Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thoroughly Modernized Helen!

Dear Helen Hartman,
I am not happy. Lately, everything around me seems dull and without spark – except me. I am dull and with plenty of sparks! Some days I sink into my old couch and pout and others I want to pick up the nearest lamp and throw it through the window!  No, it’s not from listening to the world news or worry over the flagging economy. I’ve been reading DIY and design blogs.
Sigh. So many wonderful ideas, so much beautiful décor. It makes my home look so drab. I’d love to fix things up but don’t know where to start. Love to know where you get your ideas for sprucing up your home.

Dear Loved One,
I adore DIY and design blogs! But like you I am often overwhelmed by all the talent and hardly know where to begin. If only we could travel back to a simpler time when one could just:

I'm changing mine by calling a cab and running off to Niagara Falls with the Carpet Salesman!
Luckily, Helen has her impressive reference library. IOW – she found this while scrounging shopping smartly through a thing called the J’Town Mall O Venders. 

It's a pizzeria! It's a den! It's the place we're sticking the in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner!

Home Modernizing for 1953??
Can you say cutting edge design for the forward thinking (should that be backward thinking?) home maker?

Can you say lazy way out of actually doing the hard work of giving advice on interior design?
You can say whatever you want, Helen isn’t listening. Not after she saw these:

I actually think they are kinda cute.

 as the unacceptable alternative to keeping warm with modern heating methods. Remodel rather than wear ugly shoes? THIS is Helen’s kind of magazine!

Surely these are the recommendations of the brightest minds of almost 60 years ago! They must be bright – look at those color schemes!

Take THAT all you designers bent on neutrals!

 What did they suggest women do when they wanted to improve the look of their homes?

Do? The dishes, of course. That's what women DO!

 And AFTER they got back from kicking their low brow dish drudge dorky hubbies to the curb? Well, if he was simply sent to sleep on the couch the modern housewife need not let that interfere with her nightly nagging. Just get the newest thing – the sofa bed! – and join hubby right there in the living room.

And another thing, I don't believe I turned your those new pajamas you brought home from that business trip pink by washing them with this blanket.  I think those pajamas were always pink and they are a symptom of a serious threat to the very fabric of our life. Harry, you're a communist, aren't you?

 That’s fine for modernizing one’s marriage.

Lillian pampers Norman. She picks out his cute outfits, feeds him by hand, even strokes his head when he lays it in her lap.  Norman thinks she treats him like a king. Lillian thinks: All the fun of a poodle, none of the bother of poo on the carpet!
But what about getting your house up to date with the latest trends?
 Home Modernizing suggests a Rec Room in the basement. It’s the ideal place for when ‘teens take over’ according to one article.

 Man, three whole channels and Nothing on worth watching!

Though, from this illustrations, I’d be more worried about the younger set.

"Ernie, Mommy and Daddy are a little concerned by the target and airplane schematic on your wall."  
"Aw, Mom, those are for fun. Now watch me tie the shoe with which I will crush the will of my oppressors!"

Whatever you decide to do Home Modernizing promises us we can DIY it with confidence.

On second thought, maybe that 'make your own nuclear generator' wasn't such a good idea. On the bright side, Louise and Burt saved a bundle reading by the soft glow of their own skin.

 It can’t be any harder than any other task faced by the modern homemaker, can it?

If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake. But I didn't know, did I, Mr. Just Drops in Without Calling? So I guess baking will have to wait until I'm done plastering the hole in the kitchen wall where I hid the body. Make yourself comfy, this may take a while.
 Not if the modern homemaker is Helen – who has her own recommendation for improving the look of your surroundings instantly! 


  1. ;-))) Love your recommendations sounds perfect to me and no work in volved at all ;-))I have to say those old DIY mags are good for a giggle but im loving that red kitchen and its so very now. Enjoy the rest of your week, dee xx

  2. dee - I agree about the kitchen. I want to live in a house that looks like a rainbow blew up!

  3. This is such a cute post...sadly, I am old enough to remember this stuff so I think I may just be vintage too.

  4. I'm thinking cute shoes are a must...but with enough margaritas, you won't care whether your house is cute or not.

  5. Adorable. Women can do it all. Too bad men have to be around for entertainment and lawn maintenance.

    PS: Call me if you ever want to sell your magazines...

  6. All the fun of a poodle without the poop on the carpet! Hahahaha! You are brilliant! x

  7. Hello Helen:
    Wonderful!! If only we had your stock of such magazines we should, within the space of a few moments, be able to give our own home that very up to date, retro look which is the desire of so many hearts today.

    As it is we are now going to descend to the cellar to assess the possibilities of converting it into a second drawing room. In time for Christmas, we should hope!

  8. Black eyed Susan - vintage is good. Vintage is cool. Vintage is so much better than obsolete, right?

  9. Dana - enough margaritas you don't care if you have shoes! Or clothes! Now THAT's a modernization gone too far.

    Barbara - thanks. It is my dream to digitalize my stash and get rid of the paper, so maybe one day...

  10. Deepak - welcome to my blog!

    Vix, you know at some point we all look at the men in our lives and think it!

  11. Oh fun....I am so glad I'm not expected to wear pumps and a skirt while doing all my modernization.

  12. Jane and Lance - cellars are daunting challenges for any decorator. Bat Cave theme anyone?

  13. What a cute post!! No pumps here or skirts for that matter. I don't get much done now, so with those elements..well, I'd have to just say forget it!! Loved a peek back in time!! Happy VTT!

  14. Thanks Coloradolady - have found some fun new blogs through your link party!

  15. I just loooove the way Lillian has her bright red skirt spread out all over the sofa.
    Did you know that picturing women in their full skirts and high heels (while doing EVERYTHING- even painting!?) was part of an early 50's government propaganda plan to get women out of the work force and back into their pink kitchens? It would be difficult to "rivet" in crinoline petticoats!!

  16. Lynn - that is SO Interesting! I have read more and more about the whole image we have been sold of the 50s, including those films about hygiene and dating, etc, were a kind of over correction to all the young men who had come back from WWII with, let's say, a new world outlook about sex and family.

  17. We watched the movie Mona Lisa Smiles last night...again! I always love the clothes and music in that movie! ♥

  18. Oh, my goodness....I always know where to go when I need a good laugh. You ought to have your own newspaper column. You'd brighten an awful lot of lives with your sharp witticisms!!! Hilarious, girl!!! Have a good weekend!

  19. Lavender Dreamer - never seen that movie but will take a peek. I thought Pan Am would be like a fun glimpse into retro style - somehow it's not.

    Thanks Alycia!

  20. Yes, I've heard that tequila has been known to make people's clothes fall off, but there's not enough tequila in the world to make me forget about shoes! Or jewelry, which also improves the looks of one's home. ;)

  21. Ha! Love it! Love the commentaries. They're the best.

  22. Loved the post! And I want on that list if you sell your magazines too!!!

    Was it really that easy to plaster over where you hid the body then? Darn modern forensics!

  23. I wish i could just pick up the phone and get a new home! That would be awesome :o) Scarlett x

  24. Dana - LOl - I have a tangle of vintage jewelry on my nightstand. Will now tell hubby it's decor!

    Thanks Wanda!

  25. Nani - thanks - you know I think the magazines are like something I have called into my life.Never used to see them, now I find them everywhere, and in super shape! (I even found a stash in my own storage room that my aunt had given me and I'd forgotten for years!).

  26. Scarlett - every time I spy an old phone at a junk shop, I pick up the receive, dial the number my mom had for 30 years and say hello. Maybe when you find a vintage phone you can call for a new house!

  27. Thanks so much for your visit!!

    Yes, the whole house is decorated for Christmas and I just may have more trees this year than my 14 tres last year. LOL!!

    Yes, I am crazy!!

    I hope you will come back for my Christmas Home Tour!


  28. I am loving those red cabinets in that kitchen!

  29. Can't wait, Debbie!

    Jori - I KNOW. I am so sick of oak around here its all I can do not to grab a paint can and go wild.

  30. lol.....I like those bootie fur trimmed shoes! I will be on the look out for a pair on my treasure hunts. :)

  31. Coffee and cute dishes work too. Don't tell my Hubby until he's done fixing the outside of our place though. ;)

  32. You are so right, I love DIY too but the talent out there is too much, I wish I would just pick up my phone and have a new home; the illustrations from the magazine are so cute. Your have an awesome blog by the way and I am a new follower! Hope you will like my blog and follow back!

    Pop Culture&Fashion Magic

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