Have you seen Microsoft Expression (Code Name Acrylic)? If you haven't, you should really check it out. Certainly, it's not as powerful as PhotoShop, but it's a LOT simpler to use. Right now, there is an early beta available from the site ... with a new one coming soon (so ... watch the site for a new beta version!)
Now, I consider myself "graphically challenged" ... the politically correct term for saying that I suck when it comes to making anything look nice. (Hey ... one should know one's limitations). But ... this tool is cool and I even find it usable ... though I won't pretend to understand everything it does or the difference between a "Gaussian Blur" and "Craqeulere" effects ... but I have gotten completely hooked on SmartSelect.
Try this ... use the lasso to surround an area. Then go to Pixel Selection ... Start SmartSelect. It will do a darn good job of extracting just the area you want. If it gets some details wrong, you have tools to include and exclude areas. Pretty darn cool.