The Christmas Hammer

When I was a kid we had a wall hanging that went up every Christmas. It was a 2’x3′ rectangle of white with a green felt Christmas tree on it. At points on the tree were little circles of velcro and below the tree were 24 little pockets, each holding a little felt figure with the other side of the velcro on the back. For each day of December, leading up to Christmas, we would move a figure from a pocket below to the tree above.

The figures were things like reindeer, presents, wreaths and other holiday related images. For each member of the family there was a stocking with their name on it. My brother and I would alternate putting up a figure and the relative placement on the tree (higher the better) showed a which we thought was most important. The very top spot was always reserved for the star or the angel to be put on December 24, but you could bet the other top spots had either my brother’s stocking or mine.

One figure was in the shape of a T with the horizontal part being black and the vertical part yellow. At the tip of the horizontal part was a single sequin sewn on.

To me, it looked identical to the hammer we had. It had a yellow handle and a black top. So every time I would put it up, the top of the figure would be the black part. Invariably someone would come along and turn it upside down. Since the hammer wasn’t really in high demand it was one of the last ones put up and therefore wasn’t on the tree very long before Christmas. The next year, it would go up and then get turned upside down again. I never really thought much about it.

When I got married and started a family of my own, my mother made me an identical set. We put it up and my boys took the role of my brother and I in putting up the figures. When it came time for the hammer my youngest asked me what it was. I told him it was hammer and I really had no idea why it was there, but it was. My wife, overhearing the conversation, laughed and said it was a candle. She walked over and turned my hammer upside down and the sequin became a flame at the top of the candle. For the first time I could see it as something else.

To me it is always the Christmas hammer and has become known as such in my house!

Spanish-Style Noodles with Chicken and Sausage

Photo Jul 23, 5 51 31 PMThis was a different take on spaghetti. One with a Spanish twist.

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A fairly straight-forward set of ingredients.

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Cooking the chicken and sausage.

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Making the sauce.

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Throw in the spaghetti.

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Covered in liquid.

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Delicious with a lot of flavor.

Spanish-Style Noodles with Chicken and Sausage

Prep Time: 0 hours 30 minutes | Cook Time: 0 hours 10 minutes | Makes: 4 servings | Difficulty: Easy


  • 3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 12 ounces spaghetti, broken into 3-inch pieces
  • Grated manchego or parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)


Bring a large kettle or pot of water to a boil. Season the chicken and sausage with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the marjoram. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add the chicken and sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and tomato puree to the pot. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the oil turns deep red and the onions are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. If the onions are sticking, add a splash of water and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Add the spaghetti to the onion mixture and stir-fry until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken and sausage and enough boiling water to cover the pasta by 1/2 inch. Simmer, stirring once or twice, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cheese, if desired.Per serving: Calories 776; Fat 36 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 102 mg; Sodium 1,600 mg; Carbohydrate 76 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 30 g


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Chicken2, Main Dish 3, Pasta, Pork2, Recipes, Spanish

Author:The Ranting Chef

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3 Comments on “The Christmas Hammer”

  1. Kate Gross
    August 12, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Your mom made us the same one, I never saw the ‘hammer’, but I always wondered why there was an owl?! I have remade ours, and made the candle pink for advent, I kept some of the old and gave my brother some of the old pieces and made new for the rest. It’s one of my favorite traditions.


  2. August 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    This sounds like a great new take on pasta with a sizzle of Spain on the side. Can’t wait to try this out.


  3. August 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Haha. That’s really cute.


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