@RachelRose: I have looked for smooth, hot press water color paper near me as well. It's not easy to find and it seems to be WAY more expensive besides. I struggle with the same issues you do. I want to use water color paper for some techniques because I know it will be the best; but I end up not liking the rough texture.
I did find this web site: http://www.dickblick.com/products/ac...tercolor-pads/
They have a small 6 x6 pad of 20 sheets that goes for $11.75. Currently out of stock but available on 2/12. That's not an awful price and if you use it for a smaller focal image then layer onto the card front it could last you awhile depending on how many cards you make! They have larger sizes available as you will see if you go there.