Planning the Perfect Tailgate


Now that you’ve checked back-to-school shopping off the list, it’s time to start making game day plans. Saying goodbye to summer is bittersweet, but let’s face it, by early August, everyone is ready to feel those hints of cooler weather that eventually lead to all of our favorite things – cozy sweaters, boots and crock pots.  

 As we prepare for the next season, one of the things we work hard to perfect is tailgating. In the South, there are few things that compare to the combination of football and food. Whether you’re traveling to the game, or hosting a party at home, it’s never too early to start getting your ideas for tailgating in order. Here are a few simple things that make a regular tailgate a big W-I-N.

Bag Essentials

Coming in at a close second to the actual game is what you carry to the game. We all know the feeling when ice chests, casseroles, dips and desserts are crammed in crevices all over the car, just one sharp turn away from a complete disaster. For long road trips or even quick trips to the neighbors, having the right bag to carry your game day goodies in is critical. Scout Bags transition well from the beach to the ball game, and they have varying sizes and matching or coordinating patters that fit every need from a cooler to a casserole. 

Bags for food aren’t the only ones important for the game. The clear handbags for football games are an absolute must, and if you forget yours, you’re likely walking back to the car. Whether it’s a full-sized clear bag, or one you can hang around your wrist, the new styles of the season make clear bags super trendy and fun.

New arrivals of Scout Bags available at Rubies Home Furnishings.

New arrivals of Scout Bags available at Rubies Home Furnishings.


When it comes to decorating, the first place to start is the center of it all – the table. A simple solid tablecloth in school colors is the best way to start so you can set the perfect table from there. If you’re on a budget, we love using pom poms as a simple way to add some school spirit. 

After the table cloth and a few pom poms or a colorful runner (or both), start adding dimension with crates, cake plates and tiered pieces to give your table a touch of fabulous. One of the greatest pieces to always have on hand is a dough bowl. Whether it’s a long one to hold pork tenderloin or to beautifully display some sub sandwiches, or a small-to-medium one for chips or dip, dough bowls add a touch of casual class to your table.

Dough bowls in all sizes at Rubies Home Furnishings.

Dough bowls in all sizes at Rubies Home Furnishings.

The Ultimate Go-to Recipe 

We could go on and on listing  our favorite tailgate recipes, but there’s one staple to keep in the pantry year round that’s a crowd pleaser 100% of the time. No party is complete without it, and  it’s simple to put together in a pinch. We’ll leave you with the recipe as you start to plan your fun fall parties. Happy tailgating! 

Captain Rodney’s Dip 

½ cup mayonnaise
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped
6 crushed Ritz crackers, plus more for serving
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup Captain Rodney’s Boucan Pepper Glaze

Mix mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, onions and ¼ cup Captain Rodney’s Glaze in greased quiche pan. Top with crackers and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Top with remaining Captain Rodney’s glaze.


Marked for Service: The Story of Lisa Cochran and Dwell

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Many in Laurel might know Lisa Cochran as the owner of one of the most successful salons in town, Studio R3, and The Studio in Hattiesburg. But if you take a closer look behind the scenes of Lisa’s life, you’ll see markings of an extreme passion for serving people right where they are – even in the middle of a mess. Today, Lisa oversees Dwell, a home that helps women coming from recovery, incarceration, domestic abuse or divorce, get back on their feet. 

Starting to Serve

Around the age of 18, Lisa ventured on her first volunteer outing with Betty Busbea of Laurel. They went bowling with a group from Ellisville State School. Lisa always had a heart for serving others and, as she grew in her faith, she began to realize what was required of her (Luke 48:12). “In America, most of us have more than enough,” Lisa shared. “And to whom much is given, much is required.” Even if someone doesn’t have the financial means to give, Lisa believes that the  giving of time and creativity is equally as important.

Lisa’s Passion

After 36 years in the beauty industry, it’s clear that Lisa has a heart specifically for serving women. “I’ve had some wonderful older women who mentored me in my 20s and 30s, and now, as I’m in my 50s, I am the older woman,” Lisa said. As a single mom who went through a divorce when her son was two years old, Lisa knows the challenges that women can face through various circumstances life may bring. “In my business, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful women with great potential, great families and great careers who, as a result of divorce, family situations or other life circumstances, spiral into depression and are given a pill rather than proper  tools to live,” said Lisa. On a regular basis, Lisa sees how drugs like crystal meth have wreaked havoc on women and their families, and she believes having someone to walk through rehabilitation from a Biblical perspective offers something that no medication can give.

The Beginning of Dwell 

Lisa prayed about Dwell for 15 years before starting it. She had a vision for exactly where she felt God wanted her to start the ministry. “I would drive by the house and pray two to three times a week for years,” she said. The property was once a part of the historical district in Laurel and was later zoned out. And Lisa was very methodical in her prayers and in the process. She gave the property owner some time to consider the idea (at first he was a bit skeptical). But once Lisa communicated the vision for the home and the potential for life change, he supported her and even offered her a discount on rent since she would be doing repairs to the property.

Susan Vincent has been a mentor of Lisa’s for years. Lisa remembers a City Council  meeting in 2003 when she traveled to Houston with others from Laurel to see how the city has grown and developed. “That trip reminded me of the book of Nehemiah where everyone helped to rebuild the wall,” Lisa said. “It wasn’t just the doctors or lawyers, it was true diverse community of artisans, creatives and people from all walks of life pitching in to help.” She believes this is also the case for Laurel.

The Right Kind of Support

“I don’t think mental illness starts as mental illness,” Lisa said. “We are in a society that’s very much in a box, and we weren’t created to operate in a box.” Lisa believes  that challenges with mental illness can begin as early as elementary school, then add in environmental factors and other challenges children face daily. “I’ve learned that most people with mental illnesses are very creative, but they just don’t have an outlet for it.” 

Lisa shares one story as an example of how Dwell is far more than a quick fix. One day last year, she received a phone call from a woman in need before Dwell was ready to open. Lisa and her husband Mike invited the woman to live in their home for six months. The woman had been homeless for nearly three years, and her boyfriend was also living on the streets. “It was clear to us that they needed to recover together.” Lisa makes it a point to look at each situation individually. “There’s no one formula for recovery.”

Lisa explains the next few months as simply “doing life” with the couple. “Once they were both clean, they got married at our house, in our living room by my father in law,” she said. “It was the first time her husband’s four children had seen him clean.” Through this experience, Lisa and Mike learned that the strengths and gifts the man had were a perfect fit for many of the practical needs they had at Dwell. He helped with the carpentry, laying flooring, molding and paint and now does repairs and maintenance. 

The Gospel Comes with a Housekey is a book that Lisa recommends to anyone who has a heart for serving. “I think the Christian community has forgotten what the Gospel  is,” she said. “We tend to look at it a Southern Living magazine instead of what it really means.”  

The Future of Dwell

Right now, Dwell has seven women living in the home. Lisa’s goal is to soon open a thrift store to help make the ministry sustainable and provide job opportunities, training and benefits. They are also soon looking to offer opportunities for dental care for those who live at Dwell. 

Lisa explained that the property owner of the home had done his due diligence to check on her reputation in town prior to renting her the property. While doing his background check, she said that someone told him, “Lisa will do what she says, and the best thing to do is to get out of her way.” Her passion to see the Gospel lived out here in Laurel through Dwell is inspiring and a good reminder that when God gives us a vision for something, nothing can stop us.

Dwell Registry at Rubies Home Furnishings

Dwell Registry at Rubies Home Furnishings


How You Can Help

Rubies Home Furnishings has a Dwell registry for anyone looking to purchase furnishings and extra touches for the home. To give financially, visit the Greater Pine Belt Foundation at

Summer Salad Recipes from Rubies


Here at Rubies, one of our favorite things about summer is the extra time we get to spend gathering with family and friends. From weekend trips to more local adventures, the memories made are something to truly treasure. Of course, being the good Southerners we are, we have to make sure that some yummy homemade fixins’ are a part of every party!

When it comes time to bring a dish to your next family festivity, there’s nothing more satisfying than a tried and true salad. No, we aren’t just talking about green salads here! From pasta to dessert, salads can be substantial and a great addition to any meal. So, without further ado, we bring to you summer salad recipes from our staff right here are Rubies Home Furnishings. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

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WATERGATE SALAD (from Kim Smith)

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a large bowl, mix together pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows, and nuts. Fold in whipped topping. Chill.

FRITO CORN SALAD (by Darlene King)


2 (15 oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1 (10 1/2 oz) bag coarsely crushed Fritos Chili Cheese Corn Chips


Mix first five ingredients and chill. Stir in corn chips just before serving.

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JUNK YARD SALAD (by Myra Fountain)


1 can cherry pie filling
1 large can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
2 cups miniature marshmallow
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip


Mix all ingredients in order and refrigerate overnight.


2 lbs of red grapes, washed
1 (8 oz) cream  cheese
2 cups of Cool Whip
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter
½  cup half and  half
1 cup chopped walnuts


Wash and dry grapes. Mix cream cheese, cool whip and confectioner’s sugar and smear on top of the grape bed.  In a pot, melt stick of butter, add brown sugar and ¼ cup of half and half. Cook until thick and you are able to place a drop into cold water and it forms a small ball.  Add walnuts and drizzle over top of the dressing. Chill until ready to serve.

PASTA SALAD (by Sarah Walters)


1 Box rotini pasta
Wishbone Italian dressing
Salad Seasoning (McCormick)
Olive salad
Cubed Cheese (Whatever you like: pepper jack, mild cheddar, etc.)
Parmesan Cheese


Boil Rotini and let cool. Chop pepperoni, cucumber and tomatoes, then toss with Rotini. Add cubed cheese and olive salad, season with Salad Seasoning and Italian dressing (enough to mix together), top with parmesan cheese.


3 pounds red potatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (1 oz) package Ranch dressing mix

3 green onions, sliced
Bacon bits (soft in a bag)

In a large bowl, stir together milk, mayonnaise and Ranch seasoning mix. I usually prepare the dressing mixture at least 2-4 hours prior to making potato salad (overnight is even better). Place in fridge.

Place potatoes in a large pot, add salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and let cool.

Mix potatoes, bacon bits and green onions and stir well. Add dressing to potatoes as needed just as you would mayonnaise. You may not use it all.

Salt & pepper to taste.

With this many recipes to choose from, who needs to think about any other dishes at all? Summer salad party, anyone? 

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Decorating the Dorm with Rubies Home Furnishings

It’s officially summer and before you know it, you’ll be rushing to grab the back-to-school essentials. At Rubies, we are stocked up on bedding, accessories and storage options to make sure you are college ready.

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We know the college experience can be shocking, exciting and above all, life changing. The dorm room is a haven and sanctuary - a home away from home for the majority of a student’s college years, so we believe it should be a comfortable, cozy place where studying and socializing can take place. At Rubies, we think a few well-placed feature and accessories can turn your dorm room from dull to divine.

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The dorm bed will be, depending on the time of day, a coffee table, couch or study table. It is also often the largest piece of furniture in the room, so how it is decorated is key. We recommend making an investment in quality for the bed and make sure you have a good comforter or quilt as well as pillows and throws to accessorize. Since this area will be used the most, it’s important to make sure quality is on point.


The dorm doesn’t give many options when it comes to storage, so you have to be creative here. Storage shelving or crates under a high dorm bed is always a great idea. We also love stackable decorative storage or cute decorative baskets for those extra items with no clear home. Making sure every item in the dorm room has a place to land is a really important part to making sure the dorm stays tidy.

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Wall Space

Step one for wall space is getting clearance on what can go where. Before you start decorating the walls, check your dorm rules for painting, punching holes or putting tape up. Adhesive putty from your local hardware store works well as an adhesive that won't leave any marks. Anything goes on your wall - it's your space to express your creativity. Some of our favorites include frames, tobacco baskets or even cute storage shelves or boxes here to make room for extra books or odds and ends. We also love a large memo board or calendar for a center point of the room to help you stay focused and on schedule.  


An empty wall is the perfect canvas for art! Whether you make your own, or you stop by Rubies for some Baxter and Me, J. Julep or Alex Ladner art, we recommend a nice piece of art above your bed or above the futon 


Curtains make a room seem homey, so if you’re on a budget, a simple drop cloth will do the trick for a warm but neutral look. If your window doesn't have any curtain rods, improvise using staples or thumbtacks. You can tie the curtains back with some pretty ribbon to let light into the room, and let them fall when you want to close them.


Furniture can be a bit tricky in the dorm, but it really seals the deal to make the look complete. Since the bedding and the furniture are likely the two most prominent focal points in the room, it’s important to make sure these two coordinate. At Rubies, we have a lot of furniture options that would fit perfectly in a dorm. From chairs to small sofas and futons, we’d love to help you select the best piece to take with you to college. 


Tie it all Together

The key to making a small space look good is coordinating colors and the look. Keep your pieces consistent in theme and pull all accessories and items to tie together with the theme. We’d love to help you do this all in one place at Rubies Home Furnishings.

A Legacy of Great Leadership


Father’s Day Spotlight on Dr. James Johnson-Hill

If you live in the Laurel area, chances are you’ve heard the name James Johnson-Hill. As a pastor of Agape Church, a thriving church in the heart of our city, James has always been an outside-of-the-box thinker, leaving everything he touches better than he found it. For example, take the two buildings in Downtown Laurel now occupied by Agape Church. The main building sits at the roundabout in the center of town, and the newly-renovated Agape Midtown campus is just up the street. At both locations, you’ll see examples of how, under his leadership and God’s provision, old, dilapidated buildings became flourishing beautiful spaces where life-change happens.


James was raised in St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 14, he moved to Los Angeles. With both parents originally from the Jones County area, James remembers spending much of his childhood in Mississippi visiting his grandmother. “Once I got out of school each year, I would come to Ellisville for the summer,” says James. “It was a huge part of my upbringing.”

James and his wife, Nece, met at church in California when she was 17 and he was 21. On her 18th birthday, James asked her on a date. They stayed in touch but Nece soon left for Spelman College in Atlanta while he stayed in California. When she moved back from college, James knew he wanted her in his life forever. “It took the Lord seven years after we met to get her ready for me,” James jokes.

As a married couple, James and Nece continued the tradition of regular visits to Mississippi. In 2009, when they made the drive back from Mississippi, Nece asked James, “Are you happy?” James was in a time of transition, and it was a question that marked the beginning of a life change for the couple. She told James, “I feel like God’s calling us to build something together, and I think we’re supposed to do it in Laurel.”

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From there, the rest is history. Literally. James and Nece brought a vision to Laurel that has made an impact extending far beyond even what they’ll see in their lifetime. What began as a team from California moving to Mississippi to plant a church has become a place where people of all backgrounds and ethnicities come to know Christ and are discipled.

After a decade in Laurel, Agape Church not only hosts Sunday services but also spearheads events like Downtown Movie Night and the Laurel Farmers Market, which present a great opportunity for people in the church to make a big impact on the entire community. As pastors and Christ-followers, James and Nece have poured out their hearts to meet needs in the community. And sometimes it surfaces in unconventional ways like showing a movie on the back side of a building.  

Downtown Movie Night – Photo by MCE Photography

Downtown Movie Night – Photo by MCE Photography

Leading a Church and Home

Leadership isn’t something James does; it’s who he is. He not only is a pastor, but he also serves as president of the Laurel School District Board of Trustees and in many other local organizations. James believes it is important for his children to see the same father at home that they see speaking at church or leading a meeting. “I lead because I care for them,” he says. “Finding the balance of leading a church and leading in my community comes from the support my wife and my family give.” James sees every accomplishment of his as a way to encourage his children to go higher and accomplish bigger things.

Leaving a Legacy of Leadership

James believes it is also important for his children is to see him modeling how to overcome failure. “I’m the first person to ask them to forgive me,” James says. His desire is to make sure his home is a safe place where his children know forgiveness and where the enemy has no room to bring hostility.

James also prioritizes prayer and believes the most important thing as a father is teach his children to pray. He understands that while they may not always have access to their Bible, they always have access to God. His leadership style overflows into every part of their day-to-day, even the drive to school. James says that from the car, they pray and ask for the Lord’s favor and protection over them for that day, then each child takes their turn doing a faith confession before they step out to start their day.


A scripture that James keeps top of mind as a parent is Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Even when James is upset with his children, he feels it’s important not to provoke them. He ultimately wants them to understand that the Lord charges his children to honor their parents.

An easy way to identify one of the Hill children is by their confidence. “We raised them be confident people who genuinely care for others” says James. “One of my proudest memories as a parent was to see my son, Samuel, work with disabled children when he was young,” James says. “At the end of the week, the director said he was so kind and good with the children that they wanted him back for another week.” James believes it’s the moments in life that show the development of character in his children that are the most important.

And we feel this might just be what the Lord believes of us, too.


Enjoy a Summer Staycation


We think it’s safe to say that most of us consider the Memorial Day holiday to be what marks the beginning of summer – the season of hot, humid days, cookouts, lots of time by the pool and vacations. We also know that, for many of us, vacations away can leave us needing a “vacation from the vacation” when we return home just so we can rest and recuperate (and so can the pocketbook)! How can we solve this problem? With a “staycation” of course!

Made for the Shade

Outdoors is obviously the most frequented place to be during the summertime, but, especially here in the South, sometimes you need to find some ways to really beat the heat! A pool (or sprinkler for the kids – and kids at heart!) is definitely a way to keep cool, but relaxing on the porch swing while the kids enjoy a game or two isn’t too shabby of a way to spend a summer day! A nice glass of fresh lemonade (or – ahem – sweet tea) and our favorite book, with the sound of our kids laughing in the background, seems like a refreshing little break to us.


Family Game Night

Think about this: a long drive to your destination (maybe the water park, your favorite spot on the beach or the nearest theme park), fussy kids and stressed-out parents from the car ride, then even more complaints from long lines or crowds. Come on… we know you’ve been there. It can suck part of the joy right out of your trip! Why not plan an event or two at home?

A simple potluck family game night or movie night can make a normal night at home a ton of fun. If everyone brings a dish, there will be no need to face the sweltering heat while standing at the grill. Or, take turns cooking, let your family members choose their own desired theme to cook for the whole gang one week each month during the summer. Set the cell phones aside and enjoy the company of those who make you happy.


Craft Project
If you’re looking for a fun way to kill some time indoors, a craft project is just what you need! We love this list of 50 summer craft ideas that can be done indoors and outdoors with limited supplies or tools. Summer is a great time to get crafty and use things you already have inside your home (that you need to get rid of), so start searching around the house for things you can use for craft time.

Destination: Your Hometown

Have you ever really looked into the history of the town in which you live? You might be surprised to find some interesting places to visit, without the long trip in the car! Here are some other ideas for fun while keeping it local:

  • Check with your local library to see if they have any events going on for families and children this summer. Think of this as an easy way to stay cool, while also keeping the kids busy!

  • Many places have museums/zoos/aquariums/etc. within a fairly short driving distance, and lots of them also offer passes so you can visit more than once during the summer, while also getting a discounted price per visit!

  • MOVIE NIGHT!! Our hometown offers Downtown Movie Night during the summer. If yours doesn’t, hit up your local movie theater for an air-conditioned feature presentation, or rent some of your favorite classics and whip up some popcorn and snacks for a fun family night.


Go on a scavenger hunt! This one requires a little bit of planning ahead, but can truly be a fun way to spend some time with your family. You can plan the clues to be found in your own neighborhood, make the game a little more challenging and choose spots all over town, or keep it in your own home.


One of the relaxing parts of a vacation tends to be the hotel stay. Why? No laundry, no washing dishes (unless you have chosen a cabin or condo for your trip) and no trying to decide what to fix for dinner. Why not give yourself a pass on household chores and cooking, even if it’s only for a couple of days (we know that longer than that isn’t feasible if you have a big family!).

Consider a “tour of the tastes” in your town or city, and try out a couple of new restaurants, along with paying visits to your family favorites. Spend your days hiking some nearby trails, visiting the local playground, or making an obstacle course in your own backyard. Being out of the house for excursions and meals means you don’t have to play catch-up on the chores when your time off comes to an end.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, whether it be planning a simple “staycation” or keeping it cool with lots of indoor activities, at the end of the day, you deserve to relax. Since we all know that the best relaxing comes when you get to prop up your tired feet, Rubies wants to help you do just that with a brand new sofa. Stop by and see us this weekend to take advantage of our sofa sale with up to $100 off all sofas. Think of it as a new place for lots of future “staycations” in the cool comfort of your home sweet home.

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Mother’s Day FEATURE: Lauren Gebauer


Mother’s Day is one of our favorite holidays at Rubies Home Furnishings. The store was named after Ruby Sherman, the grandmother of owners Kim Smith and Karlyn Pugh. When deciding the name, Kim and Karlyn wanted to honor their grandmother who exemplified a Proverbs 31 woman, often referring to scripture, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies” from Proverbs 31:10. The heart and mission of Rubies Home Furnishings is to make the homes of each customer a treasure – extending peace, warmth and joy through something as small as a coffee mug or candle to something as large as a dining table or living room sofa.

At Rubies, we know that mothers can carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to the home. Mothers are there to wipe our tears when things feel sideways and are at the front of the crowd cheering us on in all of our successes. We also understand that a lot of women – whether it be a birth mother, a stepmother, foster mother, adoptive mother or even a close family friend or aunt – can take on the title and honor of “mom” as a role model and caretaker for a child. In honor of mothers everywhere, we want to honor all of you. And today, we are featuring one of our favorite local moms, Lauren Gebauer.

It Starts in the Heart

Both Lauren and her husband, Ben, had a heart for adoption even before they met and were married. Lauren says that she began silently researching adoption about a year into their marriage. During her research, she was led to some information about adoption through foster care. She brought this up casually in discussion with Ben, and while he agreed that this might be something they should consider, he felt it wasn’t yet the time for them to pursue it.

A little over three years ago, Lauren said she really felt the prompting once again to find out more information about foster care. Lauren and Ben attended an interest meeting. Before they exited the parking lot after the meeting, Ben said, “I think we should go for it!” The couple began attending the necessary classes and home studies to earn their foster care license, which they officially received on April 27, 2016.

Just after a month of being licensed for foster care, they received a placement on May 26, 2016 – a little boy. Since their first placement, who still lives with them today, Lauren and Ben have had seven other children come in and out of their home. Lauren realizes that not all husbands and wives are on the same page when it comes to deciding whether or when to foster or adopt, but she believes that since God called them both to adopt when they were young and unmarried, it has made the process so much easier for them as a couple.

On Being a Mom

With packed schedules and lives full of commitments and events that don’t leave us much room to relax, Lauren believes motherhood has taught her to slow down and enjoy each moment. When she looks at the children in her home, it’s easy for her mind to wander in a million directions, thinking about their futures and who they will become. It’s those times that Lauren reminds herself to be present and not to forget the simple, beautiful moments that each day brings.

When it comes to challenges, Lauren says that parenting constantly reminds her that she is far from perfect. She feels that society, social media and even other moms sometimes place too much pressure on parents to feel the need to be perfect, when it’s impossible to expect anyone to fit that standard. Having grace for herself is an important lesson motherhood has taught her.

Wisdom from a Foster Mama

In the same way new biological parents can feel overwhelmed or ill-prepared as they start their journey in parenting, Lauren says that it is the same for foster care. There are many things she wishes they had known before they began their journey as foster parents (check it out on her blog here). She says the best advice she would give to anyone beginning the journey into foster care is to set up a good support system. The agency that a family fosters through generally do not have resources available to advocate for the foster parents or look out for their best interests. She believes finding family, friends, a home church and even other foster families to walk the long road with you is important.

Inspiration That Leads to Impact

Lauren spent a large amount of her childhood on stage or in rehearsals and she credits the majority of her positive childhood memories to her mother. Now, being a mother herself, she says she realizes just how much her own mom sacrificed to allow her to participate in so many things. In talking about her mom, Lauren says, “She worked full-time in the medical field and also drove my brother and I around to rehearsals, sewed costumes, spray painted tap shoes and curled hair, while somehow still managing to have amazing food on the table for us every night.” Lauren calls her mom a real-life Wonder Woman.

Today, the influence of Lauren’s mother plays a big role in how she loves on and nurtures the little ones in her care. Lauren is now setting her own example for what love looks like and, ultimately, that love will continue to make an impact for generations.

Connecting with other foster parents, she says that every few weeks she would see someone ask for recommendations for books for foster children that would relate to what they were going through. Lauren’s journey through foster parenting led her to write a book for young foster children, a short and encouraging read, called Come to Find Out. You can purchase her book on Amazon here.

To read more about Lauren and her journey through life and as a foster mom, you can check out her blog at


Create Your Own Outdoor Oasis This Spring

Furniture at Rubies Home Furnishings

The weeks before the Mississippi heat turns up this summer can almost make one forget that hotter days are coming. A beautiful spring day in the mid-70s urges all of us to get outdoors, so let’s enjoy it while we can. And as summer break gets closer and travel plans firm up, we want to remind you that there may be a vacation awaiting you just out your very own back door before summer begins. We’re here to provide you with a few simple tips to make an outdoor oasis in your own back yard this spring.

Color is King
The patio or deck is one of the favorite places for entertaining family and friends during get-togethers. To lighten up your space, add a fresh coat of colorful spray paint to your existing iron table and chairs (especially if they are a bit rusty). We love turquoise, teal, yellow or orange tones on the outdoor furniture to send a “summer is near” vibe. Adding new colorful cushions in those chairs can be a fun addition as well. At Rubies Home Furnishings, we have a variety of colorful table linens and accent pillows to make that special event or weeknight dinner a little extra festive.  We also love to get festive with flags. Rubies has bright and cheerful flags that make for a super inexpensive back yard accessory.

It’s also never a bad time to add color with plants! Whether it’s a large pot full of marigolds, or some  daisies in a small pot as a table centerpiece, freshly planted flowers can make a big statement on a patio, porch or in the back yard. We also love the way a fun colorful planter can totally change the look of a space on your porch or deck no matter what it holds.

Outdoor Furniture at Rubies Home Furnishings

Most people don’t think about how much the simple addition of accessories can bring a patio space together. We think texture is a big win outside and can really spice up your patio space. A nice outdoor rug in a neutral shade or color can make a space seem super cozy and inviting. Also or small versatile ottoman can add an unexpected touch. Our sister store, City Home Center, has outdoor rugs galore, so be sure to check them out if you’re in the market.

Crave Candles at Rubies Home Furnishings

Let There Be Light
Lighting can be another key component of your outdoor oasis. There are numerous alternatives to outdoor lighting depending on the effect desired and the amount that one wishes to spend. Solar lights that lend a little ambiance without adding to the electric bill are great for accent lighting in small areas. These lights are self-contained and can be easily mounted anywhere in the yard. If you’re not into Solar lights, we’re also partial to candles here at Rubies. A candle can make a simple night outside turn into a super cozy or even romantic evening. We recommend cute lantern-style candle holders for a perfect table topper or even on the ground - whatever fits your space.

Crave Candles at Rubies Home Furnishings

The back yard may be a last resort for the busy family trying to fit in time for work and relaxation. But if you don’t plan to head to the lake or camping for the weekend, sometimes these outdoor updates can bring the vacation to us. By creating an oasis in the back yard, you will be giving yourself and your friends a place to unwind and relax. Enjoy your yard this season, and be sure to visit Rubies Home Furnishings for those spring and summer outdoor décor staples.