Congratulations on your Create. I have one too & I really love her. She's the machine I beat up all the time.
I use her to cut foam and polymer clay items with.
Be careful updating her because some members are reporting after updating they can not use their cartridges or Gypsy with the Create. It's an either or thing. A few members have reported both. Of course you don't have a Gypsy.
I would hate for you to not be able to use your cartridges. You will have to update to use Cricut Craft Room though and that might make your cartridges unusable. PC is supposed to be working on an update. Updates and Cricut are a sore subject with many users. PC has had a reputation in the past of not providing consistent or trustworthy updates. The company has a new CEO now so I am hoping this will change. I was in CCR the other day and say the link is coming for us to transfer our cartridges from our Gypsy's to CCR. Ask me two weeks ago if I had faith in that and I would have shook my head no. Create is no longer being made but still supported. PC is wanting to concentrate on the new machines, understandably.
No third party program will work with the Create unless you already own the third party software before the lawsuits. Cricut Craft Room you can buy carts digitally but you can not import SVG's or other files. CCR only works with PC's designs. CCR you must be connected to the Internet. CCR does give away lots of freebies. Like last week they have four cuts from Create A Critter 2. That was really nice. Of course you can use your carts with CCR.
Forums- Scrapbook.com has a really nice Cricut forum. It's not very active but it's knowledgeable. There is also a Cricut sticky over here with several knowledgeable users. Cricut's own forum was nice but many members have left over the years due to how hateful the board can get.
The Circle is nice. I am not a member. It's $80 a year or something like 1300 or 1700 Reward points. I can't remember off the top of my head. Look at the benefits too see if it's worth the money too you. Since PC is releasing all the Circle cartridges to the non-Circle members I have decided not to join and use my points & money for other cartridges. Many of the girls over at the Circle are very kind and have big hearts.
MyPinkStamper (Robyn) has an excellent Cricut blog that will give you tons of info. She has tons of You Tube videos too. There is a book out about the Cricut. It's for the Expressions but lots of good things on the other machines too. AboveRubyStudios has a DVD and lot of info on their site. I got the DVD and book from my library.
Your right you can't use the Imagine cartridges in the Create. I do have an Imagine. I really love that machine. I do think it's being discontinued with the Gypsy. I have learned how to refill my own ink cartridges. The machine is huge, heavy and very cumbersome. It's the most accurate cutting Cricut I ever had. My DH bought mine for a surprise.
If you do buy cartridges look for sales. Don't fall into the trend or got to have popular trap. I say that because Cricut users do all the time.
If anybody is shaking their head no I am shaking my finger at you because you know it's true.
My other tip look for lots of blogs that fit your niche. Love Anya images, for example, type in something like Anya Cricut and you should find some good blogs. Those are where the hidden gems are and tons of help that will fit your personality.