Up Front with Dale Dudley: They Say It’s Your Birthday


Image and Article Source:  Up Front with Dale Dudley: They Say It’s Your Birthday – Austin Monthly – August 2014 – Austin, TX.

This month, as many of you celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal (Aug. 15, 1914), I’ll be celebrating my 53rd birthday. I’ll have a nice dinner with my family, who might let me keep my beat-up credit card in my worn-out wallet. I’ll probably down a couple of drinks. Then I’ll chase those with a few more. If I’m lucky, there could be a Starbucks gift card on the table. My wife will ‘”surprise” me with something I really “need,” like socks, T-shirts or tighty-whities. But no matter how high my hopes, there will be no LEGO Ninjago, Minecraft or Spiderman toys for me this year. Those are reserved for the less fortunate kids, whom I’ve never met but live in such destitute ’hoods as Steiner Ranch, River Place and Lakeway.

Every month, I open my credit card statement and there are always several charges for around $30. I don’t need to ask—it was for a kid’s birthday. If the charge is in the $70 to $100 range, I still know it was for a kid’s party and things my wife decided we “needed.” I’ve learned to just repeat this mantra: Happy wife, happy life.

Before I learned to use my “inside” voice, many of my Saturday morning conversations with my wife went like this:

Me: “Whose birthday party are you guys going to?”

Wife: “I told you already, Braden.”

Me: “Braden? What kind of name is Braden? Half Brad and half Caden?”

Wife: [exasperated] “He was on your son’s Little League team last year!”

Me: “You mean the one our kid quit because he was afraid of the ball?”

Wife: [rolls eyes, grabs keys] “Come on, kids, let’s go!”

Somewhere in a box I have an old grainy Polaroid. It’s of me and four other boys sitting on my couch in Monahans, Texas. My mother had made a plain sheet cake and stuck eight candles in it. The party’s theme is, “Hey, isn’t it great to have a roof over our heads!” The presents aren’t stacked high in front of me. I remember they were 25-cent balsa wood airplanes. I think one of my friends splurged and brought me a 99-cent Hot Wheels car. Our small-oil-town parents were raised at the tail end of the Depression, and I think a birthday to them just marked another year of survival of the fittest.

Last year, when my son turned 7, he told his mother he wanted a Wipeout party. Wipeout is the reality-based TV show where contestants run obstacle courses fraught with challenges that usually land them in a pool of water. I figured my investment was going to be a few dozen squirt guns, water balloons, some Capri Sun and a cake from H-E-B.

The morning of the party, I left the house early to dutifully pick up some things for my wife. We live on a corner lot and have a metal fence, which gives a full view of our big backyard. As I approached the house on my return, I had to rub my eyes several times. I remember actually slowing the car down to a crawl. There in my backyard were two giant inflatable water-operated climbing thingamajigs and a staked-out obstacle course! I also noticed that water hoses snaked from both sides of the house. As I pulled around to the front, I encountered a young man who was struggling with large speakers. When I went to help him, he introduced himself as the DJ. I just said, “Dee Jaaaaay?”—and then I financially blacked out.

From what other parents have told me, every kid in the neighborhood and beyond came to run the obstacle course. The teens came for the music, and the adults drank my booze. It was one hell of a kid’s birthday party. Around dusk, I woke up and trudged through patches of dirt where there once was grass to turn off the water hoses. I felt horrible, knowing we were in a drought and wondering if I had shattered Lance Armstrong’s record water bill. I sat down near my son’s stack of toys that had to be worth hundreds and wept, using my inside voice.

A month later for my daughter’s second birthday (same date as mine), I was still too weak to put up a fight. When my wife told me that she wanted to hire a children’s entertainer, my post-party stress disorder kept me from saying no. My shaky hand just wrote the check.

I’m learning that I am just one man. Who am I to fight against what has become the suburban yuppie birthday extravaganza? Guys, the fight is over. Just remember the mantra, happy wife, happy life! And a new one that I have coined: “Gift for your kid? Of course I did!” PS: Congratulations to Braden on his third-place obstacle course finish.

Dale Dudley can be heard weekdays, 6 to 10 a.m., on KLBJ 93.7 FM.

DIY Movie Projector Screen

toy story

Round up the gang, it’s movie night!  This week we are sharing the lawn with our favorite duo, Jessie and Woody.  The blankets are spread, popcorn popped and Pizza Planet aka Austin’s Pizza (with gluten free options) is on the way.  Make your backyard the envy of all your friends this summer with your very own DIY projector screen!  See the tutorial below.

diy screen


4 – 1x4s (cheap lumber)

8 – drywall screws

1 – queen size white bed sheet

1 – staple gun with staples


1. Lay out your lumber in a square.  Make sure that the lumber overlaps neatly in the corners with no overhang.

2. Drill 2 screws in each corner where the two pieces of lumber overlap.

3. Lay the sheet out on a flat surface (we used the driveway) with the frame on top.

4. Starting on one side of the square frame, fold the sheet over the lumber and secure with staples.  Move to the opposite side (parallel to the side you were just working on) and stretch the sheet tightly over the frame, securing with staples as you go.  Repeat on the other two sides.

5. Prop the projector screen against the side of your house or fence and wait for it to get dark!

Mid-century Record Console


Image courtesy of Craigslist Seller

A couple years ago I found this awesome mid-century record console on Craigslist.  Despite the fact that it had clearly taken a beating, I was determined to spruce it up and get it working again! I immediately filled and sanded the chipping veneer, prepping the console for a fresh coat of paint. We tested the mechanics and discovered that the turntable worked but the speakers were shot and some of the tubes needed replacing. Since then, it has enjoyed an extended vacation in my dad’s garage, later returning to my hallway where I trip over it every morning.  It’s time to take action and finally FINISH THIS PROJECT!  This weekend I’m going to pick up some paint, but first I need your help!

Which of these two looks do you like best?  Comment below  “Sunny and Bright” or “Clean and Neutral.”  After pictures coming soon!

record console paint ideas

Images courtesy of Design Sponge (left), 2Modern (right)

XOXO, Trashy Girl

Dorm Room Design 101

It’s been years since I graduated from college but I still get excited every summer when I see new dorm room decor roll out.  Unlike most people I went to school with, I lived in the dorms all four years. I loved dorm life!  There were always people out and about in the common areas when I got bored and I never had to cook a meal!  Lets face it, walking into an empty dorm room is like walking into a prison cell.  Cinder block walls, beaten down furniture and industrial tile floors are not something to write home about.  Here are some tips for designing a dorm room that you can really call home!

1.  Decide on a Bed Arrangement 

dorm room decorating ideas hgtv

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

Get in touch with your roommate before move in day to discuss how you will set up the room and what you will be bringing (TV, mini fridge, etc).  This will help you determine how much space you will have for additional furniture and storage items.  Bunking the beds is a great option for creating extra space.  Most schools also provide lofting equipment at an additional charge, which allows you to create a study space or seating area under your bed.

2.  Warm up the Floors


Image courtesy of Bohemian Homes Tumblr

Invest in a large area rug or piece of residential carpet from your local hardware store.  Covering up those cold tile floors with immediately make the space feel more warm and inviting.  My grandmother had new carpet installed in her home the summer before I started college so I was able to use her old carpet in my dorm room.  It was an awesome way to recycle carpet and keep it out of the land fills.

3.  Personalize the Walls

polaroid walls

Image courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

Everything you buy to decorate your dorm room walls must be hung with foam tape or command hooks.  Most dorms these days have cinder block walls so you cant use nails or thumb tacks to hang your decor.  With that being said, keep weight in mind because most command hooks can hold up to five pounds.  You don’t want things falling on you in the middle of the night!  I love the idea of creating wall paper out of Instagram pics (tutorial available at A Beautiful Mess).  Get to know your roommate by collaborating on this project and combining photos!

4. Bring in the Tchotchkes


Image courtesy of Urban Outfitters Instagram

Add a finishing touch to dorm room with tchotchkes (aka knick knacks)!  These fun little treasures create personality and will help the space feel less temporary.  Look for small unique furniture and storage items to add interest to the space, while helping to reduce clutter.

Picking the Perfect Nail Polish

There is no better time than summer to flaunt fabulous nails.  In Austin, flip flops and sandals seem to be appropriate footwear for any occasion (year round), making pedicures a must. Whether you’re a do it yourself kind of girl or you prefer a little spa pampering, this guide will help you pick the perfect color!  Read the whole article at Lucky Magazine.


Image courtesy of Lucky Magazine

Just like the color theory you learn in art class, Lucky suggest matching complimentary or analogous colors.  Complimentary colors, are pairs of colors that when combined create a neutral color.  These colors sit directly across from each other on the color wheel and create the strongest contrast. Analogous colors are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, creating a monochromatic look.

What’s your favorite color combination?  I’m a sucker for this Havana inspired complimentary color palette!green and coralImage courtesy of  Polyvore


DIY Vintage Beer Can Garden

This is one of my favorite project to date!  A while back I purchased a box of vintage beer cans off craigslist with the intention of turning them into candles.  Since the cans had been drained from the bottom, I decided to turn them into planters instead.   I love how they turned out!  I can’t wait to host a summer BBQ and hand these out to my guests!

Odorless Composting

Since I started a raw food lifestyle, I’ve been thinking a lot about composting.  Even with juicing there is a lot of nutrient rich waste that I just don’t feel right about throwing away.  My parents tried to deter me from composting because the smell might draw attention from the HOA but my stubborn side decided to dig a little deeper.  My research led me to this odorless composting system called The Worm Factory made by Natures Footprint.  This composting system utilized a series of stackable trays which allows for a high composting capacity while maintaining a small footprint.  The worms can thrive between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making composing outdoors possible nearly year round.  Best of all, by composing we are helping to reduce the 34 million tons of food waste send to landfills by Americans each year.

How it works:

Composting worms break down kitchen waste (fruits, vegetables, grains, paper, egg shells, leaves, coffee grounds and more), converting it into nutrient rich soil.  When a tray is full, another one is placed on top allowing the worms to migrage upward trough the grid bottom as new food is added. Moisture filters to the bottom of the system as food is broken down, providing a liquid fertilizer called “worm tea,” which can be harvested from the spigot.  The first tray will take aproximately three months to become fully composted by the worms. After that, the other trays can take as little as a month depending on the waste added.  Once the bottom tray is havested, there is an empty tray available to continue the cycle.  -Nature’s Footprint