Our Gathered Cottage » Gathered home and family

A few months ago I started searching for a mantel for our dining room! For the last two years we’ve been in our house there has always been something not quite right to me in the dining room. The wall on the right side of the room is so large and no matter how I decorated it, it felt off. One day I was browsing through Pinterest and saw a faux fireplace when it hit me – that’s what it needed! Right away I hopped on Facebook Marketplace and started searching. Surprisingly it only took two days to find one in my budget. This mantel was chippy and gorgeous and only $100! Most fireplace mantels were priced near $350-$400 so when I saw this one I immediately made plans with the seller to purchase it.


We drove over an hour to pick up the gorgeous piece and as soon as I got it home and leaned it against the wall, I knew my brain could finally rest because this was what this space needed! I loved it but in order for it to match the style and decor in our house, I knew it needed to be lightened up a bit. Off I ran to Michaels and purchased Folk Art Milk Paint! This paint was perfect because it wasn’t a thick coat of paint, just enough to give it a “white washed” look.

Once the mantel was complete we mounted it on the wall by attaching heavy duty picture frame brackets to the back of the mantel and hung it on the wall. We kept it low enough so the legs would still touch the ground and help support the weight of the mantel. I knew right away I wanted to build an insert and had just the perfect idea in mind.

I have seen book page inserts floating around Pinterest and Instagram but never any tutorials on how to make one that I’m aware of, hence the point of this blog post. This may have been the most simple DIY project yet and looks like a million dollars! Here’s how to make one yourself!


Here’s what you’ll need:

1 piece of hobby board or 1/4 inch plywood

1 book – I recommend a novel or a book with all words

Glue gun

Glue sticks


Nail and Nail gun

Here’s how to make a book page insert:

First start by ripping lots and lots of pages out of the book you will be using. I love the look of ripped pages so the more tattered the better.


I started gluing individual pages at the bottom of the hobby board and worked my way up. In my opinion, making them look different and mixing up the way they lay on the board gave it a much more textured look.

Don’t overdo it with the hot glue or you will have lumps and bumps behind the pages. I typically did a thin line on 2 sides and small dots on the others.


I did overlap the pages on the hobby board so it would have a clean line to cut the edges with. I recommend making your board about 2-3 inches bigger than the space so you don’t have to make it look perfect since it will be tucked in behind the mantel.

Once it was all dry, I tripped up the edges with scissors. From there we used a nail gun and attached it to the back of the mantel. If you don’t want to attach it, you can always just slide it in behind the mantel.

That’s it! Pretty easy peasy! There are lot of other ideas for faux fireplace mantel inserts as well I will link here for you to get more inspiration!


Thanks for reading and as always if you try this out, please tag me on instagram @ourgatheredcottage!



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April 28, 2017, the day we were interviewed to become Henry’s adoptive parents was such a special date in more ways than one.  I remember sitting in that cold, white conference room staring at the box of donuts we had brought to the ladies who would be interviewing us.  I took a deep breath as they slid a giant stack of papers to us – it was there we found out so much about the boy we now call our son.  When we looked at the top we saw his birth name followed by a familiar date, April 28, 2014.  It was his third birthday that day and I felt an instant bond with this boy I had never met.  Then my heart started beating because I realized what else that day had meant for me three years ago, it was the day my life fell apart.


As I sit here in my beautiful home – my husband in the next room watching a football game and my children asleep in their beds – I am eternally grateful for the beautiful life God has gifted me.  I could never have imagined living the life I have now and I truly owe every piece of it to the Lord.  He has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.  Four and a half years ago, I couldn’t say that though.  On April 28, 2014 my life as I knew it completely crumbled apart.  My 7 year marriage was suddenly over and I was left to pick up the pieces alone.  The day your life falls apart is not a date you forget, well at least it wasn’t for me.


As I sat there in the interview and read that date, my heart felt like it was exploding.  My eyes started welling up with tears, and I grabbed Curt’s hand.  It hit me.  God allowed my son to be born over a thousand miles away the exact day my life fell apart.  The day that I fell to my knees and thought life would never look beautiful again – He was working and my son was born that very day.  You might have thought I was crazy when I knew he would be my son after seeing his picture on a poster board?  That’s nothing compared to the complete peace I felt after seeing that date on that paper.  This was my son and I knew it.

The interview went on for another hour as we talked in depth about the home that Henry and his sisters would need.  At that time all three of them were diagnosed with some sort of speech delay, trauma, or autism.  I truly felt in my heart that we would only be chosen for Henry that day from the conversations we had in that conference room.  There we sat as a newly married couple that had never been parents, can you blame them for thinking we weren’t ready for the instant family we wanted so badly?


Let’s get to the part about Mother’s Day because after all that is the title of this post.  May, 2017, two days before Mothers’ Day around 2:30 pm I was teaching yearbook to my class of high school seniors when I got a call from DSS.  It was the director of the program to let me know we had been chosen as pre-adoptive parents for Henry.  She then went on to let me know we had not been chosen for the girls and that they felt it would be too overwhelming to take on three special needs children.  Tears immediately poured down my face as I stood in the hallway trying to grasp what I had just been told, I was going to be a mom.  There was so much happiness and sadness all at the same time because as happy as I was about being chosen for Henry, I immediately grieved the loss that he would not grow up with his sisters and my perfect idea for our instant family was gone.  As my conversation ended with the director she said, “Mrs. Baker, happy first Happy Mothers’ Day, you are going to make a great mom.”

She ended the conversation by giving me a few dates to choose from to meet our little boy. Without hesitating I agreed to the first one she gave me.  I hung up the phone, closed my eyes, as I realized it was all working out.  I was going to be a mom.


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  • Kristen

    Best Christmas story ever! Gods great gift of a family!😇🙏🏻ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Small

    This story gives me goosebumps!! It’s amazing to see how God lines everything up so perfectly❤️
    The date my world turned upside down was April 18…funny I can remember that when I can barely remember my own births at times.
    So inspiring to me to see how God has used you in so many great ways despite your world falling apart, Amy!
    It’s taking me a long time to get over the idea that God is done with me and “put me on the shelf” (so to speak) because of my current situation. I really just hope it means He has bigger things planned than I could’ve ever imagined.
    Love following your story!ReplyCancel

  • Morgan

    All the emotions!!!! Such a great part of your all’s sweet story & lives. I cannot wait to read next weeks post.ReplyCancel

After we attended the meeting that night, I had butterflies for weeks.  If you know anything about DSS, everything takes time – LOTS of time.  We overheard Henry’s case worker mention that he had two sisters that were up for adoption as well and friends, let me tell you – I went a little crazy.  Suddenly my family was all planned out, surely it was God’s will for us to get them all!  One adoption ceremony = instant family, right?!  We decided to attend the next foster to adopt meeting in hopes of finding out more about them and possibly putting an application in for them too.

(These photos are from Henry’s first visit in our home)pintopinterestpintopinterestThis meeting there were only 5 other people in attendance so my confidence on adopting all 3 was through the roof.  During the meeting we sat next to a lady who was very interested in the girls and I was immediately heartbroken.  Of course other people want these children, they are perfect.  That evening on the way home, all that confidence I felt was gone and I worried that maybe Henry wasn’t supposed to be ours or maybe we would never become parents at all.  Extreme I know, but when you see something so perfect right in front of you and want it with all of your heart, your emotions are everywhere just hoping that you get that picture perfect storybook ending.  When you hear that foster care is a roller coaster ride – believe it, it is.


April 28, 2017 we drove to the Baltimore DSS office.  We left extra early to bring donuts from YiaYia’s bakery and rode almost the whole way in silence.  We were about to interview for our potential children and my typical over chatty self was completely somber by the reality that we had to nail this interview.  There we sat with 4 ladies –  the children’s case worker, the match worker, our home worker, and the foster to adopt department head.   The first question was “Did you bring those donuts to bribe us?”  I laughed under my breath and said,”Yes?” Thankfully it broke the ice and the interview began.


Looking back now, they definitely only had us in mind for Henry but we tried to pull out all the stops to convince them we should have all three.  We were handed three packets that included every single hospital record, doctors visits, psychological evaluations, and diagnosis for all three siblings.  To say it was shocking and scary would be an understatement.  What had we just gotten ourselves into?  All three of these sweet babies had struggled so hard and it was so evident by just looking at the paperwork that they needed so much.  We talked about our home, our puppies, experience with children, why we wanted to be parents, what our parents thought about foster care, and the support system we had in place to get us through parenthood.  We left that meeting overwhelmed, we knew life was about to change and it certainly was. pintopinterest

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  • Apryl Clark

    Hi is handsome! How does the foster to adopt program work? I didn’t think there was an exact program. I am in Maryland as well.ReplyCancel

March 30, 2017 we attended our first foster to adopt meeting in Baltimore City.  Our journey began 7 months before that night getting ready to adopt through foster care.  We had attended 10 weeks of training, had background checks, mental and wellness appointments, multiple home studies, countless meetings, and endless amounts of paperwork.  We were ready to be parents.pintopinterestJust a few weeks prior to that meeting we had received our license to be foster parents and we were so unprepared for all that would happen in just a few short weeks.  That evening we attended our first foster to adopt meeting and it was quite awkward, to be honest.  We sat in a room with a rotating slideshow showing the “available” children.  About 3 minutes in we saw a cute little blonde hair, blue eyed boy come up on the screen and it was right there in that little room that I swear I got chill bumps – I could already picture a life with him in it.  I grabbed Curt’s hand and squeezed it and whispered “That could be him!”

pintopinterestFrom there, we sat in a room with around 60 other people who were interested in being adoptive parents for the FIVE children available that evening.  They had giant poster boards of each child along with information for you to read.  Henry’s read something like this – Sweet boy with lots of energy.  “J”(birth name) is diagnosed with autism but has the brightest smile.  Loves to give hugs and knows his ABC’s!  I could feel my heart already being knit with the boy in the picture and as I watched that video I knew that I wanted to meet him.  Autism didn’t freak me out.  I grew up with a severely autistic brother and knew all to well what that meant. I could tell immediately by the video that he was wrongly diagnosed and I don’t know if it was the determination in me but goodness, I was ready to advocate for this boy.pintopinterestpintopinterestThat night over 20 people put in applications for Henry.  My heart sank as I quickly began thinking we might not get chosen.  We finished the night off by filling out an application and praying that if God wanted us to be his parents that everything would work out.

pintopinterestpintopinterestpintopinterestThere is SO MUCH MORE to this story, and a little at a time I will share it all.  This was the day that started it all – the day we found our son on a poster board.

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  • Susan Chadwick

    I knew too, the exact moment I saw my now, daughters picture. 24 years ago we got a faxed picture including a small paragraph about her and her special needs. Didn’t matter that she had a rare disease, that she had a trache, a ventilator, suction machines and more medical supplies I had ever seen!! The first moment I saw that picture I said to my husband, this is it! This is our daughter! God is good. To look at our daughter you’d never know that she shares with a thousand some other people across the world that rare disease! I’m so happy y’all found HenryReplyCancel

  • Kristen

    I’m in tears… you guys are amazing! The perfect fit for those amazing little boys!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    Dang it, Amy! Made me cry again😭 What a beautiful story!ReplyCancel

It’s finally done!  If you have followed my Instagram stories, you know I have been working on this space for over a month now.  Since Curt started his new job and I began blogging we have been in need of an office space for us both.  One walk through Target I spotted the prettiest plaid wallpaper and I instantly knew what I wanted for our dual office!pintopinterestpintopinterest

Let me just start out by saying that this was our first time hanging wallpaper and it tested our patience to say the least LOL.  When I purchased the wallpaper I failed to notice it said pre-pasted and assumed it was peel and stick – boy, were we in for a surprise!  What made this project so difficult was that we found out the wall in the office was actually crooked.  When we were trying to line up the plaid perfectly it went smoothly until we tried to hang up the second one.  We actually ended up throwing that piece away because it was so bad.pintopinterest

Once we got the hang of things, it went quickly from there (I use that term loosely, we had to stop a million times to tend to the kiddos).  If you are a wallpaper newbie, I would definitely do this with someone. I could have never done this project alone and I like to think that I helped Curt with aligning and hanging it up 🙂

Here are a few progress pictures while we put it up.pintopinterestpintopinterestpintopinterestThis is what the before of this space looked like when we moved in! BIG CHANGE, HUH?pintopinterest

Creating a dual workspace wasn’t easy.  I envisioned matching desks side by side or even a mega desk for us to share but every time I started creating the space it always looked weird.  The desk in the middle of the room (my desk) was a birthday present from Curt last year when I needed a workspace for my photography business.  This desk cost us $149 a year ago and right now it’s $180 HERE.  It was not in the budget, but I alllllmost just splurged and bought another one.  Thankfully about a week later I found Curt’s desk or $40 in the Ikea clearance section.  The stain was a slightly different color but close enough to match.  I’m so happy I got a different desk because it really gives more character to the space in my opinion.pintopinterestpintopinterestpintopinterest

I hope you love this space as much as we do!  We have been using it for over 2 weeks now and it feels so nice having an open workspace we can both use at the same time.  pintopinterestAs far as the rest of the decor items I did my best to find sources – some of the items I’ve had for a while or were purchased second hand.

Desk one – TARGET

Desk two – IKEA

Wallpaper – Hearth and Hand (no longer in stock)

Choose Kindness Sign – HOBBY LOBBY

You can always sit with us sign – SMALLWOOD HOME

Letterboard – LETTERFOLK

Window Shade – AMAZON

Pillow Cover – HOBBY LOBBY

Light Fixture – Homesense

Fiddle Fig tree – Hobby Lobby

Map of Baltimore – Su Casa


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