July 2014

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Black and Bold

Black and Beautiful

Black and Beautiful

Black doors are always an unexpected addition to a home. Sure, you could keep your standard white door for the interior of your home, but why not step out of the box?
6 reasons why a BLACK door is BOLD and BEAUTIFUL
1. A Black door makes a ceiling look taller
2. A Black door is classy
3. A Black door is timeless
4. A Black door makes any stock door look special
5. A Black door marks a destination
6. A Black door makes little “fingerprints” disappear

tommysmythekitchen winsome-black-interior-doors-with-hanging-lighting-ideas home-office-design-interior-design-home-accessories-decorating-ideas-decorating-furniture-design-apartment-attractive-family-room-design-with-black-and-frosted-glass-room-dividers-sliding-doors-ideas

The 1920′s (built to last)

Houses built in the 1920′s were built to last. Craftsmanship at its finest. Niches, Spanish tile roof tops, breezeways and character…lots of character. In a Spanish/Mediterranean Style home, the beauty is in the details. Hardwood floors, wooden beams, Spanish tile staircases, grand fireplaces and little surprises throughout the house make this one of my favorite style homes to remodel and or decorate.

One of my favorite homes to visit in Malibu, California.  Spectacular Malibu tiles!

One of my favorite homes to visit in Malibu, California. Spectacular Malibu tiles!

Can't be afraid of color!

Can’t be afraid of color!

Details…french doors, Spanish tile touches…beautiful

Details…french doors, Spanish tile touches…beautiful

Inviting front entry

Inviting front entry

Bold, beautiful door

Bold, beautiful door

Balcony with interest

Balcony with interest

Arches galore

Arches galore

Use of several elements:  Arches, brick, tile, and carriage lights-makes for a welcoming home

Use of several elements: Arches, brick, tile, and carriage lights-makes for a welcoming home

Little nooks and crannies make for a comfy getaway

Little nooks and crannies make for a comfy getaway

Love the simplicity of a Spanish style home...

Love the simplicity of a Spanish style home…

I guess I'll always be partial to the Spanish style home…after all, it was our very first Fixer Upper!

I guess I’ll always be partial to the Spanish style home…after all, it was our very first Fixer Upper!

NEW CONSTRUCTION (live and learn)

Remember, the memories you make while living IN a house makes it a HOME!

Remember, the memories you make while living IN a house makes it a HOME!

You know the saying, live and learn?  Who came up with that saying anyway?  They were right!  Boy, after going through a new custom home build (for my family), I sure did learn ALOT!!!! I have to say, it is so much easier building a home for others.  I don’t second guess myself when I am faced with making a decision on plumbing fixtures, or furnishings or what hardware would look best when it comes to “doing” for others. It’s not so easy when you are decorating your own home, by yourself.  You need to be able to bounce your ideas off someone.  Live and learn!

Anyone that knows me knows I like to “change” things around my house- often!  I’ve been known to change my furniture around. I like “tweaking” things just enough to make me feel like I have something new.  Isn’t that a great feeling?

Because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by so many beautiful things, exposed to so many creative ideas, colors and styles, I think my next house will be…  WHITE, all WHITE!  I love white, always have.  Yes, I know it isn’t practical to have an all white house when you have teenagers, but why not?  If you like it, try it.  Slipcovered sofas are the key!   An all white kitchen, white sofas and a touch of blue throughout.  Ahh, paradise! Not sure if my husband will go for it, but I think he’s just tired of hearing about it by now so he may just cave and say, yes.  As long as it has a wrap around porch and it’s by water, Pat will love it! Yes, our next home will be our DREAM home, porch and all.

aaa

So, I got off track a bit, but wanted to share what I have learned from building our own home.

Sometimes you have to compromise.  Restrictions in our HOA prevented us from having a Spanish Colonial off white house, so we selected this color for the exterior.

Sometimes you have to compromise. Restrictions in our HOA prevented us from having a Spanish Colonial off white house, so we selected this color for the exterior.

Arches and french doors were important to us for easy access to the backyard.

Arches and french doors were important to us for easy access to the backyard.

Having a little spanish tile on the outdoor fireplace was a little reminder of California for us.

Having a little Spanish tile on the outdoor fireplace was a little reminder of California for us.

Keeping an eye on the workers' progress to meet our timeline is a must for any build.  Even if it means climbing onto the roof yourself to do it.  I did!

Keeping an eye on the workers’ progress to meet our timeline is a must for any build. Even if it means climbing onto the roof yourself to do it. I did!

Sentimental items are important in a home.  My grandfather hand carved this mirror.  Originally, it was a frame that housed their wedding photo from Argentina.  My parents gave us the frame and we had it made into a mirror for the powder room.

Sentimental items are important in a home. My grandfather hand carved this mirror. Originally, it was a frame that housed their wedding photo from Argentina. My parents gave us the frame and we had it made into a mirror for the powder room.

The master bathroom is probably one of the most important rooms in any house- besides the kitchen.  Make it your own.

The master bathroom is probably one of the most important rooms in any house- besides the kitchen. Make it your own.

Ah, the laundry room.  The room any mom spends the most time in.  Gosh do I miss this great big laundry room.  Ample storage, plenty of work space and a view, not bad.  The best thing about it was I had it located upstairs on same floor as the bedrooms.  No lugging dirty laundry down the stairs.  Yes!

Ah, the laundry room. The room most moms spend much of their time in. Boy, do I miss this great big laundry room. Ample storage, plenty of work space and a view, not bad. The best thing about it was I had it located upstairs on same floor as the bedrooms. No lugging dirty laundry down the stairs. Yes!

Watching my kids play in the yard on the first snow day- priceless!

Watching my kids play in the yard on the first snow day- priceless!

fun times!

fun times!

Not having neighbors felt like our own little block!

Not having neighbors felt like our own little block!

There are pros and cons living so close to BLM land.  At times it felt like National Geographic in the backyard.  Snakes, coyotes, tarantulas and more.  Yikes.

There are pros and cons living so close to BLM land. At times it felt like National Geographic in the backyard. Snakes, coyotes, tarantulas and more. Yikes!

 

REMODEL (Diamond in the rough)

PROJECT #2

Story:  The day I met my clients, the contractor on the project was walking out the door…for good.  It took about 60 seconds for me to realize the house was a mess.  My job was to hire a new contractor, collaborate on a floor plan that made sense, select all the finishes, purchase the furniture and incorporate the unique and exciting art pieces the home owners collected over the years.  What I didn’t know at the beginning of the project was the homeowners had a home filled with traditional Ethan Allen furnishings.  Problem was, this home was designed to be contemporary.  It’s always a good idea to get to know your clients at the beginning of a project.  But, with my luck, the holidays were around the corner and the owners had wasted enough time pouring over bad plans with a bad contractor.  It’s time to get busy.  No time to waste.  The solution…to gut the entire interior of the home.  But why stop there?  The outside wasn’t anything to write home about.  The kidney shaped pool was in a word, disgusting.  The yard had been neglected for some time and the entire home needed attention.  On board with my ideas, the clients agreed to let me move the pool, yes, MOVE the pool, redo the landscape and redesign the interior of the home.  I have to say, these clients put a great deal in trust in me and working on this project was good for the soul.  The final product was a beautiful home for a lovely family.

BEFORE: This is what I'm talking about…take the ugliest house on the block and ….

BEFORE: This is what I’m talking about…take the ugliest house on the block and ….

transform it into...

transform it into…

the BEST looking home in the neighborhood!

the BEST looking home in the neighborhood!

If the rooms on the inside of the house aren't working for you, change it.

If the rooms on the inside of the house aren’t working for you, change it.

Gut it and start over.  That may become my new motto!!

Gut it and start over. That may become my new motto!!

the Kidney shaped pool had to go.

the Kidney shaped pool had to go.

Let the games begin

Let the games begin

Make sure you have a great pool builder. I have the best in Nevada.

Make sure you have a great pool builder. I have the best in Nevada.

New pool is sleek and contemporary

New pool is sleek and contemporary

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Artificial turf and desert landscaping in our state is commonly used.  Cuts down on water bill and looks great all year long.

Artificial turf and desert landscaping in our state is commonly used. Cuts down on water bill and looks great all year long.

Outdoor drapes are just as important to complete a space as indoor drapes

Outdoor drapes are just as important to complete a space as indoor drapes

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Selecting the right colors for your exterior could make all the difference.

Selecting the right colors for your exterior could make all the difference.

REMODEL (A home is a man’s castle)

I learn something new with every remodel I do.  It’s definitely a ridiculously exhilarating process.  My most difficult task is getting the vision that’s in my head out of my mouth fast enough for my workers to keep up with me.  My feeling is CHANGE is GOOD!  The best feeling is when you are able to see the ugliest house on the block become the BEST looking home in the neighborhood!  I have my dad to thank for this “CAN DO” attitude.  The uglier the house, the better.  The harder the challenge, the better.  I’m not afraid to tackle difficult projects.  My parents have always said, “YOU CAN DO IT!” and so I believe it.  Note to self-I hope I’m reminding my own kids enough that they can do anything they set their minds to.  It’s an invaluable lesson.

What makes my projects even more exciting is I tend to gravitate towards clients who want a FULL remodel of their home in a remarkably small length of time.  2 weeks was my most challenging and gratifying project, thus far. I have an incredible crew that I can count on which definitely helps.  If there is one thing I have learned, it is important and crucial to surround yourself with good people.  My clients hire me for several reasons.  But I think the most important reason they hire me is because they know I am a bulldog with a bone.  I protect my clients and I fight for them.  Whether it’s negotiating on a price for material in an effort to meet their budgetary needs, or keeping a watchful eye on the workers…my clients know I have their BEST interest at heart. I work my tail off  to make it all come together for them.  My clients come first.

I’d like to share a few notable projects with you.  My family says I should write a book.  The stories are real and you just can’t make this stuff up.

PROJECT #1

Story:  My client handed me a little black box.  He said, Laura “here’s my life, put it together- you have 2 weeks.”  When I opened the box, it contained 5 pictures and a CD.  I didn’t know the first thing about this man, except  he was a bachelor and had several kids he adored.  His marching orders were short and sweet.  “Convert two apartments into one home and make it feel like Ralph Lauren meets African Safari.” Oh, and I forgot to mention the apartment was a luxury high-rise that comes with it’s own restraints and a long list of Do and Do NOTs.  A challenge, for sure but what a great learning experience!

BEFORE remodel.  I had to transform this black and red Asian themed apartment(s) into a stylish warm and inviting home...

BEFORE remodel. I had to transform this black and red Asian themed apartment(s) into a stylish warm and inviting home…

Turnberry Master Bedroom Before Remodel Turnberry Kitchen Before Turnberry Family Room Before ShotTurnberry Bathroom Before (2) Turnberry Remodel (2)

No that's a transformation!  Warm tones, lush furnishings and wha…la!

Now that’s a transformation! Warm tones, lush furnishings and wha…la!  I wish it were that easy, huh?  This sectional was the only piece of furniture my client wanted to bring over to the new apartment.  Only problem was it is 14 ft long and the service elevator in the building is only 10 ft. high.  Hmm, so I did what any normal decorator would do in a panic…I had the sectional cut in half by my upholster in the client’s rental apartment before I moved the sectional into the new apartment.  I then had the upholster build it back together and nobody could tell the sofa had been altered.  It was either that or have the sectional heaved up like a piano from the outside of the building and hoisted into the new apartment through the window.  Ugh, management didn’t really go for my idea so sawing the sectional in half was my only solution.  It worked!

The library.  A cozy reading area off kitchen #2, that's right, kitchen #2.

The library. A cozy reading area off kitchen #2, that’s right, kitchen #2.

I skinned the entry elevator doors with walnut finish, venetian plastered the ceiling and added a beautiful entry chandelier.

I had my incredible cabinet guys skin the entry elevator doors with walnut finish panel, venetian plastered the ceiling and added a beautiful entry chandelier.

The new dining room off kitchen #1

The new dining room off kitchen #1

Kitchen #1

Kitchen #1

It’s amazing what a little faux finish will do for a stainless steel vent-a-hood.

Kitchen #2

Kitchen #2

Diamond Project 030Turnberry Family Room Table after shot (2) Turnberry Map room After Shot

I found this incredible one of a kind travertine custom vanity in client's storage unit. How can you pass this up?  Absolutely stunning in person and fit perfectly in new powder room.

I found this incredible one of a kind travertine custom vanity in client’s storage unit. How can you pass this up? Absolutely stunning in person and fit perfectly in new powder room.

Master Bedroom: CD contained photos of client's recent African Safari.  The custom framed photos on the wall depict an exotic and fabulous trip.

Master Bedroom:
CD contained photos of client’s recent African Safari. The custom framed photos on the wall depict an exotic and fabulous trip.

Oh, and don't forget the closets.  Since the old apartment didn't have much to work with, I had these closets designed for client.  The next thing the client wanted was a stylist.  YOUR wish is my command.  Kathy Brooks is an incredible stylist and friend, that was easy!  Getting the butler was tricky but doable as well.

Oh, and don’t forget the closets. Since the old apartment didn’t have much to work with, I had these closets designed for client. The next thing the client wanted was a stylist. YOUR wish is my command. Kathy Brooks is an incredible stylist and friend, that was easy! Getting the butler was tricky but doable as well.

” our designer says”

Unexpected brick backsplash really gives this kitchen the country feel the owners were looking for.

Unexpected brick backsplash really gives this kitchen the country feel the owners were looking for.

My sister's kitchen! Designing runs in the family.  She did an amazing job in this grand kitchen.  Brick, travertine, copper sink, wood beams, custom cabinets and incredible rock work.  It's the whole package…kudos, sistah!

My sister’s kitchen! Designing runs in the family. She did an amazing job in this grand kitchen. Brick, travertine, copper sink, wood beams, custom cabinets and incredible rock work. It’s the whole package…kudos, sistah!

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if you have a small kitchen to work with, make the best of it. Here I added an interesting pattern on the floor using hardwood and tile to draw attention to the island. Beautiful custom cabinets (from my lovely cabinet maker) stained in a walnut finish unifies the space.

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One of my favorites! I had the best time remodeling this entire home. The kitchen was the most fun. Adding beams to the ceiling, breaking up the floor by adding small black 2 x 2 tiles intermixed with the Broadway Grey 20 x 20 tiles defined the kitchen area. I like to add black in every room. Here I added a black island with white marble counters to really make a statement. The contemporary feel and color scheme is consistent throughout the house.

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Details are important! Replace the existing “standard” island corbel with something beautiful. You’ll be happy you did. Well worth the extra money.

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This wasn’t an island…it was a continent! I loved this kitchen and all it’s custom details. The custom refrigerator panel with its big iron handles was my favorite. When I designed this kitchen from scratch, the working space was so spread out I had to make sure the kitchen was equipped with 2 of everything. 2 dishwashers (if you entertain a lot, do it…so great to have), 2 sinks. A farm sink (not pictured here) but absolutely amazing, a prep sink in kitchen island, 2 refrigerators and 2 pantries.

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Rock it! My favorite part of this kitchen was the bar connected to the kitchen. The owners wanted a wine cellar so why not rock the entire wall surrounding the new custom wine cellar to really bring the rustic feel to life? Custom cabinets and island really made for an entertainer’s dream.

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Budget always dictates the project. Here, the cabinets (which were originally espresso brown but brand spanking new) were in great shape. The only problem was my clients wanted a contemporary home, not a traditional one. They didn’t like the color brown, at all. My job was to transform the entire home (in less than 3 weeks) from a sea of brown traditional style house to a black and white contemporary home. Great fun! The project was super fast and fun…just the way I like to work. More on this project, later.

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The original island was awkward and really didn’t help the flow of the kitchen. So, I removed it! I left the existing cabinets and refinished them in a vanilla bean distressed color. The wooden beams, new hard wood floors, kitchen island and new granite countertops and backsplash made this kitchen stunning! It now flows, there is a great contrast, it’s easy on the eyes and the homeowners were 100% satisfied. As a designer, that’s all you can ask for.

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The custom window treatments I designed and had my workroom make really tied in the family room and kitchen-seamlessly!

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Be creative. Here I used different size and colored travertine for the backsplash. In a large area, sometimes you want to break things up-visually. Adding hardware to the existing cabinets also added to the overall look and feel of the kitchen.

Denver Dining Room Set After Shot

My projects are big and small. Here you see a compact space (a small condo). I kept the cabinet and floor color the same and added contrast by using darker furnishings. The black granite counter tops tie everything together. Simple, clean and functional.

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So what do you do if you can’t afford backsplash? Use a bold color in your kitchen! A pop of color really makes a big impact on a small space.

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Grey is the new beige. Remember when everyone wanted brown, beige and earth tones? Well, the new hot trend (and I hope it’s here to stay for a long while) is grey. I love the elegance and classic look of grey and white. This is a tiny kitchen but looks and feels expansive. It has everything a cook needs and stylish, too.

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Love it when a project comes together.

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Most people gravitate to the kitchen.  It should be beautiful, functional and a friendly place.  I LOVE designing, building and remodeling kitchens.  Ironically, I don’t cook!  That’s right, with the exception of a few large gatherings and or family celebrations, I don’t do the cooking in my family.  Truth be told, it’s the OCD in me.  I hate the mess.  Lucky me, my husband is a great cook!  Pat makes the best salmon on the planet!  Now, I may not do a lot of cooking, but I do know how to make a kitchen function for my clients.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1.  MAKE IT FLOW.  The design should merge your space seamlessly into another room.

2.  MAKE A LIST.  What appliances do you prefer to use and or “need” to use, daily.

3.  KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Use the finishes that make you happy.

 

 

Unsightly TV niches…what to do?

Do you have a huge tv opening (a niche) in your family room/living room area and you don’t know what to do with it? Many of the homes in our neighborhood were built to house the big old tv sets…you know the ones with the enormous back and big screen. Well, now that the flat screen is here to stay, most people are stuck with a huge opening to store their older tv sets/equipment but it just doesn’t work anymore. So, what can we do about this? I’ve come up with several solutions for my clients. Whether you are a contemporary person or a traditionalist at heart, you can easily have that big opening revamped to meet your needs.

Look familiar? Ugh, the old fireplace/tv niche combo found in most homes in Nevada

Look familiar? Ugh, the old fireplace/tv niche combo found in most homes in Nevada

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This is what I did to revamp the old niche. If the fireplace is in working order and can be cleaned- do it! I removed the old stone and swapped it out for a beautiful tile. The old tv niche area was ripped out and replaced with a new contemporary storage area and bench for extra seating.

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This is a typical TV area that is in need of some series help. I reworked the wall to be able to house the new flat screen tv and toys the homeowners purchased. Giving this basement a well deserved update is just what the doctor ordered!

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The final result! The new flat screen tv has a new home!

 

When you can't enclose the opening, you have to find a creative way to rework the situation.  Here, I found a beautiful blue sideboard to serve as the base for the existing tv.  The fireplace to the right was given a new mantel to bring the two areas together in style.

AFTER PHOTO:  When you can’t enclose the opening, you have to find a creative way to rework the situation. Here, I found a beautiful blue sideboard to serve as the base for the existing tv. The fireplace to the right was given a new mantel to bring the two areas together in style.

The old niche had a built in as you can see that didn't really serve a purpose except collect dust.  The fireplace tile was really pretty so I simply added a wooden mantel to complete the area

IN PROCESS:  The old niche had a built in as you can see that didn’t really serve a purpose except collect dust. The fireplace tile was really pretty so I simply added a wooden mantel to complete the area

BEFORE:  The 22 ft wall was really not "saying" anything.  It needed a few minor changes to make a big impact.

BEFORE: The 22 ft wall was really not “saying” anything. It needed a few minor changes to make a big impact.

Pillow talk

Custom Bedding and Window Treatments 187 Custom Bedding and Window Treatments 192 april thru june 2010 068 - Copy IMG_9009 IMG_9025

My husband says I’m obsessed with pillows. He’s right. Pillows and pictures. I seem to collect a lot of both and want to have them all on display-everywhere! Lucky me, I get to design and have beautiful looking pillows made for my clients (from our workroom) so they don’t all end up in my home. On my bed alone we must have 11 pillows to take off every night. I know, it gets old. But gosh, I just absolutely love being surrounded by beautiful things, so it’s worth it. I just thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

custom bedding (5) custom bedding (6) Custom Tradtional Website Custom Bedding IMG_3620

My clients love them and I like to think of them as the last piece of jewelry that finishes the outfit, perfectly.

“Mini” makeovers

BEFORE

BEFORE

New and improved.  A little love and paint and tadah…your new dining room

New and improved. A little love and paint and tadah…your new dining room

AFTER

AFTER

In today’s market, I have more and more clients who are staying put. They aren’t looking to buy a bigger and better home, they’re just interested in updating their current home. Let the mini makeovers begin! I’ve been really busy helping my clients do this. It is absolutely amazing how you can transform a house into a home with a few minor changes. Paint, wallpaper (by the way ladies, wallpaper is back with a vengeance and it’s better than ever…it’s no longer your grandma’s wallpaper), and some rearranging of your furniture and you too can have a brand new home (without the expense of moving). So, let me tell you- dining rooms, powder rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms are a few areas that will really make a difference and not break the bank. Kitchens are definitely worth the cost in updating since after all EVERYBODY hangs out around the kitchen island. But, if you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider giving one room in your home a “facelift”.

BEFORE shot

BEFORE shot

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AFTER shot. As you can see, I left the granite counter tops, all appliances, cabinets and flooring. I refinished the exterior cabinets a darker/richer color, and changed color of the kitchen island to make it a focal point. The walls were painted a chocolate brown and there you have it. An amazing transformation!

All done!  Amazing transformation and kitchen is now updated with it's mini makeover.

All done! Kitchen is now updated with it’s “mini” makeover.

Before shot of bathroom

Before shot of bathroom

After shot of same bathroom.  Removed the standard large mirror, replaced it with a beautiful contemporary mirror, wallpaper for backsplash of vanity and fresh paint for cabinets and walls.  Spectacular!

After shot of same bathroom. Removed the standard large mirror, replaced it with a beautiful contemporary mirror, wallpaper for backsplash of vanity and fresh paint for cabinets and walls. Spectacular!

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DIY Ideas

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Summer

Fall

Fall

Nothing makes you smile like flowers, right? Here in Nevada, it’s sometimes difficult to keep fresh flowers in the house because of the heat. So, it’s worth investing in a few seasonal floral arrangements you can use in your home to brighten your day. I’ve put these “artificial” arrangements together in a few simple steps. You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy everything brand new. Take a few items around your home you haven’t used in a while. Like an old vase, colored rocks (from a previous fancy shamancy fresh flower arrangement your husband or boyfriend sent you), glue stick and you’re good to go.

Winter

Winter