Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ghost Crackers and Black Bean Soup Recipe



I declared to my family that we were going to eat lots of soup this year -- chili, chicken noodle, cauliflower, black bean and broccoli and cheese. I want to make them all!

Black bean soup was the first soup on my list and being that it is almost Halloween time I wondered if I could put a seasonal twist on our recipe.


I started with our favorite quick black bean soup recipe and a new homemade cracker recipe. I prepared the soup and the cracker dough exactly to the recipe provided in both of the links. We modified the steps of the cracker recipe when it was time to roll out the dough and cut out the crackers. Check out the photos below.
I had my little helper in the kitchen with me.
She checked to make sure I did a good job cutting in the butter.
She worked really hard at kneading the dough.
The dough had to rest for 10 minutes so we read my THREE GHOST FRIENDS books while we waited!
My daughter worked the pasta maker to roll out the dough. 
The dough was thin enough to almost see through.
To cut out a ghost shape for the crackers I used a tulip cookie cutter.
I used a knife to cut off the stem.
A straw was used to cut out eyes.
All the ghost crackers were arranged on a cookie sheet. Only 6 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees was needed to fully bake the crackers.
This was first batch! Yummy!
My older children arrived home from school and immediately asked to join in the fun!
My son got creative with his eyes. He made some ghosts with "googily eyes" and some had mouths too!
Add the ghost crackers to your favorite soup for Halloween!
I didn't have a chance to count how many crackers the recipe made.  My kids devoured them!
Please check out my Three Ghost Friends books for your children for Halloween time. They are perfect for children 3 - 5 years of age! Available on Amazon for Kindle and paperback versions.  Also available on iTunes.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Small Moments

A couple of weeks ago, I visited three first grade classrooms to talk about how I wrote and illustrated my Three Ghost Friends books. I found out that two of the classrooms were piloting a new writing program that encourages students to write about the "small moments" in their life.

Many students were brave enough to share with me a "small moment" that inspired their writing.  I heard stories about wiggly teeth while getting ready for school, flips off the swings and falling down, long car rides in the car, caring for animals on their farm, and more.

I encouraged the students to keep writing about their "small moments" because their experiences are important and other children would love to read their stories.

I love the idea of "small moments"! I shared with the students that there were "small moments" that inspired each of my Three Ghost Friends books too!

I was writing other stories at the time my youngest son became obsessed with Halloween. He loved walking the neighborhood looking for pumpkins and decorations.  Ghosts became one of his favorite Halloween characters with thanks to the book Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler (a ghost helps the skeleton get rid of his hiccups).  My son would ask me to draw ghosts for him -- even many months after Halloween was over. The picture above is from my writing journal with ghosts and pumpkins he asked me to draw.  I would usually ask, "Do you want me to draw a happy ghost or a MEAN ghost?"  He would almost always want me to draw a happy ghost.
One day after returning from my oldest son's preschool I was carrying my supplies from the lesson I taught and my youngest son.  I dropped the supplies (luckily I didn't drop my son!). After seeing the markers and paper my son asked me to draw him a ghost.  I picked up a blue marker and drew a blue ghost and proceeded to draw other colored ghosts.  This "small moment" was the beginning of Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors. (The picture above is a recreation of the "small moment".)
The "small moment" for Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Opposites happened while I was designing how the Three Ghost Friends would look for Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors.  While making the faces I thought about HAPPY and SAD ghosts. I thought that an opposites book would be fun to make.
One day, my youngest son and I were drawing with window markers. I was drawing shapes and he asked me to draw ghosts. I drew ghost faces on the shapes that I drew. This was the "small moment" that lead to Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Shapes.  I remember drawing a ghost traveling through a playground tunnel to become a circle. This initial idea changed into have the Three Ghost Friends play hide-and-seek to change into shapes.  (The picture above is a recreation of the "small moment".)
My best friend from grade school called me one day and told me that he had an idea for the next Three Ghost Friends book. He said, "You need to write a Halloween book and have the Three Ghost Friends dress up as ghosts for Halloween."  This "small moment" inspired me to write Three Ghost Friends: Learn About the ABCs - Halloween Edition.

To all the students I met:  THANK YOU for your questions, comments, and enthusiasm! I had a great time reading my books to you!  KEEP WRITING about your small moments!  You all have great ideas! Enjoy your summer!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sports Ghosts.....A GENIUS IDEA from a first grader!


A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting two first grade classrooms at Craddock Elementary School. I visited one classroom on Wednesday and then returned on Friday to visit the second classroom.  Upon returning to the school on Friday, the teacher from the first classroom gave me a piece a paper from one of her students.
Front Side
Back Side
The first paragraph begins, "I have a great idea for your next book." (I couldn't wait to read more!)

The next sentence jumped right into a story about three ghosts that "sign up" to play sports.  One ghost decides to play hockey, another ghost decides to play basketball, and the last ghost decides to play soccer.  Unfortunately, each ghost turns into something while they are playing their sport -- the hockey player ghost turns into a puck, the basketball player ghost turns into a basketball, and the soccer player ghost turns into a soccer ball.  Luckily, a few boys save the day and turn the ghosts back to "normal"!

What a genius idea!! I loved it.

The student's story has been sitting on my desk since the day I received it. I didn't know exactly how I should respond. Tonight, I had a few extra moments and I decided to try to illustrate parts of the story using the THREE GHOST FRIENDS.  I decided this was the best way I could say "Thank you!" to the student for making my day.

Introducing SPORTS GHOSTS!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Join Me: Saturday, February 1 from 12-3pm at Earth Fare Solon, Ohio


I will be reading and signing my books at Earth Fare Solon, Ohio on Saturday, February 1 from 12-3pm.

Also in attendance will be Thinkie Winks, Mary C. Ryan, and Grilled Shane.

We will be reading our books too!

Here is the schedule:

Thinkie Winks - Reading with Sydnie, Shelbie and Sean Singleton at 12:30pm

Three Ghost Friends - Reading with creator Eric VanRaepenbusch at 1:30pm

Mary Ryan - Reading at 2:30pm


Three Ghost Friends books will be only $5 and personalization is always an option!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Start the New Year with New Picture Books!


Four years ago I made a decision to give more picture books as gifts.  I have noticed that my nieces and nephews have come to expect and even look forward to receiving a new picture book from me on their birthday and at holidays.

Our family is growing, there are more children that need gifts, and picture books aren't exactly cheap. Unless you buy them when Amazon marks them down as "bargain books". Frequently I look through page after page of books looking for ones that I think would make great gifts.  I realized that sharing the bargains I have uncovered might help others find some picture books they want to give as gifts too.

I became an Amazon.com affiliate because of my efforts on my other blog Happy Birthday Author.  I earn a small commission from the purchases made from Amazon. Therefore posting book deals like these seem to me to be a win-win-win-win situation. I find the books I need for gifts at a great deal. I help you find some deals too. I get a small kick-back on your purchases, and kids are going to get their hands on some great books!

If you are new to Amazon's bargain books you must know that the quantities are limited at these prices.  Once they sell out at this price they may not ever be available at the price again.  Amazon's bargain book price is usually between $6-$8 for full-size brand-new, picture book (which is 60% off). Act fast if you see something you like!

Here is a list of books that I found last night.

Groundhog Day:

The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie C. Old


Books for Easter presents:

The Easter Egg by Jan Brett


Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes


Books that I have purchased and would purchase again:

Pink Me Up by Charise Mericle Harper


Moon Bear by Brenda Z. Guiberson and Ed Young


Bear Has A Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead


Books I Could Not Believe Were Bargain Books:



Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton


A Home For Bird by Philip C. Stead


Two Little Monkeys by Mem Fox and Jill Barton


Dark Emporer and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen


You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown


Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg


Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown


Bink and Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo


Books by authors and illustrators that I love:



Birds by Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek


Corn by Gail Gibbons


Piggy Pie Po by Audrey and Don Wood


The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz


Tutankhamun by Demi




The Golem's Latkes by Eric A. Kimmel and Aaron Jasinski


Books I have Read to My Kids and they loved:

Do Not Build a Frankenstein by Neil Numberman


Big Rig Bugs by Kurt Cyrus



Chalk by Bill Thom
I hope you enjoy this list! Please share with your friends that love to give books as gifts! I hope to bring you more deals as I find them.