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Stewart happy to be home

She spends time with her pets and her daughter on the first day of her return to her "more familiar life."

Associated Press
Published March 5, 2005


KATONAH, N.Y. - Martha Stewart strolled outdoors with her dog and fed her horses Friday morning, hours after returning from prison to the multimillion-dollar estate where she will remain under the watch of federal authorities while trying to revive her homemaking empire.

Before her five-month stay in prison, Stewart lamented that she would miss her beloved pets - cats, dogs, horses, canaries and chickens - and hoped to be free in time for her cherished spring gardening.

On a cold late-winter morning, she emerged from her home wearing an ecru quilted coat and matching long knit scarf, dark pants and boots, but no gloves. Stewart walked with a companion and a red dog to a snowy paddock. She handed treats over the fence to five horses and caressed their muzzles, then turned to wave to journalists before heading inside again.

Later, looking tired but smiling broadly, she exchanged banter with journalists staked out on the other side of a fence. "It feels great," she replied when asked how it felt to be home.

Asked about her animals, she answered, "They're great. . . . You see how pretty the horses look?"

"He missed me a lot," she said of the dog, a Chow Chow named Paw Paw.

Chatting on the subject of breakfast - she hadn't had hers - Stewart said she had missed "the idea of cappuccino" more than the beverage itself while in prison.

Stewart was driven to the 153-acre estate 40 miles north of midtown Manhattan after landing about 2 a.m. at Westchester County Airport in a private jet. She later was seen walking around inside her home with her daughter, Alexis.

For the next five months, Stewart must wear an electronic anklet so that authorities can track her every move. But she is allowed to receive her $900,000 salary and can leave home for up to 48 hours a week to work, shop or run other approved errands.

Her journey home began about 12:30 a.m., when two dark-windowed sport utility vehicles slipped out of the gates of the women's prison in Alderson, W.Va., and drove to the airport.

There, Stewart - casually dressed in a gray-and-white poncho, dark jeans and ankle boots - smiled and waved to supporters as she walked across the runway and boarded the plane.

"The experience of the last five months . . . has been life altering and life affirming," Stewart said on her Web site. "Someday, I hope to have the chance to talk more about all that has happened, the extraordinary people I have met here and all that I have learned."

Stewart, 63, who also has homes in Connecticut, Maine and the Hamptons, chose the Katonah estate, which she bought in 2000 for $16-million, to be her prison until August.

Besides running Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and writing a column for her magazine, Stewart can prepare for the two television shows in which she'll be starring: a revival of her daily homemaking show and her version of NBC's The Apprentice, which is hosted by development billionaire Donald Trump.

Stewart hopes to turn around the fortunes of a company that produces everything from television shows and magazines to bed sheets and bake ware. In 2004, the company suffered a loss and its revenues sagged, but the stock price rose considerably during her prison stint as investors bet on a Stewart comeback.

"Right now, as you can imagine, I am thrilled to be returning to my more familiar life," Stewart said on her Web site. "My heart is filled with joy at the prospect of the warm embraces of my family, friends and colleagues. Certainly, there is no place like home."

Because Stewart has served her time, her lawyers say a pending appeal is mostly about clearing her name. A hearing is scheduled for March 17 in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

WHAT'S NEXT?

NOT HOME FREE: Martha Stewart has been released from federal prison in West Virginia but must spend the next five months in home confinement at her $16-million New York estate.

STARTING OVER: Stewart will be allowed to leave the house for 48 hours a week to work and will resume collecting her $900,000 salary from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. She'll also begin working on two television shows.

[Last modified March 5, 2005, 00:41:15]


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