" I can spend a lot of money on a machine but what I really need is just more experience with what I already have."
You nailed it. When I first got my little 110v I snatched up any and and all metal I could get my hands on and made random stuff. Got to where I could put down a good looking bead, and then my Dad whose a lifelong welder came out from Nebraska to bring me a 2ND motor for the racecar i was building and to help me install the cage kit i got. Then an old time welder got ahold of me (his welding rig was a late 60's ford dually with a.....can't remember the brand of welder on it, but he called it herc) and that's when things really came together. Hood time hood time hood time!!! I've always hated grinding so I went through roll after roll of wire till I got a good looking bead (wire was half the price back then, irks me everytime I need more) and before you knew it, as long as it wasn't a joint that had to be welded for decorative purposes, there was no need to clean up my weld. Watch lots of youtube videos and try the different techniques to find what works for you.
As for the little 110v not able to do anything too big, I replaced a tooth on a skids teen bucket with mine, stacking up about 6 passes all last I knew it was still in there as of about 6 years ago, and I welded it on about 15 yrs ago. I welded the hooks to the frame on the front of Leila's Explorer, they've been winches on at a side angle, she's clobbered em on rocks and you'd never know it. 3 passes on those.