December 2020 Home Item Recommendations From Monique Valeris

As Good Housekeeping’s senior home editor, I come across tons of home-related products, both good and bad. But there are some special finds that are just too great to keep to myself. That’s why I’m sharing my favorite home items with you — our readers — here on our website every month in the hope that you’ll appreciate them as much as I do.

Lately, I’ve found myself craving moments of self-care and searching for a few simple accessories to make the various spaces throughout my home more inviting. Between last-minute holiday gift shopping and reflecting on the many challenges that arose this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’m ready to discover a new sense of comfort in my home. Here’s a peek at the home products I have my eyes on at the moment, including a relaxing aromatherapy diffuser, chic dinnerware and a personalized charcuterie board.


Stone Diffuser

The moment I turn on any aromatherapy diffuser, I’m instantly put at ease. But this Vitruvi design will also look extra lovely on your side table — the terracotta color would work beautifully with the neutrals in my living room. 


Tube Wireless Bluetooth® Audio Speaker

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How It Works, Cost, and More

Keeping my closet organized has never been easy. Between having a significant wardrobe and struggling to find enough room for my ever-growing makeup collection, I’ve never managed to assemble a closet that made getting ready a breeze. As much as I tried, on any given day, I’d find myself hunting for a top buried at the back of my closet or searching endlessly for that one backup of a face cream I swear by. To say I grew tired of the disarray was an understatement.

When Yelp offered to help me find a professional organizer and cover the cost of a closet refresh, it felt like Christmas came early. On top of that, the company paired me with New York-based organizer Jeni Aron, founder of Clutter Cowgirl, and I couldn’t have asked for a better match.

Professional organizer Jeni Aron.

Monique Valeris

Keep in mind if I was searching for an organizer on on my own, I would simply click the “Request a Quote” feature on the site. After answering a few basic questions about the organizing project, you receive quotes from up to 10 different professional organizers in just minutes. And the best part is Yelp will

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Japanese maple puts on another excellent show

December 17, 2020

The show is over now, but during the past two weeks I watched the Japanese maple at the front corner of the house blush redder and redder.

Looking up through the leaves was like gazing through stained glass. I’m sure I looked odd staring up at the leaves, if any neighbors happened to see me. But I was pretty well hidden in there. Still, all those Ring cameras on front doors nowadays…

The giant leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’), which started flowering a few weeks ago and is still going, has been bringing in butterflies and bees, adding to the beauty of this shady corner.

With the sedge lawnette (Carex leavenworthii), variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), and ‘Everillo’ sedge along the foundation, it’s a typical mid-December scene, which I never tire of.

After a couple of recent dips down to freezing, the soap aloes (Aloe maculata) in the back garden have settled into their own version of winter color: intensified mauve leaves with orange tips and pronounced freckles.

It’s pretty psychedelic.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to

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5 Ways to Get Gunk off Your Dishes (Even When You Can’t See It)

We’ve all been there before, with the daunting, sticky kitchen messes: cinnamon roll residue on a baking sheet, melted cheese “glued” to a casserole dish, burnt bits of rice fused to the bottom of a pot—not to mention that lingering layer of grease or food film you feel but can’t even see.

Even with a dishwasher on your side, cleaning ultra-dirty dishes is a huge pain when you’re not sure how to tackle them—but if you’re armed with the right products and some smart strategies, it can be a breeze. These five fast fixes will have you cleaning, scrubbing, and scouring like a pro.

Give it a good soak

If you don’t happen to have a dishwasher, this easy method takes some time but calls for hardly any elbow grease. First, scrape away whatever debris you can with a plastic spatula or brush. Then, place your gunky baking pan in the sink, fill it with hot water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Then top it off with a dryer sheet (yes, really!) and let the pan sit like this for one hour. When the 60 minutes are up, wipe the pan all over with the dryer sheet—the

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