Vanilla Macchiato: Friend or Foe?

Vanilla MacchiatoBecause the world has gotten way too serious. Because everyone is really worried about the Ukraine. Because the world is in an uproar over what misogynist said what. And because nothing in this world is better than a cup of coffee…
 

On March 4, 2014, Starbucks launched it’s newest Macchiato drink, the Vanilla Macchiato, adding to an already popular series of macchiato drinks, which includes Hazelnut and the original Caramel Macchiato. What makes a macchiato different from any ordinary latte is how it is “marked” with a shot of espresso (or 2 shots for a grande and venti) on top of the velvety foamed milk. This adds a stronger and richer coffee flavor than an ordinary latte, where the shots sit at the bottom of the cup. What makes the Vanilla Macchiato unique is that the base syrup is vanilla, and… drumroll please… it is topped with a Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla ribbon on top of the luscious milk and rich espresso shots.

My Opinion: As a former Starbucks Barista, I loved making macchiatos. What most people don’t know, and probably could care less about, is that to make the perfect macchiato, you have to pull the shots separately and then pour them over the foamed milk IMMEDIATELY, lest the shots turn black and you are left with one seriously bitter cup of coffee.

But I digress.

I loved the Vanilla Macchiato. It is less sweet than its predecessors and really packs a punch because the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla drizzle (that by the way does not have bourbon in it) is mildly sweet with a bit of a woody or even spicy flavor. Therefore, if you like really sweet coffees, this is not for you. But if you like vanilla lattes, this may be for you. And if you love the taste and aroma of strong coffee and the warm feeling of vanilla coating your pallet, then this is DEFINITELY for you.

Tips for Ordering a Vanilla Macchiato:If you normally get your lattes nonfat (as I do), you may want to reconsider this time. The combination of the vanilla syrup, the drizzle and the espresso shots on top makes this latte beg for a little sweetness. I have no advice for soy milk drinkers except that I would assume that because they use a vanilla soy that is full fat, you probably won’t run into any “sweetness” issues.

Secondly, if you normally modify your drinks with less syrups, again you may not want to do that. The first time I did that, the drink was very bland. The second time I ordered it with no modifications except that it be extra hot (I had to be a coffee snob) and it tasted much fuller and much bolder.

Finally, if you want to pair this new masterpiece with a pastry, I would suggest the lemon loaf from Starbucks’ new(ish) La Boulange line of pastries and desserts. The tanginess pairs well with the brown sugar and spice in the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla drizzle and lessens a bit of the intensity of the espresso shots.

So, that’s all folks… And no, I do not do PR for Starbucks. I just think it’s fun to critique coffee as a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur.

Enjoy!

~~Leen J.

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Facebook Displays of Affection or FDA’s…

Oh My God! Seriously, how much more can I take? Are some people just that much in shock that someone loves them that they have to display their affection in public? Must they swap spit at the zoo? Is it necessary to grab each others’ asses in line at the theater? Do they really have to cuddle on one side of a booth that is clearly only made for one person? I don’t think so. But you know what? I can deal with the physical stuff these people do because I am sure it’s fleeting and meaningless. But there is another type of Public Display of Affection (PDA) that bothers me far more because it is an obvious attempt to tell people that they are “loved.” They are clearly overcompensating for a lack of inner-strength and security. And they are trying to assert themselves, whilst trying to make me puke. What is it that these people are doing? They are putting up Facebook statuses about how much they “love” their hubbies/BF’s/fiances/partners or whatever, they are putting up mobile pics of them, changing their FB last names to the last name of this significant other before they are even married, and tagging ME in a picture of THEM, just to make sure I see it. You know in case I miss it. I call this phenomenon “FDAing,” which stands for Facebook Displays of Affection.

Ok so I know I sound bitter or jealous or jaded or cynical or whatever these “in love” people want to call me. But the truth of the matter is that I am NOT any of those things. I am just a simple human being trying to keep my freakin’ lunch down while surfing Facebook. What I DON’T need is 16 statuses by you that tags your significant other saying that you love him. Seriously, can’t you just text him privately? I DON’T need a tweet about how much you miss your husband or boyfriend when he goes out-of-town. I DON’T need a stenciled drawing of you and your boyfriend’s names in a heart. I REALLY don’t need a picture of you kissing him with a caption that says “I just <3 him.” In fact, not only do I not need these things, NO ONE does. I know we all seem like we think it’s cute or whatever that you are so open about how you feel, but we don’t. We think your shameless display of puke-worthy affection is just sad.

Man I sound mean. I just realized that. But you know what? Someone needs to speak the truth. Especially when these individuals begin to see that relationships are hard and not all fun and games. And the sadder part is, many of these people already know that, but they don’t want anyone else to know that they know that, so they overdo the lovey dovey crap to make you think that they are living in a fantasy world. But, uhm, yeah no one believes it. So try the following instead:

DON”T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL … What I mean is, if you don’t status the good OR the bad, then no one will think anything GOOD or BAD about you. I know this is a big shocker, but people aren’t thinking about you day and night. It isn’t until you give them a reason to think about you that they do. And when they see that you need to publicize every time you and your husband go out for dinner or he gets you flowers or buys you a birthday present, that is when they will start to think that you must be incredibly unhappy that you find every act of generosity (or peacemaking) on his part to be a big deal. It looks like you are trying to prove something. And that is just truly pathetic.

I know I just made a lot of enemies. Think what you will about me and my opinion but I guarantee you that I am not alone in thinking this; I’m just the only one willing to say anything.

~~Leen J.

Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate Going to Weddings!

Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand and condone the reasons people have weddings. They are meant to be celebratory, and in many cases, these weddings are important to make vows to the Lord, and in this way, they are very significant. Hey, I loved my wedding 4 years ago. I even loved the man I married that day. But regardless, I HATE attending these types of events NOW.

And here is why….

10) Wedding Food

9) Hideous bridesmaid dresses

8) Wedding singers/DJ’s

7) People saying things like “I hope you’re next.”

6) Knowing that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and knowing that the couple getting married is hoping to be part of the “successful” 50%.

5) Super corny speeches — I know from personal experiences that what people say at your wedding can be completely contrary to how they REALLY feel about your nuptials. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

4) Bridezilla’s. Just because you are the effin bride, that doesn’t mean you have the right to treat everyone like crap.

3) The constant silent ridicule you get when you walk into the room. Your dress, hair/scarf, make-up, and marital status are ALL up for criticism.

2) Naughty children – and even naughtier parents. I HATE when parents let their 3-year-old monster get a seat while an adult is still looking around for an empty chair.

1) Forcing, faking a smile of happiness when you know that this entire wedding was just put on as a show; a braggy way to tell their guests “hey we are better than you. We have money and love, so we beat you in all facets of life.” From close friends to family members to people I hardly even know, I have seen this showy display of immodesty that disgusts me! Hence, I will not be attending anymore of these parties. But good luck to all the couples!

Leen J.

My NPR Debut

Leen Jaber - November, 2010.

Hello everyone!

In January, NPR National interviewed me regarding my decision to stop wearing hijab (a modest form of dress for Muslim women) 3 years ago, and my subsequent decision to put it back on a year ago. Please click on the link below to listen to the story that was broadcast this morning. Feel free to ask me any questions regarding my statements or about hijab in general. Because unfortunately, I don’t think this article describes hijab and the beauty and necessity behind it. And the article tends to present hijab as a “cultural” phenomenon as opposed to a mandate from God that liberates women.

Here’s the link!

NPR Interview

~~Leen J.

My First Live Show!!!

Hi everyone! Check out the  video of my first live guitar performance with vocals! I performed a cover of “The First Cut is the Deepest” (Sheryl Crow version) written and originally performed by Cat Stevens. This song holds personal feelings for me. It’s just a very true song that I believe anyone can relate to :)

My video was taken on December 8, 2010, in Palos Hills, Illinois.

Your feedback is welcomed!

Thanks for watching! 

~~Leen J.

Building Bridges

Building Bridges – A Poem Written March 22, 2011, by Leen Jaber

Can I trust you?
Muslim, Christian, Jew?

Can we share a cup of coffee?
Maybe tell you my story?

Can we go see a movie?
Popcorn, extra butter and a cherry icee?

Can we chuckle together at an episode of Seinfeld?
Or agree on the best clip of SNL?

Can we talk about our first loves?
Or our image of God above?

Should we talk about Israel?
Or is that subject sealed?

Do you have a cat, dog or bird?
Or is this subject also way too absurd?

What’s your favorite song?
Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t know this topic was also wrong.

What? You don’t like ‘Twilight’?
Hey, that’s ok. I don’t want to start a fight.

Oh wait, you have blood running through your veins too?
So then the stories are true.

I really didn’t know that you cry when in pain.
Interesting, I guess that means we’re all the same.

Oh jeez, you hate the 9 to 5?
Me too. I just do it to survive.

Are you a PC or Mac?
Okay okay, they’re all computers. Let’s just leave it at that.

We may have more in common than we thought.
But building bridges may buy us more than we bought.

Hey, what do you do for fun?
Or should we talk about what a Godless nation we’ve become?

Our differences, our similarities.
Our strengths, our frailties.

Well let’s just provide superficial smiles.
Even after talking for a while.

No love, no connection, no trust.
I guess this encounter was a bust.

Thank you so much for your time.
And of course this little rhyme.

But we will never consolidate
Our visions of fate.

So, you go live in your box, and I’ll live in mine.
I hope I didn’t get out of line.

And maybe one day we’ll meet again.
Please take good care my friend.

Take good care…

Gap Girl

Gap Girl –A Poem Written February 9, 2000, by Leen Jaber

She twists and turns in her own tangled web,
Those who think they love her cannot help.

She frowns when things fail to go her way,
She prays that things’ll change the next day.

Everything to her must always stay silent,
It is always cold within her personalized climate.

She aches and moans from her own pain,
Does she really care that we are all the same?

She claims to love, but I’m not sure if that is so,
Inside her being and heart, I’ll never know.

She does not care much for what others feel,
She doesn’t even attempt to help them heal.

Blue jeans, Gap shirt, and all her ignorance,
She uses her friends as a type of insurance.

Does she not know that we all care?
She thinks those who pretend are those with whom she shall share.

Alas, I am one of the only real companions she has in this world,
Alas, I am a friend to the one, the only – real life Gap Girl.