Top Fives of 2015

Given that the Friday Five is the only (relatively) consistent feature on the blog, I know you all know I love a good top five list. So today’s post is a round up of several top fives from the year. Enjoy!

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Top Five Meals/Recipes

Unlike the recipes I feature in the FF, I have actually made all these recipes, and can attest to their top five worthiness! 

5. Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup (Allyson Kramer): Delicious, stick-to-your-bones, easy to make soup. What’s not to love?

4. Vegan Gluten-Free Kale Quiche (Super Strength Health): Lacy knocked it out of the park with this decadent and incredibly tasty quiche. Even my mom–an omnivore and quiche-fanatic–loved this dish.

3. Cinnamon Apple Energy Bites (Recipe Runner): These inspired me to try out drying my own apples rings for the first time, and then creating one of the most delicious versions of the beloved date ball that I’ve ever had. They were perfect to share at dinner parties and a book club I hosted this past fall.

2. Cream of Broccoli and Quinoa Soup (The Full Helping): Gena’s soups are always top-notch, but this one felt particularly awesome in my belly. I especially loved the addition of her coconut “bacon” on top.

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1. Crisped Chickpeas (The Smitten Kitchen): Okay, you’ll have to forgive that my #1 recipe of 2015 was actually published in 2013, but it is just too good, and it was new to me in 2015. I love roasted chickpeas, but there is something about this recipe in particular that has provided me with the world’s best crisped chickpeas ever. The soup recipe (in the same link), is also great, but I want to highlight in particular these stellar garbonzos!

Top Five Youtube Workout Channels  

5. Gym Ra: A hit or miss Youtube channel, but when it’s good it’s really good. They feature a variety of trainers, some of whom have truly kicked my butt. Here’s one of my favorites.

4. Joanna Soh: I like Joanna’s workouts because they are mostly very basic movements, but they still leave you dripping in sweat and feeling like you did a hearty workout.

3.   Hang Tight with MarC: MarC was a new discovery for me this year, and I’m glad I found her! She doesn’t have a ton of full-length, real-time videos up, which is a bummer, because her longer videos are awesome for strength training. She has a ton of short videos that give you moves you can do, but I sometimes feel like those are too much work on my end. Either way, her channel is worth checking out for her workouts and tips.

2. Millionaire Hoy: This dude isn’t messing around. His workouts range from 30-60 minutes, some with weights, some without, but always intense. The production value is high: you hear a timer countdown before you change exercises and you see a little preview box in the corner to alert you to what comes next. He also has a really upbeat personality and is kind of goofy, which I like!

1. Christine Salus: amazing HIIT videos, ranging from 20-60 minutes. Some use weights, but many are bodyweight only, and all are appropriate for small apartment spaces. I have never been disappointed with one of her workouts–they are intense, engage my whole body, and leave me sweaty.

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Top Five Albums

After finishing these top five, I realized I got to see 3/5 of these artists in concert this past year. So…who wants to buy me tix to the next Nicki Minaj tour? 

5. Lizzo, Big Girl Small World: If you don’t know Lizzo (and/or her other group, GRRRL PRTY) yet, you are missing out. Her first full-length album is solidly fucking awesome. She is an unapologetically amazing rapper, brilliant lyricist, sick beat-dropper (#stuffwhitepeoplesay #iamembarassing). Most importantly: her feminist and Black liberation politics are rad as fuck and come out strong throughout the whole album.

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4. Lady Lamb, After: This is one of those albums that makes you feel like you just discovered a juicy secret. After is like a story you hear and can’t wait to find out what happens next. The music is unique and complex and sometimes catchy AF; and Lady Lamb’s lyrics will have you saying, “Holy shit, I never would have thought to describe that feeling like that, but there it is, and it’s perfect.” Solid album, start to finish.

3. Made in Heights, Without My Enemy What Would I Do: This is admittedly not quite as epic as Made in Heights’ first record, but their dreamy electronic melodic ethereal dance music (yes, all of that) doesn’t disappoint in this 2015 release. Major love for track two, Pirouette, which I listened to on repeat/had extreme feels about throughout much of 2015.

2. Eskimeaux, O.K.: Eskimeaux has the spirit of the kind of 90’s lo-fi post-riot grrrl music that showed up on the soundtrack of lesbian-themed movies. In other words, the soundtrack of my heart. I listened to this album start to finish more times than I can count.

1. Nicki Minaj, The Pink Print: Nicki Minaj is a fierce force with which to be reckoned, and this album proves this as truth. She is lyrically fearless and musically genius. And this album–along with her presence in the world–is redefining not only what it means to be a woman in hip-hop, but what it means to be a woman in general.

Top Five TV Shows

5. The Fosters: I’ve been pretty enamored with all of the seasons of this show about a foster family in California (two interracial lesbian moms, one white biological child, two adopted Latino children, and two adopted white children, one of whom is gay), but Season 3 brought us more of “Jonner”–(a reference Jude and Connor, the middle school-aged boys who are in a romantic relationship on the show). We also got to see more of Cole, the only transmasculine person in a re-occuring role on television. For ABC Family, they are doing really cool and groundbreaking things.

4. Broad City: Unlike some misguided reviews of this show, I don’t think Abbi and Ilana are perfect examples of feminism, but I think that’s sort of the point. Complicated, inconsistent, and hipsterer-than-thou as they may be, they are still some of the strongest and funniest women on TV.

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3. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Not only is this show hilarious (in the same sort of absurdist way as 30 Rock was, as they are both Tina Fey brainchilds)–but it also has some very serious moments that engage what it means to be a woman living with PTSD. I was delighted by Season 1 and I can’t wait for Season 2 !

2. Master of None: It is not a perfect show (see this piece from BGD for some astute critiques), but it sure is rad to see a television show with a cast of main characters who are almost entirely people of color, that actually and pretty solidly tackles issues of race, gender, sexuality, and immigration. Also, Aziz Ansari is just a very funny dude.

1. Transparent: Okay, so I actually haven’t yet watched Season 2 (technically the 2015 release), but I am super excited about the fact that the show hired tons of trans people to work behind the scenes, and hired more trans actors. Season 1 wasn’t flawless, but it was doing more for trans representation than any other show in mainstream circulation. I’m very excited to binge on Season 2 next week after my travels slow down!

Top Five Movies 

Disclaimer, I did not see nearly as many movies as I would have liked to in 2015. I am guessing that once I see a handful more that this list will change (I’m looking at you Tangerine and Carol). But based on the films I did get to this past year, here’s what made the cut. 

5. Spy: Okay, hear me out. It’s sort of a silly over-the-top action flick, but it’s also a silly over-the-top action flick starring Melissa McCarthy, a plus-size (not sure if she self-ID’s as ‘fat’) actress in a role that is not about being plus-size. The movie makes occasional jokes about her dowdy appearance, but we are laughing at the person who made the joke and not at Melissa McCarthy. Throughout the movie we see her do a bunch of things that movies don’t usually let people of McCarthy’s size do, and she is desired by multiple men in the film, another thing that is lacking in fat representation. Also I laughed a lot.

4. The Big Short: Any movie that illuminates the insidious evils of capitalism is a movie I like (even if it is kind of a bro-fest). Just remember everyone – the economic collapse was a success of capitalism, not a failure! #happyholidaysfromyourfavoritemarxist

3. The Wolfpack: This underrated documentary was totally captivating. It followed the lives of a group of brothers who were raised in an emotionally abusive cult. Like a legitimate cult, in which the father of these boys forbids his wife and children from having any contact with the outside world. In an effort to have any sense of a real life, the boys begin to use movies as an escape by re-enacting films in their home. It’s a pretty remarkable story about overcoming a wildly challenging obstacle and learning about life from the movies.

2. Inside Out: What can I say? This movie was literally all the feelings and it left me teary-eyed and heart-warmed. A sweet, delightful little film with a stellar cast of voice actors.

1. Girlhood: This was a moving and beautiful coming-of-age story of a young Black girl growing up in a suburb of Paris. Mostly, it was a story of learning how to be through complicated female friendships. This scene alone (of the girls lip-synching to Rihanna) makes the film worth seeing.

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Top Five Books 

5. Yes, Please – Amy Poehler: Okay, so, this is not groundbreaking writing nor is it anything that resonates with me politically, but it was a really great light read and it came at a time when I needed exactly that. Poehler’s mainstream feminism is just okay, but her stories have heart and warmth and made me laugh a lot. (Actually published in 2014, sorry). She also references Pema Chodron directly, which I can always dig.

4. The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender – Zenju Earthyn Manuel: I loved this book because it combined Buddhism (my relatively new spiritual path) with critical analysis of race, sexuality, and gender (my life’s work). I appreciate how Manuel is able to combine Buddhist teachings of non-separation with important work on the material distinctions amongst uniquely subjugated identities.

3. Women in Clothes – Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavtis: I read this book for the feminist book club I’m in, and absolutely loved it. It’s a collection of essays and interviews by and about women and their relationship to the clothes they wear. It’s pretty good about featuring a diverse array of voices (including women of color, non-Western women, transgender women (and a couple trans men)). As someone who has a strong connection to the clothes I wear as it relates to my queer, femme, working-class identity, I loved this book. (Ibid, re: 2014 publishing date.)

2. Bodymap – Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: I haven’t finished reading this book of poems yet, but I can already tell it’s going to be a treasured favorite. Leah’s voice is magic and chipped nail polish, telling us stories from the heart of a brown queer disabled working-class femme. The words are haunting, beautiful, and familiar, and I am so grateful this collection exists.

1. How to Grow Up – Michelle Tea: Surprise! Another book from a queer working-class femme (are you noticing a trend here?). I love this memoir. Tea’s gotten some less-than-positive reviews, but as someone who is also venturing out of a punk rock past into adult life, I thought it was one of her best. She writes about heartbreak and class-passing and figuring it all out with such earnestness and humor, and I loved every word.

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Top Five Podcasts 

5. Dear Sugar: I know it’s kind of 40 year-old soccer mom of me to love the crap out of Cheryl Strayed, but, sorrynotsorry, I do. Her collection of Dear Sugar advice columns, Tiny Beautiful Things, helped me through some very dark times, and I love having bits of Dear Sugar on the radio to help me remember to practice empathy always. It’s not as good as her written words, but she and Steve Almond are not bad to listen to on a Sunday morning whilst doing house chores.

4. Invisibilia: I got hooked on this podcast after hearing the last ten minutes of it in the car on my way home from yoga. They told a heartbreaking story about a lesbian couple who broke up over the phone and how their tears short-circuited the cell phone (because our human secretions are the only thing that can actually undo technology). Each episode explores “the intangible forces that shape human behavior,” and most episodes are totally captivating.

3. Strange Fruit: This is a new-to-me podcast, and I’m only a few episodes in, but I already really like it. Two left-leaning queer people of color talking about current events and pop culture—what’s not to like?

2. Rise & Resist: I obvi have a major friend-crush on Lacy Davis and think pretty much everything she does is gold, so it’s no surprise that I’m also smitten with the podcast that she hosts with Holly Works. Lacy and Holly talk to us about being a woman in the fitness world, dealing with diet culture, rejecting normative life-path expectations, and much more. They also tell us their favorite new vegan snacks of the week! Most importantly, if you tune into Rise and Resist you can be sure to walk away feeling posi and stoked on life and your body.

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1. Women of the Hour: The best thing about Lena Dunham’s new podcast? It’s not really about Lena Dunham. This podcast demonstrates that Dunham has listened to her critics and learned from them: instead of focusing on White Lady Feminism 101, she uses her show to feature the voices of those from whom our society needs to hear most, including: a disabled musician who provides a rad as fuck analysis of radical disability theory and activism; multiple transgender women (including transgender women of color) discussing love and relationships and violence and hair (among other things); working class women with strong labor agendas; and many more. I laughed, cried, and learned something in nearly every episode and I can’t wait for more.

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What did I miss? What did you love in 2015? 

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4 thoughts on “Top Fives of 2015

  1. onesonicbite says:

    I love end of the year favorites, it is my way of catching up with pop culture. I started one for my blog, and then I realized nothing was new lol. But I am slowly checking out the albums you suggested on Spotify and put two movies on Netflix. I will try and check out these podcasts, I am pretty weird and picky about them. But it is nice to have you filter through them ^__~ I recently I tried a podcast that sounded awesome (How Did This Get Made?) and they always make some cheap shot at women’s appearances. Ugh. Worse was the Spice World episode where the female host (comedian?) spent the whole episode being all like “wait a minute, this movie isn’t that bad, I mean Spice Girl right?!”

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