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Milestone: 150,000 January 20, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Yesterday, our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, passed 150,000 views.* This cheers us up no end. We love writing the blog, and we love it that folks have come here 150,085 times (so far) to see what we’re up to.

We’ll doubtless drone on and on about our various stats (posts, comments, spam, most popular posts, etc.) on our second birthday this coming February, so we’ll spare you that now. However, each of us who contributes posts to PRA would like to share a little something to celebrate, according to our lights:

Our friend Ben: The secrets to good houseplants and great aquariums, our friend Ben is convinced, are a good setup and benign neglect. We’ve kept beautiful aquaria—and the tropical fish in them!—alive for decades by creating lush, balanced landscapes with good lighting, plenty of live plants, stones artfully arranged to support plants and give fish and shrimp places to hide out, shrimp, snails, clams, and for the fish, a mix of bottom-feeders, midrange tropicals, and top-dwellers. Our selection always includes schools of beautiful, eyecatching small fish for our viewing pleasure (we’re especially fond of tetras), plus lots of scavengers and bottom-feeders (like the cute little triangular corydoras catfish) to keep the bottom of the tank clean and pristine. Our cardinal rules are not to overload the tank with fish, not to overfeed, or feed at all on weekends, and not to heat the tanks. We defy anyone short of the level of a Takashi Amano to produce more beautiful tanks. As for our houseplants, we pot them up in good, rich organic soil, give them good light, water them no more than once a week (and only when dry), adding liquid seaweed and SUPERthrive (a natural vitamin/plant hormone mix) to the water, remove dead leaves and flowers, the end. If they’re lucky, we’ll pot up the plants in spring if we see that they’re really outgrowing their pots. Visitors constantly ooh and ahh about our gorgeous houseplants, and we look at each other and think, “If they only knew!”

Silence Dogood: Here are my five rules for failproof cooking. Follow them, and your food will get raves wherever it’s served. 1. Take your time. Good cooking takes time, both on your part during the preparation, and during the cooking itself. As cook-in-chief, it’s up to you to keep a careful eye on your food while it’s cooking as well as while you’re making it. (If you doubt this, next time you’re cooking a sauce, stand over it until it’s thick enough to lusciously cling to every piece of pasta or whatever, as opposed to being thin and splashy, and see why it makes a difference.) Yes, this can get boring, but it’s well worth the time spent. To make it go faster, I suggest putting on some favorite music and enjoying a glass (or two) of wine. 2. Buy the best. My own dear Mama was adamant about this, and she was so right. Beautiful fresh produce, delicious cheeses and dairy products, real butter, extra-virgin olive oil, good bread, the best meats: The money you put into quality ingredients will repay you many times over in the flavor of the finished dish. The prices on those stickers may seem high, but compare them to horrible prepared foods and you’ll quickly see that you’re saving money while serving your beloved and/or family the very best. Still not convinced? Compare the price of a home-cooked meal for your loved ones to the equivalent meal at a restaurant! (Let me hastily add that I’m not talking about buying trendy or status-priced ingredients here, just the best quality of the ingredients you actually need.) 3. Don’t skimp on the seasonings. Butter, olive oil, herbs, salt, spices, dressings, condiments: Ah, the fine art of adding as much as is needed without skimping or drowning your dish. The secret here is smelling and tasting. A well-seasoned dish should smell heavenly and taste delicious. If it doesn’t measure up, gently add more of what seems to be lacking, give it a minute or two, and taste again. Practice makes perfect here; soon you won’t even have to think about it. 4. Throw out the cookbooks. If you know me and my extensive cookbook collection, you’ll know that I’m not being literal here. But much as I love reading my cookbooks while relaxing before bed, I don’t actually cook from them. That’s because the authors’ tastes aren’t mine. Instead, if I want to make a dish I haven’t yet invented and have never cooked before, I go to my cookbooks, choose the appropriate ones, read the recipes they give for that dish, let them all settle in my brain, and then make an amalgam based on what I know I’ll like. The finished dish may bear scant resemblance to the dish as given in any of the cookbooks (or online), but I’ve yet to be disappointed by striking out on my own. 5. Let your senses be your guide. Does it look delicious, smell delicious, taste delicious? If so, you’ve accomplished everything you could want. Cooking doesn’t get any better than this, be it never so trendy, expensive, or elaborate. Precious is bad; yummy is good.

Richard Saunders: As a coin collector, I’d like to offer a little advice as far as getting great value without spending a fortune, especially with the prices of gold and silver going through the roof. I myself wouldn’t even think about trying to buy gold coins with gold prices at a historic high. (Wait until the prices inevitably come down.) If you can afford silver dollars—or half-dollars, or quarters, or dimes—good for you. But I myself would suggest that a collector with a modest budget focus on creating a high-quality collection of Roosevelt dimes, Jefferson nickels, and Lincoln cents. (Since the Roosevelt dimes are overdue for a change—the only coinage that hasn’t yet been modernized—I’d start with them.) Buy highest-quality mint uncirculated coins (and proof coins, if you happen on loose ones for sale), keep your oily fingerprints off them, store them carefully so they won’t get scratched, and don’t pay a cent more for them than you feel comfortable spending. Then sit back and wait. You’ll never make a fortune from these low-denomination modern coins, but if you take good care of them and buy the highest quality, you will eventually see a solid return on your investment.

Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special: As the ranking (well, only) black German shepherd puppy in OFB’s and Silence’s household, I thought I’d let you in on a secret. What’s the very best dog treat? Sweet potatoes. Of course, your dog will be happy if you’re eating baked sweet potatoes and share a bit (especially if it’s buttered and salted) with him. But, fortunately for us dogs, pet supply stores have realized our love of sweet potatoes and now offer a wide range of sweet-potato treats. Dried sweet potato slices, chewy sweet potato “fries,” duck, lamb, and chicken rollups with sweet potato centers: You can find many variations on the sweet potato theme, and I’m here to tell you, we love them all. Some are even fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin to help support the joints of big dogs like me. So next time you’re in the pet food store and see a sweet potato snack, bring it home for your dog. She’ll be so grateful!

Linus Beaumaine: Shiloh’s had her say, it’s only fair to give us cats a chance. As the sole blogging cat among the three of us living at Hawk’s Haven with Silence and OFB, I figured it was up to me to represent the feline POV in this post. So, without further ado, here are my five rules for a happy life. Do as I do and as I say, and you’ll be happy, whatever species you happen to be! Rule #1. Sleep as much as possible. Sleep is comfortable, sleep is relaxing, sleep is refreshing. Sleep early, sleep often, preferably curled up next to your favorite person. Rule #2. Play every day. Playtime is too much fun to skip just because you’re busy. Have plenty of your favorite toys at hand (make sure the dog doesn’t steal them!) to remind you to make play a priority. Rule #3. Don’t forget your friends. Spend time with them as often as you can, hopefully every day. (Silence tells me that e-mailing and calling count when they don’t live as close to you as you’d like.) Don’t be greedy—share your food, toys, and treats, especially when you know which ones are their favorites. Good friends mean good times. Rule #4. Make every minute of “alone time” count. In a little cottage like ours, with two people and eight pets (not counting the fish), finding a few minutes of alone time isn’t easy. But when you do, make the most of it: run, dance, sing, laugh, jump. Do something for the sheer pleasure of it, especially if it’s something you’d feel sheepish about doing in front of other people. Even a minute or two of exhilaration is enough to revive you to face the rest of the day! Rule #5: Ask for and give love often. Hugging, cuddling, kissing, and so on just can’t happen too often. Physical affection creates healthy bodies as well as healthy relationships. (Our bodies need to know that they’re loved every bit as much as our minds and hearts do.) I’ve found that purring loudly is a good way to alert people that I’d like to be petted and snuggle up for a while.

Dr. Franklin: Benjamin Franklin here. OFB keeps telling me that I’m this blog’s inspiration and mentor, and I’ve been persuaded to write a few guest posts in the past, so I suppose I should add a little something to today’s roundup. Do you ever wonder why a portrait of me appears on the $100 bill, and it’s even popularly referred to as a Benjamin? Besides me, the only other non-president so honored is Alexander Hamilton (on the $10 bill), and since he was the founder of America’s banking system and the first Secretary of the Treasury, that’s not surprising. Well, according to The Franklin Institute, sayings of mine such as “The way to wealth… depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money,” laid the foundations for the American Dream, “the idea that all people are created equal and each person has the same opportunity to achieve success.” They add that “Ben Franklin’s personal ideas about economy helped to shape our country’s economy.” So I guess that’s why I’m on that “Benjamin,” looking pretty scary if you ask me. Couldn’t they have at least shown me when I was animated and smiling?!

* If you look at the SiteMeter on our site, you’ll see considerably fewer hits than 150,000, but that’s because it took us a while after we started Poor Richard’s Almanac to realize that we needed a SiteMeter, and even longer to get it set up. Unfortunately, the meter only started from the time it was activated rather than from the blog’s beginning, but luckily, WordPress, our blog home, has kept track from day one, so we can keep an accurate count. Too bad it doesn’t show up on the blog!



1. Lzyjo - January 20, 2010

Congrats on your milestone!!!!! Geat tips here, I was particularly interested in Mr. Saunder’s coin collecting tips, I have only recently started a penny collection and we have a few bags of silver on the way.

Thanks, Lzyjo!!! Coin collecting is fun, isn’t it? I hope you get some older coins in your silver bags. Even if they’re beat up, they’re fun to look at!

2. jodi (bloomingwriter) - January 20, 2010

Congratulations on your accomplishments, all! I’m especially smitten with Linus’s wise advice, because I checked with our cats and they totally concur. In fact, Spunky is urging me to join him for a nap right now, but I must resist.
My piece of unsolicited advice: wool socks and/or sheepskin slippers. I hate cold feet and am convinced 95 percent of the cranky people in North America probably have cold feet. I just washed my slippers and they are making my feet purr.

Thanks, Jodi! Linus is preening at the praise. (Did I just see him sticking his tongue out at Shiloh? Surely not!) OFB insists that both of us wear slippers indoors at all times during the cold months (a necessity with our thermostat turned down to 56!), and sure enough, mine are sheepskin.

3. Helen at Toronto Gardens - January 20, 2010

A wealth of advice that’s a worthy representative of both industry and frugality! Congratulations on your 150,000th visiversary!

Thanks, Helen!!!

4. Elephant's Eye - January 20, 2010

Congratulations! And tx to Silence for how to cook what you want to eat.

Thanks, Diana!!! And I’m very happy to tell people how to cook “my way.” It may not be trendy, it’s certainly not “by the book,” but it really is good!

5. Daphne - January 21, 2010

Congrats on your milestone. I’m sure you will have many more such in your future.

Thanks, Daphne! And courage, your seeds are coming! I’m on the road but will head to the post office next week and put them in the mail!

6. Jen - January 22, 2010

Congrats to you and the whole Hawks Haven crew!

I think this might be my first time meeting Linus. Would love to hear some sleeping tips, Linus. I’m having a little trouble staying asleep lately. You seem to be an expert.

Ha! Sorry you’ve missed Linus (aka Linoose), Jen! He’s a classic: huge and gorgeous, with wide, clueless, lamplike eyes. Lots of Maine coon blood there, including the tiny squeaking voice emerging from the hulking mooselike body. He says that the best way to stay asleep is to make yourself stop thinking at least a half-hour before bedtime (no challenge for him!). Search our site for “Ben Picks Ten: Insomnia Cures” for some other things that might help. Lying awake for hours is no fun!

7. Steve - January 23, 2010

Cograts Kid!Today it is a huge milestone, BUT your excellence is starting to be recognised so bet you continue to grow and at an accerating rate. Go get ’em tiger! Steve

Thanks, Steve! We appreciate the optimism!!!

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