I looked at my calendar in panic as the seemingly endless list of to-dos smothered the entire month of April – as each week inched closer to the date of our departure the busier my days seemed to get.  Breathe in breathe out.  One day at a time, I told myself – only a few more days and you’ll be there:  in the full glory of everything Europe surrounded by deeply rooted cultures, magnificent architecture, glorious delicious food and art museums galore.  It’s been the trip I’ve been waiting for a lifetime and what better way to enjoy an adventure than with my one true love?

Unfortunately I was inching on border-line panic attacks earlier this week, I felt completely overwhelmed and that two cups of coffee in the morning didn’t seem to help with my anxiety.  My heart was racing, my mind was in a million places and my chest felt alarmingly tight. I would become so immersed in work that I’d often forget to eat only to realize it was 6pm and here I was with a headache and feeling grumpy as all hell.  Tuesday felt like the worst day of my life – for absolutely no reason.  I woke up, felt like a failure, cried for a good 30 minutes on my credibility as an artist and continued to sulk over the piles of papers I was supposed to have organized last week.

I allowed my stress to run completely out of control and as a result it threw my energy into a jumbled, dreadful mess.  The sad part is, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our emotions that we never take the time to  realize the effects that stress has on our bodies.  Some common health problems that are caused and worsened with stress include cardiovascular disease and hypertension, depression and anxiety, sleeplessness and fatigue, memory loss and changes in appetite 1.

Groundbreaking research has revealed the detrimental results that stress can cause on our bodies — how it can shrink our brains, add fat to our bellies and even unravel our chromosomes. Understanding how stress works can help us figure out ways to combat it and mitigate negative impacts on our health 2. One of the most important things we need to realize is the minute we feel high levels of stress in our every day lives, we need to take the time to step away, calm our nerves, reset our energies and start again.  This can be done through exercising (jogging, yoga, weightlifting), meditation or even a simple 10-minute stretching break.

Today I had a day of rest and meditation.  I woke up and cut vegetables and some flowers from our garden and made a lovely floral arrangement using mustard greens, fotinia and onion flower plus a few sprigs of baby breaths for a touch of softness.  I laid out a mat and sat on our deck and took deep breaths in and out for 30 minutes.  I then fixed lunch for Wells and I and made a hearty sandwich using farm fresh organic eggs, rustic rosemary bread, and peppery mustard greens with a lemony basil mayo.  I wrapped up a few projects and spent the rest of the day testing out this cocktail: The Cuke.  A delightful mixture of lime, fresh mint, cucumber and raw cane sugar muddled with sparkling water and Hendrick’s Gin (I chose to add a handful of Muscato grapes for a little extra sweetness.)

It was bright, refreshing, and crisp with just the right amount of sweetness– the perfect ending to a relaxing day.  We sat outside on the deck after dinner tonight, listening to the birds chatter watching the occasional lightening bug flicker amidst the darkness. I closed my eyes and felt the slight breeze cascade across my face smelling the damp earth and feeling the coolness of the glass trickling down my hand.  Everything felt right again – my eyes could see clearly, my mind felt peaceful and organized, and my heart was back to it’s original beat: slow but strong; calm but driven; open and ready to receive.

Don’t ever let stress ruin your mind, your body, your spirit.  You deserve that time to yourself even if you have to put the World on hold.  Your health should always be first because without it, life suddenly becomes a whole hell of a lot harder.  So take that break, find your moment of silence, center your mind and rejuvenate your body.  Cuke it up this weekend and in the lyrical words of the great Bob Marley Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” Amen to that.


  1. Jennifer (Delicieux) says: 22 Apr ’11 • 09:49:25

    Sorry to hear you’ve been stressed. It’s terrible the effect stress has on our bodies, but sadly we often overlook that and try to struggle on. This cocktail looks like a lovely way to chill out. I love the combination of flavors.

    Enjoy your holiday.


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:35:41

      Thank you Jennifer! Stress literally stinks, this may be TMI but I usually never have BO and last week my armpits surprised myself. It was gross. Never ever again. Thank you for your kind words and wishes, have a beautiful weekend!

  2. Joan Nova says: 22 Apr ’11 • 12:54:58

    Stunningly beautiful. Just looking at the photos, I’ve decompressed for the day.


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:34:42

      Joan, you make my heart sing :) Thank you for that

  3. Divina says: 22 Apr ’11 • 13:36:43

    Nice to be back here and the photos are absolutely stunning. I could totally relate. Sometimes I feel like a failure and I haven’t done anything right. And I realized it was actually my monthly period that’s messing up with my mood. Stress doesn’t really help with our emotions to and it does affect the brain. Thanks for the reminder. Need to take care of myself before going back to work next week. Have a fun trip in Europe.


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:34:26

      HAHA Divina you are so right!! Collin always knows when I’m about to be on mine because I get slightly edgy — he gives me a gentle reminder and I realize I need to have a time out and stop acting so crazy. PLEASE take care of yourself before going back to work, you deserve it for all that you do for others. Thank you for your wishes, I miss you and hope you are doing well.

  4. Kristen says: 22 Apr ’11 • 15:04:32

    I completely agree with Joan. It’s not yet 8am on the west coast and just looking at your photos helped me chil-lax before my day officially starts! Now I can’t wait until I have a day off to actually try your yummy looking cukes and I really can’t wait until my cuc sprouts actually start producing fruit.

    Also, just keep that Bob Marley mantra in your head because everything will be alright. I love it and use it all the time. The other thing I ask myself on a regular basis is, “Is the world going to end as I know it if this doesn’t get done right now?” The answer is usually no and it definitely helps on those special occasions when I try to put too much on my plate. In the end, magically every ends up getting accomplished.

    Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful trip! Eat lots of yummy food and I can’t wait to see the photos!



    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:32:56

      Wow Kristen, cant tell you how much your words helped me today. You are right, sometimes we fret so much about nothing — everything will be okay mon! ^_- I’ve finally turned it down a few notches and basking in the excitement opposed to the stress. Life is much happier this way :) Thank you for the well wishes I can’t wait to share!!!

    • Kristen says: 23 Apr ’11 • 02:44:29

      I’m so happy to hear that anxiety has given way to excitement. Have a great weekend and the countdown is on!

  5. Josh says: 22 Apr ’11 • 18:03:09

    I don’t know what looks better this recipe or the photos. I’m glad spring is here ’cause I love using cucumbers in my cocktails. So fresh.


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:31:32

      Thank you so much Josh what a nice comment :) ! Have a lovely weekend

  6. Sukaina says: 22 Apr ’11 • 18:23:00

    This is just the kind of post I needed. I have been feeling much the same except I don’t even havea trip looming. Sometimes you just need to get out and at one with nature to forget your troubles. The drink looks very fresh and springy indeed.


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:31:09

      Sukaina absolutely — nature always brings me back to where I need to be. Thank you for your words and I hope you take the time to unwind and take care of yourself too! :)

  7. Nadia says: 22 Apr ’11 • 18:45:37

    beautiful and refreshing!
    Joy, every time I look at your blog I feel like I’m looking at Saveur or Food and Wine, your pics are STUNNING!


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:30:32

      Oh Nadia I can always count on you to feel like a million bucks, thank you so much lovely!

  8. Angela says: 22 Apr ’11 • 20:10:31

    This drink sounds delightful- good call on adding the muscato grapes, excellent touch.

    Fret not- I’m sure all will get better soon, and you’ll be soaking it up in Europe! Can’t wait to hear all about it!


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:30:10

      Thank you Angela!! I love muscato grapes they taste like lychees :) Once I get back we should grab drinks, summer will finally be here !

  9. JourneyKitchen says: 22 Apr ’11 • 20:42:57

    Oh Joy this is so beautiful. You pictures are always so stunning :-) One day at a time is one thing I tell myself all the time too. Things fall in place trust me :-)


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:29:29

      Thank you Kulsum as are yours!! Thank you for your comforting words, I am now relaxed — I soothed my stress with a huge sushi dinner at my favorite restaurant last night. Thank god for good husbands :)

  10. The Healthy Engineer says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:24:20

    This is so unbelievably beautiful, and the last words of this post make me so happy.

    Maybe I can’t see clearly or my brain is mushy from this week, but what is the garnish in the photos? Particularly, the type of salt/sugar on the rim and the round thing (a grape?) on top of the sliced cucumbers?

    It all looks so refreshing.


    • Joy says: 22 Apr ’11 • 23:28:46

      Hello Ashima

      Thank you for your sweet words — the garnish is a muscato grape dusted in raw cane sugar and yes, sitting ontop of two thinly sliced cucumbers. It’s a nice crunchy and refreshing touch to the drink :) Enjoy your weekend!

  11. Amanda @ Easy Peasy says: 23 Apr ’11 • 05:40:32

    Ahh … sounds perfect. Happy to meet your blog! :)


  12. J Dubbs says: 24 Apr ’11 • 13:55:16

    i just started my first job not too long ago and stressed myself out to the point where i couldn’t relax and was tensed, anxious, nervous, depressed all day, everyday. i lost weight and even worse, my appetite – thanks for reminding me that i come before anything else :)


  13. Xiaolu/6Bittersweets says: 24 Apr ’11 • 20:44:16

    What a great post and I love how detailed you got about the effects of stress. I have personally experienced many of the pitfalls firsthand. People are surprised to find I have serious disturbed sleep/insomnia at only 25. It’s really affected my career path choices and how I view life in general. Going back, I’d have to say it wasn’t worth it to put myself through a lot of what I did and I would still have gotten many of the achievements with much less effort and worry. Your drink and photos look great, especially the 3rd one down.


  14. Steven Doyle says: 24 Apr ’11 • 21:07:35

    Hendrick’s is my fave gin, and love me some cucumber with a tall, cool glass of tonic. Greatness per usual!


  15. xq says: 25 Apr ’11 • 06:12:32

    your photos are gorgeous, and i love the way you styled these stunning cocktails! mmm hendricks :)


  16. Brian says: 25 Apr ’11 • 14:12:44

    Oh… we must be kindred spirits! Because this sounds like my kind of drink… almost as if it were created just for me.


  17. christelle says: 25 Apr ’11 • 19:26:58

    What a beautiful post Joy! Make me dream of summertime!


  18. [email protected] says: 30 Apr ’11 • 09:18:37

    Oh boy have I been there before, there are just times when you need to let it out before you can catch your breath an re-group. Stress in going to happen, it’s how you deal with it when it does that counts. I’m still working on that second part, lol.


  19. [...] The Cuke Cocktail [...]


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