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Chicken Tagine and…We Have the Dress

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.

Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Dates

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.

The Sass and Bide dress being modelled on the cat-walk

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

Serve either with couscous or quinoa

Serves:  6

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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  1. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Thank goodness you have the dress – you only have the 2nd Mortgage to worry about now! You will need this chicken dinner to calm the soul and soothe the nerves, and seeing as it only costs $20 to feed the family you can put the savings towards paying off the 2nd Mortgage or the phone plans.

  2. The chicken is lovely, but we really would have rather seen the dress (sorry). We hang on these things, you know. You got off easy, high bill or no.

  3. I remember when I went searching for my prom dress. I LOVED the first one I tried on…and then my mom made me try on a million more just to be sure. Of course, I ended up with the first one. So glad your daughter found her dress without causing you much duress!

  4. This looks great! And, I love the cilantro looking garnish.

  5. It’s such a pleasure when one looks for a special outfit and falls in love with it. I remember I once looked for a dress for a wedding very intensely. I think I visited 100 different shops and finally, just the day before I found the perfect one! 10 minutes before the shop closed. Moreover, the shop’s tailor was still there (she was there only twice a week so i was really lucky) and she could arrange some small things on the spot.
    The tajine looks gorgeous.

  6. Your daughter has great taste, chicken tagine is soo delicious! Realy want to see the dress you guys chose for your daughters big night ( always love dresses). i remember my big night… *dream*

  7. It must be tough to be a girl sometimes – men can sling on almost any combination of smart-ish trousers and a shirt and we’re good to go. Women have to style and accessorize all over the place. 😀

    I love tajines, don’t get to eat them as often as I like though – thanks for sharing yours 🙂

  8. Just so you know, I don’t shop for dresses – but since I do cook, I did focus on the recipe, which has many it to my possible list. 🙂 Thanks!

  9. Well Babe.. haha hilarious, I have the opposite problem with my mother! She is so into shopping, I avoid going on a walk to the mall with her for the last 15 years!
    The good thing is that you found the dress and I’m sure that your little doll will look fabulous! I love the dish, going to try it.

  10. What if she changes her mind, Babe???

  11. I remember those days and then I had to buy “that dress” for “that big day”. That was painstaking to say the least and tried to put some fun into it too – ha! Thanks for sharing and Have a Great Day:)

  12. We don’t have formals or proms in Spain but the year I lived in Michigan I had to buy a dress… I have no idea how many times I went to the mall and to all the shops until I found THE ONE ha ha ha I can imagine why you’re so happy to have found one finally!

  13. The tagine looks divine – I have a tagine pot but don’t use it nearly as often as I should!

    I have a friend who offered her daughter $500 not to go to her formal. She refused, and it ended up costing my friend $1000 instead – dress, makeup, hair.. Made me grateful I only have sons.. 😉

  14. I think you’re already really nice Charlie to spend so much time with Arabella ~ I remember when it was my Year 12 formal…my mother said she’ll pay be “$500” so I wouldn’t go LOL she didn’t want to spend any money on a dress or take me dress shopping 😛 so I think it’s really nice of you to get Arabella such a nice dress! I can’t wait to see it 😀

    I don’t have Middle Eastern food much ~ So i’m not really familiar with Middle Eastern flavours hehe gonna pass this recipe to Mr Bao and tell him we’ve gotta try!

  15. The dress is the most important thing. I also like Arabella’s taste in food, yummy looking.

  16. Whenever I think missed out on marriage and kiddies, these sorts of events make me think I dodged a bullet. 🙂 The NEPHEW is enough for me, frankly.

    Congratulations on getting a dress with minimal wear and tear on the nerves. I’m sure she’ll be exquisite on ‘the night of nights’. 🙂

  17. Thank goodness for that, Now you’re spared a whole day of shopping horror! If the formal is this mutch stress and pressure, what will she be like about her wedding!!
    I think your yummy tagine is the perfect comfort food after a day of spending money and shopping- all those spices, Yumm

  18. LOL!! I only have older boys so thankfully I haven’t had to go through this. Loved the comment that Carl doesn’t understand Sass & Bide = 2nd Mortgage. So cute… so niave, I am sure he likes it that way.

    I still think you came out ahead, image if it were April and she still didn’t have “the dress” :0

    I really love the look of your dish, middle eastern flavour are so tasty. I will be borrowing this recipe 😉

  19. There’s a Sass and Bide store near me. Wow those dresses are tiny.

  20. I’ll come homewares shopping with you Charlie! I think I’m the only bride in history who wasn’t excited to go shoe shopping! I’m really not a good shopper anymore.

    My mum was lucky like that too. We were in Melbourne on a girls weekend and walking down the street I spotted a dress I liked. The next day we went back, I tried it on and it was the one.

  21. I love learning more about middle eastern meals- this looks great!

  22. My mind boggled a bit at hearing the preparations required for her Big Day – it was a big event in my time but perhaps not quite so big! What a relief to have the dress found!

  23. Ooh I cant wait to see it! S&B make amazing clothes. Sounds fab!

  24. God, that all sounds dreadful! You poor thing! Is the worst over Babe? Babe!? (horrible laughter) that was a good story told too, loved reading it! c

  25. Imagine when you have to go shopping for her wedidng dress. 😉

  26. Imagine when you have to go shopping for her wedding dress. 😉

  27. You have a new blog nickname, your girl has a new dress, and dinner is served. Lovely!

  28. Can’t wait to see her picture! And I promise I will never call you “Babe”!!!

  29. How exciting to have the dress AND painlessly too, I might add. Not having to spend a day walking from shop to shop would be worth a lot in my book.

    Arabella’s favourite meal makes me swoon. It sounds fantastic.

  30. Shopping is just right up my alley 😀 I cannot wait for my daughter to grow and to tell me that she wants a dress. I would love to go shopping with her. But the question is, would she want me to go with her or not. She is not even 2 and half years old and I already dream of how the two of us; the mother-daughter duo is going to spend time together.I am only hoping that she also has similar plans too.

  31. Can you imagine how on point your daughter will be on her wedding day? Lol.. and I bet she looked beautiful in that dress. I remember picking out my prom dress.. my mother was overjoyed when I just wanted to wear jeans LOL. LOVE the dish.. and its easy.. I’m in

  32. So glad she found the dress with no stress. But all the things she has to do to get ready. What’s going to happen when she gets married?

  33. Aww you must show pics when the time comes. I bet she looks amazing! 🙂

  34. oh i would LOVE to see a pic of that dress, wish the night of nights would come quicker… ur daughter is so much like me, i could spend an entire day trying on dresses & shoes too (and 9 outa 10 not buy anything coz im so choosy! irritates my poor husband no end haha)

  35. This post could have been written by my Sister. She and her daughter just found and bought The Dress for her Senior Prom. Like with your daughter’s, this one was a bit over budget but it was one of the very few where both women were in agreement. What price peace? Normally, that’s a rhetorical question but I actually can reply with a dollar amount.

  36. Ah, I hear you when it comes to shopping. I detest it unless I’m in a thrift store.

    The Year 12 formal sounds similar to the annual “prom” that US students attend each spring. It’s a formal event with students dining out, going to the high school for a grand march and dance (which few attend for very long) and then an all-night lock-in at the bowling alley (at least in my community).

    My daughters never attended prom and my 18-year-old son won’t either. I am relieved as this event costs so much money what with admission, clothing, dinner, flowers, photos, etc. That’s money best directed toward college. I wish prom would be an affordable option for all students, but it’s evolved into a big, expensive affair.

  37. This is a dish that both my wife and I would love, especially her with the inclusion of those dates. Delish Charlie!

    Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  38. Congratulations on buying the dress!

    Chicken Tagine looks wonderful and sounds very simple to make! Like all those spices you are putting in this dish.

  39. A Sass and Bide for a prom. How fabulous! The tagine looks delicious and not too complicated. GG

  40. The dish looks fabulousd & really appetizing but I would have liked to see a sneak previexw of that dress??!!

  41. Absolutely gorgeous dish….

    You know I have 2 sons, I keep telling my husband that I will miss shopping with daughter seeing her grow up and reliving my teenage in her…
    God bless you both, I am sure she look stunning in her dress… Babe!!!

  42. Show us the dress 😀

    And that’s one fabulous middle eastern inspired dish.

  43. The lives of teenagers are certainly more complicated than in our day–and that is the way it always will be, I suspect. But I love hearing the stories. I hope you’ll post a photo when the day comes.

    Love the easy tagine. What I would give to have access to fresh dates again!

  44. Wow, that whole thing sounds like a nightmare to me too! I think you got out pretty easy in the end too – worth a few extra bucks! More importantly – this dish looks absolutely amazing and right up my alley!! I’ll have to try it soon. The almonds really make it.

  45. I was so caught up in dress shopping that I forgot you’d have a recipe for us! A lovely one at that!! I remember buying my daughters.. we spent more than we’d planned, but at the same time I realized that this was one of only two special days left.. Graduation and her Wedding… So we’re more than happy to splurge on her:) I can’t wait to see the photos!!!

  46. So you got the dress! That’s fantastic when things fall into place like that. It looks fabulous, really original. Hope all the rest goes well. I’ve been away and off line, so am having a big wet Sunday afternoon catch up.

  47. I am in love with this recipe! Fruit and meat dishes for me are the height of Nirvana. Bookmarking it.

  48. That’s a lovely dress!! No wonder Arabella had to have it 🙂 Can’t wait to see her wear it!

  49. You are such a nice mom to buy your daughter such a lovely frock. I sure hope she gets more than one wear out of it, too, since you’re busting the budget to make her dreams come true. 😉

  50. Oh gosh, the thought that I will have teen-agers in a few years makes me little scared… cell phones, fake tans etc. Ugh! Perhaps still better than a tantrum though…
    This sounds delicious, I am bookmarking it.

  51. Thanks Goodness in some ways then that I have 3 boys and not 3 girls. The dress is stunning, I hope you will post pictures so we can have a squizz. Hats off to you mama – you showed great patience. now back to the homewares stores I say 😉 xx


  1. […] mum; that’s what I’m going to do.  Just like with Fred.  We’re still best friends today.  I can’t wait to see him at the 21st; it’s so […]

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