Jenny: The Good Wolf Lunch: Details Matter

It’s not always fun being on a budget. Sometimes it is, when I feel particularly virtuous because I saved a lot of money by building something on my own, or when I find a truly great bargain, or when I pass up something expensive because I don’t want it or need it. The virtue just washes over me, it’s so wonderful.

But sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. And those times are when my Bad Wolf chomps down because I am terrible with money. He hasn’t been eating very well lately because I’ve been doing so much of the work on the house on my own with plain old pine, always a bargain, but then I looked at trim for some of the shelves and bookcases and found this:


Isn’t it pretty? It’s ten bucks for an 8′ piece. That is not cheap.

“I want that,” I said.

“It’s pretty, get it,” my Good Wolf said, smacking her lips.

“Are you out of your mind?” my Bad Wolf said. “You’d need at least six pieces. That’s sixty bucks. The bookcases on their own weren’t sixty bucks.”

“But it’s so pretty,” I said. “And I’d see it every day, it would be the trim in my bedroom.”

“And we could spray paint it gold,” my Good Wolf said.

“No,” the Bad Wolf and I said together. He’s not always wrong, you know.

So I bought two pieces of the trim. Then the next time I went back, I bought two more. I’ll probably buy some more the next time I’m there, spreading out the pain, but I’ll definitely buy it because the details count. A clean, clear, simple life is a good idea, but if it gets too clean, clear, and simple, it’s just sterile. Sometimes you need some fancy trim, a little razzle dazzle, even (dare I say it), a little gold spray paint.

PearlsThe Good Wolf and I bought a pearl bead curtain to hang in the doorway to the bathroom, too. She smacked her lips when she saw it, and there went thirty bucks. But we’re going to be feasting on that curtain and that trim for a long, long time. (One of the most important money tips I ever learned was cost per use. A pair of shoes you buy for twenty bucks and never wear has a cost per use of twenty bucks. A pair of shoes you buy for two hundred bucks and wear twice a week for three years until they fall off your feet has a cost per use of nine cents. The cost per use of that trim given how often I’m going to look at it and smile is about zilch.) And we were VERY practical and passed by all the chandeliers that cost hundreds of dollars and only spent $81.99 on this one because, as my Good Wolf said, we can always add more pearls.

Toshiba Digital Camera

God is in the details, and so is the Good Wolf’s lunch. What did you feed your good wolf this week?

46 thoughts on “Jenny: The Good Wolf Lunch: Details Matter

  1. I’m feeding her right now by sitting under the cider apple tree (loaded with blossom because spring’s incredibly late this year in England) to do my tedious proof-reading job. The work’s almost enjoyable in this setting, and it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy my garden, for the last month.

    Makes me realize how much I want a peaceful, private garden in my next home. Trust my good wolf’s busy finding one for me while I’m earning money to pay for it!

    Love your deatails, Jenny, and completely agree with your philosophy. I thought my cottage was too big (a spare room!) and expensive when I first saw it, but I got yes on it anyway, and I’ve got such pleasure from it for the past nine years.

  2. Maine Betty says:

    I fed my Good Wolf bags of compost and stinky good dirt. She rolled in it and I got happily dirty.
    I am a big advocate of the cost per use, especially for things like good kitchen knives, tools, pillows, and some clothing.

  3. Skylar says:

    My Good Wolf is getting magenta paint in the bedroom as soon as this semester is over. And bookshelves. If I’m going to write a dissertation in there, it better be a comfortable, happy space.

    Right now, not even the Bad Wolf wants to be in there.

  4. JulieB/Julie Spahn says:

    My good wolf got rid of some excess in the bedroom and the room looks so much more open. We also got in the garden and planted hostas that had been sitting since last week. I’m so out of the mode I dithered about it for two days before finally getting it done, but I feel like I’m slowly reclaiming my home and yard, and utlimately, my balance.

    Also, I have turned down my school 3 times now for classes. It’s scary, but I am guarding my time and refuse to lose any more time and gas money for a lesser and lesser payoff. So, while it’s scary, I’m trusting the universe to provide the right thing at the right time, and keeping up with my search for better things.

  5. I wrote good stuff that I’m excited about. Feeling the mojo return and watching my book climb the charts has provided a feast for the Good Wolf.

    And I wore a dress yesterday, which sounds silly, but I never wear dresses. It was nice to feel girly and cool and the GW is good and full.

  6. Fed the GW by starting to get my house back in order–living in chaos for a month while workers renovated was hard, but so worth it! We’re not all the way there yet, but we sat in the living last night for the first time in a month and watched one of our favorite movies (Bottle Shock) on a TV that’s been silent since April 26. Felt nice…

  7. Kathleen G. S. says:

    You’re not spreading out the pain by buying the trim 2 pieces at a time; you’re maximizing the pleasure, giving your Good Wolf nice snacks instead of a pig-out meal.

    I like to buy stuff, and I got tons more utility out of three $50 Target trips than out of one $150 trip.

  8. Eileen A-W says:

    My Good Wolf is getting fedd lots right now as my retirement from teaching approaches. It’s telling me I get to sleep in, avoid stress and maybe have some time for just me!! The Bad Wolf keeps reminding me that my pension is less than what we need to live on so I continue working. The Good Wolf reminds the Bad Wolf that I probably will as I’m not good at doing nothing but to let me re-learn how to relax first. BTW Jenny, LOVE the trim!!!

  9. I have that exact trim! I used it to trim the new closet door in my formerly closetless bedroom. It also covers up the huge mistakes my BIL made while hanging sheet rock in my living room. Walls are supposed to touch at the corners – Duh!

    My Good wolf encouraged me to set an appointment for a procedure on my ankle even though we don’t know for sure Workers Comp will pay for it. Me paying $1000 for this is far better than them paying $17,000 for surgery. I’d like to avoid any more surgery if at all possible.

  10. stephanie says:

    @Nan- I LOVE Bottle Shock. So glad that I found it on Netflix one day!

    One of the loveliest chandeliers I’ve ever seen in someone’s house was made from a $10 IKEA lamp, wire, and tiny [leftover] christmas bulbs and ornaments. Yep, details matter. Those details are lovely and sound like they’ll work really well with the rest of the cottage.

  11. “We can always add more pearls!” I think this is a phrase for life.

    I had so much fun this week. By using this metallic silver marker I got at Michael’s. OMG, instant silver finish on anything! So pretty.

    And the Rustoleum metallic paint and primer in a can. I want to pain everything! The finish is gorgeous. I got some totally frivolous ceiling medallions at Lowe’s. (Those things that go around the chandelier where it mounts to the ceiling. There just to be pretty.) They were really inexpensive and a fun touch, and Rustoleum-ed them metallic bronze. Made me practically dance with happiness. Like Jenny’s pretty trim.

  12. This has not been a good week. Next week will be better. Enumeration only feeds the Bad Wolf.

    Nothing but good times ahead.

  13. Jennifer.nennifer says:

    Some lovely good wolf meals catching up on refab and argh since I couldn’t read them while traveling. You people are so entertaining.

    Refusing to get sucked into the frenzy of how many things I think should get done before my boss leaves on vacation; remembering that her choices are hers, not mine.

    Counting blessings, which are many.

  14. Mama_Abbie says:

    LOVE the trim, beads and chandelier. (I have always secretly wanted to hang a small painted tin chandelier in my 6 x 6 foot closet…that I share with DH. Guess THAT’s not going to happen.)

    At my Mom’s again this week. Started back on Weight Watcher’s and the gym 3 weeks ago after a slothful bad-wolf late winter of not watching portions and no exercise. It’s tough any exercise when it’s cold and damp outside and you area 3.5 hours away from your gym.

    Feeding the good wolf by bringing my bike, weights and a food scale. Sticking with the food program and getting some exercise everyday now that the weather has turned nicer. AND there’s this great bike path just down the road from her house.

  15. Carol says:

    Fed my Good Wolf a weekend in San Francisco, and upon my return, two most excellent after-work hikes this week. Good Wolf is stuffed!

    Jenny, I am with you on cost-per-wear. I buy well-made shoes and clothes that cost more (and are manufactured in places that don’t treat their workers as badly as workers in, say, Bangladesh, so bonus!) and they last forever. Since you’ll be living in your cottage forever, having trim you love makes total economic sense.

  16. Jessie says:

    This weekend we brought furniture from my MIL estate home. It was all family pieces. Good thing we like old stuff. My Good Wolf, and also my husband, got to save his back because we hired two college guys to come in and move stuff around. Money well spent.

    So a house that has looked the same for the last 25 years has now has a major overhaul. And my Bad Wolf was all set to lament and say how sad because we truly loved MIL but I took one look at the new arrangement of the sitting room with her great grandfathers roll top desk and her grandfather’s leather arm chair and my mom’s edwardian armoire and realized they both would love it because it looks wonderful and is so warm and welcoming it will be like they are there with us.

  17. I’ve never calculated cost per use, but it often crosses my mind as to whether something is “paying for itself.” And that is a good yardstick.

    On a similar note, tomorrow is the last time I’ll wear a bodice/corset that I had custom-made for a wedding in 2010. I was a bridesmaid and we were allowed to get anything in princess style as long as we matched the colour. The front is princess cut and the back is narrow black ribbon to fasten. I wore it with a flair skirt in the matching pink. Just about $30-ish back then. Fifth time I’ve used it but the boning has come loose from the tape and I had to patch-stitch it back into place after trimming and burning the plastic. Good wolf fodder because it’ll be cheap and GLAM!!

  18. I didn’t do much. We had a mini-clean and cleaned up some piles in the living room, specifically off the coffee table; some of it was mine so I condensed.

    Yesterday I had lunch with someone else I’d known when I lived here before. He’s a tech writer for Amazon. We had a long brisk walk to lunch at a place with a window view of the sound, then a long and even brisker uphill walk on the way back, so I got a good couple of walks, a decent lunch, and great conversation. And now a link to a job at Amazon that he will pass my resume along for if I want. So that’s good. And I even opened up my large suitcase (which I still haven’t unpacked) to pull out a cobalt blue sweater — something I haven’t worn over and over and over since I’ve been here. It made me feel good to wear it.

    My Bad Wolf is a hypochondriac and one of my housemates has had a bad cold for over a week; I keep feeling as if I’m coming down with it! But then I wake up feeling better the next day. Today I’ve started threatening to make him go to the other end of the house all day. Or maybe lock him outside in his car. ๐Ÿ™‚ (He’s being grumpy and taking it out on me). I’m not sure if it’s my Good Wolf or my Bad Wolf threatening these things!

  19. You had me at the beaded curtain. Then you tossed in the chandelier.

    Never mind the snappy GW/BW dialogue and the excellent cost-per-use point. Fab post.

    But now that I’m all in Pinterest mode, I’m thinking: “How can I work these pics into my author page?”–I’m not sure if that’s coming from my good wolf who loves the pics or my bad wolf who knows Pinterest has the power to suck hours out of my week;)

  20. HJ says:

    I think cost-per-use it the only measure for deciding whether something is truly expensive. Just as a bargain is not a bargain if you’ll never use it! And that trim is beautiful and important for your well-being.

  21. Hmm, I rode my new bike on Monday with my sister down to the Wedge in Newport Beach and then we spent a couple of hours at the American Legion where I ran into some women in line for the burgers, etc… who didn’t have a table and told them to go over to my sister and tell her that I sent them to share the space.

    After they left – we hugged, they were lovely women, my sister looked at me and told me, “You are mom.” I’d never been so complimented in my life. My mom has never met a stranger, we’ve had homeless people at our holiday meals, and family is what you create and who you invite in and with mom, everyone is invited.

    Clearly, my good wolf is still feasting. Plus, I’ve walked and done deep water aerobics and water zumba this week and caught up with a friend whom I haven’t spent as much time with lately as I’d like to.

    I got one of my contract submissions to HUD completed and sent BEFORE the deadline and the person whom I am working with at the 3rd party management company has gotten me the other one a whole month early. Yippee!

    The bad wolf/bridge troll sleeps under the bridge. Interestingly, the good wolf has been singing it lullabies and petting it to keep it calm and fed, too. Sometimes it simply needs to be appreciated for what it is.

  22. Cindy says:

    My good wolf is getting fed yummy healthy smoothies and exercise. Also lots of healthy snacks – lentils and bruschetta sauce from Trader Joe’s. It’s so delicious! And I’m also indulging in a bit of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine here and there, which my bad wolf wants to nag about, but I just shut him up. That dark chocolate is too good to pass up on! It has almonds and dried cherries in it.

  23. @Stephanie–it is an obscure little movie, but it’s got CA wine and Alan Rickman, so really what else do we need?

  24. I read “blue sweater” and thought, “Is she out of her freaking mind?” and then remembered you’re up Seattle way now. It’s 91 in NJ. I’m in my underwear sitting next to an air conditioner. (TMI?)

  25. Mitchiewitch says:

    Gotta love my boss – she appreciates me and tells me so. All the time; not just at review time. Makes coming to work an easy thing instead of something to be dreaded which I’ve experienced in the past. Also got good news from the lawyer I consulted yesterday regarding my mother’s situation (Alzheimers) my honey said that my whole body just relaxed and looked happier.

  26. Jill says:

    I found some chocolate I did not like. Shock. I am at the MO State HOG Rally and the Chamber of Commerce left a really nice gift basket in the room. Chocolate. With pistachios-even better. I ate 3 pieces. Not good. Read the ingredients-roasted chili. Ack !

  27. RanchGirl says:

    I have that trim aaannnnddd I have that chandelier! When we remodeled our bathroom we damaged the trim and I found this very trim to redo it. And I love it – something different and pretty. Got the chandelier because I needed more light in a corner of the guest room over the bed. I looked at several that were very expensive, then found this one and I have loved it ever since.

    My good wolf has been pretty happy with me – the weather has turned warmer and I have spent most of the week outside. Mowing, trimming and spraying round up – just my yard is over two acres, so round-up is necessary for fence lines. And The Glades is back on for the summer. Not a big TV watcher but I am hooked on this show.

  28. Love that trim. My mind is going crazy thinking about where I’d use it, except I’m on the strictest of strictest budgets. : )
    I haven’t been feeling well for about two weeks. Stress plus bad air quality, desert dust storms, and allergies and wheezing abound.
    Struggled to write a decent antagonist and the BW kept saying, “Give it up. You’re too old. You’re a hack.” Went over to Jenny’s blog and saw her post on writing bad guys. The GW and I did a little dance.
    Took Jenny’s advice and read a Dick Francis book. Loved it and read another. Now I’m reading Nora’s book, Whiskey Beach and adoring her protagonist. By the time we finish it the GW and I know we’ll be back to writing with enthusiasm. The BW stands in the corner smirking and muttering things about people who take too much time off. But GW and I know that we’re refilling the creative well, and healing our body, so we smile softly as we head for the couch.

  29. Redwood Kim says:

    There are several gourmet chocolate shops here in town, and really? Why do I want chili or olive oil or roses in my chocolate? I’m up for some nuts or peanut butter, mint, oh yes please, even the occasional straw or raspberry. Otherwise, leave it out.

  30. Redwood Kim says:

    I fed my GW by taking care of myself, and getting things done. My girls and I were sick last week, and I slowed way down. But my Big has her first ballet recital this week, and things are so disorganized that I took on a painting project (the littlest ballerinas are going to be music box dancers.) And then I figured out that wall stickers from the dollar store would be perfect, easy decorations. And I got those suckers done.
    I am also actively telling my BW to shut his pie hole. I am losing things, because organization and I are not the best of friends. Oh well. I am getting things done. I was late on a birthday present. I’m still getting things done. I forgot the farm box yesterday – but I got a lot done. The recital is Saturday, and things will not be so busy next week.

  31. toni says:

    huh. It’s only 82 here in the Quarter. Although I was standing on the rooftop a few minutes ago in an area that had been enclosed with visqueen and I’m pretty sure the temps in there were over 100. I made them cut windows so we wouldn’t all die.

    “But it’s going to rain! We’ll get wet!”
    “Wet is better than dead.”
    “Good point.”

    I love that chandelier, btw.

    My good wolf had a cranky morning of people thwarting me. So I let her out to go do some smiting. Smiting always makes me feel a little better.

  32. I love chili in my chocolate and olive oil too. Of course my fav is when it has sea salt in it. Found (thank you brother dearest) a great gelato shop that has salted chocolate gelato. Yum!

    Roses might be more difficult as they are very frequently too perfumy for me. On the other hand, rose, pistachio and cardamom might be really interesting in a milk chocolate. Hmmm.

  33. julianna says:

    My doctor was more encouraging than I expected about the possibility of trying again. Since I won’t be able to try for a while anyway, I have decided to skip my usual Bad Wolf method of obsessing about it, and make a decision later. Still trying to get the insurance straightened out and can’t figure out the liver problem till I do, but trying very hard to ignore the Bad Wolf’s incessant worrying.

    Jenny, I know you still have a lot of stress right now, but you sound sooo much happier than you did a year ago. It really makes me happy to read about you enjoying life (yeah, I’m a big dork) and I find it kind of inspiring, too. Thank you (and Krissie!) for this wonderful blog.

  34. toni says:

    Robena, I’m right there with you on those damned antagonists. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I think what you’re doing is very smart and refilling that well is going to do all sorts of amazing things for you.

  35. LOL! It was 56 degrees out when I left the house. Of course, then we walked very quickly and it got up a little over 60 and with the thin sweater, an under-camisole, and my fleece jacket I ended up a little too warm. But yeah, it’s in the 90s in Houston and I’d be definitely NOT wearing sweaters there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. My Bad Wolf kept trying to gorge on my stress but I shooed her away. I refuse to let circumstances make me a Bad Wolf buffet.

    Good Wolf is pleased and sated on the balance I achieved this week.

    Cost per use. I am so using that! I’m indulging myself this weekend by test driving cars that are on my luxury dream car list. BW tells me to deny myself. GW reminds me that I’ve managed things to the point where I can afford the indulgence. Considering how often I’ll drive, use, and enjoy the car, the CPU is very reasonable indeed.

    Take that, Bad Wolf.

  37. Micki says:

    My good wolf is eating sunshine and heat — it’s entirely possible that my good wolf is actually a banana plant. It was 82 yesterday!! So good to feel after weeks in the 50s and low 60s. I wish I could have gotten more done . . . .

  38. Lois says:

    Terri, I have a boat phobia and you made me laugh about that ferry ride! I enjoyed the entire book and am looking forward to the next one.

  39. Kelly S. says:

    I figured out yesterday that my Bad Wolf whispers to my subconscious the phrase “Get up off your lazy ass!” any time I think about having fun or relaxing. I tend to feel guilty for watching TV, reading for fun, or quilting for myself and not because another baby blanket was needed for a shower. Now that I’ve identified this source of irritation I can tell it to shut the fuck up!

    Then my body took it a step further and forced an evening off, in bed, in the dark as I dealt with a migraine. Oh well, one step at a time.

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