So if I wanted to make the blog my home page, do I just put a redirect in my "existing" home page? Or do I just move it to the top of the file manager? I'm missing something really simple here, I know it.
As an extra question though, how hard is it to put the "news" from the blog (i.e. headlines) in the side bars?
You're right. Just drag the "Blog" entry to the top left of the "File Manager".
If you have the blog addon installed, and you've added blog entries, these updates should automatically show up in the sidebar. If you're using a custom theme, just make sure the gpOutput::GetAllGadgets(); call is in your template.php file.