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152 year old Pennsylvania church converted to a home & artist workshop studio

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The1870 Diary

Autumn leaves are here

It's hard for me to pick out what I love most about this old church. The village is full of interesting & incredible people, the location is stunning, and the interior is enchanting, but there's something about the outdoors that surrounds us that continually amazes me.

No matter what the season is, it's always delightful. Autumn is definitely a favorite of mine. This year, we brought it inside.

For a longer read and a story of autumn of my childhood, please check out the blog on our site, The1870Studio to see why it's so special to me, this year and always.

Happy autumn,

Priscilla

 

Wee Small Hours of the Morning!

The sun isn't up yet, autumn is definitely here and our mind is turning to all the things we need to make sure we've done for winter.

With the cost of oil so high, we want to make sure we have enough wood cut, split, stacked, covered and ready to go in the biomass stove that has really saved us at The1870. 

Before we found this used stove, which is supposed to warm a 2000 square foot normal house, we were using about 100 gallons of oil a week and it didn't even keep the big room that's about 6500 square feet with 25' high ceilings, warm. The temperature stayed right around 55 with the oil & radiators on.

Thankfully a church miracle happened and we were lucky enough to find the used $3500 stove for just $700. The question is, would it help? I had faith, a stove pipe was put in several long winters ago and the miracle happened! This stove designed to keep a 2000 square foot normal home warm was warming the big sanctuary at the church. It took a few trick, tries and trials to get the whole thing going the right way, but now with the cheery stove burning wood we find in the woods from branches & trees that have came down, we enjoy a nice warm area that stays 68 to 72 degrees in the winter for free!

Best thing is, we can keep a pan of water, the same pan my dad always kept on his wood stove, filled with water that I add spices to, that adds humidity to the air. And it's free, just the gas for the chainsaw and the electricity to run the splitter. The stove is so efficient it burns about half the amount of wood a normal wood stove would burn. I know my dad would be so happy we have this in the church.

Rarely in our little village do we have power outages, but when we do, our biomass stoves keeps us cozy & we can even do slow cooking on the top of it.

So here I am on the second day of autumn, waiting for the sun to come up, thinking about the Autumn Tomtem I'm making today for the OctoberKraftFest happening here on October 8, 2022 and my mind is on firewood and being ready for the next beautiful season. The rest of my day I'm just going to be in the present, enjoy this gift of life we all have and make the most out of it.

Wishing you a lovely day filled with the here and now, a touch of nostalgia and a peek at what's to come.

Priscilla

Gathering wood inside & out

Yesterday was one of the most productive days in our lives at The1870. 

Morton was sawing trees that had fallen sideways in a storm around the parking lot, Emma & Justin, our helpers staying with us, were splitting firewood outside for the coming cold months and I was in the studio packaging orders for The1870Studio with seaglass from Scotland, fused glass we make here and some mystery packages that have been amazing sellers. 

We were also getting the Cemetery Studio set up and ready to be the inside wood carving, wood burning, and special area at the north side of the church, to get very creative while enjoying the view of the incredible old cemetery.

The outside wood cutting & splitting got a surprise when Morton hit something deep inside a large log that had been given to us by a neighbor that had trees cut down a few years ago. Though it ruined his chain, stopped the saw, he split the rest of it out to find someone had hammered two railroad spikes into the tree decades ago. It's a mystery as to why they would have done that and just how long that tree had been growing to have the two metal spikes totally grown around.

The days are filled with endless surprises here, and those two spikes will have a special place in the new old Cemetery Studio.

Happy exploring,

Priscilla

All the time in the world

Changes are happening in our lives so fast at the moment it feels like time has sped up a bit.

Morton has retired at 55, we are getting projects done at an incredible rate of speed thanks to him being here and having two incredible helpers with us for the month of August from Workaway. 

Behind the pipes is now an Enchanted Tiki Music Room, firewood is being cut, split, stacked and for the first time in eight years we're getting ready to actually use half of the old vestry as our upstairs studio.

Summer feels like it's running away from us faster than ever with the nights getting chilly, our windows open all the time and the church smelling like fresh air and homemade bread. The sun is setting earlier and yesterday I saw several leaves floating down from the tree they had grown on already. Time is just a feeling I think. 

With the next season right on our doorstep, as we enjoy these warm and sunny days, I feel like just for a minute, I need to allow myself to feel like we have all the time in the world, even though I know it's always later than we think.

I'm thoroughly enjoying these precious moments with Morton home, where he belongs, with all our friends online and in person, with all the changes and creating in the studio, with all the wonderful progress being made on this lovely old church we call home, I'm taking the time to count my blessings, lucky stars and let the minutes and hours just float on that fleeting summer wind.

Wishing you a wonderful amount of time to do all that makes you smile.

Morton is retiring!

If we had a church bell, I would surely be ringing it to spread the news far and wide. After working non-stop, harder than anyone I’ve ever met and more than full time since he was 17, Morton is retiring early on July 25, 2022 at the age of 55.

My heart is so happy for him, he is a bit worried because it’s his nature, but I’m so proud he’s going for it. He did the math, figured we can survive on a smaller pension (we do live very frugally and enjoy it!) and most of all, being together more is something we both want more than all the money on this earth.

There has never been one person that I’ve ever heard of, at the end of their life, wish that they had more money. We all would wish for more time, just another moment. So instead of spending at least 40 hours a week, and usually 50 or 60, plus a daily 3 hour commute in the car, Morton has decided to go for it!

Retirement isn’t going to mean sitting around in the rocking chair, though we will do a lot more of that now, because we live in this glorious old church that always needs more work, has unending projects and the great part now will be that he doesn’t have to go to bed at 7 pm to wake up at 1 am to go work a 12 hour shift. 

Morton is amazing, hard working and believe me when I tell you, the best is yet to come!

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride with us!

Priscilla

Pretty on the outside

Since the beginning of our journey here at the lovely old church we call home, we have known that getting the big roof done was going to be the most expensive project we’d be doing and one we couldn’t do ourselves. Any other things we did were done one the strictest economy, usually by ourselves and with no regrets that we have $90 kitchen counters made from Formica instead of thousands of dollars for marble, granite or something trendy and costly.

The outside of the church, even things like the doors that were not insulated, got frost on the insides of them and had huge gaps went on the back burner, saving all the pennies for the roof.

With the help of savings, we managed to get the roof done in 2021 and now the outside of the church, which has been neglected due to budget, is getting a makeover on a budget. New energy efficient doors have gone up in our main entrance, we still have five more to replace, but these things take time, there’s been a deck added over the studio patio creating a lovely veranda and our front steps are fully planted in free canna lilies that started off as less than 20 from a friend and now numbers in the hundreds, all adding up to the old church looking as loved on the outside as it is on the inside.

I’m hoping that you are enjoying watching our journey and invite you to connect with us on our social media to see just how beautiful this home is becoming!

Have a beautiful day!

Priscilla 

Mystery Packages will help fund exploring our Mystery Room!

Ever since we bought this old church, we’ve known it’s had a secret or two we needed to explore. The bell tower is a mystery on it’s own, but at the very base of the bell tower, just behind the newer drywall wall in the studio kitchen, there’s an actual secret room we haven’t been able to enter yet.

What’s waiting for us in there? Your guess is as good as ours. It was probably used for storage. What we do know is that it is about 14 feet by 14 feet, will have really thick walls and we want to be able to use that space, since it’s ideally situated at the front of the church by our gardens, to put electric to the outside and a much-needed hose connection.

Our waiting to get in the room has always been because of the fact we had to replace the big roof, bell tower roof and spend so much money just to make this place watertight, we’ve not had any extras to spend on a room that might not even be useable. We don’t know what we are getting in to when we take down the drywall wall and explore the basement room of the bell tower. It’s a total mystery.

None of the locals who went to this church, when it was a church, know what it was used for. Not one clue. One said he might have carried Christmas decorations in there in the 1960’s but he isn’t sure, it might have been another part of the basement. There are two of them here.

One basement is the home of the old oil boiler that runs hot water to the 22 radiators in the vestry, main sanctuary and loft. I has four oil tanks in it that each hold 275 gallons of oil, aka black gold, and I thank our lucky stars that we have the biomass stove that is our primary heat source every time I think about that old basement. The other basement, where the bell tower holds it’s hidden room, is the beautiful 2400 square feet studio that has a split unit in for heating and cooling and is so efficient, it costs us just a dollar a day to run it in the winter or summer. Behind the stove and refrigerator, behind the wall that was built who knows when, there is a room. The mystery room.

Several months ago Morton and I fell in love with TikTok. If you use it, you can find and follow us at http://tiktok.com/the1870studio 

As we started using it, sharing short videos about our church home in the mountains of Pennsylvania, doing live TikTok’s and interacting with people who really love what we’re doing, something wonderful happened! We started selling so many Mystery Packages from The1870 Studio! Every day, without fail, we get orders for these Mystery Packages filled with surprises made right here, by me! It’s really remarkable, wonderful and so incredible to see the money come in to take a wall down, explore the mystery and hopefully have a functional room to use that is at the very front of the church.

Morton and I are so grateful to everyone who buys one and guess what? People are loving them because they’re buying more than one! It’s a straight up church miracle!!!

Hopefully we will solve one mystery by selling another, to our lovely friends online who see this place as something special and worthy of saving.

We truly appreciate and love you!

Priscilla & Morton

The wall came down!

Yesterday we had planned what we were going to do on Morton’s day off, but our lovely old church had a different idea for us. We were going to head to a garden center, buy a yellow rose for my mom’s memory garden and a red rose for my mother-in-law’s memory garden, stake down the dropper hose on the hay bales, mow the lawn and have a lovely day outside that wasn’t to filled with work. After all, Morton works long hard hours at his job, so his days off we try to balance with some rest for him. I try anyway, Morton is always in work mode and the hardest working person I’ve ever met.

Just as we are leaving, Morton decides to see how easy it is to take one of the loose veneer rocks off of the bulging wall that we’ve both been wary of since we bought this place. I might have encouraged him to try it too, I’d have to watch the TikTok I was making. It came out so easy, it was a simple choice to just make that wall disappear on the sunny Monday.

There are lots of videos on this @the1870studio if you’d like to see it happen, rather than just reading about it.

After 8 plus hours, with dark approaching fast, Morton had finished a huge task, mainly by himself. It’s secure, looks beautiful and is going to be turned into a TikTok family garden for all our amazing followers on TikTok who send us gifts during our lives. It’ll be filled with fun, whimsy and the best thing ever, friendships and kindness from people who love what we’re doing here.

Thank you to everyone who is on this wonderful adventure with us. We appreciate you being here.

Hugs,

Priscilla 

Rainy outside, cozy inside!

Today is a good day for a great day. I'm going to be making a crockpot of homemade soup, putting beeswax & orange oil on my parents rocking chairs I had gotten them for their 50th wedding anniversary back in 2000, then heading down the stairs in my office to go to the studio!

We're going to have our first ever Un-Birthday Party in the studio tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm and I'm so excited for it! We're also open both Saturday and Sunday with weekend from 10 to 2 to showcase and sell our fused glass creations.

The weather is watering my hay bales for me, which are ready to plant in on Monday. Weather permitting of course. My morning was going to include weeding in the little flower garden on the east side, but it's just 53 degrees here with a drizzle, so I think those weeds will get to live another day.

My happiest thoughts of today are that Morton, though at work right now, is going to have five lovely days off in a row and we're going to get some lovely projects done together. It's always so much better when he's here. This lovely old church doesn't feel complete when he's gone.

Wishing you a wonderful day filled with magic you make, fun with friends and a shared smile along the way.

Priscilla :)

 

On a roll!

Look at me, posting again. Once neglected, now embracing a wee bit of time to tell you about what's been happening here.

Yesterday in the studio we had a lovely reporter and cameraman come in to do a story on our glass pulling. It was really fun and I'll share the link as soon as the segment airs.

The day before I was working down at the grow cage, where we are going to be growing a full garden in 52 bales of hay that I've just finished conditioning, and I was feeling rather clever because I came up with an easy way to turn three old chairs into a bench. At least that was my intention, until I had one of those slow motion accidents. While sitting on the boards I was trying to screw into place, I moved over slightly and went over like a house of cards. Somehow I manage to fall on my thumb, cutting it and smashing it all at the same time.

Now I'm banished from the garden until I grow some skin back so I don't get dirt in my wound. I'll also be wearing gloves until it's completely healed.

Today is gloomy but it's so cozy inside. I'm currently typing this to you from the old enamel top table in the kitchen, getting ready to head to the studio down the stairs in my office and get things ready for this weekend.

We're having an Un-Birthday Party on Saturday where everyone brings a cupcake and a wrapped handmade gift. Each will be placed on our new counter. Then when we have everyone here, we'll all choose a different cupcake and gift and celebrate all of our un-birthdays! I have a special gift for anyone who comes along that are actually celebrating their real birthday on that day...but shhhhh...that's a secret!

I'm going to sign off for today, dear friend, and get on with my lovely list of projects today. I'm sending you wishes for a day as beautiful as you are.

Priscilla :)

 

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