Bloomin’ Beauty

news-mud-bath-560x370Since Sims 4 was released in September 2014, a lot of things have been added. I especially love the herbal lore, the wellness skill, and all the spa treats that are now part of the game. For months, my sims have been happily soaking with bath salts, and brewing up many herbal concoctions.

It’s always enjoyable when my sims’ world meshes with my own, and that’s exactly what is happening now. Recently one of my daughters introduced me to Perfectly Posh products — all naturally-based and made with essential oils. I no sooner tried them than I knew I wanted to share these skin care and hair care products with others. So, I became a Perfectly Posh consultant.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing a lot of training. I’ll be working to set up my new website and blog — Bloomin’ Beauty — and I’ll be reading a lot of product literature. I’m excited about my new career as an independent consultant, and I want to get this venture off to a good start.

What that means is that I’ll be taking a short break from Jonathan Chronicles.  Jonathan, Kat, and all the members of the Evans family have been part of my life for many months, and I enjoy sharing stories about them — and about other sims in my game. For now, though, I’ll be on a little hiatus while I build my business.

Jonathan Chronicles will return on September 1, and I hope to see you then. In the meantime, please check out Perfectly Posh either by visiting my Perfectly Posh website or Bloomin’ Beauty. I know you’ll love these products as much as I do.

 

Builder Showcase: Wrayth Manor

Some finds must be shared, and when I came across this gorgeous manor house built by edwardianed, I knew I had to post it here.  I long ago gave up attempting to build any houses in my game. Even a basic “starter house” is beyond my abilities. I’m very grateful to the talented creators in the community who have put together incredible homes like this one.

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What I like even more is that the builder has given the house a story.

Built in 1893 by industrial logging magnate Sir Montgomery Ashford, Wrayth Manor is an ostentatious monument to a time gone by. Constructed for his late wife Lady Maria Ashford (nee Wrayth) twenty years after their arrival in Sim Nation from the Old Country, Monty wanted a house that would be the envy of everyone who stayed there; and for a time it was the grandest house Willow Creek.

Constructed with the latest in modern conveniences of the time including hot running water and a swimming pool, from all local resources (i.e. no custom content), the house was finally electrified in 1915. Sadly Sir Montgomery was also electrified that year and died leaving his entire estate to his son Edward. Alas despite the considerable family fortune, Edward lost the house in the great Sim City crash of ’29, upon which it was auctioned to the Willow Creek Historical Society.

Now this celebrated piece of local history is back on the market following a nasty law suit brought against the town’s pre-eminent historian; and it can belong to your lucky Sim (provided they have the enormous funds required to maintain it).

You can see the complete floor plan and download this scrumptious Victorian manor at Mod the Sims.

Wyrath Manor

Making Choices

When we’re creating families and living out their lives through our games, it’s sometimes a difficult thing to see them unhappy. I know from reading the discussion boards at EA’s Forum that a lot of players go out of their way to make life easy for their sims.

I’m not one of them.

It’s possible to use cheats to improve a sim’s skills, get job promotions, and add hefty sums of simoleons to the family account. There are also “in-game” tricks — like taking a thoughtful shower for inspiration before a sim sits down to write a novel. Of course, as the all-knowing, all-seeing, everywhere-present creator of our own sim world, we can easily step in at any time to intervene when things aren’t going well. I’ll admit to occasionally slipping over to CAS to create a “potentially perfect” mate for a lonely sim, but beyond that, I try — as much as possible — to take a “hands off” approach. I want my sims to have their own lives, to make their own choices, and to accept the consequences of their own behavior. In keeping with that style of play, I mostly sit back, watch my sims, and follow their whims and aspirations as guides.

The result is that I often have unhappy sims. Some, in fact, are utterly miserable. Am I heartless? There are certainly times when I feel sorry for a sim in my game, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to jump right in and fix things for him or her. Instead, I’ll shake my head a bit and lament the poor choices and bad decisions that have caused so much misery.

One such miserable sim is Dalton Vaile. I briefly shared a bit of his story before when he and his girlfriend, Janis Melanson, went out on the first “dinner date” in my game. Now, for me, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dalton is degenerate. As an artist, he’s lived a wild, reckless lifestyle, carousing long into the night with his other degenerate artist friends. Think Bohemian lifestyle…to the max.

At one such drunken soiree, he met Eva, a townie whose last name I don’t recall. Somehow I neglected to even note it in my records. I never liked Eva, you see. She had nothing to offer. When she got pregnant and claimed that Dalton was the father, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Dalton was not the marrying kind and neither was Eva. So, I stepped back and let them live their own lives.

At the time the baby was born, Dalton was living with Beatrice Oakes. She was an older woman who’d lost her husband, and she rented a room of her house out to help struggling students. She believed in Dalton and his art, felt sorry for him, and took him in. Of course, when she learned that Dalton had a newborn son, she persuaded him to at least see the child. He did, and with a bit of gentle persuasion from Beatrice, he decided to “do the right thing” and marry Eva. Maybe, in time, they’d come to love one another.

It was a miserable marriage from the start. Eva and little Coleman moved into Beatrice’s home, and for the most part, Eva took full advantage of having a built-in babysitter. Although she was unemployed and did nothing more than sit around, Eva left the care of her son almost entirely up to Beatrice.

More unhappy than ever, Dalton resumed his reckless ways. He flunked out of art school, spent most of the time in a stupor, and fought with Eva every moment they were together. Finally, he divorced her, kept custody of Coleman, and made a desperate attempt to get his life back together. Oh, this man was so miserable.

ColemanHe sunk lower and lower, and finally even the kind-hearted Beatrice could bear no more. She tossed the fellow out on his ear, and little Coleman along with him. Forced now to fend for himself, he rented an inexpensive little house, but couldn’t afford to furnish it beyond the bare necessities.

For several years, he and Coleman struggled. As much as Dalton loved his son, he still couldn’t break free from his old habits, and the little boy spent a lot of time alone, staring at the walls, wondering just where his father might be.

I think the turning point came when Coleman asked for an art table. No way could Dalton afford to buy one, but he sold a few old paintings to scrape together a bit of cash, and even though it meant not paying the rent that month, he bought his son the table he wanted.

Seeing the joy on his son’s face changed Dalton, I think. He started spending more time with Coleman. He started painting again, too. Soon Coleman was making friends and becoming a little more outgoing. Dalton stopped throwing money away on parties, started being a more responsible parent, and even saved enough to fix up the house a bit so that Coleman’s friends could come to visit.

SelfieEventually he met Janis. It was at Magnolia Blossom Park. He was painting there one afternoon when a “Singles Club” came out for a gathering. He and Janis began chatting, exchanged phone numbers, and even took “selfies” together.

Afterward, he nearly missed out, though. He was hesitant to call Janis. Why would she want to go out with a loser like him?

Fortunately, he took the chance and called her.

The relationship has worked out well, and they’re both very happy. Dalton’s ex-wife, Eva, by the way, finally landed in jail for shoplifting, so she’s out of the picture — not that she ever came around that much.

Coleman and Janis get along well, and now, Janis is expecting. Will Dalton propose? I’m hoping he will, but it’s up to him. He’s made many bad choices and wrong decisions over the years, but I think he’s learned a lot about life now. For the first time ever, Dalton Vaile is a happy man. His son is happy, too.

I wish them well.

 

What’s in Your Sim Box?

TS4_KeyartI first asked this question many years ago on the Sims 2 forum, and it was fun to read the answers. Of course, I’ll need to explain what I mean by a “Sim Box”.  Of course, in times past — when we had to actually buy PC games at the store or have them shipped to us through the mail — The Sims came packaged in colorful boxes.

I suppose they still do, actually, but most players take advantage of the convenience of “digital download”.  So, I no longer have a nice little collection of boxes with cover art and disks.

But back in that day, I did keep all my disks and boxes — and all the info booklets and promotional flyers that came with them — neatly arranged in a plastic tub. You know, the kind you buy to store things in. That was my “Sim Box”. But it held a lot more than games.

I used to always buy Prima Guides, too. At times when I wasn’t able to play the game — while traveling, for instance — I’d still enjoy simming by reading the guides and imagining all the things I’d do with my sims the next time I opened the game. I kept those helpful guides in my Sim Box, too.

BlueprintsBuilding homes and community venues has never been a strong point for me, but in the past, I used to try. Yes, I’ll admit, I even bought books showing house plans in hopes of building suitable residences for my sims.

Even with the illustrations though, it still wasn’t easy for me to build houses that actually worked well in my game. They were too big, had too much wasted space, or just didn’t “play well” for one reason or another.

To make my building more successful, I bought pads of graph paper and spent hours drawing out house designs based on plans from the books. The books and the graph paper — along with pencils and erasers — found a home in my Sim Box.

With Sims 4, I no longer have Prima Guides, game boxes, or house plans. Like so many others, I’ve opted for digital downloads, and I’ve given up on building my own houses or other structures. There are too many lots available at the Exchange for me to try making my own. I’m just not good at it. As for the Prima Guide…well, I found a used copy available at Amazon, so I ordered it. It will arrive sometime in the next few weeks. I was actually surprised to find it. I thought Prima had gone the digital route, as well.

Despite the lack of game boxes, guidebooks, and building plans, I do still have a Sim Box, however. I have notebooks filled with game information — lists of traits, lists of careers — and I have notes I’ve downloaded from sites like Carl’s Guides. Of course, once my Prima Guide arrives, I’ll be able to toss a lot of those notes into the trash.

Another little treasure I have in my Sim Box is sheet music for the Sims 2 theme. That was a special offer from EA years ago, and being a musician, I jumped at the chance.

The most important item in my Sim Box today is small and simple. I single six-sided die. I love throwing “random factors” into my game. As storylines develop, I use the die to follow the story in whatever direction fate takes it. When I have “turning points” in a story, I’ll come up with a list of options and then roll the die to see where I’ll go with the story. I use the die to decide whether or not my sims should “try for baby” among other things. As silly as it sounds, I couldn’t play my game without a die close at hand. Even though there’s “Random.org” to help with random choices — and I do use it a lot — it’s much easier to roll a die while I’m actually in the game.

And, for long playing “binges”, I’ll sometimes throw a few snacks into my Sim Box. Then, with everything I need nearby, I can settle in for an afternoon’s enjoyment. Or longer.

So, what’s in your Sim Box?

 

 

Free Perks!

It doesn’t take long for the modding community to go into action once a new game pack or expansion pack is released for Sims 4. Dine Out hit the market on Tuesday, June 7, and the following day devilgirl introduced the “Simstopics Free Restaurant Perks” mod. Let’s just say that my ears “perked up” at the sound of this.

It’s available at Mod the Sims and will allow your restaurant owners to cash in on the in-game perks. You must have the Dine Out game pack, of course.

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For me, running a business in any sims game has always proved difficult. I don’t have any restaurant owners yet, but when I do, I’m definitely going to consider this mod to make their life — and mine — much easier.

A Close Call

Edgar EvansFormer astronaut Edgar Evans is proud to say he now has 22 members of his fan club — all the neighborhood kids. They’re so cute. He loves visiting their little club and talking about his time in space.

Of course, he also enjoys having the current group of NSSA Cadets over to his place and fixing dinner for them. He makes a mess, but his wife, Sara, never complains.

The Evans family did have quite a scare recently, though. Edgar’s wife, Sara, has been spending a lot of time taking care of those exotic space plants the space agency has been studying. A woman working at the agency — Yasmin Grayson — nearly died because of those plants. It seems they’re the cause of an ailment the scientists have named boverde flu.

Boverde Flu Sara got violently ill, and Edgar was afraid he was going to lose her. Fortunately the doctors have now developed a cure for the disease.

Edgar is very insistent that his wife steer clear of those exotic space plants in the future.

And what’s going on with Kat and Jonathan? Why aren’t they having babies? Family is far more important than career, at least in Edgar’s opinion, and Sara is inclined to agree with him. But so far, no news about any little ones on the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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Have I got a treat for you today! Since our simmies are having problems ordering food at restaurants, and pizza delivery isn’t always reliable, here’s a simple and delicious meal they can make at home. It comes from my blogging friend BigandPinkyToes, and it combines two all-time sim favorites: Grilled Cheese and Pizza. Enjoy!

BigAndPinkyToes

So apparently I am going to have a summer grilled cheese sandwich series on my blog, and it continues with pizza grilled cheese. Yes you read that right. It is pretty scrumptious, and it’ll curb your desire to spend money on pizza delivery. I promise. I saute mushrooms, onions, and black olives. Then I add some pepperoni, since that’s what I like to eat on my pizza. You can substitute the filling ingredients for whatever toppings you prefer or have on hand. I do suggest using sautéed or roasted veggies though. Since the sandwich is only in the pan for a few minutes, it’s not long enough to cook the vegetables.

Feel free to check out my other grilled cheese creations here:

Chicken Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 pieces of buttered, sliced Italian bread

2-3 Tbsp marinara or spagettie sauce

1/4 cup total of desired…

View original post 90 more words

First Dinner Date

Have you got Dine Out yet? I downloaded and installed it yesterday and immediately went into the game to check it out.

Yes, of course I was disappointed that we didn’t have a new neighborhood, so I had to delete an existing venue in order to place a restaurant in my game. For now, I used the pre-made from Maxis, but sorry, folks, while I enjoy llama jokes as much as anyone, I don’t need an elegant restaurant with a name like Chez Llama.

I’d planned to name my first restaurant Blossom Hill after a restaurant I included in Sims 2. I changed that plan, though, when I finally placed the new lot. It’s in the Magnolia Promenade area, so I named it Magnolia Blossom. I’m just going to pretend that Blossom Hill was sold, and the new owners changed its name.

Once I had the restaurant open, I headed for the next family on my rotating play list. It was the household of Dalton Vaile. His girlfriend, Janis Melanson, is living with him, and the relationship is about to get very serious — in a good way. I was playing from her point of view, and she was eager to go out to the elegant new restaurant that was having its “grand opening”.

A bit of quick backstory. Dalton Vaile is a starving artist and single father. His ex-wife is now serving time in jail for repeated shoplifting offenses (this all comes from my townie project). Dalton has struggled financially. Most of the time he and Coleman have barely had anything to eat or money enough to pay the utilities. When he met Janis, he knew he had little to offer. She didn’t care. She was happy to move in with him, and that helped ease the financial burden a bit. When tragedy struck and Janis lost both her parents in an accident while they were off on a safari adventure (another bit that comes from the townie project), she received a nice sum of money as an inheritance. Her relationship with Dalton has deepened considerably since. Now, that’s not to say that he only loves her for her money, but it sure does make life easier.

Since Janis could easily afford the cost of dining out at Magnolia Blossom, she and Dalton dressed in their finest and went out to dinner. Her treat.

Dining at Magnolia BlossomAs far as dates go, it was all right. There were, however, a few little problems. When they arrived at the restaurant, one of their first “successful date requirements” was to be seated at a table.

I wasn’t sure how to do it, but I saw what looked to be a hostess or maitre’d and instructed Janis to speak to him. She did. She hurried into the restaurant while Dalton stood out on the street by himself.

Really, EA? This was a date. You know. Two people going out together.

I was relieved that Dalton did join Janis. Now, how were they supposed to order? Somehow I clicked the right place and a menu appeared. Honestly, the whole “ordering process” confused me. I stumbled around with it and finally ordered drinks and salads — the same for both of them — and I intended to order a main course. Oops, the menu disappeared.

Note: I did post a question about this on the Forum – Ordering Food

Apparently we have to order in stages. But it’s a moot point, perhaps. My sims got their drinks, but nothing else. And that’s when the musical chairs began. Instead of spending time with Dalton, lovely Janis was up and about, drink in hand, chatting with diners at other tables. I had a terrible time getting her to sit down and have those deep conversations she and Dalton needed if they wanted this date to be a success.

The “to-do” checklist also told me my sims should “socialize about meal”, but I couldn’t find any options for that, probably because the meal never came…which, of course, was because I never had a chance to order a main course!

Before I knew it, the date was over. Janis and Dalton received flowers as a reward — not sure what date-level that is — and I took them back home. For what it’s worth, they were both in a most romantic mood, and Janis is now expecting a visit from the stork. I’ll probably have them get married, and Dalton is thinking maybe they should get a bigger house. Yes, it’s good to have a little money in the bank when you need it.

But, back to Dine Out. So far, I’m not wildly enthusiastic about the game pack, but neither do I totally hate it. Based solely on my experience — with one household and one restaurant — here are my likes and dislikes:

Likes

  • Getting a table was fairly simple.
  • We can set “dress codes” for a restaurant.
  • The drinks my sims ordered arrived promptly.
  • The restaurant had lots of other sims dining — in different age groups.
  • Family sims did sit together.
  • We can choose the name for our restaurant.
  • We have customization options for the staff and for the menu.
  • Dining out is reflected in the “checklist” for a date.
  • Paying for the meal is convenient.

Dislikes

  • We have limited choices for restaurant type.
  • Ordering food is confusing and/or not working as it should.
  • Sims are socializing more than dining.
  • No new neighborhood included in the pack.

That’s my quick assessment, but that’s based on a very limited play experience. Later today I’ll go into the game again and “dine out”.

For me, the biggest problem is the lack of a new neighborhood. I’d love to have a diner or two, and a seafood restaurant would be nice — that’s one of the choices we have. But I have nowhere to build any additional restaurants. For my sims, the new Magnolia Blossom restaurant is their only dine-out option. That’s a disappointment.

What have your experiences been? Are you enjoying the new game pack? What are you likes and dislikes? Found any bugs in the food?

 

 

 

Dinner Music

Have you ever been to an elegant restaurant and been serenaded by a musician? Well, in my game, I definitely want to treat my diners to the full dining experience, complete with violin. In fact, I think I know a violinst who might be interested in performing. This sounds like a perfect job for Jonathan Evans, don’t you think?

In honor of today’s forthcoming release of Dine Out, I’m sharing a little dinner music. Enjoy!