In three months Arabella will be off to her Year 12 Formal. It is being held at the Taronga Function Centre that is on the grounds of the Zoo and overlooks Sydney Harbour. She has her partner organised and that would be Fred from Gunnadah who is Archie’s mate and has been visiting our house since Arabella was eleven years old. We haven’t yet bought the tickets or found out how much they will be, but, we have the dress.
I had been dreading dress shopping with Arabella because she likes to explore every shop in Sydney and we have a few, and not just look at the dresses but try them all on as well and this can be not only time-consuming but very, very, wearying. And Arabella just wishes she had a mother who was so much more into clothes shopping but I really don’t enjoy that kind of an outing. I get that bored look across my face like the one she gets when I drag her into a homewares shop.
A few weeks ago Arabella asked me if we could spend a day in Oxford Street looking for the dress. A day? I said, ‘But your formal isn’t until June.’
‘Yes, but mum, all the girls are getting their dresses now and we don’t have that much time because once we have the dress we’ll still need to get shoes and earrings, and talk about how I’m going to wear my hair. What was the name of that place in Paddington where I got my hair done for Auntie Emma’s wedding? Can we go back there? Can I get my hair done there? And I don’t want my make-up done at Napoleon. I was in tears last time. Can we go to Mecca? There’s a Mecca store near that hairdressers in Paddington. Can you get me a booking? And mum! It’s on June the 6th. Can you block out that day? And block out all that day to be with me. Okay mum? Oh, and I’ll need a spray tan because all the girls are getting them and they’re booking up fast. Can you get me a booking mum? I’ll need a spray tan because it’s in the middle of winter and I’ve got no tan because we haven’t had a summer so I’m definitely going to need a spray tan.’
And I was standing in my kitchen and slowly backing myself against the kitchen bench so I could lean on it and steady myself as my mind swirled with all I have to do for Arabella’s night of nights.
But the Lord has been merciful because a few weeks ago Arabella was up at the local library doing some study and I happened to be nearby with Archie buying him yet another mobile phone (have I blogged about teenagers and mobile phones yet? I think I ought to). Arabella came out of the library to buy something to eat and she walked past a boutique that I don’t go into because everything is so expensive and the one time I did venture in from the footpath I was addressed by the sales manager as ‘babe’.
But they had a dress in the window and it caught Arabella’s eye. And so in she went and she tried it on then she took a photo of herself and texted it to me and asked me to come in right away. ‘Yes dear’, I texted back, ‘Just signing another two-year mobile phone contract. I’ll be right with you.’ So once the business of Archie’s new phone was sorted we walked the short distance to the boutique.
The sales manager was there and she said to me, ‘Oh babe, you should see how she looks, she looks amazing’. And Arabella stepped out of the change room and ‘babe’ did have to admit, she did look amazing. She was wearing a Sass and Bide dress that fits her six foot slender frame perfectly. I asked the sales manager if anyone else from Arabella’s ‘School of Princesses’ had bought one of these dresses. She assured ‘babe’ that she had only had four in the store and all the others were sold and none to the School of Princesses.
So Arabella gave us a few twirls and we texted a photo to Fred from Gunnadah and he approved so the deal was done.
Now sadly for Carl, the item was more than we had budgeted for but after I factored in the time I would have spent wandering up and down Oxford Street I think I’ve come out in front. And the other blessing is that the words ‘Sass’ and ‘Bide’ mean nothing to Carl so he hasn’t come into a full realisation of what we’ve actually done.
We haven’t taken possession of the dress yet. It’s on lay-by and we’ll collect it in a few weeks. But the decision that I thought would be so excruciating was done in less than an hour and we are both so happy. I’ll look forward to sharing photos of her in the dress after her ‘night of nights’.
This is one of Arabella’s favourite mid-week meals. It’s a Middle Eastern dish that I serve with Quinoa cooked in chicken stock.
Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Dates
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Less than $20.00 to feed the family
- 1kg chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 tbspns EVOO
- 2 large onions, finely sliced
- 1 tspn cumin seeds
- 1 tspn ground coriander
- 1 tspn ground tumeric
- 1 tbspn grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 tspn grated nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 375ml (1 1/2 cups) chicken stock
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 1/2 cup fresh dates, de-seeded and halved
- 1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds
- 2 tbspns honey
- 2 tbspns finely chopped coriander
Heat EVOO in a large casserole dish. Add chicken in batches and cook until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue until all is cooked.
Add onions, garlic and spices, cook, stirring, until onions are soft.
Return chicken to pan with stock and water, simmer, covered, 1 hour. Remove lid, simmer about 30 minute or until mixture is thickened slightly and chicken is tender. Stir in dates, honey and nuts; sprinkle with fresh coriander.
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