Hey Debbie, I looked through your Flickr page earlier and noticed a lot of your shots were with your point and shoot. I think I know why you're not getting blown away by the t3i and it's the same problem I had: lack of in camera processing. Typically pns cameras do all the processing wrt to sharpness, contrast, etc internally. If you're shooting in RAW then what you're seeing is an unprocessed image, which is great because it gives creative control and allows you to add the sharpness, contrast, tint etc to your liking in post. But the downside is you're very likely to not be blown away by a sooc shot.
If by chance you are shooting raw plus jpg and your jpg images look unimpressive as well, you might check to make sure you're not set to neutral setting, adjust the contrast etc to how you like it and this will affect the jpg image.
I suffered this problem and was alway disappointed as to why my images didn't "pop" compared to others'. Since acquiring this information it's really helped my images out. Nothing magazine worthy by any means, but impressive enough for me!
And by the way, the second shot is great as well! Doesn't look soft to meat all, then again I'm a hobbyist and not a pro, but I think it looks great.