I was painting near Clairemont Mesa in San Diego a couple of days ago and needed to take a break while waiting for the paint to dry before completing the faux finish.  What to do?

Well, my mom is Chinese, so whenever she needed Asian ingredients for cooking, or if we wanted Dim Sum or good Asian comfort food….Clairemont is where we’d go.  And I was just a stone’s throw away…

So, with an hour to kill and my stomach growling, I decided to head over to the Asian markets and do something I rarely ever get to do these days: eat, browse and shop….ALL ALONE (without kids)!!!   Freedom!

If you’ve never ventured into an Asian market, then you are missing out!  There are so many interesting products, exotic fruits, live seafood and unique smells…it’s kind of an adventure!  My kids are always asking to take a trip to Ranch Market 99, “Mommy, can we go to the place with the lobsters and crabs in the tanks?”…. it’s as much fun for them as going to the zoo!  They’d be so mad if they knew I went without them!  

So, with my new favorite iphone camera app (Hipstamatic), and an hour all to myself….I popped into Marukai Value Mart….this is like the Japanese version of the 99c store.  Only everything is $1.89 (unless otherwise marked).  I went in with the intention of getting a plastic bento box for Mason’s school lunch.  But found so much more!  I saw lots of great ideas for wedding/party favors, kids’ parties, and home organizational solutions.

They have some pretty awesome stuff for $1.89….most notable are the hand-painted and glazed china and ceramic dishes.  And the quality is much better than any dishes, glasses or housewares you’d find at the 99c store or Dollar Tree.   

Cute condiment containers!
Pretty hand-painted floral dishes and bowls…
Love these debossed/patterned pale green plates.

I love the bohemian hand-painted pattern on this soup bowl serving set.
Fun green dots.
These sauce dishes would make great favor containers or candle holders for a wedding or party!
I see votive candle holders…
I adore these blue and green glazed bowls….
Lovely shape for serving appetizers or snacks for tea…
So many possibilities for these: serving dishes, separating spices and ingredients for cooking, watercolors/paints, organizing kitchen drawers…

These are for tea service, I think.   But I’m sure I could find some interesting ways to paint the wood and use them for another function….whether it’s decorating or organizing.

Where else can you find a seaweed shape punch for decorating your sushi?
Interesting pail shapes…simple, minimalist look and works nicely for organizing toys and stuff.

Adorable and colorful….dot textured pails.  Perfect for a birthday party “goodie” bucket!
I’m in love with these metal trash cans.  My sister happened to go to Marukai this week and almost got one too!

Funky fresh piggy banks.  Favors for a kid’s party?
I got the froggie one for Isaac’s room.  My sister said she saw these on Urban Outfitters for much more!

Sweetest little paper liner cups for holding treats.  I thought they were cupcake liners, but my sister said they’re used for separating different food items in kids’ bento lunchboxes.  Fun!

All sorts of baking cups, liners and shapes.

Finger puppets!  They have a lot of great ideas for kids’ parties goodie bags and  favors.
For Halloween, party themes or dress-up: fabric costume masks…
Terrific stationery sets!  With just a little bit of modification (to hide some of the unusual phrases, wording and spelling), these sets could make cool invitations or customized correspondence.  Good for goodie bags too!
Where were these when I was doing my custom baking party invitations?!

These shape erasers are all the rage and way cheaper at Marukai than at other stores.

Had to get my kids some cool food-shaped erasers.  The amount of detail is amazing!
An assortment of divided, plastic pill boxes….but I’m thinking travel jewelry organizer or containers for  sewing or scrapbooking embellishments (eyelets, grommets, brads, buttons, etc.).

Kids’ math and reading workbooks.  They’re all in Japanese, but I just like how they were colorfully organized.

Smart!  A watering can and spray mister in one!
Very pretty plant pots.  The double-pot would be cute to create centerpieces or favors for a “twins” baby shower.    All of them are a great size for organizing brushes, markers, pens and other tools.

Some of the amazing produce I picked up after my Marukai adventure at Ranch Market 99:  the prices are unbelievable!   A HUGE Chinese eggplant was 44 cents!  A bag of fresh ginger for $1.19?  So many fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices you simply cannot find at a regular grocery store….for cheap!

Have a great weekend!

This entry was posted in Awesome Birthday Parties, Cool Stuff, Fun Finds, Weddings. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to >ALL IN A LUNCH BREAK…

  1. Chris C says:

    >Love it! I go to Marukai all the time (I even have the discount card). I love Ranch 99 too. My non-Asian friends say it smells weird or bad, but like you I prefer unique. Can't beat the produce prices and selection. Man… now I have a craving for Dim Sum. Gonna have to hit up China Max this Sunday. :o9

  2. EITAKdesign says:

    >I was just talking about China Max with my sister….thinking about going on Sunday, too! But I'm fighting off a cold, so we'll see. Happy Dim Sum!

  3. Cindy Lowe says:

    >I love that store!

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