Fashionable and comfortable boots from Arcopédico


I have a confession to make… I didn’t own a pair of boots for the winter months. I’ve always made sure that our kids had boots, but I never picked up a pair for myself.

I’ve never been much of a boot person. As a kid, I was outside for hours at a time in the winter. My cousins and I loved to ride our sleds, ski, ice skate, build snowmen and snow forts, among other things. I needed a good pair of boots back then. As an adult, I never really had a need for boots. If it’s snowing, or if I have to walk through snow, I simply won’t go outside. I’m also lucky enough to have a job where if it’s snowing outside, chances are I don’t have to come in.

The reason why I didn’t really want to buy a pair of boots is because they are stiff and clunky. I also didn’t want to have to lug around another pair of shoes to change into when I got to work.

Last summer I reviewed a pair of soft, comfortable sneakers from a company called Arcopédico. You can read that review here – Super Comfortable, Fashionable Shoes from Arcopédico.

Arcopédico also carries beautiful, fashionable boots, ideal for fall through winter and even into the spring.

I was sent to review a pair of Arcopédico’s boots, specifically their L8 boot. The L8 isn’t the type of boot that you would wear for outdoor activities in the snow, but it is a boot that can provide your foot with warmth during the cold weather months. This is considered more of a fashion boot than a true winter boot.

Arcopédico has interesting names for their shoes. Some other books include W9, Net 8 and N42.

According to the Arcopédico website;

The L8 features a patented Lytech™ synthetic faux suede upper which is lightweight, breathable, vegan, and offers a flexible barely-there feel to help promote healthy circulation.  The sole of the L8 also has Arcopedico’s signature built in twin arch support system  for all day comfort.

The boot is available in a variety of colors. I chose black because I felt like it matched all of my wardrobe.

I’m a plus size woman. I have thick legs. I even have what some people refer to as “cankles.” That is part of the reason why I don’t wear fashionable boots. They often are too snug in the lower leg area (above the ankles). If they are too snug they are uncomfortable to wear. It’s even worse if you need to be on your feet for long periods of time.

I know how soft and flexible the other Arcopédico are that I was sent to review, so I thought I would take a chance on these boots. I’m so glad I did!

The Arcopédico L8 boot is soft and flexible, just like the other pair of shoes I own from the brand.

Unlike other shoes, these don’t have to be “broke in” before you can comfortably wear them for long periods of time. They felt perfect on my foot the moment I put them on.

These boots have a zipper on the side of them. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to zipper them all the way to the top with my chubby legs, but I did! I was able to get the zippers all the way up. They also stayed up (they didn’t unzip on me). Even my chubby legs felt perfectly comfortable in these boots. They are just the right amount of snugness to keep my feet warm (and the elements out of my boots), but not too snug where they are uncomfortable.

My boots. They look a bit blue, but they are really black. I guess the lighting gave them a blue’ish appearance. I also showed the zipper down on the one boot.

These are not the kind of boots you would wear in the snow. These are the types of boots you can wear in cold weather to work or out and about.

I would recommend spraying these with that spray that protects shoes from water and rock salt. I sprayed these as soon as I got them to protect them and to ensure that they look great for years to come.

These boots are washable. I haven’t had a need to as of yet, but as per the website they can be washed. They also have a removable inner sole in case you just need to wash that (stinky feet…LOL).

Ignore my pasty-white skin.

These have a bit of a lift to them, which I wasn’t expecting. As a sneaker girl I’m used to my feet being flat, but I’m really “digging” (showing my age) having a bit of lift in my shoes. I used to wear heels when I was younger (and not as heavy). It’s been ages since I’ve worn anything that wasn’t flat like a sneaker (my dress shoes are all flats).

The heel/bottom of this boot is made from a hard plastic-like material. The upper part is made out of a soft material (it kind of reminds me of suede).

What’s nice about these boots is that they can go from work to a night on the town. They are both casual and dressy. They are really versatile.

If you are interested in learning more about the L8 boot, or other Arcopédico shoes and boots, visit ArcopedicoUS.com. The brand can also be found on Facebook.


*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Does how you dress effect your mood?


As I sit here and write this post, I am still in my pajamas (and it’s almost noon on a Tuesday). Thankfully I don’t go into work until 3:00, so I still have plenty of time to get dressed, do up my make-up, put in some gold earrings, spray on some perfume and head out the door. Trust me, I would much rather wear my pajamas all day.

Wearing my comfy pajamas does not make me feel revved up and ready for a day at work.

Do you think that what you wear can effect your mood? I’ll cite some examples of what I am referring to.

Sitting here in my pajamas makes me feel lazy and unmotivated to do anything.

During the holiday season, my husband and I attended a Christmas party hosted by the company I am employed by. I wore a beautiful holiday blouse with rhinestones and sequins. My hair was done by my daughter. At the party I felt happy and “bouncy.” I felt like there was a lot of “pep in my step,” so to speak. Only a few hours earlier I was in my comfy pajamas.

After I finish this post I will be wearing my work clothes. I could easily select sweatpants and a tee shirt (there is no dress code where I work), or I could wear more proper work attire (dress pants, nice blouse, jewelry, perfume…). I always opt to wear traditional work attire because I feel like if I work the sweatpants and tee shirt I will be totally unmotivated to do anything and feel lazy. I work with children, so I cannot be in that state of mind. I need to be on top of things every second I am at work to make sure the children are safe and secure.

I honestly do feel like what you wear sways you into feeling different states of mind (happy, excited, lazy…).

I have noticed a lot lately that what I decide to wear to work also depends on how I am feeling as I step inside my closet. If I’m happy, I wear things that are brightly colored or have fun designs on them. If I’m feeling tired or I have low energy, I tend to pick out clothing that is softer and over sized. If I am feeling overly confident about something, I tend to choose clothing that is more professional looking (even though I work with children and I’m around stick glue, slime and crayons).

Even the shoes I wear effect my mood, or my mood is effected by it. Normally I wear sneakers, but from time to time I’ll feel like dress shoes or boots (like Uggs) are more inline with how I feel. The jewelry I choose the wear and the perfume I spritz on are also affected by my mood (and vice versa).

I have seen research on the subject, but I am curious to know what readers think about the subject? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.


*This post is sponsored by Nakturnal. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Help a girl attend school with your purchase of a beautiful product from Olori.


I am a firm believer that ALL children, no matter where you live or what your social or economic status is, should have the right to an education. Sadly, that is not the case in many countries around the world.

Did you know that that 31 MILLION girls in the world, 17 million of which are in Africa, do not have access to education? That is just girls. If you combine that with boys, I’m sure that number is a lot higher.

Girls tend to be the ones that don’t get an education. A boys education is seen as more important than that of a girl. Girls are often prevented from getting an education due to child labor, child marriage, or lack of funds.

There is a brand that is hoping to make a different in the lives of thousands of young girls by helping to cover the cost of tuition so that they can get the education they deserve, and education that can improve their lives.

The brand is called Olori.

Olori symbolizes every girl’s inherent worth and power. They believe every girl is born with an invisible crown, and should be treated accordingly. In partnership/collaboration with women-owned businesses and local artisans in (the heart of) Africa, Olori makes handbags and other products that make women feel strong, confident, and secure.

Every time you order a product from Olori, you are helping to provide tuition for an underprivileged girl.

Olori’s founder, Tomide Awe, knows all too well how important it is for a girl to receive an education.

Tomide Awe grew up in Nigeria, a country where a girl has a 73% chance of not going to school (UNESCO). Fortunately, Tomide had parents that could afford to send her to school – a fate unimaginable for 17 million girls in Africa today. This disparity did not escape Tomide, and as a result, her life revolves around finding ways to make sure that every girl gets the same opportunity she had.

Olori makes a variety of products, but they are most known for their beautiful handbags/purses. Their bags are handcrafted and feature traditional textiles from Africa. Here are just a few examples.

In addition to these gorgeous bags, Olori also sells “charms” to adorn your bag. It doesn’t even have to be an Olori bag. It can be the purse/tote that you currently use.

On the Olori site they are called “Crown Jewels.”

I was sent one to review. I received Olori’s Queen Charm.

This handbag charm featuring a woman passing the crown of empowerment on to a young girl, is a beautiful reminder of the power of sharing our strength and wisdom as women with the next generation. It’s a great gift for daughters, mothers, and sisters, or a chic treat for yourself.

With rich, jewel-toned colors and an imagery that tells a story of women building one another up and helping one another flourish as queens, the eye-catching accessory projects elegance and grace. It instantly adds sophistication to any outfit.

This is a very well made “charm.” It’s heavy (not too heavy for a bag) and very colorful. I love the gold accents. This is also a large piece that will really stand out on your purse/tote.

I’m sorry that I cannot take a photo of it on my current purse. My current purse if very small. I jokingly refer to it as a “wallet on a string/strap.” I can’t even fit my smartphone in it (I’m in the market for a bigger purse). This charm is about 1/4th of the size of my purse, so it doesn’t look right. This charm would look better on a bigger purse or tote bag.

If you are interested in learning more about Olori’s efforts to provide a much needed education to young girls, or to check out their beautiful products, visit BeOlori.com. The brand can also be found on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Those links can be found on the bottom of their website.


*I received a free product to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

How to Make a DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater on a Budget


The holidays can put a strain on anyone.  With last-minute holiday shopping waiting in the wings and being embarrassed because you went way overboard when you went out for some Black Friday shopping post-Turkey, it’s perfectly natural if you don’t want to spend another $50-$75 dollars just so you can have an extra special ugly Christmas sweater this holiday season.   While dressing to impress can be important when it comes to turning everyone’s heads when you show up to your upcoming ugly Christmas sweater party, or after-hours work holiday meet-up, or family gathering, if you’re the type that would rather express their inner creativity than throw money at your holiday fashion, you’ve come to the right blog.

Creating something ugly for the holidays can indeed be a daunting task, but if you use the following tips when it comes to making your own ugly Christmas  sweater, then rest assured, you should be able to “out ugly” any of these big box and internet companies who are really killing it with their amazing ugly Christmas sweater that they’ve got for sale on the internet and in such stores like Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s.

Follow these tips below when you’re ready to start on your own DIY ugly Christmas sweater and you’ll be sure to not be left out in the holiday cold this year when it comes to dazzling your friends, family, co-workers, with an amazing ugly holiday sweater when being ugly makes you the most beautiful person in the room.

Step #1:  You need a sweater.

Check your closest, check the attic, check the basement for a comfortable, old sweater that you won’t mind-altering for your ugly holiday outfit.   It’s always best to use the most comfortable sweater you’ve got, but one that you’re comfortable with destroying, in a manner of speaking.  Maybe, it’s one that you wear when you’re cleaning, maybe it’s that old sweater you wear when you have to go outside and work in the garden in the Spring, or maybe, it’s that old sweater that once belonged to your husband, but now its yours because when you wore it to paint some of the rooms in your house, you accidentally spilled Emerald Green on it.   Don’t even worry about it, if it has an old, jagged sports team logo across the front.  If it does, use your imagination to integrate that design into the total ugly scheme of the whole project, you might even find yourself viral on social media when you post photos.

If you don’t have a sweater that you’re willing to get rid of, to destroy, to alter for the sake of ugly Christmas spirit, then the best place for you to get one, for pennies more or less, is your local thrift store.  What’s great about going to your local Goodwill is that when you walk into the store you can’t help but notice how they’ve taken the extraordinary steps to color-code every single piece of clothing (men’s and women’s) that they have for sale.  At the Goodwill you can start letting your imagination run crazy; after all, the sweater is your canvas.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a green sweater, yellow, red, orange, pink!  It’s a canvas, and the first thing that you realize when you start on your ugly Christmas sweater design journey is that certain colors while being almost violent to the eye, can be perfect fodder for your DIY ugly Christmas sweater creation.  Think: pink and brown, for example.   Certain colors do drive the mind crazy.   Have you ever seen the 1980 horror movie, The Shining?   The one with Jack Nicholson.   Do you remember that creepy carpet in the hotel that the movie is set?  Well, think about the colors.   Certain colors are unsettling, indeed.

An example of an ugly Christmas sweater. PHOTO SOURCE: UglyChristmasSweater.com.

Step 2:  Will you be featuring a design on the sweater?

The ugly Christmas sweater has been around for a very long time.   For anyone born before 1985, you might recall how your mom or your aunt or your grandma, someone that you didn’t see very often, except around the holiday season when you were kid, might often knit you a scarf or a sweater.   Boy, they were ugly, weren’t they?  When you’ve found your sweater, think about those good old days when you’re coming up with your design.  One word: felt.  Remember when you could go to Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics and get those super hideous patterns, graphics that you could sew into things?  You could get a super tacky cartoon-ish image of a reindeer or something and sew it into a holiday blanket?  For the person that wants to be super ambitious with their DIY ugly Christmas sweater using a pattern can make the project extra fun; but if your someone that’s going for the so-ugly-it-hurts look, then you might want to stick to sharp, contrasting colors with 3-D effects added for good measure.

So once you have your sweater, and your mind made up as to whether or not you’ll be integrating a pattern or sticking with ugly colors, then it’s time to expand on your concept.   And there are so many ways to do that.

Lights you can purchase from UglyChristmasSweaters.com to decorate your ugly Christmas sweater.

Of course:  Never forget about Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics.    Also, don’t be afraid to go to Big Lots, Hobby Lobby, or your local Family Dollar for penny-deals on Christmas ornaments, tinsel, wrapping part and other ephemera that you can sew onto your sweater.   Get some gaudy fabric and sew it or glue it onto the sweater.  Don’t be afraid to add text.  Don’t be afraid to make it 3-D.   If you’re someone that had to go to the thrift store to get your sweater, then hopefully, you also scoped out any second-hand Christmas ornaments that they might’ve had for sale as well.  The thrift store is a great place to find used, ugly, old tinsel, and forgotten Christmas decor that you can add on to your sweater via glue, etc.   Some of the best ugly Christmas sweaters are so over the top that they’re not only unforgettable but they also leave a person who sees them thinking: how on earth did they think of that?   Don’t limit your mind when it comes to your design. Go crazy.  If your better fashion sense, that you shouldn’t do something: do it anyway.  Don’t be afraid to wrap tinsel around the sweater.  Don’t be afraid to make your design funny, raunchy, innuendo-based.  The whole point of the Ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon is the spirit of Christmas itself; and what better time is there in the year to let your freak flag fly or your sense of humor, regardless of how appropriate or inappropriate it may be.

Too Many Ideas?  Start Here: Get a DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Starter Kit.

If you’ve got so many good ideas that you’re not sure where to start or how to start, sometimes it can be best if you just start small to see what you like, what works and doesn’t work for what you’ve got in your mind.  And the best way to do that is to just get an Ugly Christmas Sweater Design Kit like the ones available at UglyChristmasSweater.com.   Using a Design Kit is a good way to start on your journey to an ugly Christmas sweater design freedom.  Use the materials that come in the kit to start customizing your ugly holiday sweater and once you’ve used up the kit, stand back, and take a look at the sweater.  Put it on!   Look in the mirror!  Is it ugly enough, or should you continue building on top of what you’ve already done?

Remember, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating an ugly Christmas sweater.   There’s no such thing as too ugly when it comes to joining in the fun.

Cute, interactive Christmas sweater from UglyChristmasSweater.com

About the Author: 

This is a guest post co-written by Justin Michaels from UglyChristmasSweater.com.  He loves riding mountain bikes, listening to music, and reading.  His favorite pajamas are ugly ones and you can get yourself a pair here: https://www.uglychristmassweater.com/product-category/christmas-pajama-jumpsuits/

Feel beautiful and confident with Bollie Brand clothing


I’m a plus size lady. I used to be a lot larger than I am now. I used to wear a size 4X (or 30/32). These days I can squeeze myself into a size 1X or 2X (20/22) depending on the cut. I still have a long way to go (at least another 50+ pounds), but I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far.

Shopping for plus size clothing used to be a nightmare. All I could find in my size were extremely expensive clothing (triple the cost of the same piece of clothing for “average” size ladies), or the clothing was downright ugly and not something I would ever wear.

Plus size clothing still tends to be expensive, but at least there is more of a variety available. You can actually find nice looking clothing in larger sizes.

As a blogger, I am pitched by a variety of companies and brands. I have been pitched by many clothing companies. Sadly, none of these companies take into consideration that not everyone is a “skinny-Minnie,” as my mom used to call it. Plus size ladies enjoy fashion too!

My daughter had the right idea years ago. She always wanted to be a fashion designer, ever since she was six years old. She had planned on attending FIT (Fashion Institute) for most of her life, until high school. Then she changed her mind.

My daughter’s #1 reason for wanting to be a fashion designer is because she wanted to create clothing that could be worn by people of all sizes. Another words, create clothing that was available in extra small to 5X or 6X. It would be the same clothing (identical), it would just be available in all sizes, that way no one was excluded.

I always thought that was very admirable of her. My daughter is also small (she wears small/extra small clothing – she is not a plus size). She came up with the idea knowing the struggles I had finding decent clothing.

My daughter is not alone in her idea. A brand named Bollie also feels that it’s important for women of all sizes to feel confident and look beautiful in the clothes that they wear. They make gorgeous clothing that is available in a extra small (XS) to 3X.

I was sent an AMAZING cocktail/party dress from Bollie to review. They sent me their stunning Black Holiday Dress. Every lady should have a “little black dress” in their wardrobe. Black dresses are so versatile. They can be dress up enough for a formal event, such as attending a wedding, or dressed down enough to wear on a night out with your special someone.

  • The top material is thick and stretchy, to keep you warm but never feeling restricted.
  • Perfect for Christmas, New Years, Valentines, or a Fun night out!  Dress it up or dress it down.
  • Machine Wash on gentle, lay flat to dry.
  • Top Main Fabric: Rayon 67% Nylon 28% Spandex 5%.

Bollie sent me the same dress as the one pictured. As you can see, the dress looks just as lovely on each of the ladies, even though they are of different sizes.

This dress is spectacular in person. It really is. Sadly, I was unable to wear this dress. This dress is better suited for ladies who are taller than me. I’m 5’3″ and the dress was way too long on me. It looked more like a ball gown on me than a party dress. I would never have an occasion to wear a ball gown (at least none in the near future that I am aware of). I ended up giving the dress to a friend of mine who is 5’7″ tall and the dress fits her better (length wise). She said she will have to take it in a bit (take it to the seamstress) since she is a smaller size than me.

I did have some pictures of it. For the life of me I cannot find them. When I do find them I will update this post with those photos. I’m sure I will by the start of the new year since I tend to go through all my folders to update and re-organize them.

I wish the dress did fit me. Normally we don’t go to holiday parties, but we actually went to the one for my job this year.

Bollie has more than just party dresses. They also have shirts, skirts, jackets, cardigans and more. All of the clothing is available in sizes extra small to 3X.


I love that Bollie doesn’t charge more for the larger sizes. I have seen other clothing brands charge more for the larger sizes. Bollie treats everyone equally, which is nice.

Bollie shows their clothing being worn by different sized ladies too. I would like to see more plus size ladies (2X – 3X), but that is just me. I like to see people wearing clothing I am considering purchasing before I buy it to get a general idea what it might look like on me.

If you are interested in seeing what Bollie has to offer, visit their website at BollieBrand.com. The brand can also be found on social media. All of their links are found on the bottom of their website.

Are you a plus size lady? Do you have a hard time finding beautiful, affordable clothing?


*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Who needs an ugly Christmas sweater when you can have ugly Christmas PAJAMAS


So… exactly WHEN did ugly Christmas sweaters become a “thing?”

When I was a kid, and even into my teenage years, I thought Christmas sweaters with reindeer and Santas on them were “cute,” not “ugly.” Apparently I have no sense of fashion because the sweaters I wore back then were considered “ugly.” Who knew? I just liked them. Then again, I’ve never really followed fashion trends. I just wore what was comfortable, or what I liked.

Fast forward to modern times (ha ha). Suddenly everyone WANTS to wear and ugly Christmas sweater. In fact, people even have ugly Christmas sweater themed holiday parties. I’ve never been to one, but I can only imagine they are fun, because after all, you need to have a sense of humor to go out in public wearing the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find.

I wonder if they have ugly Hanukkah sweater parties? Hum….???

Another fun holiday fad is taking family photos wearing matching pajamas. Honestly, I think that is a cute idea. I wish it was a “thing” back when my kids were little. I don’t think I can get my 20 and 22 year olds to wear pajamas that match mom and dad’s. They would just roll their eyes at me if I even suggested it, then go right back to texting. Ha Ha.

Imagine if you could combine an ugly Christmas sweater with Christmas pajamas? You can, with ugly Christmas pajamas from UglyChristmasSweater.com.

Currently, Ugly Christmas Sweater is having a special sale on Christmas pajamas. They offer pajama jumpsuits, pajama sets (matching tops and bottoms), and lounge pants. They carry both men, women and children styles and sizes.

Here are some of my favorites that are available on their website. My #1 favorite is the “pink nightmare” bunny jumpsuit from the movie A Christmas Story.

I LOVE it! If it came in my size (I’m a plus size lady), I would get it for myself. Yes, I would sleep in it too!

The attached bunny slippers are so cute!

The Christmas Story Bunny Union Suit Pajama is available in both men and women’s sizes.

Other favorites of mine are…

Star Wars Chewbacca and Ships Lounge Pants

Buddy the Elf Costume Pajama Union Jumpsuit

Grinch Family Faces Christmas Pajama Union Suit



Home Alone Merry Christmas Ya’ Filthy Animal Pajama Jumpsuit

You can even have pajamas personalized, which would look great in a family photo.

As I mentioned, most pajamas are available in men, women, and children’s sizes. Please check each design for availability.

Ugly Christmas Sweater has pajamas styled after Home Alone, Star Wars, Elf, Fortnite, Grinch, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Rick & Morty, candy canes and more.

I was sent some pajamas from Ugly Christmas Sweater to review. I received the National Lampoon’s “Sh*tters Full” Pajama Union Suit.

We know what you’re thinking: what happens when you wear this officially-licensed National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Shitter’s Full Pajama Union Suit and your own, personal shitter becomes full, and eager to spill forcing you to have to rush to the bathroom and let one fly before you lose control, but you’re stuck into a one-piece union suit? Well, unfortunately, in a situation like that you’re gonna shit out of luck when you wear this this holday season, but if you’re a true, die-hard fan of Clarke. W. Griswold and his family, Cousin Eddie, Snots the Dog, and the gang of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, then you’ll be eager enough to take such a risk just so you can show off to all your friends and family what a real fan of the greatest Christmas movie of all time looks like.

This pajama is available in plus sizes. I guessed at what size I am, and I ended up requesting a size that is a bit too big. But honestly, I don’t mind one bit. I like having some “wiggle room.”

I must say, these pajamas are SO COMFY. Once I slipped it on I knew I had a new favorite set of pajamas. The material is soft (not scratchy!). I feel so snugly when I am wearing these pajamas – to the point I don’t want to take them off. Too bad I can’t wear them to work.

I was concerned how well it would work having to zip up and down the pajamas to use the “facilities.” So far I haven’t had any issues. Besides, why wait to use the bathroom until you REALLY have to go anyway. When you feel something coming on, just go!

So far, so good with the zipper too. I haven’t had any issues with it getting stuck.

The only “downside” (which really isn’t a big deal) is that I am short, and this fits a standard size, so it’s a wee bit long on me. No biggy.

This is NOT the most flattering picture. My hands were in the pockets (making me look “wider”), and the pajamas are a size too big (my fault, I requested a size too big by mistake). I’m also short, so they are a bit baggy on me.

If only I looked as good in these as the model. LOL!

Almost all of Ugly Christmas Sweater pajamas are on sale in November and December. Now is a great time to get some for yourself, or as a gift.

If you are interested in seeing the various styles available, visit UglyChristmasSweater.com or you can go directly to the pajama page.

Ugly Christmas Sweater also offers ugly Christmas sweaters (of course!) as well as other jackets, pop culture, toys, inflatables and more.

The brand can also be found on social media. Their links are found on their website.

What do you think of these pajamas? Do you see a pair you’d like to own or give as a gift?


*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.