Sliding Screen Doors and Sliding Doors Replacement – Progress Report

I last reported that our door project was looking at about $3,000 worth of updates, which was causing me to sweat profusely. But when the screen door guy came to measure our doors and confirm our estimate, he asked why I think we need to replace two of our doors. “Well, the bottom liner is chipped and the door doesn’t slide very easily,” I said. He then recommended that we simply replace the track and ball bearings of the door, which runs about $250, versus $1100+ for a new sliding door. He said our doors are actually quite nice, although they are about 30 years old, and probably need the rollers on the bottom replaced. And upon closer inspection, only one of the doors really needs this, the other door simply has a different handle that’s preventing it from closing properly and this is a $30 fix. So now we’re looking at about $300 to update our doors and $700 for the 3 high-quality screen doors.

I think a lot of us tend to get reckless when there is a project we want done. I really want sliding doors, so I was getting tempted to just throw it on the credit card and figure out how to pay it later, but I would have been spending money just to spend money. Typical American. This is a great house, but it’s got a lot of little quality issues because the contractor was god-awful and had absolutely no craftsmanship or cared in any way about the work. But we have our own labor available to us, and we shouldn’t pay for everything at the first or highest price quoted.

$1,000 is still a lot to throw down the money pit, but when it’s done we will have three sliding doors we can open without letting bugs in, and that will provide a functionality we don’t have right now, we have three pretty cool patios we are barely using because the doors are cumbersome, or we don’t want to leave the door open without a screen. We’re planning to get the whole project done within a month. In the words of Pinky Penguin from Bojack Horseman, it’s just a tiny matter of the bank and there not being any money in it.

I hope to have before/after photos to share in the next progress report!

Little Tips and Tricks that Improve My Work Day

I don’t know how long this will last, but I have found that whenever I navigate to a “locked” Wall Street Journal article (where only subscribers can see the full article), I simply copy the title of the article, press Ctrl+T and then Ctrl+V to paste into a new Google search in a new tab, and voila, the link on that results page shows the full article. You’re welcome.

Gmail Shortcuts

It’s a little hard to remember to use them at first, but once you use shortcuts, you’ll thank yourself for that marginal improvement in your life. Hit Shift+? in your Gmail window and start using some of the most common ones for every single email.


Coworkers are great, but I couldn’t care less about the first-thing-in-the-morning professional sports recap from the night before where everyone wants to provide their input, or other morning random discussion topic (totally unrelated to work). I know everyone needs those 10 minutes to unwind and settle into their work, but as a mild introvert, it throws me off to listen to mundane chitchat. So instead of pretending I care, I throw on some Zen meditation music and tune out the noise.

25 Minutes on, 5 Minutes Off

The Pomodoro technique will help you get on track when you feel like you’re slogging through days without getting much of anything done. My work has tons of deadlines, so while I am usually happily productive, I’ve noticed that whenever I have a few days with some “down time” (i.e., no fire drills), my brain wants to shut down and enjoy the feeling of no big deadlines, and this will quickly deteriorate into not getting those Quadrant 2 work items done. I use the Pomodoro technique to reward myself for being strictly focused on work for 25 minutes and then taking those 5 and 15 minute breaks for thinking about my own projects, not looking at emails, stepping outside or anything else that is a reward.

5 Minutes Tidying My Desk and Reviewing Tomorrow’s To Do List

This one is advice you’ve heard before, but if I don’t do this, I feel distracted and haphazard. I hate a messy desk and superfluous papers. You don’t need the hard copy of the expired contract that you have in electronic form. You don’t need that old conference badge. If I’ve eaten at my desk, I use wipes to get rid of the crumbs and evidence.A Personal Notepad

You know how you always want to write notes to yourself during the work day? Ideas, plans, or just the need to have something separate from your work is always a good idea. I keep a personal notepad and a calendar that lets me wander off without clouding up my work ideas with grocery lists. Sometimes, I just need to flip through it to remind myself of what I have going on.Looking Beyond the Day

It’s easy to get stuck in a good job, with good pay, etc, without thinking about where you want to go. I push myself to stay motivated by learning from people who have done so much already- I use Khan Academy, Harvard Business School talks, and working on my big goals with a mastermind group to keep me at 30,000 feet and viewing the landscape ahead. I liked Sarah at Unsettle’s recent post about spending an hour a day on those big goals: An hour a day keeps mediocrity away. Who wants mediocrity? You want to have it together. Find a way to work in that hour.

Ikea Couch, Redux |

If there’s one thing I’ve held off on, it’s buying furniture. Since slowly cleaning out the closets and trying to spend on better quality items, furniture is one of those long-term goals. I just don’t want to spend $5,000-plus in our home when putting that money towards saving would be better for the future. So for now, I’ve decided to put the following big purchases on pause for at least 6 months, if not 12 months:

Plantation shutters for the big front window, ~$1,000

New mattress and new bed, ~$3,000

Media console, ~$400

Sofa and 2 chairs, ~$1,200

But there are bridge solutions for each of these areas. For the big window, we have existing curtains and a rod that just need to be installed, and I need to iron the curtains to make them look fresh. As for the bed, it’s over 6 years old (actually 7 but it wasn’t used for the first year), but is still really comfortable and I think another 12 months won’t hurt our backs. The media console was a lovely “street find” but I could stain it and add a wicker basket to it. And as for the sofa, well, it was really starting to look janky:

Is this what you call “white”? Don’t mind my chihuahua, she wanted to be in the shot.

Note that the two throw pillows are actually from a bedding set and were also beyond saving. We bought this IKEA couch five years ago, and it is really comfortable. We’ve taken many a nap on it and had at least a dozen or more houseguests who’ve had a good night’s sleep on it. However, it’s usually covered with a sheet or blanket because it’s supposed to be a white sofa but it’s gotten so dirty that even scrubbing it clean at the laundromat has not resulted in a truly white couch.

The slipcovers are sold separately at IKEA, ranging from $49 for the white to $249 for the fancy beige with contrast piping and buttons:

I decided on the $149 gray cover, because I knew the white one would be dirty in a couple months, and $249 is a lot of money for a temporary solution. The gray cover actually looks awesome in person, it almost looks like washed gray jeans:

And I’ve been wanting new pillows as well, which will easily move to whatever new sofa we choose, so here’s the final look:

It looks so much better now, and the couch even looks fluffier and fuller. I’ll also be applying Scotch-Gard tonight to help keep this couch looking clean longer. There are a couple takeaway’s from today’s post:

White furniture and two dogs is not impossible- but you really need to pick up those slipcovers and wash them every 6 weeks or so (and I usually went at least 6 months)

I really need a new camera to better show off the finished product, these photos are rather depressing with their poor lighting!

It’s coming together slowly. There are still patio closets to clean, four boxes of books to go through, a few pieces of furniture to stain, and shelving projects to attack, besides big projects like new flooring and bathrooms. On second thought, it’s still very, very early and I still have so much to do!