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.

Suburban Moms Discover Unexpected Success

Personal, Fun, Sports

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

Community, Fun, Theater

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Fun, Tosans

Need a good laugh? Something fun that won’t empty your wallet? Go see NUNSENSE April 30 – May 2nd at Divine Savior Holy Angels (DSHA) High School.

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Feeling chilly? Why not get All Shook Up?!

Kids, Fun, Community, Tosans

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Growing Old with Brett Favre

Packers, Personal, Fun

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Honk!...for a good time!

Kids, Fun, Tosans

Have you and your kids hit the mid-summer hum-drums? Need something to do but have very little cash to spend? This coming weekend, head over to Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (DSHA) for their Community Theatre Works Production of Honk! The Musical Tale of the Ugly Duckling.

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Making Music (and More) in Record Time

Fun, Kids, The Online World, Tosans

This week, in dorm rooms and college apartments and basements and all across the world, really, music (and more) is being made in record time. Four years ago, two industrious (and perhaps a little bored?) college students created a challenge for themselves and their friends: Make a record in exactly one week. That’s right, one week to create a concept, write songs and record an album. These students have done this four years in a row and the results have been impressive. 

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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.)

The Weather's Fine on Facebook

Fun, The Online World, Weather

Well, the weather outside is seems frightful, and yet somehow rather beautiful, especially if you don’t have to be anywhere. I don’t know about at your house, but everyone here is safe at home, hunkered down, watching the storm. I feel so lucky. Almost all of my friends are also home. Schools are closed and many kids are thrilled to be starting their Christmas vacations a day early. Bonus!


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A Touch of Snarky Gratitude


During this Thanksgiving weekend, we all have much for which we should be thankful...and I am! But just for fun, I thought I’d share with you my tongue-in-cheek list of blessings:


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The Wiz at DSHA!

Fun, Kids, Theater

Would you like to go to see live theater this weekend, but have a limited budget? Here’s an idea: Go see the Divine Savior Holy Angels production of “The Wiz”! It’s family fun that’s truly affordable!

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Take a hike...around Swan Lake

Fun, Nature, Tosa Landmarks

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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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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The Crazy Things Those Tosa College Kids Do

Fun, Kids, Personal, Tosans

So...I know this college kid from Tosa. And he’s doing a project this summer. No, he’s not painting the house or fixing a car. He’s creating a musical.


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Saying So Much With Very Little

Books, Fun, Personal

The other day, I had the good fortune to hear about some new books from two representatives of Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop. If there’s one thing you know about me, it’s that I have an addiction to buying books. It is rare that I will enter a bookstore and leave empty-handed. For me, it is like walking into a kitchen and being faced with freshly baked brownies and cookies. I cannot resist!


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Winter's Lament - The Big Whine

Fun, Weather

I can’t stand this winter, not one moment more.

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Making Our World a Little Safer

Fun, Things that bug me

 Do you feel safer today? I thought so. Me too. Yes, folks, the crack TSA team at New York’s LaGuardia airport has spared all of you from a potential disaster – me transporting toothpaste into Milwaukee. Let me explain.


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Doing Christmas in Style...Movie Style


It's Christmas Day and I found everyone. I mean everyone. This afternoon and tonight, they are at the Majestic Cinema in Brookfield. While the rest of the world is hanging out in living rooms and dining rooms celebrating this very special holiday, several hundred of us packed one of the 16 movie theatres just west of Wauwatosa.

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The Guy With the Chair on His Head

Community, Fun

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All Things Christmas

City services, Fun

OK, fine! It’s time – go ahead and bask in the glow of holiday excess! Listen to Christmas music 24 hours a day. Sleep to the sounds of WMYX. Soak it in and indulge.


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What to Do With All That Blue

City services, Fun

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Things That Millie is Wondering

City services, Fun, Halloween, Kids, Neighborhood, Restaurants, Tosa Business, Traffic


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