Might I tear you away from Pinterest for a few moments so you can read this post? I know you are getting ready to french braid your hair (sideways) and need to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients for those bacon and cinnamon roll muffins and are in the middle of building that new wrapping paper storage system, but take a few moments to look elsewhere. No. Don’t click “See More Pins.” I realize you need to print out that 30 day training regimen — because who wouldn’t want an ass like that? But trust me, you don’t know what a burpee is. Nor do you want to. I did them.

And the boots. I need those boots and those jeans and that sweater. And I want to have only matching accessories that show a little pop of coordinated color. I want to think about what I wear before I put it on, instead of throwing on jeans, a turtleneck, and boots as I run out the door to pick up the children.

It’s like a dream world, isn’t it? It’s the world without problems. It’s all exotic vacations and beautiful food and lovely bodies without back fat. It’s houses where the piles of school papers have a logical home that isn’t the front seat of your car. It’s houses with style and matching interiors with themes — rather than a mishmash of your parents’ furniture and stuff you bought from IKEA. It’s backyards with fireplaces, rather than snow or weeds or neighbors with annoying dogs. It’s thinking about life using inspirational sayings and being strong in who you are, rather than being small and weak and petty and insecure.

And I guess that’s why it is a tremendous escape. Life isn’t nearly as pretty. It has bad weather and cancer diagnoses and health scares and employees who are inspired by the petty rather than the positive. It has crime and moral failings and budget cuts and terrifying thoughts. It has self destructive behavior and asses with cellulite. And waistlines with stretch marks and closets that aren’t dedicated to crafting. It has kids who puke in the car on those same school papers — that were supposed to be returned last week.

Can we all just cut the crap with the need to have perfection? None of us live it. Even the people who you think do. They don’t. The “strongest” among us are insecure. The most “beautiful” among us feel ugly. And those people who you think serve only beautiful food (maybe me?) also make instant Jell-O Pudding. I did just last week. And you know what? It’s freaking easy.

And sometimes the world around you requires easy in the times of ugly.

But yesterday I took a little time and made this homemade “Nutella” (Irony alert. It was driven mostly by the fact that my son really wanted to try it and we can’t have the real stuff due to my daughter’s severe nut allergies). While on my no carb eating plan, I had a big dollop on a piece of toast. I licked the spatula multiple times and ate a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk. It is as delicious as I remember it. And then I served leftovers for dinner, had two glasses of wine, and passed out on the couch playing Words with Friends. My husband and I talked for a long time about some intense situations he is dealing with. We came up with no answers — but a lot more worry. I later realized that we forgot to pay an important bill. And my kids didn’t go to sleep until almost 9:30. I woke up this morning feeling anxious for no good reason.

Or maybe it was for a lot of good reasons. Reasons that come from not only the ugly of the world, but the ugly that we put upon ourselves.

Enjoy the “Nutella.”

Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Seed “Nutella”

Makes about one pint

1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted and cooled (you could also use sunflower seeds, or a mix)
2 T vegetable oil
4 ounces dark chocolate
4 T butter
2 t vanilla extract
3-4 T sweetened condensed milk (or more to taste)
1/8 cup of milk, warmed
1/2 salt

1. Place toasted pumpkin seeds in the food processor and process until finely chopped. Add 2 T vegetable oil in a steady stream while machine is still running. Continue to process the seeds for about 3 or 4 minutes — until they become like a nut butter consistency. You should scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything gets incorporated.

2. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter together. Add in the vanilla extract.

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the pumpkin seed mixture along with 3 T condensed milk and salt. Process for a few seconds. Taste and add more condensed milk if you like it a little sweeter. It may become very thick at this point. That’s OK.

4. Remove to a bowl and whisk in warmed milk, a tablespoon or so at a time until your “Nutella” is the desired consistency. You can add in more sweetened condensed milk if it needs it. Store in the refrigerator. Serve on toast, use for baking, or melt to top ice cream.

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