Instead of my usual MAC products, I doll myself up with my new dollar-store products. Then I attempt a manicure with the nail kit I purchased — unfortunately, the tools seem designed more as a play set for little girls than anything that can actually cut or file. And instead of my expensive curl products, I use the Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray, which takes me straight back to the stiff hair I sported in seventh grade. For the final touch, I take out the bottle of Cool Girl Cologne Spray I found sitting on the 99-cent shelf. The packaging looks as if it were designed in the 1970s, and the box itself is so dusty and faded that it might actually be that old. Opening it up, the floral smell hits me so hard it makes my eyes water. Luckily, the sprayer is broken, so I give myself a free pass.

Day Four This evening we were (thankfully) invited to a friend’s house for dinner. It’s raining, so immediately I reach for my usual heavy-duty red raincoat that Luke gave me for my birthday. But then I remember I can’t wear it. I have a 99-cent raincoat that is ready to make its debut.

As I leave the house in the flimsy, ankle-length purple coat, Luke comments that I look like Grimace from McDonald’s. For my hostess gift, I hold a Lady Linda raspberry cream cheesecake. Lest you think this sounds appealing, please note that it’s a packaged dessert that looks like something out of a vending machine. At the party, it sits by its lonely self on the table, uneaten.

Day Five After finding out that one of my best friends has become engaged, I reach into my treasure trove of dollar-store knickknacks and pull out a potential gift — a ceramic kitty peeking out of a boot. It may not be cut crystal, but I’m certain that this precocious rendering of a kitten will be kept in a special place in my friend’s home and treasured for years to come.

For dinner, I make what I deem my “Just Under the Wire” spaghetti with tomato sauce. The name is inspired by the fact that all the ingredients — including a suspect-looking container of Parmesan Reggiano that apparently does not require refrigeration? — were mere days from expiration. All in all, the meal’s actually pretty tasty.

Day Six Despite a few victories, I’m fed up with 99-cent-store living. The last straw is my baby sitter having sushi delivered to the house for lunch; I, though, toss something called a Souper Meal into the microwave and stare at it as it makes its way around in circles until the timer beeps. I’m left with a steaming-hot bowl of chicken-flavored (not chicken) deliciousness.

Later, as I give the babies a bath, I let them play with a rubber ducky I picked up for them at the store. The ducky came with several little ducks, which I’m pretty sure are choking hazards, so they don’t go near the tub. I also use some Babyish-brand wipes, which make my babies’ tushes smell like car air freshener. The package touts physiological pH — I’m still not sure what that means (though it sounds scientific).