Review of The Organized Heart: a woman’s guide to conquering chaos

God has appointed all my tasks – my work is planned by Him from the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 2: 9-10) Do all that I do with enthusiasm and purpose because I’m doing it for God. (Colossians 3:23) These are things that I remind myself of often, and that Staci Eastin also thinks of when she goes about daily life. In The Organized Heart she uses her 103 pages well, to with humility and grace, skip the fluff and hone in on why we do what we do. Motives are examined (I can hear you now – I just want to have order so I can think!) and dealt with so we can live our lives with peace in our hearts and heads. (You will be able to think.) From putting things off, to doing something else we’d rather do, to working our fingers to the bone to maintain a ‘perfect’ home, this book has something to say.

Most books on home and life organization are all about the tools we need to get the job done. Staci starts with the heart of the matter, which is our motives. In four chapters, she deals with Perfectionism, Busyness, Possessions and Leisure. Each chapter ends with “Explore” questions to help us see where our hold ups are and what to do about them. After dealing with heart issues she discusses the tools we need – calendars, lists and such. I think the difference is when we deal with our motives first, we use the tools rather than being slaves to them.

If you need a little extra kindness Staci Eastin has that, too. She addresses single moms and those who have health issues. She writes with wisdom about the different seasons in our lives and the fact that our personalities are not all the same. I appreciated her tenderness for those who are discouraged and feel hopeless. This is a book that I will refer back to many times. It is written by a wise woman who knows how to shine light where it needs to be shone in order to help us face ourselves, but who also applies God’s abundant grace to help us heal. I’d rather read this book than any of the other home organization books I’ve read over the years.

Making Liquid Laundry Soap

Yesterday I made liquid laundry soap for the second time. I got about 3 weeks out of the first batch. Since I’ve had a bit of extra laundry the past few weeks, I figure I’ll normally be making soap once a month. I’ve been using it exclusively so I could test it on towels, jeans, delicates, sheets and everything else before writing about it.

I’ll start by telling you I like it. This recipe makes a little over 2 gallons of liquid soap and it takes 1/2 to 1 cup per load. I use a whole cup for jeans and for towels, and gauge the other loads by size of the load and how dirty the clothes are. Since I’m using my solar clothes dryer (clothesline), I’m using vinegar in my rinse water. I’ve found that it makes the towels and jeans a little softer if I use a whole cup of vinegar, but I only need 1/2 a cup for other loads.

Here’s the recipe:

2 gallons of hot water

1 bar of soap

2 cups of baking soda

I measure 2 gallons of water into a big pot and let it heat while I grate the bar of soap. Our regular bath soap is Ivory and that is what I’m using. I’ve read that Fels-Naptha works, and I have a bar of that for getting out stains, but it says on the package that it is a skin irritant and we have fussy skin, so I’m sticking with what agrees with us. I use the finer side of the grater and grate right into a saucepan. I have to remember not to pop the last little bit of soap in my mouth when I get down to small pieces. You know how you do when you’re grating carrots? I have to remember that this is soap. And when it’s all nicely grated in the pot it looks like mozzarella cheese, and again, I have to resist the urge to taste.

After the soap is grated into a small saucepan, cover with water and heat over low heat till it’s melted. I use a fork to stir. The first time I made soap I thought this part would take a long time, like making roux for gumbo, but it didn’t. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. After it’s melted pour it into the bucket. I’m using a 5 gallon bucket that kitty litter came in. I also use a spatula to scrap the sides of the pan.

Then add the 2 gallons of hot water and stir. While still stirring, add the baking soda. Each time you use this soap, you will need to stir it. I keep the slotted spoon in the bucket for this purpose. Some folks like to store their liquid soap in bottles they have saved from commercial liquid soap. In that case, be sure to shake well before using.

If you want to try this but want to read more first, here is the website where I got the recipe. This is a really neat site: Here is another cool site with more laundry soap recipes: I did a bit of reading before I tried this. Different families like different soaps, and it was helpful to me to read and consider opinions before making my first batch. I’ve had no complaints from the family. Three adults are getting clean clothes and I’m smiling as I walk past expensive laundry soap at the store that I no longer have to buy.

ADDENDUM: When you pour the baking soda into the soap and hot water it foams a whole lot! More than double the space is taken up in the bucket than what you will see the next day when it’s all settled down, so mixing in a big bucket is necessary.

ADDENDUM #2 (March 9, 2013): After using this recipe for something close to two years, I decided to try another one. I’m now using #5 on the Tip Nut site. There is only one ingredient change (1 cup of washing soda instead of the baking soda and 1/2 a gallon more water). The procedure is the same as above. I think this one gets our clothes cleaner; they smell better anyway.