(from left): Mason Pearson hairbrush, $140, nordstrom.com; Kiehl’s weatherproof, shine-enhancing nonaerosol spray, $16, kiehls.com courtesy of vendors

A Busy Mother’s Guide to Smarter Living

Long division never really came in all that handy. Time for a few life lessons you’ll use over and over again.

How to Trim Your Bangs

Most stylists offer complimentary walk-in bang trims for their regular clients, but if you’re in desperate need of a dusting, Kristin Miller, stylist at Tru Salon and mom of Josephine (7) and Adelaide (3), has study notes that boost the chances of a good grade.

*Extra Credit: Having a (really) good hair day? Schedule your next appointment. Hair always looks best about two weeks before it needs to be trimmed.

1. Ready – Wet hair shrinks, so you won’t be able to get an accurate sense of how short you’re cutting. Dry and style your hair as you normally wear it, and pull out a pair of small, sharp scissors (cuticle scissors are best).

2. Set – For straight-across bangs, comb hair down and use the hand you aren’t cutting with to hold bangs between your pointer and middle fingers, gently sliding down the length of your hair until about an inch of hair is visible below your fingers. (You won’t be cutting this much hair, but you want some leeway, so you don’t nip your fingers.) For asymmetrical bangs, pull hair over to the opposite direction from how you wear them and hold bangs between your pointer and middle fingers, with fingers following the angle of your hair, and gently slide down the length of your hair using the same directions above.

3. Cut – To create a blunt line hold scissors horizontally and cut straight across the bottom of the hair. Be conservative; you can always go back and cut more. To create a diffused (piecey/textured) line, hold scissors vertically and make very small snips upward into the hair. Again, be conservative.

Tip: To get your fringe to
lie nice and flat, be sure the roots are really wet before blow-drying,
and ditch the round barrel brush for a classic Mason Pearson
boar-bristle number.

(from left): Gucci iPad 2 Case, $450, neimanmarcus.com; Oliver Peoples Fairmont glasses, $340, oliverpeoples.com courtesy of vendors
How to Negotiate a Deal

Whether you’re trying to secure a killer donation for your kid’s school auction or convince your boss to let you work flextime, honing your negotiation skills is key for success. Aubrey M. Connatser, founder of Connatser Family Law and mom of M.K. (3) and Mac (1), teaches us how it’s done.

1. Assume a position of strength – Begin by informing your audience how the deal benefits them and then follow up with at least three facts (with the data to back them up) supporting each of your contentions.

2. Use your voice – Speaking confidently during any negotiation is key. If you’re anxious about speaking in front of others, practice with a family member (or even in front of a mirror) in advance of your meeting. And never mumble.

3. Be mindful of body language – You want to appear open and strong as you sit or stand squarely in front of your audience. Keep your chest and chin up (this also helps you project a strong voice) and make and keep good eye contact.

4. Be flexible – Remember it’s a negotiation. Prepare some creative solutions in advance, so you can brainstorm on the fly and know where you have room to move so you can keep an open mind to alternatives.

5. Close the deal – Confirm the terms verbally at the end of the meeting. Get it in writing if necessary.

Look sharp: Chic specs and a posh iPad case help you seal the deal.

Mauviel M’héritage roasting pan, $270, surlatable.com courtesy of vendor
How To Roast a Perfect Chicken

From a quick chicken salad to a cozy soup (or just served solo with a couple of stellar sides), a crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside bird will make for a multitude of memorable meals. Melody Bishop, chef at Lark on the Park and mom of Oscar (2), teaches us how to sharpen our poultry prowess.

Herb-roasted Chicken
Prep: 30 minutes | Cook: 20 minutes
Serves six

3 1/2 lb. organic chicken
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, cut in half
1/2 carrot, cut lengthwise in 2-inch pieces
1/2 celery stalk, cut lengthwise in 2-inch pieces
4 sprigs of parsley
2 sprigs of rosemary, broken
2 sprigs of thyme
1 Chile de árbol, dried
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, cut in wedges

1. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you are ready to begin cooking it. Rinse and dry well, inside and out.
2. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
3. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season well—inside and out—with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place one wedge of lemon in the chicken, then stuff with carrots, celery, herbs, and chile. Place the last piece of lemon in the chicken, then tie the legs together at the ankles with kitchen twine, and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Insert a cooking thermometer.
4. Place the chicken on a roasting rack on a pan and put in the oven. Rotate the chicken in the oven every 15 minutes, basting with a little olive oil and its juices. Roast for 45 minutes until the meat thermometer placed in the thigh reads 165 ° F, the skin is crispy, and the juices from the leg run clear when it is pierced.
5. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes. The resting time is key, as it makes the chicken even more moist and juicy, and it’s easier to handle and cut when it’s not so hot. I often let it rest 30 minutes. (This also gives you some time to finish making the rest of your meal or have a sip of wine!)
6. After the chicken has rested, cut off breast meat and then the leg and thigh. Serve!

(from left): wine tasting carafe, $13, crateandbarrel.com; No. 3 Esporão Alandra Red, $9, Goody Goody Liquor courtesy of vendors
How To Buy a Great Bottle of Wine

Choosing a bottle of wine at the end of the day should be as easy at 2+2. Hayley Hamilton, founder of Dallas Uncorked (dallasuncorked.com) and wine and spirits contributor to D Magazine’s SideDish blog and D: The Broadcast, gives us the CliffsNotes.

*Extra Credit: If you’re serving a wine bottled within the last year or the most recent vintage, use a decanter to help open up the flavor.

Drink what you like. It’s your palate and your experience, so enjoy it. It’s fine if you only drink red wine but mainly eat fish. But if you do want to create an ideal pairing, think light wine with lighter foods, heartier wines with heavier foods. A citrus-and-herb-filled Sauvignon Blanc is great with grilled white fish and light salads; richer medium-bodied Chardonnay works with roasted chicken or creamy pasta; light-to-medium-bodied Pinot Noirs are ideal with roasted pork tenderloin; and hearty Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are perfect paired with steaks.

Look beyond the label (and the cork). Avoid buying a wine simply because you like the label. Consider the occasion, and don’t be afraid to ask for help in the wine aisle. Store sales staffs are trained to help you find a great bottle to fit your palate and your price point. Also, don’t fear screw caps. They ensure that youthful wines stay bright, crisp, and lively—perfect for everyday whites and lighter reds like Pinot Noir.

Amass a list of foolproof favorites. Keep a list of wines you love as you discover them. Following are three of my go-to wines under $20:

1. Duchman Family Winery Vermentino ($14) – Hailing from the Texas High Plains, this dry, lemon-and-lime-filled Italian variety is ideal for sipping while enjoying an afternoon on the patio.

2. Planet Oregon ($20) – Pinot Noir is a finicky variety; it takes a lot of work to produce tasty wine, which usually means it is hard to find a good one for around $20, but Soter Vineyards has created an earthy, luscious, strawberry-and-cherry-filled Pinot Noir that is varietally correct.

3. Esporão Alandra Red ($10) – I love wines from Spain and Portugal for their quality, great taste, and ability to pair well with many of our favorite Texas foods, like barbecue and spicy Mexican.

*Extra Credit: Store wine in a dark, cool, dry place. Light white wine is often best very cold, but the flavors in medium-bodied whites like Chardonnay really come alive when the wine isn’t overly chilled. Keeping red wine at room temperature is best. But room temperature
in balmy Texas isn’t the same as that of a cave in northern France, so for light reds like a Pinot Noir, pop the bottle in the fridge for about 15 minutes before serving.