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    This Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day. It’s the day you’ve circled on your calendar to make sure you don’t forget to call your mom and pick her up some flowers. Each year the average person spends over $100 on Mother’s Day gifts and festivities. Instead of spending gobs of money you may not have on Mother’s Day gifts, think back to elementary school when homemade gifts and a sincere “I love you” were enough. Mother’s Day is not about spending money — it’s about making her day special by being thoughtful. Go back to basics this year with personalized gifts that your whole family pitches in for and a homemade brunch that shows off your sensitive side. 

    Homemade Brunch

    Making brunch at home is a good way to save money and impress your family with your uncanny cooking abilities. A great recipe for Mother’s Day is baked French toast with blueberries, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. The recipe looks complicated, but it only takes a mere 10 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes total to bake. The recipe serves four to six people.  

    Ingredients:

    Butter, for greasing
    6 eggs
    3 cups whole milk
    3/4 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon
    1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 lemon, zested
    3 (1-inch thick) slices (8 ounces) day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
    2 cups fresh or frozen, thawed and drained blueberries
    3 tablespoons granulated sugar

    Directions:

    Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

    In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest. Add the bread cubes, and mix until coated. Stir in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

    In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the egg mixture in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set. Spoon onto serving plates, and drizzle with maple syrup.

    Serve the French toast with Blood Orange Mimosas — Prosecco, Italian sparkling wine ($6 at Trader Joe’s) with a splash of orange juice and a slice of blood orange to garnish. This easy gourmet meal will have your family thinking you’ve spent all morning slaving away in the kitchen. 

    Personalized Gifts

    Flowers, chocolate or jewelry always seem to be the go-to gifts. It’s time to think outside the box and get a more personalized gift this year for Mother’s Day. 

    Department Store Shopping

    You do not have to go far to find great mom-friendly stores. Check out department stores Pier One and Cost Plus World Market in La Jolla Village Square to find a selection of unique items. 

    At Pier One there are in-store sales and clearance items such as candles and home decor for $15 and under. A set of wine charms ($6) can spice up any old bottle of wine and are perfect for gifting or entertaining.

    At Cost Plus World Market there are a variety of sale items available for Mother’s Day. An antique silver wall-mounted jewelry holder ($15) with a metal mesh backing is the perfect organizer for all of mom’s earrings, bracelets and necklaces. 

    Both stores also offer gift cards, in case you would rather let your mom decide on a gift for herself. 

    Crafted Gifts

    If you’re low on cash but still want to give your mom something meaningful, crafted gifts are a great way to go. The best part about these gifts is that they are personalized, so your mom will know that there was love and effort put into them.

    One idea is to find a nice picture of you and your mom, and send it to a nearby photo shop to be printed. Make the frame personalized by decorating it and putting in a memorable photo. 

    If your mom really enjoys music, browse through your iTunes library, make a compilation of her favorite songs and burn them onto a CD for her. Add an extra touch by handwriting the songs listed on the playlist, and draw something for cover art on your personalized album.

    In the end it doesn’t matter if your French toast is a little burnt or the CD you made is a little scratched. The most important thing is that you took time out of your day to appreciate your mom. Many of us may be hundreds of miles away from our mothers, but don’t let this stop you from letting her know how much you love her with a call, an email or even a Skype session. Flowers wilt, and cards get stuffed in a file cabinet, but the feeling of being appreciated is something your mother will never forget.

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