Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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…

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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!

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!

Dining Out

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

TS4_674_GP03_LIFTS_08

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.

Huh?

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?

Anything.

Anywhere.

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.

 

 

Could It Be His Fault?

Depressed KatJonathan Evans is getting concerned. He and Kat have been married for a while, and although she’s trying to get pregnant, it’s not happening.

She’s moping around, feeling awful, and spending a lot of time in bed. Jonathan hates seeing his wife so depressed. Could it be his fault? It might serve him right, you know, for cheating on Kat.

But he’s not doing that anymore. He’s ready to have a family, or at least, he thinks he is. They’ll keep trying. What else can they do?

thNL9PCMR6He did give Kat a beautiful gift for their anniversary. He bought her a baby grand piano. It took all they had in savings, but it was worth it. He’s been writing music — a few modern jazz pieces for violin — so he’s making a few simoleons. He’ll have their savings built up again soon.

Kat’s been doing well with her music, too, so she’s got that to cheer her up. She’s one of the most requested performers for weddings and funerals, and while that might not seem like much to brag about, it brings in money. They’re doing all right.

But why can’t they have babies? Is something really wrong with one of them? Which one?

 

 

 

High Fives!

Have you ever had a sim you hated? You know, the sort of sim who’s just a real jerk? I’ve had some rather unpleasant sims over the last 16 years, sims whose outlook on life diverged greatly from my own, but of them all, I think the sim I most disliked was a fellow named Ethan Turner.

He was part of my Sims 2 game and came from a very solid, very established, very well-to-do family… although, to be honest, I never cared much for them, either. Let me begin by reminding you that I have quite a vivid imagination, and I include a lot of elements in my game that don’t really exist. I create backstories for my sims, give them different occupations that EA would ever include, and build stories around them that often go far beyond the confines of the game.

And so it was with Ethan Turner’s family.

BVBefore I get to Ethan himself, I have to begin with a pair of little old ladies — twin sisters — who were desperately looking for love. One was widowed, her sister divorced, and eventually they both did find husbands. One married a former professional wrestler — I’ll share his story someday — and the other finally found true love while vacationing on a tropical isle from Bon Voyage.

Robert Turner was a prize catch — at least as far as money was concerned and that was one of the things this lady loved most about him. He was filthy rich. How had he made his millions? Well, Robert Turner was also known as “the Porn King.” Yes, he was the man behind all those “Girls Gone Wild” videos, which was why he spent a lot of time on those sunny beaches. His hot movies were phenomenal sellers. Now, he was widowed, lonely, and looking for love, too.

It was a good marriage. Both Robert and his new wife were elders, by the way. I’d already given her a few family members, and now I created Robert’s children, quickly aged them up “off-screen”, so to speak, and then gave them children as well, so that the family structure would be appropriate for a man of Robert’s age.

Ethan was one of the grandchildren. He and his parents lived with Robert in a very beautiful mansion, complete with maids and a butler. He was privileged, he was spoiled, he was, he was handsome, he was charming. Yes, Ethan Turner had a perfect life.

But, truthfully, Ethan was a jerk. I didn’t see it so much when he was younger, but after he met and married a very sweet young girl, his true colors began to show. He’d moved out on his own, had bought a gorgeous home with a huge pool and all the amenities, and he threw huge all-night parties with lots of liquor and food. He was wild, he was crazy, he was rich, and he could do whatever he pleased.

That was when he met Kimmie. Sweet. Shy, Innocent. She was the total opposite of Ethan, so I was surprised when a relationship developed between them. He married her, and for a brief time, they seemed happy together.

But then Ethan quickly got tired of his quiet wife. He started partying again, spent a lot of nights out on the town — with other women — and didn’t really care what little Kimmie thought. She, of course, was too meek to even confront him.

Ethan’s behavior worsened. Even his own family began to realize what an insensitive jerk he was. And then, one night, Kimmie invited friends over for dinner. Ethan, as usual, was being rude and disagreeable. Nobody paid much attention to him, though. These were Kimmie’s friends, and they didn’t care much for her loud-mouthed husband.

And then it happened. Somehow Ethan managed to set the kitchen on fire, and I watched from afar as the dinner guests quietly left the scene without bothering to help the burning fellow. They amicably chatted outside while Ethan went down in flames, and then as the Grim Reaper appeared, these guests high-fived one another.

I’m not making this up, folks. They high-fived. At that point, I had to wonder…was it really an accident that cost Ethan Turner his life?

In many ways, the death of Ethan Turner reminded me a little of a true-life crime that happened here in Missouri. Maybe you’ve heard of — or seen — the film In Broad Daylight. It tells the story of a town “bully” who finally got what was coming to him. To this day — the bully was murdered in 1981 — no one has come forward to reveal who was responsible. The townspeople have remained united in their silence.

And so it was in my little town of Cedar Point. Ethan Turner’s untimely demise was simply listed as a most unfortunate accident. Little Kimmie received a large insurance settlement and went on to live a long and happy life.

High fives, folks, all around!

Zen Garden Music

My sims are all quite happy with the things that have been added to the game in recent months. They love visiting the spa, or going off to the woods for an “outdoor retreat” where they can gather wild plants and berries, paint landscapes en plein air, capture the beauty through photographs, and commune with nature.

01-10-16_3-15-52 PM

It’s wonderful to be able to re-create so many things I enjoy in my own life and make them part of my Sims 4 game.

Although we don’t yet have toddlers, we have many things that have made my game very enjoyable.

Herbalism and wellness skills, spa visits, massages, yoga, gardening, painting, photography, bath salts, herbal recipes, and music are all aspects of the game that mirror my personal interests and experiences.

While browsing around this morning, I came across this delightfully soothing “Zen Garden” music. I think today might be a perfect day for a little “communing”, a good time for me to stroll through my garden, talk to my plants a bit, and enjoy this first day of June.

I hope you’ll enjoy this relaxing music and perhaps experience a bit of “Zen” today.

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!

Berries

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