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Chase's Treasures is a chic boutique that offers trendy and personalized products and gifts for babies, children, moms and home.

We carry many personalized items,from bibs and burp cloths to shirts, sweaters, clip boards and lunch boxes, in addition to photo gifts, fine wood-crafted gifts and modern mommy jewelry. If you need a special gift, you've come to the right place!

Letter to my Daughter on her 12th Birthday



Dear Samantha Chase,

12 years ago, at 1:27 in the morning, you gave me the best gift in the world -- you made me a mom.  5 weeks early, Dr. O held you up in the delivery room, and I cried tears of overwhelming joy.  I had no idea that I could have such an immense love for such a tiny little being who I had only just laid eyes upon. 

Mimi told me that I should enjoy every minute of your childhood, because time would fly, and it surely has.  You have grown into every bit the wonderful, kind, determined, wise, brave, young lady for which all mothers wish, and I am lucky enough to have.  And yet, for as mature as you seem, you still have me tuck you in at night, and I relish the seemingly long hugs that you allow me to give you. 

While you're still young enough to take my advice without thinking that you know everything, here are 12 pieces of wisdom for you to carry with you as you continue to grow and amaze me:

1) Substance over image. Always.  How things or people appear isn't always how they are.  Someone can be beautiful and smiley but be sad or insecure on the inside.  Being pretty or looking "perfect" doesn't define who you are and are certainly less important -- by a huge margin -- than how good of a person you are. 

2) Be decent and honorable.  When I was 5, I asked your Pop-Pop what he wanted me to be when I grew up.  He said he hoped I would grow up to be decent and honorable.  This seems an easy task on the face of it, but it can be harder than you imagine.  Sometimes, doing the honorable thing means sacrificing an easier path.  That's ok.  Have morals and principles and stick to them.  People will admire you for your integrity. 

3) Love who you are and don't change for anyone.  Sam: you are a wonderful mix of athletic and girly.  You'll get a manicure and then put on your goalie uniform and head to lacrosse practice.  You wear bruises and you wear dresses.  You're very sensitive, but you handle the pressure of being the goalie as if you had nerves of steel.  You asked me once what a soul was.  I told you that your soul was the thing that made you who you are, and not everyone else.  Stay exactly who you are.  You'll always be loved.

4) Enjoy your girlfriends.  Understand that not all friendships are made to last, and some people will exit your life nearly as soon as they've entered it.  But almost nothing trumps having a good friend who really understands you and with whom you can always be yourself and have fun.

5) Set limits and boundaries.  People who know me would say that one of my greatest assets as a friend is also one of my biggest weaknesses and that is a lack of limit setting.  Sometimes it's ok to put other people first.  And sometimes, not so much.  Don't sacrifice yourself or your integrity for someone else.  Know what your limits are.  Exercise the option of saying "no" when and if you need to.  It is 100% better to have people respect you for sticking to your boundaries than it is to have people take advantage of you because you have none.

6) When it comes to goals and dreams forget the word "should."  Should implies that someone else is choosing or judging what you'd like to do or what your goals are. This is your life, kiddo. It’s a one-way ticket and you can never come back to do it again. Achieve the goals that you want to achieve, not the ones you think you "should" achieve. 

7)  Smile and laugh.  As often as you can.  You have a great smile and an infectious laugh.  When you smile, you feel happy as does everyone else around you.

8) Don't fight what is.  Whatever it is, it is meant to be and whatever has happened has happened for a reason.  That's a hard one to accept, and believe me, I understand that.  If everything in my life had happened as I planned, I'd be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon or a transactional psychotherapist.  But I wouldn't have you or your sister. Trust me, I wouldn't trade you, being a mom, the memories we've made, the family that we are or the sincere gratitude I have for being able to watch you grow for any degree, ever.

9) Corollary to #8: You can only control your actions and your reactions.  If you fight things that are not in your control, you will be unhappy.  Sometimes in life we are faced with rejection or failure.  Those are learning experiences.  How you react to those situations is what matters.

10) Actions speak louder than words.  If you say something, you should mean it.  But make sure that your actions do justice to whatever you've said. 

11) Do it with Thy Might.  This was the motto of The Masters School, where I went to middle school and high school.  I can tell you from plenty of experience -- life is fragile and all too short (though it probably doesn't seem so to you, yet).  Don't do things half-baked.  If you're going to do something, do it all the way and to the best of your abilities. When you study, study your hardest and best.  You'll reap the rewards.  When you play lacrosse or do karate, play (or punch & kick) with purpose and conviction. When you love, love huge.  Don't ever let someone you love wonder how you feel. 

12) You can always come to me.  And daddy. No matter what it is, you can always come and talk to me.  I love you without condition, I've been around the block (many, many times) and I always have your back.  And if you don't want to talk to me for whatever reason, you're lucky to have an exceptional family, all of whom adore you.  You have cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents who are all here for you, will always listen to you and will never steer you wrong. 

Happy, happy birthday, my darling girl.  May your every wish come true.


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Recipe Wednesday: How to Make Real Chocolate Cream Pie


Chocolate Cream Pie



Not too long ago, an author named Sarah Weeks came to visit Bug and Birdie's school.  As a treat, I purchased each kiddo a book.  Bug's book was entitled "Pie," and within the story were skillfully woven pie recipes.  I don't often have time to bake home-made pies (though I wish I did).  However, I promised the Bug that if she did well in school on a test or something like that, I would bake a pie as a reward.  

The first math test after that deal was struck resulted in a 92%, and good to my word, a pie was made.  We chose the Chocolate Cream pie because it didn't look too difficult and well, it's chocolate.  Who could complain?  It was really tasty and looked very pretty (small disclaimer: the photo above is NOT my pie.  My PC, in its long, slow technological death, lost a bunch of my pictures.  Ours didn't look significantly different, however).

Without further ado -- pie:

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
3 tbs corn starch
2 tbs cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs butter

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and the milk.  Add to the saucepan and blend well.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat. 
Stir in vanilla and butter.  Pour into a baked pie shell.  Cool. Refrigerate.  Serve with whipped cream.
 Enjoy!!


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Excuses, Excuses....
I hate it when I have to take a break from blog writing because life gets in the way.  But that’s just what happened.  I guess I figure everyone has their own issues in life, so there’s no need to bog people down with mine.  But, someone asked the other day why I’d been radio silent for a few weeks, so I decided it would be better to explain.

We’ve had a lot of stress in our house the past few months.  It is mostly financial, as my husband’s firm is dealing with capital issues and constraints and as such, everyone’s salary has been drastically reduced. There’s no need to go into more detail than that.  Money worries suck, and they stress you out.   

My body’s way of handling this stress was to break out in a rash which covered all of me, except my head, face, neck and vajayjay.  It itched like mad.  My first plan of attack was to go to the internist, who said it was some kind of allergic dermatitis, and gave me a course of steroids.  The first 2 days on the steroids reduced the itchiness greatly, but the rash remained the same.  Little red bumps everywhere.  After I finished the steroids, the itching came back, and the internist gave me more and stronger steroids.  She also told me to go to a dermatologist ASAP.  So I did.  

My sister’s awesome-yet-very-expensive dermatologist in NYC, Dr. L, sent me to someone here in the ‘burbs named Dr. B.  Dr. B is awesome (and really good looking, too boot).  He wasted no time guessing what my rash was, but prescribed some steroid cream and took a biopsy from my back.  3 stitches and 2 days later, he called to tell me I had an auto-immune disease called Lichen Planus (think kind of like psoriasis). What really sucks about Lichen Planus (besides the ugliness of the rash and the insane itching) is that its cause is really unknown.  Stress is allegedly a “trigger,” but not necessarily a cause.   I got a stronger steroid cream and an immuno-suppressant cream.  Neither seemed to do much.  I took 5 Benadryl a night to get a few hours of sleep.  I haven’t a clue how I functioned during the day. 

I went to a homeopath who told me (in spite of the pathology report stating clearly that the rash was NOT fungal in nature) that she suspected this had to do with an overgrowth of candida in my body, and told me to stop eating all sugar, wheat gluten, carbs, etc…For 3 weeks, I lived on grilled chicken, quinoa, bacon, eggs.  I stopped drinking coffee because sweetening it with maple syrup was disgusting (and that was the only sugar I was allowed).   The rash persisted, but on this incredibly limiting diet, the itching stopped – pretty much.  Here and there I would have intense itching and literally feared scratching my skin off.  I called the homeopath to complain her diet wasn’t curing me – or if it was, it wasn’t fast enough for my liking.  She told me to be patient.  That’s easy to say when you aren’t a walking Benadryl zombie scratching yourself bloody each day.   I did a lot of research online and though nobody had anything conclusive as a cure, there were a variety of suggestions of things that had worked for other people.  Most were “natural” cures.  I began to take a lot of supplements to see what would happen.  How many, you ask?  Here’s the list:

1)    Black Seed Oil (supposed to be remarkably healing with virtually any illness)
2)    Coconut Oil (the Caprylic acid contained in it is a strong anti-fungal)
3)    Probiotic
4)    Kyolic Garlic w/Candida Cleanse
5)    Calcium/Magnesium + Boron
6)    Vitamin C (3000 units per day)
7)    Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (I drink 2 tablespoons diluted in about 8 oz of water 3x/day)

All of these things are, in some way, anti-fungal or anti-yeast, or, they somehow make the body more alkaline such that the yeast isn’t able to flourish.  About a week after beginning these supplements, I started adding back carbs (though not a lot), and a bit of sugar (in my coffee; here and there in a cookie or some dessert).  For the most part, the itching never returned, with the exception of short bouts here and there, mostly at night. About this time I went back to the dermatologist who switched my steroid and immuno-suppressant creams and began me on “phototherapy.”  Unlike most phototherapy that I’ve read about in which you take a substance called Psoralen and  are then exposed to UVA light, this treatment requires no drugs beforehand and uses one specific wavelength of UVB light.  It is done in tiny increments, so your skin doesn’t burn.  My first treatment was for 1:33 (one minute 33 seconds).  By the 3rd treatment, nearly 70% of my rash had disappeared, and all itching has ceased. I am now up to spending 3 minutes in the light box.  Most of my rash has faded – the few spots that remain slightly bumpy don’t itch and I hope with time they will disappear as well with time.  Some spots still remain as scars, I guess.  They are flat and browner now than the bright red of their itchy days.  However, I was still happy enough to wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts yesterday when it was sunny and in the 70s.  

I continue to take all of my supplements, because if this rash had anything to do with an overgrowth of Candida, I have no intention of letting it get out of hand again.  Meanwhile, my husband is looking into a new business, and while things are still somewhat stressful, I have adapted the approach of simply being positive each day, and knowing that somehow, things will work out in the end.

That all said, I apologize for not having written more lately, or posted more on Facebook and Twitter.
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How to Make the Best Stain Remover Ever


First, no bones about it, kids are messy.  If they aren’t getting the mess on your floor or your walls, it’s on their clothing.  Or all of the above.  And you have to get the stains out of the clothing so they can wear it for at least 5 minutes before they outgrow it.

Second, I’m not one of these uber-granola, tree-hugging suburban mommies and I have a packed schedule, so I’m all for convenience.  Sometimes, it just seems easier to run to Target and pick up some stain remover.

But I’ve found that I will often rub stains with whatever commercial product I’ve bought, wash the clothing, and find it still has the stain in it.  In fact, I have washed the Bug and the Birdie’s winter coats after having scrubbed stain removed into the cuffs (where they get notoriously dirty) until it seems I've nearly worn a hole in the fabric, or my fingers, only to find after washing that the cuffs are anything but the original color of the coat.  It's f'ing maddening.  You go to the washer full of anticipatory joy expecting to yank out a stain free piece of clothing and instead find the only thing you've gained is a case of chemically induced hand eczema and another trip to Target to buy yourself the industrial size Benedryl and your 20th tube of hydrocortisone cream. 

I'd like to say that I torture myself with this lost cause of a cleaning routine weekly because I'd do anything for my kids and surely don't want them going to school with clean clothing (or coats) that nonetheless look like they were trampled by an onslaught of hungry piglets on the way to a trough.  BUT.  A couple of months ago I developed a fairly common, but nonetheless incredibly irritating auto-immune disorder called Lichen Planus.  It basically manifests as a rash that looks very similar to the measles, or shingles.  The rash is so incredibly f’ing itchy, I’m surprised I haven’t ripped half of my skin off.  Because of this, the doctor told me to keep my hands away from chemicals and not to soak them for any period of time in water.  I have kids – so much easier said than done.  But my days of scrubbing stain remover into clothing (at least without wearing rubber gloves) is over.  I mean, for fuck's sake, I can't give myself eczema on top of the lichen planus.

So I called my mother and she put me on the phone with her housekeeper, Martha, who has been in our family for 15 years.  She told me 2 of the best things for stains are baking soda and white vinegar.  Martha speaks Spanish 1000 times faster than my pea brain can process it, but if I got her correctly, she told me to make a mix of of Dawn, vinegar and baking soda with water in a spray bottle, spray it on the stains and then wash the clothing.

I’d like to say I thought she was crocked, but Martha has never failed to get things clean that I thought were heading to the circular file, so I took her word for it.

The mix I made is as follows:

  • 2/3 cup Dawn
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 cups warm water


Take note, when you add baking soda and vinegar together, they fizz like crazy.
Nonetheless, I sprayed this concoction on the cuffs of the coat sleeves, let them sit for about 5 minutes and washed as usual.

Guess what?  The coats came out perfectly and with virtually no stains at all.  
Stains removed
Dirty cuff (though flash made it appear better)
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What's in a Name?
"Babe" with A. when she was 2
I'm sure you're all thinking from the title that this post has something to do with baby names, but it doesn't.  Though I'm sure I could find plenty to comment about some of the names people have chosen for their children, this is simply to answer a question that somebody asked me which will be informative for the rest of my readers.  The question was, "why did you nickname your husband 'babe'?"

The answer: "babe" functions as both a good and a bad word.  In olde English, it means baby (as in, "don't forget to feed the babe").  In modern times, it can be taken to mean someone is good looking, or can be taken as a derogatory.  If your husband/boyfriend/significant other has just bought you a nice piece of jewelry, well then, "Oh!  Babe! I love it!!" seems a perfect response.  But if it happens (oh, and it will) that your husband/boyfriend/significant other has made a statement that irks you, for example, then answering with a terse, "Yeah right, babe, that's just not gonna happen...." makes logical sense.  You can see that babe, given the tone and tenor of your statement, could easily be swapped out with asshole or jerk.   Dual meaning for complete polar opposites....In that sense, it seems the perfect pet name.

I honestly can't think of another name that works as well.  You just can't make honey, cookie, lovey, or baby work when what you mean is f'ing idiot. Besides, honey, lovey and baby are the things I call my kids (usually when I want them to do something for me, as in, "honey, can you grab mommy those papers?").

And so, that is the evolution my husband's pet name. 
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Recipe Wednesday: How to Make Meatballs


I know making meatballs seems easy, and there are many different ways to do it.  So, I'm not going to say that this is the only way, or the best way.  It's just my way.  The recipe comes from a small restaurant in Northern Italy, just over the border from the South of France.  I was lucky enough to get it, having had a lovely conversation with the restaurant owner while waiting for the street market to open again (the street markets close for about 3 hours in order for everyone to eat).  So, these aren't just any meatballs, but are authentic Italian meatballs, and take my word for it, they are very, very yummy.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (I use 90/10; less fat to deal with)
1 egg
1/4 cup whole milk (the Italians eat less, but use full fat)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use non-seasoned)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic poweder
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (this is more expensive than using the pre-made powder cheese, but tastes so much better)
 
Directions:
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Using your hands makes for the best incorporation, plus you're going to need them to make the balls, so get messy.
  2. Roll meatballs just about the size of a golf ball
  3. Put meatballs into a pot full of marinara sauce (whichever sauce you use; I make my own, but Prego/Rago/Raos or whatever you bought at the market is fine, so long as it covers your meatballs).
  4. Simmer your meatballs in the sauce for about 3 hours.  
  5. Test to make sure your meatballs are done.  They should be soft and fully cooked through.
**Cooking Option: if you're in a hurry and don't have time to simmer your meatballs for 3 hours, that's ok.  You can put them in the oven at about 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and then simmer them in sauce for 5-10 minutes.  Simmering the meatballs makes them softer (plus they flavor your sauce).  Take it from someone who has eaten meatballs hard enough to be thrown, breaking a nearby window.  Meatballs aren't meant to be dense, dry, hard and tough.  Simmering and sauce are your friends, here.  

Serve meatballs over some macaroni product, with a little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Watch everyone smile.



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Raising A Girl as Boy? WTF?


My mother used to say all the time that she just couldn’t stand stupidity and while, as a kid, I didn’t get what she was talking about, as an adult, I’m 100% with her.  I see, read and hear stupidity all the time, and I’m forced sometimes to just shrug my shoulders in incredulousness and think, “why?” 

S. wearing Babe's "decorative" football helmet
Such is totally the case in the article I read yesterday in the Huffington Post entitled “Raising Your Girl like a Boy.”  The first thing that leaps to my mind is “huh? This is actually some sort of parenting methodology out there?  WTF!”  Followed not too long after by, ‘why the fuck would you want to raise a girl like a boy?”  Don’t get me wrong, clearly society at large has prized the almighty penis as being the champion of the working world, hence the disproportionate pay between the two genders.  Not that I’ve done any studies or know the vast majority of the statistics, but my overall perception is that as smart as a woman is, and as much as she can apply her genius to whatever field she’s chosen to work in, at some point or another she falls prey to the desire to reproduce.  I’m not saying a woman can’t work and have a family, (though, I, for one, was less productive at work when my brain was focused on my biologically-induced “gotta get pregnant” panic).  And how a woman works it out after she’s had kids (to work or stay home; flex hours or work from home; daycare or nanny) is irrelevant to my point here.  The fact that she has kids means a woman can now be a master juggler; she’s an infinitely more capable problem solver; she’s got supersonic hearing, eyes behind her head and the ability, like Sherlock Holmes, to perceive likely events before they unfold.  Who the fuck would want to change that? 

If there is indeed a parenting methodology of raising your girl like a boy, I chalk it up to stupidity.  Let’s face the facts: just like time is linear and we can’t bend it backwards, you just can’t screw with Mother Nature.  You can give a girl the “Dorothy Hammill” haircut and teach her applied mathematics and computer programming, but that won’t change the fact that she’s got ovaries, and eventually, they command all.

I come from a family of 3 daughters.  I am in the middle.  My older sister, L., was always into fashion and make-up as far as I can remember.  And Barbie dolls, which I hated.  I was much more the tom-boy; very athletic, though I had a baby doll that I was addicted to then the way I am addicted to my coffee now.  But I don’t recall my parents ever steering me towards particular gendered toys or activities.  Maybe that was because they got the fundamentals, like, if your baby has a vagina, at some point her reproductive organs are going to pump out estrogen faster than Lucille Ball pumped candy into her mouth in the chocolate factory. Cutting your daughter’s hair and giving her Legos are no match for the power of those hormones, by which she is wired to be more nurturing than her male counterparts, and even if you dress her up in bulky pads and a football uniform, probably won’t have a desire to go about smashing other kids (male or female) with the full weight of her body while running with a ball in her hands.  Every afternoon from about 4:00-7:00 pm in my house when my girls are talking to one another rather loudly about their feelings (aka arguing), as opposed to just hitting each other a few times and then sitting quietly to watch ESPN, I am keenly aware that they are female.  It wouldn’t matter if I bloody shaved their heads.

I took oodles of dance lessons, and also played soccer, tennis, and was on a swim team.  I lamented my breasts from the minute they decided to pop out, but was also infinitely aware that my parts were capable of carrying and bearing children, and that is something I knew I wanted to do at least 5 years before I had any buds to buy training bras for.  In my father’s office, I played with Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs and loved to build things.  As an adult, I am perhaps more handy than your average woman.  I’m good with wires, computers, networking, blah, blah, blah.  You can say that is somehow more “male” oriented, and yet, even my fake boobs aren’t immune to gravity; in spite of 2 c-sections, my bladder control is nowhere near its pre-baby days ; and no matter how stealth I head towards the bathroom, I am no sooner perched above the toilet than someone will come to ask me what I’m doing.   No male would have such experiences. When I look at my daughters, I know what I “built”-- what I made with my own body --  makes me all girl, in spite of the fact that people will very often tell me that I’m “the son my father never had.” 

And as for parents that somehow value a male over a female, to them I say “phooey.”  Life is too short, too fragile and too precious to be anything other than unbelievably thankful if you have a healthy baby, regardless of its parts.  “Babe” is a total guy’s guy.  He’s all into sports (all sports, but especially football); thinks that throwing infants into the air and catching them like a line cook at a pizzeria throws /catches dough is a good way to illustrate the effects of aerodynamics; in his head could build a house with his bare hands because he’s amazingly handy and very strong.  And yet, when asked once if he was upset that he had 2 daughters and no son, he stated emphatically no.  Because he can’t think of how he would have raised a boy any differently than he is raising his girls except that he’d have taught someone how to pee standing up.  Otherwise, he’s taught the girls all about football and baseball and basketball.  They love to shoot hoops with him.  And they’ve both been with him to Yankees' games and will point out the stadium every time we pass it.  They know the rules of football, and will sit with him to watch a game, even though they might force him, while watching, to work the knots out of Rapunzel’s long, fake, blond tresses with an American Girl Doll brush. 

I watched my daughter the other day playing with a set of my nephew’s Dino Morphs.  I suppose one would call that a “boy” toy, but she seemed to be enjoying herself thoroughly.  Will I steer her towards more “boy” toys and activities now?  No.  Would I stop her from doing any activity or playing with any toy that she wanted to if it wasn’t going to cause her or any other kid harm?  No.  Because I know that in 5-7 years, her estrogen level will far outweigh any testosterone her body has and she won’t be able to ignore the fact that she is, indeed, a girl.

So what’s my point here?  I guess it’s that I don’t get the concept of raising a girl like a boy.  It’s perhaps one of the stupidest things that I’ve ever heard.  I suppose some people may do it, but the reality is that DNA and hormones are going to determine a lot, no matter the hairstyle/toys/clothing/nickname mom and dad choose for a kid.  No matter the gender of the kid you have, if it’s healthy, be happy.  Don’t want for her to be what she isn’t.  Let her play with what she enjoys. At the end of the day, want for you daughters what my father said he wanted for my sisters and me, and what I want for my girls: to be decent and honorable people (no penis required).





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About Chase's Treasure:
Chase's Treasures offers trendy and personalized gifts for babies, kids, moms and home. Chase's Treasures Blog is the place where COO Jessica Pickholz shares mostly humorous stories about her family (husband "Babe," and daughters S. and A.) and her irreverent and sarcastic views on surviving motherhood, working from home, living in the 'burbs, cooking, and everything in between.
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