Good Things to Read

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Photo by Paul Nicholson

Hey, gang! Hope you all are having a good week with no hurricanes, traffic, or unexpected bills. Here’s some good stuff I found to share with you today:

You guys know I’m all about imperfection. No matter how much I seek to live an ethical lifestyle, I can never check all the boxes. Leah from StyleWise shares the quandary of the ethical consumer and examines whether more flexible standards can make a bigger difference in the world in “Why I Quit Being an Ethical Purist.

One of my favorite fair trade brands, PACT Apparel, has expanded their range to include more apparel for men, women, and children. Their kids’ clothing is now available in sizes up to 5T and includes pajamas, undies, and leggings. New arrivals for adults include Henley t-shirts, cardigans, and jogging pants.

I recently learned about The Lighthouse for the Blind from the newsletter for the  Social Enterprise Alliance. The Lighthouse operates manufacturing facilities for aerospace parts, office supplies, and plastic injection molding, providing employment, training, and support for blind and DeafBlind members of the community. I love finding social enterprises that go beyond handcrafted gifts and provide essential products for industrial and everyday use.

Have you guys been following Walk Sew Good? These adventurers walked across Asia to find positive stories in the fashion industry. You can see their research and videos at the Walk Sew Good site and follow their current activities on Instagram.

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Pilgrimage to the Home of Country Music

I hate country music. As a Nashville native, it’s my duty. Somebody has to keep the balance around here.

So you can imagine my surprise when, during my recent trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, I found myself in tears.

The kids and I started our visit with the Nashville Public Library’s String City production. It was an excellent precursor to touring the museum, since I — hating country music — had neglected their education in this area. The kids enjoyed the show, which alternated between straight-forward songs and hilarious skits. I, however, found myself entranced as memories of my childhood came flooding back.

I grew up in the shadow of the WSM tower, watching The Mandrell Sisters with my parents and listening to the Oak Ridge Boys as we ran errands. That was “real country,” my parents would tell you, not the pop music of today. And, of course, there was Dolly.

Dolly was right there in the puppet show, too, singing “Coat of Many Colors” and “I Will Always Love You” with a costume change at the end. And right then, as puppet Dolly brought all the intensity and beauty to the song, I burst into tears. At a children’s puppet show.

My boys, who were not particularly surprised to see their mom doing something weird, were eager to get on through the museum. They had things to see. Namely, Elvis’s Gold Cadillac, featuring 24K gold details and a TV in the backseat.

We picked up a scavenger hunt in the Taylor Swift Education Center. My little guy loved matching the memorabilia to the artist, and it helped him stay engaged. My oldest, however, wanted to breeze through the museum and get straight to the Hall of Fame.

What started with a plan to quickly tour the museum turned into a four-hour trip as my boys discovered interactive touchscreens with details on costumes and listening booths with clips from hit songs. The kids were fascinated by the old gramophones and guitars as well as Webb Pierce’s gun-festooned car, while I loved seeing displays from the artists I had watched as a child. As our time grew short, we ended up racing through the second floor to the Hall of Fame Rotunda, assuring ourselves that we would return for another visit soon.

So here’s the cool part about visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame — for families in Davidson County, and students in the surrounding area, the CMHOF is now FREE thanks to the Community Counts program. Students 18 and under can receive free admission when they bring proof of residence such as a library card, report card, or school t-shirt. Adults can check out a passport offering free museum admission for up to two adults at any Nashville Public Library branch; the number of passports is limited, so I recommend calling ahead to see if any passports are available. Additionally, families in Davidson and surrounding counties who receive SNAP benefits are eligible for $5 family memberships to the museum.

Things to Know:

  • Plan parking ahead of time. I’m still not used to Nashville’s It City status and figured I could park in a nearby lot for $15 or $20, tops. Imagine my surprise in finding I had to pay $30 when we left. A little planning would have saved me a lot of money.
  • Pack a lunch. Since we stayed at the museum longer than I anticipated, we were all hungry and grumpy after only seeing half of the exhibits. We grabbed food at the museum’s way-overpriced snack bar, spending about $40 for lunch. Since museum tickets are good for re-entry all day, next time I’ll pack a picnic lunch and take a midday break in Walk of Fame park across the street. There also are two sit-down restaurants at the museum, but I would recommend them for kid-free outings.
  • Study up. If your family isn’t familiar with country music, a little prep work will make the visit more meaningful. Try to catch the String City puppet show or create a playlist of some of the featured artists.
  • If you have Taylor Swift fans in your family, yes, the sparkly silver guitar is there as well as some lovely dresses.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum reminded me of my heritage as a native Nashvillian, but their inclusive Community Counts program makes me proud to live in Music City today. Visit this Nashville treasure, and spread the word about the affordable programs that make the museum open to all Nashville families.

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This post contains affiliate links to support this site. Actually, just one affiliate link, which I thought about deleting so I could skip this disclaimer, but you know. Blog life. 

You won’t find any tiny dresses at my boy-dominated house unless my 3-year-old niece is visiting. However, I definitely appreciate the finer aspects of dresses that are as good for tree climbing as they are for picnics.

If you want to dress your kiddo in style while knowing more about who made their clothes, try these brands on for size:

Alice + Ames
Seriously, every time I see an Alice + Ames dress I want it for myself. It’s probably good that I don’t have a daughter, because then I would try to steal her clothes, and that would be awkward. Alice + Ames dresses are made in California and range from $40 – $50. (Pictured: The Short Sleeved Ballet Dress in Slate)

Ateljee features GOTS-certified organic fabrics that are digitally printed in Europe and then sewn in California. Their dresses include quirky cactus, lizard, and feather prints and come in sizes ranging from infant to about age 9. Priced from $33 – $66. (Pictured: The White Cactus Baby Dress)

City Threads
If you need a budget-conscious, accessible way to buy made-in-the-USA dresses for your littles, City Threads is your brand. City Threads manufactures their clothing in Los Angeles, and the majority of their items are made from locally knit cotton jersey. Dresses are priced under $30 and are often available through Amazon Prime(Pictured: The Twirly Short Sleeve Dress in Pink)

Eden by Elegantees
Eden is the latest line from Elegantees, a clothing brand that employs trafficking survivors from a non-profit organization in Nepal. Workers are paid double the minimum wage, and Eden’s net profits go to Kingdom Investments Nepal to fund rescue operations. Prices range from $22 -$32. (Pictured: The Lydia Dress in Gotham Grey)

Winter Water Factory
Specializing in beautiful, screen-printed designs, Winter Water Factory manufactures their clothing in Brooklyn, New York, from organic cotton. While they offer a variety of styles for boys, girls, and women, their dresses really steal the show. Girls’ dresses are priced at $58; women’s dresses are priced at $108. (Pictured: The Aspen Dress in Magical Forest Grey)

Know any brands I missed? I’d love to hear about your favorites!

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