Day Two I wake up with renewed enthusiasm and decide it’s time to do the household cleaning. I take out my new cleaning products. Instead of my usual Bounty paper towels, I open a package of something called Plenty. It’s close enough in name, but in practice, it’s by no means “the quicker picker-upper.” Rather, it’s more like the slow distributor of dirt and residue. On the other hand, a colorful feather duster allows me to clean the oft-ignored light fixtures without straining. This momentary victory is eclipsed, though, when I go to the bathroom and remember that my precious Cottonelle has been replaced with the scratchy, industrial kind found in public bathrooms. I quickly realize this will be the hardest part of my one-week challenge.

When the baby sitter arrives, I sit down at my computer to write with a cup of coffee in my new 99-cent mug. On it is a picture of SpongeBob SquarePants, and below him are the words ?employee of the month. I take a sip of coffee, feeling busy and important. I like being employee of the month! Of course, anyone with 99 cents could buy this (likely unlicensed) mug, but I ignore the thought and get to work.

A few hours later, I take a break and decide to roll out the new welcome mat I purchased. A lovely color of brown with the words espresso and latte emblazoned across it in fancy script, it allows my visitors to fully appreciate my love for specialty coffee drinks. I go back inside to check on the babies, who are lying on the “no-mess floor mat” I bought. By the look and smell of things, it’s already time to throw it in the trash. Oh, well, at least it was only 99 cents.

Day Three Most mornings, I enjoy peanut butter and jam on a whole-wheat English muffin for breakfast. Unfortunately, today, my usual options are off-limits. Instead, I find myself staring skeptically at my new dollar-store condiments. My Forrelli brand peanut butter has a gray-brown color and tastes like the filling of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, except sweeter. And the Noel brand apricot fruit spread I’m planning on pairing it with has an unappealing gelatinous texture. I gingerly dip my knife into it, and it, too, tastes sickeningly sweet. So much for the most important meal of the day.

I begin to completely despair at the thought of having to go through with my experiment for the rest of the week. The afternoon passes uneventfully, but as dinner approaches, I dread the thought of fixing another meal. Then I realize it’s date night. An hour later, as I slip into a low-cut dress, I decide to forgo a bra in favor of my new “invisible lifts” (a surprise find at the dollar store). “Invisible lifts are shin friendly!” it says on the box. Even though I’m in my 30s, I’m pretty certain that my breasts are not that low, I think, before recognizing the typo. (The box meant to say “skin.”)