Carolyn Braun

city planner, author, historian, genealogist, amateur photographer … semi-retired and busier than ever

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Moving on …

Just a quick note to let you know I have moved my blog to Given my interest in photography, I needed a site that was easier to use with photos.

I hope you will join me at my new site …

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Back in the garage sale groove …

The adventure begins anew … garage sale season is back in full swing in our area. In the past two weeks, I’ve spent two full days looking for bargains … and, as a side benefit, seeing a lot of countryside I’ve not seen before.
The first was a city-wide garage, yard, lawn, picnic bench, etc. adventure; the second was a day of rain.

Last year I wrote a blog about Simple Tips for a Garage Sale, listed below. [Full blog at]

  1. Getting us there.
  2. Keeping us there.
  3. Make it easy for us to look.
  4. Add a little something.

This blog will highlight examples of the tips and a few of my favorite ‘finds.’ You may also want to read another of [my blog posts], to see why I spend time going to garage sales.

Here are good examples of 1: Getting us there.

You can see this...

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What about Alice? … an interesting phenomena

Have you ever noticed that a name keeps popping up in your life? For me, it’s the name Alice. I’ve searched the internet and find very little information about recurring names; what I find is an abundance of information about recurring numbers.

Here’s a few instances where the name Alice pops up …

Alice Victoria Hagstom - my great-grandfather’s sister (my great aunt) and who, of course, I never knew. I discovered her doing family genealogy.

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Alice Bunker Stockham - a homeopathic doctor who practiced in the Chicago area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It all started when we were in Duluth and came across a leather-bound book with gilded edges, titled “Tokology” (which is midwifery practices). We chuckled a bit when we read some of the ‘cures’ and decided to buy the book.


A few years later, when I was in the library at the University of Minnesota, taking a well-deserved...

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Merrywayne’s prayer …

A few months ago, I wrote about our dear friend, Merrywayne Elvig, who passed away in early January this year. This poem was found in her wallet. The poem provides a very good description of how she lived – with character. She is still teaching us …

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In case it is difficult to read, here’s the text:

“Merrywayne’s Prayer”
“Lord, keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.

Keep my mind free from the recital of pointless details – give me the wings to get to the point.

I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of other’s pains. Help me to endure them with patience. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains – they are increasing and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that...

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An afternoon tour … Amish country and more

On Saturday (April 18th) we drove to St. Cloud to do some shopping errands, which took a short time. Then what to do?? We could go home and feel obligated to work or … we could go on a Saturday afternoon ride. We chose the ride.

From St. Cloud we headed west, on 1-94, taking the Freeport exit, and off onto County roads to Grey Eagle, Mn. Years ago we assisted Grey Eagle Township with zoning issues so it was fun seeing what had changed and what had not.

From Grey Eagle, we headed to Long Prairie - in search of Amish farms. We first drove through the town, where we found an Amish man selling baked goods (and, yes, they were delicious). He had set up his stand next to a used car/vehicle business, That’s were I found my favorite brand of tractor.

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Snacking on the Amish baked goods, we headed out of town, in search of Amish farms by watching for buggy tracks and horse manure along the...

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Sights along the north shore … a day trip to Lake Superior

I’m sure you have days where you just need to get away from everything. Well, we had one of those days on Saturday (April 11) so we jumped in our pickup and headed to Lake Superior.

Our first stop was Judy’s Cafe in Two Harbors. We have been going there for years - in particular for breakfast. It was 10:30 or so when we arrived at Judy’s so we were ready for that breakfast!

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I must confess - we had a reason to head north. We needed to pick up the latest addition to our carved bear family … Mama Bear, aka Bear Middle. All of our bears (and our eagle) were carved by Tom Sveine (T & S Wildlife Chainsaw Carvings). Tom is located just north of Two Harbors on Scenic Highway 61.

Bear Collage.jpg

Now we have another project - we need to paint the base and varnish Bear Middle and do some touch up to Bear D.

Next stop - the ore docks in Two Harbors – and home to the Edna G. Tugboat. This tug has been a...

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Keeping a memory alive … a racing story

For many years, we have been car racing fans. For me, it started when my Dad would take us to Princeton Speedway (Princeton, Minnesota) on Friday nights. I was in junior high at the time. My husband, during his teen years, was in the pit crew for The Deuce (2) - a stock car that raced at Cannon Falls Speedway (Cannon Falls, Minnesota) and Hiawatha Speedway (Red Wing, Minnesota).

After we married, we continued the tradition and, rather than simply attending races, we sponsored several race cars - Clyde Haslip, racing at St. Peter Speedway; Joe Salner, racing at Princeton Speedway; Lyn McIntosh, racing at Princeton Speedway; Barry Kettering, racing at Princeton Speedway and other Midwest tracks; and Rick Ferkel, racing for the World of Outlaws. However, this story is about Barry Kettering who became much more to us …

We met Barry at Princeton Speedway. He was racing against another...

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Recycling with African violets … a simple DIY

In keeping with my goal to declutter, I’ve started organizing my kitchen cupboards. Way back in the corner, I found this long-forgotten pan.

One thing is certain - I have more pots and pans than I need. I really don’t need this pan - but I like it. So, I set it on my dining room table (one of those out of sight, out of mind things) and went back to cleaning in the kitchen.

In the meantime, I went shopping at Home Depot and found a rack of plants on sale for two dollars apiece. I can’t resist a sale. There were several varieties, including three very sad looking African violets. But, for only two dollars each, I decided to take them home and try to bring them back to life.

I didn’t have time to plant them when I got home, so I set them in the I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-pan, gave them a little water and put them on the sunny end of the table.

In the meantime, I had the flu for a...

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A slice of Texas … part 7 - Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ

We couldn’t leave Texas without some good Texas BBQ so our last stop was Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ, located off of Highway 820 on North Las Vegas Trail in Fort Worth. We certainly found good BBQ … along with a lot of Texas character!

As soon as we pulled up to the restaurant, we knew it was going to be fun just looking at the rustic character of the building.

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As we entered, this sign announced the specials of the day.

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The decor was fun …

Car racing in the corner …

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The pool table immediately next to our table …

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And the window decorations … (Note the antlers and guitars - Billy’s also offers live music.)

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Now - what to order? We knew we wanted the deviled eggs with sri racha. We debated whether we should order brisket - which the waitress highly recommended - but decided on the chicken fried steak. To our delight, however, the waitress brought out the eggs with a big...

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‘Springing’ up the dining room … a very quick DIY

We have been blessed with unseasonably warm weather the last few days which led to a few hours of ‘outside time’ - sitting on the deck, bird watching and drinking coffee. In the mornings, however, when it was still a little chilly, I decided it was time to brighten up indoors.

This is our dining room during the Christmas holiday. While the decorations had been removed, the red plaid table cloth - and not much else - remained.

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I decided I needed some new life in the dining room - which required a little shopping. Of course, my goal is always to buy on sale.

First I went to Pier 1 and found a linen-like table runner on sale. I love the neutral color because it can be used with many things.

Next, I found a tablecloth on clearance at Target along with a matching place mat - also on clearance.

I put the table runner on the table cloth, put the place mat in the center, and added a...

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