Thanksgiving Countdown – Day 3: Brine, Rolls & Tablecloth

Holidays are about memories–enjoying old ones and making new ones. Two years ago, we started a new tradition for Thanksgiving dinner. I bought a sturdy, cotton-blend, cream-colored tablecloth and  a package of Sharpie permanent markers. An hour ahead of setting the table I placed the tablecloth and centerpieces on the table with the package of markers.

I asked each one who was there for dinner to use a marker and write a short “thankful” message with the date/year on the tablecloth. They looked at me like I was crazy and no one would do it until I wrote my message. Even little ones that are too young to write can participate by having an adult trace their hand print on the tablecloth and writing their name and the year next to it.

Thankfulness Journal Tablecloth

The bottom pictures in the collage are from last year’s table. It was so fun to put the tablecloth on the table and see the messages from the year before as we added new messages. It was especially meaningful because of the huge changes in our life during that year. I’m looking forward to continuing our tradition this year.

To preserve the messages, I carefully iron them with a very hot iron (avoiding food stains that I don’t want to be permanent) and let the cloth cool before washing it in cold water and drying it on low temperature. After it is laundered, I fold it lengthwise and hang it on a hanger in the closet until the next year. I did a quick check tonight to make sure that it is ready for the table on Thursday.

The rest of today’s countdown tasks took us back into the kitchen.

We decided this year to brine our turkey since all the cooking shows were singing the praises of the tastiness of turkey that has been placed in brine before roasting. I did some online research for recipes and processes. We decided to use a packaged brine mix. Several sites stated that turkeys can be placed in the brine frozen and allowed to thaw in the brine in the refrigerator so that’s what we are doing. We followed the directions on the package except that we followed online directions for starting with a frozen turkey.

Prepping the turkey

For rolls I am going to use a recipe from my sister-in-love’s mom, Lois Shepherd. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know her if only for a short time. Her recipe is perfect for the holidays because you mix it up a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge. On the day you want to bake the rolls, you place the dough into muffin pans, let it rise, and bake them.

Lois Shepherd's Refrigerator Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These are great make ahead rolls that can be baked at the last minute!
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: About 24 rolls
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shortening (I use butter)
  • ⅛ cup warm water
  • 3 cups flour
  1. Stir together boiling water, sugar, salt, and shortening. Cool to lukewarm. Soften yeast in ⅛ cup lukewarm water. Stir into warm mixture, and add beaten egg. Stir in 2 cups of flour until smooth. Stir in remaining flour until dough is fairly stiff. Put in greased bowl and cover. Set in refrigerator.
  2. When ready to bake pinch off enough dough to partially fill muffin tins. Let rise for 2 to 2½ hours. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
  3. Dough will keep in fridge for a few days.

Time to call it a day and get some rest. Wondering what’s on the list for tomorrow?

Thanksgiving Countdown – Day 2: Starting Lefse and Preparing the Table Decor

I’m getting excited to having the family together and hope that all of my sons will be able to make it home. I hope you are anticipating a memorable holiday and preparing for it with joy!

Sharing my heart for home and family,