NEW YORK – Martha Stewart (search) arrived at her multimillion-dollar 153-acre New York estate Friday morning and began serving the home detention portion of her sentence for lying about a December 2000 stock sale.
Stewart spent the day feeding treats to her horses, harvesting lemons in her greenhouse and relaxing after a five-month stay in a West Virginia prison dubbed "Camp Cupcake."
She was given 72 hours to set up a meeting with a probation officer. Then, she will get fitted with an electronic anklet that will monitor all her moves.
"The experience of the last five months ... has been life altering and life affirming," Stewart said in a statement issued 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."
She added: "Right now, as you can imagine, I am thrilled to be returning to my more familiar life. 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."
Emerged from her sprawling Katonah, N.Y. estate Friday morning, the 63-year-old Stewart and a companion took her dog, Paw Paw, into a snowy paddock at midmorning.
"He missed me a lot," she said of the dog.
She handed treats over a fence to her five horses. 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.
After ducking inside her huge new greenhouse, she emerged with handfuls of lemons.
"People make jokes about making lemons into lemonade," she quipped.
Stewart also offered coffee and doughnuts to journalists.
One part of her prison release had not gone according to plan, she said.
"The only thing I've been dreaming about is a cappuccino. We asked the guards every day ... for a cappuccino," she said. "I get here, and I have a ... cappuccino machine and it didn't work. So I don't have any cappuccino."
Stewart was sentenced to a two-year term of supervised release, five months of which to be served in home confinement. She can return to work, start drawing her $900,000 salary again and even throw lavish house parties — as long as she doesn't invite any criminals. She must wear an electronic anklet to allow authorities to monitor her movements as she's not allowed to be away from her house for more than 48 hours per week.
The homemaking maven left the women's prison in Alderson, W.Va., at 12:30 a.m. Friday and headed to a nearby airport, where she smiled, waved to supporters and boarded a private jet for the hour flight to New York.
Gone were her prison khakis: A slim-looking Stewart was dressed in a gray-and-white poncho, dark jeans and ankle boots.
Stewart was driven to her Westchester County estate in the rolling horse country 40 miles north of midtown Manhattan at about 2 a.m.
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 away from prison until August.
Besides running Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO) 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 "The Apprentice" (search).
Stewart hopes to turn around the fortunes of a company that produces everything from television shows and magazines to bed sheets and bakeware. 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.
"I guess we're gonna go through this for a week or to," said Christopher Byron (search), author of "Martha Inc." "At some point, we're going to get sick of her."
But observers say the marketing strategy to get the expert homemaker back on the business track is to project the image of a gentler Martha.
"This is Martha Stewart's new comeback strategy," Byron said, "Five months ago, they were taking her name off everything, they could put it back on … there's question over what message they're going to send — right now, it's 'the softer side of Martha.'"
Her contract with her company says that her salary, which was suspended while she was behind bars, will get reinstated during home detention. Details about where Stewart will work will be determined at a meeting with her probation officer in the next few days.
During her time at the federal women's camp in Alderson, Stewart kept with her lemonade-from-lemons attitude and sought to imprint her style on the prison.
She foraged for dandelions and other wild greens, concocted recipes in a microwave and even ate from a vending machine. She also participated in nightly yoga classes, spent time on crafts and writing and lost weight.
Stewart even took on inmate rights, saying her fellow prisoners risked falling into a "severe depression" because of false hopes raised by a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down federal sentencing guidelines. Her own sentence, however, was ruled "reasonable" in light of that ruling.
Stewart's release came one day shy of the one-year anniversary of her conviction in New York on charges stemming from her 2001 sale of nearly 4,000 shares of the biotechnology company ImClone Systems Inc., run by her longtime friend Sam Waksal (search).
Prosecutors claimed Stewart received a tip that Waksal was unloading his shares ahead of a negative government report about an ImClone (IMCL) cancer drug. The stock tumbled in the following days, and Stewart saved $51,000 on the sale.
Stewart's lawyers argued the sale was based on a prearranged agreement with her stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, to sell once the stock dropped to $60 per share.
Stewart was convicted of obstructing justice and lying to the government. Bacanovic is serving a five-month federal sentence for his role in the stock deal. Waksal was convicted on a separate charge of insider trading.
The case came in the midst of a federal crackdown on corporate corruption, and Stewart is one of the most prominent figures to serve time in the wave of scandals.
Rebuffed twice in her attempts to obtain new trials, Stewart opted to enter prison early rather remain free pending her appeal.
"I must reclaim my good life," she said in September, lamenting that she would miss her beloved pets but looking forward to being free in time for her cherished spring gardening.
Stewart slipped into the minimum security women's camp in the early hours of Oct. 8.
Since she has already served her time, her lawyers say her appeal is mostly about clearing her name. An appeal hearing is scheduled for March 17 in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
Stewart's prison town began saying goodbye to its favorite convicted felon Thursday, with Martha Stewart Swedish meatballs cooking at the Dinner Bell restaurant and T-shirts and mugs commemorating the homemaking authority's involuntary visit.
Since inmate 55170-054 entered the Alderson Federal Women's Prison (search), the town has seen a long line of Stewart supporters, celebrity friends and the just-plain-curious make the 12-mile drive off the interstate to see where she spent five months locked up.
Betty Alderson, who has sold more than 1,300 "West Virginia Living, It's a Good Thing" T-shirts — a play on Stewart's "It's a good thing" catch phrase — said the town needed the economic boost Stewart's celebrity provided.
For Stewart's release, Alderson was selling two new shirt designs and a commemorative mug that read: "I spent time in Alderson, W.Va."
FOX News' Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.