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Playing Favourites: The Frye Company

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About four years ago, I discovered what I consider to be one of the best shoe companies in North America. I know next to nothing about shoe companies, and I’ve certainly never bought shoes from many good ones, if any, other than this one. The Frye Company.

Their products, in my limited experience, are expertly made by hand, in such a way that you will never doubt their quality. One glance can tell you that their worksmanship and materials are among the best.

In March of 1863, a man named John A. Frye opened a small shop in Marlboro, Massachusetts. His goal was to make practical shoes for working people. Many of the people that went west across the frontier of America wore his boots.

Frye Shoe Company

Mr. Frye passed his skill and passion for good-quality footwear down through his children and grandchildren, so that the Frye name began to be known for durable and beautiful shoes.

Soldiers and pilots in World War II wore Frye boots, including General Patton himself (or at least, that’s what The Frye Company website says).

To this day, many of the Frye designs are based on the styles that made the company famous.

From the Frye website: ‘ In 1975 the Frye Company donated a pair of CAMPUS™ boots to the Smithsonian Institution, in our nation’s capital, as a representation of the era.’

And to think I had no idea of the history of this company when I stumbled across them a few years ago and fell in love with their Fiona boot.

meet the fionas

Here are the Fionas and I, on the day we met (aka the day they came in the mail) (PLEASE ignore the mess. I didn’t realize I’d be sharing this photo publicly when I took it). –>

They were so shiny back then!

The Fionas have gone with me to many an event and occasion. They’re just perfect for so many situations!

About two years ago, I found a pair of cognac-coloured Frye platform mary janes at Winner’s.

Naturally, they were a fraction of the cost of what they could be new. Naturally, I bought them, even though every time I wear them people think I look taller than my boyfriend. I don’t care – they’re Fryes!!

I dare you to try NOT falling in love with the smooth leather, the classic styles, the buttery lining, the vintage-look buckles… I could go on.

One of  the best things is that, because Frye has been around forever, they can be found on eBay and in used clothing stores. So: keep your eyes open for the famous Frye logo, and don’t shy away from buying some. Frye shoes are an investment that will keep you stylishly shod for years to come.

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A Rant for the Scantily Clad

I get wanting to look sexy. I do. But isn’t there a line? Does anyone else think there’s a line between sexy and naked?

I fear that too few girls and women these days (yup, Imma throw out a “these days”) know where that line is. Either that or they don’t care. Either that or I’m the one that’s confused, and what looks sexy to me is really the equivalent of wearing a floor-length flannel nightgown, and what looks naked to me is prim and proper evening attire.

“But we’re young!”

So being young exempts you from respecting yourself?

“But we’re young and stupid!”

I’ll give you the stupid part. Wait – you made it into one of Canada’s best universities, so you can’t really be stupid.

“But we’re young and stupid and DRUNK!”

Ah. With alcohol involved, nothing matters. Especially your self-respect.

“Well…. we’re horny. So… You know.”

So you’re willing to look like you don’t respect yourself, put all your goodies on display for guys you don’t know, freeze your toes off wading through snow in your heels and bare legs, spend a lot of money on booze and cabs, feel like crap the next day, not to mention doing exactly what every other girl around you is doing, just for a chance at getting rubbed up against by an equally drunk and stupid stranger?

“But everyone–“

–is doing it? Sorry, hon, but that is a very old and clichéd line.

There’s something going on here that has to do with gender stereotypes and patriarchal values and the effect of the media, but without delving into much of the academic stuff, I wanna ask about something along the lines of myth and ideology: doesn’t it make you feel dirty, putting yourself on display like that in exchange for something temporary and meaningless? Don’t you know that you’re the one getting the short end of the stick?

I get wanting to feel sexy, wanting to look sexy.

What I don’t get is wanting to wear less clothes than a prostitute while paying for your own booze, then giving it all away to a random guy, for free.

“But we don’t pay for our drinks – the random guys buy them.”

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO?! Clearly nothing else matters.

Shorts and… Control Tops?


Not very deep, witty, or thought-provoking, I’ll admit, but it’s something I wonder about. Are girls these days not aware that pantyhose have a section at the top that is darker and often designated “(love handle) control top”… and which is NOT meant to be seen? Do their mothers not tell them that underwear is meant to stay under something else, and when it peeks out, it looks trashy?

What would compel a girl to say, “Oh, my control top is showing… meh”?



A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!

Jeans: The Key to Levitical Rebellion

Yesterday I had the privilege of chatting with a girl who is, like me, a singer and worship leader at an evangelical charismatic church. We began to share experiences, compare notes about practices, styles, expectations, etc. And then we came to something that has had me curious for a handful of years: being part of the worship team at her church comes with certain expectations.

Those expectations stipulate a code of conduct befitting a group of Levites who lead a congregation into the throne room of God: no drugs, no premarital sex (some of these are obvious), no drinking, no jeans on the platform on Sundays, etc.

Wait. Reverse this train. No jeans on the platform? No jeans on the platform on Sundays?

Please understand the tone of this blog isn’t meant to be abrasive, but simply, well, incredulous. We can scripturally justify no sex before marriage, but what about the rest? Sure, most would argue that drugs mess with the temple of the Holy Spirit, and many would say that alcohol does, too. I’d be interested in delving into those standpoints with you, if you’d like, particularly the drinking one, but let’s get back to the jeans, and how wearing them, on The Platform, on Sunday, should be frowned upon.

Don’t get me wrong… I get it. I’ve done the dress-up-for-church thing for, well, all of my life. But why do we dress up? And why should those on The Platform dress any better than those not on The Platform? (Hint: The answer “We’d put on our best clothes for the queen of England, why not much more so for God?” isn’t going to be accepted in this discussion.)

I want to exacerbate this topic, right here, right now, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to carry on a one-sided discussion. Thoughts?

With Christ, Against the Grain

As I sit in the quiet bookstore, reading a magazine article called, “Liquidating Your Life”(1), I find my eyes welling up with tears. The author is recalling the choice of one of her sisters to become a cloistered nun. It’s not a sad story, yet I weep.

A few pages earlier, I was reminded of the thing we call Lent and how its purpose is to point us toward Easter. This article’s author encouraged his readers to give up something they’d miss, such as their Blackberry or coffee, to “identify, if only slightly and with great humility, with Christ’s denial of Himself as He went to the cross.”

Perhaps the root of my tears was the segue from the thought that, this Lenten season, I didn’t feel convicted to give up anything, to the idea that a vibrant, university-educated young woman would reduce her worldly possessions to underwear and glasses.

During the weeks before she made her vows, friends who came to say good-bye left with something of hers. Her clothes went to one sister, her books to another. The author drew her sister’s name at Christmas and chose to purchase a sapling to plant as a family so they’d have a reminder of Heather when they would gather without her for future holidays.

It’s not so much the thought that I couldn’t live without coffee or blogging, but more that I feel I’m missing something that goes much deeper. I’m longing for a soul depth similar to the one that inspired Heather to sacrifice her future for the sake of others, in order to pray for them for the rest of her life. I’ve felt it before when doing things much less sacrificial than becoming a nun, and once again I’m humbled by the feeling.

There are days when I can’t imagine how I lived without wireless Internet and a laptop glued to my hip, or before the days of cell phones. Normally, I would cringe at the thought of living without a car to get around in or a choice of shoes or my skinny jeans or new music every week. Today, however, I’m longing. Longing for a reason to give it all up for the sake of Christ, for the sake of others.

I’d like to be able to truly say:

Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands. (hear it) (2)
Even as I copy and paste these lyrics, I can feel the reluctance returning, the hesitation that comes with knowing I’ve sung these words flippantly before and I’ll probably do it again; the reluctance to give up all for the sake of King and Kingdom. Yet part of me remains desperate for a reason to do just that, a reason to discover what Much-Afraid did on the altar as the High Priest cut the “root of human love” out of her heart(3) so she could live in true grace and freedom.

I hope that someday I’ll be challenged to give up most of my “creature comforts” and make my heart at home in the simple and functional rather than the sophisticated and fashionable. I suspect I’ll find more joy and peace when I do, because I’ll know that every day I’m choosing Christ likeness.

Heather chose not to remain a cloistered nun for the rest of her life, but the stories of men and women who have similarly set aside their lives of convenience will continue to astound and inspire me. Perhaps I’ll do a Lenten fast next year, even if I don’t feel “convicted”.

(1) “Liquidating Your Life”, Holly Rankin Zaher. (Relevant Magazine, Mar-Apr 2007, p.46) (2) Robin Mark, 1990 Word Music. (3) Hind’s Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard.

Celebrating Winter in Style

1. Wireless internet. What a wonderful invention!! The most marvelous part of it all is that I finally got it to work with my laptop at my mom’s house, after having the router for 4 months! Even though I get kicked off wireless every time someone uses one of our three 2.4 GHZ cordless phones (I bought a 5.8 GHZ phone today to compensate), I still am overjoyed to be able to maintain my addictive cyber-world without cables and cords!! Technology rocks!

2. My new winter coat. From Le Chateau, it’s black and wool and comes to my mid-thigh. It’s got a nice collar and big black buttons. It looks GREAT with all of my clothes (well, okay, all except my jogging pants) and shoes and gives me wicked winter style. I wanted a red one, but seeing as how I had NO winter coats and I have no idea how long I can expect to live in a place where I’ll always need one, I thought I should stick to black, so I can wear it with everything and for years to come. Practicality and responsibility win again.

3. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce latte. Need I say more, coffee lovers? This is a smooth, sweet, creamy, beautiful taste of caffeine heaven, topped with delectable whipped cream. It goes down easy, even for those non-coffee drinkers out there…DON’T MISS OUT! You’ll regret it later, I promise you.

Sarah’s Gym/Catwalk/Bakery

1. The Ability to Walk. I had to walk to work this morning, and Saturday. I enjoy “being forced to” walk (read: no vehicles available) because then I’m forced to actually do something active. I enjoy having a reason to get out there and see the town, smell the air, watch the people moving around, listening to the “Beautiful Tunes” playlist on my iPod the whole way.

2. Funky Fashion. I’ve been talking to a friend about how I get frustrated with clothes that are expected or normal, and I feel most refreshed when I’m putting together outfits that are edgy or unexpected. Or if I’m wearing a GREAT pair of shoes!!! And I really do believe I have to bring skinny jeans to Goderich. So, G-Dot, BE PREPARED! I do often feel like I’m sort of missing out on the good wardrobe components that will make my collection feel complete… I’m definitely open to ideas!

3. Baking. Sure, it’s annoying to do in mom’s tiny kitchen with virtually no counter space, and I don’t love cleanup, but I do love creating things period, and the privilege of delighting people with baked goodies is a delight to ME! So give me notice that you’re coming over so that I can whip up something de-lish.

Swear, Hair, Wear

1. Good friends. The ones that you can catch up where you left off, every time, even if it has been months, or years; the ones that you can be completely honest and crazy with; the ones that love even your crazy outfits; the ones you can drink and swear with (enough to be healthy); the ones that you can eat with and laugh with and be deep with.

2. Edgy hair. With me, every day is a new hair adventure, and I can choose to just shove it up so as not to show the frizz, or I can fight for something presentable, or I can go the extra mile to make something edgy happen. Then it takes extra courage to pull it off, but I find it’s mostly always worth it. ‘Till someone says they recognize a bad hair day when they see one. Back to the drawing board. Or not…

3. Footless tights. Dang sexy, oh-so-fun to wear, and they look hot with a miniskirt and ballet flats. And it’s hard to go wrong in the top department when you have that combo going on. Okay, so maybe some of the 80’s weren’t all bad!