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Martha Stewart will be one the of big names at the SHE Expo. Contributed Photo


Enter to win a pair of VIP tickets to She: An Expo for Women and meet Bethenny Frankel and Martha Stewart, a $250 value. Visit to enter.

Is there anything Martha Stewart doesn't do well? Nope. Just ask her.

The 69-year-old home and garden do-it-yourselfer, business tycoon and entertainment icon has become synonymous with picture-perfect homemaking. She's a best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning syndicated talk-show host. Her brand graces household products, magazines, books and websites.

After a five-month prison stay in 2004-05 for insider trading, she has rebuilt her entertainment empire in recent years.

Stewart recently completed a trip around the world, meeting with potential overseas business partners, and her new book, "Martha's Entertaining," is scheduled for release this fall.

She is the featured guest for a moderated question-and-answer session at She: An Expo for Women on July 17, which is sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

As she might say herself, "It's a good thing."

She recently spoke with the Times Free Press about her home, business and latest projects.

Q: Do people approach you on the street and ask you advice on how to do things like properly fold a fitted sheet and make mashed potatoes more airy?

A: They oftentimes have lots to say. Yesterday Patrick Dempsey was on the "Today" show and I was on the

"Today" show, and he had been on my show, and he asked me about gardening. He'd just bought a house in Malibu and wanted to ask me some advice about gardening. So that's good. Many people ask me all the time very substantive questions about what's of interest to them, what kind of challenges they're experiencing in their home or garden or whatever. And I'm always very happy to help. They ask about a grocery store, they ask about a recipe, it's that kind of dialogue.

Q: Is there an aspect of entertainment or home and garden work that you most enjoy?

A: I very much like gardening, I very much like cooking and baking. I very much like learning. I like everything I do; it's all very interesting. I like writing, I love creating beautiful things. I'm lucky, I have a lot of interests. And now I'm now very interested in the development of babies, because I just got my first grandchild.

Q: Do you have a favorite recipe?

A: Oh, no. You know, I might have my favorite cookie, and I might have my favorite cupcake. But you have to categorize. I do have a favorite pasta recipe. It's a bottarga ... with bread crumbs and parsley. It's on our website.

Q: How did you become the home and garden expert you are today?

A: I've always been very interested in everything that has to do with in and around the home. We turned that interest into an omni-platform business.

Q: Does your house always look like the inside of a Martha Stewart Living magazine?

A: Um, yeah, pretty much. [Laughs.] Today, there's no plant or flowers in the house because I'm going away for the weekend, so I didn't keep them outside. But yeah, it's still neat and pretty and picture-perfect. I can take pictures of all my animals and not have to remove things from the background that are unsightly. I have two dining rooms, but one of my dining room tables is piled with lots of stacks of papers, because I just got back from a big trip around the world. Every stack is a different city I visited. I just did the first day of Korea blog yesterday, so you have to look up the menus I brought home and make sure the names of the foods are spelled right, so it's a working home.

Q: Why were you traveling around the world?

A: To go around the world and visit the big cities, some of which I've been to, and some of which I haven't, and talk to potential business partners.

Q: What are some budget-friendly home and garden tips?

A: We're very budget-conscious, so that lots of people can create delicious food, nutritious food, and still not break the bank. One of our four magazines that we publish is called Everyday Food. That goes to more than a million people every month. It's a really great magazine of delicious, simple, nutritious, reasonably priced meals for your family. We also have a digital version of it that you can get on the Nook or the iPad. We have a television show attached to it. Lots of young people use it, lots of young marrieds.

Q: Do you still throw your own dinner parties? Do you feel pressure to live up to your reputation?

A: Well of course, I'm always throwing dinner parties and parties. And many times I blog them so that people can see what we're doing. I don't feel pressured to do it. I do it because I like doing it.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have a big book coming out in November called "Martha's Entertaining." It's my first entertaining book since my first book in 1982. And it's a great book. It's very informative and very beautifully photographed. It's very inspirational. I think everybody is going to really love it. This fall our new season of "Martha," the TV show, that's won two Emmys for best show and best host. We have our 20th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living coming up with a special issue, which is incredible. We have our wonderful products that we continue to develop for Home Depot and for Macy's, and for PetSmart and Michael's, craft products.