The Russian Wife Experience

I once had a neighbor many years ago who “bought” himself a wife. Actually, two — but not at the same time, of course. The first was a mail-order bride from the Philippines, which resulted in a marriage that lasted about fifteen years and produced two beautiful daughters. But, all good things come to an end and after all those years, his now-Americanized wife packed up and moved out.

“I think I’ll get myself a Russian wife this time,” the neighbor casually remarked when I saw him one day after their divorce. He said it in much the same way one might speak when ordering a pizza. A bit like “Yeah, I think I want anchovies on it.”

Maybe he lacked social skills. He was a bit of a geek, and overall, my thought is that for him “ordering a wife” online was simply the quickest, easiest way to complete a desired transaction.

By the way, he did, indeed, get a Russian lady for his second wife. That marriage produced a son and lasted for quite some time, although I believe she, too, eventually packed up and left. This was years ago, and I’ve long since lost track of the fellow.

He was on my mind, however, as I pondered what to do with Michael Sorensen, a young adult sim who is living alone for the first time. Michael, you see, comes from a highly dysfunctional family, and if you’ve followed along on my blog for a while, you probably know that when I create sims or age them up, I choose traits for them at random. So it was that when Michael aged up to young adult status, he had the misfortune to get the new “unflirty” trait. It seemed a good addition to his gloomy personality, and certainly seemed to fit right in with his background.

But, as I saw him sitting alone in his new house, I felt sorry for Michael. Everyone deserves a loving relationship, right? I love seeing my sims find that “someone special”, get married, and start families of their own.

Of course, I knew that Michael could never manage this without a little help. It was time for a bit of “player intervention.”

How could I find a wife for Michael and yet make it part of a somewhat “realistic” storyline? As that question ran through my mind, memories of my old neighbor surfaced. Yes, the perfect solution. Michael could “buy” himself a wife.

I suppose I could have easily chosen an Asian townie to play the role, but instead I opted to go with a Russian bride. I quickly went into CAS and prepared to design the perfect woman for Michael. When I clicked “Add Sim” to Michael’s household, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this young lady.

From the moment I saw her, I loved her. To me, she somehow looked exactly as I’d imagined a good “Russian wife” should.

Because she had a very special role to play in my game, I didn’t use my “random factor” to select her traits. I gave her the following:

  • Neat
  • Cheerful
  • Bookworm

Those seemed like good qualities for a wife. I also gave her a “Family Oriented” aspiration. She’s hoping to have a big, happy family.

Finally came the moment of truth. I clicked on Michael’s household and went in to play. I found Galina sitting at the kitchen table. My imagination kicked in, of course, and I could sense her nervousness as she waited to meet her prospective husband for the first time. (In CAS, I left their status as “roommates” to give them a chance to develop an actual relationship on their own.)

Things went quite well. Michael sat down and they began a very pleasant chat. They discussed their interests, they spent time getting to know one another, and they had a few deep conversations. All the wile the specter of Michael’s “unflirty” personality was hovering over the meeting. Did I dare attempt a flirtation?

Finally, I tried. Of course, the best Michael could manage was an “awkward” flirt. I had hoped Galina would be understanding, but it didn’t happen that way. Next, I tried having her flirt with Michael. That was not good. Within a matter of moments, they were well on their way to hating each other. How could I stop this disaster from happening?

Maybe I should set a more romantic mood, I decided. I quickly grabbed an incense burner and soon the sweet fragrance of romantic sandalwood was wafting through the air. It seemed to help a little, but not enough to turn the tide. Even though they were in a flirty atmosphere, I couldn’t get any romance blossoming between them.

I almost gave up. From this experience, my guess is that it’s impossible for an “unflirty” sim to ever find love and marital happiness. I thought of letting them go right on hating each other — their bars were filled with red — but force them into marriage through CAS. After all, arranged marriages don’t always begin with love and affection, right?

Had I done that, I doubt that Michael and Galina could ever have had children, and that was the whole point of the “Russian wife” experience. This was supposed to be an easy, painless way for socially inept Michael to start a family.

So, in desperation I headed back to CAS. I temporarily changed Michael’s nature from unflirty to romantic. Oh, what a difference! It didn’t take long for these two to get things going hot and heavy. Too hot, in fact. While they were kissing passionately the incense caught fire and burned up half the kitchen. Fortunately, Galina had sense enough to grab a fire extinguisher. Once the fire was out, they picked up where they left off and headed to the bedroom for a little woo-hoo.

I figured it was all right to “marry” the couple since they were getting along. I slipped back into CAS again, changed their relationship status to pronounce them husband and wife, and then…yeah, I changed Michael back to his usual unflirty self.

Before I left, I photographed the happy couple at home. They both love reading, so maybe they will be able to make their marriage work.

Michael and Galina at home sharing their love of books.

Now, what will happen when it’s time for them to begin a family? Will Michael be able to actually have a relationship? Or will I once again have to resort to drastic measures to overcome his inability to handle romantic flirtations? Will incense help? Or will that only lead to burning down their house? Will Galina have patience enough to put up with her gloomy husband?

Only time will tell, but for now, the Russian wife has proved to be quite an interesting experience, both for Michael and for me.



Getting Back to the Game

Until yesterday, the last time I’d played The Sims was in June, 2016. That’s a long, long time. Now, at last, I’m back to my game, and it’s surprisingly difficult!

First, let me explain. I’m sure it seems odd that a devoted Sims player would be away from the game for months at a time, but that’s part of how my life works. I tend to go “all in” with whatever I’m doing at any given moment, so when something comes along to change my direction, other things sometimes get left behind…for a while.

Last June is when I began my new business as a consultant for Perfectly Posh, and I’d be delighted if you visited my website and checked out the great, naturally-based products available. Any questions, please let me know!

But this blog is about playing games, not pampering ourselves. The point is it took a little time to get things going as a new consultant, so I had less time to spend with my sims. Over the last few months other things happened, as well, such as two stays in the hospital and having surgery. But, I’m home. I’m well, and I’m playing my game again.

I was excited to hear about the addition of toddlers to Sims 4, and I have to say that I love these little darlings! I’m crazy about the traits. So far I have one family with a fussy, cranky toddler, another with a very clingy little one, yet another with a most independent little girl, and one family with a real little charmer on their hands.

I love our toddlers!

Getting back into the game, however, was not as easy as clicking an icon and loading a saved file. Needless to say, my game was woefully out of date. So was my Origin client. It took a long time to update before I could even think of playing.

Next, I wanted to add the City Living expansion pack. I purchased it through Amazon then struggled to figure out how to redeem the digital code. I’ve done it before in the past, but this time…well, I guess my brain just wasn’t working right. I finally did get the expansion downloaded to my game, and that’s when I took a deep breath and clicked the PLAY button.


For what it’s worth, I’m always a little nervous when I add an expansion or game pack to my Sims. I know from past experience that things can and do sometimes go wrong. Did I have any mods in the game? Or had I removed them? It had been so long since I’d played, I didn’t have a clue. Oh, well. In the end, it didn’t matter. The download worked, my sims now have a new city, and…oh, dear, just how do I actually play this game?

Yep. That’s how it felt. I was a newbie all over again. I wrestled with the camera controls, couldn’t figure out how to rotate furniture, and when I tried to age up one sim, I had no idea how to bake a birthday cake. Could I buy one? Why didn’t my sims have enough skill to make a simple cake? So, yeah, I finally realized it was a Cooking skill, not a Baking skill, and Michael Sorensen aged up to a young adult and moved out on his own.

I couldn’t remember how to enter a cheat code, and then I couldn’t remember what cheat code I was supposed to use to edit a pre-existing sim.  FYI, it’s Control-Shift-C, and the codes are testingcheats true and cas.fulleditmode.

Soon, though, I was thoroughly enjoying my gameplay. As I said before, I adore the new toddlers. I also like the “lot traits” available with the City Living, although I’m not sure if they can be applied to lots in other worlds or not. I’ve read both yes and no. I haven’t figured it out yet.

I’m also having fun with the festivals from the expansion, and I’m looking forward to playing a few families today. It’s great to reconnect with my sims and even better to reconnect with my blogging friends here.


Getting Ready to Dine Out

Since I’m not a builder, I’m already happily browsing restaurants in The Gallery in anticipation of tomorrow’s Dine Out game pack release.

This creation from Ranczer01 caught my eye. I’m sure others will enjoy this fine dining experience, as well.

Restaurant by Ranczer01
Restaurant by Ranczer01

To download, you can visit the Gallery, or just click here to go directly there. This 30 x 30 lot is currently listed as a “Lounge”. I’m sure once the new game pack is released, this beautiful venue can be easily converted to meet “Restaurant” requirements.

Today I’m thinking a lot about my sims and their communities. Although I’m still wondering exactly where I’ll put any new restaurants, I’m sure I’ll figure something out. I know my “master chef” Craig Dennison will open up a new restaurant. He had one in the past, but working around the game limitations to make it seem like a “real restaurant” was a problem. Hopefully running his restaurant will be more realistic after tomorrow.

I love having restaurants in my game, and in the past I’ve included everything from little ice cream shoppes to elegant restaurants serving fine cuisine. I’ve had little “Mom and Pop” burger bars, all-night diners, and fun little sandwich shops.

To add a more realistic flair to my games, I’ve always given names to the venues in my neighborhoods and worlds — even ones that didn’t really exist on the map. I like knowing where my sims work, you see, so many  of my “culinary” career sims were employed at Blossom Hill. I always imagined it sitting atop a gentle slope, surrounded by apple trees, cheery trees, and peach trees in bloom. Of course, fresh fruit pies were their specialty.

Tomorrow, once I’ve downloaded and installed Dine Out, I’m going to open a new Blossom Hill restaurant. I think I’ll situate it among a grove of blooming trees, and yes, I’ll include lots of fruit on the menu. I won’t know until then, of course, what other choices I’ll have. I’m looking forward to the “grand opening” of this fine dining establishment.

I’d love to hear about your plans for dining out!

A Husband of Her Own

ProposalFiona Patterson was about to give up on Benjamin Brooks. He’s always late! They were supposed to meet for a romantic night in the park, and he didn’t show up. She got tired of waiting and went home, and then he showed up at the park.

He finally came on home, and before she had a chance to yell at him, she found out why he was late. He’d stopped at the jewelers to pick up the engagement ring he’d ordered.

An engagement ring!

Yes, he proposed, and Fiona didn’t want to wait. They hurried off to find a judge and got married right away. After all, they’ve been living together so it wasn’t anything to make a big deal over. Fiona was tired of listening to her mother go on and on about how sinful it was.

Is Fiona happy now? No, not really. Well, yes, she loves Benjamin, but he’s still always late. He’s late to work. He’s late getting home. He’s late getting up. He’s not making much money either, but neither is she. They’re broke. Bills are coming due again soon, and Fiona’s a bit concerned. Things will get better, of course.

And what of Jonathan? She hasn’t seen him since he broke off their relationship. He told her then that he really loved his wife and wanted to make her happy. Well, Fiona told him a thing or two! And now, Jonathan, guess what! She doesn’t need you anymore. She’s got a husband, and by the way, he’s much better at keeping her satisfied that you ever were.

So there, Jonathan!



A New Leaf

Angry FionaJonathan Evans is turning over a new leaf. He’s decided he’s not going to put his marriage at risk for a meaningless little fling with Fiona Patterson. That’s all it ever was, really.

Jonathan cares about Fiona, but he’s vowed to love Kat forever, and he’s going to do the right thing and honor that commitment. He’s going to be the kind of husband Kat deserves.

Fiona wasn’t happy when he told her, but she’ll get over it.

For heaven’s sake, she’s living with Benjamin Brooks, so she’s been cheating, too. Maybe she should stay home and spend a little time with Benjamin.

The way Jonathan sees it now, he’s been asking for trouble. So has Fiona. It’s not worth it. He wants a happy marriage, not one riddled with suspicions and doubt.

Now, his only concern is what Fiona might do. Jonathan hopes he won’t be seeing Fiona around town too often. It could get awkward. It could get nasty.

Graduation Day

Graduation DayIt’s the day that Jonathan and Kat have both been waiting for. They’re donning graduation caps and walking across the stage at the Academy of Performing Arts.

Jonathan is proud to have earned his Bachelor’s degree — with honors — in Violin performance. Fiona has earned her degree in Piano performance.

What’s ahead now for the young couple? Neither is quite sure. Jonathan will start sending out queries to symphony orchestras, but despite his degree, his honors, and his talent, it’s hard to get auditions. And even harder to land a chair in a major orchestra.

Katherine isn’t setting her sights so high. She’s happy being Jonathan’s wife, so she’d prefer spending her time at home, taking care of the house, cooking meals…and maybe setting up a nursery? She and Jonathan had agreed they wouldn’t start a family under after graduation day.

Well, Jonathan? Are you ready now?

Kat would love to have children, but sometimes she’s not sure how her husband really feels about it. He’s been a bit distant at times, but maybe that was just the pressure of final exams, long rehearsals, the stress of the performances he’s given, and all the worries about finding a position.

Kat hopes that there’s nothing seriously wrong in her marriage. She still harbors a few suspicions about Fiona Patterson. Now that they’re all out of school — Fiona graduated, too — there won’t be many opportunities for Jonathan and Fiona to cross paths.

Having a baby would be a great way to get Jonathan’s full attention. Kat’s hoping it will happen soon.


Big Blue Divider

 What do YOU think? Should Kat and Jonathan start a family now?






A Little Sim History

The Sims burst onto the PC game scene back in 2000, and for a time, nobody knew quite what to make of it. It wasn’t exactly a game so what was a player supposed to do with it? Previously, we’d been introduced to Sim City — which was in a similar vein — but this was different. In Sim City there were little scenarios — in-game challenges you could play and win. With The Sims, all we had were people in houses in a tiny little neighborhood.

Some gamers didn’t get it and found little of interest in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. They set the game aside and moved on. Others, however, saw the freedom and fun of a gaming experience that had no real rules to follow, no pre-scripted storyline, and no pre-ordained end conditions. We realized, in fact, that there was no end to the game. We could play as long as we wanted.

And, for the most part, we could do whatever we wanted. Sure, there were certain limitations. We’re talking about a computer program. In the early days, our sims couldn’t do a lot, and our choices in creating sims or building houses was somewhat limited. Yet within the structure of the game, we could make our own choices. We didn’t have to follow a pathway through the game. We didn’t have to “level up” or amass experience points. All we had to do was have fun. And we did.

By Official GDC - Game Developers Choice Awards @ GDC 2010, CC BY 2.0,
By Official GDC – Game Developers Choice Awards @ GDC 2010,

Today, we look at Will Wright — creator of The Sims — as a creative genius who knew what we wanted before we did. How did he conceive of this “virtual doll house” as it’s often been called? The story behind The Sims is a fascinating one, so sit back and enjoy this look at how it all came to be.

I won’t go into all of Wright’s life story here, although it’s an interesting one, to be sure. I’ll pick it up in 1986 when his daughter, Cassidy, was born. Will spent a lot of time caring for his daughter, and that’s when the idea of an “interactive doll house” first came to his mind.


I went around my house looking at all my objects, asking myself, ‘What’s the least number of motives or needs that would justify all this crap in my house?’ There should be some reason for everything in my house. What’s the reason? – Will Wright

The story took a disastrous turn in 1991 when Wright awoke and smelled smoke. The family grabbed what personal possessions they could and evacuated the house. They returned three days later to find that everything had been destroyed. The only things left were a few lumps of melted metal — the remains of a second car they’d owned.

In the following months, as the family set about to replace their belongings, Will began thinking about the different things people need in life.

I hate to shop, and I was forced to buy all these things, from toothpaste, utensils, and socks up to furniture. – Will Wright

Little by little, these life experiences coalesced into the beginnings of a game. As the idea developed, three books helped Wright with his design ideas.

  • A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander which identifies 253 building “patterns” and shows how these patterns are used to create comfortable and satisfying living spaces. Alexander promoted the idea that the value of architecture could be measured by the happiness of the people who lived in it.
  • A Theory of Human Motivation by Abraham Maslow. This paper, written in 1943, introduced “Maslow’s Pyramid” to explain the hierarchy of human needs.
  • Maps of the Mind by Charles Hampden-Turner which compares dozens of theories on how the human mind works.

Gradually Will Wright formulated a model by which he could quantify happiness for the people in his “doll house” by evaluating their status, their popularity, their career success, and by the quality of their environment. And thus The Sims was born.

I don’t believe any one theory of human psychology is correct. The Sims just ended up being a mishmash of stuff that worked in the game. – Will Wright

When Wright took his idea to the Maxis board of directors, they thought he was crazy.

The board looked at The Sims and said “What is this? He wants to do an interactive doll house? The guy is out of his mind.'” – Jeff Braun

Later, in 1997, Electronic Arts bought out Maxis. They were much more enthusiastic about The Sims. The game was released in 2000, and as they say, the rest is history. The Sims went on to become the best-selling PC game of all time. It’s been released on many other platforms now, and we’re currently in the fourth edition of the series.

Are there problems? Yes. The game in its latest iteration lacks a lot of what made The Sims so successful, but let’s not lose hope yet. Simming has become much more than a game for many of us. It’s a creative outlet, a satisfying hobby, and most of all, a lot of fun. It might not be perfect, but there’s nothing else out there quite like The Sims.





“Will You Marry Me?”

One thing about Jonathan Evans…it might take him a while to make a decision but once he makes up his mind, he takes action right away. He’s had his fun and he’s ready now to make that lifelong commitment.

It’s Kat, of course. Was there ever any doubt? She captivated him from the moment they first met. It just took a little while for him to come to his senses. He knows she’s the one for him.

Kat ProposalSo, he proposed, she accepted, and the happy couple are looking forward to their wedding day. Had it been up to Jonathan, a quick trip to a justice of the peace would have been just fine. But Kat wants a big wedding.

Heavens, they’re not even married yet and already he’s having to adjust to doing things her way. Well, whatever makes her happy, right?

Of course, having a big wedding will make his mother and father very happy, too. They’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.

Now, the chapel is reserved, invitations have been sent, and the future is about to begin.

Big Blue DividerWatch for wedding pictures!

Big Blue Divider






Spring Is Near

It’s a very cold morning here in the Midwest. Yesterday we even saw a bit of snow falling. Today it might warm up to the 40s. It could be worse, of course.

Sometimes I envy my sims. Although I’d love to have seasons in my game — hopefully they’ll come in an expansion pack at some time in the future — it’s must be nice to live in a land where it never rains, never snows, and is always bright and sunny.

One of the best things about spring — which officially begins tomorrow — is that nature bursts forth in all her glory. I love getting outside and doing a little photography. Since it’s spring year-round in my Sims 4 game, my shutterbug sims can enjoy the hobby any time.

Today, I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite shots, courtesy of my sim, William Sorensen. He’s a nature photographer, and here’s a look at some of his pictures. Enjoy!

01-28-16_6-53-22 AM (2)
Spring at Magnolia Blossom Park
A beautiful morning in New Simeria
A beautiful morning in New Simeria
An early morning stroll through the park
An early morning stroll through the park
01-23-16_4-22-45 PM
Dense foliage covers a rocky ledge

I’m looking forward to spring. I’m planning to do a lot of photography as well as a lot of landscape painting. It’s a truly gorgeous time of year, don’t you agree?

What are your favorite scenic views in the game?