Dear friends… Happy Fall and Winter!!! 

It's been a while since our last newsletter, and we've been busy (well, at least Jessie and Andrew have!) redesigning our website and newsletter format. We'll let you know when we launch in the next week! 

The holiday season is here… not quite sure how that happened. I'm going to share two of my favorite recipes for holiday gift giving; my Aunt Bobby Jo's recipe for homemade Kahlua, and a new recipe for a Reed Diffuser (you know, the pretty bottle with sticks hanging out of it that is used as a room fragrance) using essential oils, instead of a synthetic fragrance. These are sure winners for the people on your list. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do.

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Chanukah, and Merry Christmas! Thank you for taking time to read our newsletters. Many blessings to you and your families…Vicky


Aromatherapy Corner
By Vicky Weis

Autumnal Equinox ~ September 22 - December 20

How to Make a Reed Diffuser
You'll want to use a glass or ceramic container and you want the opening of the container to be tapered as well, but large enough to hold the reeds. You can use recycled bottles or buy inexpensive vases at the dollar store. Depending on the opening size of the container, it's a good idea to use a cork if at all possible. You can find corks of all sizes at your local craft store. Using a drill bit simply drill completely through the center of the cork to create an opening large enough for the reeds. The cork helps keep the oil mixture from evaporating. You can personalize the bottles with a hot glue gun and your favorite embellishments. 

Rattan reeds work the best. They have "channels" that help the oil travel up the stick to scent the room. You can buy these at your local craft store, and you can also order them online. You can try using different types of sticks but they have to be porous, and just know that they might not work. Some say they have good luck with thin skewers. The reeds should be at least double the height of the container you are using.

Carrier Oils – Safflower oil and almond oil (readily available at your local health food store) work well because they're lighter oils that will travel up the reeds more easily. You can also use a carrier oil like jojoba oil, but it's expensive and using a heavier carrier oil makes the scent slow to diffuse.

Essential Oils – Have fun with this. Mix different oils together to create one that smells perfect for you. I've given a suggestion down in the recipe, and if you need more help you can ask me on our Facebook page.

Flow Agent – Inexpensive Vodka works as a flow agent to help the oils be better absorbed by the reeds and disperse better.

A general mixture for the diffuser oil is 1/4 cup of carrier oil, 25 – 50 drops of essential oil, and 1 teaspoon of vodka. More essential oil may be added if you prefer, but remember, the scent should be subtle…not overpowering. You can always add more later. Adjust this amount to the size of your container. Extra diffuser oil can be made ahead of time and stored in a sealed glass container, away from light or a heat source, until ready to use. It's best to use a smaller container for smaller rooms like a bathroom.

For first time use, fill the container 3/4′s of the way full and insert the reeds, soaking them for about an hour. Then flip them upside down and replace them back in the diffuser.

Once a week swirl the oil in the container and rotate the reeds to keep the aroma going. The different ingredients in the mixture have a tendency to settle over time and an occasional swirl will help better diffuse the scents. Make sure the diffuser is placed in a room with good circulation. Once the reeds become totally saturated they lose their ability to diffuse the fragrance and need to be replaced.




  • 25 - 50 drops of essential oils. For a clean, refreshing blend, try using 10 drops of peppermint and 20 drops of mandarin or orange essential oils…for the holidays try adding a drop or two of cinnamon, cedarwood, and/or nutmeg. Pine is wonderful for the holidays as well.
  • ¼ cup carrier oil
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons pure Vodka


  • Fill your bottle or jar with the Jojoba until it is ¾ full. Add the Vodka and mix in well.
  • Next, add your chosen essential oils and mix everything well before placing the rattan reeds into your diffuser.Give the rattan reeds a good swirl and let them soak for about an hour. Then flip them over and replace them back into the diffuser.
  • Turn the reeds every few days to get the most aroma from the mixture.
  • When the scent starts to fade simply add more of your essential oils.


Recipe Corner
By Vicky Weis 

Bobby Jo's Kahlua

For years my girlfriend Tracie and I would make our "holiday booze" together. It was so much fun. We would set out appetizers and our favorite wine or champagne, build a fire, and let the fun begin. Tracie and I have perfected it along the way, making it not as sweet and a bit stronger! It is so much fun to add the alcohol…it really bubbles up and the fumes will take you back. At this point, put the lid on the pot and give it a few minutes. Then carefully (don't keep your head over the pot as the fumes really are strong at this point) take the lid off, stir it up, and our favorite part…. ladle some of the warm concoction into a glass, say a cheer to each other and take a sip. Pure heaven! At this point every year we would clap our hands and shriek "This is the BEST batch ever!!!!"

Tracie moved to the city a couple of years ago and somehow we haven't been able to coordinate our schedules to enjoy this ritual. I'm going to call her right now and make sure we make it happen this year. Cheers!


Bobby Jo's Kahlua

  • 16 Cups water
  • 9 Cups Sugar (we use a 4 lb. bag)
  • 1.5 - 2  Cups good Instant Coffee
  • 4 Tbsp.  (1/4 cup) Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Quarts 190 Proof Grain Alcohol (2 ½ bottles)

Add sugar and coffee to water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add vanilla and alcohol. Stir well. Store in a dark, cool place for a few days (or more) before bottling, although you can begin enjoying right away! Fills sixteen 12oz bottles. This recipe can easily be cut in half, using just one bottle of grain alcohol.


The Pet Alchemist
By Joan Clark

The fall is a beautiful time of the year and yet can bring with it many seasonal changes that can affect our pet's health.

One of the top challenges you may notice this fall season is itching and scratching caused from dry skin. This can create great stress and be extremely uncomfortable for your furry loved ones.

One of the ways you can assist your pet, besides making sure the diet is supportive, is creating a soothing skin spray that can relieve the dry skin condition.

To make an 8 oz (240 ml) spray mist add the following together and use daily as a way to pamper and nurture your pet.

Remember, we at the Pet Alchemist only want the best for your pets!

Wishing you a beautiful fall season with healthy, happy, aromatically pampered pets!

Soothing Skin Mist

  • 1-teaspoon vegetable glycerin 
  • ½ oz (l5 ml) grain alcohol or vodka
  • 1 teaspoon sulfated castor oil
  • ½ oz (l5 ml) aloe vera
  • 1-tablespoon evening primrose
  • ½ oz (l5 ml) German chamomile hydrosol
  • ½ oz (15 ml) lavender hydrosol
  • 15 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 5 drops carrot seed essential oil
  • 3 drops roman chamomile essential oil
  • 6 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1-drop helichrysum essential oil
  • 3 drops of palmarosa essential oil
  • Top off with distilled  or spring water.
  • Shake well and use directly on coat and massage in.

Joan Clark
Pet Alchemist

Sweet Serenity 
By Patricia Fares-O'Malley, Ph.D

For years I've known and taught to many people that our body doesn't know the difference between what is actually real and what is imagined.  So, even if we think a thought that, for example, brings up the feelings of fear - our body responds as if something fearful is actually happening. 

Sometimes this is difficult to understand- after all, we KNOW in our conscious mind that the thing we are imagining isn't really happening to us, but our body isn't always connected to our conscious mind and this is where the imagined event becomes a real physiological response.

We have what is called the "lizard" brain as part of our entire brain. The lizard brain connects directly to our body responses and it doesn't know the difference between what is real or imagined! So if our lizard brain thinks we are about to die, or lose all our savings, or get mugged or whatever fearful thought we can think- it yells to our body "GET OUT" or "FIGHT" = which is really what we call the STRESS RESPONSE!

This is so, even with stressors in our every day: loneliness, unhappy relationships, work stress, money worries, anxiety, etc. No matter how much we THINK we know we are just 'feeling' stressed, our lizard brain (just picture the brain of a lizard- how smart do you think it really is?) thinks only that you are under attack and it goes into stress mode! Our body begins to make stress hormones- that eventually wear down our immune system and break down cells and cause blood pressure to rise and our heart rate to increase...and on and on...even if we're only "thinking" about something stressful! Amazing isn't it?

So how can we control that lizard in our brains? Well, there are many techniques- I've talked about many of them already- but here's a cool technique that has been proven to be highly effective for eliciting the relaxation response and improving health. It's from the book Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief by Dr. Herbert Benson.

  1. Pick a focus word- a prayer or short phrase that you believe to be true. Words, like Peace or Relax or prayers like Our Father Who Art in Heaven.
  2. Sit quietly, making sure you feel comfortable and close your eyes.
  3. Relax all your muscles. Start at your feet and move up your body, relaxing all the muscles as you go upward in your mind.
  4. Breath slowly, every time you take in a breath, think the word or phrase or prayer silently to yourself every time you exhale.
  5. Every time you find yourself thinking of something else- just say to yourself "oh well" and return to your breath and your word.
  6. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes.
  7. After that time, just sit quietly for a minute. Allow yourself some comfortable time to simply relax and return back to the room.
  8. Open your eyes and just sit for a little while longer.
  9. Practice this relaxation technique- twice a day if you can. Try it just before you go to bed. This hehlps with sleep always.

The important part of this entire exercise is to calm your lizard brain- so your body flows in an easy relaxed manner and moves back into healthy healing mode!

Hope you enjoy it!



Patricia Fares-O'Malley, Ph.D. received her doctoral degree in MindBody Psychology in 1998 and since then has written and published several articles and books on the subject of healing the body through the power of the mind, including, "Healing The Love Wound."


Ingalls CT Scans Can Provide Edge in Fight against Lung Cancer
By Debra Robbins, Ingalls Memorial Hospital 

Heavy smokers who are at least 55 years old and have smoked the equivalent of a pack for day for 30 years should have an annual CT scan to check for lung cancer, according to a recent recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF).

The recommendation, which could affect more than 9 million Americans, could mean that Medicare and many health insurance companies may have to start providing the test free to eligible patients.

The targeting group consists of current smokers ages 55 to 80 or former heavy smokers who quit less than 15 years ago.

"After years of research, the task force concluded that about 20 percent of lung cancer deaths might be avoided through early detection and treatment," explains Cressa Perish, M.D., board-certified family practice physician at Ingalls Family Care Center in Matteson.

Experts say the CT scan screenings are comparable in their effectiveness to mammography for breast cancer and colonoscopy for colorectal cancer- the biggest cancer killer.

Lung cancer doesn't start causing symptoms until it's spread. This type of cancer alone claims the lives of 160,000 Americans each year.

"That's why I talk to my patients at every visit about the risks of smoking," she said. "I check for risk factors and have a frank discussion about smoking cessation. My biggest goal is to convince them it's not worthwhile to smoke. If they don't want to quit and they meet the criteria for the scan, I tell them about this program that can catch lung cancers earlier."

For some, the $199 price tag, which at this point they have to pay themselves, is an obstacle.

"That's when I ask them to compare the price of a single scan vs. buying a pack of cigarettes every day for a whole year, which equates to $2,500-plus," Dr. Perish added. "The math is simple. And the value of the early CT scan speaks for itself. If we can catch lung cancers earlier, patients have a much better chance for a cure."

Ingalls Low-dose CT Scans 
If you're a heavy smoker and concerned about the possibility of lung cancer, you should consider the Ingalls Lungs for Life screening and early detection program. 

Introduced in 2007 and the first of its kind in the Southland, Lungs for Life uses low-dose spiral CT scanning to find cancerous lung tumors in early stages- when the tumor is still highly responsive to treatment.

Participation is based on the same criteria as the USPSTF standards stated above. Scans are available at the main hospital campus in Harvey, as well as the Ingalls Family Care Centers in Tinley Park, Flossmoor and Calumet City.

The Ingalls screening is a painless procedure that uses low-dose radiation to scan the entire chest in about 15 seconds, during a single, large breath-hold. The CT scanner rotates around the participant, who is lying still on a table as the table passes through the center of the scanner. A computer processes the digital information coming from the scanner and then assembles these images into highly detailed cross-sectional images of the lungs.

"Spiral CT can pick up tumors that are just a few millimeters in size, while chest X-rays can only detect tumors between 1 to 2 centimeters (0.4 to 0/8 inches) in size," she explained.

All CT scans are reviewed by state-of-the-art computer-aided detection software that is designed to detect small nodules.

Completed scans are interpreted by an Ingalls board- certified radiologist. If a screening participant's scan is normal, results are sent both to the participant and to his/her primary care doctor, and an annual CT screening will be recommended.For individuals with "positive" screening results- meaning that the scan reveals an abnormality- Ingalls immediately notifies the participant and the primary care doctor, and encourages a consultation with a specialist regarding further evaluation.

The scans are priced at $199 for the initial test and $149 for the subsequent annual screening scans. A physician referral is not required to schedule a lung CT scan, although a physician's name is listed to receive results. Also included is a free screening spirometry to help detect other lung function disorders.

As the nation's leading cause of cancer death, lung cancer is a devastating disease with a very high mortality rate- less than 5 percent survival for individuals with advanced lung cancer, or Stage 4. "The good news is that the five-year survival rate for individuals diagnosed with early lung cancer (Stage 1) is 70 percent," she added. "Even more encouraging, recent studies have shown that the 10 year survival rate for early-stage lung cancer is 92 percent. The key to surviving lung cancer is early detection and treatment. Spiral CT scanning is helping to make that possible."

The scans can also help detect other noncancerous lung conditions, including emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. Lungs for Life also focuses on the prevention of lung cancer and other diseases through a comprehensive smoking cessation program.

For more information about participating in Ingall's Lungs for Life lung cancer screening, call (708) 915-5864.


Journaling to Better Health! 
By Jessie Jury 

Commit to Acts of Kindness

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. - Scott Adams.

This week we celebrated World Kindness  Day, a holiday that was launched by the World Kindness Movement in 1998. It is now celebrated throughout the world by people who make an effort to do something nice for others- friends, family and strangers.

This is the time of year when we talk a lot about being thankful, and that's certainly a good practice any day. But what about making committing acts of kindness a conscious part of your daily ritual?

Doing good for others feels good. Research shows that a "positive feedback loop" exists between kindness and happiness. For example, when you do something nice for someone, like bringing a meal to a friend who could use it, in addition to making your friend feel good, it makes YOU feel good and you are more likely to commit more acts of kindness- and so on.

Journalling about your acts is a good way to reflect on what you're doing. Write down what you've done, for whom, what kind of a response you got and how it makes you feel.

We get so much when we give. It makes us happy, reduces anxiety, wards off depression and makes us feel more connected to those around us.

Click here for fun ways to celebrate World Kindness Day.

If you'd like to revisit older Journaling entries and prompts, find them here. Also please share your thoughts on what journaling means to you, as well as ideas for future articles on our Facebook page!