August 04, 2005 07:00 AM

Martha Stewart received bad news on her 64th birthday Wednesday: Her anticipated Aug. 8 release from home confinement and the removal of her electronic anklet has been delayed by three weeks, according to her lawyer.

Those conditions include staying inside her home north of New York City except for 48 hours a week of employment, food shopping, doctor appointments and church.

Attorney Walter Dellinger, who did not elaborate on the reasons for Stewart’s extra time, said in a one-sentence letter that the domestic diva “has agreed to an extension of the terms of her home confinement until Aug. 31.”

As PEOPLE reports in its new issue, some of Martha’s movements could have gotten her in trouble. The U.S. Probation Office in New York City was investigating whether Stewart violated terms of her home confinement – which limit her trips to work-related or essential errands – by zipping around her Bedford, N.Y., estate on her utility vehicle and taking a hatha yoga class.

“We have to ascertain what is essential,” says the office’s chief, Chris Stanton. “She is always claiming to be working.”

Stewart did find time to plan a small birthday party on Wednesday (her chef Pierre Schaedelin drew up a menu featuring tapas, gazpacho and paella). Her best gift, of course, was to have been the removal of her ankle monitor. “I think what she is most looking forward to,” says someone close to Stewart, “is having her schedule be her own again.”

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