After a sweet summer, our doors are finally closing. This final season has passed in a blur of well-wishers and kindred spirits gracing our farm for one last look. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our first-time visitors and all those who came back time after time. It has been our deepest joy to share with you our love for things of the past! Our building restorations, repurposed projects, and outdoor grounds have been a labor of love. We are sincerely grateful for all of our guests over the past 11 years who chose to make Crooked Willow a daytime destination with friends.
Crooked Willow has been the destination of a lifetime for our family. We have been blessed to pursue this dream and to do it together. From young children picking weeds in the garden to helpful husbands maintaining the grounds and dear grandparents finding and fixing antiques, this business has been the bountiful harvest of many hands. My sweet Mama is too humble to accept any praise for her labors, but her courage and perseverance in pursuing this dream of hers is a testament of her strong faith. Both of my parents have sacrificed summer vacations, weekends off, the modest security of typical employment, and privacy of home to sustain Crooked Willow. But they wouldn’t have it any other way!
It is our hope that you have been blessed by your time at Crooked Willow, whether it was simply for one afternoon or a tradition of many summers. We hope that you continue to pursue your love of vintage and antique treasures. As my Mama once said about our little store, “We meet so many wonderful, dear people here every day who share their story with us. They’ll see something that will remind them of growing up or something their mom or grandma had. They’re those special things that warm your heart and don’t have a dollar value! You’re bringing a little joy to someone else’s life through their memories.” And truly, what is an antique but a remembrance of dear days gone by?
A house full of antiques reminds us of the good that has always been and always will be found at the place our memories are most heartfelt: Home. – Kate
The past 11 years have seen our family grow in the art of public relations as we learned how to delicately answer all sorts of questions. An analysis of the types of questions asked at our cash register over this decade reveals the variety of inquiries pondered by our visitors. As a junior-high-aged coffee shop attendant in the Timber House, I recall a number of questions that worried my young soul with privacy concerns (though in retrospect, the questioners must assuredly have asked with kind intentions). A common day of work might require me to face the intimate inquiries of my name, age (“Are you really old enough to work here?”), school, and even which bedroom in the house is mine!
As the youngest employee at Crooked Willow, I imagine my senior co-workers might not have been asked such personal questions. But we all share a laugh over the questions we could answer in our sleep from repetition. Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions:
What is that round building/lighthouse? Can we go inside?
Our silo has a sitting area up at the top and because of safety concerns we do not allow our customers to go inside. However, you can check out our Facebook page to see the view from the top.
How long has Crooked Willow been open?
Eleven years. (That long? I drive past here all the time, but you’re never open!) Actually our schedule has always been pretty consistent open Monday through Saturday from 10-5 in the summer and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10-5 during the months of September through December.
What is that old building behind the Trapper’s Lodge?
Our schoolhouse is the old “English Grove School” it was from District 97. The boys and girls each had a separate entrance, which is why there are two doors on the school!
We used to be able to shop in the house – why isn’t it open anymore?
We live in the house now. If you go in you would most likely be greeted by a pile of laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes!
Where did that staircase in the barn come from?
It came from a house in Pennsylvania and we found it at a salvage shop in the Twin Cities. The stain glass windows in the Barn were in the same house – they would have been located on the stairway landing.
Tell me about this stove.
Our stove is as old as it looks. It began as a wood stove and we had it converted to electric. Yes, it works!
And the most popular question of the year:
Why is this your last season? What will you do next?
After 11 years, our family is ready for something new! We will continue living at Crooked Willow, but we will no longer be a retail business. We look forward to the next chapter and pursuing new endeavors, but we are not ready to share our plans just yet.
40% off to anyone who can ask us something we’ve never heard before! – Kate
HGTV has supplied the daily decorating bread in our household for as long as I can remember. Many a childhood evening were spent watching “Trash to Treasure” and “Design on a Dime.” Magazines featuring vintage homes and junk transformations provided entertainment on numerous road trips and continue to fuel our decorating inspirations. (Side Note: My mom was also the original “Pinterest-er,” saving magazine ideas in page protected binders for future reference.) Over the years, we have loved taking tired and worn-out furniture and restoring it to something beautiful again. As we look back on 11 years of salvaging and repurposing, here are some of our favorite projects!
Retro Chair transformed into a Refined Seat.
Delivering whimsy to any room!
Two is better than one – Even our double bench agrees!
A table made for the ultimate Board Gamers.
From a vintage ice box in shambles to a sweet island!
Our repurposed Piano Bar struck a key with Crooked Willow’s guests…
Wallpaper gave this tired chest of drawers a new face.
Sometimes a fresh coat of paint is the only thing separating plain and punchy!
A side table worthy of any schoolmarm.
What projects have been your favorites throughout the years at Crooked Willow? Did our DIY-ideas inspire you to breathe new life into a space? We would love to see how you have brought pieces of Crooked Willow into the heart of your home! Please share your pictures and stories with us on Facebook or via email! – Kate
The month of May is the perfect time of year to take inventory of life. Graduations remind us of milestones accomplished and prompt us to look forward to whatever the future may hold. Mother’s Day encourages us to hold close to the people who make life worthwhile. The smell of bonfires and joyful laughter echoing across the yard brings to mind memories from summers past. As we celebrate our last season at Crooked Willow, May has us reflecting on where we have been these past eleven years. We remember . . .
-Opening the Barn to celebrate special women during our Mother-Daughter Socials.
-Decorating tables at the Osakis Salad Luncheon.
-Painting projects and creating trash-to-treasure items galore!
-Serving Crooked Willow food samples and root beer floats at our Garden Parties.
-Showcasing quilts made by our talented employees.
-Treating our customers with a cup of coffee or boxed lunches in the Timber House.
-Showcasing the arts and trades of local friends at our Crafter’s Festivals.
-Heating up summer with firetrucks displayed on our lawn at our Sizzlin’ Summer Celebrations.
-Countless conversations with guests who saw something at Crooked Willow that made them remember…
What about you? Any favorite memories made in our little red buildings? – Kate
Winter and spring have passed in a blur of family gatherings, days of work, and patient rearranging in the storefronts. Customers often ask what we do during the off season, but there was no shortage of things to be done this year! Our end-of-year inventory was assessed. Buildings were cleaned. Online Red Shed auctions took place. Furniture migrated. Euro Scrubbies were ordered. Sweet conversations and thoughtful dreams were placed in our hearts. As spring has gradually blossomed, we have felt a new stirring take place at Crooked Willow.
With the utmost peace, we are opening the doors for our last season at Crooked Willow. This little dream of creating a space for people to appreciate days past has been wonderfully fulfilled this past decade. As we reflect on the gracious workers and dear customers who have accompanied us on this journey, we are deeply grateful for your support. Nothing has brought us more joy than showing you how to bring pieces of the past into your home and making you smile when a simple display brought back sweet memories.
Anne of Green Gables knew our hearts when she looked to the bend in the road: “I don’t know what lies around that bend, but I’m going to believe the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend… I wonder how the road beyond it goes—what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows—what new landscapes—what new beauties—what curves and hills and valleys further on.”
We are excited to watch our plans unfold as we see where God leads us in the next chapter. This season will be one of celebration and joy as we remember this journey at Crooked Willow and look to all that is yet to come! We look forward to welcoming you and your friends for a wonderful day of wandering and shopping through our buildings. -Kate
My sweet sister is spending her hours this summer hanging out with preschoolers and wielding a painter’s brush (not at the same time). Though she claims to love both equally, my mama and I fear that we will lose her service one day to the small children that she teaches. In spite of her mixed commitments, her painting skills are growing at exponential rates.
An astounding amount of projects have been dusted from the recesses of our storage, envisioned to become something greater, and transformed by Alex from something horrible to adorable. Furniture ideas and re-purposing aspirations between her and mom are endless. But the question of what to do with a mid-century chair has remained a bit of an enigma.
The dated fabric and battered wood finish could easily cause a passerby to mistake the chair for trash. But upon closer inspection, this chair has great potential to become a pretty perch for someone.
Overwhelmed by the possibilities that surround this chair, Alex is seeking your opinions!
Should she choose “Blossom White” paint and cover the seat with a coral chevron fabric?
Or would a classic “Canyon Black” and toile best suit this chair?
How about a “Ribbit!” green with damask designs?
We are taking your votes over the course of the week! Leave a comment or stop in the store to let us know what direction Alex should take to complete another “Horrible to Adorable” transformation! We will let you know the results and post “After” pictures in the coming weeks – Thanks for your help! – Kate
Ten months ago, I stood on the precipice of an adventure. I took one last picture of our house on my phone before we left—wondering whether anything would change in the weeks I was at school. Or if I would change in my time away. My sweet parents decorated my new dorm room with all the love in their newly empty-nester hearts, stayed to share the first of hundreds of Sodexo catered meals I would come to eat, and prayed me off into the semester.
For someone who loves home as much as I do, I found my weekends in Osakis to be almost more difficult than the ones spent at Bethel, one-hundred miles from my family. Friday afternoon drives from the Cities and Saturday adventures were positively delightful. I lived for these moments. Being with my people, working in the store, and reminiscing with my (also visiting) siblings made me feel like nothing had changed at all. But Sunday morning literally would become Sunday mournings when I remembered that I had to pack my bags again, say goodbye again, and return to school for another set of weeks without seeing my family again. Tears ran hot and fast most Sunday’s when it was time to head back – God bless my gracious drivers who put up with these emotional departures!
But as winter rolled into spring, it became easier to let my Bethel bubble and my Osakis oasis coexist. A parking permit for an on-campus vehicle proved to be the greatest investment of my second semester. Spontaneous trips to Panera Bread, leisurely Target runs without having to catch the shuttle, and simplified travels home brightened my days. Friendships blossomed and grew, new classes encouraged my PR aspirations, and God softened my nervous heart.
A busy 18-credit semester came to a frenzied end on May 21st. I pulled into the Crooked Willow driveway with joy in my heart and peace in my soul. I had since lost the “last” picture I took on that August morning of my house. Like the porch furniture and gentle aging of our home, my major, dreams of playing collegiate tennis, and temporary address were certainly different than when I left. But the collision of new and old could not have mattered less in light of all I had learned about God’s faithfulness. Change is inevitable, but God is unchanging through it all.
Though my Bethel roots are starting to sink deeper, the prospect of three months at home could not be more delightful. Bike rides on the trail, coffee dates with old friends, lemon bars and egg frittatas baked in our own oven, new Karen Kingsbury books, fresh blossoms growing outside, and adventures to be had each day are just a handful of the joys I will be treasuring this summer. Just when one journey ends, another is waiting right around the corner. What blessings to be found in the heart of each day! – Kate
Though this is technically still the “Life at Crooked Willow” blog, my correspondences are no longer penned from my favorite abode in the world. Four weeks into the college experience and my days are already being filled much differently than they were this summer. Hours normally spent weeding the gardens, leisurely reading the latest Karen Kingsbury, drinking coffee, and “porching” with my family are now full of engaging classes, reading about every topic from saving children from nature-deficit disorder to Beowulf to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, rehearsing with the Women’s Chorale, drinking coffee (some things never change..), and staying in touch with the ones I still love best! I have to admit that I haven’t really been here long enough to consider myself an expert on leaving home and settling roots in new places. But I have learned a few things in my time here so far:
- Sleep is important. Tremendously. People everywhere, not just college kids, try to fill their waking hours to the maximum and cut back on the “unnecessary” sleep. Yet they rarely can be engaged at all when they are so exhausted. I am becoming a large advocate of naps.
- Multi-tasking doesn’t really work. Several professors mentioned this in the first week of classes. We can be much more effective at our work if we stay focused on accomplishing one thing at a time before moving on. Wherever you are, be all there.
- Slowing down is good. Homework assignments, textbook reading, meals with floormates: these little things are all meant to be enjoyed, part of the experience. Like anything in life, we can’t appreciate things by rushing through them in a race to cross everything off our to-do lists before the next day arrives. Events are so much more enjoyable when you simply appreciate the journey while on your way to the next great destination.
- Having something to look forward to is wonderful. Counting down the sleeps until I can return home again is one of the best feelings ever. I firmly believe that it is important to stay rooted in the moment and enjoy each day as it comes. But there is a quiet hope that you can carry about when you have great things planned for the future. (In a sense, it’s like our own small version of having great plans for ourselves, when we know that God’s plans are even bigger than these!)
- Bring a little piece of home with you, wherever you go. Though my dorm room is abundant with sweet treasures and vintage pieces that remind me where I came from, home is deeper than my surroundings. It’s internal. It’s the letters I re-read from my mama and sister, encouraging me to dream bigger as I start this new journey. It’s the sweet little text messages from dear friends who are also starting down new paths and offering encouragement. It’s in phone calls home and pictures on my desk of the people closest to my heart. It’s in the deep-rooted confidence in my heart that some things will never change in our constantly fluctuating world. I am blessed that the love of my family is one of those things. It’s our faith and patience that gets us through these times apart. We know that when we are together again, the appreciation and love and laughter that will meet us there – and the time until then will be completely worth it! – Kate
It doesn’t even seem possible that August is over, my favorite Silverstreaks are already in the midst of meets and games, and some of best friends are already at school. Where on earth did our sweet little summer get away from us? Among evenings of pancakes on the porch and swatting those darn mosquitoes that can make weeding miserable, hitting up the tennis court with my Mama and sharing conversation over cups of cereal, busy days of work at the store and little jaunts to the library or the grocery store, starting Karen Kingsbury paperbacks and unclasping rollerblades from red ankles, somewhere among all these moments, summer happened.
With the startling realization that summer is drawing to a close, our house has been in a mild attack mode over to-do lists, school shopping, final get-togethers with our nearest and dearest and last minute dorm/house projects. The front bay of our garage is presently a maze of shelves, photo displays, and a dresser that are in respective stages of refurbishing. Alex and I are actually quite excited to have these little thrift store finds all finished. Her bookshelf, crafted by Grandpa Dave from orphan drawers, will be a home for the textbooks she isn’t presently committing to memory. My dresser was upgraded with a simple paint job and an inspiring message from Proverbs 31. Our sweet photo display had broken hinges and a frumpy appearance when we found it ~ fresh paint, new hinges, and some creativity transform this piece into my organizational center for the school year. Ahh, the joys of repurposing!
The newest chapter of the Anderson adventures are just beginning. After Alex and I are settled in at school, our dear parents will have the house to themselves for the first time in twenty-two years. (Needless to say, I’m sure they are far more excited than they let on) It will be tough to let go of this wonderful summer and the indescribably joyous times we have when we are all together, but our narrow paths are leading us in new directions. “I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Today and every day. The blogging torch shall be passed back to my mama for now, although I may be a guest poster in the future. Thank you for letting me practice my writing and share a little snapshot of life at Crooked Willow with you these past few years. Blessings to all as you enjoy the final days of summer and anticipate autumn days ahead. – Kate
When I was younger, I hated the feeling of Sundays in August. For me, it was the epitome of emotional dehydration, or “the depths of despair”, as Anne of Green Gables would say. August is such a melancholy month. Summer is beginning to wind down and our world notices – the days are less humid and muggy, sunsets anxiously arrive earlier each evening, and gardens seem to revel in the final days of their summer glory. Our hearts beg us to enjoy each sunshiny day while it lasts, but our minds are beginning to look ahead to what lies around the bend in the road.
Whether you have a least favorite time of year or not, we all go through those days where we just can’t seem to find contentment. Some find peace through relaxation, but I find happiness in planning simple summer pleasures and scattering them throughout my week. My family and I have already experienced an abundance of them these past few weeks and have planned even more as we prepare to walk through this month with grace and happiness.
To give you an idea of what these scattered moments look like, I’d like to share the adventures that my Mom, sister and I had on our weekend trip to grandma’s house. Our story begins on Saturday, after enjoying a hard day of work at the store. We closed up shop, grabbed our bags, climbed into our carefully-inspected, road-ready vehicle (thanks daddy), and we were off! The three and a half hour car drive that used drag on endlessly for us kids flew by quickly in a series of life chats, silent reflections, and salads and sundaes enjoyed outdoors at Culver’s in Hutchinson. We arrived at grandmas in time for a quick debriefing in the kitchen before snuggling into our cozy beds for the evening.
Sunday morning dawned bright and early. We joined a small but strong number of friends for church in the wee hours of the day and delighted in the joys of mass in the beautiful church where my Mama grew up. Grandma cooked a delicious breakfast back home before we went our separate ways for the day. Alex and Grandpa Dave were off to a baseball game while Grandma, Mom, and I made our way to Mankato for a day of shopping. We had a rather successful time of it. Several thrift store finds (including a three-drawer dresser, sweet vintage teacups, and photo display) are going to accompany me to school in a few weeks after receiving a bit of TLC. Some coffee replenished our energy and strengthened us to continue our search for the best deals in home and dorm décor. The afternoon became rainy and with little room in the vehicle to fit much else, we headed back to join Alex and Grandpa for a quiet evening. To make a wonderful day even better, a glorious sunset and rainbow graced the sky when Alex and I took our little stroll around town. It was such a sweet promise to bring us rest after a full day.
We headed home Monday morning after an intense car re-packing session (that nearly resulted in G&G adopting me for the week)! Road construction detoured us to New Ulm and we gushed over the quilt stores and boutiques of this little German town. After some tasty wraps and coffee (a Nutty Irishwoman, anybody?) at Lola’s, we set off again. A few quick stops in St. Cloud ended with us stopping to see my brother’s new apartment and share a meal with him. At last we pulled into the driveway of our sweet home with a full vehicle and fuller hearts from the time we had shared together.
The rest of our month includes more sweet escapades to cute little towns and school shopping, as well as the simple summer pleasures of “porching” and diving into good books. It is becoming too easy to just count the days, which is why we are going to be intentional about making the days count. Let’s take some advice from Anne and enjoy the nicest and sweetest of days that we still have left! -Kate