Outside My Kitchen {with Panera Soup}

If you’re like me, you’re still reeling in shock, disbelief, and devastating grief over the tragedy in Newtown last week.  As a mom of a 5-year old, my heart has been especially heavy.  The idea of losing a child in such a way is completely incomprehensible to me; and those families and the community in Newtown remain in my thoughts and prayers.

I’m not posting a recipe today, mainly because I spent the weekend outside of my kitchen enjoying my loved ones.  So I thought I’d share my weekend with you, Instagram-style.  Are we following each other on Instagram yet?  ‘Cause we totally should.

Doodle spent the night with my parents on Saturday, so the Tall Boy and I had a very rare kid-free day.  First, we hit my very favorite shopping center to finish Christmas shopping:

Then we hopped over to Panera, because it’s my very favorite place to lunch ever.  Especially during soup season, when I’m cold down to my bones.  I almost always get the low-fat chicken noodle, but I went wild this time and chose the broccoli cheddar.  The soup was full of chopped broccoli, shredded carrot and seasonings simmered in a velvety smooth cheese sauce. Fabulous.

I also ordered the Sierra Turkey sandwich as part of Panera’s “You Pick Two” menu…and as you can see on my plate in the picture below, I chose an apple as  my side selection.  I love that Panera offers healthy options.  I also love that they show the calorie count right on their menu, so I’m not trying to look up nutritional information on my phone while I’m trying to order.

Then we got cleaned up and went to the Tall Boy’s Christmas party:

And spent the night at a historic mansion turned bed and breakfast in our downtown area, near the river:

The Castle was originally built in 1888 and earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places as a building of architectural significance.  For us, it is a little more personal…this is where we spent our wedding night 8 years ago.  Unfortunately, the Castle is closing its doors as a bed and breakfast at the end of the year.  We were thrilled to have one last evening to spend there.

With Christmas just over a week away(!), I’m officially in panic mode.  You’re all with me, right?

Have a great Monday, everyone!

**This compensated post is part of a DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program with Panera. However, any thoughts and opinions I’ve shared here are my own.


  1. Shirley

    Hey Ashley,

    I’m probably not putting this comment in the right place on your page, but I want you to know your post about Sandy Hook was fabulous! I am so proud of you! Love you

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Shirley. =) Can’t wait to see you on Tuesday!


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Hello There!

Interestingly enough, I didn’t grow up with an interest in cooking.  In fact, I informed my mother on multiple occasions that I was not getting an advanced education so I could spend my evenings preparing meals.

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