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UPDATE Re: How to Take an AncestryDNA Test Without Saliva

As some of you may have seen in a previous blog, I recently devised a method to obtain a saliva sample for DNA testing without using actual saliva. (For full instructions, see my blog post: How to do an AncestryDNA test WITHOUT spit) This method has been questioned by many in genetic genealogy circles, however, I have yet to be made aware of it failing. This method has been successfully used with AncestryDNA as well as 23andme.

I originally developed this method in December 2016 after my daughter refused to spit in the vial without immediately gulping it down right after. Geesh… three-year-olds these days… While begging and pleading with someone who can barely count, I started brainstorming how I could possibly get DNA without spit for this test. I knew it was a frequent problem in some of my DNA circles, especially among elderly people. I thought that maybe my three-year-old could be an important part of figuring out how to obtain a sample. Perhaps this experiment could help other people obtain valuable data that they may not have been able to otherwise. So I jumped in feet first and did my best using what I knew already and what I researched after. I was on pins and needles and kept the whole thing hush-hush until I knew if it worked.

Sure enough, her results came back perfect. At that point, I decided to do another test to demonstrate my method for others to replicate. Jacob was my (super adorable) model and volunteer. Sure enough, just like his cousin’s results, his results came in perfect and exactly as we expected them to.

Additionally, a woman commented on my previous blog that she tried my method with a 23andme kit (and her own mouth) and the results came back correctly, showing her second kit as an identical twin to her first kit!

HELP ME OUT!

Now, here’s where I need help. If you used my method, PLEASE comment here on my blog or on my youtube videos and let me know what the outcome was. So far, I am 2 for 2 in the tests I have done using artificial saliva, but that’s not a very large sample size. If you’ve attempted my method, let me know! I’d love to be able to keep track of successes!

So far, the running tally for my method is;

Ancestry: 2/2

23andme: 1/1

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How to do an AncestryDNA test WITHOUT spit

I haven’t written my reviews on the three big ancestral DNA companies, but I plan to soon. When I do, it will become glaringly obvious how obsessed I am with genetic genealogy. The science behind it is amazing, and in many cases (like mine) it can be completely life-altering. There’s one issue though; two of the three companies require saliva samples and not a cheek swab. While this might not seem like a big deal, it can be when you’re trying to test older generations as the elderly often have difficulty trying to produce enough saliva. Sometimes certain medications can also affect spit production. So, while a teaspoon of spit might not seem like a lot, many people have had to forgo testing at their company of choice due to difficulty producing saliva. On individuals who are searching for biological family using genetic genealogy, this is a huge blow and can dramatically reduce the odds of finding good matches. Fortunately, this hasn’t really been an issue for me, but I discovered the solution to this problem doing a “just for fun” test.

I originally developed an interest in genetic genealogy for the purpose of identifying my biological father. It quickly spiralled out of control into a full-blown hobby/addiction. I manage a couple dozen DNA tests for friends and relatives. I tested my daughter in 2015 and when Ancestry had their Black Friday sale (Hello, $69 DNA tests!) I decided to test my remaining children. The 7 year old did fine. The 5 year old did fine. The 3 year old, however, did not. She is strong-willed and refused to let me hold the vial. Problem was, she would spit, then drink it, spit, then drink it, over and over. And if I tried to hold it, she would refuse to even attempt to spit and throw herself on the floor in a tantrum. I was getting stressed once we hit two hours of attempting to collect a sample from a bratty toddler and I gave up.

The spit-drinker and I.

After complaining about it to my husband, he asked me “Well, is there a way to do it without her spitting into the tube?” I tried explaining that the topic comes up frequently on my DNA group, but as far as I am aware, no one has figured out how yet. He suggested I figure it out.

Challenge accepted.

I did a lot of research and learned that saliva is approximately 99% water and the remainder is electrolytes, enzymes and other naturally occurring substances. I kept researching how to make artificial saliva and after a few days, I was pretty sure I had a theory figured out. My biggest concern was that I would accidentally create a hypotonic solution and the cells would burst, but at this point, what would it hurt to at least try? If it fails, it fails. If it succeeds, I could help a lot of people in much more serious predicaments than a strong willed toddler. If my ridiculous amount of biology courses prepared me for anything, it was for this moment. I took a leap of faith, created an artificial saliva solution and guess what? It worked. Perfectly. I was on pins and needles the entire time her sample was processing, but as soon as those results came in, I knew I had figured it out! I was shocked. I was sooooo sure the test would fail. So here’s the information YOU will need in order to re-create my artificial saliva test kit.

If you have the time, PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO. It can be so much easier to understand with the visual/audio explanation versus the written! Please watch the video before asking me questions! I know it’s long, but bear with me!

SUPPLIES:

You will not need a lot of supplies, but you will need more than if you were to just spit in the tube.

1: Create Your Artificial Saliva Solution

  1. Pour a fair amount of distilled water into one of the clean cups.
  2. Spray a small amount of saline into another clean cup until it pools in the bottom.
  3. Measure 99ml of distilled water into the third clean cup.
  4. Measure 1ml of saline into the third clean cup.
  5. Discard the two unmixed cups.

2: Take Your Sample

Now the fun part! You will need to obtain your sample.

  1. Measure approximately 5ml of your artificial saliva and fill the test tube 2-3mm ABOVE the fill line. As you remove swabs, liquid will be removed from the container, so overfilling it very slightly will not be a problem.
  2. Swab the GUM brushes on the cheeks 10-20 seconds, then place tip down into the DNA tube to soak for another 10-20 seconds. You may “stir” them in the tube as well. Remove the swab carefully allowing the liquid to drip off of it and into the vial, and scraping the swab along the edge to ensure as much is left behind as possible.
  3. Repeat above until all 8 swabs have been used. While swabbing, it is best to leave the previous swab in the solution to soak.

Note: If the mouth is especially dry, dip the swab tip in your excess solution before swabbing.

3: Proceed as normal

At this point, your saliva sample should look identical to actual saliva. It’s actually pretty cool. If you tilt and swish it near a light source, you should be able to see debris from the cheeks and it should be thick and slimy just like actual spit. Screw on the cap with the stabilizing liquid, place it in the pouch, seal the box and ship it in!

 

Conclusion:

This method was very successful for me. I used it to obtain DNA results for my bratty strong willed 3 year old who kept drinking her spit, despite my pleas and attempts at bribery. Her results, despite my doubts about my methods, came back perfectly and took the normal amount of processing time when compared to other kits obtained through normal spitting.

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Sprouting Fail to Sprouting Win…

I’m a weirdo. I absolutely love vegetables and sprouts are definitely one of my favorites, especially while re-lactating, as they can actually help to improve my breast milk supply when I eat sprouts like red clover blossom, fenugreek and alfalfa. I just love sprouts though. Especially on sandwiches, in wraps or I will even munch on them plain! My youngest kid must be like me because I can hand her a bowl of sprouts and a fork and she’ll eat it like spaghetti, twisting her fork and slurping them up. There were a few problems with it though.

  1. Sprouts are reallyyyyyy expensive here. A small 8oz container at the stores here could run as much as $6.
  2. Sprouts are reallyyyyy hard to find here. No joke. Nine times out of ten, I’d go to the produce section and wouldn’t be able to find any sprouts of any kind. It’s kind of depressing, but I guess they’d be a more fragile produce item to transport to Alaska.

Because of these two things, I decided to start sprouting myself. It’s actually really simple and I didn’t even buy any special gear. Just a few mason jars and some plastic mesh. Maybe I’ll write up a tutorial on that soon. The problem I kept having though, was that the water would pool at the neck of the jar and my sprouts would rot. I am not kidding when I tell you that they rotted. They were full on rotting. It smelled like something died in my kitchen. I was rinsing them twice a day and setting them to drain, but I just couldn’t figure out the best way to do it. It was pretty hit and miss. Some batches, I guess I had them lined up perfectly, yet the next batch I would do what I thought was the exact same thing, and my sprouts would rot.

Needless to say, it was frustrating.

Initially, I had two jars propped up in an aluminum bowl like this, which was fine and dandy the first batch… But not the second… or third… or fourth…

After three &*%&()* batches of sprouts that were rotting and getting nasty within just days, I decided to go for plan B. I found a long narrow container in the home department at Fred Meyer that looked as though it would fit perfectly. It worked great at first.

The first few days it was great. The water drained. The seeds started sprouting. Then they started growing. I thought we were in the clear. Then, of course, it all went south. As soon as the sprouts were about half-way done, they started blocking the holes in the mesh, which was directly pressed against the bottom of the container. Cue more rotting sprouts.

At this point, I considered building some kind of little miniature wooden table to fit over the long container with holes for the necks of the jars, but I just never got around to doing it. I was about ready to give up. Then, while washing my pump pieces, I realized that my Boon Countertop Drying rack was sturdy, solid, and well-aerated. Perhaps that would work for sprouting seeds without the issues I was having previously.

 

I gave it a shot. The sprouts turned out perfect. Nervous it was just a fluke like my last “perfect” batch, I tried again a few times. It worked perfectly every single time!

Happy Sprouting!

 

*Disclaimer: I was not provided any compensation for this post, nor did I recieve any complimentary products. I have purchased this item on my own, with my own money. My opinions expressed in this review have not been influenced and are my own. This post contains affiliate links.4

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Tutorial: How to Make Cloth Pocket Diapers out of Old T-Shirts!

Okay, so I’ve had a few people ask me how I made my diapers out of old t-shirts… It might be easy enough for a cloth diaper vet to figure out how to make them, but for a lot of women, especially people who are new to cloth diapers, it can be really… elusive? So, I’ve broken down the steps in this video with directions on how to make your own cloth diapers out of old t-shirts. Alternately, if you don’t want to watch the video, you can read the tutorial below.

Okay, so you already watched the video, rated, commented and subscribed to show you love me? He he he. Just kidding… You don’t have to. But, I really enjoy it when people do!

Onto the Tutorial

**Note: I use 1/4 inch seam allowance. You can use whatever you like for yours, or whatever your pattern calls for. Just make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end of EVERY seam!!!!

This set of instructions can be used, and reproduced as long as you give me credit and link back to this blog post.

1. You need an old t-shirt.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

Now, preferably, your shirt should be a size Large or bigger. But, depending on what size of diaper you’re making, you may be able to get away with using a small or medium shirt.

2. Pin and cut your pattern.

Now, I don’t know what pattern you’re using. I’m using one I made myself… But, for obvious reasons, you have to pin your pattern. You can lay you’re shirt out a few different ways, but if you want to use the design or logo that’s on the shirt, you should fold the design part of the shirt in half and cut the two peices for your diaper separately. If you don’t care about the design, you can just fold the shirt in half (both layers) and cut both peices out at once.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

I laid mine out in a way so I could get the design on the body of the pattern. Like I said, you don’t have to do it this way, but when there is a design on the shirt, I prefer to. After all, who doesn’t like having cool designs on their diapers?

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

Pin your pattern down. Depending on what pattern you’re using and how big it is, will determine how much you can get out of a shirt. I’m using a size large pattern that I designed myself, and I can get enough for both peices out of a men’s size large t-shirt. With smaller shirts, you may only be able to get one piece, depending on your pattern size. In that case, use two shirts, and mix and match the pieces.

3. Cut your pattern out.

Might seem obvious, okay, it is… But you’re going to need to cut your pattern out!

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

If you’re only cutting one peice at a time, be careful not to cut the other layer of the shirt while cutting out your pattern. Make sure you smooth it out really well, and check it every few cuts!

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

So, now you have one (or both, depending how you cut it) pieces for your diaper!

If you cut out one piece, continue on to step 4. If you cut out both pieces, skip to step five.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the second piece.

Like I said, you’re going to need two pieces for your diaper, so if you only cut one piece out, then repeat steps 1-3 using the other side of the t-shirt, or a second t-shirt depending on your shirts size. When you’re done, you should have two pieces, identical in size.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

5. Pin and sew the side

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

Lay your pieces right sides together and pin ONE side together, edges even. Then sew that side. Repeat for the second side, leaving the ends open.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

6. Sew the front end of the diaper shut.

You have both sides sewn. Now, you need to sew the front end of the diaper shut.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

I don’t even use pins for this. I just hold it as I’m going, make sure the edges stay even, and sew it shut. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can use pins, but its not necessary.

7. Mark your pocket and sew.

This step is a tiny bit trickier. I fold my diaper in half (in order to ensure the pocket is directly in the middle and not off center), and then use a pin to mark where each side of the hole will begin.

It’s a little difficult to see in the picture, but I have two pins, about 6-8 inches apart. It really doesn’t matter how far apart they are, however, keep in mind, you want to pin it at least two inches bigger than the actual finished hole will be because the elastic will shrink it, and you need to be able to fit your hand in it.

Once you have your pins marking where the hole will be, sew from the side, to the pin on both sides, leaving the hole open.

8. Sew in your side elastic.

Now, it’s time to add your side elastic! This step is relatively easy and for the most part, you can just eye it.

Cut your elastic (I use 7-8 inches and then trim the excess). You’re going to sew it right along the side seams, starting at about the bottom of the front diaper flap, and ending at the bottom (as if it were being worn) diaper flap. You do not put elastic on the flaps at all. Just along the side body part of the diaper. I use a zigzag stitch for this step. Make sure you’re stretching it tight as you sew!!! Repeat this step for the opposite side.

**Note:If your diaper has a pattern on it, make sure you’re sewing the elastic onto the side of the diaper that does NOT have the pattern you want shown on it.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

9. Make a casing and add elastic.

Now, you’re going to fold the fabric on one side of the hole down, and sew it straight across, leaving both ends open. This will serve as a casing for your elastic.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

As you can see in the photo, I simply folded it down, and sewed from one finger, to the other, leaving the ends of my casing open.

Cut your elastic slightly larger than half the length of your pocket hole, and sew it on one end of the casing, before threading it through and sewing the other end down.Your elastic is only sewn on the ends, and is simply threaded through the casing.

Repeat this for the other side of the hole. Your entire pocket hole should have elastic in it now and should look similar to this.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

10. Turn your diaper right side out.

Your diaper has been sewn together inside out. By reaching into the pocket hole, you can turn your diaper right side out and then use a point turner, to make sure all of the corners and points come out as well.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

Congratulations, you just made a diaper out of an old t-shirt! Your diaper should look somewhat like this:

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

You can leave your diaper as it is, and use diaper pins with it, like I do, or you can add velcro, snaps or buttons to help you fasten it! I prefer snaps, but unfortunately, I don’t have a snap press, and my son LOVES taking off velcro, so we use diaper pins!

11. Using your diaper.

Before you use your diaper, you’ll need to stuff some kind of soaker in it. You can make your own soaker pad out of old sweatshirts (I sense a future tutorial…) or you can simply use prefold cloth diapers, or even just a terry cloth towel.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial

Stuff whatever soaker material you’d like to use into the diaper, and you’re ready to go! Put it on baby, fasten it, and you’re done!

Please keep in mind that this type of diaper, because its made out of cotton and old t-shirts, will most likely need a diaper cover, since it’s not water proof. You don’t have to use one, but a lot of people do. If you pad it well enough, and change your baby often, you might not need to, but to prevent accidents, I would recommend using one. You can buy plastic pants and just pull them up over the diaper, or use an actual velcro or snap diaper cover as well, or even a wool cover. Whatever you prefer.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! If you liked it, let me know! Leave me a comment! Rate, comment and subscribe to my youtube video! Make your own diaper, show it on your blog and link back to me or even just throw me a comment with a photo! I’d love to see what you create!

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