Newbie and electronics.....

The two main skills you will need is soldering, and how to recognize hardware components pin outs and leads for proper installation.

Soldering is easy if you have the right equipment and give yourself some practice work. I would buy a kit involving a integrated circuit and a PC board.

All Electronics has some inexpensive kits that can actually be usefull in HA applications. Plus their assembly instructions are decent. Plus, if you damage anything, you are not out any big dollars.

Also, get yourself a good soldering iron that has at least a 1/16" tip or even a 1/32" tip. I use both of these (with a variable temperature iron) when soldering integrated circuits or componenets that are close together.

There are many soldering instructions posted on the internet, just do a search. But, there is nothing like practice. :)
I just recently bought a soldering iron myself...

This is the site I have been learning from: Electronics Club, Kelsey Park School

It covers a lot of the basics and is very "newbie" friendly.

I agree with BSR on this one... grab a kit, and practice. My first attempt with the iron was bordline comedic, but fun nontheless.

If you come across any other good sites or projects, please post them, as I'm always on the look out for more reference material.

Here is one project that I would love to try: UIRT2 IR receiver

I also found a motherload of ciruits and schematics: Discover Circuits

This looks like a cool project (from the link BSR posted): Water Alarm Kit
""Reviewer: A viewer from Orinda, CA US
This kit is easy to build, work wells, and can be used to trigger a relay instead of sounding the buzzer. Kit includes an on-board water probe, but circuit is so sensitive that you can just use two wires, with skinned ends for a probe.""

Just throwing out some ideas that pertain to HA...

What are some other good HA related projects (for the newbie) that you all could recommend?