1. Ai Weiwei: Trace¬†at Hirshhorn: by the end of last week I finally felt recovered enough from SDCC to do a fun DC activity, so I went to see this Ai Weiwei exhibit. ¬†The artist created an installation of 176 portraits of political dissidents…made entirely out of Legos. It’s very impressive and definitely worth seeing in person. To learn about each portrait’s subject you can either ask a museum worker or use one of the many touch screens located throughout the exhibit. Because I didn’t bother to explore the rest of the museum after seeing the infinity mirrors¬†there this spring, I made it a point to check out the other floors this time around. It’s not a huge museum, but there’s some pretty cool stuff! I especially liked the sunrise, sunset mural by Nicolas Party.

2. McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area: over the past few weeks I’ve seen a lot of locals posting Instagram pics showing fields of giant sunflowers. The posts were tagged “McKee Beshers,” so I Googled the location and learned that it’s less than an hours’ drive from our apartment. The website said that the sunflowers were in full bloom as of July 24 and would remain so for about two weeks, so last Saturday morning my husband and I got up and drove out there to check the place out. Unfortunately, peak bloom had passed and the vast majority of the sunflowers were on their way out. But we did find one field that still had a decent number of good blooms! At least I know to watch out for the peak blooming period next year so we can catch the sunflowers in their full glory.

3. Kapnos: John and I had a lovely date night dinner at this Mediterranean restaurant in the U Street neighborhood last Saturday night. We split a few dishes, and I think my favorites were the tyrokaftari dip (feta, smoked manouri cheese, grains of paradise) and the melitzanosalata dip (smoked eggplant, roasted peppers, walnuts, feta). The housemade pita bread was amazing, too! A LOT of stuff on the menu sounded really good to both of us, so we will have to go back sometime and try more of their dishes!

Clockwise from top L: beet and strawberry salad, stuffed squash blossoms, my Purple Rain cocktail, dip trio

4. gishwhes: Misha Collins, who plays the angel Castiel on¬†Supernatural (and¬†with whom I got a photo during Comic-Con this year) runs this crazy thing each year called the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. The winning team‚ÄĒthe one who earns the most points by completing items on the scavenger hunt’s list‚ÄĒgets to go on a trip with Misha! I was aware of gishwhes but had never thought to sign up for it in the past. This year is the end of gishwhes as we know it, so I figured, why not sign up and make some like-minded friends? I registered on my own and was placed on a global team with some folks from Germany, Italy, and the US. The hunt is currently on (it runs from August 5-12 this year) and my team members and I are in the process of completing as many items on the list as we can. Some of the items are funny, some are charitable and heartwarming, some are downright weird, and some are virtually impossible (on purpose…the list is designed so that no one team can complete every item). I’m not expecting my team to win, but we’re having fun and I hope that gishwhes comes back in one way or another in the future!

5. Ski Queen¬†Gjetost Cheese: I spotted this cheese at my local grocery store and thought it sounded interesting so I bought it. It’s described as having “a slightly sour flavor that tastes like sweet caramel with a smooth texture.” Weird, right? Yeah, it’s pretty weird cheese. It literally looks like a large cube of caramel, and, as advertised, definitely tastes like it too. The caramel flavor is more prominent than the cheese flavor, but it’s not bad; it’s just not what you expect to taste when you put cheese in your mouth. I Googled the cheese because I wasn’t sure how best to consume it, and I found an article on the kitchn with some comments saying that Europeans sometimes eat slices of it on Wasa crackers with jam on top. So I tried the cheese on smoked gouda Triscuits, topped with a strawberry chipotle jam…and I liked it! Hooray for discovering strange new snacks!