The Finland Education Phenomenon

About two weeks ago, I read about Finland's education system through Chuvanesss' blog post Why I don’t pressure my kids to get the highest grades.  The video below shared on the post got my attention.
This got me curious and I did my own research on Finland's graduates and how successful they become. I learned that Finland's education system consistently ranked as one of the best in the world the past years.
Here are some key ideas from their education system that are noteworthy for me.
  • Very minimal to no homework
  • Shorter class hours. In the above video, the school being interviewed only required 20 class-hours per week. That is about 5 hours of class-hours per day, inclusive of one lunch hour.
  • Small class size, averaging 20 students per class
  • Average starting school age is 7 years old
  • Teachers facilitate the class and let the students do the knowledge work. They support the individuality of their students
  • Free tuition fees and school materials
  • Free lunch for all students
  • Free health and dental care for all students
I am happy that a lot of schools in the Philippines are now adapting most of the abovementioned ideas, save for the free tuition fees and lunch, and veering away from the traditional teaching methods fostered years before. I can also see how most teachers are now regarded highly within the communities.  They are now respected by the students instead of simply feared.
While I believe that different methods work for different countries, I also believe that we can always learn from our global counterparts and apply ideas locally, where relevant.  Who knows? Maybe we'll see the Philippines on the global educational ranks very soon.


The French Beauty Solution
I realized something recently. I love all things French. Okay, maybe not all things since I do not like fries. But then again, is that really French?!
What I am really saying is that I love the health and beauty philosophy of the French. I recently read a book written by my all-time favorite brand's co-founder, Mathilde Thomas. She talks about how she started Caudalie and all about French beauty and skin care. A lot of the things she shared resonated with how I am currently taking care of my skin.

"Good skincare is far better than hiding behind a mask of makeup"
The most important philosophy that the French believes in is that as far as skincare and make-up is concerned, having tons of make-up will not compensate for bad skin. It just won't look right. Invest in a good skin care regimen and you won't even need a lot of make-up to begin with.
"Live by the pleasure principle"
The French love luxe and elegance. It has always been the hallmark of French style. Mathilde Thomas says that "[French Beauty] is about choosing only the best and understanding that you are entitled to have a beauty routine that makes you look and feel beautiful at the same time." Your skincare routine should be pleasurable. Images of a French woman slowly putting on her night cream with candles and background music comes to mind. Of course that may be a bit exaggerated but the point is that our regular skincare routine must feel good to us. We must love what we use and use only what we love. The French expect their creams and serums to be "deliciously scented, with a texture that feels wonderful on the skin, and with ingredients that are pure and natural as possible." Sounds like my cup of tea.
"Squeaky clean is for windows - not your face or hair"
Having been influenced by Tin in 2013, I have stopped washing my face with soap and water for over three years now. I have been using Caudalie's cleansing water morning and night to clean my face. The only time water touches my face is when I go for a swim. Other than that, it's purely Caudalie. (read about my shift here). 
The book confirms my shift to being soap-free since our face (and hair) need not be squeaky clean as we were taught when we were kids. When we reach the 'squeaky clean' level, it means we have already robbed our skin of the natural oil that it needs. Go for gentle cleansing instead. Your skin will love you for it 30 years from now.
"A glass of red wine at dinner is good for your skin (and your health)"
There are so many other tips in the book that I have found to be extremely informative. From having a healthy diet to coming up with your own homemade body scrub, every chapter is a note-taking activity.
I'm not sure if the book is available in our local bookstores.  I downloaded the eBook from Amazon on Kindle. You can do the same.

Kick off those heels, get that glass of red wine and journey through the world of French beauty.


The Late Night Struggle of Moms

One night in April, our family came home from a church activity really late and we were all very tired.  After preparing for bed, I turned on my iPhone and started reading my eBook. My daughter asked why I was still reading when as it was already late. I told her "Mommy just wants to relax before I go to sleep". To which she replied "But isn't sleeping more relaxing than reading?"
Sleeping is indeed more relaxing than reading, isn't it? The need to de-stress and have some alone time is sometimes just as important as getting a good 8-hour sleep.  It is only during those late nights when the family is winding down or sleeping, when you can finally get some peace and quiet and do your own thing. This poster truly resonated with me. The struggle is really, people. The struggle is real.



Make Your Own Ice Cream at Home

Going out of an air-conditioned room has been sheer torture the past few weeks.  Walking out feels like walking into an oven. Seriously, almost not even a metaphor.
I recently wrote about the best umbrella to use in this weather. Now, let's talk about another hot (pun intended) topic during summer: Ice cream!
I personally do not really like ice cream. I prefer popsicles or ice candy since I don't like anything creamy and cold. The combination hurts my throat for some reason. Should I decide eat ice cream, soft serve is best as it's less creamy. But just because I don't like ice cream does not mean my family cannot enjoy it. 
We did a bit of experiment over the weekend and created our very own homemade ice cream. We used this nifty little ice cream maker that was given to us years ago by my sister. But I will also tell you how you can make ice cream without it.
Set A
1 cup fresh milk (we used full cream.  You may use non-fat if you wish to avoid the extra calories)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Set B
Lots and lots of Ice
Lots and lots of Rock salt
Step 1:  Pour Set A ingredients in a Ziploc bag and make sure it's sealed properly.
In our case we had an Ice Cream Ball (check it out here) where one side opens up for your ingredients and the other side for your ice.
Step 2: Get another Ziploc bag that is twice the size of your initial Ziploc.  Put the smaller Ziploc inside the larger one and pour lots and lots of ice and rock salt into it. The larger Ziploc should now contain the smaller Ziploc with the contents of Set A ingredients and lots of ice and rock salt surrounding the smaller bag.  The rock salt will allow your ice to remain solid which is why it's important to put as many as you can.
Again, in our case we just opened the other end of the Ice Cream Ball and pour ice and rock salt inside.
Step 3: Shake the Ziploc like crazy until you see the ice cream forming inside the smaller Ziploc. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

With the Ice Cream Ball, we had fun by kicking the ball around and playing soccer inside the house. We did this for about 20 to 30 minutes.
 Step 4: Scrape the ice cream out and enjoy!
You may add various ingredients to make different flavors of ice cream. Add fruits or jam to make fruit-flavored ice cream, or add coffee + chocolate powder for Mocha ice cream. You can be creative with your flavors.

My husband says it's easier to just go out and buy ice cream (hmp!).  But hey, it's educational and fun for the kids. They will love the idea of making their own ice cream it's a good way to keep them busy for a good 30mins too! Yay, moms!



Contest: Win Your Own Belo Baby Products!

I have recently been reading a book on the best ingredients for our skin's health. With this new knowledge, I have been reviewing the list of ingredients of all the products that my family have been using, including Belo Baby. I am happy to confirm that Belo Baby is indeed 100% natural, safe, and gentle for our baby's skin. When we attended the launch, Cristalle Belo Henares even offered to show us the actual certificates of each and every ingredient that was used on their products. This is to certify that each ingredient is proven to be all natural and safe for the whole family.
I have to say that their products are not only all natural but also very affordable. It's sometimes hard to love a product when the price points do not make it sustainable for us to use long-term. You may purchase Belo Baby from any of your favorite supermarkets, groceries and department stores. They are also available online through Lazada, Cudsly, and Zalora.

Today I have some really exciting news for you. Belo Baby has decided to share this wonderful bathing experience with three families!
You may join the contest in 4 easy steps:
1. Share the Journey with Belo Baby video on Facebook (  
2.  Like Belo Baby on Facebook (
3.  Like Breakfast With Tiffany on Facebook (

4.  Follow @densfan on Instagram

You may join through the Rafflecopter link below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Learn more about the new Belo Baby Line through their website and Facebook page . Follow them on Twitter and Instagram with handle @belobabylove.
"Crafted with care for the most delicate skin, for the most meticulous moms"


Paleo vs. Gluten-free Diets

Following my post on my 5-day Paleo meal plan last April 22 and my review of Gluten last May 3, I did a bit more research on what makes a Paleo diet Paleo and how does this differ from a Gluten-free diet.
So essentially, all Paleo diets are gluten-free but not all gluten-free diets are Paleo. Paleo Grubs says that doing the Paleo diet is like going gluten-free and taking it a step higher by staying away from highly processed foods at the same time. Other food items to avoid in the Paleo diet are most sugar (from what I know, only coconut sugar is allowed) and dairy other than butter.
Incorporating the Paleo diet claims to result in the following health benefits:
  • Lower rates of diabetes
  • Balanced blood sugar levels
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Lower cancer rates
  • Clear skin
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved digestion
  • Healthy hair
  • Reduced chronic inflammation
The benefits are all wonderful and does sound too good to be true.  But if you think about it, it does make sense. Cutting down on processed foods that are packed with preservatives has indeed been proven to reduce the risk of heart diseases and lower cancer rates while reducing gluten may improved digestion and reduce chronic inflammation.  Sugar lower diabetes rates and our overall good health will result to clear skin and healthy hair.   

The Paleo diet has also been called a 'Cavenman's Diet' because it only allows for food that were available during the time of the cavemen. If a caveman could not eat it, neither can you. You can learn more about the Paleo diet here.
With this knowledge, you can decide for yourself what works best for your health. In my case, I am concerned about the lack of calcium from the absence of dairy so I am doing a modified Paleo diet. I intend to go gluten-free to the best of my ability (and willpower!), lower consumption of processed foods, reduce my intake of sweets and replace our brown sugar with coconut sugar at home. I'll give it a few months and re-evaluate if changes need to be made.
What about you? What is your game plan towards great health? Share your thoughts with me on twitter @densfan or instagram @densfan


Sip & Shop at French Sole

So this happened one easy breezy Thursday afternoon.

A few of us were invited by Tin of ManilaFashionObserver to the opening of French Sole in Greenbelt 5. The food and drinks were divine and the shoes did not disappoint.

Tin Dychaio
Neva of manilamommy, Tin, and me

"French Sole first began life as a gleam of an idea when Jane Winkworth made her initial collections of bespoke ballet flats back in 1968, working with Gamba and Annello and Davide in London. Later in 1989 after a period as a trained restorer and painter of fine porcelain, Jane Winkworth started French Sole after a chance meeting with a shoe salesman from the French Hirica factory, called Philipe Cassalis.

Philipe, together with the factory he represented - who still today make the famous ballet flats that they first created back in 1950 - encouraged Jane to set up her business specialising in selling only ballet flats and loved her chosen name of French Sole.

The shoes were made using Jane's own materials, to her own designs and trimmed in the unusual contrasting colours never before seen on ballet flats and under the label of her new name - French Sole." - French Sole website
I must tell you they do not come cheap with price points of P6,000 and up. But if you have been on the look out for that perfect pair of ballet flats, then here are five reasons why these are worth your peso.

1.  They use real leather. Every pair is ultra-soft and comfortable.
2.  They have half sizes! A shout-out to all the ladies who have given up finding that perfect fitting ballet flats!
3.  As if half sizes were not enough, some pairs have adjustable ribbons. You can tighten or loosen the fit to your liking.
4.  They clean and maintain the shoes for you! How cool is that? In case you get your pair soiled, you may bring them to any French Sole branch to have them cleaned.
5.  They are just so pretty on the feet! They have a special pointy style that other ballet flats do not have.
A semi SoMoms reunion (L-R): Michelle, Tin, Kris, me, Neva, Michelle, Noemi

French Sole Philippines have branches in Solaire, BGC, and now in Greenbelt 5!
Like French Sole on Facebook to get updates on styles and promotions.


Countdown to the Elections!

With only a weekend away, the much awaited election is coming to a close. While I will not endorse any candidate here, I would like to encourage everyone to pray that we will have a peaceful and honest election. That those who will not win will be supportive of those who do. And those that win will do a fantastic job in bringing revival to the Philippines.

Proverbs 16:33 "Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say."
Pray and vote with wisdom. Our children's future is at stake. Make your vote count!


Going Gluten-Free

I recently talked about going on a 5-day Paleo diet which I found quite beneficial. I have been wondering whether doing Paleo is synonymous to going gluten-free and I'm going to learn more about it and share my findings with you in a separate post. For today, let's understand what it means to go gluten-free.
First, let us define what Gluten is. Here is what Wikipedia has to say.

Gluten (from Latin gluten, "glue") is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, including barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids (such as spelt, kamut, and triticale). Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.
In my mind, I imagine gluten to be a natural 'glue' or adhesive. I imagine that when it gets to our digestive track, it will be naturally harder for our stomach to digest it. For some though, like me, who are gluten-intolerant, digestion becomes a bigger issue and may need to be avoided all together.
Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist and health crusader who wrote about doing a grain detox, says that the wheat we eat today is not the same wheat that was eaten during Bible times. "It’s the product of 40 years of genetics research aimed at increasing yield-per-acre. The result is a genetically unique plant that stands 18-24 inches tall, not the 4 1/2-foot tall “amber waves of grain” we all remember."
Contrary to Dr. Davis' recommendation to avoid gluten all together, some studies say you should only go gluten-free if you have Celiac Disease or Gluten sensitivity/intolerance.
Personally, I would agree with the video.  The gluten-free diet is not necessarily for all.  I might change my mind as I pursue more readings but that's my take on this for now.   If you have been experiencing constant migraine, bloatedness or skin problems, then you may want to have yourself tested for gluten sensitivity.  You may also do a self-test like what I did with the Paleo meal plan. Go gluten-free for a week or more and see if your symptoms go away.  
You can get tested for food intolerance at Accuserv by calling 726 3219 or 7241615.


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