Rocky Mountain Roller Coasters and Musings on Thankfulness (with a Chocolate Apricot Tart)

I grew up in an observant home and we pretty much thanked God for everything. We thanked him religiously. It was a non-stop gratitude party. We said blessings of thanks before we ate our meal, after we consumed our meal, during the harvest, before we wore new clothes, and yes, even when our internal pipes functioned properly. There were prayers of thanks for pretty much everything under the sun (and appreciation when the rains came on a hot summer night). I remember thanking God for the trees, for the sky and for salamanders (I really loved salamanders when I was a kid.)
In addition to thanking God, I would thank my parents every now and again too. I remember writing them a letter thanking them for adopting me. It went something like, "Thank you for adopting me. I am lucky. The end." I was a thankful little girl. 
But recently I haven't been counting my blessings and I haven't been terribly thankful. When it looked like we would have to leave Denver (a place we love) and return to New York City, (my hometown, but someplace we don't want to raise our family for a myriad of reasons), I was consumed with anger, bitterness and stress. I kept concentrating on all the challenges the city presents for us, instead of on all the good things that can come from living there (great friends, my parents, our family, and, um, Culture yogurt-- it's seriously delicious.) I forgot that even if we would have to move back east, we have all the things that really matter: love. So what if I wouldn't instantaneously have the material things I wanted-- wanting is not needing. 
In the process of all of this, I forgot to be thankful for the things in my life. I have a mother who is my best friend and often does things that are not in her own best interests in order to support our dreams; I have a husband who is my partner in life and has made great sacrifices in order to make Colorado our home (not to mention his draining back-and-forth commute from Brooklyn to Denver); I have two healthy and beautiful children who are an absolute joy to watch; I have a brother and sister-in-law who, despite having six children  (that's right, six!) and demanding careers, always check in with us to see how we are doing; I have a best friend who will FaceTime with me well into the wee-hours of the night when I need to talk; and we have a really great circle of friends, who are some of the most supportive and incredible people I know. 
My problems are small in comparison to those who suffer from poor health and terminal diseases, from those who live under horrendous conditions (political and economic), from those who have no running water or from those who care for children with serious, life-threatening disabilities. There is real suffering in this world. And my concerns for a good quality of life, while legitimate, really aren't the worse challenges one can face in a lifetime. 
I have promised myself that if life presents any more lemons, I will turn them into lemonade. I think I just needed a little bit of perspective
But now let me share some good news: we got another last-minute-reprieve and we will stay in Colorado for another 6 months. I hope (really, really, hope) that this works out for us and jobs line up. But if it doesn’t, and we have to leave Colorado, I will remember to be thankful for the life we had here and for the good things we have back in New York…
For the next 6 months (and hopefully many more) I will happily blog about the city we love and the things we cook in our kitchen. Along the way you can also see how our little "sparrows" keep growing.
Thanks for all your support. The emails, calls and texts have meant a lot to me (and us). 
Special shout out to those of you who listened to me rant and indulged my periodic tantrums. You know who you are, and I love you.
I feel like celebrating with something sweet, so here is a recipe for Chocolate Apricot Tart. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Chocolate Apricot Tart (From my friend Charlotta)
My friend made this cake for me last year on the ocassion of my 35th birthday. She also brought it over to my house several days after Theodore was born. A few weeks ago she gave birth to her second daughter, so I thought this would be a nice time to post it. It's really easy to make and it tastes great. Enjoy!
Ingredients
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cocoa (I usually use Rademaker or another Dutch cocoa.)
2/3 cup flour
100 grams (a little less than a stick) melted butter
Apricot preserves (I used about half of a 12 ounce bottle, so around 6 ounces.)
Unsweetened chocolate (I used half of a thick 4 inch block of good chocolate.)
Sliced almonds (optional)
Preparation
Turn on the oven to 320 F.
Melt the butter and let it cool. Use some of the butter to grease a pie pan/spring form pan.
Stir all ingredients together in the order listed above (from eggs to butter-- stop there. Preserve, chocolate and almonds come later).
Bake 30-35 min. The tart should have a dry surface but be somewhat gooey inside.
Leave the tart to cool. When cool, spread a layer of apricot preserves on top.
Melt the chocolate (I melted the chocolate in a double boiler. I put some water in a small saucepan and brought it to a boil. Then I placed a bowl on top of the saucepan, added the chocolate and stirred it until it was melted.) 
Spread the chocolate on top of the apricot layer.
Decorate with almonds (optional).
Refrigerate for the chocolate to set. When set, eat, or cover with plastic wrap.
This cake is best served when it's cool, straight from the fridge. Don't leave out on the counter.
Enjoy!