Mission Competition

Top Money Saving and Comping Tips from a 21 year-old Student keen to make my limited budget stretch the semester!

Follow me on Twitter:@LaurieBeat and Instagram: @lornab22 or email any queries to

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Luck and love!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Twitter Competitions Tips and Tricks from @LaurieBeat

The world of comping is far greater than I could have imagined when I first set out on my 'mission competition' journey. I began by simply entering instant win completions such as 'Spring to Win' on Dorset Cereals and 'Belvoir Bagatelle' on the Belvoir Fruit Farms website. Wins were few and far between so I knew I had to switch things up a bit. I then discovered Twitter as a comping base.

To say that I instantly started winning would be a lie, but now that I have ironed out the issues and gotten into a good routine, it really had opened up a whole new barrel of winning opportunities! Here I will reveal my tips and tricks and I welcome you to comment your own, as there is always more one can learn as a comper! 

1) Set up a new account

Everyone uses Twitter for different reasons, some to keep in contact with friends, some to stalk celebrities, some to comp and many all of the above. However, if you are not a comper, it can be very frustrating to see your newsfeed clogged up with retweet after retweet of competitions and giveaways. This could result in people unfollowing you or blocking your account. Therefore, I would recommend setting up a whole new account for comping so that you can retweet to your hearts desire! 

When setting up this account, be sure to set a picture and include a bio - you are very unlikely to win anything if you look like a fake account! Also, it's good to comment on other things in your life,  as again companies don't want to give prizes to people who only want to win! Be an interesting character and appreciative of the brands generosity for giving out prizes (but more on that later). 

2) Be Selective

I mean this in two ways. Firstly, only enter the comps that you actually want the prize. For example, what are you going to do with that Star Wars Single bed sheet when you hate Star Wars and have a double bed? Also, somewhere out there, there is a kid who adores Star Wars and would be over the moon if their mum or dad won a Star Wars bedsheet for their single bed. Do you want to take away that wee boys happiness? You'll enjoy winning so much more if you like the prize!

Secondly, be selective with your searches. Using hashtags in the search bar is a great way to find competitions to enter, but once you have exhausted #win #giveaway and #competition there are many others that may open you up to more obscure comps, and therefore may have less entrants! For example I like to use #win followed by the word UK or Glasgow (my hometown) so that only certain people are likely to enter, and if it is tickets, I'll actually be able to go if it's based in Glasgow! 

Along these same lines, many competitions that require just a little more effort will have less entrants and therefore more chance of winning, such as competitions that require a photo or a caption to a photo. To search for these I type in the generic hashtag such as #win followed by 'photo' or 'caption'. This should bring up more particular competitions ready for you to get your creative juices flowing for!

Another great hashtag to look out for is #WinitWednesday and also #FreebieFriday. These are competitions run on specific days - Wednesday and Friday funnily enough! On these days, there will be even more competitions available and these are easily found using the hashtags enough! It's like a weekly Mother's Day for compers!!

3) Be nice 

The companies who are running these giveaways want people who are likely to become new customers, and also people who are likely to encourage others to become new customers. Therefore, when retweeting to enter a comp, it's good to show your appreciate of the product or company in the comments below (and be sure to include any hashtags to make sure your comment is read). This also increases your chances of winning as some companies will choose from the comments section for a winner. Also, once to receive your prize, be sure to send a picture in to the company that provided it - I once won another tub of Peanut Hottie by showing the company how I had been inventive in using it! This will attract other customers so the brand are likely to retweet your thanks! 

However, there are other people on Twitter who I am very glad I was nice to! Many compers are lovely people (although some may unfollow you, as they see you as competition if you retweet their retweets) but on the whole I have had a really great experience with compers, and feel I have made some 'Twitter friends'. These fellow compers then tag me in certain competitions that require you to 'tag a friend' (search #win followed by tag) and twice I have won from either tagging a friend or them tagging me. This also means that, if you win a big hamper but don't want all the goodies, you can share the prizes with your new friends if you so wish! 

One of my new friends has her own blog, where she shows just how much you can win from Twitter comping! Check it out here:

You can add these new comping friends to a list, which means you can see all the tweets that they have sent - another way to see competitions you might have missed! This feature can be found in the settings of your homepage. 

I've been using Twitter as a comping Hub for about 4 months now and it's fair to say the winnings are varied in frequency. Be prepared for weeks without anything and then winning two prizes in one day! Just keep going, when you're out and about just use the Twitter app to retweet a few tweets and keep your fingers crossed for a win! I've won some brilliant things, from cases of tea, tickets to shows and events and my favourite - a£200 voucher for an online clothes store which meant I could stock up on all my uni clothes before going back next semester! 

For more advice, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @LaurieBeat where I will be retweeting the best competitions and let me know if you're a fellow comper and we can help each other out and I can add you to my comping list! Good luck and see you on Twotter!

Luck and love, Laurie 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Homemade Christmas Ideas - Cards and Primary Decorations

Homemade Christmas

My exams are finally done *does a wee happy dance*, and now I can really start to get excited about Christmas (the countdown on my fridge that started at 100 is now at 7 - one week people!). However, thanks to exams, and the fact that I am a student, I am going to need some low cost, small timescale ideas...and here's what I came up with:

1) Cards

I have always loved scrapbooking and making cards. I feel it is such a lovely way to add a personal touch to your gift. But card making needn't be expensive! See all those little ribbons on jumpers that annoy you so much? Cut them off, and save them in a little box for adding bows and edges to cards. Same idea with the buttons you get with cardigans (I have a huge tub just full of buttons in my house, which is weirdly satisfying to rake through). The ideal personal touch though, is photos. I have an account with Snapfish and, when I downloaded the app, I got 50 free prints every month for a year. A whoel year. All I have to do is pay the £1.99 postage! Now, as you are reading this, this offer may not still apply, especially for my American readers (hello! Lovely to have you!), but there are so many other photo sites that will give you an introductory offer when you sign up. Perfect for making all your Christmas cards!

Here is an example of a card I made last night, using my old maths jotter as the card base (did I mention my exams are over?). Almost anything can be used if you put your mind to it:

Okay, now I had a lot of fun with this. I felt like a little kid at primary school, in the last week of term before Christmas and all you do is make decorations. If only university was like that. Instead they gave us exams for Christmas. 

And so to celebrate the end of these lovely exams, I invited a fellow ex-primary, current university student round to my flat (as featured in the yellow card above). We had the most magically festive and childish afternoon creating decorations for my shamefully bare flat! We had the Christmas tunes blaring and a plate of homemade apple crisps to keep us going (the recipe can be round by following this link)

For our first make, we went old school - pasta decorations. It's so much fun to play about with the pasta until you get a design you are happy with! You can make angels using the 'bow' pasta for wings (I always called it butterfly pasta - am I the only one?), penne for the body and a bead for the face. However, we both went down the same lines and made festive stars! Great minds think alike! As we were being resourceful, I used nail polish to add a bit of sparkle to my star, while Catherine used some tricolour pasta to add that festive vibe. A bit of PVC glue and some beads and you have an instant, old school Christmas decoration!

One of my favourite decorations is bunting. You can have it up at all times of the year, depending on the colours you go for! Again, being resourceful, we made a mess of my kitchen table and cut out loads of triangles from magazines that made us feel festive - just choose whatever is personal to you! We went for: chocolate (of course), sparkly nail polish and some festive colours. To make it a little more personal, I then picked some favourite photos from last years Christmas celebrations and added them to the bunting. It makes me smile when I look at it, and its nice to think that next year I will be making one with this years memories that are still to come! 

To hang up all your lovely pictures and magazine snippets, I used some glittery string (yes, reused from last years wrapping) and some super cute wooden pegs (these can be found on places like ebay or in Poundland for dirt cheap). Then decide the order of your pictures and peg them up. To add a little more body to it, we also made some hanging beads from string and a random box of beads I have (having random boxes of stuff comes in so handy for last minute decorations and cards!)
 The result, well, I'll let you judge that:

In the first picture, you may also see another decoration, and this one is one of my favourites (which I cannot claim credit for, thank Catherine for this one). The mistletoe outline you can see hanging from the bunting was made using toilet roll tubes and not much else! To create the leaf shape, pinch either side of the tube and cut a 2cm width out of the tube, This will leave you with the perfect leaf shape. Then simply arrange them as you like (I made a Christmas tree as shown below) to make some really great decorations. I love the fact that if you hang them up on the window, you can see the blustery cold rain of Glasgow, while we sat inside with hot chocolate. The perfect winter scene in my eyes.

As well as a cardboard tree, we made a tinsel tree. This is super easy and super cute! All you need is some paper or card, some tinsel and sellotape. And a bow for the top if you are being super super cute! Simply create a cone out of the paper, making sure to cut the bottom to make an even surface for the tree to stand up. The sellotape the tinsel to the top of the cone and wind it round the cone until no paper is showing. then stick the remainder of the tinsel inside the cone. These can be made of all different colours of tinsel and they add such a nice sparkle to window sills and table tops.

The final make is the most primary school of them all - paper snowflakes. 

Do you remember making these in school? I do! 
Do you remember the mess they make? I do now!
We chose some festive tissue paper to make ours out of. This works really well as it still lets the light in from outside but adds a bit of colour to the display. To make, simply cut a rough circle out of your chosen paper and fold into quarters. Then start cutting triangles, rectangles or circles out of the paper, making sure that you dont cut all the way up the fold, as then it will fall apart. When you are happy with your design, unfold to reveal the snowflake and hang up with pride!

I had so much fun making these decorations, and I really feel it has added a lot of festivity to my flat! They would be great decorations to make with kids (or just big kids like us) as they are easy to do and only really use things you would have in your house anyway! 

Let me know how you get on and I would love to see pictures of your creations! Just tweet me @LaurieBeat or leave a comment below!

Have fun, and have an amazing Christmas!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

I am......(for Mental Health Awareness Week)

I am...

No, this is not where I should start. A bit of background. This is mental health awareness week, and this blog post is going to be completely different from all my other ones.

Okay, maybe now?

I am...

No, still not yet. Despite the fact that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems in a year, it is not commonly spoken about. Look around you. How many people are in the room. 4? Imagine one of them with a mental health issue. Would you think of them differently? This question is what stops me from writing posts like this. But its time to stand up to the stigma:

I am...recovering from depression.

I am that 1 in 4. I have mental health issues. But they are a part of me. They made me my worst possible self, and now they have made me stronger. To everyone who knew me at my worst, I am sorry. When I was at my worst days, lonely and hating myself, I hated the world as well. I could see no way out, like I was at the bottom of a deep, dark, gloomy well with no ladder in sight. The blackness was caving in and I needed help, I needed to get out.

I am...recovering from anorexia.

What came first, I may never know. I don't know if hating the way I looked made me depressed, or if the depression fueled the hatred of myself that made me want to starve myself. Can you imagine how much you have to despise yourself to force yourself, day after day, to deprive yourself of food, or stick your fingers down your throat in the desperate attempts to make yourself thinner? You think you will be happier when you reach that 'goal weight', and then when you reach it, you think of a new goal weight, and so where does it end? I didn't like the way I looked when I was that thin. Nor did anyone else. My boyfriend most certainly didn't. Although I don't know if he would ever be happy. He didn't like girls fat, he didn't like girls too thin. Why is everyone so desperate to get to that perfect middle point. Is there some magical weight where everyone will be happy? No.

'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'

A mantra I would repeat to myself. Well, I can tell you now, skinny beyond natural is not good. And by natural I mean however your body is now. That's what's natural to you. By eating the foods that you want to eat, by doing the things you want to do, your body is where it is. Unless advised by a doctor to lose weight, please please please, don't get hung up on it. For me, what started as a plan to loose a couple of pounds after my boyfriend described me as 'cuddly' and advised I should 'go out for runs more', quickly spiraled out of control. Note that at this time, my BMI was in the lower end of the healthy range, far from fat... yet 'cuddly'. How I hate that word now.

Two pounds was the plan...two stone down later and I still wasn't happy. Another half a stone and I was admitted to hospital. And where was he? Gone. He didn't have the time for it, told me it was 'self-inflicted' and so he had no sympathy for me. I was left heartbroken, weak and like a skeleton. I had to leave uni. I had to go to a psychiatric hospital. I had to recover.

I am...recovering

The process was tough, there's no denying it. The amount of times my dad screamed at me 'PLEASE JUST EAT' is uncountable. For me, losing the weight was easy compared to putting it back on. The Eating Disorder is like another person in my brain, a little demon, telling me I'm a terrible person, telling me I don't deserve to eat, telling me... SHUT UP! That's me. Fighting back. I named my eating disorder Evanna. Like ana for anorexia and ev for evil (even in dark times, I love a good pun). Giving her a name meant I could hate her, not me. It gave me fuel, it gave me fire. In the hospital, we all named our eating disorders so that when we ate a bag of crisps we could say it was a middle finger to Evanna. I remember the first pack of crisps I had (Salt and Vinegar Walkers) that I actually enjoyed. I laughed, I was hysterical and I loved every second of it. Sometimes, there is a creeping guilt about an hour after, as Evanna tries to squeeze back in, but the further through recovery I got, the easier it was to block her out. Because you see, however much an eating disorder may seem 'self-inflicted', it's not really us that's inflicting the pain. It's some other part of our brains that thinks we're not good enough, not thin enough and not strong enough. But that other part of my brain is dwindling now, and I am coming back.

I am...Lorna

I am Lorna, I had anorexia, and I am recovering.

I survived an eating disorder. I don't yet think I have beaten it. Challenging times have been around me recently, and it can be harder to fight back when I am stressed, but I am better than I was. No, I am a hell of  lot better than I was. Last year, I had my birthday in hospital, this year I baked and ate my own cake. I rarely give myself credit for the work I put in and the hell I've been through but today, in this post I admit it. I am proud of myself. I did it. And I sure as hell hope other people do too. I learnt that weight isn't everything. I learnt that mental illnesses can come in all shapes and sizes. I learnt that I am stronger than I believe and that I am worth more than someone else's opinion of me.

I am Lorna, I have an eating disorder and I am proud of what I've achieved.

Since writing this post, I have been campaigning for there to be a specialist eating disorders unit in Glasgow. Read about this here.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Tis The Season To Be Lucky....And Save Money?

Christmas is coming and it's fair to say I'm pretty excited. However, this time of year tends to cost a lot of money. From decorations to food, from parties to alcohol. And of course, presents. So I have set myself a challenge to do Christmas on a budget... without losing any of the fun.

In this post I will be focusing on a biggie, presents.

I have come up with three ways that I am going to do my presents on the cheap this year and am planning on spending £0 and 0p. Impossible I hear you cry, but maybe not:

1) Survey Sites: I have been using survey sites for a few months now and have quickly fallen in love, particularly with SwagBucks (sign up with this link For just a few minutes a day, I can be earning around £50 a month in amazon vouchers, which just so happens to be a perfect place to source Christmas Presents! If you're quick and invest enough time, you should be able to at least save some money on your online shopping. I have been saving up, and now have almost £100 to spend, which means I can still get my family some great, big item, gifts.

For the best survey sites, check out my more in depth post here :)

2) Comping: Comping has been an interest of mine since I discovered it a few years ago. However, in the last few months, its become a real hobby and something I really love to do! The main portal I use, is Twitter. It's something I can do on the go and, to be perfectly honest, I'd probably be on social media anyway, so may as well be winning some prizes! There's something about that alert going on your phone and seeing the word #congratulations that really makes me happy! I have learnt lots of tips and tricks to help you in your mission competition, which will be coming soon in its very own post!

One thing I have learnt through comping, is only to enter if you want to win. For starters, I don't have space in my small student flat to squeeze in lots of unwanted goods and secondly, I don't want to take that joy away from someone else who might really, really want that prize. Since beginning my 'Christmas on a budget' challenge though, I have not only been looking out for what I want, but things I think my friends and family would want too! By typing into the search bar  'makeup win' or 'makeup giveaway' it means I can see all the girly makeup goodies up for grabs and go through and enter them all! By doing this, I recently won a benefit make up set that I know my bestie will just love, making her happy, without costing me the expensive price tag!

3) Homemade gifts: remember the days when all your parents wanted for Christmas was a handmade scribble of the family on a wiggle of green grass to display on the fridge? Although, at the age of 20, I might not be able to get away with this (although my drawing skills haven't improved much) there are still plenty of gifts that can be homemade. But, to cost nothing, it had to be from things already in my house. A while ago, I went through a jewelry making phase, and so I have a few basics - earring backs, superglue and cord. But I needed beads. By going through my old jewelry box, I managed to find some broken/unwanted/old bracelets which still had potential. I cannibalised them and used the beads to make new, pretty bracelets. Also, with the superglue and earring backs, I got some old buttons (everyone has a random tub full of buttons, right?) and made some really cute button earrings. To add a bit of personal touch, I have decorated and personalised some old boxes to display these gifts in.

If this still seems too 'primary school' for you, what about some baking? If you are a dab hand in the kitchen, some homemade toffees, jam, or mini muffins can make the perfect extra to finish off a gift. Using some ribbon and a cute tub, these can look so classy and people will really appreciate the extra effort you put in!

And finally, the essential thing to go with every present? The card! I am a bit of a hoarder, and still have hundreds of old birthday, Christmas and thank you cards in bags in my room. So this year, I decided to finally put them to good use. I went through each one and, whenever I found something glitzy or funny that reminded me of someone in particular, I would cut out the picture to later be used as an embellishment on another card. A great personal touch is to use photos on these cards, without paying the hefty price of the online photo card websites! Everyone I have made cards for before (it's a great money saver at birthdays too) has loved the personal touch and extra effort made. To find some good ideas for your cards, check out Pintrest or Google images. for inspiration!

So that's part one done for my Christmas on a budget! Stay tuned for more tips and ideas and, as always, feel free to leave comments below or tweet me @LaurieBeat to send through ideas or just say hello!

Happy December, and good luck!