I love the idea of choosing an Apronite of the Month to feature here on the site. I just think it a fun way for all of us to get to know one another and see though such diverse backgrounds and lifestyles, we are all "Apronites" at heart.

This month is Sanne. She is a long time follower of my 1955 blog. She always brought such wonderful perspective and insight to the comments. As a Danish citizen, she could look outside our American ideals and see things differently. Such international awareness is good on both side, I think.

Sanne is also amazing, to me, because she writes and has a site in English which is a second language to her. She said I could edit her words here, but I thought better of it. I think the way she expresses herself (and I think her English is very good, certainly better than my Danish!) and so I have left it as she wrote it. I hope that she is all right with that.

Here is the link to here blog SaMaTi.

So, sit back and get to know fellow Apronite, Sanne.

 

Would I go to 1955?
The Danish version – absolutely NO!
The US version – YES please, can I go there immediately!?

I live in Denmark, and have loved to read Donna’s blog since the very beginning. She lived such a fabulous life in 1955, and I am addicted to both her blog and now her gorgeous website. I have to visit both every day.

I have been very envious of her life as a homemaker in 1955. I am working full time and am very tired and have no energy in the evening, but I have always had very high standards on how my home should look. I like everything to be nice and clean and cosy. I like all my clothes and bed linen to be ironed. I have a homemaker in my heart. But why wouldn’t I go to 1955 in Denmark then? At the beginning of Donna’s blog I wrote some e-mails to her comparing the US version of 1955 to the Danish, to show her how far these two versions are from each other. I will point out what we didn’t have in Denmark in the mid fifties – except for the royals and some very rich. But now we’re generally talking middle class.

We lived my parents, three kids including me, a big dog and a cat in an apartment of about 45 sqm. – a bedroom with beds in three decks (me at the top, very nice), a dining room and a kitchen. All very small rooms.We had no bathroom, not even a toilet. There was a row of lavatories behind the building, they were cold and smelled awful. My dad later installed a lavatory in our bedroom. There was only cold water in the kitchen, dad installed a heater so we had hot water, very luxurious. Dad was the one who bathed us kids, he spread out newspapers all over the kitchen and we bathed in a zink tub. He took almost all his clothes off and we all had fun. Adults washed themselves in the kitchen zink daily and sometimes went to public baths. Could you imagine living without a bathroom and toilet?

None had a TV. My grandparents were the first in our street to buy a TV in the late sixties and it was completely unheard of. All of us kids in the street went to visit them in the afternoons to watch children programs. What a party! Everybody had some kind of radio, they could be almost antique, but they worked. Most had a kind of record player and they were often the old wind-up models.

We had a car, which was already vintage then (a Morris 8 from the early thirties) and falling apart all the time. I think we only had a car because dad was a mechanic. He didn’t earn much, but during most of the nights he repaired a lot of cars to earn a little extra for his family. Not many families had a car back then, most had bicycles. Dad found broken bikes at the dumpsite and repaired and painted them for us kids, they were special and looked really nice. This was in the early seventies, but I am sure many did the same in the mid-fifties.

Almost none had a washing machine – and absolutely none had a drier or dishwasher. No one even knew what it was. My mother got her first washing machine in the late sixties, it was a used one dad had got cheap because it was broken and he had repaired it. Before then my mother washed everything by hand. She had a huge copper kettle in which she cooked diapers and bed linen, and line-dried it outside our windows. We could go to Laundromats, I think they are called so. That is a gathering of lots of washing machines which you could enter coins into and then wait for them to wash. That was very luxurious. I don’t think it was a very fun job to do the laundry back then.

Such electric appliances as coffee machines, food processors, handmixers and steam irons were unheard of. We made the coffee the old-fashioned way, pouring boiling water on the coffee beans. We stirred by hand, no electricity used here. I remember when my mother taught me to iron in the early seventies. She had an electrical iron, no steam, and it wasn’t even able to regulate the heat. So we plugged it in and started ironing silk and other tender fabrics, then it got warmer, so we went on to cotton and when it was really hot, we ironed bed linen and table cloths. Then we unplugged it and reverse – ironed the cotton and ended with silk items again when it had cooled down. It was kind of an art ironing back then. Since there was no steam, my mother had dampened all the clothes the evening before we had planned ironing.

Almost none had a refrigerator. I remember my mother’s first fridge which was tiny and very expensive. She got it as a gift from my dad’s grandmother for their tiny Summer cottage. It must have been in the late sixties too. It was hard to keep food fresh during Summer without a fridge. In Denmark we had a “meat safe” and dad even tried digging a hole in the ground in the shadow of the house, but it was never cool enough.

My mother sewed a lot, but she didn’t have an electrical sewing machine. Her sewing machine was manually operated, she tramped her feet on a pedal and the machine sewed. It could only sew a straight line forward, no other fancy seems and not sewing backwards, but she sewed almost all our clothes and curtains and what we needed on it.

No electrical hair driers, curling irons or hot Carmen curlers. I remember my grandmother used a curling iron, made of iron, which she heated in the flame from the stove. She tested it in a piece of newspaper, I suppose if the paper burned brown it was too hot. You slept with curlers or walked around with them all day while cleaning, to look good when DH came home from work.

Besides all these daily helpers and electrical appliances we had the rationing to struggle with. The rationing officially continued up until 1959, but unofficially I think it continued for many goods until 1961. Basic things you could not live without was rationed, like milk, butter, flour, sugar, coffee, tea, eggs, soap, gasoline, etc. But also practical things like shoes, stockings, tires for bicycles, fabrics for making clothes and anything else of. My mother has told me that her mother always had a list in her purse of things to look for, then she rode her bicycle all over the Isle of Bornholm (small Danish island) to see if she could get some of the things on her list. If she came home with just one thing – it was a party. My mother told me a fun story about her eating marshmallow bananas, not knowing what real bananas tasted like. Then one day her mother came home proudly bringing with her the treasure of real bananas – and my mother was SO disappointed when she tasted them. She only knew the candy version. My grandfather was a very successful bicycle racedriver and had won a lot of silver prices. But when he got my dad he re-melted all of them to a spoon and a fork for my dad, since it was not possible to buy anything due to rationing. He loved my dad so much and wanted his son to have the best. Besides these uncomfortable situations and missing a lot of products, the rationing made people very creative. My grandmother told me about using mashed potatoes for marzipan, and she said it tasted very good, but she could not remember the recipe any longer. Everything was re-used and made into something else, nothing was trashed, everything was repaired. Even old rags you would normally discard was being used for menstrual pads, they knitted a “tube” in which the old rags was put.

So you see – living as a homemaker in the US is a party which I would love to join immediately if I could. But since I don’t have a time machine, I have incorporated as much of the fifties into my lifestyle as possible. I’ve always said: Live in the present but take the best from the past. Today, we have a choice. We have all these lovely modern electrical helpers, but we can still choose the lifestyle of the fifties.

How do I incorporate a fifties homemaker into my busy lifestyle? I think it is a feeling, grabbing the spirit from back then and living with it. I don’t think it is about buying nice dresses or vintage kitchen appliances. And a LOT of planning is going on, believe me. I don’t write daily lists, but I have an ever ongoing list in my head what to do the coming week. I get up early with DH, he goes early to his job, but we like to eat breakfast together. In fact we eat all meals together as a family (and no TV while we eat). After he has left and I’ve dressed, done my hair and put on my makeup, I have about 45 minutes for myself. It is incredible how much I can do in these 45 minutes! The night before, before I go to sleep, I always think about what to do the coming morning. I plan reasonable tasks, but also plan some extra if I have only a few minutes left., not at single minute is wasted. Great morning tasks might be: watering the plants, emptying the dishwasher, ironing, sorting/hanging/folding laundry, washing dishes not suitable for the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen floor (every day), etc. I always start my morning tidying up, this way I come home to a nice-looking home (unless my teenage son has messed it all up during the day!). And it is a true pleasure coming tired and stressed home from my job seeing a nice home. I never leave the house with an unmade bed, some finds this silly, a job not worth doing, but when I tired go to my bedroom at night and are met by a nice bedroom and made beds - it makes me happy. It is all about the simple pleasures, worshipping the small things in life.

Perhaps you don’t get the lifestyle buying nice dresses, but - as Donna has stated several times – you feel better looking nice, you get better service in shops and you are respected. Dress nicely, do your hair and makeup every day – do it for yourself, not for others – but I’m sure your husband will love it. I dress vintage styled, but not precisely fifties styled, every day, that is a dress or a skirt with a cardigan (buttoned or a twin set) or a nice blouse. I have to admit I don’t wear a girdle and real stockings to work every day (perhaps this should be a mini-challenge?). I wear stay-ups for daily use, but I don’t need the slightest excuse wearing my girdle or corset and real vintage stockings (collected from second hand shops), and preferably seamed. I don’t own a single pair of pantyhose, they are simply too ugly. I’ve been at my job for almost a year now, and they haven’t seen me in jeans/slacks yet. I have a huge collection of vintage jewellery, also for my hair, and love to choose something matching my outfit, my mood or the season/holiday each morning. You can quickly build an inexpensive collection of lovely vintage costume jewellery if you don’t go for brand but for the look, as I do. eBay is a great source. Even when I’m relaxing at home I wear something nice, e.g. I have a black’n’white leopard cotton pajamas with pink satin frills and matching slippers. I always get lots of compliments on my outfit, but in fact all my clothes are either bargains, from second hand shops, or from H&M. I am good at mixing and matching and make inexpensive items look elegant. Accessories do a lot for the look, like matching jewellery, shoes and purses. It is all in the details. A last fashion tip: Wear colours, I always get compliments because I wear colours. Perhaps black is an easy choice, but it is also quite dull, since so many wears it. And speaking about details: I also love to look well-groomed, so I have also implemented routines for this, like washing my hair and doing my nails once a week; waxing my legs and doing my feet every second week; doing my toe nails, using face and hair masks and peeling all over my body once a month. This way I’m always top-tuned.

And since I work full-time (in Denmark that is 8.5 hours a day – at least, I work in the it-business which is tough) a lot of planning and routines have to go on. I don’t make daily lists, they are in my head, but if I’m overloaded I always make a list, so I don’t have to get stressed remembering all the things to do, and the bonus is the satisfaction crossing out when the tasks are done. Routines are great, here are some of mine: at Winter I water the plants every second Wednesday morning, at Summer every Wednesday. By implementing routines I can remember doing the tasks and know when they are done. I don’t go around thinking “but I’ve just done it, I don’t have to” – and then fx. all the plants die. I dust the whole house and iron (a huge pile) once a month; the floors are washed at least every third month; the windows are washed at least Spring and Autumn; a super-thorough cleaning and removing of lime in the bathroom also takes place each Spring and Autumn. And every week the whole house is vacuum-cleaned, the kitchen floor is washed, and the bathroom zink and toilet are scrubbed and polished. Every second week the bed linen is changed, I loved to do it each week, but DH thought it was too much. This weekly routine is done by son for money (teenagers always need money!), previously it was done for free … by me, of course. But since both DH and I are working more than full-time we have to split all the tasks between us. DH is cooking. I can cook but I don’t like to, in fact it was me who taught him to cook many years ago (he has forgotten, now he’s the champ, if you ask him). I clean the kitchen later, and it is a complete mess! I love to bake and make desserts and decorate the table. DH is an automobile mechanic and a very talented handyman, so he’s the one taking care of our three cars – yes, three! We have a modern (11 years old) VW Golf GTI, then I have two cars: a modern VW Polo (nine years old) and a vintage car, an Opel GT, which I have been in love with since I was a teenager. Today it is forty years old and still going strong. Some of you might have noticed my photo in the Forum, sitting on the bonnet of it. I drive it every Summer and the Polo every Winter. So we are only driving two cars at the same time, and this is only possible since DH repairs them himself. Garage bills and cars in general are very expensive in Denmark, but I would LOVE to own much more vintage cars!

Apropos repairing, we renovate and repair everything. 14 years ago we bought an old house from 1930, and we are still renovating it. We keep it vintage styled without ending up with a “granny-home”. I also have a vintage Summer cottage from 1956; my grandfather built it of mahogany he got for free at a tobacco company, and my dad gave it to me as a gift ten years ago. We have also renovated it and a few years ago we bought a wreck of an RV, which we renovated and made nice for son. You can see my houses and cars on http://samati.dk/index_uk.htm. We both have a love for old things and never discard anything, except if is really “dead”. Everything is mended, glued, welded or repaired. Our TV is about 8 years old, not a flat screen, and I really don’t need a new one, since I watch so little TV it is perfect for my needs. When it dies I will go out and invest in a new one. Our stereo is almost 20 years old and playing perfectly. My cell phone is quite “new”, it is “only” two years old and I only bought a new one because my eight year old cell phone died and couldn’t be repaired. I think, as Donna has stated so many times, that it is the commercials which brain washes us to buy new, new, new all the time. Think of what you need, use your money on a nice holidays instead – or what you prefer.

How is all this possible, you ask? By not watching TV! I simply don’t understand how the average Dane has time to watch TV 3.25 hours each day! I know the Americans watches even more TV, which is just more shocking. I never have time for watching TV. I always have lots of other more interesting things to do. I only watch about 2 hours TV a week, which equals to a movie a week. Sunday evening, we both sit down and relax with a nice movie, before the new weeks starts next morning. It is our reward. I’m not “holy”, but I think TV shows a lot of nonsense and I simply find it uninteresting. I’m not used to TV, since I lived a very old-fashioned life as a child. No TV until the mid-seventies and it was a tiny black’n’white TV, which was only pulled out from the closet at Christmas. My dad was also a mechanic and also a handyman, my mother was a homemaker until the late seventies, so they didn’t have much money with three kids. Dad repaired everything and made a lot from scratch. When we went to the dumpsite with our waste we always came home with lots of “goodies”. My parents have always driven vintage cars and motorcycles, therefore it was natural for me to own a vintage car. I love the strong simple technology. Having lived a simple life with little money, I don’t take most modern things for granted, and I love flea markets and second hand shops. I have no problem buying used things, repairing and renovating them. In fact I prefer used/vintage things from modern - vintage things have soul, which new things never have.

So if you are still reading along - this got a bit “wordy” as Donna puts it - you see it is possible to have a homemaker in your heart although you are working fulltime. But don’t think you are a superwoman able to do everything, you might not knit and sew all your clothes and bake all your bread yourself, there are some choices that have to be made. But having made these choices you will live your life, and isn’t that what life is all about?

You are all welcome to visit my (almost vintage) website: http://samati.dk/index_uk.htm.
Or my English blog: http://gt-sanne2.blogspot.com

And you are all very welcome to ask questions, give me your tips and comments.

Love from a Danish apronite
Sanne

 

Sanne has a lovely home in Denmark.

Isn't it adorable? I was telling her how similiar it looks to a style very popular in our country in the 20's and 30's called Dutch Colonial Revival.

Dutch Colonial is a style of domestic architecture, primarily characterized by gambrel roofs having curved eaves along the length of the house. Modern versions built in the early 20th century are more accurately referred to as "Dutch Colonial Revival," a subtype of the Colonial Revival style. To read more about house styles visit the Interiors Page (it also covers architectural styles)

She has wonderful pictures of her home and its renovation on her site and you should check it out. Here is her lovely larder (or pantry). MORE of her home and kitchen.

She is also very lucky in that she has a wonderful vacation cottage.

The story about how she was given this cottage by her father and how he built it from salvaged wood from a Tobacco barn, is so interesting. Read that story HERE.

Even her young son has his 'own place' an adorable tree house. You can see his vintage pedal car parked underneath.

 

Sanne's has some darling collections including vintage handbags and shoes.

Here is a small sampling of her wonderful 1950's lucite purses.

This is just two examples. Click HERE to view all of her purse collection.

Shoes

These lovely rhinstone evening shoes from the 1950's are exquisite. Here is the heel detail.

Click HERE to check out her entire vintage shoe collection.

Sanne also collects Vintage Perfumes and their bottles. Here are few examples

To see all of her collection and how she stores and displays them click HERE.

Sanne also makes lovely Marzipan Cakes, such as this dear little one with adorable chocolate marzipan mice.

She has more images of her CAKES and the recipe for her delicious Marzipan cakes (they are in European Grams, so a converter will help, THIS is a good one.)

Be sure to check out all her collections on her site. SaMaTi

Sanne and her family also collect and love Vintage cars. Her husband is a mechanic and her father is a 'wizard' (as she puts it) of a mechanic. If you love vintage cars and motorcycles you will have to check out their familys collections.

This is her Father's Indian Big Chief Motorcycle.

There are some wonderful stories and pictures on her site so check it out. SaMaTi

LET'S DISCUSS

Now, let's discuss and get to know Sanne HERE on the FORUM topic about this.

 

I asked Sanne a few questions. Here they are with the her answers.

1. What advice can you give to other working ladies (those who work outside the home) to help keep up with their homemaking? Do you have a particular schedule for cleaning and time for personal beauty etc?

Hmm … planning and doing a little everyday is essential. Plan the time consuming larger tasks for the weekend, and let your husband and children (if any) take part in the work. You’re not running a free luxury hotel for everyone to relax and enjoy while you’re working yourself to death. You also do your children a favour teaching them to clean and cook, one day they will move and then it’s too late to learn everything from scratch. When working full-time, there are things and tasks you have to realize you cannot do, like baking all your bread yourself or sewing a complete wardrobe, but you might be able to bake now and then and perhaps sew a single dress or skirt sometimes. I make sure to do things I like to do, this way it is a nice life! J
No, I don’t have any special schedules, except those I already mentioned in my story. Some tasks are done weekly, some bi-weekly, some monthly and some every 6th months. These “schedules” are in my head and are part of the routines for the house. The same “schedules” apply to my beauty routines, some things are done weekly, like washing my hair and doing my nails, and some bi-weekly, like doing my feet and waxing my legs. It’s all in the planning.

Skip TV and use the pc only as much as you find necessary. Instead of watching TV be together with your family and friends, play a board game and TALK! J Even my 16 year old son loves to play board games with me, I have them right beside the sofa during Autumn and Winter, if you have them nearby you use them.

2. In the USA in the 1950's "Danish Modern" was the It thing for Modern Furniture. Did this Danish Modern exist do you know in Denmark in the 1950's? And is the modern furniture in your country today still similar to this 1950's look?

I think Danish furniture design also was a big hit in the fifties in Denmark, and still is. I think it was quite expensive and only for the wealthy back then. Today, it is extremely high priced and mostly bought by collectors and rich feinsmeckers. The most known are Arne Jacobsen and Borge Mogensen, their furniture cost the same as a small car in Denmark. Many Danes have the Seven or the Ant chair by AJ, they are classics and not that expensive. Their design is too simple for my taste, though, I like older style. Our house is from 1930, so we try to keep the style. I don’t think you will find a house in Denmark being fifties styled. Either the homes are very modern or quite old-fashioned. I think Danish style is more simple and the colours are paler compared to the US.

3. As a woman who works outside the home, how do you keep the Homemaker Spirit alive in your heart?

What should kill the spirit?! J I’m living a happy life in a beautiful home and a ditto garden, I drive a lovely old car and wear pretty dresses/skirts, high-heeled shoes and makeup every day. I have a husband who still adores me after being together with me for 30 (!!!) years and a son everybody wants to be friends with. I have lots of friends and they love to visit us, we can never think we are just the two of us enjoying the silence – suddenly our friends and son’s friends ring the door bell. Our house is always filled with happy people. This is my reward.

Some tips for you: I always play vintage music suitable for my mood or the situation - if I dust I might hear Sinatra, if I’m vacuum cleaning (quite noisy) I hear fifties rock’n’roll, for dinner parties we hear Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and/or Dean Martin. Music is great to make things go’ easier and to put you in the mood. I even have a small vintage styled radio in my washing room in the basement. I pretend I’m a fifties homemaker when doing my tasks, then it is much nicer working ahead. A small collection of pretty aprons also puts me in the mood.