clothespins for baking?


“If today is finally Cookie-Baking Day…why did you bring me into the laundry room??”

“So let me try to understand this…

you plan to use clothespins to bake cookies???”

“Call me a monkey, but I’m not holding out much hope these will taste very good.”

But they will, Helen!  I promise!!!

“I’ll just hold on to this rope, so you don’t try to bake with it too!”

This month I’ve chosen to bake the Clothespin Cookie!

For those who don’t know – Clothespin Cookies are flaky pastry tubes covered in powdered sugar and filled with a creamy buttery icing.  Another name for them is what ‘Pittsburghers’ call, the Lady Lock!

This is one of our son-in-law’s family favorites and since they will all be together this Fourth of July Holiday I’ve decided to bake these in honor of them (all!)

(My son-in-law partaking in his favorite 4th of July Activity!)

They are so fond of them that our son-in-law’s father, Greg, has been rumored to sneak a few from the freezer from time to time!  The prime-suspect everytime his lovely wife, Sheila, discovers an empty ‘once-filled’ cookie container; the freezer is currently being measured for a lock, now that Greg has moved his office to the basement where the freezer resides. (giggles!)


Image 6-30-16 at 8.11 PM
Who wouldn’t want to nibble on these?

And since Helen is so bewildered to be using clothespins in the actual baking process…I have decided the easiest way to do this is to walk through from beginning to end and share the recipes and procedures as we go!

Helen ran off with the rope shortly after this picture was taken incase I had any crazy ideas.

As far as tools you will want around 50 old school round clothespins; you do not want the kind that have the metal thingies in them to pinch, you want approximately 4″ long round peg-style ones. You will also need aluminum foil, a rolling pin, pizza cutter, non-stick spray & a cooling rack (ideally), a pastry bag to fill them is also quite handy (but a gallon baggie can be used in a pinch here, too) and a way to dust with powdered sugar – I use a small hand strainer.


Clothespin (Ladylock) Dough makes about 52

This recipe is made using the Pie Dough Method of mixing, meaning the fat is cut into the dry ingredients, the liquid ingredients are combined then the 2 are folded together using as little mixing as possible so as to develop as little gluten as possible – over developing gluten makes this style of pastry tough and dense, not light & flaky. Another factor to this is temperature! You want the fats to stay cold, so freeze the shortening a few hours before making the dough and cube both the shortening and the butter as soon as you are ready to start. This dough needs to rest & chill before rolling; you may go as long as overnight and as little as 2 hours with no noticeable differences in the end pastry.

3 1/2 cups Flour
8oz Butter, cold & cubed
10 Tbsp Shortening, cold & cubed
1/4 cup Sugar
pinch Salt
3/4 cup Cold Water
2 Egg Yolks
1 Tbsp Vanilla

Cut the cold, cubed fat(s) into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or forks until there are no large chunks of fat & everything is incorporated.

Mix together the water, egg yolk & vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients to pour the liquid into. Fold together with a rubber spatula until it comes together and forms a dough, about 12-15 turns. Form together to make a dough ball, divide into thirds and form each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Use round peg style clothespins covered in aluminum foil & sprayed with non-stick spray. The foil wrap job doesn’t need to be neat; however, it is more important to leave a piece that you can use to remove the mold easily!  *There are also stainless baking molds available in any number of sizes that I am sure are really quite nice, but they are also quite expensive, especially compared to the cost of the clothespins. (See photo above.) Plus, I must admitt, there is a bit of romantic-nostalgia to baking them using an old-fashion clothespin!

While the dough chills you can get your molds prepped.  You will bake these on parchment lined sheet trays, so get a couple of those set up, too!

Making the Ladylock Shells

Roll this dough in a 50/50 mix of flour & sugar mixed together. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees & have your prepped molds & pans ready.

Sprinkle your work surface liberally and start rolling. When you are done you want a piece of dough, roughly the shape of a rectangle, that can be trimmed to a rectangle that is 12″ wide and 1/8″ thick. On my first roll I get a 12″x14″ rectangle and they get bigger from there because I roll the scraps into each new disk of dough. If that seems like it might be too much dough to work with throw the scraps back in the fridge as you go, remold them into a disk & roll this out, same as the others.

The dough should be uniformly thin, as close to 1/8″ as you can get and even. Use your rolling pin, as a guide, running the pizza wheel cutter up against the pin and cutting in even 1″ increments across the dough.

Time to wrap the dough around your molds – if you haven’t sprayed them down yet please do so now! The dough must overlap as you are rolling it on to the molds, same us you would a bandage. Wrap the dough once around the bottom of the pin then spiral upward. Lay the shell on a parchment lined tray. Space them evenly apart, you can generally fit about 15 per half sheet tray. As you fill a tray move them into the heated oven for 20 minutes. The shells are done when the pastry looks dry and and baked through. They may take on a little bit of color, but hardly any (ideally.)

When the shells are baked take them out of the oven and lest them sit for 1 minute.

Literally! 1 minute only!

Then start unmolding them, placing the shells on a cooling rack. To unmold hold the shell delicately in your hand and gently pull the clothespins out.  Doing it while they are hot gives some flexibility to the dough. If you do not get them off the molds immediately you will have trouble getting them off in one piece; as the dough cools it gets crisp and crisp is not conducive to pulling out molds!

Let the shells cool completely before filling.

yummm…the FILLING!

Buttery Buttercream to Fill Clothespin Cookies

There are twentybillion different kinds of buttercream!! There are Italian ones and meringue ones and French ones and American ones and and and…

This is an American buttercream but it is far less sweet than a typical American decorators icing, more whipped for airy lightness and is perfect piped into these cookies. Use SALTED butter for this. If you use unsalted add a pinch while the butter whips.

The butter for this needs to be soft, not just room temp but softer.  I suggest leaving it near the stove while you are baking. Use the whisk attachment on a mixer, to get as much air in there as possible!

12oz (3 sticks) Butter, soft
2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp Vanilla

Whip the softened butter until it is light, glossy and almost white in color; this takes time, so be patient! When the butter is lightened up add the powdered sugar & vanilla. Mix on low until incorporated then whip on high until light, airy & fluffy. The buttercream should be a light creamy white in color and “stiffly” fluffy. Fill a pastry bag, I fit mine with a narrow tube tip but snipping off the top of a disposable bag or gallon baggie also works fine. Fill each shell with a squeeze on each end being careful not to blop all out the ends. When they are filled lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.


A flaky, lightly sweet, vanilla scented crust filled with a lighter than air buttery buttercream all dusted with powdered sugar! Yummmmmmm.

The perfect ladylock. Out of your kitchen. Whenever you want.

Or, if it suits you better, freeze them!

And just like Greg they’ll be available to nibble (just a few) without anyone ever knowing!

Except maybe when this happens…


The shells freeze well – but most baking sites recommend you don’t fill them before you freeze for best results.

Freeze in layers with parchment in between the layers in an airtight container.

*They truthfully do freeze pretty well filled, but the pastry is just a tidge moist after thawing, (as would be expected.) Same freezing instructions- layers, parchment, airtight.

You can order your own bakery-boxes from most local paper supply companies.  I purchase these in larger quantities, so that I may always have some on hand to help distribute such lovely & yummy treats!


nibble, nibble, nibble…

crumbs on the plate.

nibble, nibble, nibble…

it’s almost too late!


Or you’ll miss the last bite

of something that is great!

Good thing I’m not a monkey!

hugs n’ blessings for all those enjoying the circus of life with treats along the way!


Secret Whispers…

Picture Courtesy of Pinterest

It’s The Year of Mercy…

And it’s another Wednesday for Saint Maria Faustina KoWalska (what else,)

with a brief reflection on the Divine Mercy of God:

In Cracow-Pradnik, June 2, 1938, the Lord Jesus directed a young Polish Sister of Mercy on a three-day retreat. Faustina Kowalska painstakingly recorded Christ’s instruction in her diary that is a mystical manual on prayer and Divine Mercy. Having read the Diary  I was mesmerized by the unique retreat that Christ gave on the subject of spiritual warfare.

Here are the secret whispers of Jesus to his little bride Faustina on how to protect herself from the attacks of the devil. These instructions became Faustina’s weapon in fighting the good fight.

I personally have gained great strength from them in my own battles.  They have helped to clothe me in a coat of protective armor & have maintained peace in my heart in times of great temptation to retaliate in a way less pleasing to my God.  I am grateful for the guidance His whispers have provided and seek fervently to follow them better.  I pray you find a mighty protective message from them too and may they open wide the doors of Mercy that await for you.


Jesus began, “My daughter, I want to teach you about spiritual warfare” (1760). (The Lord’s words are in bold text; comments from Kathleen Beckman, President and co-founder of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests, follow.)

1.Never trust in yourself but abandon yourself totally to My will.
Trust is a spiritual weapon. Trust is part of the shield of faith that St. Paul mentions in chapter six of Ephesians: the armor of God. Abandonment to God’s will is an act of trust; faith in action dispels evil spirits.


2.In desolation, darkness and various doubts, have recourse to Me and to your spiritual director. He will always answer you in my name.  In times of spiritual warfare, immediately pray to Jesus. Invoke His Holy Name that is feared in the netherworld. Bring darkness into the light by telling a spiritual director or confessor and follow his instruction.

3.Do not bargain with any temptation; lock yourself immediately in My Heart.
In the Garden of Eden, Eve bargained with the devil and lost. We have recourse to the refuge of the Sacred Heart. In running to Christ, we turn our backs on the demonic.

4.At the first opportunity, reveal the temptation to the confessor.
A good confession, a good confessor, and a good penitent are a recipe for victory over temptation and demonic oppression—without fail.


5.Put your self-love in the last place, so that it does not taint your deeds.
Self-love is natural but it should be ordered, free of pride. Humility defeats the devil that is perfect pride. Satan tempts us to disordered self-love to lead us into his pool of pride.


6.Bear with yourself with great patience.
Patience is a secret weapon that helps us to keep our peace of soul even in the great storms of life. Bearing with oneself is part of humility and trust. The devil tempts us to impatience, to turn against our selves so we become angry. See yourself from God’s view. He is infinitely patient.

7.Do not neglect interior mortifications.
Scripture teaches that some demons can only be evicted by prayer and fasting. Interior mortifications are weapons of warfare. They can be small sacrifices offered with great love. The power of sacrificial love evicts the enemy.

8.Always justify to yourself the opinions of your superiors and of your confessor.
Christ is speaking to St. Faustina who lives in a convent. But we all have people in authority over us. The devil aims to divide and conquer so humble obedience to authentic authority is a spiritual weapon.

9.Shun murmurs like a plague.
The tongue is a powerful vessel that can do great harm. Murmuring, gossiping, is never of God. The devil is a liar who stirs up false accusations and gossip that can kill a person’s reputation. Shun murmurs!


10.Let all act as they like; you are to act, as I want you to.
To mind one’s own business is key in spiritual warfare. The devil is a busybody attempting to drag everyone down. Please God and let the opinions of others go by the wayside.


11.Observe the rule as faithfully as you can.
Jesus is referring to the rule of a Religious Order here. Most of us have made some vow before God and Church and we should be faithful our promises—i.e. Marriage vows and baptismal vows. Satan tempts to infidelity, lawlessness and disobedience. Fidelity is a weapon for victory.

12.If someone causes you trouble, think what good you can do for the person who caused you to suffer.
Being a vessel of divine mercy is a weapon for good and for defeating evil. The devil is about hatred, rage, revenge, and unforgiveness. Others have hurt us all at some time. What good can we do in return? Returning a blessing breaks curses.


13.Do not pour out your feelings.
A talkative soul will more easily be attacked by the devil. Pour out your feelings to the Lord only. Remember, the good and evil spirits hear what you say aloud. Feelings are fleeting. Truth is the compass. Interior recollection is a spiritual armor.


14.*Be silent when you are rebuked.*
Most of us have been rebuked at some time. We have no control over that but we can control our response. The need to be right all the time can lead into demonic traps. God knows the truth. Let it go. Silence is a protection. The devil can use self-righteousness to trip us up also.


15.Do not ask everyone’s opinion, but only the opinion of your confessor; be as frank and simple as a child with him.
Simplicity of life can drive out demons. Honesty is a weapon to defeat Satan, the Liar. When we lie we put a foot in his camp and he will try to seduce us all the more.


16.Do not become discouraged by ingratitude.
No one likes to be taken for granted. But when we are met with ingratitude or insensitivity, the spirit of discouragement can weigh us down. Resist all discouragement for it is never of God. It is one of the devil’s most effective temptations. Gratitude in all things wins the day.

17.Do not examine with curiosity the roads down which I lead you.
The need to know, and curiosity about the future is a temptation that has led too many people into the backrooms of psychics, witches, etc. Choose to walk in faith. Decide to trust in God who leads you on the path to heaven. Resist the spirit of curiosity always.

18.When boredom and discouragement beat against your heart, run away from yourself and hide in My heart.
Jesus delivers the same message a second time. Now He refers to boredom. Earlier in the Diary he told St. Faustina that the devil most easily tempts idle souls. Beware of boredom, a spirit of lethargy, or acedia—the noonday devil. Idle souls are easy prey for demons. Be about the business of God.

19.Do not fear struggle; courage itself often intimidates temptations, and they dare not attack us.
Fear is the second most common tactic of the devil (pride is the first). Courage intimidates the devil—he will flee in the face of persevering courage that stands on Jesus, the rock. All people struggle, God is our provision.


20.Always fight with the deep conviction that I am with you.  Jesus instructs a Sister in a convent to “fight” with conviction. She can do so because Christ accompanies her. Christians are called to fight with conviction against all demonic tactics. The devil tries to terrorize souls, demonic terrorism—resist! Invoke the Holy Sprit throughout the day.


21.Do not be guided by feeling, because it is not always under your control; but all merit lies in the will.
All merit lies in the will because love is an act of the will. We are completely free in Christ. We must make a choice, a decision for good or evil. What camp do we live in?

22.Always depend upon your superiors, even in the smallest things.
Christ is instructing a Religious here. But, we all have the Lord as our Superior. Dependence upon God is a weapon of spiritual warfare because we cannot win on our own. Proclaiming Christ’s victory over evil is part of intentional discipleship. Christ came to defeat death & evil. Proclaim Him!

23.I will not delude you with prospects of peace and consolations; on the contrary, prepare for great battles.
St. Faustina suffered physically and spiritually. She was prepared for great battles by the grace of God who upheld her. Christ clearly instructs us in scripture to be prepared for great battles, to put on God’s armor and resist the devil. Be vigilant and discerning always.


24.Know that you are on a great stage where all heaven and earth are watching you.
We are all on a great stage where heaven and earth are watching. What message is our life giving? What radiates from us—shades of light, darkness or grey? The way we live attracts more light or more darkness. If the devil does not succeed in pulling us into darkness, he tries to keep us in the category of the lukewarm, which is not pleasing to God.


25.Fight like a knight, so I can reward you. Do not be unduly fearful, because you are not alone.
The Lord’s words to St. Faustina can become our mantra: Fight like a knight! A knight for Christ knows well the cause that he fights for, the nobility of his mission, the King who he serves, and with blessed assuredness of the victory, he fights to the end, even at the cost of his life. If a young, uneducated, simple Polish nun, united to Christ, can fight like a knight, every Christian can do the same. Trust is victorious.


Quotes from the Diary of St. Faustina are copyrighted by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, Mass.

these hugs n’ double-door blessings are for you…may you run across the threshold to receive them!

helen says…

on this Monday, day of giggles, Helen has one important thing to say…

(barks translated below!)





(plus a few more of her “barking-tips” for this labor-day holiday to “chew” on!)


“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  ~Confuscious


“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud.  And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes.  I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear red shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now.  I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want everyday to make God’s belly laugh, because He’s glad that He gave life to someone who loves the gift!!”  ~Shawn Neiquest

“Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”   ~author unknown


“Lord on this Labor Day, we thank You for the blessing of work.  We ask for strength to compete each day.  We ask for rest when we are weary.  We ask Your guidance for everyone seeking employment, and we ask that You be with those whose faces we might never see but who work tirelessly each day for the good of us all.  Amen.” ~Our Sunday Visitor

and because it IS Monday Helen leaves you with this labor day giggle:


hugs n’ blessings to all the hard working teachers, factory & construction workers, police, firefighters, truck drivers and ALL other workers who have made this country great!!