Garden Diary - December 2022

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St Nicholas Day at the Erwin Stover House
Saturday, 3 December 2022

Today I was thinking of going to Howell Living History Farm to see Santa and Mrs Claus arrive on the steam traction engine. But it is raining. So instead I will go to the Erwin Stover House in Tinicum Park, Bucks County Pa. for an indoor event where Arlene and Bev, my cookie friends, will have lots of molds and old cookie cutters on display. One will be decorating gingerbread and the other will be rolling out some springerle. I've seen their presentation before at a different venue so I know this will be fun.

A sign by the road but please ignore the Disc Golf Course. It's the
St Nicholas Day Celebration at the Erwin-Stover House here in
Tinicum Park, Bucks County Pennsylvania that should attract us.

The Erwin Stover house is a Colonial brick house with Victorian additions and outbuildings located along the Delaware River. Built by William Erwin, for whom the town of Erwinna is named, it was part of the original 1681 land grant given to William Penn by King Charles II of England. A portion of the house was constructed in 1800 and another wing in 1820. In 1846, the home was sold to local miller Henry Stover. His son, Jacob, added another wing in the 1860s. The house is an excellent example of both the Federal style of architecture (the original section) and the Victorian style (later additions.)


Two ladies in Victorian dress welcome me as I enter the house. They happily mention where the various festivities will be taking place. To the left of the hall there are two rooms. The front room has a storyteller, the one at the back has crafting, helping visitors make elegant paper ornaments.

There are a few simple seasonal decorations here and there: some greenery
and a lantern (battery operated) on a deep windowsill with a view of the barn

and a somewhat scruffy little Christmas tree on the piano in the front parlor.

This is where the singers have gathered, offering carols and songs for the season.
Everything from Hark the Herald Angels Sing to Jinglebells. Song sheets are handy
for both the singers and (contemporarily dressed) visitors who care to join in song.

There's one more room on the ground floor, to the rear and also on the right.
It's where Arlene Soong and Bev Altrath are setting up for their holiday cookie presentation
with enough display material to stock a couple of shops. Visitors should wait until 1:00 p.m.

Bev is assembling bowls and beaters and ingredients to decorate gingerbread.

There's a wooden nutcracker ready to clamp his jaws on a walnut.

A fat little gingerbread pony is actually two layers, with jam in-between.

Springerle molds are clustered on a table. More on other tables.
On window sills. Books about springerle molds, cookbooks too.

Arlene is intently dusting flour on a springerle mold. Why?

Just look at this intricate mold of St Nicholas,
and the cookie it shapes. If dough sticks, it tears.

Something for everyone, young and old, to usher in the holiday season.

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