When I started here I was blown away by how good the eyes of some of these peeps where. Sometimes it can be hard to accept it but if you do it's going to help your map making out by leaps and bounds.
Like you I was fuddling around with the tools a lot a couple years ago. I'm still learning things though so don't fret that.
This was made for GIMP but You can probably follow it well enough to create a nice boarder: http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/15037-award-winner-making-map-borders-gimp.
There are two threads you will want to look at here for how to do yadda yadda - that's the "Tutorials/How to" and the "How do I ???".
Totally understand the lack of time for making maps. I suffer from a lot of that myself which can be frustrating at times....speaking of which I have to get to work.