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Germany's most famous castle isn't a real castle. It's an elaborate 'work of fan fiction.'

Though it looks medieval, it was built in the 19th century by an eccentric "fairy tale king" who spent much of his life constructing his own elaborate fantasy world.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle sits atop a rock ledge in the Bavarian Alps.

Even if you haven't heard of Neuschwanstein Castle, there's a good chance you've at least seen pictures of it. Set atop a tree-covered rock ledge in the Bavarian Alps, the picturesque castle looks like it was conjured straight out of a fairy tale. In fact, it served as inspiration for Disney Imagineers as they designed "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" in Disneyland, and it's regularly named the top castle to visit in Germany.

There are estimated to be around 25,000 castles in Germany, but Neuschwanstein is unique among them. Most notably, it's not a real castle and never was. While it bears the look and feel of a well-preserved medieval castle, it was actually built in the 19th century, and rather than serving as a fortress, it served as the fantasy castle of an eccentric king obsessed with Richard Wagner's operas and medieval mythology.

Ludwig II came to the Bavarian throne in 1864 at age 18 with no experience in government or politics. Two years later, Prussia conquered Austria and Bavaria, and Ludwig's powerful status as king was greatly diminished. Not that he was particularly interested in governance anyway; he was more drawn to the romantic idea of having his own kingdom.


According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "The king worshiped the theatre and the opera, and henceforth concerned himself almost exclusively with his artistic endeavors, developing an extravagant mania for building in the Bavarian mountains that he loved." He essentially spent much of his reign constructing an elaborate fantasy world in which he could be the king he imagined himself to be.

Hence the idea for Neuschwanstein Castle, which Ludwig wished to be built "in the authentic style of the old German knights' castles." The foundation for the structure was laid in 1869, but it took until 1892 for the 65,000 sq. ft. "castle" to be completed. Ludwig himself would only ever see it as an incomplete building site, as he drowned himself in a lake in 1886, a few days after being declared insane. (Though his death was officially ruled suicide by drowning, some sources point to some mystery surrounding his death, as the psychiatrist who diagnosed him also drowned at the same time.)

The tragedy of Ludwig's final years stands in sharp contrast to the extravagant beauty of the castle he created, which The Cultural Tutor referred to as "the world's biggest work of fan fiction."

The Throne Room serves as a symbol of how Ludwig saw kingship. The grand hall was built in the style of a Byzantine church, pointing to how Ludwig saw kings as being intermediaries between God and the world.

Neuschwanstein Castle throne room

The throne room in Neuschwanstein Castle.

Public Domain

Where fan fiction comes in is in how much of the castle is an artistic shrine to Wagner's operas. In many rooms, the walls are covered in paintings depicting the German legends as told in Wagner's works, such as his 1845 "Tannhäuser" opera and his 1859 "Tristan and Isolde."

Tannhauser story, Neuschwanstein Castle

The Tannhauser story depicted in paintings

Snapshots of the Past

Tristan story, Neuschwanstein Castle

Bedroom depicting the Tristan story

Public Domain

In Neuschwanstein's early stages, Ludwig wrote to Wagner describing his vision for the castle, telling the composer he looked forward to moving in and having Wagner come visit:

"There will be several cosy, habitable guest rooms with a splendid view of the noble Säuling, the mountains of Tyrol and far across the plain; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world."

Ultimately, Ludwig and Wagner's friendship would be complicated by money, differing artistic visions and Ludwig's clear romantic feelings for Wagner, but if it weren't for Ludwig's support, Wagner would likely never have risen to the fame he ultimately enjoyed.

The "mad king" may have had some issues ranging from quirky to concerning, but he can fairly be credited with the making of Richard Wagner, as well as creating an architectural masterpiece that millions of people from around the globe travel to enjoy.

Check out the gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle from all angles here:

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O Organics make eating organic affordable

True

Friendsgiving might have started as a novel alternative to Thanksgiving, but today it’s an American holiday in its own right.

For many, especially millennials and Gen Zers, Friendsgiving offers an opportunity to get creative with their celebrations without being obligated to outdated, even problematic traditions or having to break the bank.

However, some of us might not want to go to the extreme of only having pizza and beer. What if there were a way to balance the decadence of a traditional Thanksgiving meal while still keeping it easy and laid-back? And could we make it healthy too?

As it turns out, we can.

Here’s a super simple breakdown of what your next Friendsgiving prep could look like. An appetizer, salad, side, entree, and dessert. All done in an hour—even quicker if you assign certain dishes to different partygoers. #spreadsheetsrule

But wait, it gets better—all of these meals can be made organic at an affordable price, using O Organics® at Albertsons. O Organics helps shoppers find quality ingredients at reasonable prices every day of the year. Friendsgiving is no different.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking!

Appetizer: Charcuterie Board


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Nothing quite hits like the fancy, grown-up version of Lunchables. Crackers, meats, cheeses, and various fancy toppings that can be combined in endless ways. The easiest form of culinary creativity there is.

You already know how to make one of these bad boys, but here’s a basic template if you’re needing a dose of inspo:

Meats: Some tasty choices here are salami, prosciutto, sausage, etc. I made a smaller-scale board and decided to go with salami. If you or your friends aren’t a fan of pork, sliced turkey or smoked salmon are some yummy alternatives.

Cheese: The possibilities are endless here. You can even opt for a dairy-free cheese option!

Bread or Crackers: Artfully arranged. Speedily snacked upon. Some O Organics options here and here.

Fillers: this is where the charcuterie really shines. Fill in the spaces with splashes of color and flavor. Be sure to go for both savory and sweet. That means olives, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, nuts, and a vibrant array of fresh or dried fruit. A yummy fruit spread doesn’t hurt either.

Time: 5 min

Salad: Squash And Feta Salad

Ingredients:

(3-4 servings)

1 small red onion (O Organics sells them in a bag)

1 bag O Organics frozen Butternut Squash

6 cups fresh O Organics spinach, arugula, kale, or whatever salad green you like

1/4 cup O Organics pecans

1/4 cup O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil

O Organics Lemon and Olive Oil Salad Dressing

CrumbledO Organics Goat Cheese

Salt and pepper

Chop some onions. Sautee them in olive oil. Add a bag of frozen squash. Dress some salad greens with dressing. Add the onions and squash. Top with pecans, cheese, salt and pepper. Badda bing badda boom.

Time: 10 minutes

Side: Autumn Seasoned Air Fryer “Roasted” Potatoes

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As any millennial will tell you, we love our air fryers. Nothing quite ticks all the quick, easy and healthy boxes quite like one. And if you haven’t yet had a perfectly crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside air fryer potato, then what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

One 3 pound bag of O Organics red or russet potatoes—honestly any potato will do

2 Tablespoons O Organics olive oil

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

That’s it. No really.

Cut potatoes into one-inch pieces. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning. Cook in an air fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes in the basket and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender and crisp.

Time: 20 minutes. TOPS.

Entree: Coconut Chicken Curry

cravingsomethinghealthy.com

Because who needs turkey? This one pot piéce de rèsistance is the very essence of Friendsgiving—unique, versatile and not without a little spice.

Being the entree, this dish calls for a few more ingredients, but is honestly not much more demanding. You’re basically looking at 15 minutes for prep, and about 30 minutes to simmer.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon O Organics olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 teaspoons ginger minced

2 teaspoons green curry paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups O Organics Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth

1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1 15-ounce can O Organics full-fat coconut milk

2 ½ cups O Organics cooked chicken breast

1 8.8 ounce package O Organics 7 Grains & Lentils Blend

1 16 ounce bag of O Organics frozen peas

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Lime juice

Cilantro

Chopped O Organics cashews to garnish

Using a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), saute the onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat, for about 4 minutes. Add the curry paste and curry powder and saute for one more minute.

Add the Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth and the diced sweet potato. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and catch up with friends for 20 minutes while the dish simmers.

When the sweet potato is tender, shake the can of coconut milk well and pour it into the pot. Add the chicken, 7 Grains & Lentils Blend, and peas. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let the curry simmer for another 10 minutes.

Congrats! You are finished. You can add salt, lime juice, cilantro, extra curry powder/paste, or garnish with roasted cashews. Each bowl is customizable.

Time: 40 min

Dessert: Holiday Kettle Corn Bark

onbetterliving.com

Of course, you can always opt for pie, but sometimes people might want to opt for something a bit more bite-sized when it comes to desserts—especially after a hefty meal. This sweet and salty finger food does the trick quite nicely.

Ingredients:

1 bag (6 oz) O Organics Kettle Corn Organic Popcorn (about 9 cups)

1 bag (10 oz) O Organics Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

8 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2/3 cup O Organics Dried Cranberries

2 tbsp O Organics Organic Coconut Oil

1 tsp salt

Line a 12x17-inch baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spread kettle corn on the lined baking sheet in one thin single layer. Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over kettle corn, reserving about a 1/3 cup for finishing touches. Sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries over the kettle corn evenly.

Follow the same melting instructions for the white chocolate, then drizzle evenly over the kettle corn. You can follow with any remaining semi-sweet chocolate for a layered effect. Let the kettle corn stand for 5 minutes.

Place the kettle corn bark in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Once the bark has hardened, break into pieces.

Time: 20 minutes.

OR…if you want to make life even easier…just grab some pints of ice cream and call it a day. No judgment here.

Time: literally a few seconds to open the freezer and grab some bowls.

And there you have—a no muss, no fuss, healthy and affordable Friendsgiving spread. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your chosen family.

Get to your nearest Albertsons today and find everything you need to make these yummy dishes! No Albertsons in your area? You can also find O Organics products exclusively at Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw’s, Star Market, Tom Thumb, Randalls, and Pavilions.

Cat learns to run on two feet after front leg amputations

Babies are really adaptable. The same can be said for baby animals and it's likely because they just don't know any other way of life so they just go with it. But even knowing that, it's still hard to imagine a kitten getting around with no front legs.

Cats essentially use everything from their whiskers to their tails to balance, so how would one walk without two of it's four legs? The answer is, carefully at first. Duck is a kitten that had to have both of her front legs completely amputated after she was rescued and while she was wobbly at first, she quickly adapted.

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Leslie Jones taking the politics out of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all of our blessings in life, and it’s also the holiday where people are most likely to argue about politics with their families at the dinner table.

Even though a recent poll found that 77% of Americans find it inappropriate to have such conversations on Thanksgiving, they’re bound to happen. The same poll found that 41% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans say they’re likely to talk about politics during dinner even though they know they shouldn’t.

For those who don’t want the holiday ruined by an argument between a Sean Hannity-loving uncle and his niece who prefers to listen to NPR, comedian Leslie Jones is willing to lend her services. Jones is currently the guest host of “The Daily Show” until producers find a permanent replacement for Trevor Noah, who left the show late last year.

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The Starkeys' epic dance battel.

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@clarkkatie/TikTok

We all had our suspicions that claw machines didn't really want us to win.

Who among us hasn't been lured into dropping a precious coin into a claw machine, knowing full well that we’ll never actually nab that shiny item tempting us through the glass, but compelled to take our chances all the same. For that is claw’s powerful siren song…maybe this time

But perhaps now we finally have a piece of evidence that will make our logic stronger than our impulses, thanks to one woman’s curiosity.

Melbourne based renovation expert Katie Clark recently bought herself a claw machine to go in the bar of her house, and after taking a look inside the appliance’s instruction manual, she is determined to “expose the claw machine industry.”

First off, let’s talk about the claw itself.

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via Sarah Wollner/TikTok

Sara Wollner and Katie Riggins can hardly keep it together as the confess their mistakes.

You're not alone if you’ve ever lost someone and found yourself talking to them, whether at a grave site while lying in bed at night or looking up to the sky on a walk. Many people speak to loved ones who've passed because it’s a healthy way of processing grief.

“Speaking out loud to a loved one who has passed — whether at a grave site or out loud at home — is helpful for many people processing grief,” Dr. Alison Forti, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University, told Teen Vogue. “Many people will experience a sense of disbelief after they lose a loved one. By encouraging people to speak out loud to their loved one it helps them resolve that disbelief.”

Two sisters who recently lost their 63-year-old mother to pancreatic cancer in Albany, New York, showed that not only is it healing to talk to the deceased, but it can be hilarious, too. In honor of November's Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Sara Wollner and Katie Riggins made a fun video where they confessed everything they’ve done wrong since their mom left them a little over a year ago.

The video struck a nerve with many people, earning over 20 million views on TikTok.

Confessions to our dead mom 

@sarawollner

Confessions to our dead mom #funny #siblinghumor #dayinmylife #viral #trending #sisters #funnytiktok #parentloss #parentlossawareness #fyp #fypage #fypシ #confessions #siblingcomedy

"So, our mom died a little over a year ago, and these are some of the things that we'd like to confess to her that have happened since she died," Wollner said in the TikTok video. "Number one, we didn't know that we had to file your taxes."

"Nope," chimed Riggins as the girls laughed so hard they began wheezing. "I didn't know that I needed to get my own (car) insurance ... (I drove) an uninsured car for 7 months and then suspended your license plates — and mine. So I couldn't drive either car."

Wollner confessed she wasn’t of much help at their other sister Megan Dixon's baby shower because she had a stomach virus, leaving hosting responsibilities to Riggins. "I had to do it alone!" she said.

"Megan was a good sport, though," Wollner added. "Sorry about that."

Perhaps the hardest thing to confess was that Wollner didn’t cry at her mother’s funeral, but she had a good reason. "It's because I was so pregnant that if I cried, I would have thrown up," she said.

"Lots more to come," Riggins concluded the touching tribute. "We'll continue to disappoint you as time goes on."

After the video's success, the sisters posted a follow-up with more confessions.

Part 2: Konfessions to Kare 

@sarawollner

Part 2: Konfessions to Kare #griefjourney #parentloss #trending #viral #deadmomconfessions #fyp #fypシ #foryoupage #sibling #siblinghumor #sisters #confessions

The videos are entertaining to watch, but they also provide much comfort for people dealing with grief and loss.

"I lost my mom over a year and a half ago, and I’ve been very depressed BUT seeing this video and your perspective is so refreshing and heartwarming," Nobody’s Family Law Attorney wrote in the comments. "This is morbidly awesome! I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last year. I’m trying to prep my kids for reality. I’m sharing this with them," Carmensence added.

"My Mom passed 3 months ago and today is my 45th Birthday (first without her). Thank you for making me finally smile," BethAnn Backus said.

Wherever the mother has seen the video or not, she would have thoroughly enjoyed her daughters’ sense of humor, especially in the face of grief. "When something bad happened, [mom] would say, 'Let's laugh about it and keep it moving,’” Riffins told TODAY. “Our family motto was, 'We are women, hear us roar.'"

Roger Federer and Trevor Noah filming a Swiss tourism ad

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Apparently, a delightfully charming train ride through the Swiss countryside and perhaps the greatest tourism ad ever made.

Both Noah and Federer shared a tourism ad they collaborated on for the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, and people are loving it. It's one of those ads that people don't care is an ad because it doesn't really feel like an ad and it's so enjoyable to watch. (It's also incredibly effective—like, give us alllll the train rides through Switzerland, please.)

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