Looking back it is hard to believe I just started this fine obsession, err-hobby, just a year ago. Through the generous gift of good friends, I had a gift card to a LHBS along with some Christmas cash and went shopping for my starter kit and a couple of Brewers Best extract kits. The guy at the LHBS was incredibly nice and basically sent me out the door with instructions to start boiling that first kit right away. It was the next day (had plans for that evening) but I stumbled through that IIPA and even though the results were only so-so, it was beer!
I did the second kit (oatmeal stout) that turned out great (just over carbed) and then with the help of this awesome site (and my neighbor who is also a home brewer and lent me a big pot that I didn't have) did my own partial grain Belgian dubbel (which is the best result I've had to date.) From there I made a pilsner and vanilla pumpkin porter (turned out great) continuing with partial grain recipes.
Then in August I got the itch to move to all grain so back to the forums I went. After much reading and angst decided to go with the BIAB approach. So I got my own pot, purchased a bag for it and then did a nut brown ale, Russian Imperial Stout and a Founders Breakfast Stout clone to close out 2012.
Today I'm doing a Kolsch with my own recipe thanks to the free trial at Brewsmith (and I'll be buying the code shortly) and have just purchased my Igloo cooler on Amazon to move on to full-on all grain brewing beginning with my next batch.
I can't say if I'd have started this without that gift (maybe, but certainly would have taken a little longer before I would have taken the plunge) but I LOVE IT! Especially with the community of brewers on here ready to calm nerves, answer questions, share wisdom and occasionally give a little needling. I can't wait for my 2nd year to begin!