Starting Over

Available on the Sims 4 Gallery, item name “The Cross House,” ID michele_blue

Everything happens so quickly. Dreams and crushes turn into dates and disappointments. Eventually you pick someone. He picks you. He makes you laugh just often enough, and your heart flutters at how his grin tilts higher on one side than the other. It’s easier to be together than apart, at least most of the time. The bed feels empty without him. The room is too quiet when he’s gone.

You commit. You dig deep. Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s the bedrock beneath your life. Just when you decide to move to the city, to apprentice in a restaurant kitchen, to just do it, his mother passes and leaves you her house. Her suburban, yellow, traditional, uninspiring, anchor of a house.

Of course you accept it. And of course you move in, because it’s too hard to tell your husband that it isn’t the house you dislike, it’s the weight of it, the tangible forever he seems far too happy to embrace. Your first — and only — children are twins. Where better to raise them than where your husband was raised?

Memories blur. Trick-or-treating and Winterfest decorations fade into pool visits and school plays and parades. You take annual Granite Falls vacations, and every time the taxi pulls up to the house, you’re confused for a moment: is this you? Is this where you’ve decided to be?

Your daughter gets caught shoplifting. Your son won’t tell you why he’s picked on at school, though you’re fairly sure you know. You don’t talk about it, because the Cross family doesn’t really talk, you just move forward, step by step, year by year. Time passes. You watch too much TV and use the treadmill as a clothes hanger.

Your kids leave home as soon as the ink on their diplomas dries. When they drive toward San Myshuno in a car filled with moving boxes, you wave longer than they do. Your husband waits a month more than necessary to tell you he’s met someone; it’s not like you didn’t know. She’s a painter, like your husband. He’ll move her into the yellow house — it’s his childhood home, after all.

You don’t ask your children to hate their father; you’re not like that. You don’t hate him either. You know full well that the anchor, the weight, was clamped to his ankles as inescapably as it was to yours. Your discussions are rational and calm. You just want it all to be done.

You don’t pack much, though your husband offers you anything you want. His guilt leads to a decent settlement, a quick resolution. You let his next wife deal with the curios and memories and dusty ceramic chickens. You just get out and move on.

A Gothic Home for misunderstoodmami

When I approached misunderstoodmami (youtube here) about her reward build for subscribing to my Twitch channel, she requested a Gothic house, perhaps suitable for a future Let’s Play. Two adults, one child, one teen.

For inspiration, I chose a remarkable Victorian Gothic home in Holly Village, Highgate, North London, part of the first gated community in England. This little community has a fascinating history and a TON of inspiration for Simmers — see here for more details and photos.

My chosen inspiration – isn’t it gorgeous?

Of course, the Sims has a lot of limitations when it comes to aping historic architecture. I made the changes necessary to match pathing, staircases, and windows, and came up with this:

“Remodeled Gothic,” Gallery ID michele_blue

I decorated the interior in a brighter, more modern style than I usually choose for Victorian builds, but one of my favorite aspects of historic homes is that they aren’t static, frozen in time. They still *work* for modern use, modern furniture, and modern families.

The master bedroom on the house’s second floor

Finally, misunderstoodmami requested a creepy backstory with this build. So, as requested:

The Turners came to Holly Cottage with the best of intentions. They spruced up the old “cottage,” remodeled it for modern family tastes, and welcomed neighbors into the newly furnished, colorful interior. Only a month later, with the mail piling up and the Turner child truant at school, Windenberg constables visited the house only to find no trace of its human inhabitants – though no clothes were gone from their closets and a half-eaten meal sat, moldy and rotten, on the grand dining table.

The Turners haven’t been seen since.

The house is open again, for sale as-is. Will your Sims dare to become the new owners of Holly Cottage?

(and thank you misunderstoodmami for your Twitch subscription!)

That Bella Dame (part 1)

You don’t expect your life to change when you get up in the morning. You clean what neeeds cleaning, you shave, you dress, you leave behind your sad, dingy one-room apartment and walk through a drizzly grey morning to your sad, dingy office. You? Me. Call me Morty.

Willow Creek wasn’t a fancy town, not anymore. It had fancy parts, but a mook like me didn’t have much cause to be there. Instead, I worked in a three-story walk-up with a barber shop on the first floor and a bookie on the second. My window looked out over shipping containers and cranes, and Nina — my old secretary Nina — always complained about the smell.

Not that Nina was complaining anymore. Last week, she ran off with a piano player from San Myshuno. She left a napkin with “sorry,” scribbled on it, which I figured I deserved. Now, alone, I opened the top-most drawer of her little desk on a whim. A few lipsticks rattled around, shades she never wore. A few strands of flame-red hair remained wrapped around a tortoise-shell comb under some papers. I touched the hair, and for a moment, I even missed her.

She’d been right to go, though it stung. She’d asked, “You and me, are we ever gonna make it official?” Nina wasn’t shy, which is one of the reasons I’d hired her in the first place. A straight-shooter, easy to look at, easy to like. I hope the piano player treated her good. Better than I did, at least.

I sagged into my chair after flicking my hat onto its hook. It hung on the tip for one precarious second before flopping to the floor. Figured. The files scattered on my desk held nothing but sad stories: bad marriages, bad investments, bad choices. Don’t be a private investigator if you want to see the good side of people. Lucky me, I’d never believed in people in the first place.

I tossed back a couple of shots of juice before rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. One inheritance case was particularly thorny — greedy second wife, greedy first wife, greedy kids, greedy lawyer — and I was deep into it when a gentle knock sounded on the office door.

“Get that, sweetheart? It’s what I pay you for.” I snapped the words before remembering that Nina was snuggled off in the city somewhere, happy and well rid of me. I sighed and barked, “Come in,” though the last thing I wanted to do today was coddle a new client.

A woman’s words cut through the fog in my brain like a searchlight. She had a voice made of money, the kind that only comes from fancy finishing schools and good breeding. I jerked my head up and saw a lady all in red, black-haired and pale-skinned, with vivid eyes and curves like a mountain road. “You’re Mr. Goth? I’m …call me Bella.”

Bellissima, at least, the most bellissima I’d ever seen. I snapped my gaping mouth shut and stood. “Morty Goth, that’s right. Morty. Call me Morty.” She waited patiently through my stammering, as a woman who looked like her probably had to do all day long. When she sat, I sat. When she spoke again, I listened.

“I’m sorry to intrude like this without phoning ahead. But I have a problem.” I usually would have made some sort of twirl with my hand, a ‘keep talking’ gesture, but not for this lady. To her I said, “Yeah?” dopey as they get. My hand itched to stash the bottle of juice on my desk out of sight. That, or drink it down.

“There’s a man.” She sighed. Her hands clasped together in her lap. No rings. “He and I used to keep company once upon a time. But we parted ways, or at least I did. He didn’t seem to get the message.” She gazed just past me to the rain-streaked window and its wan light. “Now I see him everywhere. I’m afraid.”

“He just shows up?” I didn’t say what I was thinking, that it’d be a hard message to take, a dame like this saying goodbye. “What does he do?”

Her perfect nose scrunched briefly as she answered. “He begs. And then he gets angry. And then he tells me I’ll be sorry.” She looked me in the eye. “I believe him, Mr. Goth. He’s …reckless.” A faint hint of red tinged her pale cheeks. “I suppose that’s what I liked in the first place.”

Noted. “He ever raise a hand to you?”

“No, not once,” she said immediately. “But…if he does, someday soon, I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s very angry.”

“And you want, what? I can tell him to back off for you, if you want. In a way he’ll hear.” I wasn’t a huge man, but I’d been in this job for a good many years, and in the army as an angry young man. I knew my way around a punch. “I can probably dig up some dirt on him that’ll make him want to leave town.”

Her big blue eyes opened a fraction more widely. “You’re that certain he has something to hide?”

“He’s human, isn’t he?” My itching hand made its choice, reaching for the bottle of juice. “How about it, Miss Bella? You want me to make him go away?” Her gaze tracked my movements as I put the bottle back into a drawer.

“I would,” she said. “Make him go away, Morty. Really go away. And I’ll be ever so grateful if you do.”

(To be continued!)

A Bookstore for Oxfordsplice

I can sometimes go a bit…overboard. When it came time to complete a subscriber reward for Oxfordsplice and she requested a bookstore, all restraint went right out the window. I’ve been so lucky to have Oxfordsplice as friend, Twitch channel moderator, and someone with whom I seem to have a ridiculous amount in common. #teammichele/michelle!

First things first, I needed inspiration. I finally settled on a historic bookstore in St Andrews Scotland, J&G Innes Ltd. The store sprawls across three formerly separate properties with connections to Scottish publishing.

Photo credit here. Creative Commons non-commercial license.

When it came to my Sims 4 version, I couldn’t possibly replicate some of the elaborate window and façade details. I relied heavily on the Get to Work and Get Together packs, as well as a *whole lot of debug*. Club emblems replaced university seals, a lion fountain replaced St Andrews, and I did the best I could to show both the historic site and the continuing, modern use.

Fancy sepia filter, ooooh
The second floor of the existing bookstore is a gallery, and brighter and more open than this. But I was in a woodwork fugue by then, and there was no going back. A gathering space, modern art, and a coffee corner followed.
I’ve no idea if the bookstore contains an actual kids’ section, but children often get short shrift in the Sims, so here they get a space just for them.
I could spend a lot of time in a place like this.

I’m genuinely pleased with how it all turned out. I filled the empty corners of the lot with a narrow old clinic and a coffee/tea stand, as well as a few back gardens. It *feels* like a high street, which is what I wanted to give Oxfordsplice, and I’m now hoping I can visit St Andrews someday to see the beautiful inspiration building in person.

Available on the EA Gallery as “O&S Booksellers,” ID michele_blue.

A Café for Peru_Queen

One of the benefits I’ve chosen for my Twitch subscribers is that I’ll build them a — well, a whatever, as long as it fits on a lot sized 30×20 or smaller. My friend and fellow creator Peru_Queen (youtube here) was my very first subscriber, and she requested a café.

Charee’s Café exterior

I chose a bright, modern exterior and a more traditional interior, including chess and books for entertainment. It isn’t an elaborate build, but it’s a great setting for a Let’s Play scene – which she’s already done! Find this build on the Gallery as “Charee’s Café.”

Reading e-books on a snowy day