Raspberry Pi’s popularity makes things so easy that it is almost scary. I set forth on a simple starter project of having the Raspberry Pi show me when new GMail messages arrive.
After some searching, it seems that lots of people are already talking about how to do this and there are some great examples. Michael over at MitchTech had the most ready to go code which I pilfered from. Adafruit's Cobbler Breakout Kit makes the bread board experience even easier with the clearly labeled pins for each of the raspi’s GPIO pins.
These are the things I had to setup in order to get a working Raspberry Pi + GMail + Adafruit Cobbler. You can probably get yourself up and running with this same setup in less than 30 minutes!