KATONAH, N.Y. – Her middle name is Helen. She likes to spend a lot of time with eggs. And she has no use at all for that clunky black gizmo on her ankle. In the month since Martha Stewart (search) was released from prison, after serving five months for her role in a stock-sale scandal, she has not been shy about sharing.
Though she turned down an interview request with The Associated Press, the freed tastemaker has been talking about everything from kielbasa (search) ("Yum," she proclaims) to Tasmania (search) in forums ranging from court papers to Internet chat rooms to her magazine column.
She has also been formally recognized by Forbes magazine as a billionaire, has collected $75,000 in salary since her release from prison and has been awarded $3.7 million from her company for legal expenses.
As the spring flowers begin to emerge around her 153-acre estate, Stewart is much less visible than on her first day of freedom, March 4, when reporters got to watch — from the other side of a stone wall — as she walked her dog, visited her horses and picked lemons from the trees in her new greenhouse.
That was before she had to strap on the electronic ankle monitor that helps probation officers enforce the home-detention portion of her sentence, which generally confines her to her house and office for five months.
In a March 14 chat on her company's Web site, Stewart told fans that the inch-wide ankle band and the 4-by-3-inch transmitter were "somewhat uncomfortable and irritating."
"It also makes exercise difficult," she said. "I wish it were removable, but it is not. I am not allowed to take it off at any time, and I am not allowed, while in my home, to have any padding under the strap. I hope none of you ever has to wear one."
Stewart is looking for relief beyond a little talcum powder. In a motion seeking a new sentence, Stewart told U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum that the home-detention should be scrapped because her company needs her more than the 48 hours a week she is now permitted for work.
TV producer Mark Burnett, who is putting together Stewart's new homemaking show as well as her reality show version of "The Apprentice," told the judge the anklet would interfere with taping because it will "eliminate any opportunity for Martha to wear skirts or dresses, which is part of her lifestyle and therefore a large part of the show."
He also said the home detention is too restrictive because it keeps her indoors and she should be allowed to tape gardening segments outdoors.
At Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, her annual salary, not including bonuses, is $900,000. In the first issue of Martha Stewart Living after her release, she was pictured cradling a chicken. Her column has been restored, and in the first entry she pronounced eggs "my single favorite food" and "something of an icon for the company."
She suggested poaching eggs and spooning them into hollowed artichokes, or scrambling them, boiling the empty shells and putting the eggs back in the shells.
The company issued a statement Friday saying Stewart "continues to be the inspiration of our company." It said she has spent the month meeting with magazine editors, art directors and stylists, researching new product ideas and developing her two TV shows.
Forbes added Stewart to its annual list of billionaires, although her net worth dipped below that line when her company stock price dropped after she left prison. She won a financial victory when an independent expert determined that she was entitled to $3.7 million from her company for legal expenses.
Stewart didn't mention money during her Internet chat, which she said she conducted from her kitchen counter. When one fan messaged that her 10-year-old daughter wanted to know Stewart's middle name, Stewart responded that it was Helen, after a grandmother.
She also said she's looking forward to traveling — sometime after August, when the anklet comes off — to destinations near and far: her home in Maine and Australia's island state of Tasmania.