I Will Be Back Soon!

Yes, September is here, my new business is up and running — a big shout-out of thanks to all who have shown their support of Bloomin’ Beauty — and I’m eager to re-visit my Sims and share their stories.

I won’t be posting on a daily basis as before, but there will be new posts coming. Be watching!


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.


Dining Out

Only two days remain before the release of the next Sims 4 game pack, Dine Out.


We’ll be able to build restaurants for our food-loving sims and actually run them as businesses. Families will have opportunities to dine out, celebrate birthdays and special occasions, and young sims in love can add dining out as another date-night activity.

At least, I think we’ll be doing all those things. To be honest, I’m always a bit skeptical until I get my hands on a new game pack or expansion pack. I need to see for myself what we can and can’t do. Sometimes, I’ve found, EA’s promotions and promises aren’t quite all they seem.

That said, let’s look at the reasons why EA says we should be excited for this new addition to the game.

Experimental Food

Oh, boy. I’m not sure how I feel about this one.  A “Jungle Moss Egg with Lavender Wisps”? OK, if you say so. Honestly, I’d rather have a game that lets me create my own experimental foods or add my own recipes, but some of these dishes could be fun. They’re “photo-worthy” according to Grant Rodiek, and our sims will be able to take pictures and hang on the walls. Great, I guess. Not something I do in real life, but this is a game, after all. What bothers me, though, is the note about “collecting” all these dishes — another achievement to be earned by having a sim try out every experimental food item. I’m not a fan of this style of gameplay. But we’re also promised new moodlets and new social options. Experimental foods will be interesting, to say the least.

Dining Experiences

Grant also assures us that we’ll have “varied dining experiences”, and that would be a definite plus — especially for a simmer like me who plays multiple families. I need variety in the experiences the game provides for my many sims. In addition to the new moodlets introduced in the game pack, there will also be new activities for kids. I don’t know if these will be available only in restaurants, or if any of these activities will carry over to other venues. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Customizable Restaurants

Now, this aspect of the game pack has definitely piqued my interest. What I love most about simming is the opportunity to put my creativity to work…er, that is, to put it to play. For me, The Sims has always been a creative outlet, and I love the idea of making restaurants my own. We can choose names, choose the sort of ambience we want, dress the staff as we choose, and set our own menus. It sounds great, and now I’m wondering how many perverted fellows out there will be designed restaurants with naked servers. Hey, it’s possible!

Ownable Restaurants

Now, here’s the one I’m not too wild about. Oh, it’s not that I don’t like the idea of my sims becoming restaurateurs — I love that idea — it’s just that I’m not sure I’ll like EA’s ways of implementing it. Electronic Arts tells us that we can hire, train, and inspire the staff, and even compensate customers for bad service. They then go on to compare owning a restaurant to careers from Get to Work — which is not a favorite of mine. The retail system in Sims 4 leaves a lot to be desired. My personal feeling is that owning and operating a restaurant in the game will most likely be very frustrating. I want my sims to enjoy owning a restaurant. I want to be able to enjoy it, too.

New Objects

This game pack will provide us with a lot of new decorative content, and that’s always fun. I haven’t yet seen a list of items, but I’m hoping they’ll be available for use not only in restaurant venues, but also in home settings. If not, of course, I’m guessing there will be cheats to make them buyable for every location.

Pre-Made Restaurants

We’ll have six pre-made restaurants we can add to our game, and this is great for those of us who aren’t good builders. I’m sure I’ll make use of these lots. Of course, the talented builders from our simming community will have lots of great restaurant lots on the exchange. It will be exciting to see them. I’ll be showcasing restaurants from time to time. I know there will be some great ones.

So, it sounds interesting, but there are a lot of questions in my mind. Will we have a new neighborhood? If not, where are we going to put these new restaurants? Will using fresh vegetables and herbs increase the quality of food served? Will we have new NPCs — such as the “restaurant critic” some have suggested? Will we be able to use restaurants for “club activities” in Get Together? Will different types of restaurants generate a different type of “townie clientele”? Will restaurants have “dress codes”?

Each time a new game pack or expansion pack is released, the simmers in EA’s forum go wild with speculation, imagining this, that, and everything else in the upcoming pack. Usually the reality falls far short of their expectations. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay little attention to EA’s hype and to avoid thinking too much about what I’ll do in the game until it actually arrives and I can see for myself what the new pack includes.

Still, I am excited for the release of Dine Out. How about you? Will you be getting the game pack on release day? Or will you wait to read the reviews from other players before you spend your hard-earned dollars?


So You Want to be a Writer?

In many years of writing, I have heard over and over again how hard it is to write, how much a writer must sacrifice for his or her art, how we must bleed upon the page if we hope to call ourselves writers. Of course, I’ve heard, too, of that most-lamentable condition called writer’s block. It’s one more of the perils that face those who dare to pick up paper and pencil and express their thoughts.

Whenever I hear complaints such as these, one thought quickly comes into my head. If it’s so hard for you, why do you do it?

Let’s look at geometry for a moment. In school, I made good grades in geometry, but I hated the subject. It involved so much tedious measurement! Today, in art work, I still don’t like geometry, so I avoid drawings that rely heavily on architectural perspectives and those dreaded angles. In other words, geometry is a useful skill for many, but one I use only if I must.

Why should it be different for writing? Just as I would never want a job that required me to use geometry on a daily basis, why would anyone who finds writing difficult ever want to be a writer? Now, please, don’t tell me that I don’t understand what writing is all about. Trust me, I do.

Writing CareerIf you really want to suffer for your art, go right ahead. But just remember, it doesn’t have to be that way. Writing can be — and in my opinion, should be — a lot of fun. Especially with Sim-Lit. After all, this is a genre based upon playing a game. If that’s not a recipe for fun, I don’t know what is!

The trouble a lot of struggling writers have comes from taking themselves too seriously, and from worrying too much about getting the words right. If there’s one simple secret to writing, it’s this: the more words you write, the easier it becomes, and the more words you write, the greater the likelihood that you’ll find the right ones.

Don’t ever be afraid of writing badly. Why not? Because bad writing can be improved. You can’t do anything with a blank page, however, except stare at it. The problems you face in writing can usually be corrected by writing more.


Sure. Practice does lead to improvement, especially if you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing and are willing to learn from your mistakes.

But what should I write about? Where do I start? How do I know what to say?



You don’t have to know what to say when you start.

The point is, if you want to write, sit down and do it. Don’t worry about choosing the right word, just write every word that comes to mind. Put down a dozen different thoughts. You can sort them out later, once they’re on the page. Forget about spelling, and for the moment, don’t even think about grammar. Spelling can be checked; bad grammar can be corrected. Unnecessary words can be removed, and jumbled thoughts can be put in order.

I know, you’re not convinced. You’re still shaking your head, mumbling that I just don’t “get it”. It’s not easy to write, you have to be inspired, you have to have some ethereal muse hovering about, tormenting your soul…or whatever it is that people think muses do.

Hate to burst your bubble, but writing is easy, you don’t have to be inspired to do it, and if you want to be a writer, you have to become your own muse. Tormenting your soul, by the way, is not part of the job description.

A writer’s job is to write. Oh, sure, there’s a little more to it than just writing, but that’s where it begins. You sit down and you write. About what? About anything. You write, you explore your thoughts, and you put your imagination to work.

You write silly things. You write bad things. You write the most outlandish, ridiculous things you can think of. Sometimes you even do it deliberately…because it’s so much fun. You write fast, you write furiously. You wander off on tangents and fall into gaping plot holes. Oh, well. It happens. You just keep writing.

Don’t know where to go next? No plot? No problem. Grab a dictionary, open it at random, and take the first word you see. Find a way to use it. Got a book of story starters or writing prompts? Take an idea and make it work for your story. Indulge yourself in a bit of stream of consciousness writing — just sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind.

Play with words. Play with writing. Make up creative exercises, such as describing twenty ways a character might walk: he ambled, he sauntered, he limped… Or try listing as many “dialogue tags” as you can: she postulated, she opined, she posited. Note: Once you’ve come up with these awful tags, throw them away. The best dialogue tag is still “said.

Write from different points of view. Write in present tense. Write from your memories or write from your dreams. Just write, and keep on writing until you can’t write any longer. Stop, take a break, and then come back and do it all over again.

Here’s a little challenge for you. Sit down today and take a look at the time. Write down the time, in fact. Then start writing about anything and everything that comes to mind. Just ramble on for as long as you want. Stop, look at the time, and write it down. How long did you spend writing before you ran out of words? Five minutes? Fifteen? Two hours? It doesn’t matter how long you wrote. This is only the starting point. Just make note of the length of time you spent.

Tomorrow, sit down again and repeat the exercise. This time, however, add five minutes to the previous day’s writing session. Set a timer so you’ll know when to quit.

The following day, add another five minutes. Repeat this every day until you’ve doubled your original time. In other words, if you wrote for one hour on the first day, continue until your session reaches two hours.

You might also want to check out Stream of Consciousness Saturday, a blogging challenge which provides participants with a weekly prompt. No rules, no word length minimums, just writing purely for the joy of it.

Yes, writing should be joyful. It should be fun. So, if you really want to be a writer, learn now how to make writing the most enjoyable thing you do each day.



Fresh Strawberries

Just had to write this post so I could show off a few of the beautiful berries we’ve been picking from our strawberry patch!


We’ve been picking — and enjoying — dozens of these strawberries every day. We’re definitely having our best crop of berries ever!

I do enjoy gardening, and I’m glad it’s a skill that my sims can learn, too. Not every family in my game has a garden, but many do. Some of my sims are actually quite passionate about the fruits and flowers and vegetables. I even have sims who make a living from their gardening abilities.

Strawberries in the game are, unfortunately, an uncommon fruit — which means that they’re a little more difficult to find. You can’t purchase seeds in starter packs, so if you want fresh berries, you’ll have to go out looking for them. According to Carl’s Guide to Gardening, you should be able to find strawberries growing in Willow Springs on the “Garden Essence” lot.

Gardening was first introduced to The Sims with the Unleashed expansion pack, and it’s been part of each game since. Personally, I think the gardening skill in Sims 4 is the best it’s ever been. And just as in real life, gardening skills and cooking skills can go hand in hand.

Your sims can use fresh strawberries to make lots of delicious dishes:

  • Strawberry pancakes
  • French toast with strawberries
  • Strawberry cobbler
  • Strawberry and yogurt parfait
  • Strawberry cheesecake
  • Monte Christo sandwiches with strawberries
  • Strawberry baked Alaska

I make many of these dishes in my kitchen, and with fresh fruit, they are delicious!

If your sims haven’t been having fun in the garden, why not get started today? My one frustration is that children can’t learn gardening skills, but the rest of the family can enjoy the activity and gain health and happiness benefits from eating the fresh produce.

And don’t forget about the new Dine Out Game Pack which will be released on June 7. Happy eating!

Dine Out

The Medieval Mistake

Ok, so I’ve been on a medieval-themed kick lately. It started when I found Esmeralda’s medieval music mods. That was all I needed to get myself off on a 14th or 15th century tangent. Actually, to be precise, the medieval period — sometimes called the Middle Ages — is considered to begin in the 5th century AD and extend through the 15th century.

I love medieval music, as you’ve probably already noticed, and like many other history lovers, I’m fascinated by the art, architecture, fashion, and politics of those long-ago times. It’s understandable that fans of The Sims franchise would clamor for medieval-themed content, and consequently logical that game producer Electronic Arts would attempt to capitalize on the idea. It probably could have been a real money-maker for them…had they listened to what the players wanted.

SMInstead, as EA has done so often in recent years, they told us what we wanted. Or, at least, that is, what they thought we wanted. The result was The Sims Medieval. Was I excited when they announced it? Oh, yes, of course. Although I had never added medieval elements to my existing game, I would have gladly plunked down the money for a chance to have a separate “Middle Age” world. Yes, EA, I would have bought this new game and enjoyed it had you stayed with what “simming” is meant to be. But, no, you had to step in and take away the elements that we love our sims.

Earlier today I looked at the “features” included with The Sims Medieval, and there, in black and white, I saw it. The medieval mistake. The reason why the game did not succeed was clearly spelled out.

The Sims Medieval is an epic new game from the makers of The Sims. It combines the life simulation of The Sims, takes it to a dramatic new setting, and adds features that change the way you play.

Did you catch those last five words? EA was going to change the way we play. But…why, EA, why? We simmers loved playing our game in our way. We had asked for a medieval concept for The Sims — not for a half-baked role-playing game designed to look like The Sims.

Limited CAS, children who aged to adults only if a parent died, an emphasis on achievements and quests, and an ultimate “win or lose” status took this game far afield from what “The Sims” has always been. And like a slap in the face to players, EA tried to sell us this game and tell us how much we were going to like it.

The game’s senior producer promoted the game as being “more dangerous for Sims” and listed an intriguing number of interesting possibilities: plague, peasant revolts, wildlife, poisons, duels, and more. But then, we learned that — unlike any other sim game — The Sims Medieval had a definite beginning and an ending. Players would be “scored” on their game performance.

What? Keeping score in a life simulator? Oh, wait! The Sims Medieval isn’t a life simulator. That’s not how we’re supposed to be playing our game now according to EA, and they should know, right? Seriously, we’re just the players. We obviously don’t know what we want.

The game was first released in March, 2011, and one expansion pack — Pirates and Nobles — was later produced. Today, The Sims Medieval is available as a download from Origin as Electronic Arts has discontinued the DVD version. It can, however, still be purchased through third-party sellers. You’ll find it listed at Amazon. There are problems, though, running it on operating systems other than Vista or the no-longer-supported Windows XP. Work-arounds for the problems do exist.

Some players praised the game when it came out, but others soon lost interest in it. A reviewer at Amazon said it had “very little play value,” and explained:

If you’re the type who likes to check off tasks one by one, you might like the questing aspects. There is no creativity involved here. The quests are a series of tasks like “Go to the town marketplace and get water from the well.” Very boring to actually play. I would have liked to back-burner the quests to do a little free play, but you are punished for that with a severe drop in mood. You are also punished if you skip your daily chores. Seriously, chores! Others have addressed the lack of ability to actually build your town. Talk about no outlet for creativity or imagination.

Creativity and imagination are the foundations upon which “The Sims” was built. Creativity and imagination are the hallmarks of the typical sims player. These are the essential elements that EA took away from the game. In doing so, they turned a great concept into a huge disappointment — for the fans and for them as well. The Sims Medieval never became the big money-maker they’d expected but simply turned into one more big mistake.




Busy as a Bee

BeesRemember the bees in Sims 2 Bon Voyage? Of course, bees have been around since the advent of Makin’ Magic in the original series. In Sims 3, players with the Supernatural expansion pack could become beekeepers, and in Sims 4 we have bees as part of the insect collections.

But this isn’t really a post about bees or beekeeping. It’s a post about cliches and the importance of avoiding them in storytelling.

A cliche is an over-used expression or idea. Many of the similes we use have become clichés.

  • Busy as a bee
  • Pretty as a picture postcard
  • Blue as the sky
  • Sweet as cotton candy
  • Hot as fire

We could go on and on with that little list. A cliché can be a handy little thing when we’re communicating and need a quick and easy way to convey a thought. Cliches have become over-used precisely because they’re convenient.

In storytelling, though, it’s best to forego convenience in favor of originality. Don’t be in a hurry when you’re sharing your sims’ stories. Take a little time and choose words and phrases that catch your readers’ attention.

One way of avoiding clichés is by writing more description, showing the reader instead of telling. Instead of saying Susan was as busy as a bee, take a little time, add a few more words, and show how busy she actually is.

Susan pushed the ledger aside and groaned. With one look at her desk, she knew she’d never get the reports finished on time. In addition to auditing the books, she still had to review expense accounts, look at the credit card expenditures, and approve the invoices marked for payment. How had she fallen so far behind?

Doesn’t that give you a better understanding of Susan’s predicament than simply saying she’s busy as a bee?

The same principle can be applied to the other clichés on the list. Don’t tell the reader that a scene is as pretty as a picture postcard. Instead, show what makes the scene so beautiful and breath-taking.

Don’t simply say something is as blue as the sky. Describe the hue and how it makes the character feel. Remember, too, your characters have five senses, so don’t rely on one-dimensional clichés.

A light blue blanket covered the bed. Susan reached out and touched it, loving its softness. As she gently ran a fingertip along the edge, she thought of spring days, delicate flowers blooming, and birds singing their songs. She would like it here, she knew. Even though life would be different now, she would have this room, this bed, and this well-worn blue blanket to comfort her.

Another thing to avoid, however, is going too far in looking for original expressions. You don’t want to end up with a ridiculous simile like this jewel:

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes
just before it throws up.

I found that one at Painful Similes and Metaphors, and now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to jump quick like a fox, hop like a bunny, and flit like a butterfly over to that website to read the rest of them. You should, too. They’re hilarious!


Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You” is a lovely song from the musical, The King and I, and it’s always been one of my favorites. I don’t care for it so much anymore now that some identity-theft company has borrowed it for one of their commercials. The idea of getting to know you has become associated with internet fraud, and that does make the song a bit less appealing.

Getting Acquainted
Getting acquainted is a fun part of any relationship, especially an author’s relationship with a story’s characters.

But this post has nothing really to do with music or crime. It’s about storytelling and the importance of truly getting to know our characters.

With “SimLit”, much of the information we need to know is neatly compiled for us, readily available. No need to wonder about a character’s eye color or hair color,  for instance. We can simply zoom in and take a look for ourselves.

A lot of writers go to elaborate lengths to get to know their characters, putting together “character interviews”, clipping illustrations from newspapers and magazines, and reading astrological profiles to gain insights into how the character might behave.

Some of this is good, but too much can be counter-productive. You want to write stories, not spend your time writing lengthy character biographies.

For me, getting to know my story characters is probably the most enjoyable aspect of fiction-writing. I keep it simple and try to create distinct characters for each story. A lot of the information remains “in the background” as I write. We don’t have to use every detail. But it’s there in our heads, helping us understand who our characters are so that we can better know how they will react in different situations. Knowing our characters helps us “get inside” their heads — and hearts — as we share their stories with our readers.

Here are the things I want to know about each of the important characters in my stories:

  • Character name
  • Age
  • Where does the character live?
  • Favorite music
  • Favorite food
  • What color is the character’s room?
  • What is this character’s favorite memory?
  • What is this character’s most traumatic experience?
  • What is this character’s most prized possession?
  • What scares this character?
  • 5 Dislikes
  • What word do others use to describe the character?

The answers to these questions can give us a good look at who a character is and why they act the way they do. Understanding what’s important to a character — favorite memories, prized possessions, personal surroundings — and what upsets him or her — traumatic events, fears, dislikes — goes a long, long way toward helping us really know the people in our stories. This leads us to a better understanding of what our characters want, how they hope to get it, and why it matters so much.

Happy writing!

Bug Off!

No, not you! I’m delighted you’re here reading my blog. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, I hope you’ll leave a comment. It’s always fun to hear from other simmers.

But what am I trying to banish here today? Bugs. The weather is getting warmer, bugs are buzzing around, and who wants their leisure time spoiled by gnats, flies, and mosquitoes? Not me.

HerbsOn the other hand, I don’t like chemicals much either, so I’ve opted for making my own bug repellent. Needless to say, I was very happy when herbalism skills and wellness skills were added to Sims 4. Now, my natural-minded sims can also create a “Bug Be Gone” liniment. Their concoction comes from noxious elderberries and basil. My formula is much different.

Yes, I’ve made this. Yes, I’ve used this. Yes, this really does work.

So, if you’re like me and prefer doing things the natural way, give this herbal recipe a try when the bugs start bugging you.

Bug Be Gone

Add 4 ounces of distilled water — or water you’ve boiled and cooled — to a clean spray bottle. An 8-ounce bottle works great. Add 4 ounces of witch hazel. Choose several essential oils with insect-repellant properties. There are many!

Choose from these natural repellents for your own personal Bug Be Gone formula:

  • Catnip
  • Cedar
  • Cinnamon
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Rosemary

You’ll need about 40-50 drops of essential oil. Of course, the more oil you use, the stronger the spray will be. I never make mine the same twice, but I almost always include citronella, eucalyptus, and lavender.

You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin if you want. This helps keep the spray from evaporating too quickly.

This is, IMO, the quickest and easiest way to get rid of unwanted pests. We spray it liberally around our porch and can then enjoy a bug-free environment.

Fresh herbs — or dried herbs — can also be used for insect repellant, although it’s a bit more time-consuming to prepare.

Bug Be Gone 2

Boil a cup of water, and add 3 or 4 tablespoons of herbs or barks from the list above. I suggest always adding a bit of mint. Cloves are good, too.

Mix the herbs well, cover the container, and allow to cool. Once cool, strain the herbs out. Mix the water with 8 ounces of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol — or a combination of both. You’ll want to keep the repellent in a cool place. The refrigerator is great.

Now, let’s get out and enjoy the weather — and not worry about bugs!


For more information on herbalism in Sims 4, check out this handy guide: The Sims 4 Herbalism Skill


An Award for Jonathan Chronicles

Spirit Animal Blog AwardI’m honored to have been chosen by simmer Rosemary Marie to receive the “Spirit Animal” blog award. I’ve enjoyed reading her stories at Noble Doubt, and I hope you’ll check them out. She has a true gift for creating realistic characters as well as a very enjoyable voice as a writer. If you like “SimLit”, you’ll love her blog.

I’ve been part of the “Simming” community almost from the beginning. I started playing The Sims soon after it was released, but it was a few months before I discovered the online discussion board and came to see how much more fun the game could be when I shared my stories with others.

Since then, I’ve been actively involved in both the Sims 2 and Sims 3 communities, although in very different ways for each game. My rotational playing style didn’t work well with Sims 3, so I turned toward “modeling” and creating sims for other players to enjoy.

Now, with Sims 4, I’m active on the Forum — under the forum name of NoWayJose527 — and also through Jonathan Chronicles. Because of my forum name and the blog name, a lot of simmers mistakenly think I’m male. I’m not. I’m a happily married old woman with lots of stories to tell. I learn a lot about life from my sims, and I also see the game as a valuable resource for developing creativity. One of my passions in life is to help others understand their own inherent creativity — and to put it to use. I enjoy sharing my thoughts about life, love, and all things sim through this blog, and I hope readers might draw a bit of inspiration from it.

wolf-howlingAs for what animal I would be if I could choose…well, in a sense, I have chosen. I’m a wolf. At least, I used to be. Years ago, I became involved with LARP — Live Action Role Play — and for my character, I chose a wolf. It was a magical realm, of course, with an on-going storyline and many supernatural creatures.

It was quite an experience to be part of a wolf pack. I’ll never forget the night when one of our young members was killed — in game, that is. We mourned with long, soulful howls. I’ll remember it always.

Now, to choose ten nominees for the award!

There are so many outstanding sim blogs to enjoy, it’s a difficult choice. My nominees are:

I enjoy putting posts together each day for Jonathan Chronicles, and I hope you are enjoying the blog as well. Jonathan seems to be heading down an unfortunate pathway of late, and I hope he soon sees the error of his ways. Of course, only time will tell.

Thank you again, Rosemary Marie, for thinking of Jonathan Chronicles.