Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Drank the Kool-Aid...

... the Calico Kool-Aid, to be exact. Oh, and it tastes good!

Let me explain...

From time to time I have pondered joining a kit club. I like the idea of the community... of a bunch of people all working with the same products to create. The possibilities for inspiration in that model are really endless. Plus, what's not to love about a box of scrappy goodness showing up on your doorstep every month? And, I can't forget to mention the amazing Kit-Tastic portion of Camp Scrap that I am participating in.... LOADS of inspiration for using kits!

But, one thing or another has always held me back from going through with a membership...

  • For one, there is the cost. 
  • Then, there is the potential to get a back-up of supplies as I might get things I don't need or like, etc. This is truly horrifying to me. I shudder at the idea of a pile of kit boxes untapped. My wallet doesn't like that idea either. 
  • Plus, there is the whole idea of the community. If I am going to spend my money somewhere and use a company's products, I am going to make the most of all they have to offer. I want to be active on their website, participating in challenges, purchase classes and make the occasional forum post. But, I was already really active on a couple of other websites and the last thing I want to be is an internet busy body.... So....

That brings me to the recent closing of Two Peas. I was very active there. I rarely posted on the forums as things there tended towards the dramatic, but I uploaded to the gallery, I participated in the challenges, I partook in most of their workshops, and I shopped. A lot. Two Peas truly was my online scrapbooking community. 

So, off I went in search of a new home. I perused many websites... stores, blogs, kit clubs, etc...

Here is what I was looking for:

If I am going to visit a site daily, I really want it to be pretty. Light colors, simple graphics, easy to use.

I really enjoyed the gallery at Two Peas. I felt it had a nice variety of on-trend and artsy, mixed with clean and simple. Plus, I found the design team SUPER inspiring.

Let's be honest, I like to buy scrapbooking stuff. I like it even better when it comes from a place that I feel "part" of.

And that's where Studio Calico comes in. In my quest to find a place to call "home," I visited various kit club sites, blogs, and storefronts. Studio Calico's is just pretty. Plain and simple. The gallery loads like a Pinterest page. LOVE! The work posted is always inspiring. The DT is incredible. You get the idea. 

They welcome anyone to post and you do not have to be a subscriber to participate. So, I started posting my layouts over there and getting comfortable with the community. Turns out, I really like it! And, I firmly believe that you should support things you like. No, I don't feel obligated. But, I do feel that if I am getting something out of a free service and it is within my means to support it... then, I should! As there are lots of goodies in their shop and kits, it really is not hard to justify :)

Not to mention that they recently posted a deal where you get your first month free. Hello? Yes, please!

Ah - so the big debate began...

I know what you are thinking... "You are a scrapbooker, Ashli. You don't make that many cards and you don't do Project Life. What is there to think about?"

Well, since you asked...

I took quite a while and looked at past kits and projects made with them. I then made sure to read the list of things that come in each kit. From my little research project, here is the list of pros and cons that I compiled:

SCRAPBOOK KIT (current Penny Arcade Kits shown)
$29.50 monthly membership fee

  • Full of things to make 12x12 pages with
  • Lovely exclusives
  • Interesting embellishments
  • Nice stamp set
  • Pretty patterned paper
  • Mixed media elements

  • Colored cardstock. I don't like it. Don't use it. Ever.
  • Large alpha. I am picky about my Thickers. Plus, I am preferring a smaller alpha these days and I don't like the idea of getting a set of Thickers or something that I don't like.
  • Challenging patterned paper. I like a lot of the patterns I saw in past and present kits, but when I find a paper challenging, I prefer it in a smaller scale pattern.
  • Its a ton of stuff. Good, when you look at the price point, but bad when you are afraid of supplies backing up.

CARD KIT (current Penny Arcade Kits shown)
$24.50 monthly membership fee

  • 6x6 papers. I am more of a bits and pieces kind of scrapbooker, so this excites me.
  • Cute embellishments.
  • Ribbon. This is both a pro and a con. I will tell you, the ribbon in this kit, combined with a card Maggie Holmes made was just about enough to seal the deal on this! But, I have a really hard time incorporating ribbons in my work.
  • Price. Less than the scrapbooking kit :)

  • Colored cardstock. Once again...I don't like it. Don't use it. Ever.
  • Seldom do you get an alpha. While I am picky about alphas, I do still want one.
  • Ribbon. (see above)
  • Stamps. They are adorable. But, I wouldn't use them enough to justify a monthly addition of a large set to my stash.
  • Buttons. I don't like the look of buttons on my projects unless their holes are threaded. I am usually too lazy to thread them. Case-in-point.
PROJECT LIFE KIT (current Penny Arcade Kits shown)
$19.99 monthly membership fee

  • Variety of small patterns. Seriously! Look at all those cards full of patterns. Love it! And, since I am a bits and pieces kind of scrapper, cutting up little cards would work great. Plus, some of the patterns that looked more challenging in the scrapbooking kit, are repeated here in smaller versions. YAY!
  • Lovely exclusives.
  • Small set of stamps. Not only are the words relative to scrapbooking, but they won't overrun my stash.
  • Title cards. These are perfect for page titles. Love that.
  • Plenty of embellishments. Even though this is for PL, there is still a nice variety. Look at the resin pieces and the wood shapes! The deer! Swoon. Past kits had a nice variety as well.
  • Mixed media elements. Look! There is a mask. No, every kit won't have a mask. And in fact, I don't really care for this one. However, it tells me that the people putting this kit together are thinking along those lines and I like that.
  • The alpha. It's small. Its pink. Enough said.
  • Price. The cheapest!

  • Not one sheet of 12x12 paper. Not a one. 
  • Only a very small amount of a favorite pattern will be available.
Once I had my brain wrapped around all of this, I emailed a bloggy friend who I knew was a subscriber. Niru subscribes to all three kits, and was able to give me some great advice. The long and short of which is that I should go for....

drum-roll, please.........

(too dramatic? sorry.... I was quite excited!)

So, let's see what happened when I got it...

It's here! Thanks for packing it, Meagan :)
Look at those gorgeous resin pieces! The color is so pretty and they have a great weight to them. They don't feel cheap, but they aren't too heavy either.
 There is that perfect little alpha!
 And one of those title cards I was mentioning...
Look at the cute little feathers! If I had the large sheet of this, I would have trouble. I really like the feathers in a smaller size...
 The perfect size stamp set!
I should also mention how THICK these cards are. They feel much thicker than the standard project life cards...
 Yes! It does make me happy...
 So, what better way to break my supplies in than with Studio Calico's sketch of the week?
And there it is! I tried to keep this at 8 1/2 by 11. But, in the end, I had to go bigger. I am a 12x12 girl at heart...
As you can see, this sketch was perfect for cutting up all those lovely cards into bits of pattern paper pieces...
JOY indeed! This page will be added to my "Love from Mom" album and is all about how I hope my girls can always find joy, even when life is hard...
Hearts and feathers and stars... LOVE! Some bits and pieces from my stash made their way in here as well, but not a lot. Most of this is indeed the kit.
I was having lots of fun, so I had to carry on with another layout. And, I wanted to challenge myself to use a completely different color scheme to see what variety I could get out of this one kit...

I combined some lovely (and free) printables from Anna-Maria...
To scrap this page all about my family's recent adventures in "real" food...
FUN! Pretty cool to see two totally different looks out of the same kit, huh?

So, what about the cons of this kit? Well, I will continue on as a happy customer of Simon Says Stamp, Paper Issues, and Blue Moon for my other paper crafting needs.

Combined with that... this kit will be perfect for me!

Now, are you wondering what I am going to do about all that pre-sale madness that Studio Calico is famous for? Log-in and refresh the page like a mad woman in hopes that I get the coveted add-on? Nope. My budget doesn't allow for it, so that takes care of that. In the event that I REALLY like the look of one of the other main kits and we are able to fit it in, I will add that to my order. After all, a girl has to have her fun :)


  1. Welcome aboard Ashli! I love Studio Calico and I get the regular kits and use everybit up. I haven't participated in the community because well there's a lot of intimidating talent over there. I lurk.

    Great pages as always!!

  2. Great choice on your Kit, Ashli! And I love the two different layouts you created from the PL Kit! They are both fab!!

  3. Wow! These are gorgeous layouts. Beautiful!
    I liked reading your thought process about the pros/cons. Similar thoughts have been swirling around in my head as well, and it was great to get a different perspective.

  4. Awesome! You got the kit so fast. I really love your pages. I think it was a great choice for you. All of my colored cardstock really piles up too.

    I love your take on the sketch. Cutting up cards is a great way to stretch the kit and make some of your own embellishments. And that second page is just wow. Love the colors and everything. Welcome to the club!!!

  5. Drink the Kool-Aid ? You are so funny girlie!!! I had to give up my corporate job when my husband became ill from serving in the budget is #1 along with some of the pros and cons of getting products that don't appeal to my style. I am watching in the wings and love the spin of what kit works for your style. On the fence but I may ask for a glass of Koolaid soon! :)

  6. Hola I finally get to comment...yay! My computer died and my Kindle won't let me comment or see YouTube ...bummmer. My son was nice enough to share his kindle tonight. I love your layouts and your post about choosing a kit club to join. My hubby and I decided 18 yrs.ago that I would stay home and raise our two kids. It was an easy decision to make but tuff to do because I had been working since I was 15. Than I fell in love with scrapbooking...OH BOY! But the Lord provides and I have been able to enjoy this hobby of mine but am very limited to what I can afford and will buy. I have thought about joining a kit club but our budget doesn't allow it and I would not chose to join without doing the research as you did. Your amazing, love following you and watching your videos. Enjoy your new goodies and look forward to more awesome shares. LOVE ALWAYS YOUR SO CAL BFF ;)

  7. I had to laugh out loud at the title of your blog post. I'd been thinking about this too, and researching. I like SC too, though I don't know how to put layouts on a gallery and am a bit too shy for a forum that big. But it's not in my budget to get a kit monthly. Wanted to just buy 1 to see it. (Birthday money yay me). In reading your pros and cons list I see how project life was the perfect choice for your style. And your layout is lovely, very much. Michelle t

  8. Thanks for the very detailed rationale about the kit you chose, Ashli! I've been tempted by kits in the past, too, but some of the same barriers that you expressed have, so far, kept me from subscribing, too. Hope you get a lot of fun out of it! (It looks like you are already.)

  9. I just discover you, through your beautiful layouts at Camp Scrap, and you're style is amazing. Exactly the style I'm trying to achieve. (I'm still rather new). I've been a SC member for a year and a half and I love the community the best. I love the message boards and the galleries. So much talent and not just their design team, their members as well! I'll look for your layouts there!

  10. I am so excited to see what you have done with this kit...and welcome to the club!

  11. Oh fun!! I'm loving the smaller papers more and more. Will never get away from 12x12 but it is nice to have the alternative. Less storage, less waste. Looking forward to seeing what you create each month. :)

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  13. Ashli, for the same exact reasons that you summed up so perfectly is why I love the SC forum. I have never been a subscriber, but have bought their kits and supplies on and off for years. If I can swing it that month and I love what the kit offers, I buy it if available. I just started posting my layouts there because of this years Camp Scrap and something wonderful has happened. (Check it out on Monday) But even before that, the community welcomed me with open arms and I was able to start posting right away with no issue. I hope you enjoy SC as much as I do.

  14. Oh my goodness, I cannot tell you how this resonates, I have been back and forward for the exact same reasons (and UK shipping) and thought exactly the same that I would go for the PL kit!!! I haven't pressed the button yet though, but your layouts may be the deciding factor. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. Beautifully done post for anyone trying to decide which kit to purchase. I buy their scrappy kit. The colored cardstock only bothers me slightly. I do use colored cardstock, in pieces. For titles cut with my Cameo, for matting (if I bother to mat) and for making embellies. I'm very glad there isn't MORE of it in this kit though. ;) I wouldn't use it. I have about 5 colors of cardstock I use regularly: parakeet, navy, red, a blue-green, and gray. I typically go for neutrals. Anyway, hi. I might have to check out their community. I haven't. In the 4 years (possibly more) I've been a member of their club (off and on though...normally for 6 months at a time although August will make my 7th in a row).

  16. It certainly is Kool-aid. Lol. You did your homework. But could have seen you fitting in perfectly too at Cocoa Daisy ;) had to give a plug.

    Love seeing how your work and style has evolved!!

  17. I'm obsessed with all of your creations! :)


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