Cat Fight on the Cat Walk

The formal drama is not over.

Yes, I was blessed with a few days reprieve, four to be exact, but yesterday it started again.

Just to refresh your memory, Arabella’s formal was last Thursday but that boy, Flynn, who has invited her to his formal, is cranking up the drama.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Flynn is ‘just a friend’ (unlike ‘special friend’) and he and Arabella have known each other for a long time and they get along very well and he is lovely and tall which is great when your daughter stands at six feet.  Flynn took Arabella to his Year 10 Formal and when they arrived at the venue Arabella was wearing the same dress as one of his female friends.  (Flynn is at a co-ed school).  That was awkward but it happens and the girls survived.

Arabella then invited Flynn to her Year 11 Formal that was fancy dress.  Not only did I have to buy the tickets, I had to beetle down to the fancy dress hire shop and linger and loiter there while Arabella tried things on and eventually chose outfits.  She decided Flynn would go as a race car driver and she would go as the girl that stands on the track and waves the checkered flag.

We brought the costumes home only for Flynn to phone a few days before the formal and announce he was no longer coming because he was ‘sick’.  I did think it would have been appropriate for his mother to have phoned me and at least offered to contribute towards the non-refundable expenses but no such phone call ever occurred.  While I was furious about the wastefulness of it all, Arabella was crying about her lack of date.  At such short notice and according to Arabella, there was not one available tall, handsome and datable boy left in Sydney.  I did offer up a few sensible suggestions but these were all rubbished and met with a rolling of the eyes.  So she went to her formal on her own and everyone noticed she had no date and so she had a miserable time, left early and came home in tears.

Served with Fried Rice

Mind you, she was in tears before the formal even started because she’d had her make-up done by Napoleon and that set off the tears as she said the make-up artist had made her look like a clown as it was all too bright.  As soon as she walked through the door she took it all off and applied her own make-up but the night just unraveled from there.

Not to mention Arabella had asked me to host the pre’s and that make-up artist took so long applying rainbow colours to Arabella’s face that when we arrived home there were already mothers and their daughters waiting by the front door.  It was a circus.

So now it’s Flynn’s Year 12 Formal and Arabella will be wearing the Sass and Bide dress we bought three months ago.

The Infamous Sass and Bide dress

Now Flynn is a very nice boy but yesterday, he started the dramas.  For some reason known only to himself he sent Arabella a text message letting her know, oh so casually, that a girl from his Year will be wearing the same Sass and Bide dress.

I heard screams coming from Arabella’s room and rushed in to find out the latest upset.  After she’d spat it all out I said, ‘That’s life Arabella, it happens to everyone, even celebrities’.

‘But what if she’s at the pre’s.  That’s a bit awkward isn’t it.  I’ll have to wear something else.  I’ll get another dress.’

‘Arabella, you won’t be getting another dress.  For my formal my mother went to a sewing shop, bought a Vogue pattern and the water-mark taffeta and made me a dress.  I turned up to the formal and at least five other mothers had done the exact same thing and made the same dress.  We got over it’.

And Arabella agreed that yes, it was ridiculous to think about buying another dress and she really should wear the one that’s just been sitting in the wardrobe going no where and all was good.

Until the facebook message.

A very fresh sweet and sour pork

The girl who has bought the same dress found Arabella on facebook and sent her a message.  In her ‘greeting’ she advised Arabella that this was her formal and that she had purchased her dress three months ago and had been the second girl in her year to post a photo of her dress on facebook to make sure no one else bought the same dress.  And now, just a week before her night of nights she finds out that a boy in her year is bringing an outsider to her formal who intends on wearing the same dress.  And she added, ‘we’ll be sitting at the same table’.   So she asked Arabella (as it is her formal), if she would consider returning the dress and wearing something else.’

We are back at drama central once again.

Arabella sent the girl a return message advising the dress cannot be returned for a refund and that her mother was insisting she wear the dress as it was also purchased three months ago for the same event.  Arabella told the girl that if she liked, she wouldn’t wear the belt therefore giving the two dresses a slightly different look.

There has been no follow-up message at this stage.

I too would be upset if I found out there would be someone at the same event as me wearing the same dress but I don’t think I would have the nerve to send the other person a message asking them to wear something else.  Very bold!

We don’t know anything about this other girl except that she is quite short in stature with dark hair and very different colouring so I am quite sure the two girls will be able to give the same dress two completely different looks.

I am on stand-by for the next development.

Arabella loves Chinese so I thought I would spoil her with a Kylie Kwong recipe from her book Simple Chinese Cooking of Sweet and Sour Pork.  The only thing is Arabella saw the ingredients on the kitchen bench and asked what I was cooking.  When I told her she said, ‘But that’s the Chinese dish I don’t like’.  Never mind, I like it!

Fried Rice

Sweet and Sour Pork

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  I served this with Fried Rice and fed the family for around $30.00.

  • 1 1/2 tbspns cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 tbspn cold water
  • 2 x 300g (10 0z) pork neck fillets, cut in half lengthways and then into bite-sized pieces on the diagonal
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tspns light soy sauce
  • 2 tspns sesame oil
  • 1 tspn sea salt
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour (cornstarch), extra
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/4 small ripe pineapple, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled
  • 3/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 5 tbspns shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tspn sea salt, extra
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbspns ginger julienne
  • 1/2 medium-sized yellow pepper, julienned (I couldn’t buy yellow so I bought red)
  • 2 small tomatoes, finely sliced
  • 2 tbspns light soy sauce

Blend cornflour with water in a medium-sized bowl until dissolved.  Add pork, egg yolks, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt and mix well.  Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight (I didn’t have ‘overnight’ up my sleeve so marinated my pork for about 4 hours). 

To make the Sweet and Sour Sauce, remove core from pineapple and finely slice into pieces.  Using a vegetable peeler, finely slice carrot lengthways into ribbons.  Cut cucumber in half lengthways, slice on the diagonal and set aside, together with the pineapple and carrot.

Place vinegar, wine or sherry, sugar and extra salt in a medium-sized heavy-based saucepan and stir over high heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil, add garlic and ginger, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Add reserved pineapple, carrot, cucumber, pepper and tomato and simmer for a further 3 minutes or until pineapple is tender and tomato has broken down slightly.  Stir in soy sauce, remove from stove and set aside.

Combine plain flour and extra cornflour.  Add to the marinated pork and mix well.  Heat vegetable oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly.  Deep-fry pork in batches over high heat for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium and fry for another 2 minutes, or until pork is almost cooked through.  Remove from wok and drain on kitchen paper.  Gently reheat Sweet and Sour Sauce.  finally, return all pork to the hot wok and deep-fry for a further 3 minutes, or until lightly browned, crispy and cooked through.  Remove from wok and drain well on kitchen paper.

Serve with Fried Rice.

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  1. Hmmm…can’t she wear the bespoke pink silk number that she wore to her own formal?  Or is that impossible?  Guaranteed no-one will be wearing that at Flynn’s formal!  All this stress can’t be good for the Glange…or your teeth, Charlie. You might grind them into powder.. 🙁

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’m in stitches. You’re so funny Celia and too true – if there are any more formals I’ll end up with dentures xx

  2. Oh dear. When I was at school most of the dress shops had a register, so you’d say “I’m going to Abbotsleigh, Cranbrook and St Andrews formals” and they wouldn’t sell the dress to anyone else going to those. It was very civilised.

  3. I had hopes that things would calm down for you and Arabella but it seems the drama never ends. 🙂

    I haven’t had sweet and sour pork in ages … it sounds like a tasty dish.

  4. Don’t you wish you could be a teen again?!?!?!?!?!?!

  5. InTolerant Chef says:

    I love sweet and sour pork too, and this sounds delicious!
    I went to a 40th for one of hubbys work colleagues, and was wearing the same outfit as the birthday girl. I apologized, but pointed out that as she was significantly thinner no one would notice me 🙂

  6. InTolerant Chef says:

    Forgot to say that you won the comp on my blog Charlie, drop me a line with your details and I’ll send it off to you and Alfie 🙂

  7. Wow, what a nightmare! Would not go back and do that again! Hope everything works out soon 🙂

  8. I can’t wait to hear how this turns out.  Based on the last photos, I’m sure Arabella will be 100x more gorgeous in ANY dress (especially that epic Sass & Bide) and that’s why the girl is really jealous.;)

  9. Denisetyrrell1 says:

    Oh dear – what is she going to be like with  wedding dress decisions! I don’t envy you. Console yourself with chinese – what a good idea. Love it.

  10. Oh dear!! what politics!!!!

    I don’t think I am too fond of boys who get into girly politics…..I can’t wait to see how this turns out. I’m sure at 6 ft, Arabella will look glamorous even in a sack.

    Maybe she could wear a different belt? Shoes would make a big difference too. That dress is made for a tall girl, so maybe the other girl should change it. Silly!

    I’ve nominated you for the FoodStories Award for Excellence in STorytelling 🙂

    Good luck, with everything!

    Love the Chinese.

  11. Checking in at Drama Central.  🙂

    The girl probably knows Arabella is beautiful and that cinches it that the other girl is going to look less than best in that dress.

    I’m glad Flynn isn’t a special friend because making Arabella feel uncomfortable just isn’t on.  He knows she’s been through a lot the past few weeks.  He should keep his mouth shut and be glad she’s wearing the dress she loves.

  12. What drama. Hopefully this other girl will stop harassing Arabella. Her words border on bullying if you ask me. By all means, Arabella absolutely needs to wear that dress. And why are these girls being seated at the same table? Not a good idea.

  13. Oh my, the drama of teenage girls.  I was spared that, having just one boy, but I can certainly sympathize with Arabella and with you as her Mom!  I think she should wear the dress.  Six feet tall, gorgeous, blonde–I can just imagine anything she chooses will be fabulous. Am certain the other girl is jealous.  As I am of this Sweet and Sour dish–I was having salad for lunch and now I’m not so sure…

  14. What unbelievable drama … Can’t believe this chick would have the nerve to ask Arabella to wear something else … Very “mean girls”, if you ask me!

  15. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Just a thought…could Arabella not possibly wear the dress she wore to HER formal.
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Chinese food.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  16. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    I have to say that I’m extremely happy not to have to endure the internet/social media and Facebook at a young age.  What a headache and nightmare.  

    Hope you’re doing well Charlie!

  17. Celima G 7 says:

    Tell Arabella that if someone sent me a message telling me to wear another dress the  I would wear THE dress anyway with the HIGHEST shoes, wildest hair and the MOST dramatic make up I could do!  And I would dance  about looking tall and gorgeous!  and smile until my face cracked.  And say Oh really that is not the same dress, yours looks so much, um, bigger!!! And if Flynn gets sick this time I am personally coming out there to get him up and dress him and I will bloody well drive him there myself! 

  18. Won’t it be nice when she is off to uni?  (Okay, that’s not nice to say, is it? But I am kind of happy when my “little ones” are away at school, 3 hours away to be exact.)

  19. Niasunset says:

    This is unbelievable… I wish to her Good Luck with everything. Actually there is an old saying maybe my translation not good but, they say, the dress doesn’t make you, You make the dress… something like that. She is so beautiful young girl… Blessing her. Dear Charlie, your recipe is amazing. I am hungry now (even I had my dinner just a few minutes ago 🙂 ) Thank you, with my love, nia 

  20. Hi,
    There certainly has been a lot of drama for you the last couple of weeks, and I just can’t get over the other girl sending your daughter the message, how times have changed. 🙂

    Love your recipe.

  21. Choc Chip Uru says:

    That is crazy!!! I am totally backing A here, I can’t believe this girl had the nerve, as of she owns the whole blasted dress company!
    Great looking comfort food my friend – for both you and A!

    Choc Chip Uru

  22. I was so thrilled to see the Sass & Bide dress was going to get an outing.
    Hope Arabella wears it, she will feel amazing & of course will give it her own look as will the other girl. X

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    What a mess! I give you credit, Charlie. I probably would have lost it weeks ago. It’s just such a different time from when I was graduating high school. Arabella will look absolutely gorgeous in that gown and the other girl knows it. That’s what’s really behind the FaceBook msg. I’m glad you convinced her to wear it to The Formal.  Wearing that dress, Arabella will be the Belle of the Ball. 

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks John, yes, I too am amazed at my patience. It’s amazing the hype that surrounds these events these days – horrifying! xx

  24. OMG Charlie, how have you not had a nervous breakdown yet??? I just about having one for you reading your posts. Good luck for the next few days…

  25. Oh the drama of being a teenage girl. I had my 10 year reunion a few weeks ago and it was so funny looking back on all the things we thought were such a huge deal back then that we’d just laugh at now.

    Poor Arabella though I can’t believe the girl actually had the nerve to contact her. I liked life before Facebook when what people wore to the formal was a surprise! 

  26. I can’t imagine having dress issues like that. If I showed up in something another girl had on, I’d just wear it anyway. Who cares what she says? She’s the one who’s night will be “ruined”. You tell Arabella that she will look amazing in the dress and to not let any girl bully her out of it!

  27. Wow. I’m so glad I got through high school before Facebook. We had enough of this kind of drama without random girls looking up and messaging someone about their dress. The nerve!

  28. Juliet Batten says:

    good on you for staying firm, and letting Arabella know that she’ll get over it.

  29. Drama, drama, drama!  I do sympathise with Arabella.  I showed up at a birthday party recently wearing the same top as another guest.  I spent the whole evening trying to stay on the opposite side of the room as the loser who had the nerve to wear my shirt (kidding!)  I don’t have kids yet, but reading your blog is like getting quick lesson in teenage parenting!

  30. Oh dear oh dear. Facebook has a lot to answer for. That girl sounds very rude and I’d say Flynn has a bit to answer for too! I hope the drama passes quickly, poor you and I imagine poor Arabella too. This dish should soothe things a bit, if nothing else 🙂

  31. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Oh I was hoping that you would have a longer reprieve than that! I can understand the girl is upset but there is more to life than wearing the same dress and asking someone to return a dress is just a bit dramatic. And I’m glad that Arabella stood her ground too!

  32. Oh wow, that is pretty bold of the other girl. i would never dream of doing such a thing to a stranger. I suppose formals are a pretty big thing and Arabella would make even a super model pale in comparison, but still come on! lol It is when I hear things like this I breathe for a moment and appreciate having boys….and then I remember all the trouble that boys can get up to. Oh the joys of parenting huh 🙂 xxx

  33. We have three girls and have “raised” others, we know drama. What I love is life marches on and dinner still lands on the table. I’ve been there, making something I think will sooth and comfort only to be told it’s not their favorite or “did we just have chicken last night” … and I have given the same response: I like it!
    We try, right?!

  34. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    I think I would wear the dress out of spite if I got that message!

  35. Oh god it all sounds so awful, for everyone… particularly you!

  36. Kristy_wenz says:

    I so do not miss the drama of high school. Then again, I’d prefer that to the drama of adulthood some days. 😉

  37. Wow, that certainly is drama, Charlie. I must admit, my teen like seems relatively mundane in comparison. My Mom made herself a gorgeous dress in the 70’s and showed up to the event and another woman made the same dress in the SAME COLOUR! What are the chances? They had a good laugh about it. I guess when you’re 40 it’s not all that life altering as it is when you’re in your teens.
    I hope the saga worked out in Arabella’s favour. I’d love that pork, even though it’s fried.

  38. If I were a catty person – which I clearly am not – I might say something like “The short girl knew that this particular dress might look better on a tall willowy type (such as Arabella), and that is thy she was so hostile”.  

    But I am not catty, so I won’t mention it.  

    I hope to read that Arabella wore the dress and was stunning.

    • Of course I meant to write “… why she was so hostile” and made a typo.  That is why I can’t be catty – it messes me up!

  39. Oh gosh i feel so bad for both You and Arabella 🙁 more dramas with the formal and i think it’s quite rude…that girl from that school really needs to get over it and not be so rude… 

    I really hope Arabella enjoys the formal 🙂 

  40. GourmetGetaway says:

    Seriously!!! I am so pleased I have boys! I cannot imagine getting so worked up about a dress. It a gorgeous dress, who cares who else is wearing, it is who wears it best that counts 😉

  41. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    The continuing saga of dresses for formals is amazing. I hope everything works out and Arabella has a good time.

  42. I can’t imagine how it is you have time to cook, Charlie! You are really quite incredible! I really like the dress, and Arabella will look smashing in it! She’ll be beautiful! Debra


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