Thanks for the comments folks...
@tc, mike has a good observation,
so often people's foregrounds are too dark or the skies are blown because the sky is typically brighter then the ground, especially if there isn't snow.
Filters will help this. I usually have a CP on my lens in the mountains, unless it is an ultra wide lens (the yellow flowers, esme, the baseball stadium, the truck in the storm, the waterfall, aiden camping, the bike, the beer, the coffee and the snowy dock were all shot with an UWA (ultra wide angle). On those lenses, a CP will streak the sky. CP's work really well to make skies blue.
When you have clouds, often you'll need a GND (or two, as in the sunrise on the train tracks) to hold back the bright sky so you can expose longer for a nice visible, balanced foreground)
The sidelight you have coming in on the first golden shot lights the scene up more evenly so a GND isn't necessary.
Composition-wise, you are following the rule of thirds but there isn't a compelling part of the image that tells the story. With each photograph (as opposed to snapshot), you should be communicating a certain POV or storyline.
The light breaking through the clouds is interesting, but because that is blown, it isn't successful. Also, a stronger foreground element to anchor the image will help the viewer's eyes travel through the image better.
In the golden shot, other than the nice light, there isn't anything compelling or interesting in the photo. It's hard to make a suburban shot interesting, but a leading line of a suburban wall into a home that is chopped off on one side isn't extremely successful.
Another thing to consider is one's eyes always tend towards the brightest part of the image. A successful photo will have lines leading you to that part of the image so you can travel through the image.
If you have really even lighting or are going for an abstract, these guidelines might not always ring true. Rules are made to be broken.
One of the better things I did to improve my composition was to start using a prime lens (non zoom). For your crop sensor SLR, I'd pick up a 35mm 1.8 or 1.2, whatever the fastest you can get/afford.
Without the ability to zoom, it will often force you to find photos you might overlook if you can zoom your way in and out of the immediate area. The large aperture will also help you selectively focus (small vs. large Depth of field) and that in turn, is helpful with story-telling or highlighting a specific aspect of the frame.
Shooting with a tripod isn't always necessary or possible, but that will also slow down your compositions and force photographer's to think more critically. You'll also get sharper images when you stop down to gain the correct exposure level.
The photo/video forum is awfully quiet around here. Maybe a critique/share thread would be a beneficial addition to the community.