West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Tosa's Construction Zone - Resistance is Futile

Community, Neighborhood, Tosa Business, Things that bug me, Construction


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A Tourist in Tosa - On the Road Again

Tosa Business, Tosa Landmarks, Community

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Who Moved My Catholic Cheese?

Community, Christmas, Religion

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DSHA's Community Theatre Works Takes Beauty and the Beast to the Park!

Community, Fun, Theater

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Mayfair Mall - What We SHOULDN'T Do

Mayfair, Neighborhood, Community, Tosa Business

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It takes a special village...

Kids, Personal, Community

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Let's make Tosa more "walk-friendly" for pedestrians

Community, Traffic, Tosa Business

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Tosa Shines in new Visit Milwaukee Video Tour

Tosa Business, Tosa Landmarks, Tosans, Community

You find the coolest things on Twitter and this, posted by a Tosa resident, is REALLY cool! Check out this video, created by Visit Milwaukee. What an awesome way to show off Wauwatosa! Enjoy!

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To the Tosa Farmers Market - Jiggety Jig!

Community, Tosa Business, Tosa Landmarks, Tosans, Neighborhood

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Retail Ruminations

Community, Tosa Business

Now that Spring is officially here, I find myself noticing more things in and around Tosa. Sure, I see the lovely flowers popping out of the ground and a vibrant green abounds in every front yard and treescape.

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Checkout Charity, Parking Protection and the Write Stuff

Tosa Business, Restaurants, Community

A few years ago, we had lots of solicitors at our front door – religious groups, kids selling candy, grown men looking for donations, people with petitions. Not a week went by when someone didn’t ring our doorbell for a cause. I wasn’t a fan of these unannounced visitors. My solution was a “no soliciting” sticker that I found at Puhl’s Hardware Store. I put it on my front door and we’ve been blissfully “solicitation-free” for quite a while.

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Feeling chilly? Why not get All Shook Up?!

Kids, Fun, Community, Tosans

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The Great, and Now Digital Outdoors

Technology, Traffic, Community

Pardon the pun, but I have a passing fascination with billboards. My husband used to work in the “outdoor industry” and in college, we were taught a bit about how to write a good billboard. (Hint – 7 words, max, something most advertisers ignore.)

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Lent, The A-Word and the Big Smudge

Community, Kids, Religion, Reminiscing

I’m not usually one to wear my religion on my sleeve. However, today, Ash Wednesday, like many others, I’m wearing it on my head. Because of this, I couldn’t resist writing a blogpost with some random faith-based thoughts.


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Winter Wondering

Community, Fun, Weather

As I stepped outside this morning to let Millie the wonder dog (who could take on Marley or Bolt any day) do her biz-ness, it occurred to me that life in Wisconsin is somewhat like the directions on a shampoo bottle. You know how Head and Shoulders tells you to “lather, rinse, repeat”? Well, here in the land of cheese, we “sleep, shovel, repeat.”

This line of thinking made me think about the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and what slogan they’ve conjured up to describe and promote life in our fair state. A quick internet search uncovered the answer. Are you ready? Drumroll please…..

Wisconsin Originals.

Yeah, that was my reaction too. The campaign features noted Wisconsin natives Bonnie Blair and Ko-Thi Dance founder Ferne Caulker talking about how our state inspires them. OK, I get it, but, in my opinion, it doesn’t come close to the infamous “Escape to Wisconsin,” (not to be confused with “Escape from Wisconsin.”)

Still, it’s better than the former “Stay Just a Little Bit Longer,” “Wisconsin - You’re Among Friends” or the 2005 slogan “Life’s Good.” (Um, could you possibly be more vague?)

I think the best-conceived travel slogans should do two things - give a nod to something unique about the state and say something positive that can’t be said about any other state. One of the best and most well-known tourism slogans is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Of course it’s a reference to the naughty side of that city, but it’s memorable and targeted. Not sure that “Wisconsin Originals” will really have the same effect.

So all of this slogan-izing made me wonder if we couldn’t come up with something a little more reality-based - maybe even a tiny bit gritty? I’m going to take a crack at it, but then I invite you, my ever-clever readers to join in on the fun.

Here goes:

“Come for the Snow, Stay for the Shoveling”
“Please Pass the Salt!”
“It’s Not for Sissies Anymore”
“Nothing Beats the Smell of Snowblowers in the Morning.”
“Nine Months of Hell for Three Months of Gorgeous.”
“Wisconsinites - The Fat, The Proud, The Frozen.”
“No Toll Booths and No Senate Seats for Sale.”

Alright, that’s enough from me. Chime in and share your wit and wisdom. (That is, in between trips outside to shovel and plow.)

Attention Hog

Community, Fun

I’m not usually one to stand out in a crowd. Although I enjoy attention, I don’t go out of my way to get it, especially with my clothing choices.


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Extreme Little Red Makeover

Community, Tosa Business, Tosa Landmarks

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Divas Storm the Village

Community, Fun, Tosa Business


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Summerfest - Scene and Herd

Community, Fun, Things that bug me

It’s not perfect, but I think Summerfest is one of the very best tourist draws to our city. Based on the amount of Cubs and Bears apparel I saw wandering the grounds, lots of folks agree. I have always been a huge fan of Summerfest. Growing up in and around Chicago, Summerfest was one of my first introductions to the city of Milwaukee. After moving here, I fondly remember being pregnant and sitting on the rickety wooden plank benches of the old main stage watching Stevie Ray Vaughan. I’ve never been one to dance on picnic tables but I’ve almost always enjoyed my ‘Fest experiences.


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The Oohs and Ahhs Have It

Community, Fun, Kids, Things that bug me, Tosans

There’s a brief but interesting discussion on the Tosa Town Square about watching fireworks on TV. This is something that fascinates me, for no good reason except that I have a strong opinion on the topic.


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Summer with a Side of Service

Community, Kids, Tosans

Teens these days. They’re so, so, so…willing to sacrifice their time and comfort and….gasp...even their cell phones to do something for other people.


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Intermodal Station – It’s For the Birds

Community, Restaurants, Things that bug me

I recently visited the brand spanking-new “Intermodal” (i.e. Amtrak/Greyhound) Station in downtown Milwaukee. I was pretty excited when I heard about the renovation because the old station was, um, a dump. I have to say, the remodeling was a success. The place looks gorgeous, with its floor to ceiling windows.


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Why I Stopped Watching TV News

Community, Things that bug me

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to see Lisa Ling speak as part of the Journal Sentinel’s Smart Talk Series at the Marcus Center. My season tickets to the series are an annual gift to myself. It’s a great excuse to create a girls’ night out with a friend – dinner, followed by an interesting talk by a prominent and/or successful woman. (I’ll explain later why this will be my last year as a subscriber.)

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Me and Oprah and the Big Tosa Give

City services, Community, Neighborhood, Tosa Business

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The Guy With the Chair on His Head

Community, Fun

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I Heart Tosa

Community, Kids, Neighborhood, Restaurants, Tosa Business

Once in a while, I encounter a few things that remind me why I love Tosa. Sometimes it’s something small, sometimes funny, sometimes a little sad. Here are a few:


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A sad letter to Drew's

Community, Kids, Neighborhood, Reminiscing, Tosa Business

Dear Drew’s:

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