Thursday, 30 July 2009

Prawn, Courgette and Leek Risotto

I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious, healthy and very easy to make so I thought I would share it with you.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 leek, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
350g arborio rice
1.6 litres vegetable stock
200g cooked and peeled king prawns
small bunch of parsley
salt and black ground pepper

Instructions

Heat the oil and half of the butter in a large shallow pan.
Add the leek, courgettes and garlic and soften over a low heat.
Add the rice and cook for 1 minutes, stirring continously.
Heat the stock in a separate pan and add a ladle of stock to the rice. Simmer and stir until all the stock is absorbed.
Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring continously.
When almost all the stock has been added and the rice is al dente (about 15 minutes) add the prawns.
Season and stir in the remaining stock and the rest of the butter.
Cover a leave to stand for a few minutes then stir in the parsley.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Grab Them Shoes Before They Go

The sales are almost at an end and so you need to be quick if you want to snap up some bargains. Here's Easily Sorted's pick of some of the best shoes on offer:



Gina Patent Lizard Sandal was £415.00 now £220.00 at Browns




Irregular Choice Cortesan Leopard was £63.37 now £45.00 from Schuh





Lacey Lane Shoe by Office was £60.00 now £25.00





Twlight Indian Slipper Gold Shoe was £25.00 now £5.00 from Office




Birkenstock Piazza was £40.00 now £25.00 at Kurt Geiger



Dolly Interbow 2 by Office was £60.00 now £15.00






Nicole Farhi Nuala 3fad1 was £280.00 now £99.99 at Kurt Geiger







Christian Louboutin 'Ananas' Scalloped Mules were £835.00 now £505.00 at Browns



Lorri in Red by Moda In Pelle was £60.00 now £30.00





Bertie Bow Back Court Shoe was £74.00 now £44.00 at ASOS

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Crocodile Tears- The Demise of the Crocs

Crocs, you either love them or hate them, and now they are latest casualty of the recession. When I first saw Crocs on sale at an airport I would never have dreamt that they could become a global shoe giant. More than 100 million pairs have been sold in over 125 countries in a variety of colours and their success has been unprecedented. They are loved for being comfy, practical and environmentally friendly. Although they are virtually indestructible, they are not made from plastic but from anti-microbial non resin foam called Croslite and have even been described as being vegan. They are hated for being ugly, over commercial and have been accused of being a hazard to health and electronic equipment.

The invasion of the Crocs began in 2002 and their popularity spread with celebrity endorsements and large scale manufacturing. They became a hit for holiday makers, nurses, doctors and people who were on their feet all day. George W Bush was even pictured in a pair. They branched out and launched Croc wellies, which again weren't the most aesthetically pleasing footwear but with their non-slip soles and their wide toes they were very practical for walking about on the snow around ski resorts and they became a hit in trendy ski resort Val D'Isere. They also sell a range of shoes, flip flops, sandals and boots but none of their lines have caught on in the same way as the original Crocs.

The problem now seems to be that because Crocs are very hard wearing and almost indestructible, almost everyone who wants a pair now has one and fakes are also widely available. Production was too high, expansion was too quick and the market has been over saturated. If you already have one pair you are not likely to buy another, especially not in a recession. The company lost a massive £113 million pounds last year and has cut its workforce by 2,000.

Crocs have always had their enemies. There have been stories about Crocs storing electricity and giving its users electrical shocks which led them to be banned from some hospitals. The electricity surge can apparently make hospital equipment fail and wipe your iPod. A blog was set up to back the demise of the Crocs called ihatecrocs.com. The site shows an unsucessful attempt of destroying Crocs by burning. You can also buy the t shirt pictured above on the ihatecrocs website. A recent post on ihatecrocs in response to news of Crocs downfall said:

"Thanks for your emails and good work, everyone. This victory is a bit bittersweet, though. The whole US economy had to tank to bring it about. Poor, poor US economy. And the job loss, of course. It is a shame."

This may not be the end of the Crocs though. The company has cut costs and production and a new chief executive John Duerden has been brought in to try and reverse the companies' fortunes. He remains convinced that the Croc has not yet lost its bite but whether there is anyone out there who still wants to buy them remains to be seen.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Urban Fashion Experience

Easily Sorted brings you more from the world according to the Urban Dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/. This time its alternative definitions for fashion and trend related words.

Fashion

A sense of style that changes from decade to decade, century to century. Each era of fashion can change by very little or drastically.

Fashionata

A term used to define a woman with a penchant for shopping and a natural flair for combining both current and vintage fashionable trends.

In today's Urban society, "fashionista" is not by any means a negative term. Thanks to television shows like "Sex and the City" rather more specifically, thanks to actresses such as Sarah Jessica Parker, the image of a "fashionista" has been modernized into a much more positive, powerful and successful feminine role.

Fashion Victim

It's a person who crosses the boundaries of fashion and style, like taking a fad too far, or wearing too many trends at once and therefore taking the look from the glamourous to the ridiculous. It is also a person who tries to draw admiration through the designer brands (or a shameless copy of them), wearing labels- regardless of fit or personal style- and becoming a "walking billboard"!

Trendoid

A person who is extremely up-to-date and obsessed with the latest fashions and trends.

Clothes

The most effective form of contraception.

Hip

Cooler than cool, the pinnacle of what is "it". Beyond all trends and conventional coolness. Not to be mistaken for "deck".

Hipster

Someone who mimics the incoming trends, and immediately ditches anything that might have been cool two minutes ago.

Hipster is the new Bum on the Street look, includes k-mart shoes, moccasins, cardigans,and anything else you can find at a thrift shop. Mob top haircuts. Claims to listen to 80's new wave or indie bands. And Extremely pretentious with their music taste.

Hipsterdufus

A fake hipster, who has fallen behind in trends. A Hipsterdufus would be seen still listening to The Strokes in the latter half of 2001.

Pop-Culture Sponge

A person who soaks-up popular culture like a sponge.

Absorbing trends and styles wherever you are then rinsing them out to keep only the things you really like.

Aesthetically aware and sensitive.

Towny

Someone who wears the latest fashions and follows the trends. However, they find anyone who dresses differently offensive and are likely to come out with phrases such as "your a freak, greeebo!" Also their range of insults covers "greebo" "freak" and "ya mom." Very closed minded.

Scranner

People who wear addidas and nike, and who follow the major trends in footwear and sports gear, mainly found at secondary schools, in the Leeds area.

Sheep

A person who likes anything and everything that "everyone" likes (trends, etc.) for the sake of being cool. Once that trend ends and everyone stops liking it, they promptly start disliking it and it becomes the worst thing in the world. They also mock the people that continue to follow the "uncool" trends. The plural of sheep is sheeple as in "Look at all the sheeple wearing exactly the same clothes."

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Make Up Bag Secrets

Easily Sorted's brings you its favourite make up bag and some fabulous make up bits:


I love this Retro make up bag by Benefit which is £21.50. This cute bag not only has a great design, it has a handy section on the inside for brushes, is big enough for all your everyday make up and also good for taking away on holiday or weekends away.




For a flawless base use Virtual Matt Foundation by Prescriptives with SPF 15. Prescriptives has the largest range of colours of foundations with 23 different shades covering 4 different colour bases. A great texture with an oil-control complex, anti-oxidants to prevent environmental damage and natural exfoliants and it keeps your skin looking great. It has a medium to full coverage and as it is perfectly matched to your skin you cannot tell that you are wearing it.


Benefit Erase Paste Concealer is brilliant. It is £18.50 and is available in 3 shades and is great for cancealing dark circles and other blemishes. It reflects the light and makes you look bright eyed and radiant. I previously used Lancome's Touche Eclat but am now converted to Erase Paste which is much more effective.


I love Hoola Bronzer by Benefit which gives you a sun kissed look without looking orange or caked in make up. It costs £22.50 and lasts for ages. The brush that comes with it although very compact is not great and the bronzer is applied more evenly with a proper brush.


Apply Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact over bronzer for a flawless look. It highlights cheekbones and if you apply a small amount of the lighest colour under the eyes it hides dark circles and brightens the skin. £29.99 and available in Bronze, Pink and Beize, I like the Bronze one best as it suits my colouring the most. It might be quite expensive but it lasts a long time and is definately worth the price tag.


A high quality blusher brush is a must. Mac do great ones with really soft bristles. They do a variety of sizes and this blusher brush is great for highlighting cheeks and for sweeping over the whole of the face and is £22.00



Dream Mascara by No7 £11.30 in black from Boots lengthens and thickens eye lashes without clumping or smudging. It has a plastic brush which separates eye lashes. I have tried loads of different mascaras and this one is my favourite.



Rimmel Special Eyes Eyliner Pencil in black. I think that if there is one that you can spend less money on it's eyeliner as you can get ones that do a great job without breaking the bank. This one from Rimmel is only £2.49 and the tip is really soft so it does not pull the skin. The tip doesn't break easily like with some eyeliners and it does not need sharpening very often.


Urban Decay eyeshadows are highly pigmented for striking, shimmery colours. The compact includes a mirror and an applicator brush, has a magnetic closure and is great for carrying in your handbag. It has ten colours Smog, Maui Wowie, Mildew, Shattered, Oil Slick, Polyester Bride, Last Call, Grifter, Chopper and Sin and is set out in complimenting duos.



For the shinniest, yummiest lips you have to get one of Lancome's Juicy Tube. The original is available in a variety of colours they now do an ultra shiny hydrating Juicy Pop gloss in 2 colours, purple laser and cyber coral and they are £13.50 each.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Summer Pudding Crumble Cake

Taken from the Mail on Sunday You Magazine this recipe by Annie Bell is a fantastic adaptation of the traditional summer pudding.

Ingredients

Cake
130g lightly salted butter, diced
130g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs
190g plain flour, sifted
1 heaped tsp baking powder, sifted
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Crumble Toping
75g lightly salted butter
75g golden caster sugar
75g plain flour
75g ground almonds
100g raspberries
50g redcurrants
Icing sugar for dusting

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170c fan/ 375F/ gas 5 and grease a 20cm loose bottom cake tin, 9cm deep.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then incorporate the eggs one at a time. Add the floor, baking powder and orange zest and whisk until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the tin, smooth the surface and bake for 20 minutes.
To make the crumble, whisk the butter, sugar and floor with the ground almonds until the mixture just clings into large crumbs.
Tip the crumble into a large bowl and fold in two thirds of the raspberries and redcurrants.
Scatter the crumble mix over the cake, then scatter the remaining raspberries and redcurrants.
Bake for a further 40 minutes.
Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Heat Wave Helps Economy

The recent hot weather has been encouraging shoppers to get out more and spend more. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KMPG retail sales monitor has shown that non-food sales achieved their best result since October 2008 in the three months to June 2009.


Although the results are encouraging the high street is still on uncertain grounds. Sales of homewear goods are low, with continued uncertainty over jobs making people delay big purchases. Clothes sales have been doing well, with the good weather coinciding with the summer sales and buyers have been spending their cash for a feel good boost. Swimwear and sunglasses have been selling well along with summer clothes and childrens' wear. Food sales have also risen with barbecues being very popular. This may just be a seasonal boost and we will have to wait and see if the positive results continue after the summer sales have finished to see whether a recovery really is on the horizon.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Festival Fashion for Girls

Festivals are all about the music, oh and looking good too! As I am going to a festival next week (Love Box in Victoria Park, London) I have been trying to find the perfect outfit that is functional, fashionable and fun.

So here is Easily Sorted's Guide to this year's festival fashion:


Whether it is going to rain or shine (likely to be a bit of both if the last few weeks are anything to go by) sunglasses are a festival essential. Easily Sorted loves these Gucci sunglasses complete with Gucci logo and a bit of bling to bring some glamour to the occasion. They are £140.40 reduced from £195.00 in the Debenhams sale.



Kate Moss always looks fantastic when pictured at Glastonbury and playsuits are very Summer 2009 so why not wear a playsuit by Kate Moss at Topshop. This dasiy design is very cute and funky and is £45.00.




Or how about a fun retro t shirt. Easily Sorted adores this Minnie and Mickey T Shirt which is £22.00 by Mighty Fine and available at http://www.honcho-sfx.com/




Team the T Shirt with these denim shorts, £28.00 from Miss Selfridge. They will also be great for your summer hols.



If you are a little bit concerned about getting chilly legs, especially after the sun goes down, choose some shiny leggings which just do not seem to be going out of fashion. These ones are a good buy and are £14.00 from New Look.




This is a great festival top to wear with your leggings, by Religion 'East. 1980 New Music' vest. £24.00 reduced from £40.00 from Asos.




For footwear if you think it is going to rain you definately need some wellies. Why not go for these leopard print ones because they are fun and you can get away with them at a festival? They are £22.00 from Miss Selfridge making them much more affordable than Jimmy Choo's Hunter wellies.

If you think it is going to stay dry or are willing to take the risk gladiator sandals are perfect. New Look footwear is just brilliant for bargain up to the minute fashion. These stud embelished ones are only £17.00 reduced from £22.00 from New Look.



A hooded jacket is a good idea just in case it does rain and this one is by Crafted People and is £34.99 from the Republic website. They even have a buy 2 for £50.00 deal on selected items at the moment so you can pick up a pair of jeans too while you are at it.

You don't want your handbag to get in the way of your dancing/ arms flailing so pick a shoulder bag like this one which is a leather chain pouch bag and is £70.00 from Top Shop.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Retail Recession Winners and Losers

Primark the budget fashion store has continued to post recession defying sales results with sales increasing 21 percent in the last 16 weeks. While much of the high street is suffering, for some bargain retailers such as Primark and New Look business is booming.

Other surprise winners are Ted Baker who have seen retail sales grow in their stores this year, and as previously reported by Easily Sorted Mulberry have also seen sales grow.

Burberry on the other hand are struggling. They have been having difficulty for some time trying to reinvent the brand and distant itself from its much counterfeited and now chavy tartan and massive jobs losses were incurred earlier on in the year. Other fashion retailers who have not been able ride out the recession are Miss Sixty who went into administration late last year and Dolcis followed earlier this year. Miss Sixty has now exited administration and directors are hoping that a revised trading model will enable them to restore the company to a profitable business.

H & M has seen a fall in sales with sales down 5% in the first quarter but they are now entering into a surpise collaboration with Jimmy Choo to produce a high street version of the designer favourite, with prices with prices ranging from £40 to £180. This may be more than the average H & M customer wishes to spend but fashion conscious high street shoppers may be delighted to grab a pair of Jimmy Choo's at relatively affordable prices. Matthew Williamson's range for H & M sold out within a day of release earlier this year and H & M are again hoping to cash in on the "recessionata" hunting for designer looks at high street prices.

Top Shop and Miss Selfridge from the Arcadia group also appear to be holding up well with many teenagers still able to splash their wages or pocket money on clothes and with older recessionatas turning to shops such as Top Shop to keep up with trends. Biba designer Barbara Hulanicki's collection for Top Shop released this year was hailed a success.

It is going to be a very bumpy ride for retailers over the coming months with further job lossess predicted and a threat of a second dip in the economy. Retailers are going to have to be more adaptable or inventive than ever in order to survive, but consumers will not stop spending for too long and they will just look for the next purse friendly way to satisfy their hunger for fashion.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Easily Sorted's Guide to the Sales

It's sales time already and there's lots of great deals about. Easily Sorted has been browsing the bargains to bring you some of the best deals on offer, designer and high street:

Sylvia Bag by Anya Hindmarch was £645 now £387 available from her website





Amazon Platform Mary Jane Shoe by Bertie were £70.00 now £19.00 from House of Fraser

Religion Button Back Print Zebra Top was £42.00 now £29.99 from Urban Outfitters



Diesel Purly Carpenter Fit Jeans were £90.00 now £45.00 from House of Fraser



Lola Rose Contrast Bangle was £69.95 now £37.95 from Harrods



Ethnic Necklace was £6.00 now £2.00 from New Look




DKNY Signature Hemp Clutch was £66.00 now £47.00 from Harrods






Diesel Animal Logo Strapless Jersey Dress was £69.00 now £45.00 from Asos.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Google Working With Retailers To Help Generate Internet Sales

Google has been working with retailers such as Debenhams, Next and Schuh to help improve their click-through rate on their websites and improve internet sales.

There are many companies out there offering advice on website optimisation and how to improve sales, however Google has frequently warned that internet sellers need to be cautious when following the advice. Some companies offer false promises of improving the rankings and claim to have "secret" information about how to improve click-through rate and optimise websites.

Google have now launched a Google Conversion Programme (GCP) which means they have approved certain consulting firms as being ones which can help retailers improve website conversion rates and lead to higher internet sales.

Three companies have so far been awarded GCP certification, EMC Consulting (formerly Conchango), Moneyspyder and Conversion Works. Any specialist can from today apply for accreditation.

With the aid of Google and the consultants there has been some impressive maximisation of internet sales and website impact. Following the trial Debenhams has increased email sign-ups by 89%, Marie Curie received 14% more donations and Next increased its online revenues by 107%. Next has also been able to reduce its on-site search exit rate by over 19 per cent.

Debenhams has also been using the Google's Website Optimer tool to test the design and position of a sign-up banner for its Beauty Club. Their new design and position has led to an increase in email subcribers of over 89 per cent.

It is hoped that this is a positive step forward in taking some of the mystery out of website optimisation and to ensure that money spent by companies on internet marketing consultants and new strategies is money well spent.