BY THE TIME WE GOT TO WOODY WE WERE HALF A MILLION STRONG

Dear Amelia,
It’s the middle of the night and I’ve just got an email from my mate Martha Stewart telling me how to remember what colour my walls are.
“Never forget with this sneaky tip,” she writes.
“Write the paint name on a piece of tape and stick it inside a light-switch cover.”
You too could get an Organising Tip of the Day emailed to you by Martha.
All you have to do is have no life and visit her website and sign up.
Martha is tireless when it comes to her millions of fans, of which Nanna is one.
I was channelling Martha today because it’s your Great Grandma’s 80th birthday dinner on Sunday – a low-key affair, which is probably a good thing because Nanna is doing the food.
My day would have been a lot better if I’d got an Organising Tip of the Day from Martha saying, “Never forget to put the sugar in your mother’s 80th birthday cake or it will look like diarrhoea and you’ll have to make it all over again.”
But I didn’t and I did – as in, didn’t get the email, so had to make another cake.
On top of that, Carlton lost to the Gold Coast Suns.
Yes, the Gold Coast Suns. Shit, shit, shit. The shame.
Other things I have done this week: Went to Woodanilling with your Grandpa, who had to interview someone for a Science Network story.
I’ve never been to Woodanilling before and very pretty it is too.
If a bit on the small side.
There are approximately six things to photograph in Woodanilling.
I photographed five of them because it was pouring down and I got soaked and had to scurry back to the car before I could snap the Woodanilling Tavern which was gorgeous but doesn’t open until 4pm so there went my lunch plans down the toilet.
Here are the five things I snapped.


The post office.


The CWA hall.


The general store, which is now derelict (there were once FIVE general stores).


This lovely old church.


We went to Woodanilling (which is known as Woody to the locals) via Cranbrook, Tambellup, Broomehill and Katanning.
It took forever but was worth it because I hadn’t been through this part of the Great Southern for 30-odd years and had forgotten how lovely it was.
Speaking of lovely, here is a picture of your Grandpa doing star jumps in front of the Broomehill pub.


On the way to Woodanilling in the car, a bit of Crosby, Stills and Nash channelling started happening and I was singing, “By the time we got to Woody,” on a continuous loop in my head. It nearly drove me nuts.
We were gone for hours and hours and Ella wasn’t very impressed but at least she didn’t crap on the rug, which was a bonus seeing as how she’s 253 years old in dog years and no longer has any anal glands.
Nanna cooked a rack of lamb for dinner, which was delicious, and then was able to watch Bethenny Ever After because your Grandpa was buggered from all the driving and fell asleep in the chair.
Bethenny Ever After is a reality show that follows the life of Bethenny Frankel and her long-suffering husband, Jason, and her staff who help her run her business empire.


Bethenny is pretty, quick-witted, funny and a squillionaire. She’s also self-centred, whiny, self-indulgent, shallow and addicted to the limelight.
She’s appalling. Nanna loves her.
Unfortunately, your Grandpa doesn’t.
Nothing could redeem Bethenny in your Grandpa’s eyes, except for maybe ripping her tongue out with a pair of pliers.
He stomps his way down the passage shouting, “How can you watch this crap?”
Then he goes and sits in his little office, his TV tuned to the History Channel, and watches people die in German concentration camps.
What your Grandpa really does like is a juicy rack of lamb with a crumb crust.
Here’s the recipe.

PS: Want to know how many words of three letters or more you can make from the word Woodanilling? 105. At least that’s how many I got. Don’t you love long car journeys?

RACK OF LAMB WITH A CRUMB CRUST

Serves 2

1 rack of lamb (6-8 cutlets), frenched, with fat removed
olive oil
1 tsp mustard
1 slice bread
½ small clove garlic, crushed
½ tbsp finely chopped parsley

Put the slice of bread in a mini food processor or blender and process until you have crumbs.
Mix the crumbs with the garlic and parsley and a little olive oil to bind.
Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the rack of lamb, put it in a baking dish and cook it for 20 minutes.
Spread the mustard over the top of the meat then press on the crumb crust.
Drizzle over a little more olive oil and cook for another 10 minutes, by which time the crumb crust should be golden-brown.
This makes pink, juicy lamb.
If you like it well done, cook for 25-30 minutes when you first put it in the oven.

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LET’S SCARE GRANDPA

Dear Amelia,
This picture arrived in my inbox yesterday from my mate Martha Stewart.
The accompanying text said, “This Mother’s Day, pamper Mom with a handmade eye mask that includes a message from you.”
I think my message would be, “Wake up, Grandpa! Nanna wants to scare the crap out of you,” but maybe that’s just me.
Here are some more craft suggestions from Martha in case you can’t make it down to the deli today to buy Mom a bunch of flowers.
You will find all of them (and more) at marthastewart.com.
A balloon bouquet.


A bias-binding cake-stand skirt and chandelier (yes, honestly)


Tissue-paper floral pompoms that might fall on those tealights and burn the house down if you drink too much and go to bed without blowing out the candles.


Next is a picture of something your Mum made me at school for Mother’s Day when she was a little girl (it’s Nanna, your Mum and your Uncle Paul made out of honky nuts).


And here is a picture of something your Uncle Paul made me at school for Mother’s Day when he was a little boy.


There’ll be lots of phone calls and chatting today because no one who works full time wants to drive an 832km round trip to say Happy Mother’s Day in person (we’re a sentimental bunch).
After all the chatting I’ll be knackered but I’ll soldier on and make something out of the quinces that I picked off the trees I planted three years ago.
According to Australia’s Homemade Jam and Preserves Book, which is sitting next to me as I type, the ancient Greeks used quinces as an antidote for hangovers, poisons, upsets and fevers.
Who would’ve thought?
My quinces have been ripening in a box for weeks and are covered in scabby bits but they smell beautiful and should be fine for quince paste or jam or something.


If I’m feeling particularly Martha-ish, I might also pick the lillypilly berries that are growing on the hedge at the bottom of the garden and make some lillypilly jam.
As if.
But here’s a recipe anyway.
PS: There’s only one more week left of this latest full-time-work stint at the ABC, thank Christ.
No more getting out of bed at 5.30am.
Plus, Grandpa and I will be able to come and visit everyone. Yay!

LILLY PILLY JAM

500g lillypillies
2 granny smith apples
juice of 1 lemon
300ml water
600g caster sugar

Wash the lilly pillies well. Peel and core the apples, then chop into small pieces.
Put lilly pillies, apples, lemon juice, water and sugar in a small saucepan and slowly bring to the boil over a medium heat.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add more lemon juice if the mixture does not appear to set.
Use a potato masher to break the skin and seed from the fruit.
Strain mixture to remove skin and seeds.
Return pan to heat and, when reduced, use a stick blender to combine.
Set aside to cool, then refrigerate.
To store, pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal when cold.
This recipe is from Better Homes and Garden magazine.
If I make it and it doesn’t set, I’ll use some JamSetta, which you can buy at supermarkets.


MARMALADE, MARTHA AND ME

Dear Amelia,
It’s twenty past eight on a quiet Albany night and I’ve just finished talking to your Mum on the phone.
When she rang I was passed out in front of Location, Location, Location and, no, I hadn’t had a drink.
Basically I’d slipped into a coma while watching a couple in their 20s try to decide which house they’d like to spend their $1.25 million on.
They were really irritating plus I’d had a full-on day at work and I was knackered.
The pace was absolutely furious today plus five times I’d answered the phone with, “ABC Radio, Michele speaking” and five different people on the other end of the line had said, “This is the number for Fletcher’s Abattoir.”
And I’d said, “No it isn’t” and they’d said, “Yes it is”.
By the fifth call I was crossing myself and wondering if I’d moved into a parallel universe.
Your Grandpa is in Perth at the moment hoping the periodontist he’s seeing tomorrow can save his back tooth for a reasonable amount of money (ha!).
According to Google, the average periodontist salary in San Antonio, Texas (I couldn’t find one for Perth) is $77,000pa, which isn’t exactly mega-bucks, is it? Maybe that’s why they have to charge so much – so they can put the occasional vat of caviar on the table.
Anyway, because your Grandpa is in Perth staying with your Uncle Paul, I had two pieces of toast and marmalade for dinner.
Here is a picture of it in case marmalade is extinct by the time you grow up.

Your Grandpa and Uncle Paul had dinner tonight at the Queens and they ate slow-roasted belly of pork, the bastards.
I know this because before they ordered off the menu, they rang to ask me what tat soi is.
Here is a picture of tat soi for future reference, and also one of the Queens, which is in Highgate, and may also be extinct by the time you grow up.

Luckily, while I’ve been writing this, I’ve received an email from Martha Stewart telling me how to make gilded bookends out of two house bricks, so my night is salvaged.

If you’d like to try this yourself, you’ll find the instructions here.
Once I’ve finished gilding my bricks, I’ll go to bed and pass out again.
I’ll be seeing you again in four sleep’s time. Needless to say, I am very excited.