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Carey Rasinski's circle of life

Carey Rasinski’s circle isn’t big, but it certainly is well traveled.

Carey’s radius mostly encompasses Nisswa, Lake Shore, Pequot Lakes and Pillager, and most recently includes being manager of the Lakes Area Food Shelf in Pequot Lakes and co-owner of Petals & Beans, a flower shop and coffee shop in Nisswa.

“I don’t get very far,” Carey said with a laugh about her endeavours in that circle of the lakes area.

The circle may be small, but the endeavours are numerous.

Born in Fairmont, Carey spent the first decade of her life there and in Excelsior in the Twin Cities. When she was in seventh grade, her family moved to the west side of Gull Lake, near what today is Jake’s City Grille.

She began working at Madden’s Resort at age 12, busing dishes. She became a waitress at age 13 and worked at Madden’s until graduating from Pillager High School.

“That was the best summer in the whole wide world,” she said of working at Madden’s after graduation. In fact, when she was sitting on the beach at age 18 a photographer took her picture for a postcard for Madden’s.

After attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a year after high school, Carey returned and married the Brainerd boy she’d started dating at age 16 — Ray Rasinski. The couple just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.

She was a waitress at Bar Harbor in Lake Shore for two summers “for the wonderful Audrey Daniels” before she and Ray had their first child, Rob. When Rob was 1 1/2, Carey worked for Dick and Suzanne Mans at Pauline’s in Brainerd.

Then her father, the late Barney Briggs, started Great Northern Equipment, a Honda engine distributorship, in a building on Hazelwood Drive in Nisswa. Carey was the company’s comptroller for 11 years. Her father then started Northern Contractors in the building next to Great Northern Equipment, the building that today houses Petals & Beans.

When her father sold his business, Carey went to work for her husband at Rasinski Construction. For two years she stained boards, trim and windows in the building that would become home to her own business.

Carey also worked as a secretary at Pillager High School for four years, where her children attended school. In addition to Rob, the family includes daughters Dyana and Katie, as well as four granddaughters.

“That was a fun job. It was fun being with all the kids,” Carey said.

She and Ray eventually bought property next door to where Carey grew up and built a home where they lived for eight years. For the last 12 years they’ve lived on 320 acres in Lake Shore, where Carey has nine horses and a donkey, 46 chickens, three peacocks, a duck, two cats and a dog.

Why own peacocks? “Why not?” Carey answers. She sells their feather at Petals & Beans.

In 2001, Carey saw an ad for a part-time manager for the food shelf, and she’s been there ever since.

“I needed to find something to keep me occupied,” Carey said. “What’s kept me there is the people.

“I really enjoy it — helping people. I’m a very firm believer in paying it forward,” she said.

In 2003, when they drove daughter Katie to college in San Diego, Carey noticed drive-through coffee shops everywhere.

“These were all up the West Coast — every couple of miles and they were no bigger than a fishhouse,” Carey said. “I said to my husband, ‘I can do that. I’d love to do that kind of thing.’”

When she couldn’t find a suitable spot along the Highway 371 corridor, daughter Dyana came up with the idea for Petals & Beans. Dyana runs the flower side of the business, and Carey does the coffee.

Petals & Beans opened in 2005 in the Northland Center on the east side of Highway 371. In March 2011, the business, along with Animal House, moved from Northland Center to their current building on the west side of the highway, the building Carey’s dad owned.

“It’s really like coming back home,” she said. “I’ve lived here for so long and my dad knew so many people. It’s like home.”

Other ventures for Carey include breeding and selling paint horses and raising honeybees with friend Maria Erickson and selling the honey.

What’s next?

“I’d like to start growing mushrooms,” she said. “I love to do a lot of things.”