Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sleep ISSUES! (edited)

I recently saw an episode of The View where the hosts were debating or rather pontificating aimlessly about co-sleeping and whether Moms should allow it. I'm of two minds as you will read below.

Z's- She caught them! Studio Calico Sunday challenge for 1/30/2011
Materials: Studio Calico exclusive paper, K and Co Que Sera Sera (orange paper), K and Co Amy Butler paper,
Jillibean Soup journaling sprout, Zs from American Crafts, gold gel pen.
When Miss Lola first came home I lived in TERROR of SIDS.
WINNER!!!! When Lola sleeps? Studio Calico Sunday sketch challenge. 1/23/2011
Materials: SC periodical, Sassafras Lass stitch stamps, Mr. Huey- sunshine,  Making Memories
wood veneer-cherry,  Basic Grey mini alphas- red stickers and chipboard in yellow, Ranger Glossy
Accents, Martha Stewart butterfly punches, Maya Road doily stamp, gold pen.

My Mom- being the free styling 70's type- advised that I co-sleep but I was too scared. What if we rolled over on her while we slept? What if she got tangled up in the sheets? What if she fell in the gap between the mattress and the Murphy Bed frame? I had a full mental movie of what it would be like to wake up and find my baby not breathing- that thought STILL wigs me out.
Cheated by adding huge pillow to keep her propped up- another doctor NO NO.
So Lola slept happily in her bitty mobile crib till 5 months when she became too heavy for it. We then (reluctantly) tried switching to her round crib. But she wouldn't fall asleep on her own. I spent many MANY nights sh sh shing her to sleep like "Happiest Baby On The Block" said I should.  I had an expert baby burrito technique. I would also stand with her in the kitchen with the faucet running on high and rock her in my arms- that would put her out in about 5 minutes. 
Baby burrito and vibrating rocking chair to the rescue.
Can't leave her there though-fall risk and
the vibrating is bad if done for over 20 minutes.
But the crib became a battle. At 7 months I gave up on her sleeping face up all the time and let her nap face down while I sat next to her on the sofa. At around 8 months I started letting her sleep face down over night. That first night was long and scary for me but she was fine. So face down it was with the fan on high to circulate the air. 
Photo of first face down nap.
This was a HUGE step for me.
I wonder: SIDS cases have shrunk 50% since parents started making sure their babies slept face up with nothing but minimal sheets in the crib but could the fire retardant chemicals used in bedding and baby clothing also be causing issues with oxygen intake? I worry about all the chemicals in our baby products- the plastics especially-  who knows how those affect the developing brain?
My Mom, naturally, tells me I worry too much about the WRONG things. She insisted- You will loose this war! 
And I did.
Lola -1. Mom- 0.
Lola now sleeps with Dave and I in our full size Murphy bed. Her "unique" round crib is a giant toy chest and coat rack. 
I STILL think this crib is DA BOMB!
At first I was able to put Lola down by sitting next to her on the sofa while she drank her bottle (Lola was never able to breast feed because breast milk aggravated the lung condition she was born with) But any little sound began to wake her up so we started putting her on the shoulder till she fell asleep. 

She then needed us AND the bottle to fall asleep. The time needed to put her down got longer and longer so I had Dave sit with her since he barely got to see her as he works and goes to school at night. This was their "bonding time". 
Final result?
7am and Lola is still asleep.. very very rare.
I placed that huge pillow there for feeding.
She now prefers Dave at bedtime (a problem when he comes home from school at 11pm). I was also able to put her down in her crib during her nap but now she wakes up instantly if she feels the lifting movements required to put her there. 

No crib- ever.
And FORGET "Ferberizing". I was forbidden to sleep train her. Dave was dead set against letting her cry. He doesn't bother to argue very often but that was one doozy of a fight. I insisted all the books (and ALL the Moms I spoke to except my own Mom) said we needed to sleep train her. Dave accused me of being heartless and mean. He won with the guilt angle. It was 2am and I just didn't have the heart to fight. What's the point if both my partner AND my kid are unhappy? I LIKE having Lola next to me. I love to smell her sweet baby aroma as she cuddles up next to me. Favorite thing? When she grabs my hair and plays with it. She also kicks, head butts, screams, slaps me 3 Stooges style when she wants me to wake up at 5am but WHATEVS! 
I can always instill independence and adherence to rules when she's actually talking. Yeah ok. I believe Miss Thing is slowly training US.
At 3 months Miss Thing wrestles out of her store-made wrap
 and SCREAMS- this photo taken at 3am. Yeah, the
wrap around her neck scared the Dickens outta me too.
Here's what gets me: will she insist on "co-sleeping" at 8? At 10? YIKES! But for now I really love having her with us. This may be my only baby- I'm 37 and Lola's belly time was really hard on both of us. Childhood is such a short SHORT amount of time. When Miss Thing is 21 and graduating college I'll have the sweet memories or our co-sleeping to fall back on.
Mom- as always- you were right. :)

But please go ahead and share your story or your opinion- I really need to hear from other Moms whether you agree or disagree.
Remember when you could still find baby theme stuff with THIS pose on it? Nevermore!
MuChOs SmOoChEs!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inspiration is for Amateurs

This Chuck Close quote by has been a favorite of mine ever since I saw him on Charlie Rose last fall. He was talking about how as an artist he works through problems posed by his paintings. He enters and leaves his studio at pretty much the same time each day. Did I mention Chuck has a cognitive disability which doesn't allow him to recognize faces? And yet he is a fantastic portrait painter- now that is inspiring.

Today's page is about being a cranky assed beotch. I don't celebrate that I am a beotch- I just recognize I am and work with it. I won't change it- I have more important things to do. This page is for I LOVE that site! Go on there and check out their latest transgressive prompt. I always treated my photography as something that was fueled by inspiration not by effort. That's why I am so behind on technique. This is a scan of a gel transfer I made while still in photo school. Perhaps it's time I return.
Materials: Prima Pulse collection "Crew", We R Memory Keepers Teen Angst foil paper (cut outs),
Mr. Huey- white, Hambly tranny- turquoise wood grain, EK Success Abstract Flower edge punch,
Martha Stewart Monarch Butterfly punch, Making Memories Shimmer Jigsaw alphas- brown,
MLS Black Diamond alphas, Gold gel pen, Bo Bunny clear frame, Creative Charms Pure Blossoms- Blue,
Inkessentials Glossy Accents

I wanted to share a really cool thing that happened this week- my brand new only used once Fiskars XL star punch got TOTALED by an American Crafts glitter paper a while back (UNcool!). I stewed for about a week then went back to to reorder the punch and noticed Fiskars products have lifetime warranties!!!

My permanently closed punch- waaah!
I went to the customer service page on their site, uploaded a photo of my pathetic punch and literally 5 days later a BRAND NEW PUNCH arrived! How awesome is this company???? So I have upgraded my Fiskars rating to BUY ALL THE TIME- even if their punches are heavier and larger than EK ones.

1. How to punch that AC glitter paper? It's so darned thick! DUH! Rip out a layer of the backing to get it thin enough for punching.
2. You CANNOT write on Mr. Huey spritz no matter how long you wait for it to dry- you can write in random sprays but not on a layer of spritz sprayed specifically to make room for journaling- darn!
3. You CAN ink Bo Bunny acrylic bits! SO gonna get me some more!
Lola is ready for Chinese New Year.
Thanks Auntie G!!!
MuChOs SmOoChEs!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When faced with turkeys- SOAR.

Life's been interesting for the Martinez-Hernandez mini clan the last few days. The heat was out in our HOVEL and the air temps here in NYC have been hovering around 4 degrees since friday. Thankfully my Mom took us in for the weekend. I loved hanging with Mom but I feel completely out of sorts. This particular incident reminded me- Do NOT take basics for granted. Also DON'T let the turkeys (or turkey moments) get you down.

This is a piece I have been sitting on for 2 weeks because it's for the February challenge over at TRUEXOXOGIRLS but I have never been the patient sort so I'm posting it. I encourage you to go to the site and try lifting one of the many cool designs there for the January challenge- there is a very nice kit from Candy Shoppe Designs going to the winning entry.
Materials: Crate paper- cloudy, Sassafras Lass cloud sticker, Punch Bunch balloon punch, EK Success cloud punches L & XL, Studio Calico grey rub-on, penciled journaling, Spare Parts marquee alphas-red, Maya Road clear dragonfly "stamp" (I made it a ticket by writing in some numbers), Heidi Swapp ghost heart button (under photo), Smooch spritz in yellow and grey, Doodlebug Design fancy border stickers. Digi angel wing stamp.
I love this photo- for me it totally represents the joy of childhood.  Life's got you down? Leave all that mess behind and go PLAY. Many times creative play allows your brain to recharge and you find the problem that vexed you before is now easy to tackle. Young kids know this- I tend to forget.

Can you believe this took hours of frustration? I made and destroyed this page 4 times before I found this particular arrangement. So another note to self is in order: DON'T resign yourself to frustration when faced with a problem- keep plugging away at the solution and eventually one will arise.
Hair bubbles!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why are Valentine's Day pages easier?

I went through major drama putting together Christmas pages but for some reason Valentine's Day is much easier- why? Could it be that Valentine's doesn't have all the intense need for perfection that Christmas does for me??? Anyhooo..
Head on over to Paper Issues- there is now an ETSY shop!!! The kits available are THE CUTENESS! And VERY affordable. I am awarding them a BESTIE for... BEST PRICE POINT/CUTEST EMBELLIES. I bought a mini kit within seconds of visiting the store- can't wait to break it open and PLAAAY!
Here's my version of Pencil Lines sketch 219 by Rina McClune.

Fierce Creature
Materials: S.E.I With All My Heart papers, Hambly Studio Pink frames tranny, EK Success Abstract Flower edge punch,  Tattered Angels Glimmer Glam- Big Apple, Basic Grey chipboard alphas, Basic Grey naked alphas, C-Thru ATC Kit Love brads, K and Co fabric flowers, ColorBok bling hearts

That is a favorite series of photos of Miss Thang doing her piggie face. She was wearing a "Princess" onesie AND stomping the ground like a sumo wrestler. My child is F.I.E.R.C.E!!! Two snaps and a bad-ass folded arm stare. Amada is the Lolster's second name. I was still recovering from the c-section and stuck to my hospital room. I was scared to death that she wasn't going to make it so I named her the first thing that came to mind- Beloved.

Pencil Lines sketch 219 by Rina McClune

Aren't those SEI papers FABULOUS???? When I got the papers I looked at them for a while wondering if I liked them (?!!!) they are so different from what I normally use. But I got over that with the quickness. I LOVE the pearl gleam and glitter details they have. As usual both sides are equally beautiful so I cut 2 of them up to try to get in as much heart cuteness as I could.

LAYOUT PHOTO NOTE- use a bounce flash to get detail from an embossed or glimmer paper without blowing out the highlights. This requires you get an expensive flash unit but you deserve it no? Here I used my Nikon SB-28.  The flash unit is pointing up so the light bounces off the ceiling and looks like it's coming from a skylight. I shot this in the middle of the night with no weird flash effects.
Total product freak out- wish I had scored some more!
Colors left to right: Private Meadow, Mermaid, Big Apple, Oil Slick,
Golden Goddess, Dirty Martini and Blue Suede Shoes
Missing- Pink Lipstick and Espresso Bean
I used some more of that Tattered Angels "Big Apple" Glimmer Glam here. It's a true red- not almost Pink, not Wine, not Magenta- RED- in your face RED. Glimmer Glam is super duper saturating. I brushed some onto some orange Basic Grey chipboard letters and not an ounce of original color is to be seen plus the glam stayed raised and gave the letters some dimension. I'm in loooove. The glam stuck to my paintbrush, my fingers, the dinner table and more importantly- the metal spoon I left on the floor. AH HAAAAA! Next up- my acrylic and metal stash- will it stay glammed? Stay Tuned to find out.
Piggie FACE!

MuChOs SmOoChEs!

Shameless free product plea! MAYA ROAD

Ok so Maya Road is revealing it's 2011 CHA products on it's blog and giving them away if you comment, post on your blog, post an entry in your fave forum, join their newsletter or FB page. Naturally I'm joining in so I can try to get some SCRUMPTIOUS Kraftalicious MR candy.
This is NO JOKE my 2011 shopping list. TRUST I WILL go broke.
Here are some drool worthy shots:
1. Die cut craft doilies- YO WHAAAA? They read my mind!!!


3. Chipboard!! MADNESS- MUST.HAVE.ALL!
Garden shapes!
Teeny shape cuteness!
Semi-circle banners!
Doily backings!
Suns and rainbows!

4. Star pins! DUUUH! Naturally! MR I love you!

5. Scroll Frame Journaling Tags!!! Just too cute to leave all lonely in the MR warehouse.

There you have it- my shameless plug for MR.

And this WONDERFUL photo from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHT!!!! I'm just letting you see it. Click on the caption- it's a link to their website.

MuChOs SmOoChEs!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It was a good day

November 14 was a great day! The sun was shinning, Dave had the day off and we had access to a car. So we went to D.U.M.B.O for lunch. That's short for Down Under The Manhattan bridge- yes I laughed when I first heard it too. We had sushi rolls, Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies (best in the world!!!) and visited our favorite park which has totally changed. There are bike lanes, lots of new walking spaces and a huge baby playground. Lola finally had fun in a swing- usually she screams her head off.  I recommend you head over- take the F train over the bridge and bring your walking shoes- the view is AMAZING- you can see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the downtown skyline all at once. Plus there's this fantastic pizza place that only sells pies- just the kind of encouragement I need. :)

This page is for a Punky Scraps challenge.
Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Materials: Am Crafts Vanilla cardstock, DCWV Downtown Loft- bridge and turquoise NYC map papers,  Sassafras Lass skull and hearts paper and brown numbers paper, Swell woodgrain tape, NYC Subway Map tape from Etsy,  Hambly screen prints overlay textures- pink, Martha Stewart blue stars tape,  Maquee plastic letters- red,  Uniball gel pen- black and white, Tattered Angels Glimmer Glam in Expresso Bean (border)

I really like this challenge site and it's not too frilly style. I love me some flowers and lace but I seem to be moving away from them these days. I also want to shout out DCWV for the GORGEOUS Downtown Loft pad- it's so urban MOD. It's got woodgrain, lots of green, brown and turquoise and YUMM-O NYC maps. LOOVE the urban vibe!!! Funny- I either LOVE the heck out of DCWV paper or really really hate it.

I also recommend to those who like their art messy- go get you some Tattered Angles Glimmer Glam. I got 8 colors from a great lady named Darla Charles who was selling them for a discount on the boards at 2Peas. I plan to make a HUGE mess with them soon.

A moment of quiet. 

MuChOS SmOoChEs!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

On fighting Ennui

It's been a very challenging week. January is generally the suckiest month of the year for me- the holidays are over, the sun sets early and it's cold. I HATE cold. In the past I fought the ennui with a good bike ride through Manhattan traffic- an extreme sport to get the ol' adrenaline going. But I had to put the bike away because Lola needs a Mom who can walk... So I'm sulkier than usual and it affects my ability to feel creative. My pages are taking longer to produce and the process goes something like this:
Denial- I'm NEVER gonna pull this off! This idea SUCKS!
Anger- I never get time to think!!!! OR I need to be ALONE! 
Bargaining- Dave PLEASE give Lola her bath and her bottle? PLEEEEASE?
Acceptance- OOOO this looks good- I'm almost done...

I've had the Lola's Toys idea rolling around my head for a while. My Mom is always saying how she wished she had saved some toys from when we were kids so I thought I should try to document some of the Lolster's fave toys for her while they were still shiny. 
Materials used: K & Co "daydream" pad rainbow paper, Sassafras Lass Full Bloom paper cut outs,  Citronella journaling card, Sassy Turkish Turquoise blooms, blue grid tape from Kate's Paperie, Sassy "Sweet Treats" stickers. EK circle deep edge punch, Basic Grey Eskimo kisses alphas with Glossy Accents on top.

Isn't that doodly paper cute??? It's a TJ MAXX find! 6 bucks for the K and Co Daydream 12x12 pad! So how to beat back ennui? Using paper with rainbows in it helps. I really like this pad- it's got mermaids, smily suns, bowling pins, submarines and grids- lots and lots of doodly grids.
Pencil Lines sketch 220
And yet trying to come up with fresh layouts was stressing me out. So I used this week's Pencil Lines sketch by Jennifer Pebbles. Can you believe I had a hard time with this sketch? The simplicity was killing me- I love the idea of multiple square photos but then what? I fiddled with this page for days and finally I just started gluing stuff down. The finality of that made me focus and Ta DAAA- I finished the page- and I really like it. Funny how that works.

These doodlely flowers are cut out from a Sassafrass Lass Anthem paper- they are SO GORGEOUS!!!! I used the BG Eskimo Kisses alphas again. I bought those because they were a buck at my local scrap store and now I'm putting them everywhere. They are the perfect size for tight spaces. A little Glossy Accents makes them pop. I also took apart some Sassy Turkish Turquoise flowers and spread them out over the page. 

Another ennui fighter? ATCs! They are tiny and take less "think" time so you can spend more time "doing".
Materials: Art-C Love ATC kit, Me and My Big Ideas postal paper (edges), EK Abstract flower edge punch, EK Deep edge circle punch, EK scalloped heart punch, German gold foil border from Etsy, buttetfly from packaging, Ranger Acrylic pain dabber, tiny bird is NEW Studio Calico paper I cut from a card they sent with an order
Yet this ATC took 3 days just for the stitching!!! Why did I bother???? I really need to practice my stitching and I wanted to see if I could make it work like the Toys page. Alas it was not to be.
Not every project can be a home run (or even a base drive). I'm telling myself that this was a practice run. I used a photo as the template for the word "love" thinking that would be easy. It was exceedingly difficult. I kept getting lost in all the little holes- can you tell the "E" was the hardest part? I had to go back and fill in the empty spaces in between stitches because the word was barely visible otherwise but I got through it- the heck with ennui!

Lola visits Planet Hoth. She's lost her Tauntaun.

I'm SO over writing this- Aaaa! ENNUI!

MuChOs SmOoChEs!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mexican folk art, Woodgrain and grid lines- these are a few of my faaavorite thiiings!

One of my longest obsessions (other than paper) has been Latin American folk art. I LOVE all aspects of it. Later in this column, I share my latest ATC effort- an Encouragement ATC made with Milagros- Mexican prayer charms.
But first...
Here is this week's Studio Calico challenge- post yours by Monday the 17th to win 5 bucks to their store. Here's a link:
Oh and check out their 2011 collections- they are both SO GORGEOUS!!!
Me and My Shadow 1/12/2011
Materials used: SC "Basketful" paper (from Who's Who kit), Hambly Studio textures rub-ons- brown, Fiskars Cloud punches XL and L,  Jenni Bowlin buttons- yellow and chalkboard and reverse circle alphas- brown, EK heart scallop punch, SC doilies rub-ons, DCWV brown/yellow plaid paper, Making Memories butterflies- brown, Smooch spritz- yellow, Uni-ball white and black gel pens 
I changed the background paper color to brown (from the original pea green) using "replace color" under the adjustments palette in photoshop. I had to create a layer because the yellows kept changing color too. This is a HUGE step for me- I am SCARED of photoshop. When I showed this page to my husband he said "it looks empty". Perhaps I'm FINALLY learning to step away from the embellies box? Yet I fear this "original" page is really a lift. Do you recognize someone else's page here? If so please let me know- I am TRYING to be original and that's a huge struggle for me- when a page comes together quickly my memory becomes suspect....
Ok now the Milagros project....
Encouragement ATC
Materials: Brown tissue paper, Matte glue, Milagros from Alamo2003 on Etsy,  EK scallop heart punch,  Liquitex Resin Sand additive, Ranger  Glossy Accents,  Martha Stewart micro beads, Smooch pearlized accent ink- Gold Lame

A Milagro is a Mexican prayer charm/amulet used to focus your prayers. Let's say your leg hurts. You get one of these in the shape of a leg (for realz!!), go to your local Catholic church, attach it to the robe or altar of your Saint of choice and pray that your leg is healed. I don't practice this myself but I LOVE the idea of a visual interpretation of prayer. How beautiful.
You Too Herny page by MOJO DAWN
My friend Dawn sent along another box full of gorgeous papers (this time it's K and Co's Que Sera Sera line which I adore). She also designed a couple of pages using crazed images of me. PLEEEEASE got check her site and leave love- her work is a million times better than mine:
See what I mean? She's so awesome....
Wait- I meant that her work in general is fabulous- not the pages featuring me- how obnoxious of me to imply that...
ANYway, I want to thank her and her wonderful generous spirit as well as let her know I got her back if she needs it. :) Also- I have a box I've been meaning to post since OCTOBER coming your way Ms Dawny- sorry I'm such a lazy mail bum....

I tried some new techniques on this card. One was using brown tissue paper which ended up looking WHACK so I covered it up with a couple of heart punches. Then I tried adding some resin sand for texture but that looked amateurish so I used the MS gold micro beads which I've had for over a year and have been too scared to use. It's ok for a first time effort. I keep saying I need art classes so I can learn to use my stash but my Mom is like- "WOMAN just USE that stuff and LEARN!"- and as always- she's right.
So ya thought you could turn yer back... did ya?
Well I am an artist too- HA HAA!

MuChOs SmOoChEs!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Online Scrapbook Store Awards! Besties and Grossies

Hello there! I participated in a very lively conversation about online scrap shopping likes and dislikes recently and it got my noggin working. I shop a lot so I have some useful knowledge.. how about a review list formatted as "awards" to make it fun?
This is one person's opinion based on 1 year's experience shopping. Orders have been placed at least twice unless otherwise noted. Only 1 kit club is mentioned as I only have experience with that one club.


  • Best Customer Service
BlueMoonScrapboking. com
I actually got a call from the owner when I made an order here to discuss shipping options! Website is fairly easy to navigate with a side bar that organizes by new items and manufacturers. BONUS- shipping is free if your order total passes 50 dollars- no codes or jumping through hoops necessary! They seem to get interesting items before other sites- I found Tattered Angels chalk spritz here way before anyone else had it. They have a kit club I haven't used. I've only ordered once.
They use packing peanuts. You cannot save your shopping cart- actually don't dare pause for 15 minutes or you'll loose your cart- not cool for SAHMs with babies.

  • Best Website
This site has all the cool brands at competitive prices. There is frequent discounting on items and shipping is FREE (woo hoo!!!) if you subscribe to their very useful e-newsletter and use the codes found there. Online store has a fantastic member gallery- it seems like people only put up their most fabulous pages here- very inspiring.
Bonus- lots of original digi elements for those of us who swing that way. Shipping is fast (even when free) and you can go onto the site to track your package. Your shopping cart is saved by default forever and you can pay with paypal. They now have a customer loyalty program. HUGE bonus- insurance is offered is an option you can pay for even with free shipping. If an item is damaged or they make a mistake they issue a store credit for anything less than 5 dollars or try to replace it if value is higher.
Item photos are limited. SURPRISE- the item looks totally different in person or isn't the size you thought it was- oops!- but this seems to be a design hitch almost all scrap websites have. Member profile pages are hard to navigate and require lots of clicking through to new pages and I'm still trying to figure out how to upload art not associated with one of their many challenges. They also use the much hated packing peanut.

  • Best Browsing website
I decided to add this "award" after I started to write about this store and realized I only had positives to say about it. ACOT offers great customer service, a points program, very competitive shipping, wide selection with new material coming in regularly and most importantly super ka-duper FAST shipping. Shopping cart is saved automatically and they have a great selection. Paypal enabled. Returns policy is onerous but at least they have one- great all around website.
They don't carry some brands but their website is so easy to navigate and has so many ways to search I find myself browsing here a lot. Item photos limited to 1 per item. Merchandise isn't updating as quickly lately (probably due to overall economic conditions?) Too many weird items like ugly foil stickers junk up your specific search. More editing needs to happen with the merchandising. Even more RANDOM- beaded necklaces turn up everywhere! Their jewelry sister-site/ side-business needs it's own website.

  • Best Editing-Merchandising
Sometimes a webstore can have TOO MUCH STUFF- not here! They have all my top 10  fave brands plus fabulously hard to find things like Swell tape and Punky Sprouts items. You can save your cart which is great. They have a frequent shopper program where every 50 points gets you 1 dollar off your order. You can also participate in their blog to get 5 dollar store credit and your chances of winning are high as they have many contests. You can use paypal and they do not store your credit info (good for security). Email only customer service has been super friendly. BONUS- your pre order items ship free always. Shipping is fast and you get an email letting you know when it's on it's way.
Specific item info is very limited. Website is click heavy so it's sometimes hard to navigate. Blog has an project posting field that requires an IT college degree to figure out- hopefully it will be refined at some point. That being said- if you can shop by brand or item type you are good to go- this site requires patience but the customer service is first rate and their prices are fabulously competitive.

  • Best Packaging and Shipping
I found this website while furiously searching the net for Studio Calico "vintage" stamps. The website has an amazing amount of older items at prices that are competitive.  Communication and tracking for your order here is excellent. You get a personal email letting you know when the package is posted. When I opened that box I SQUEALED like the giddy school girl I really am. Scrumptious tissue paper and twine wrapping with a hand written note, gold medallion sticker on each packet AND a super CUTE RAK I stared at for hours (it was for Christmas cards- a project still in the intention stage) Paperie indeed! LOVE this place! I only ordered from here once. Wide selection of items in many different styles. Shipping is FAST. Not sure if you can save your cart. Discount codes are easy to find on the website.
More item photos but site does provide plenty of item specific info.

  • Best Business Practices- Marketing, Branding and Merchandising
These people know their shopper and "The Biz". Their kits are exquisitely edited for full OOO!!! factor and have exclusive items you can only find in that specific month's kit. The brand itself has coolness
My first SC kit

factor seen nowhere else- people do not sell their Studio Calico exclusives on ebay often.  Countdown clock on blog lets you know how long you have to snatch up that stamp before it's gone. Website is super easy to navigate and quick, your creations can be uploaded to their online gallery and their blog is updated frequently. Kits are very well packed in individual bags, a  card tells you who packaged your order and UPS sends you a delivery confirmation email when your package arrives. Not sure what happens for returns- RETURN a SC item??? NEVER!
Not an improvement per-se: this is not the site for the deliberate decision maker- items sell out FAST. Pricing is expensive but if you are a brand hound you know you LOVE that!

Now comes the fun part- hee hee hee hee heeeeee!

Special awards for terrible sites I still use but only if I HAVE TO.

  • GROSSIE Customer Service
  • GROSSIE Worst Shipping (tie)
  • GROSSIE website (tie)
Here's the thing with Joann's- they've been threatening to kick the bucket for YEARS. They recently changed owners- again. Their website is buggy as hell. It's slow, badly designed and FORGET paying if you own a MAC and use Safari. Call your order in but forget following up online- you gotta call for that too. And let's say you want to place an order on saturday but get bounced-you silly Mac user you! Call Monday and get a customer service rep who only repeats that they don't extend "old" sale prices over and over again no matter what your situation is.
Item selection here is mostly OLD- you can play yourself and call if "vintage" but let's be real- they are selling you the stuff that just sits there in the store. But I like that because I've already bought all the new crap I like. Their turn around time is S...L...O...W. They have free shipping if you have a code. They can also send you many MANY emails reminding you they exists with cheeseola offers like 40% off 1 item and Free Shipping on orders over 35 dollars. You know what? I'll pay for shipping just UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE, PLEASE! But you can find October Afternoon, Basic Grey, Jenni Bowlin, Smooch, Tattered Angels, Tim Holtz, Jillibean Soup here for less than other sites. They also have fun items they produce themselves- I'm not a brand hound (for realz!!)- I'll buy anything as long as it's cute and Joann's has lots of cute cheapo stuff. They do have a returns policy but I don't use it as what is the point if you have to pay return shipping charges- especially if they made the mistake? Positive- You know I still order from these guys right? It's like your "bad boy" high school boyfriend!!!! But maybe THIS TIME it will be different... and sometimes it is.

  • GROSSIE Shipping and Handling
  • GROSSIE website
I feel bad razzing this site because it's quite obviously a little SB store somewhere but they did the ONE THING I HATE MOST- sent felt ribbon unspooled where it got crushed to death by some ANCIENT, FUGLY, CHEAP punches they sent along "for free". Wow- THANKS!!!! Just what I wanted- a random oval punch from 1983 that weights 3 lbs! Positives? This store seems to have EVERYTHING. French stuff, Asian stuff, ATC stuff, old stuff, cutting edge stuff not available anywhere else and LOTS of stamping stuff. Just don't order the Queen and Co ribbon. Whenever I need to look up a specific product name I go to this site- it's like an encyclopedia. Exclusive punches are my fave thing to buy here- when I feel courageous. But get this-  their website has no shopping cart!!!! You have to send an EMAIL with item numbers, names, description and color!! Or a FAX! A FAX!!!! That should tell you everything right there. Positives- need that stamp from 1997 that you LOVED and lost? These guys probably have it.

  • GROSSIE- Price Point
TIE- and  has great shipping and fantastic customer service but their prices are sky high for items that are old and on sale everywhere else. is like the Macy's of the industry except items never go on sale for real. OOO I feel like scrap lightning is about to strike me down!!! Recent discounts- 10 cents off a 3.99 item that I saw on sale for 2.50 elsewhere and it was on "clearance"! Also, items are put in as "new" when they have been available in stores and other websites for months. Order turn around is s.l.o.w but the shipping is ok if you are willing to pay through the nose as free shipping days are very rare.
Positives: Overhead costs from their fantastic website with seemingly endless member gallery, active forums, item wish lists, social networking applications and super easy navigation must be expensive. If you value your time, want to save your cart forever and don't mind paying shipping fees then I highly recommend this site. I've ordered from here several times and have never had an order mishap. Items arrive well packed and you get several emails with item use suggestions and itemized orders with tracking information. This is a great place to market your blog or creations and make friends but free-flow chatters beware- the tone is hyper polite and forum chat can turn on a dime. EK Success punches sold out everywhere else? Here they are! Random stamps seen no where else- guess who's got 'em? Did I mention shipping is 2 bucks no matter WHAT you order?

  • GROSSIE- Selection/Merchandising
I went to this site in search for some very hard to find items and didn't find them there either but I ordered some other stuff. The website is boring, hard to search and has a really narrow selection. They also don't have great pricing. What's worse- the ton of emails for 40% off ONE ITEM you'll get once you sign up. I've only ordered from here once and won't order again. 'Nuff said.
Positives- They have a brick and mortar store with nice workers- shop there.

Not to end on a nasty note, here are some great websites that do their job- get you STUFF. Don't expect fireworks or fancy web shenanigans.  Sometimes your old buddy is your BEST FRIEND. I have used all of these at least twice:

  • kit club and online store- really great selection, fast shipping, paypal enabled. Most beautifully edited kits I have seen after Studio Calico but since I haven't bought any I have to be fair and not award something. Kits sell out fast but if you want to torment yourself they still have old kits posted for you to browse and wish you had ordered.  Improvements- Item photos need to be larger without clicking on them- especially for the kits.
  • The selection here is junked up by too many old items no one is buying but there are many exclusive brands and items found nowhere else. They have a wide array of shipping options and orders arrive quickly. I once ordered an acrylic paint that was dried out- they replaced it no questions asked. Website has been updated and is no longer "woefully uncool". Every item has several images that pop out when you scroll over them and let you know packaging size and actual item size. They don't use packing peanuts. They shrink wrap your paper to 1 board and all your embellies to another- fantastic! Improvements- These guys need to jettison the old merchandise. Focus on what makes you fab... and design a new website.
  • These guys have great stuff available before anyone else. Most fabulous- you can pre-order any brand the store stocks.  Customer service here was polite and responsive. Paypal enabled and they don't save your credit info. Improvements- Website looks like a scam- they desperately need a redesign. Pre order items make you wait and wait and WAIT for shipping. Their wait times are so long they have a page just for shipping caveats and make you check a box stating you read their policy!!! One positive to the wait time is that you can add to your order if you find something else you like as long as you include your previous order's ID number. It delays your order further but you can't say they didn't warn you! SandS is a NY state business so they offer super cheap shipping to east coast locations and orders with new in-stock items get shipped first.
  • Little Engine That Could AWARD! This website has great "vintage" stuff. Let's say you want to replace an item you used up but still love- try looking for it here. Shipping is FAST! Website is... not the most beautifully designed but it works. There is also new stuff but this being a smaller site it takes a little longer to get updated. If an item is sold out you get an email telling you so which is nice. Paypal enabled. Improvements- None. Some businesses should grow organically- this one is a fave.
  • Great kits I have yet to buy due to lack of funds (Really? yes really!). There is only 1 photo per item but DT projects are linked up to many products so you can see how they can be used. Website is basic but easily navigatable. My only problem is the shipping- it's EXPENSIVE but that's because I am as far away from Vancouver, WA as you can get. They have some really fun items- I recommend you stop by and check them out. Improvements- website needs to be fun-er.
  • I love their recipe marketing gimmick- it makes for cute emails. They have a kit club which has tempted me in the past and mini kits that provide specific items for you next card project. The website is easy to navigate and browse by brand, type or price- if a tad boring. Here's the thing- you can't save your cart that makes it hard for harried Moms to shop unless they do so late at night but isn't that scrap time anyway? Shipping is out in moderate speed but well packed with nary a peanut in sight. Price points are competitive and they have lots of current and older items on clearance which is why is getting a GROSSIE. Improvements- web graphics and design could be snazzier for such a great marketing idea. Shipping turn around could be faster but let's not get picky- it's ok. CORRECTION- You CAN use paypal! Thanks for the update Cassie!!! 
So there you have it. Did I annoy or help out? Lemme know! Feel free to get REAL and post away on this subject. I have zero affiliation with any of these sites. No DTs past or present and no financial ties other than ME sending THEM money for goods. In fact, maybe they'll stop taking my orders now I blabbed- but hey SOMEONE'S gotta do it right?
    MuChOs SmOoChEs!