Illene’s Story

Living in the small Arkansas town where I was born, I share my life with Wayne, my “fishing crazy” husband.  If you ever want to converse with him, go to and you can be assured to find him chatting away with other “fish lovers”.

A typical “date” for us usually happens in a fishing boat.  Wayne fishes with fervor while I peacefully relax under a golf umbrella, either working on a writing project or reading a magazine.  Life doesn’t get any better!

As a blended family, we share 5 children and 7 grandchildren.  The entire town knows me as “Go-Go”, a name my fun-loving grandchildren dubbed me with!  The name is self-explanatory!

Hubby and I are currently preparing one final child for flight into the world in 4 short years.  Ah, the empty nest is in sight!

With 30 years of school counseling under my belt, the word “retirement” seems to keep popping up.  How did I get here so quickly?  The Bible says “Life is like a vapor”.  Someone old wrote that!

In my free time, you might find me walking, jogging, or bicycling.  My passion, however, is my love for words, either spoken or printed.  My most enjoyable days are spent reading the words of others or manipulating my own words on paper.  Writers MUST write and HomeMade in America is a fantastic outlet for my obsession!

I am excited to exchange e-mails with folks from around the globe who share a love for America, her families, and entrepreneurship! Please let me hear from you at

Good day from Go-Go!

Steps Across

Why would a sedentary 50 year old woman wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon?  Beats me, but I did just that!  I started my teaching career in physical education, which is peculiar.  I love sporting events, yet I am FAR from athletic and never played on a sports team in my life.

Never-the-less, I developed a “Running Program for the Non-Runner”.  I started at square one with walking and gradually interspersed short bouts of running.  I would love to share my plan with anyone interested.  Just drop me an e-mail at   It was a S-L-O-W progression.  However, I was faithful to my mission.  After months of trudging around the high school track, I registered for my first 5K race.

In the next 6 years, I participated in 5K races, 10K races, half-marathons, and ONE marathon.  My running is totally unimpressive.  Most first graders could run circles around me.  That is irrelevant!  My pride comes in setting a goal and working daily to achieve it.

One day, while surfing the web looking for local 5K races, I hit on a link called STEPS ACROSS AMERICA.  The words screamed at me, “We are looking for 12 people to WALK across AMERICA to promote health and physical fitness!”  Actually, it was a 6 million dollar advertising campaign for various health related products.

The participants needed three qualifications:  (1) Be able to write daily blogs to keep American readers interested as we crossed the country (I’m a writer!), (2) Be able to speak to groups of people about health and physical fitness (Who better than a former physical education teacher?), and (3) Be able to walk 20 miles a day (I had 4 months to build up my mileage!)

Over 1000 people applied for the opportunity to trek from New York City to Los Angeles in 3 1/2 months (3000 miles)!  After completing questionnaires and sending several writing samples, I was granted a telephone interview.  Following that, I was flown to New York City (I’ve hardly been out of Arkansas!) for a face-to-face interview.  I was thrilled to be one of the “chosen 12” to participate in this exciting adventure!  How many people will ever experience the true fabric of AMERICA on foot?  The journey inspired me to slash out on the best smart watch and it has been life changing, my times just keep getting better!

I encourage you to consider your unmet challenges in life.  Then, DECIDE to move toward the goal, no matter how slowly!  Devise a written plan!  Expect set backs!  Learn from them!  Proceed!  Loved ones may scoff!  Do it anyway!

Good luck to you!

Lest We Forget

How could a website such as HomeMade in America fail to make mention of our military men and women?  These heroes and heroines deserve our undying recognition and gratitude.  Where would America be without them?

Please introduce us to your brave loved ones who have served our country in the past or are protecting us in uniform today.  Send a photograph and/or short description to so we can give a name and/or face to these soldiers in our daily prayers.


In the early 90’s, I started weaving with a group of friends who attended a monthly basket making workshop. I fell in love with the very first creation – a melon basket. However, the monthly workshops could not come soon enough so I purchased my own weaving materials and supplies and started teaching myself. Soon afterwards, I attended basket weaving conventions in Vermont, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania and participate in various art and craft shows in New York. In the late 90’s, I started dabbling in creating web sites. This site was created to see if I could do it – not expecting any recognition or sales out there from the world wide web. Soon after posting the site to the web, orders came in from all over the world. Requests came in from a cruse ship entertainment director, a hotel chain, an English sporting event host, a magician, a crafter in France, and many other requests from within the US and internationally. Due to the overwhelming response since putting up the site and my love for attending shows that need lots of inventory built up, when I’m not working full time, web orders are filled only as time permits. Each basket you see in this site and all colors added are handwoven, hand dyed, and hand stained by me. No hired help goes into creating these baskets and because it’s just one weaver, no wholesale orders are taken. Baskets by Susan is located in beautiful Upstate New York. If you are in the Upstate New York region, you can find Baskets by Susan in local arts and crafts shows and a few galleries and shops in the area.