursday. We met my parents at the airport in Denver and dropped off Jack to stay with them. He is a lovely travel companion. 
He always has to ride on top of the suitcase, and climb on everything!
We gave them his suitcase, gave him huge hugs and kisses, and continued onto our next flight to Tampa. It was so weird for me to not fly with Jack. It was my first time not flying with him since he was born. We've been on over 30 flights together and I just don't know how to do it without him!

We arrived in Tampa around 7 at night and we were exhausted! We got our rental car, then headed to the grocery store to get snacks for the rest of the week.

Waiting for our rental car.
Our fuel and fortune for the house hunting. It was a LONG weekend.
We saw some awesome houses, and some not so awesome houses. And then we saw some houses that would have been awesome but they decided to cover the entire thing in this gross orange tile. I could not live with that.
Orange tile? No thanks.

High class for sure.

We really liked this one neighborhood and kept comparing all other houses to it. It was closer to Brandon's work, it was gated, it had an AMAZING pool and splash park for Jack, and a playground a block away. It seemed perfect. But they had no inventory homes. We would have to build and it wouldn't be ready until April or May. The lot was great. It felt like a mix between Florida and Idaho.

I would NEVER complain about living here. Seriously gorgeous.
We ended up looking at about 50 houses. I looked all day Friday with our realtor, then Brandon joined us for all day Saturday. Then I looked some more on Monday and I left Tuesday. It seriously was exhausting!
Each one of these papers is a house we looked at.
We fell in love with one house. It was a bank owned and it was seriously a rockin' good deal. More than we wanted to spend but we were willing to pay for it. But we didn't get it. We found out after I had left Florida, so we had to rethink what we really wanted.
While in Florida we ate out a lot.  This trip started our "eating out" phase which lasted pretty much 3 months. UGH.

Brandon's co-workers were all down there that weekend too, so we got to meet them and relate over this huge transition in our lives.

When looking for houses, we saw a lot of lizards, bugs, and even a snake! This one jumped out of the bushes and made me scream like a little girl!

We skyped every night with Jack. It hurt my heart to see him on the screen and not be able to hold him.

In Colorado, Jack went to his first movie with the grandparents. Apparently he sat through the whole thing and loved it!

I left and flew to Colorado and stayed with my parents while Brandon was still in Tampa. I flew to Denver all alone and that was the weirdest thing. Just me, a suitcase, and a purse!

I had the sweetest reunion with Jack in Colorado. He got all giddy and excited and grabbed me and held on for a long time! It made me never want to leave him again!

I celebrated my birthday with my family in Colorado. Twice. It was yummy!

Then we all headed back to Utah as a family. When we got home, it didn't feel like our home anymore. It felt uncomfortable. It felt like it wasn't ours. It felt like it was a temporary place we were staying. We prematurely sold our kitchen table and chairs in the yard sale, so we had nowhere to sit or eat. Right before we went to Tampa, we also installed a brand new, huge and nice sink we purchased before we knew about the job. We couldn't return it, so we installed it anyways. We were both so bummed we wouldn't get to keep the awesome sink! But when we got back, we were both totally fine leaving it too. These two things made us realize that we were ready to move.
Our beautiful and expensive new sink
Our tiny table that I oddly miss.
The next few weeks flew by, so stay tuned for more!